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February 27 2014

One Third of Pregnancies Are Unintended in Burkina Faso

Social Researchers at L’Institut supérieur des sciences de la population (High Institute of Population Science) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso published a report entitled “Grossesses non désirées et avortements au Burkina : causes et conséquences” (The causes and consequences of Unintended Pregnancies and Abortions in Burkina Faso). The report highlights a few important statistics [fr]: 

  •  Un tiers de toutes les grossesses ne sont pas intentionnelles, et un tiers de ces grossesses non intentionnelles se terminent par un avortement.
  •  La taille de la famille désirée est en moyenne, de 6 enfants dans les zones rurales, contre 3 à Ouagadougou. 
  • Entre la moitié et les deux tiers de l’ensemble des femmes qui avortent sollicitent des praticiens traditionnels sans compétence particulière

-A third of all pregnancies are unintended, and one third of these unintended pregnancies result in an abortion.
-The size of the desired family is on average of 6 children in rural areas, against 3 in Ouagadougou.
-Between half and two thirds of women who seek abortions are going to traditional practitioners who do not have the required medical skills. 

January 29 2014

Sports as a Vector of Peace in Burkina Faso

The National Department of Sports and Entertainment in Burkina Faso published a report on the role of sports as a vector of peace and development in Burkina Faso [PDF in fr]:

Les programmes sportifs bien conçus renforcent les capacités humaines de base, créent des relations interpersonnelles et inculquent des valeurs fondamentales et des aptitudes à la vie pratique. Ils constituent un précieux outil de promotion du développement et de renforcement de la cohésion sociale. Collectivement, les avantages de ces programmes constituent un puissant moyen pour combattre l’exclusion sociale.

Sports programs that are well-designed can strengthen human capabilities, they create human bonds and instill core values ​​and skills needed to face daily life. They are a valuable tool to promote development and strengthen social cohesion. Collectively, these programs are a powerful tool to combat social exclusion.

January 24 2014

3 Keys to Understanding Burkina Faso's Anti-President Compaoré Protests

Widespread protests erupted in Burkina Faso on January 18 against constitutional reforms proposed by President Blaise Campaoré. But what do the protests mean, and why have the reforms inspired such a passionate reaction from the people of Burkina Faso? What would the implications of a prolonged crisis be for the region?

What sparked the protests?

The demonstrations were organised by the opposition to protest a change to the constitution that would allow Campaoré, who has been in power since 1987, to run for a third five-year term come the 2015 elections. This revision to article 37 of the constitution, which currently stipulates that presidential mandates must be limited to two five-year terms, is strongly opposed within some political circles as well as by voters.

The two-term limit was approved in 2005 and cannot be applied retroactively, so Compaoré was allowed to run for office despite his nearly two decades of rule at the time. 

The beginnings of opposition to the proposed change began to emerge the week before the changes when 75 members of the ruling party quit  in protest of the absence of consensus within the party.

An already controversial government  

This isn't the first time President Compaoré's authority has been called into question during his current term of office. In February 2011, protests flared up in the capital Ouagadougou and across the rest of the region, following deadly beating of a student by police in Kougougou. 

Blaise Compaoré, président du  Burkina Faso depuis 1987 via wikipédia CC-NC-BY

Blaise Compaoré, President of Burkina Faso since 1987. Via Wikipedia CC-NC-BY

To quell the dissent, Compaoré brought together the governors of all 13 regions and proposed measures to increase the purchasing power of students via increases in scholarships and stipends. Police violence and the murder of the president's opponents seemed to increase between 1990 and 2000. The common thread linking the riots was objection to rampant corruption and the presidential family's ever increasing wealth.

What the crisis means for the region

The effects of these demonstrations will be felt beyond the borders of Burkina Faso. Compaoré invited Guillaume Soro, president of the neighboring Côte d'Ivoire's Senate, to mediate the crisis. Following the November 2010 presidential election, that country experienced a drawn-out governance crisis after the two opposing leaders, Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, both claimed victory. Protests and all-out violence marked the period from the initial standoff, as neither Gbagbo nor Ouattara showed signs of backing down. After months of conflict, Ouattara's troops eventually overran the country and stormed the presidential palace and captured Gbagbo with the help of French troops in April 2011.

Ivorian blogger Théophile Kouamouo drew the following conclusions from the meeting between Burkina Faso's president and the president of the Ivory Coast's Senate:

Depuis l’annonce, il y a une dizaine de jours, de la démission collective de plusieurs membres éminents du Congrès pour la démocratie et le progrès (CDP), parti du numéro un burkinabé Blaise Compaoré, les principales figures du régime Ouattara donnent l’impression que la seule idée de voir celui qui règne sur Ouagadougou depuis bientôt 27 ans à la retraite leur fait perdre tout sang-froid et les pousse à douter de leur propre avenir politique [..] Et si c’était finalement Guillaume Soro qui avait le plus à gagner dans le maintien au pouvoir de Blaise Compaoré, qu’il présente volontiers comme son « mentor » ? Il est probable que l’équilibre des relations pas toujours très claires entre Ouattara et son « dauphin constitutionnel » ait besoin de l’entregent du maître de Ouaga pour ne pas sombré dans la franche adversité. 

Since the announcement ten days ago of the collective resignation of several senior members of the Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), Blaise Compaoré's party, key politicians from the Ouattara regime in Cote d'Ivoire seem panicked at the very idea of seeing Compaoré, the one who has ruled over Ouagadougou [capital city of Burkina Faso] for nearly 27 years leave power for good. This possibility seem to have made them realize the fragile nature of their own political futures. [...] And so what if it was ultimately Guillaume Soro who had the most to gain by keeping Blaise Compaoré in power, who he freely hails as his “mentor”? It is likely that the not always manifest balance of relations between Ouattara and his “constitutional successor” will require the interpersonal skills of the master of Ouagadougou so as not to slip into open adversity.

Laye Doulougou, a Burkinabe living in Ivory Coast, had a different view on the mediation:

Gardez vous de vous ” immiscer” dans les affaires du Faso lorsque que de bonnes âmes, dans un élan de solidarité sous régionale, l’aident à préserver sa stabilité et sa cohésion.

Nous autres burkinabé avons encore des souvenirs pas si lointains de la longue crise qu’a connue la Côte d’Ivoire et ne voulons pas voir notre pays vivre des moments pareils. Nous croyons en une Afrique stable, une Afrique panafricaine en paix et qui se développe grâce à des médiations de ce genre

Beware of “meddling” in the affaires of Faso while good souls, on the impetus of sub-regional solidarity, try tp help preserve its stability and its cohesion.

