Category Archives: Africa

Groups condemn human trials for GM banana

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) released an open letter to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Wendy White from Iowa State University (ISU) and the Human Institutional Review Board of Iowa State strongly opposing the GM banana human feeding trials taking place at ISU.

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The bananas have been genetically modified to contain more beta-carotene, intended to combat the health impacts of Vitamin A deficiencies that occur frequently in Uganda. More than 120 organizations, along with farmers, advocates and indigenous communities have signed the open letter, claiming the GM banana poses not only a health and ecological risk, but is also a demeaning insult to the rich Ugandan food and cultural heritage.

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Filed under Africa, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, GMOs

Kenyan Forestry Service Beat and Extort Money from Indigenous Sengwer

Margeret Suter, Photo by Dean Puckett

Margeret Suter, Photo by Dean Puckett

Dean Puckett, a British documentary filmmaker, is working on a film in Kenya about the evictions of the Sengwer from their homes in the Cherangani Hills.

Climate Connections has followed the story from the first calls for support, through the critiques of the UN REDD+ program as leading to exactly these kinds of atrocities, and to the leaked World Bank report in October that identified the Bank’s role in the horrible forced evictions – the literal burning out – of the Sengwer people from their homes in the Cherangani forest reserves of Kenya, obstensibly for the conservation of the forest.

Puckett here provides a direct and personal account of what’s going on in the Embobut Forest, particularly adding a picture of the mundane evil of the corruption and extortion at play there. Or, as Connor Cavanagh put it, Puckett “captures the ‘everyday violence’ that continues to be suffered by this community in particular – all in the name, ostensibly, of forest conservation and climate change mitigation.”

Sengwers Feeling the Heat in the Embobut Forest

By Dean Puckett, REDD-Monitor, 2 December 2014.

When Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, visited Kenya earlier this month, he reportedly urged the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to sort out Kenya’s historical land injustices once and for all, specifically mentioning the plight of the “Sengwer of Cherangani Hills.” But despite the World Bank having ‘a word’ with its ‘client’, the plight of the Sengwer of Embobut forest has worsened dramatically. An indigenous community is being evicted from their ancestral land in the name of conservation.

A distraught teenage girl stopped us, and said: “Eight people where arrested in the forest yesterday, two school children and six elderly including my mother.” Elias spoke to them in Sengwer, and then informed me that four were released including the children after paying the KFS bribes of 500 Ksh each for the children and 2000 Ksh for each elderly person. I have been back in Embobut for 12 days so far and approximately 20 people have been arrested, fewer than half of whom have gone to court, while the rest paid bribes to the KFS to be released. It’s hard to see how these policies conserve the forest.

Read the whole article at REDD-Monitor!

 

 

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Filed under Africa, Indigenous Peoples, REDD

World Rainforest Movement Call to Action–Reject REDD+

The World Rainforest Movement (WRM) has issued an urgent call to action regarding the December 2014 COP20 UN Climate Negotiations in Lima, Peru. To join this call (full text below), send the name of your organization or group and country to NoREDDCop20@wrm.0rg.uy

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CALL TO ACTION
TO REJECT REDD+ AND EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES
TO CONFRONT CAPITALISM AND DEFEND LIFE AND TERRITORIES

COP20, Lima, December 2014
On the occasion of the UN climate change negotiations in Lima, Peru – known as COP20 – we warn that rejecting REDD+ and ‘environmental services’, under the ‘green economy’ umbrella, is a central part of our struggle against capitalism and extractive industries and in the defense of territories, life and Mother Earth.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Carbon Trading, Climate Justice, Confronting Government Agencies, COP21 Paris 2015, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, REDD, UN

Ebola linked to deforestation and development in West Africa

A young man with Ebola symptoms walks to a van waiting to take away several patients for treatment after the village's chief ordered people to cooperate with medical staff and remove the sick from their homes, in Dandano, Guinea, Nov. 3, 2014. (Photo: Samuel Aranda / The New York Times) via Truthout

A young man with Ebola symptoms walks to a van waiting to take away several patients for treatment after the village’s chief ordered people to cooperate with medical staff and remove the sick from their homes, in Dandano, Guinea, Nov. 3, 2014. (Photo: Samuel Aranda / The New York Times) via Truthout

Jeff Conant interviewed Silas Siakor, director of Sustainable Development Institute/Friends of the Earth Liberia, on the link between the Ebola epidemic and the ruthless exploitation of forest resources in the region.

