Record malnutrition: Africa’s Sahel region to have over 6 million wasted children in 2022, warn UN agencies

Over 900,000 young lives can be at risk in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal

Madhumita Paul

Down To Earth | April 14, 2022

Around 6.3 million children in the 6-59 months age group will suffer wasting in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal in 2022, a new report warned. 

Over 1.4 million of these children in these six countries in Africa’s Sahel region will suffer severe wasting, United Nations agencies said in the report published March 2022. 

The number of children under five experiencing acute malnutrition will be the highest in 2022 for the region, the paper by West and Central Africa Regional Nutrition Working Group showed. 

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Almost 5 million refugees in eastern Africa in need of support: UN

Gap between resources and needs has grown along with rise in migrant population

Madhumita Paul

Down To Earth | April 14, 2022

In Eastern Africa, the number of refugees has nearly tripled in the past 10 years to almost 5 million, including 300,000 new refugees last year alone, the United Nations agencies said in a joint statement

Along with the number of refugees in need of support, the gap between resources and needs has also grown. More than 70 per cent refugees do not get a full ration due to funding shortfalls, the statement said. Conflict, climate shocks and COVID-19, combined with spiraling costs of food and fuel, is behind this crisis, it added. 

“Stretched humanitarian resources have forced aid groups to slash food rations, putting more and more children below the age of five at the risk of stunting and wasting,” said Clementine Nkweta-Salami, regional bureau director, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, East, Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes.

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Russia-Ukraine crisis highlights Africa’s need to diversify its wheat sources

by Mandira Bagwandeen, Noncedo Vutula

Down To Earth | April 14, 2022

The war between Russia and Ukraine has highlighted just how much of the world’s wheat supply relies on these two countries. For instance, a recently released UN report shows a sample of 25 African countries that rely on wheat imports from Russia or Ukraine. Of this group, 21 import most of their wheat from Russia.

Between 2018 and 2020, Africa imported $3.7 billion in wheat (32 per cent of the continent’s total wheat imports) from Russia and another $1.4 billion from Ukraine (12 per cent of the continent’s wheat imports).

It’s crucial that African countries diversify their wheat sources for two key reasons.

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Reason for hope? Analysis of first Omicron patients in Gauteng, South Africa paints encouraging picture

Taran Deol

Down to Earth | December 08, 2021

Photo: @GautengProvince / Twitter
Photo: @GautengProvince / Twitter

The Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) was first detected in the Tshwane district of South Africa’s Gauteng province between November 21 and 27. Now, a leading health professional has prepared a detailed profile of the first patients. And the picture that emerges is encouraging.

Fewer people have been administered specialist care than previous waves of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The in-hospital death-rate has been significantly lower. There has also been a decline in the average length of stay in the hospital.

The results offer reason for hope even as the Omicron variant has now spread to all South African provinces and triggered the fourth wave of COVID-19 in the COVID-19. It has also spread to 40 other countries.

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China To Supply Africa With 1 Billion COVID-19 Vaccines

teleSUR | November 30, 2021

Women at the Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa, Nov. 27, 2021.
Women at the Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa, Nov. 27, 2021. | Photo: Twitter/ @NoThebaine

The appearance of Omicron has once again evidenced inequalities. While 67 percent of the EU population has received all doses, only 7.1 percent of Africans has received more than one dose so far.

To help the African Union (AU) achieve its goal of vaccinating 60 percent of the African population by 2022, President Xi on Monday announced that China would provide another one billion doses of vaccines to Africa, including 600 million doses as donation and 400 million doses to be provided through such means as joint production by Chinese companies and relevant African countries.

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Syllabus: China and Africa


This syllabus compiles articles, papers and books on China and Africa’s relationship that challenges hegemonic Western tropes of Chinese “neocolonialism” and “debt-trap diplomacy.” As these readings make clear, these narratives mainly serve to obscure ongoing Western financial and military hegemony on the African continent, where Chinese state and private investments remain a relative newcomer and Chinese military presence is all but non-existent.
While significant Chinese investment in Africa is guided by private commercial interests, these readings also show that Chinese state-owned investments provide unique opportunities for African labor, environmental, and national development interests that provide an important, if imperfect, alternative to Western predatory investment. Likewise, African participation in the Belt and Road Initiative has the potential to realize billions of dollars worth of infrastructure which has long been a hurdle to African economic independence and sustainable development.

Read more:

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AFRICOM military’s exercise: The art of creating new pretexts for propagating US interests

Pavan Kulkarni

People’s Dispatch | June 01, 2021

Tunisian navy personnels aboard USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) on May 23 when the Phoenix Express 2021 was underway. Photo : AFRICOM

Phoenix Express 2021 (PE21), a 12-day US-Africa Command (AFRICOM)-sponsored military exercise involving 13 states in the Mediterranean Sea, concluded on Friday, May 28. It had kicked off from the naval base in Tunis, Tunisia, on May 16. The drills in this exercise covered naval maneuvers across the stretch of the Mediterranean Sea, including on the territorial waters of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania.

The regimes in these countries, which cover the entire northern and northwestern coastline of Africa, participated in the drill – one of the three regional maritime exercises conducted by the US Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF). Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain were the European states that participated in the drill. 

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Climate change: Food production in Africa’s Sudano-Sahelian Zone under threat, finds study

Madhumita Paul

Down To Earth | May 17, 2021

The Sudano-Sahelian Zone in West Africa is the most vulnerable to climate change. Photo: Flickr

The Sudano-Sahelian Zone, which comprises 16 countries in Africa, is the most vulnerable to climate change. The associated risks have pushed food crop as well as livestock production outside safe climatic space (SCS), in turn jeopardising food security in the region, a new study has warned.

The region, one of the poorest in the world, is characterised by fluctuating rainfall and droughts.

The study, led by Finland’s Aalto University, therefore raised alarm over the increasing threat to production of food crops and livestock in the region. It was published in journal One Earth May 14, 2021.Read More »


Warming Africa: Continent experienced fourth-warmest April this year

Kiran Pandey

Down To Earth | May 19, 2021

A camel caravan in the Sahara. Photo: Wikipedia

A camel caravan in the Sahara. Photo: Wikipedia A camel caravan in the Sahara. Photo: Wikipedia
Africa experienced its fourth-warmest April since 1910 in 2021, with a temperature anomaly of 1.48 degrees Centigrade, according to latest figures by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

A temperature anomaly is the departure from the average temperature, positive or negative, over a certain period.

Temperatures were much above the average in parts of northern and southern Africa, the NOAA noted on its website.Read More »


Sub-Saharan Africa’s food security has turned out better than feared. But risks remain

Wandile Sihlobo

Down To Earth | May 04, 2021

When the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic hit, concern immediately arose that sub-Saharan Africa faced a potential worsening in food insecurity. The concerns were due to the anticipated slowdown in economic activity, job losses accompanied by loss of income, and a ban on grain exports by major exporting countries, including India, Russia, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Sub-Saharan Africa is a net importer of food.

The bans, along with other pandemic-related disruptions to food supply chains, were expected to add to food security challenges in the region. The World Bank was among the first multilateral institutions to sound the alarm. The bank estimated that an additional 26 million people would fall into extreme poverty, defined as those living under $1.90 per day, in 2020.Read More »