Category Archives: East Africa

South Sudan – businesses close as economic crisis worsens

Sudan Tribune

separation

January 23, 2017 (JUBA) – Hundreds of small businesses have closed in South Sudan over the last year due to hyper-inflation and failure by the local population to earn any meaningful income.

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Women sell food at Konyo Konyo market in South Sudan (Reuters)

Shops, restaurants, lodges and transport businesses owned by foreigners were affected, citizens say.

One Hassan, a Kenyan-Somali, who owned a shop in Gumbo, a Juba suburb, has a dozen stocks.

“I am planning to close this shop by the end of this month and go back to Kenya,” said Hassan.

“There were many shops here ran by Kenyans and other foreigners but they have gone back to their countries because there is no profit here now,” he added.

Nearly all markets goods in Juba and other South Sudanese towns are imported from neighboring countries and that requires United States dollars to purchase.

“Right now, the value of SSP [South Sudanese Pound] is not stable. It keeps changing, losing value against the U.S dollar,” said James Obari, Ugandan trader dealing in food items imports.

Obari, however, said the Ugandan Shillings had strengthened against the South Sudanese Pounds (SSP), hence frustrating any prospects of exporting from South Sudan’s southern bordering country.

“In fact, selling my food items within Uganda is now much better than crossing over to South Sudan. It is waste of time and a financial loss,” he added.

Like Kenyans, several Ugandan businessmen left the country and never returned, Obari said.

“I don’t want close my shop but I will be left with little choice if the economic situation does not import,” he added.

Since exchange rate for dollar was floated against SSP in 2015, the local currency has left 80% of its value and inflation stroke 800% in October. The government promised many items to address the crisis but little has changed.

Last week, President Salva Kiir fired the Central Bank governor and his deputy and made changes in the ministry of finance in an effort, economists said, aimed at making shake up in financial institutions.

Experts, however, called for more action, including independence of the country’s Central Bank to ensure none interference from politicians.

“South Sudan needs an institutional reform – independent, accountable and transparent central bank. Otherwise, recent changes in Central Bank can be analogistic,” economist Garang Atem wrote last week.

Atem said government should not use the Central bank as a tool for money withdrawn at will, but “as an institution charge to pursue a long term macroeconomic stability, when used in short-term political machination, a result is hyperinflation.”

(ST)

Sudan and South Sudan to deploy joint border patrols

Sunday Tribune


January 23, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudanese government under President Salva Kiir announced on Monday it was longer hosting Sudanese rebels in its territory, disclosing that a joint force will be deployed soon.

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Sudanese military personnel inspect the belongings of South Sudanese on the Sudanese border on 18 April 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

Presidential advisor on security affairs told Sudan Tribune on Monday that there were no longer Sudanese rebels in the country after the two countries have agreed to improve ties

“There is no problem anymore with Sudan. The issue of security along the common border has been addressed. There will be a joint monitoring and verification team”, said Tut Kew Gatluak.

In accordance with the 2012 security arrangements agreement the parties committed themselves to deploy the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mission (JBVMM) and activate the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ).

Accordingly, the parties deployed the joint units but Juba suspended its participation in November 2011 when the South Sudanese government rejected the administrative and security map presented by the AUHIP.

The proposed map included the disputed 14 mile area in the buffer zone, the Malual Dinka of Northern Bahr el Ghazal and the then State Governor Paul Malong Awan refused the measure as they refuse even to accept Sudan’s claim on the area and its inclusion among the disputed areas.

Unconfirmed reports says Juba and Khartoum discussed the situation of 14 Miles during the joint security discussions but nothing filtered about the agreement reached on this respect.

The presidential aide said the decision of the leadership of the two countries would do the best to promote peace and encourage any group with political grievances to use dialogue.

“South Sudan will never be a launching ground for hostile activities against any nation in the region. We will never be a host to hostile group. Political differences are always resolved through dialogues rather than through the use of violence approach”, he explained.

The two countries, he said, have agreed to not provide arms and training to non-state proxy groups.