For the rest of us Burkinabes, the long crisis suffered by Ivory Coast is a not too distant memory, and we do not want to see our country go through the same thing. We believe in a stable Africa, a peaceful, pan-African Africa developed as a result of this type of mediation

January 22 2014

The Worrisome Job Market Projection in Burkina Faso

The AFDB published its country report for Burkina Faso in which it highlights the worrisome job market trend [fr] for the next decade : 

Sept burkinabè sur dix ont moins de 30 ans. Le nombre de jeunes (15-24 ans), primo demandeurs d’emplois, doublera entre 2010 et 2030, passant de trois à six millions ce qui va créer une tension sur le marché du travail. Les opportunités de travail se limitent à celles qui ont une faible productivité ou qui génèrent peu de revenus : environ 80 % des travailleurs dépendent de la production agricole ; seuls 5 % des travailleurs sont salariés dans le secteur formel (public ou privé). 

In Burkina Faso, 7 put of 10 citizens are less than 30 years old. The number of young people (15-24 years), primary job seekers will double between 2010 and 2030, from 3 to 6 millions,  which in turn will create tension on the labor market. Employment opportunities are limited to those with low productivity outlet or those that will generate little revenue: about 80% of workers depend on agricultural production and 95% of workers are employed in the informal sector.

GDP sectorial distribution in Burkina faso in 2011 via AFDB Report - Public Domain

GDP sectorial distribution in Burkina faso in 2011 via AFDB Report – Public Domain

January 20 2014

Massive Street Protests against Constitutional Reform in Burkina Faso

On January 18, thousands of Burkinabe citizens took to the streets of Ouagadougou [fr] to protest against proposed changes of the constitution that would allow current president Campaoré to run for another mandate. The protests were relayed on many Burkinabe twitter feed. Alain Boh Bi posted images of the protest:

January 06 2014

Mass Resignations Within the Ruling Party of Burkina Faso

Fromer Senate president Roch Marc Christian Kabore now joins the opposition - Public Domain

Fromer Senate president Roch Marc Christian Kabore now joins the opposition – Public Domain

Morin Yamongba reports that 75 members (including former ministers) of the ruling party in Burkina Faso, Le Congrès pour la démocratie et le progrès (Congress for democracy and progress) have left the party to join the opposition [fr] because of alleged lack of plurality within the party. They also oppose the proposed amendment to the constitution that would allow the extension of the presidential mandate [fr]. The next presidential election is scheduled for 2015.

January 05 2014

Les moins de 20 ans en voie de disparition

Au Japon, en Allemagne ou en Chine, la moitié de la population aura 50 ans ou plus en 2050 ; pour la France, l'Inde ou le Maroc, le coeur de la population active se situera autour de 40 ans — un atout. / Allemagne, Burkina Faso, Chine, France, Inde, Japon, Maroc, Démographie - (...) / Allemagne, Burkina Faso, Chine, France, Inde, Japon, Maroc, Démographie - Démographie

November 21 2013

PHOTOS: The Thrill and Agony of World Cup Qualifying Matches

A few do-or-die matches to qualify for the 2014 World Cup were played worldwide last week in Africa and Europe. Despite the of-repeated claim that those games are just that, games, how people behave before and after some matches show that there is a little more at stake that what everyone would like it to be.

Here are reactions caught on film from four of those deciding matches, which ended in complete elation for Algeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon and France, while Burkina Faso, Senegal, Ukraine and Tunisia saw their hopes of heading to Brazil vanish with the final whistle.

Algeria vs. Burkina Faso

Algeria qualified thanks to a late goal scored on Burkina Faso in additional time.

The crowd in Algiers felt the World Cup fever, as seen in this photo by Twitter user Bilel.:

Photo taken in Algeria, we are totally invested in this #AlgeriainBrazil, my face!

Algerian bloggers added humor to the joy of qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil:

The tension during the first leg of the match-up on October 12 led some supporters to resort to racial insults towards the black referee, as captured in these screenshots by Paulin Diasivi:

During the match Burkina vs Algeria, some racists tweets by Algerian supporters

Côte d'Ivoire vs. Senegal

Côte d'Ivoire was also involved in late game drama when they managed to tie Senegal in Dakar 1-1 to qualify. The joy was visible in the team's dance as the game came to an end:

Côte d'Ivoire pull out a win after 90 minutes of play, the Elephants will go to Brazil

Brazil, here we come

Cameroon vs. Tunisia

Cameroon's World Cup play-off win over Tunisia was less dramatic with a 4-1 victory. Still, there was a bit controversy as Tunisia claims that two Cameroonian players were not eligible to play. Yaoundé, the economic capital of Cameroon, nevertheless was still beaming with pride after the win:

Cameroon is heading to the World Cup

Given the political dissidence in Tunisia, some supporters may not be as sad as expected with the elimination of their national team. The current government is quite unpopular within  the country's secular community because of stricter religious measures, and a win for the country's football team could have been seen as a win for the government : 

Cameroon 4-1 Tunisia, the hypocrites on “Twitter” [ed's note: pretend to be sad while cheering the elimination of Tunisia] vs. ”at home”, fess up now…LOL 

France vs. Ukraine

France had the deepest hole to climb out of to qualify after they lost the first leg 2-0 against Ukraine. In an miraculous come back, France won 3-0 in the second leg of the match-up, prompting raucous celebration from French fans and shows of despair from Ukrainian supporters:

Tonight, the stadium was shaking! The images from the crowd #Brazil

November 19 2013

Massive Railway Project between Niamey and Cotonou Underway

A 1,500 km-long railway project between Niamey, the capital city of Niger and Cotonou, the capital city of Benin has been green lighted by the authorities of the two countries and construction will begin on March 2014 [fr].  Francois Ndiaye in Niamey unpacks the set up of the financial agreement [fr] that includes multiple stakeholders and will be overseen by the investment group Bolloré [fr]. Benoît ILLASSA in Cotonou wonders why private investing groups from either Niger or Cotonou were not selected to pilot such projects. The projected budget  is set at 100 billions CFA (about 2 billions USD).  The railway should extend in the future to three other capital cities of the west african region : Abidjan, Ouagadougou and Lomé.  

October 04 2013

One-Third of the World's Babies Don't Have Birth Certificates

Photo via BRAVO!

Photo via BRAVO!

Out of the 150 million children born each year, 51 million – more than one-third – are not registered at birth. In developing countries, one in four has a birth registration rate of less than 50 percent. Without a birth certificate, children are often prevented from attending school or receiving adequate healthcare and are more vulnerable to becoming child soldiers or working as exploited labourers.

But the Community of Saint Giles (Comunità di Sant'Egidio in Italian), a Catholic association of lay people that serves the poor, is trying to change that. The Community has developed the BRAVO! programme, which stands for Birth Registration for All Versus Oblivion, to push for higher rates of birth registration in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. It's one of many initiatives, including the DREAM programme to combat AIDS featured on Global Voices in August 2013, that the Community has undertaken. 

Global Voices recently spoke with Evelina Martelli, project manager for BRAVO!, about the programme, where it is operating, and why birth registration matters so much.

Global Voices (GV): What is the BRAVO programme and how did it come about?

