• Fires pollute the air in West Africa

    West Africa is changing rapidly. An explosively growing population, massive urbanization, and unregulated deforestation modify the composition of the atmosphere, thus affecting weather and climate. How exactly these emissions are changing the region in the long term is not clear. The EU-funded project Dynamics-aerosol-chemistry-cloud interactions in West Africa (DACCIWA) studied the air over the coastal region of West Africa with the help of research aircraft and ground stations.

  • Global warming responsible for tripling of extreme West African Sahel storms

    The Sahelian storms are some of the most explosive storms in the world, containing clouds that can grow to a height of 16km above the ground. In 2009 a downpour of 263mm over several hours forced 150,000 residents of Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso, to leave their homes. Global warming is responsible for a tripling in the frequency of extreme West African Sahel storms observed in just the last thirty-five years.

  • Smart handpumps predict depths of groundwater in Africa

    The amount of groundwater in Africa is estimated to be over 100 time’s greater than annual renewable freshwater sources. Around one million hand pumps supply groundwater to people in rural Africa. Groundwater is used by around 200 million rural Africans every day because it is a widely available, reliable and safe source of drinking water. Yet according to a new research, although groundwater is critical to Africa’s growth and development, there is currently too little data to effectively manage this critical resource.

  • Food security in West Africa, May 2017: Key points

    The security situation in northeast Nigeria has continued to improve, but humanitarian assistance needs are still high. Humanitarian aid has increased, but it is not enough to satisfy the needs of much of the affected population. In most parts of the region, prices for staples foods have reached their seasonal high as a result of depleted household stocks and the increased demand in markets. However, most parts of West Africa will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) until September 2017, thanks to above-average 2016/17 agricultural production, sufficient imports of rice and wheat, well stocked markets, and the implementation of usual coping strategies.

  • Climate change to worsen drought, diminish corn yields in Africa

    Nearly 25 percent of the world’s malnourished population lives in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 300 million people depend on corn, or maize, as their main food source. Maize is the most widely harvested agricultural product in Africa and is grown by small farmers who rely heavily on rainwater rather than irrigation. The crop is therefore extremely sensitive to drought, and since 2015 its production has fallen dramatically as a result of record-setting drought conditions across southern and eastern Africa.

  • U.S. military offers support, but not troops, to help France in Africa

    Over the past several years, French troops have battled Al Qaeda’s North Africa affiliate and other Islamist extremists in Mali, and have helped African troops thwart Boko Haram, a violent militancy that has spilled from Nigeria to attack Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. The Islamic State is also a looming threat. In the latest sign of an emerging regional collaboration, five countries within the Sahel — Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad — announced recently that they would create three border areas for military patrols and operations. French troops are advising and assisting these units. The Trump administration, which is already fighting the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria and weighing whether to send several thousand more American troops to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban, has been only too eager to continue Obama-era policies of providing financial, logistical and intelligence support to France in this region. By doing so, it hopes to avoid having to put American combat forces on the ground in yet another global hot spot. American and French officials say their close military and counterterrorism partnership will continue unchanged after the election last week of Emmanuel Macron as France’s next president.

  • Gunfire in Ivory Coast barracks after rebels “apologize” for mutiny

    Sporadic gunfire rang out overnight in a military barracks in Ivory Coast’s second city of Bouake, where a mutiny erupted in January, according to a report. An AFP journalist said Friday that the shots were heard just hours after national television broadcast a ceremony in which a soldier presented as a spokesman for 8,400 former rebels, many of them based in Bouake, said they wished to apologize to President Alassane Ouattara for the mutiny. In January, former rebels integrated into army ranks staged a mutiny that paralyzed activity in several towns of the west African country while they pressed their demands for bonuses. In meeting the demands of the ex-rebels, who controlled the northern half of Africa’s biggest cocoa producer between 2002 and 2011, the authorities provoked a fresh mutiny by other troops and paramilitary gendarmes.

  • Nigeria negotiating with Boko Haram for release of more Chibok girls

    A Nigerian minister says the government is negotiating “seriously” for the release of the more than 110 kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls still held by Boko Haram extremists. Minister of Women’s Affairs and Social Development Aisha Alhassan told reporters last Thursday that “we will not relent until all are back.” She says Nigeria’s government has no regrets about exchanging Boko Haram detainees for the 82 young women released over the weekend. The young women are in government care in the capital, Abuja. Alhassan says they are undergoing medical screening for a couple of weeks and that some have needed surgery.