(ST)

Kenyans feel; the effects of drought

Daily Nation

Experts warn of dire situation as dry spell ravages livelihoods

MONDAY JANUARY 23 2017
Residents of Ahero, Kisumu County, stand on the bed of River Nyando, which has shrunk from the continuous dry spell, on January 10. PHOTO | TOM OTIENO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Residents of Ahero, Kisumu County, stand on the bed of River Nyando, which has shrunk from the continuous dry spell, on January 10. PHOTO | TOM OTIENO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

The effects of the worsening drought have begun to be felt, with tens of rivers across the country drying up.

In the North Rift and parts of western Kenya, water sources are at risk of drying up due to the persistent drought and massive forest degradation.

Environmental experts and National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) officials in the region have warned that the water volume in most lakes, dams and reservoirs face immense decline owing to the biting drought that is blamed on climate change.

“The five water towers of Cherangany, Mt Kenya, Mt Elgon, Mau Complex and the Aberdares that are a lifeline for Kenyans are experiencing declining water volumes because of the prolonged drought and destruction of water catchments by human activities,” said Mr Mathew Koech, an Eldoret-based environmental expert.

As a result, several towns in western Kenya are faced with recurrent water shortage due to what the experts attributed to low water volumes.

The towns faced with shortage of water for domestic and industrial use include Bungoma, Webuye, Kitale, Eldoret, and Kapenguria.

According to Mr Koech, Kitale receives an average of 8,000 cubic metres of water against demand of 10,000 cubic metres.

Bungoma has a supply of 2,200 cubic metres against a demand of 6,400 cubic metres, while Webuye receives 3,513 cubic metres. Kimilili gets an average of 3,600 cubic metres against demand of 10,575 cubic metres.

“The water volumes in most lakes and rivers are expected to decline further, causing human and environmental damages, unless the rains fall,” said Mr Koech.

LOSE LIVESTOCK

Several rivers in West Pokot County are on the verge of drying up as pastoralists lose their livestock. They include Kanyangareng, Iyon Kotoruk, Anuan, Kotupor, Lomut, Kaipony, Orwa, Tamugh, Kalaywa and Sarimach.

“The tributaries that supply water to most rivers in the region have dried up, posing a serious threat to human beings and livestock,” said Mr Wilfred Longronyang, the county executive for water.

A report by the NDMA indicates that the drought in North Pokot and Central Pokot sub-counties is at an alarming stage and a large population is in dire need of food.

The county drought coordinator, Mr Gabriel Mbogho, said the proportion of children at risk of malnutrition rose by 69 per cent from November, which he said falls outside the normal range.

“The drought situation is worsening and requires urgent intervention measures,” said Mr Mbogho.
The report further revealed that pastures had deteriorated and there exists no significant variation between the pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihood zones.
Some pastoralists have migrated to Uganda in search of water and pasture for their livestock.

In Embu County, three permanent rivers that form the lifeline of the people of the lower Mbeere region have dried up, putting the lives of people and animals at risk.

FACING FAMINE

Rivers Thuci, Thiba and Ena, which are relied upon by residents of Evurore, Muminji, Kirie, Kiambere and Makima wards, have dried up, leaving behind a trail of dry crops and forcing residents to walk long distances to fetch the precious liquid.

The rivers are major tributaries of River Tana, whose waters have receded to alarmingly low levels, leaving thousands of people facing famine.

Residents, led by MCAs Albert Kigoro (Evurore), Ms Peninah Mutua (Makima) and Ms Loise Mbuya (nominated), said the area had not experienced rainfall since November, while people living upstream had diverted water to their farms for irrigation.

Mbeere Muguka Farmers Sacco Ltd chairman Francis Kimori, together with Mr Lenny Masters Mwaniki, said farmers were travelling for long distance to buy water for their plants.

Ms Mutua said a major row was brewing since some farmers had diverted River Thiba’s course, leaving those living downstream without access to water.