Evelina Martelli (EM): Il Programma BRAVO! è nato dall'esperienza della Comunità di Sant'Egidio per proteggere la vita dei bambini e garantire i loro diritti. In molti paesi africani e asiatici i membri della Comunità si sono accorti che i bambini che aiutano spesso non hanno nemmeno il certificato di nascita, e subiscono per questo pesanti conseguenze, tra cui quelle di non potersi iscrivere a scuola e di non ricevere cure mediche adeguate. In situazioni di conflitto, abbiamo visto che proprio i bambini senza certificato di nascita erano più esposti a essere arruolati come bambini soldato;  spesso questi bambini sono utilizzati per i lavori in miniera e nelle piantagioni perché i datori di lavoro non possono essere condannati per sfruttamento del lavoro minorile in quanto non è possibile dimostrare l'età dei bambini.

BRAVO!, acronimo di Birth Registration For All Versus Oblivion, è il programma a cui la Comunità di Sant'Egidio ha dato vita per garantire la registrazione allo stato civile di tutti i bambini. BRAVO! promuove e incoraggia la registrazione dei bambini al momento della nascita e risolve la mancata registrazione attraverso procedure di iscrizione tardiva. Sensibilizza genitori e figli sull'importanza del certificato di nascita e spiega le procedure necessarie a registrare gratuitamente le nascite. Promuove il miglioramento del servizio di registrazione formando gli ufficiali di stato civile, migliorando le loro condizioni di lavoro, creando nuovi uffici più vicini ai luoghi in cui le persone vivono. Contribuisce a rimuovere una causa importante del traffico umano, della schiavitù e dello sfruttamento minorile.

Evelina Martelli (EM): The BRAVO! programme was inspired by what the Community of Sant'Egidio experienced when protecting the lives of children and guaranteeing them their rights. In many African and Asian countries, members of the Community noticed that the children they were helping often did not even have a birth certificate, and because of this they suffered serious consequences such as not being able to enroll in school and not receiving adequate medical care. In conflict situations, we noticed that the children without birth certificates were more likely to be recruited as child soldiers. Often these children are used to work in mines and plantations because the employers cannot be convicted of exploiting child labour as it is not possible to prove the age of the child.

BRAVO!, which stands for Birth Registration For All Versus Oblivionis the programme that the Community of Sant'Egidio has created to ensure that all children are registered. BRAVO! promotes and encourages the registration of children at the moment of birth and resolves the problem of non-registered children through late registration procedures. They make the parents and the children aware of the importance of birth certificates and explain the procedure to follow to register births for free. They also promote the improvement of the registration services by training the registry office officials, improving their working conditions and creating offices closer to where the people live. It contributes to eliminating a major cause of human trafficking, slavery and child labour.

GV: Why is the registration of children so important for their future?

La registrazione delle nascite è il riconoscimento ufficiale dell'esistenza di una persona. È un diritto umano fondamentale ai sensi dell’art. 7 della Convenzione dell’ONU sui diritti dell’infanzia.

I bambini non registrati allo stato civile non possono usufruire della protezione giuridica, sociale ed economica di uno Stato né accedere ai suoi servizi. Non possono, ad esempio, usufruire di prestazioni sanitarie, né frequentare la scuola, né conseguire un titolo di studio.

Privi di un'identità legale sono più facilmente esposti agli abusi o allo sfruttamento, alla schiavitù, al traffico di esseri umani, alla prostituzione, al lavoro forzato o all’arruolamento come bambini soldato. Se hanno commesso un reato, vengono trattati come adulti e non godono delle protezioni assicurate ai minori, come quella di stare in celle separate dai maggiorenni.

Grazie al certificato di nascita, da grandi potranno partecipare alla vita democratica del loro paese, eleggere ed essere eletti, potranno godere dei diritti di nazionalità, potranno viaggiare, essere assunti con un regolare contratto di lavoro, ereditare o avere titoli di proprietà ed essere parte attiva della società civile del proprio paese, contribuendo al suo sviluppo.

La registrazione allo stato civile riveste un’importanza fondamentale anche per gli Stati. Essa è infatti la principale fonte per l’elaborazione delle statistiche demografiche, che forniscono i dati necessari alle valutazioni sanitarie e di sviluppo umano, tra cui molti degli indicatori degli Obiettivi del Millennio (MDG).

EM: Birth registration is the official recognition of the existence of a person. It is a fundamental human right under Article 7 of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.

Children who are not registered are not eligible for legal, social and economic protection from the state nor do they have access to its services. They cannot, for example, make use of health services, or attend school, or get a qualification.

Without a legal identity, they are more likely to be exposed to abuse through exploitation, slavery, human trafficking, prostitution, forced labour or conscription as child soldiers. If they commit a crime, they are treated as adults and are not offered the same treatment as other children, such as being in separate cells from the adults.

Thanks to a birth certificate, as adults they will be able to participate in the democratic life of their country, vote and stand for election. They will have all the rights of a regular citizen, be able to travel, be employed with a regular contract, inherit, own property and be an active part of civil society in their country, contributing to its development.

Registering births is of fundamental importance also to the country. It is in fact the main source for producing population statistics, which provide the data necessary for health assessments and human development, including many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

GV: In which countries is the programme running and why?

EM: Il programma è attivo in tutti i paesi in cui sono presenti volontari della Comunità di Sant'Egidio: circa 40 paesi tra Africa subsahariana, Asia e America Latina. I membri della Comunità spiegano alle famiglie che aiutano con i diversi servizi (scuole della pace, programma DREAM per la cura dell'AIDS, mense per bambini malnutriti, sostegno e aiuto alimentare per i bambini di strada, aiuto ai lebbrosi e alle loro famiglie) l'importanza della registrazione delle nascite e spesso le assistono nelle procedure per la registrazione. Organizzano feste nei quartieri poveri e nei villaggi per spiegare a genitori e figli l'importanza della registrazione e le procedure per effettuarla. Promuovono campagne di sensibilizzazione in collaborazione con le scuole primarie, con gli ospedali e le materni

In alcuni paesi africani, il Programma BRAVO! collabora con le autorità dello Stato per promuovere la registrazione dell'intera popolazione. Di concerto con le autorità competenti, elabora la strategia per  garantire la registrazione di tutta la popolazione che ancora non possiede il certificato di nascita e contestualmente migliorare le infrastrutture dello stato civile per garantire che in futuro tutti i nuovi nati vengano registrati immediatamente dopo la nascita.

In Burkina Faso, la campagna promossa dal programma BRAVO! ha permesso la registrazione di 3,5 milioni di persone (quasi un quarto della popolazione) e oggi BRAVO! è impegnato nella stabilizzazione del sistema, attraverso la formazione di personale, il sostegno agli uffici comunali di registrazione, le campagne di sensibilizzazione in tutto il paese.

In Mozambico, BAVO! sta promuovendo la registrazione della popolazione della provincia di Nampula che, con i suoi 4,2 milioni di abitanti, è la più popolosa del paese e sta formando il personale dell'intera provincia. Due nuovi centri di registrazione sono già stati costruiti in aree rurali e altri centri saranno presto inaugurati. Sarà così più facile registrare le nascite dei bambini alla nascita, usufruendo della gratuità.

