Indeed, a few well-known and already established leaders of other parties were thanked and reimbursed for their support during the campaign. And yet it must be said that the political campaign was in part a product of. Despite this duality, it was impressive to see that politics could still evoke passion and interest among the population, instead of indifference and boredom as I am used to in my home country. The determination of the people to vote was impressive: on Election Day, which had been postponed twice, people waited for hours in long lines to mark their choices on the ballot paper.
Two days before the National Assembly had passed a law making it possible for the "forgotten" to vote without voting cards.
Coming from a world where we accord more significance to our breakfast choices, it was an eye-opening experience to witness elections where the civilian populations showcased their pride in the democratic process. For the continent at large however, the significance of the summit is more than symbolic. With issues on the negotiating table that could have a considerable environmental, social, and economic impact for a large majority of the African Countries, the region has much at stake.
However, it is not only the final agreement that will be important for these countries: the negotiations themselves may prove to be an important test for the fledgling Africa Group in international climate negotiations.
The Africa Group of Negotiators AGN , established by the African Union AU in to consolidate a common position and strategy in climate negotiations, has become the nexus of the African strategy on climate change, providing a unified platform from which the continent can pursue its interests and priorities. The AU has reinforced support to the Africa Group in the lead-up to the negotiations, but nevertheless faces significant challenges if it is to successfully impose its ambitious agenda at Durban. High stakes, rising profile.
With few human or financial resources and little political clout, African countries had a limited ability to impose their priorities independently in international forums. The AGN increases the negotiating capacity of its member countries by pooling the resources that had previously been spread thin across multiple national delegations. While the Africa Group has not produced a wholesale change in the dynamics of international climate negotiations, it has made significant progress in promoting African common interests on the international agenda.
Negotiators have aggressively pursued the inclusion of adaptation concerns in international climate agreements as well as defending their methodological interests, notably staging a full-scale walkout in negotiations in Barcelona in in defense of the Kyoto Protocol. Within months of its establishment, the Group was approached by a number of emerging and industrialized countries— among them China and France— seeking to establish bilateral partnerships that included negotiation cooperation, adaptation financing, and mitigation projects.
Looking toward Durban The Durban negotiations are particularly relevant to the Africa Group for two principal reasons. First, COP17 could make significant contributions to shaping the legal form of future agreements.
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As a result of its widespread vulnerability to climate change and the glaring insufficiency of the bottom-up commitments resulting from the previous two conferences, the African common position forcefully maintains the necessity of a top-down, legally binding approach to emissions reductions, pushing for the prolongation of the Kyoto protocol beyond Partially in response to the high stakes of the upcoming negotiations, the AU has taken steps in recent months to strengthen the negotiating capacity and cohesiveness of the Africa Group.
In June , the organization established a permanent bureau for the Africa Group of Negotiators in order to enhance the functioning of the AGN. The bureau brings together government officials, experts, and negotiators, charged with providing technical support to the AGN in updating the African common position and setting negotiating strategy. The bureau has also set an ambitious research agenda intended to enhance future negotiating and implementation capacity, which could also help increase the participation of civil society and stakeholder organizations in the formulation of the Africa Group climate change agenda further reinforcing the capacity of the group.
The pooling of human and technical resources through more formalized channels in the AGN permanent bureau will go a long way in increasing the negotiating capacity of the AGN member states. However, the group remains constrained by an overburdened diplomatic corps as well as limited financial capacity.
The African delegation is at a significant disadvantage relative to other groups with more available resources to dedicate to climate negotiations, and who may further hold more negotiating capital by virtue of their global economic or geopolitical importance. The AGN will also need to contend with serious internal divisions on the continent that could place a strain on the. The membership of AGN is composed of 54 states with differing economic, environmental, and demographic profiles, and equally varied priorities and interests with regard to climate change and adaptation. These organizations, which have significant African membership, demand drastic binding commitments to emissions reductions from both Annex-I countries and major developing country emitters in order to keep global average temperature increases to 1.