 “There are farmers upstream, in Don Bosco and Gachuriri, who are diverting water to their farms,” said Ms Mutua. “People are relying on some stagnant water on the river bed, which is very risky.”

NDMA Embu coordinator Tarsilah Birauka had in October warned that the region would experience low rainfall.

NDMA projects that major water sources in Isiolo County are likely to dry up in two months. County coordinator Lordman Lekalkuli said pastoralists who depend on rivers Ewaso Ng’iro, Bisanadi and Isiolo will be affected.

“If it doesn’t rain soon, then the rivers will dry up, affecting thousands of herders and livestock,” said Mr Lekalkuli.

Reports by Barnabas Bii, Oscar Kakai, Charles Wanyoro and Vivian Jebet

Kenya – Kenyatta heads to Meru on voter registration campaign

Star (Kenya)

Don’t be spectators in voter registration, Uhuru tells youths as he visits Meru

Jan. 21, 2017, 9:00 am

President Uhuru Kenyatta in a voter registration drive with Jubilee leaders in Nyeri County.PSCU
President Uhuru Kenyatta in a voter registration drive with Jubilee leaders in Nyeri County.PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta is on Saturday expected to visit Meru County on the third day of his visits to the counties to appeal to voters to register.

On Friday, President Uhuru traversed Isiolo and Nyeri counties where he asked the youth not to be spectators in the exercise.

The President appealed to those who are yet to register not to wait for the last days of the period set, but take the earliest opportunity to enlist as voters.

“As a patriotic Kenyan, you have a civic duty to register as a voter and participate in choosing the leaders you want,” the President said.

Uhuru spoke at various trading centres – among them Kiamariga, Kabiruini, Kiawairigi, Karatina, Mukurwe-ini, Othaya, Karima, Nyeri town and Chaka – where he stopped to educate residents, especially the youth, on the need to register as voters.

He reminded the youth that unless they registered as voters and took part in the August General Election, chances were that a leader who does not represent their aspirations would be elected.

“It is in your best interest to register and participate in the elections as a voter and not as a spectator,” President Uhuru said.

The President said it was unfortunate that the youth, who campaign intensely before the polls, become “mere observers’’ on the day of election because most of them do not register as voters.

“This trend should change in this year’s election. That is why we want all Kenyans, especially the youth, to register as voters,” he said.

By a show of hands, the residents who had turned out in their thousands at trading centres to receive the President, assured him that they will ensure all those who are eligible to register as voters do so.

President Uhuru also called on Jubilee members to get membership cards so as to participate in the party’s nominations, which he assured will be free and fair, and all aspirants given an equal chance.

Read: IDs out in three days, Uhuru says in push for voter listing

Burundi – haunted by ghosts of its violent past

Institute for Security Studies (Tshwane)

The situation in Burundi is still deteriorating, and could lead to genocide, civil war or regional conflict.
17 JAN 2017  /  BY SIMON ALLISON

Last week, a mass grave was discovered in a village in central Burundi. Builders, breaking ground for a new school, uncovered the skeletal remains of more than 1 000 people who had been hastily buried beneath the earth.

Although Burundi has experienced chronic instability of late, this mass grave is not connected to recent events. Not directly, anyway – although modern Burundi continues to be haunted by the ghosts of its troubled past.

According to locals, the mass grave dates back more than four decades. ‘It was in 1972 when I was a young girl studying in fifth form in primary school. The crisis began and we abandoned schools. Many people were killed and buried in this place, which remained smelly for about a whole year,’ said Rose Habonimana, speaking to IWACU News.

In 1972, more than 200 000 Burundians – mostly civilians from the country’s Hutu ethnic group – were slaughtered in an extraordinarily brutal three-month period. This was Burundi’s first genocide.

Now, some 45 years later, the problems that precipitated the slaughter – ethnic tensions, populist politics and social inequalities – haven’t disappeared. Experts are increasingly worried about a repeat performance.