EM: The programme is running in all the countries where there are volunteers from the Community of Sant'Egidio: about 40 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America. Members of the Community explain the importance of birth registration to the families that they help through the various services offered (peace schools, the DREAM programme for the treatment of AIDS, canteens for malnourished children, food aid and support for street children, help for lepers and their families) and often help them with the registration process. They organise parties in the slums and villages to explain to parents and children the importance of registering and the necessary procedures. They promote awareness through campaigns in primary schools, hospitals and maternity wards.

In some African countries, the BRAVO! programme collaborates with the local authorities to promote the registration of the entire population. Together with the relevant authorities, they develop a strategy to ensure the registration of everyone who does not yet have a birth certificate and to improve the registry services so that in the future all newborns will be registered immediately after birth.

In Burkina Faso, the campaign promoted by the BRAVO! programme has brought about the registration of 3.5 million people (almost a quarter of the population), and today BRAVO! is involved in establishing a system, by training the staff, supporting the local registration offices and spreading awareness campaigns throughout the country.

In Mozambique, BRAVO! is promoting the registration of the population in the province of Nampula, which, with its 4.2 million inhabitants, is the most populated in the country, and is training staff in the district. Two new registration centres have already been built in rural areas and other centres will be opened soon. In this way it will be easier to register children at birth, taking advantage of the fact that it is free.

Photo via BRAVO!

Photo via BRAVO!

EM: Le difficoltà sono soprattutto legate all'enorme diffusione del fenomeno della mancata registrazione. Su 150 milioni di bambini che nascono ogni anno, 51 milioni, più di un terzo del totale, non vengono registrati alla nascita. Fra i paesi in via di sviluppo, uno su quattro presenta un tasso di registrazione delle nascite inferiore al 50 per cento.

In Africa subsahariana si segnalano i tassi di registrazione delle nascite più bassi del mondo che vanno dal 55% al 67% di non registrati. In pratica si stima che due bambini su tre non siano registrati alla nascita.

È necessario che gli Stati investano risorse per garantire a tutti i cittadini la fruibilità dei sistemi di stato civile, ma è ancora più essenziale far comprendere l'importanza della registrazione per garantire i diritti umani, per promuovere il senso di cittadinanza e di partecipazione, perché gli individui si riconoscano non solo nell'identità familiare o clanica, ma anche nella più vasta comunità nazionale e si sentano cittadini partecipi di un destino comune.

EM: The difficulties are mainly linked to the fact that the non-registration phenomenon is widespread. Out of the 150 million children born each year, 51 million, more than a third, are not registered at birth. In developing countries, one in four has a birth registration rate of less than 50 percent.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the rates of birth registration are the lowest in the world, ranging from 55 percent to 67 percent of the total births not being registered. Basically, an estimated two out of three children are not registered at birth.

It is necessary that the governments invest in this area in order to guarantee the use of the registry systems to all citizens, but it is also essential that the citizens understand the the importance of registration to ensure human rights, to promote a sense of citizenship and participation, so that the individual will not only feel a sense of belonging to a family or a clan, but also to the wider national community and gain a sense of being citizens who share a common destiny.

GV: In what way is the crisis in many Western countries affecting the programme?

EM: La crisi economica incide molto pesantemente sugli aiuti internazionali e trovare fonti di finanziamento è sempre più complicato. Un punto di forza del programma è il fatto che la sostenibilità è assicurata poiché, dopo la fase iniziale di adeguamento del sistema alle esigenze della popolazione, sono gli Stati a sostenere gli oneri di spesa del sistema di registrazione. Inoltre, negli ultimi anni, nella comunità internazionale è cresciuta la consapevolezza dell'importanza dello stato civile come base della democrazia e come strumento per la pianificazione e la misurazione dei progressi in campo sanitario, sociale ed economico. Il Programma BRAVO! ha potuto beneficiare del sostegno della Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri in Italia e del Ministero degli Affari Esteri della Germania. I finanziamenti più significativi sono giunti però da sostenitori privati in Europa, da alcuni comuni italiani e da Kindermissionswerk, opera per l'infanzia della Chiesa Cattolica tedesca.

EM: The economic crisis has huge effects on international aid, and securing funding is becoming even more complicated. One of the strengths of the programme is that it is sustainable because, after the initial phase of the adapting system to the needs of the population, the government bears the burden of the expenses of the registration system.

Furthermore, in recent years, the international community has become ever more aware of the need for registration as the basis of democracy and as a tool for planning and measuring health, social and economic progress. The BRAVO! Programme has benefited from the support of the Italian prime minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Germany. The most significant funding, however, came from private supporters in Europe, some Italian municipalities and Kindermissionswerk, the German Catholic Church's children's charity.

GV: Is there anything else you would like to add for our readers?

EM: In questi anni, grazie a BRAVO!, abbiamo visto molti bambini ricominciare a studiare e molte famiglie sperimentare nuove opportunità. Madri che grazie al certificato di nascita hanno ottenuto la licenza di commercio, padri che hanno preso la patente. È molto bello vedere i primi frutti di questo lavoro e sapere che abbiamo contribuito a proteggere la vita di tanti bambini, molti dei quali forse non conosceremo mai di persona. È una protezione che li accompagnerà per tutta la vita.

EM: In recent years, thanks to BRAVO!, we have seen many children go back to studying and many families discover new opportunities. Mothers who, thanks to their birth certificate, have obtained a license to trade, fathers who have got their driving license. It is great to see the first fruits of this work and know that we helped to protect the life of so many children, many of whom we will never know in person. It is a form of protection that will accompany them throughout their lives.

September 03 2013

Assassination Attempt Against Burkina Faso President

Romuald Tuina (also spelled Tuyna) an ex-deserted soldier was killed after he opened fire  [fr] on the office of the president of Burkina Faso Blaise Campaoré, Mathieu Somda reports. Tuina was in uniform when he tried to enter the presidential palace. He then shot the light down in the palace by firing at the central generator before he was gunned down by security guards. It is still unclear whether Tuina was acting alone out of revenge or had ulterior motives.

Mug shot of Romuald Tuina after he tried to rub a bank in 2012 via paalga with permission

Mug shot of Romuald Tuina after he tried to rob a bank in 2012 via paalga with permission

August 06 2013

Tchip: The “Shaking My Head” Meme from Africa

Nadéra Bouazza explains what being “tchippée” [fr] means for french speaking black communities. Tchip is the sound one makes when he/she disapproves of the behavior/action of someone else (roughly similar to the “shaking my head” internet slang). The “Tchip” sound is used across most black communities and has become an internet meme:

Will Smith as the animated illustration of the sound

Will Smith as the animated illustration of the sound “Tchip” by the blog La Tchipie – Public Domain

 

June 15 2013

Ambassadeurs sous les projecteurs

L'outil diplomatique est d'abord question de personnes. Directrice de recherche au Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Marie-Christine Kessler étudie avec minutie les ressource humaines du Quai d'Orsay et l'organisation de ses services de la IIIe République jusqu'à nos jours . (...) / Afrique, Burkina Faso, France, Rwanda, Histoire, Relations internationales, Djibouti, Diplomatie - 2013/06

March 04 2013

The Conflict in Mali: Who is Fighting Whom, and Why?