As a regional leader, South Africa has already borne a great deal of the burden in bridging internal divides within the AGN, and will undoubtedly play a role in addressing the larger fault lines that will arise during the negotiations in Durban as conference chair. South Africa has a strong foreign policy commitment to subSaharan Africa, which stipulates that the region should be its primary focus.
The country also acutely aware of its somewhat unique position on the continent in terms of both its economic and emissions profile, and is therefore careful to interact with its regional partners on an equal footing.
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Should the South African delegation fail in its task to balance these InFocus An African COP? With several priorities for the African continent on the agenda, the AU and its member states have high hopes for COP Ultimately, it is the negotiations on future of the Kyoto Protocol that will most challenge the resilience and capacity of the AGN at Durban; divergent opinions within the AU membership on the repartition of mitigation responsibilities and substantial international pressures will bring latent divisions in the AGN to the fore.
The ability of the African negotiators to maintain a unified position on the legal form of future climate negotiations. Paris: IFRI. When it comes to thinking about diseases or health in Africa, people are really afraid. The reality is that many severe infections can be prevented by a vaccine: yellow fever, typhoid fever, polio, hepatitis B, various vaccines to prevent meningitis, etc. Effective preventive medicine protects you from malaria. Besides, by ensuring a good hygiene around food, drinking and body, simply washing your hands, you stay healthy with limited efforts and costs.
Regardless of the odds, one such country has succeeded to feature regularly on the front pages. This country has no outstanding natural resources, a very low GDP, and virtually no political influence internationally. What it has to offer for the international audience is its long standing history of conflict and famine. The current food crisis in the Horn of Africa equally strikes about 4. The UN defines the state of famine based on three strongly connected criteria: first, 20 percent of the population must have fewer than kilocalories of food available per day.
Secondly, more than 30 percent of children must be acutely malnourished; and third, at least two deaths per day must occur in every 10, people caused by the lack of food. According to the UN estimates, about , people could die in the coming months and as much as 10 million are at direct risk in the Horn of Africa.
So far, as many as , Somalis left their land and sought refuge in the Dabaab camp for displaced people in the neighboring Kenya. As the famine — or gaajo in the local language — is ravaging the population, a cholera epidemic broke out in mid-August and a growing number of measles, malaria and typhoid cases are being reported. Even if the fall rains finally start to pour over the parched land, before any crop could bear fruit, the emaciated and weak population would be exposed to a heightened risk of waterborne and infectious deceases.
However, according to the forecasts of the World Meteorological Organization, the drought is likely to extend to the first quarter of and even the most optimistic calculations anticipate next harvest only a year from now4. Images of the famine-stricken region have shocked the world a number of times in the past two decades. Somalia has seen the first of what became a series of severe famine in as the central government collapsed in Mogadishu and the country fell into a long period of turmoil,.
Since the outbreak of the civil war, Somalia has experienced two other severe food crises in and most recently in , affecting all together 30 million people. The causes are multiple.
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The African drylands have first experienced the effects of climate change about forty years ago. The prolonged dry seasons are often forcing the traditional pastoralist communities to sell their animals that they can no longer feed on grass. The rise in supply automatically results in falling animal prices which has been coupled recently with the sharp increase in food prices, toppling in January since The growing prices of food partially induced by diverting production to biofuels and low interest rates in the major food exporting Western countries are hitting particularly hard countries with high food import dependency rate, such as Somalia where the domestic political crisis and the present drought virtually ended food production.
Nonetheless, the prolonged domestic conflict in the country had greatly undermined food security long before the food price shock. It has been practically impossible to open a bank account in the Southern part of the region controlled by the Muslim fundamentalist Al Shabaab since , thus food imports often have to be paid by cash. The additional costs are consequently incorporated in the already high food prices felt first and foremost by the poor rural communities.