The devastation of Ebola in West Africa is tied to the region’s deforestation. To generate awareness of the links, Jeff Conant, director of FOE’s international forests campaign, interviewed Silas Siakor of Sustainable Development Institute/Friends of the Earth, Liberia. The interview addresses key topics for us at GJEP and Climate Connections regarding deforestation: logging (illegal and otherwise), industrial agriculture, oil palm, and biofuels.

Deforestation, “Development” Connected to Spread of Ebola in West Africa

By Jeff Conant, Truthout. 24 November 2014.

It is clear that the spread of Ebola in West Africa is directly linked to the region’s deep poverty: Out of 187 countries on the United Nations’ Human Development Index, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone rank 175th, 179th and 183rd, respectively. But, while it is easy to recognize the links between poverty and the spread of the virus, there has been little focus on the root causes of the region’s impoverishment itself.

Read the whole interview here!

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Filed under Africa, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Forests, Illegal logging, Industrial agriculture

Dr Blessing Karumbidza, more land grabbed in Africa than rest of the world combined

Photo of Conference from its Facebook page.

Photo of First Africa Conference on Land Grabs from its Facebook page.

Dr. Blessing Karumbidza, a member of GJEP’s New Voices Speakers Bureau, presented at the First Africa Conference on Land Grabs, held this week in Johannesburg. He reported to the conference that more land has been grabbed in Africa in the 21st century than in the rest of the world combined–a startling 55 million hectares of land between 2000 and 2012.

CCTV Africa covered the story:

SAPA, the South African Press Association, also ran a story picked up widely by South African media.

More land ‘grabbed’ in Africa than rest of the world combined

Sapa, Times LIVE, 29 October 2014

Over 55 million hectares of land in Africa have been “grabbed” since 2000, according to research presented at a conference.

More land had been “grabbed” in Africa between 2000 and 2012 than in the rest of the world combined, Dr Blessing Karumbidza, senior research associate at the Durban University of Technology, told the Africa land Grab conference in Midrand.

See the whole story here.

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Filed under Africa, Land Grabs, New Voices Speakers Bureau

Ebola and Palm Oil

An enormous oil palm plantation cut from the Liberian rainforest. Photo: Chulius Caesar via Flickr.

An enormous oil palm plantation cut from the Liberian rainforest. Photo: Chulius Caesar via Flickr.

The real drivers of Ebola in West Africa–poverty and oil palm

A new article in the Ecologist links the underlying causes of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to the “explosive spread of industrial oil palm, which disrupts the ecology of forests and farms.”

Oil Palm Explosion driving West Africa’s Eboloa outbreak

By Richard Kock. Ecologist. 29 October 2014

The medical response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been monstrously inadequate, writes Richard Kock. But so has been recognition of the underlying causes – in particular the explosive spread of industrial oil palm, which disrupts the ecology of forests and farms, and undermines local economy and traditional governance, leading to a ‘perfect storm’ of disease.

The growing Ebola virus outbreak not only highlights the tragedy enveloping the areas most affected but also offers a commentary on they way in which the political ecology in West Africa has allowed this disease to become established.

Read the whole article here.

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Filed under Africa, Biofuelwatch, Forests, Palm Oil

REDD-Monitor breaks down recent leaked World Bank report on its role in Sengwer land grab

Sengwer houses being burnt by Kenya Forest Service guards on January 16, 2014. Source: Forest Peoples Programme

Sengwer houses being burnt by Kenya Forest Service guards on January 16, 2014. Source: Forest Peoples Programme

News broke earlier this week about a leaked World Bank report that identifies the Bank’s role in the horrible forced evictions–the literal burning out–of the Sengwer people from their homes in the Cherangany forest reserves of Kenya. As usual, Chris Lang of the REDD Monitor does a great job breaking down what the leak shows and what happens next.