Since the bloody conflict in Mali began one year ago, the crisis has evolved in fits and starts, all the while immersed in a historical framework that the mainstream media too often oversimplifies. Here we will try to unpack the complexities of the conflict by putting into context the violent fighting currently engulfing the northern African country.

The conflict in the north of Mali pits the Malian army and its allies against many rebels groups fighting for greater autonomy or independence in the region. These groups include Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in Western Africa, and Ansar Dine, and Tuareg nomads who belong to the political and military Azawad National Liberation Movement.

Let's try to look at what the real causes of the war in Mali are [fr]:

Tout était en place pour que le Mali s’effondre et que le Sahel explose. Affaibli par les politiques d’austérité du FMI, longtemps paralysé par la Françafrique, victime du réchauffement climatique et de multiples sécheresses, le Mali est devenu l’une des pièces centrales du nouveau grand jeu sahélien. Revendication touarègue, djihadistes enrichis par le narcotrafic, déstabilisation libyenne et ambiguïtés algériennes, financements occultes saoudiens, stratégie à court terme des États-Unis et de l’Union européenne… Voici toutes les raisons de la guerre.

Everything was ripe for Mali to collapse and for Sahel to explode. Weakened by austerity policies that had been imposed by the IMF [fr], paralyzed for so long by the policies of Françafrique, and a victim of global warming [fr] and multiple droughts [fr], Mali became one of the key players in the great new Sahelian game. The Tuareg demands; the Jihadis who had become powerful from drug trafficking; the destabilization of Libya and the uncertainty in Algeria; hidden investments from Saudi Arabia; short-sighted strategies of the United States and Europe… These are all the reasons for the war.

Timbuktu residents protest against extremism on Wikpedia CC-License

Timbuktu residents protest against extremism on Wikipedia CC-License-2.0

How did modern Mali come to be? Mouhamadou el Hady Ba and Pierre Amath Mbaye in their work “The Malian crisis and lessons for Senegal” [fr] explain how Mali emerged from the post-colonial failure of a federation in the region [fr]:

Conscients des risques liés à une fragmentation de la région et suivant leur idéal panafricaniste, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Mamadou Dia, Modibo Keïta et d’autres dirigeants avaient pourtant formé l’idée de reprendre l’ensemble constitué par l’administration coloniale, l’Afrique Occidentale Française, en le portant vers l’indépendance sous la forme d’une fédération. … l’opposition marquée des autorités françaises de l’époque associée à celle de Félix Houphouët Boigny futur Chef de l’Etat ivoirien, réduiront cette fédération à un face à face entre le Soudan français (aujourd’hui Mali)  et le Sénégal, au sein de la Fédération du Mali . Cette tentative échouera sur fond d’options politiques différentes et de compétition pour le pouvoir, avec, en arrière-plan, l’engagement du Mali aux côtés des partisans algériens, lors de leur guerre d’indépendance. Le 20 aout 1960, voit donc s’éteindre avec la dissolution de la Fédération du Mali …

Keenly aware of the risks tied to a fragmented region, and following their Pan-African ideals, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Mamadou Dia, Modibo Keïta and other leaders still had the idea to carry on with the group that had made up the colonial administration known as l’Afrique Occidentale Française, by pushing for independence as a federation. …However, there was strong opposition from the French authorities, which at the time were linked to Félix Houphouët Boigny — an eventual Head of State of Côte d'Ivoire. This gave rise to a power struggle between French Sudan (today Mali) and Senegal, within the Mali Federation. This attempt at federation would eventually fail based on various political options and power struggles, while the Malian engagement in support of Algerian independence played out in the background. August 20, 1960, ends with the dissolution of the Federation of Mali…

Eros Sana on bastamag.net continues in his article, Mali : les véritables causes de la guerre (Mali: the Real Causes of the War [fr]) describing how Mali then experienced a brief window of socialism before a military coup brought a dictator to power:

Nous sommes en 1960, le Mali accède à l’indépendance. Le premier président malien, Modibo Keïta, instituteur et panafricaniste, élu démocratiquement, a à peine le temps d’entamer une profonde réforme agraire avant d’être renversé en 1968 lors d’un coup d’état mené par Moussa Traoré, soutenu par la France. [Les vingt-trois ans de règne seront sanglants]. Moussa Traoré ne se contente pas d’appauvrir et d’affamer son peuple, il mène aussi une forte répression contre la minorité Touareg du Mali. Les Touaregs représentent environ 2 % de la population malienne. Ils sont également présents au Niger, au Burkina-Faso, en Mauritanie, en Libye et en Algérie.

We are in 1960, Mali is gaining independence. The first president of Mali, Modibo Keïta, teacher and Pan-Africanist, democratically elected, barely has time to begin sweeping agricultural reforms before being overthrown in 1968 during a France-backed coup d’état orchestrated by Moussa Traoré. (The 23 years of rule that followed would be bloody). Moussa Traoré was not happy with simply impoverishing and starving his people, he also carried out powerful repressive measures against the Tuareg minority group in Mali. The Tuaregs represented about 2 percent of the Malian population. They are also present in Niger, Burkina-Faso, Mauritania, Libya and in Algeria.

Mouhamadou el Hady Ba and Pierre Amath Mbaye add another important factor to the equation: the rise of drug trafficking [fr]:

L’Afrique de l’ouest est ainsi devenue un espace stratégique de négoce des stupéfiants, à la suite du renforcement de la répression aux Etats-Unis et au Canada. Cette situation va amener les narcotrafiquants à se redéployer vers l’Europe en trouvant de nouvelles routes, et à exploiter le potentiel de corruptibilité de l’Administration des Etats de la région pour assurer leur tranquillité. En 2009, la drogue était expédiée de Colombie, du Venezuela et du Brésil, et arrivait par les ports de Guinée Bissau et du Cap-Vert au Nord, et ceux du Ghana au Sud. Les cargaisons étaient ensuite réparties entre le Nigéria, la Guinée, le Sénégal, la Mauritanie, puis, remontaient vers le Maroc et l’Algérie. En novembre de la même année, le monde entier découvrait l’atterrissage clandestin dans le nord du Mali d’un triréacteur Boeing 727 chargé de cocaïne, l’évènement donnant lieu à une affaire popularisée sous le nom d’Air Cocaïne, avec des ramifications en Amérique du sud et en Europe. Un symbole stupéfiant d’insertion de l’Afrique dans l’économie mondialisée, pourrait-on dire avec malice, si la situation n’était à ce point inquiétante.

And so, West Africa became a strategic point for the drug trade, following heightened efforts to snuff it out in the US and Canada. This situation would eventually cause drug traffickers to focus their efforts more on Europe by finding new routes, and to exploit the state administrations of the region that were susceptible to corruption, in exchange for guaranteeing peace. In 2009, drugs were exported from Colombia, Venezuela, and Brasil, and arrived at ports in Guinea-Bissau and Cape-Verde in the north, and at those of Ghana in the south. The cargo was then split up between Nigeria, Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania, and reassembled once again near Morocco and Algeria. In November of the same year, the entire world would come to know of the clandestine landing of a three-engine Boeing 727 loaded with cocaine. The event gave rise to a scandal popularly known as Air Cocaine, which had repercussions in South America and Europe. A confounding symbol of Africa's insertion in the world economy, one may say mischievously, if the situation had not been so perplexing.