  • Nigeria: Army appoints another general to lead fight against Boko Haram

    The Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole counterinsurgency force in north-east Nigeria, Lucky Irabor, is now the head of the Multi-National Joint Task Force as its Field Commander, a statement from the army headquarters, Abuja, disclosed. Irabor, a major general, is being replaced by I. Attahiru, also a major general, as the new Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, the name given by the army to its operation to defeat the Boko Haram in north-eastern Nigeria. This posting came up as the Nigeria Army embarks on a massive restructuring of its major commanding posts and units around the country. According to a statement released by the Director of Army Public Relations, Sani Usman, a brigadier general, the new posting was “in a bid to re-strategize the Nigerian Army.”

  • Nigeria facing a growing vigilante problem

    Residents throughout the region have turned to the CJTF to provide protection against Boko Haram. For many, its fighters are hometown heroes, a reflection of the community’s resistance to the jihadists, and a response to the military’s failings. They are the eyes and ears of the counter-insurgency campaign. It was the CJTF, as a spontaneous community movement, that rose up. Armed with little more than sticks, they chased the jihadists out of Maiduguri, the main city in the northeast. They have proven stubborn defenders of towns throughout the region, and the first people to be executed whenever Boko Haram takes over. Though the CJTF is not a part of the police nor the military, it’s encouraged by state authorities, which sometimes provide equipment, training, and weapons. But as the threat from Boko Haram wanes, there are mounting cases of the CJTF targeting the civilian population they claim to protect. They enjoy near-impunity, and the current lack of a comprehensive demobilization plan, points to a potential crisis ahead.

  • The plight of Togo’s so-called “Witch Children”

    Togo is one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa where the belief in witchcraft is still widespread. Children who are slightly different from the others are among the worst affected. Whether it’s due to a physical or mental handicap, hyperactivity or being intellectually gifted, they are often accused of witchcraft and even held responsible for deaths in their family. These children are then subjected to all sorts of abuse: kidnappings, forced labor and torture.

  • ECOWAS works toward eradicating statelessness in the sub-region

    The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has adopted strategies to eradicate statelessness in the sub-region by 2024. During a 3-day ministerial conference last week in Gambia’s capital Banjul, experts from the bloc’s 15 member states resolved to finalize a plan of action developed in line with the Abidjan Declaration adopted in February 2015, as a commitment to set measures to end the phenomenon. Estimates indicate that over one million people in West Africa are stateless, while 60 million lack documentation proving their identity or nationality.

  • Allies fret as Canada drags feet on troops for UN Mali mission

    Canada, worried about possible casualties, is taking months longer than expected to decide whether to send troops to a United Nations mission in Mali, worrying allies and potentially undermining Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s commitment to peacekeeping. Trudeau replaced a Conservative government in November 2015 that had little time for the United Nations. Trudeau’s Liberals declared “Canada is back” in August 2016 and said they would commit up to 600 soldiers for possible UN deployment. Officials said one option was Mali, where the United Nations has a 10,000-strong force to help deal with Islamist militants. “This would be a combat mission. Casualties are inevitable,” said one person familiar with the matter.

  • Nigeria approves $186 million for anti-piracy operations

    The Nigerian government has approved a $186 million emergency budget to fund the acquisition of new military aircraft, patrol boats and armored personnel carriers that will be deployed on anti-piracy operations. Details of the planned expenditure were released by Transportation minister Rotimi Amaechi last week when he addressed a conference that was held in Abuja to discuss the implementation of government plans for maritime and port security. Amaechi said to secure Nigerian waterways and ports, President Muhammadu Buhari had approved a $186 million budget for the acquisition of surveillance and security assets that include three helicopters, three fixed wing aircraft and twelve patrol boats.

  • Nigeria: Fighting corruption often means one step forward, two back

    Large billboards at Lagos airport urge travelers to call a hotline to report officials asking for bribes. But there is a problem with this attempt to fight the corruption that plagues Africa’s biggest economy. The phone number does not work, an indication of how little progress President Muhammadu Buhari has made tackling a problem he promised to address when he was elected two years ago. The government has fired customs and immigration officers accused of corruption, introduced staff rotation at passport and customs desks at Lagos airport to disrupt cozy networks, and set up the phone number to report demands for bribes.