‘We’re not saying the genocide is coming now. We are explaining that all the mechanisms, all the intention and all the bodies of the repression are ready to commit a possible genocide,’ said Florent Geel, Africa Director for the International Federation for Human Rights.

In April 2015, Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a third term as president of this tiny East African nation. This was a blatant contradiction to the spirit, if not the letter, of the Arusha Accord – the peace deal that ended the civil war, yet another dark chapter in Burundi’s history that left more than 300 000 people dead in 13 years of violence.

Nkurunziza’s decision was met with strong opposition, both domestically and internationally, but the president went ahead anyway, using the full force of the state as well as informal youth militias to guarantee his victory. Since then, Nkurunziza has moved to consolidate his power by shutting down civil society and independent media, eliminating opposition, and stirring up ethnic tensions. A United Nations report found that at least 348 people died in extrajudicial killings between July 2015 and June 2016, with government or government-aligned forces mostly to blame.

The international community has proved powerless to stop Nkurunziza. Repeated efforts at mediation have led nowhere, and any progress that has been made has not been implemented by Nkurunziza’s administration. Things have got so bad that the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, the regional body tasked with mediating the political crisis, has threated to suspend Burundi unless it embraces dialogue and ends the recent spate of extrajudicial killings.

‘There has been no significant movement on Burundi at all,’ observed Stephanie Wolters, Head of the Peace and Security Research Programme at the Institute for Security Studies.

If anything, Wolters observed, Nkurunziza’s hand in the diplomatic arena has been strengthened by recent comments made by East African Community mediator, Benjamin Mkapa. At a press conference, Mkapa appeared to endorse both Nkurunziza’s third term and the controversial elections that gave it to him. ‘Those who want me to question the legitimacy of Pierre Nkurunziza are out of their mind – it is the people who have given legitimacy to the government,’ Mkapa said.

So where does Burundi go from here?

The options are bleak. Analysts are very concerned that the situation might degenerate further, with three scenarios possible: an escalation in extrajudicial killings that turns into a genocide; a civil war between government forces and opposition groups, some of whom have already threatened an armed rebellion; or a regional war in which other countries are also embroiled.

In the latter scenario, Rwanda’s potential role is most concerning. Rwanda has already been accused of arming Burundian rebel groups, although it denies this accusation. Nkurunziza is also upping the ante. In his New Year’s Eve address, the president made a point of emphasising Burundi’s ownership of a disputed hill on the Burundi-Rwanda border.

‘All three of these scenarios are possibilities,’ said Wolters. ‘What Nkurunziza is doing is rolling back everything that Burundi has been based on in the last 15 years. The more he chips away at the ethnic balance that has made Burundi work, the longer we have no movement on negotiations, the closer we get to armed conflict, regional war or genocide.’

A key constraint for analysts and policymakers when assessing Burundi, however, is the dearth of information coming out of the country. Nkurunziza’s crackdown on civil society and media means that outside of Bujumbura, no one really knows what is going on. Addressing this information gap should be an immediate priority for the international community, and can be achieved by pressuring Nkurunziza into allowing a meaningful number of international and African observers into the country. (There are already 32 African Union (AU) observers in situ, but this number is far from adequate.)

‘We need more neutral presence on the ground,’ says Wolters. ‘Or we need Nkurunziza to let civil society operate freely again, and to show some confidence-building measures. But we all know that that’s not going to happen. It’s a really grim outlook, frankly. He doesn’t want the United Nations, he doesn’t want the AU, he doesn’t want civil society. That isn’t going to change.’

One potential lever that the international community is yet to seriously consider is Burundi’s involvement in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Burundi contributes 5 432 troops to the peacekeeping mission. The payments received from AMISOM by the government and soldiers provide one of the main sources of foreign currency into Burundi. Withholding those payments could substantially alter the balance of power within the armed forces, which might just push Nkurunziza into a compromise.

There is no sign that this particular strategy is on the agenda of the AU or of the United Nations Security Council, however, who still need Burundi’s troops to guarantee the stability of Somalia – especially in an election year.