With respect to Saudi influence, Sahel expert Maurice Freund explained in an interview on website Afrik.com that Islamic extremism began to take root more than two decades ago when Saudi-financed organizations helped Malian people where their government failed them. “It's too late for Mali, we should have acted 20 years ago!” he said:

Il y a déjà plus de 20 ans, je rencontrais des Pakistanais et des Soudanais financés par les Saoudiens qui prêchaient le wahhabisme sous forme d’organisation humanitaire, en effectuant la construction de puits, de mosquées. Ils comblaient les carences des autorités dans le domaine social. D’où la prolifération des djihadistes. Le développement du wahhabisme dans le nord-Mali a commencé il y a déjà 25 ans.

More than 20 years ago now, I met Pakistanis and Sudanese people financed by Saudis. They preached [ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam] Wahhabism through humanitarian organizations by building wells and mosques. They made up for the shortcomings of the authorities on the social level. Hence the proliferation of the Jihadist movement. Wahabbism in the north of Mali began 25 years ago.

While trying to trace the genesis of the Djihadi movement in Sahel,  Abou Djaffar explains on his blog that:

En 1996, pourtant, il ne s’agissait même pas d’un front secondaire, mais simplement de l’arrière-cour de la guerre civile algérienne.

In 1996, however, it wasn't even a question of a being secondary front in the Algerian civil war, but it was in fact the Algerian civil war that just extended in the backyard.

Repercussions [fr] of the overthrow of Muammar Kadhafi, who supplied Mali with large amounts of funding, during the Libyan Civil War in 2011 added to the volatile situation brewing in Mali, Eros Sana writes:

En plus d’investissements lourds, Kadhafi multiplie les financements à petite échelle : écoles, dispensaires ou routes dans l’ensemble du Mali. Lorsque Kadhafi et son régime disparaissent, ce sont d’un côté de très nombreuses armes et des centaines d’hommes aguerris qui s’exilent dans le Sahel ; et de l’autre, des flux de plusieurs centaines de milliers d’euros qui se tarissent. Pour un pays dont plus de la moitié de la population vit avec moins d’un dollar par jour, c’est une importante manne qui s’envole. Après avoir appuyé militairement le renversement du régime libyen, les puissances de l’Otan auraient dû prévoir ce vide causé par la chute du colonel et le combler. Cela n’a pas été fait.

Aside from large investments, Kadhafi increased financing on the smaller scale: schools, health centers, roads throughout all of Mali. When Kadhafi and his regime disappeared, there was, on one side a large number of weapons, and hundreds of hardened men who were exiled in the Sahel region; and on the other side the evaporation of several hundred thousands of euros that had once flowed in. For a country where half of the population lives on less than one dollar a day, it is an important source of bread and butter that disappears. After having lent military support to the overthrow of the Libyan regime the NATO forces should have foreseen this vacuum that was was caused by the fall of the Colonel and worked to address it. That was not done.

Twitter user @Abdou_diarra foresaw on his blog the creation of new regions [fr] in northern Mali prior to the military coup that would overthrow President Amadou Toumani Touré in March 2012:

Blogger ASKIAMOHAMED writes about the Tuareg [fr] and their demands::

Elle commence le 17 janvier 2012 soit 2 mois avant le coup de force à Bamako, les rebelles attaquent Menaka, Tessalit et Aguel’hoc avant d’y être chassés par l’armée malienne.
Un véritable jeu de chaises musicales a lieu durant près de un mois dans les villes à la frontière algérienne entre l’armée, le Mouvement national de libération de l’Azawad (MNLA) ainsi que le groupe Ansar Dine et leurs alliés d’ al Qaida au Maghreb islamique.

Le massacre de militaires maliens par les rebelles et leurs alliés à Aguel’hoc, à l’arme blanche va profondément choquer le peuple malien et mettre à jour les failles de l’armée et l’animosité de cette rébellion.

Début avril le coup d’état consommé le MNLA et leurs alliés islamistes contrôlent les deux tiers du Mali, l’armée malienne désorganisée par le coup ayant déserté.

En effet le coup d’état a désorganisé la chaine de commandement de l’armée et a mis à jour la fragilité de cette dernière et a donc conduit à cette débandade ou « retrait stratégique ».

Le MNLA proclame l’indépendance de cette zone le 6 avril 2012 car elle considère que c’est le berceau de la civilisation touareg, un fait inédit dans l’histoire car aucun peuple nomade ne s’est jamais réclamé d’un territoire avec des frontières bien dessinées.

De plus historiquement sur cette terre il y avait l’empire Songhaï fondé à Koukia au 7ieme siècle, par les Sonrhaïs, et les Berbères et dirigés par le chef Za el-Ayamen, qui fuyaient devant l’invasion arabe.

Ce métissage entre Sonrhaïs et Berbères donnera la dynastie des Dia. Puis vint la dynastie de Sonni ali ber et des Askia avec Gao pur capitale, avant de sombrer au 16ieme siecle sous l’invasion marocaine. Il y a également eu l’empire peul du Macina et l’empire toucouleur au 19ieme siècle. De plus de nombreuses tribus, Bozos (pécheurs) et dogons peuplaient cette zone.

Donc il n’y a aucune légitimité historique à cette demande.

It begins on the January 17, 2012, about two months before the showing of force at Bamako, the rebels attack Menaka, Tessalit, and Aguel’hoc before being driven out by the Malian Army.

A bonafide game of musical chairs takes place for almost one month in the towns on the Algerian border between the army, the National Azawad Liberation Movement (MNLA) as well as the group Ansar Dine and their Al-Qaeda allies from the Islamic Maghreb.

The massacre at knifepoint of Malian soldiers by Malian rebels and their allies at Aguel’hoc, severely shocks the Malian people and bring to light the failings of the army and the bitterness of this rebellion.

At the start of April, the coup [against President Amandou Toumani Touré] already executed, the MNLA and their Islamic allies control two-thirds of Mali. The Malian army, having been taken by the surprise by the coup, have deserted.

In fact, the coup ambushed the chain of command within the army and highlighted its vulnerability thereby driving this disbanding or “strategic withdrawal”.

The MNLA proclaims the independence of this zone on the April 6, 2012 because it believes that the region is the cradle of the Tuareg civilization, an unprecedented act because no nomadic people have ever claimed a territory with precisely defined borders.

Moreover, historically in this region there was the Songhai empire founded at Koukia in the 7th century by the Songhai and Berbers and led by chief Za el-Ayamen. They fled before the Arab invasion.