John Vidal broke the story in the Guardian:

A leaked copy of a World Bank investigation seen by the Guardian has accused the bank of failing to protect the rights of one of Kenya’s last groups of forest people, who are being evicted from their ancestral lands in the name of climate change and conservation.

Thousands of homes belonging to hunter-gatherer Sengwer people living in the Embobut forest in the Cherangani hills were burned down earlier this year by Kenya forest service guards who had been ordered to clear the forest as part of a carbon offset project that aimed to reduce emissions from deforestation.

Quick Note: the UN, of course, condemned the evictions, as did many organizations in civil society. However,  many in these same institutions champion the same false solutions to climate change that spurred the land grab. Vidal doesn’t make this criticism, but clearly identifies carbon offsets in the early paragraphs of his story, which is very important.

Now to Chris Lang’s great overview!

Evictions of Sengwer indigenous people: World Bank violates safeguards in Kenya
By Chris Lang. REDD-Monitor. September 30, 2014

 

The World Bank’s inspection panel has found that the Bank violated its safeguards in a conservation project in the Cherangany Hills in Kenya. Thousands of Sengwer indigenous people have been evicted and their homes burned down.

 

In January 2013, the Sengwer made a complaint to the World Bank about the Bank-funded Natural Resource Management Project (NRMP). A copy of the Inspection Panel’s May 2014 report was leaked to the Guardian. The report accuses the Bank of failing to protect the rights of the Sengwer.

Read the whole essay here.

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Filed under Africa, False Solutions to Climate Change, Land Grabs, World Bank

Confronting Climate Catastrophe: Direct Action is the Antidote for Despair

Or, Why the UN is Worse than Useless and we need to Flood Wall Street!

Climate Convergence Plenary Address, Friday, 19 September 2014

Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project, Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees

UN Security arrests clown at Durban Climate COP shortly before assaulting the photographer.  Photo: Photolangelle.org

UN Security arrests clown at Durban Climate COP shortly before assaulting the photographer. Photo: Photolangelle.org

Good evening everyone and thank you to Jill, Margaret and the other convergence organizers for the opportunity to speak to you tonight.

In four days time, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will hold a UN Climate Summit–a closed door session where the world’s “leaders” will discuss “ambitions” for the upcoming climate conferences (or COPs as they are called) in Lima, Peru and Paris, France.

I was asked to put into context the reason for the march and actions this weekend–especially the problem of the corporate capture of the United Nations Climate Convention, which I have attended and organized around since 2004, when I attended my first UN Climate COP, in Buenos Aires, until 2011 when I was permanently banned from the UN Climate Conferences following a direct action occupation at the Climate COP in Durban, South Africa.

But I actually got involved with the UN Climate Conferences through the work I have dedicated myself to, which is stopping the dangerous genetic engineering of trees.

What happened was in 2003, the UN Climate Conference decided that GE trees could be used in carbon offset forestry plantations. Understanding that this was a potential social and ecological disaster, and being completely naïve about the UN process, we decided to go to the UN and explain to them why this was wrong, and to get them to reverse this bad decision.

But what we found out was that GE trees had been permitted in carbon offset forestry plantations because Norway had tried to get them banned. But Brazil and China were either already growing GE trees or planning to, so they blocked Norway’s proposal. As a result, GE trees were allowed simply because they could not be banned. The UN, we learned, does not reverse decisions, regardless of how ill-informed and destructive they are.

This is the dysfunction of the UN Climate Convention.

But let’s go back a minute to see how we got where we are now.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, COP21 Paris 2015, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Politics, Posts from Anne Petermann, REDD, UNFCCC, World Bank, WTO