The bottom line: Burundi’s ghosts aren’t going anywhere yet.

Simon Allison, ISS Consultant

Somalia – growing threat of famine as drought hits

Reuters

By Katy Migiro

NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Somalia risks slipping back into famine, the United Nations, said on Tuesday, as worsening drought has left millions without food, water or healthcare in a country crippled by decades of war.

Five million Somalis, or more than four out of 10 people, do not have enough to eat because of poor rains and fighting between the Islamist militant group al Shabaab and Somalia’s African Union-backed government.

Famine last struck pockets of Somalia in 2011, killing 260,000 people. It was caused by drought, conflict and a ban on food aid in territory held by al Shabaab.

“The humanitarian situation remains grim for millions of Somalis,” the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq, said in a statement.

“We are faced with a slight but steady increase in the number of people in need, and most recently with a significant risk of further deterioration to famine.”

Both of Somalia’s 2016 rainy seasons were below average and the April to June 2017 Gu rains are predicted to be poor, the U.S.-based Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) said.

“Urgent action to ramp up assistance provision and ensure adequate humanitarian access is needed to address rising levels of food insecurity and mitigate the potential for large-scale loss of life,” it said.

In the south, the regions of Bay and Bakool are the most worrying, as poor households have had little to no harvest, own few livestock and rely on wage labour, which declines quickly during severe droughts, it said.

Hunger is particularly acute among Somalia’s 1.1 million internally displaced people, who are extremely poor after being forced by conflict and drought to flee multiple times.

Some 320,000 children under the five are acutely malnourished with 50,000 of these severely malnourished, meaning they risk dying without emergency intervention.

“Immediate support is required to prevent a significant deterioration of the humanitarian situation,” de Clercq said, appealing for $864 million to provide emergency aid to 3.9 million people.

“Early action is the only way to demonstrate that we have learnt the lessons from the past to avert another catastrophe.”

(Reporting by Katy Migiro @katymigiro; Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.)

African Union welcomes easing of US sanctions on Sudan

Sudan Tribune


January 16, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – The head of the African Union commission, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Monday welcomed the decision of President Barak Obama to partially lift economic and trade sanctions on Sudan

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Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission (Photo: Reuters)

Zuma “acknowledges the importance of this development which will allow Sudan to reengage in international trade and end the suffering of its people”.

She further expressed hopes that the incoming administration of President Donald Trump ” will consider permanent revocation of the sanctions in Executive Orders 13067 and 13412 and further work towards granting debt relief to the Republic of Sudan”.

President Obama on Friday signed an executive order to suspending sanctions against Sudan enabling trade and investment transactions to resume with the east African nation. The move comes in recognition of Sudan’s collaboration to curtail terrorism, and its efforts to improve humanitarian access.

Within six months, Washington will review the situation and may re-establish the suspended measures, if it considers that Khartoum didn’t honour its commitments. But If its finding is positive then the sanctions included in 1997 and 2006 executive orders would be definitively cancelled.

The sanctions of 1997 are imposed for its alleged support to terror groups. While the additional sanctions of 2006 are in relations with the conflict in Darfur region and are not part of the current process as they require a vote by the Congress.

On Saturday, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Marta Ruedas, welcomed the partial lift of sanctions on Sudan.

“This decision is recognition of steps taken by the Government of Sudan during recent months in a number of important areas,” said Ruedas in a statement released on Saturday.

She said the American decision will provide a solid platform for the sustainable development in Sudan.

“The United Nations stands ready to provide all possible support to the Government of Sudan to ensure that this development meets the needs and aspirations of the people of Sudan at national and local levels”.

Zuma renewed calls to the Sudanese government and armed rebel groups to “urgently” resume talks in order to bring a lasting peace agreement and achieve democratic reforms.

In this regard, she calls on all parties to “cooperate fully with the efforts of the AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) to reach a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and a Permanent Ceasefire and participate in an inclusive political process, which will guarantee the Sudanese people the long awaited peace”.

(ST)