The mixing of Songhai and Berber people would eventually give rise to the Dia dynasty. After this came the Sonni Ali Ber dynasty and the Askia with Gao being the capital, before succumbing, in the 16th century to the Moroccan invasion. There was also the Massina Empire and the Toucouleur Empire of the 19th century. Not to mention various tribes, Bozos (a tribe of fishermen) and Dogons inhabited this zone. Therefore, there is no historical legitimacy to this demand.

It is in this context that France is intervening [fr] in its former colony to oust the Islamists, a move known as Operation Serval.

Though some think that France's intervention in Mali is driven purely by self interest, such as the author of this article entitled Nouvelles de la turbulence (News of the Unrest) [fr], such speculation [fr] should be treated with caution:

… il y aurait plus d’uranium au Mali qu’au Niger, et après avoir sécurisé les ressources libyennes (en excluant les émergents), les Français chercheraient à faire de même dans le Sahel. … qu’on ne fait pas de guerre pour des ressources qui ne sont encore que spéculatives, puisqu’on n’en connaît pas la quantité réelle et qu’on n’en voit pas encore la couleur. Arguments assez naïfs mais peut-être corrects pour le cas d’espèce.

Supposedly, there could be be more uranium in Mali than in Niger, and after having secured the Libyan resources (not counting those currently being currently explored), the French would be seeking to do the same thing in the Sahel region. …We wouldn't go to war for “potential” resources unless we knew the real quantity and quality of these resources. The resource-speculating arguments might be naive at first but perhaps not entirely off-base in this case.

Wirriyamu responds in this article Ne pas laisser dire (3) [fr] (Do not let it be said):

Je suis convaincu désormais que certains trouvent totalement anormal le soutien de l’opinion malienne, et au-delà africaine, à cette intervention. Ils mettent cette adhésion le plus souvent sur le dos de la naïveté ou de l’ignorance, c’est selon. Ce qui montre que beaucoup, trop nombreux à mon goût, pensent encore que les Africains n’ont pas leur place sur le chemin de l’histoire qui se fait sans eux, hors d’eux. Bref, ils subissent tout.

I am now convinced that some find the support of the Malian public, not to mention African support for this intervention, to be completely abnormal. They usually place the blame for this support squarely on the back of naivete or ignorance, as the case may be. This shows that many — too many for my taste — still think that Africans have had no active role in the course of history [fr]. It happens without them. In sum, they are victims.

February 25 2013

Touaregs, la « marche en vrille »

Les soulèvements armés touaregs qui ont jailli depuis les années 1960 au Mali, au Niger ou en Algérie ne sont pas surprenants ou imprévisibles : ils s'inscrivent dans la prolongation de la résistance des Touaregs aux empires coloniaux. / Algérie, Burkina Faso, Libye, Guérilla, Identité culturelle, (...) / Algérie, Burkina Faso, Libye, Guérilla, Identité culturelle, Minorité nationale, Droits des minorités, Mali, Niger, Touaregs, Sahel, Nomades - 2012/05

January 11 2013

Insécurité alimentaire au Burkina Faso

Voici le troisième volet de Terres, la série de reportages photographiques produite par le CCFD-Terre Solidaire et soutenue par Le Monde diplomatique. Dans cet épisode, Philippe Revelli se rend à Ouagadougou pour enquêter sur les raisons des émeutes de la faim qui ont touché le Burkina Faso, et (...) / Burkina Faso, Agriculture, Alimentation, Faim - La valise diplomatique

November 12 2012

Coalition of African Nations Agrees to Send 3,300 Soldiers a year to Northern Mali

Seven African nations of ECOWAS namely Nigeria, Senegal, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire and Togo have agreed with Malian government [fr] to send 3,300 soldiers a year to Northern Mali to take back control of northern Mali from Islamist fighters. Other nations outside the ECOWAS might also send in troops.

October 02 2012

France, Africa: The Debate on Genetically Modified Organisms Grows Contentious

[All links forward to french articles unless otherwise stated]

A two year scientific study using laboratory rats has been conducted by a team of researchers led by Gilles-Eric Séralini. The researchers arrived at conclusions which have reawakened French debate on the effects of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

The study was led by a team from the University of Caen supported by the Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN) and was conducted to examine the toxicity levels of GMOs on rats. This study has raised many important questions on the effects of GMOs while scientific community has also raised concerns about what conclusions can properly be drawn from it.

In a post on website journaldelenvironnement.net, Stephanie Senet and Romain Loury, analysed the outcome:

Mortalité précoce, tumeurs volumineuses, anomalies sévères au niveau des organes épurateurs (foie, reins)… [..]. L’équipe de scientifiques a constaté qu’un mâle nourri avec l’OGM mourait un an plus tôt, et une femelle 8 mois avant l’animal-témoin. Au 17ème mois, les résultats montrent une mortalité 5 fois supérieure chez les mâles nourris avec 11% de maïs génétiquement modifié -la plus faible dose d’OGM étudiée.

Les mâles sont atteints de tumeurs 20 mois avant les autres. Les femelles en présentent 3 mois avant les autres, principalement au niveau des glandes mammaires. Autre facteur de mortalité, principalement chez les mâles, les atteintes rénales sont jusqu’à 2,3 fois plus fréquentes, les anomalies hépatiques jusqu’à 5,5 fois plus.

Early mortality, large tumors, severe abnormalities of filtration organs (liver, kidneys)… [..]. The team of scientists found that a GMO-fed male died a year earlier, and a female 8 months before the animal-control. In the 17th month, the results show 5 times mortality in males fed with 11% of genetically modified maize - the lowest dose of GMOs studied.

Males suffered from tumors 20 months before the others. Females showed them 3 months before the others, mainly in the mammary glands. Another factor in mortality, mainly in males, was that kidney damage was up to 2.3 times more frequent, liver abnormalities up to 5.5 times more.

 

Screenshot of a video by lux lucis on GMOs study showing one of the tested rats

An internet user, walter99, commented on an article on website atlantico.fr:

Les hommes de Monsanto vont envahir la France par centaines Bon, vendez vos actions Monsanto, ça ne vaudra bientôt plus rien. Ça va faire pschitt… Ils vont mettre le paquet en cherchant dans sa vie privée, en essayant de l'acheter ou de le faire chanter, ces gens ont un argent sans limite. Ils peuvent dépenser un milliard en campagne d'opinion. Faudra surveiller les comptes des journalistes….