What leaves room for even deeper worries is that the lack of transparency in the dealings naturally results in smuggling cheap, low quality food often not met for human consumption. The Conflict-Famine-Conflict Cycle The beginning of the current drought was the last drop in the Somalian bucket, ironically in its inverse sense. While the extreme weather is affecting the neighboring countries as well, in the recent years, they have been experimenting with droughtresistant crops, built water projects and gradually diversified their livelihoods; as a consequence, they are much less affected by the present crisis.
DOSSIER by the construction of an effective food and cash distribution network among the poorest, in order to avoid the selling of their productive assets, such as animals. Although the famine does not stop at the border, humanitarian aid workers and food shipments often have to due to the blockade imposed by Al Shabaab.
The death toll in the Southern region under the control of the fundamentalist rebels is remarkably higher than in the North, still controlled by the weak, Western-backed moderate government led by Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali. Aid workers cannot or are reluctant to penetrate the South. As a result, there is either zero humanitarian access to these areas or local groups are appointed for the supervision of food shipment distribution without any direct control by the aid organizations.
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This results among others, in the wholesale theft of food aid by local businessmen and the officers of Al Shabaab. The current situation is showing a high resemblance to the crisis in resolved by an eventual shift in the weather rather than by Western aid. Although Al Shabaab has given up the bullet-ridden capital in late August, it is still not sure that aid can reach the region due to the ensuing tribal conflict driven by starvation in the power vacuum not properly filled by the weak transitional government. Recent discussion in security studies began to broaden the scope of security threats to include human in security in the international discourse, an aspect neglected or rather ignored by the traditional realist approach dominating the field until the early s.
Since then, an increased attention has been given to the relation between conflict, poverty and horizontal inequality opening up the debate on the nature and origins of threats to national and international security. The present humanitarian crisis in Somalia is a perfect textbook case for illustrating the poverty-conflict-poverty-conflict cycle partially induced by climate change.
Somalia has been consistently figuring in the list of the ten poorest countries in the world.
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In other words, the ongoing conflict is revolving around the acute food crisis in the region whether induced by the cheap Western imports, the food price hike or falling agricultural returns caused by climate change. Al Shabaab describes itself as waging an open war against the enemies of Islam and therefore, it is considered as a terrorist group in several Western countries.
Although Al Shabaab has proven its capability to strike abroad in numerous suicide attacks in Ethiopia, the West has already learned through the painful lesson of Operation Restore Hope in to stay out of Somali politics, thus direct military involvement in order to restore peace and order in the failing Somali state is highly unlikely. The domestic turmoil within Somalia has spillover effects in the neighboring, relatively stable states.
In the civil war, 2 million Somalis have left the country out of which the majority never returned. Therefore, it is not surprising that while the population of the Dabaab refugee camp, originally for 90,, is currently peaking at ,, the reluctance in Kenya to admit new.
These facts and figures unquestionably cry for a solution for the Somali conflict from a local community-based, food security approach. R2F - Responsibility to Feed Although the picture painted above might appear bleak, the current situation also gives reason for hope. Since the recent droughts in the region, much progress has been made in order to forecast and alleviate future famine. The early warning network considerably improved ability to forecast humanitarian crisis and reduce risks by a timely, coordinated and efficient manner.
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Ethiopia, for instance, used data from the warning system to prepare food reserves for the leaner times. The local government has been investing substantially in soil conservation,. International assistance in mitigating the risks is essential, from food shipments to technical knowledge on agriculture and irrigation to access to telecommunication technologies.
Advice from financial experts and risk analysts on dealing with the economic consequences of the sharp drop in agricultural production and increased food dependency on the short run can prevent further damage of the local economies. Much can be done with concerted effort and available technological and scientific knowledge, but requires concerted effort from the international community.
Additionally, donor response has been uneven, with different areas receiving unequal assistance. Donors themselves have also unevenly contributed to the efforts. The Gulf countries on the other hand, have shown an increasing readiness to contribute to the mitigation of the crisis in the Horn of Africa.
African countries also took their share of the burden both financially and by making human resources available.
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