Monsanto will invade France by the hundreds! Fine! Sell your Monsanto shares, they will soon be worth nothing! They are going to go kaput! They will spare no expense researching private life, trying to buy France or blackmail it, these people have unlimited money. They can spend a billion on publicity campaigns. We will need to watch the reports from journalists carefully…

 

Divergent opinions

Sophie Chapel, on the bastamag.net blog, wrote:

La contre-attaque de Monsanto à l’étude sur les OGM de Gilles-Eric Séralini et du Criigen ne s’est pas faite attendre. C’est un courriel envoyé par un dirigeant de Monsanto, Jaime Costa, ingénieur agronome et directeur technique de Monsanto en Espagne. Il conseille à ses interlocuteurs d’aller consulter plusieurs réactions de scientifiques critiquant l’étude. Des scientifiques loin d’être indépendants…

There wasn’t long to wait for Monsanto’s counter-attack on Gilles-Eric Séralini and Criigen’s study on GMOs. It was in an e-mail sent by a leader of Monsanto, Jaime Costa, an agricultural engineer and Technical Director of Monsanto in Spain. He advises others to consult various reactions of scientists criticizing the study. Scientists are far from independent…

For example, scientific journalist Michel de Pracontal wrote the following in a critical analysis entitled ‘GMOs: a study makes much ado about almost nothing’ on mediapart.fr:

Problème : de nombreux scientifiques affirment que « l’étude n’a pas de valeur scientifique ». Sur une question aussi complexe, la méthodologie retenue par les auteurs, Gilles-Eric Séralini et ses collègues, fait apparaître toute une série de lacunes et de points faibles.

Problem: many scientists argue that “the study has no scientific value”. On such a complex issue, the methodology adopted by the authors, Gilles-Eric Séralini and his colleagues, reveals a whole series of gaps and weak points.

 

These gaps and uncertainties were explained by Professor JF Narbonne:

La première observation est un fort taux de tumeurs chez les témoins et dans plusieurs cas le taux de tumeurs chez les traités n'est pas plus important que chez les témoins. Tous les lots présentent donc des taux de tumeurs très importants, de 30 à 80% des animaux [..] Cette étude donne des résultats surprenants, inexplicables et comporte quelques lacunes évidentes. Les résultats doivent donc être sérieusement étudiés par les experts des agences sanitaires d'autant plus que de nombreux paramètres autres que le cancer ont été mesurés. En revanche, toutes les extrapolations [que les médias ont conclu] relèvent de la désinformation caractérisée.

The first observation is a high rate of tumours in controls and in many cases the incidence of tumours in the test subjects is not higher than in the controls. All groups therefore showed very high rates of tumours, from 30 to 80% of the animals. This study gives surprising, inexplicable results and there are some obvious gaps. The results should therefore be closely studied by health agency experts, especially as many parameters aside from cancer were measured. On the other hand, all the extrapolations [that the mainstream media concluded as a result of the study] are just blatant misinformation.

Following an initiative of the French Government, the European Commission questioned the European Food Safety Authority [en] (EFSA), asking it to conduct its own counter-investigation. However, Serafini set conditions that Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, Director of the EFSA rejected. The website reporterre.net detailed:

 Gilles-Eric Séralini est d’accord pour une expertise de l’Efsa à condition que les experts soient renouvelés de telle manière que ceux-ci ne soient conduits à devoir se contredire. La directrice de l’Efsa ne l’entend pas de cette oreille. Elle refuse le renouvellement de ses experts. Sa positon, c’est “Je maintiens. Tout”.

 Gilles-Eric Séralini agrees to Efsa advice provided that the experts are renewed in such a way that they are not led to have to contradict themselves. The Director of the Efsa does not see it that way. She refuses the renewal of its experts. Her position is “I look after. Everything”.

On the same site, Corinne Lepage, President and founder of CRIIGEN, and member of the European Parliament said in an interview:

Il faut savoir en effet que ces experts, qui n’ont jamais réclamé des études de plus de 90 jours sur le NK603, pourraient dans le futur être mis en cause. Ils sont donc aujourd’hui juges et parties

It must be understood that these experts, who have never performed studies of more than 90 days on the NK603, could have to answer questions in the future. They are therefore today judges and stakeholders.

The duration of the study seems to have acquired a great importance. Stéphanie Senet et Romain Loury stated in a post on website journaldelenvironnement.net:

Aucune étude aussi longue, et avec autant de paramètres, n’avait été menée jusqu’à présent. Les travaux financés par les industriels s’étaient en effet limités à des observations pendant 3 mois.

No study as long and with as many parameters has previously been conducted. The work financed by industrialists was actually limited to observations for 3 months.

While the debate among scientists is therefore far from being closed, between the pro and anti-GM, the public is far from being reassured. Yves Puget stated on lsa-conso.fr that:

Selon un sondage Ifop réalisé pour Dimanche Ouest France, 79% des personnes interrogées s'inquiètent de la présence éventuelle d'OGM dans l'alimentation.

According to a poll the French Institute of Public Opinion carried out for a Sunday newspaper, 79% of respondents are concerned about the possible presence of GMOs in food.

It seems there is something to be concerned about according to Marion Rocky of website terrafemina.com:

Et si les cultures transgéniques sont interdites en France, 80% des animaux d’élevage consomment des céréales contenant des OGM. Ainsi, deux tiers des importations de soja en France sont des OGM qui servent à l’alimentation du bétail : on peut ensuite en trouver des traces dans la viande, les œufs, le lait.

And even if transgenic crops are banned in France, 80% of farmed animals consume cereals containing GMOs. Two thirds of soybean imports in France are GMOs which are used for livestock feed: one can then find traces in meat, eggs, milk.

Francophone Africa joined the debate, with Dosso commenting under a post on lefaso.net:

Je me demande souvent à quoi servent notre CNRST et la LNSP souvent ; c'est pas parce que les laboratoires occidentaux ont dit que tel produit est bon que nos techniciens ne doivent plus rien faire pour confirmer ou infirmer encore ; Mais c'est grave, et écoeurant. Est ce qu'il y a vraiment des services de recherche en Afrique et au Burkina en particulier ?

I often wonder what is the point of our National Centre for Scientific and Technical Research and the National Public Health Laboratory. This is not because Western laboratories have said that such products are good, rather that our technicians must no longer do anything to confirm or disprove this yet. But this is serious, and sickening. Are there really research services in Africa and, specifically, Burkina Faso?

In the following video, the president of the TATA association (Young People as Pillars of the Rural World in english) , Jean Rakotomanana, explains the effects of GMOs and pesticides on agriculture in Madagascar:

The site monsanto.fr states that:

L’Afrique du sud, l’Egypte et le Burkina Faso sont les trois pays africains ayant choisi de cultiver des OGM.

South Africa, Egypt and Burkina Faso are the three African countries that have chosen to grow GMOs.

In Zimbabwe, Kenya and Ghana, lobbyists are piling on the pressure. What is more, Africa cannot even feed itself, it is difficult to stem the flow of GMOs onto the continental market. Ten years ago, contrary to Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and the Zimbabwe, Zambia refused corn from the United States, provided by the United Nations, suspecting that it contained GMOs.

However, farmers and civil society in many countries are not hiding their doubts on GMOs and are demanding a better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of introducing them to their crops.

September 24 2012

Africa: Controversy over the Presidency of the Confederation of African Football

Ouédraogo of Ouagadougou wrote the following on mondoblog.org :

The Confederation of African football adopted a shameful regulation during its general meeting on Monday, September 3, 2012, stipulating that only members of the Executive Committee may run for President of the governing body of African football. A settlement which eliminates, in theory, the main competitor of Issa Kilipytiboe from the next scheduled election in March 2013, Ivorian Jacques Anouma.

 

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