environment


somalia-kenya-sea

Reverse Robin Hoods are still busy off the Somali coast, stealing from the poor to give to the rich, stealing fish from the sea, pouring poisons in the sea, and now trying to steal the sea itself.

Kenya is making a bid to expand its territorial waters into Somali territory. The Kenya government, and the TFG government of Somalia, installed by the US, have signed a Memo of Understanding.

NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 11 (Garowe Online) – The governments of Somalia and Kenya inked a Memorandum of Understanding last week that has stirred socio-political controversy across Somalia, re-igniting memories from half a century ago when Kenya was “awarded” Somali territory by withdrawing European colonizers.

A copy of the MoU, obtained by independent Somali news agency Garowe Online, indicated that the Somali and Kenyan governments will pose “no objection in respect of submissions on the Outer Limits of the Continental Shelf beyond 200 Nautical Miles” to a United Nations body tasked with enforcing the the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The MoU between the governments of Somalia and Kenya regarding the continental shelf has stirred public debate among the Somali people, who are already weary of foreign agendas.

The MoU signed between the governments of Somalia and Kenya leaves room for different intepretations, as the document openly admits that upcoming submissions to the UN body may allow the two countries to lay claim over the so-called “area of dispute.”

This vague clause throws into question Somalia’s sovereign rights over natural resources found on the continental shelf, as the long-standing “maritime dispute” between Somalia and Kenya has been placed on hold to allow Kenya to lay claim over the so-called “area of dispute” within the 10-year submission deadline period required under international law.

there is the sense that since Somalia is a weaker nation-state, the MoU was written to empower Kenya to lay claim over an area of ownership that has apparently been in “maritime dispute” for years.

The signing of this MoU comes at a time when Kenya is intensifying its search for oil, especially in offshore blocks, with Swedish and Chinese firms leading the effort.

Rebels opposed to the TFG in the Somali capital Mogadishu have spread information and accused the Somali government of “selling the sea” to the neighboring Republic of Kenya.

This information, rightly or wrongly, has largely been accepted at face-value by a Somali public reeling from nearly 20 years of civil war, gross abuse of public trust and a legacy inherited from the colonial years
.

The central regions of Somalia fall under the control of various groups, including clan militias and Islamist fighters. Support for Sheikh Sharif’s government in these regions is very fluid and uncertain.

In the northwest, the unrecognized breakaway republic of Somaliland has refused to recognize President Sheikh Sharif’s government, strictly following a separatist policy since the early 1990s.

The Puntland regional authority, in northeastern Somalia, has adopted a wait-and-see approach, although the region’s leader has repeatedly supported federalism as the only acceptable system of government for Somalia.

It is not clear what impact the MoU between Somalia and Kenya will have on the rest of the country, but the document has stirred debate across the country as Somalis largely view such agreements hidden from the public with suspicion.

The TFG does not represent much of the country. This agreement will give Kenya rights to waters that belonged to Somalia. The current Somalia government was installed with a great deal of help from the US Ambassador to Kenya, Ambassador Ranneberger, who remains tireless in his efforts to suppress democracy and strengthen America’s enemies.

MOGADISHU, April 8 (Xinhua) — The Somali government on Wednesday defended a controversial maritime boundary agreement signed with the Kenyan government this week.

The two governments on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding on their maritime boundary but some in Somalia suggested that the agreement cedes Somali maritime territory to Kenya.

According to the provisions of UNCLOS, coastal states intending to delineate the outer limits of their continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles are required to submit particulars of such limits with supporting scientific and technical data.

Some local media reported that the Somali government agreed the demarcation of the maritime boundary between the two east African countries in favor of Kenya.

Somalia which had not functioning government for nearly two decades has the longest coast in Africa but its case for drawing its continental reach will be complicated by internal division and the lack of capacity to generate supporting scientific and technical data.

Oil is at the heart of this move, and possibly some fishing rights. If Kenya owns more of the sea, it means more potential money from oil leases. The oil majors have recently returned to Somalia, and Kenya would like a piece of the action.

Kenya: Can Government Beat the Deadline to Lay Claim to Expanded Territorial Waters?
The question of where exactly to draw the offshore border between Kenya and its northern neighbour Somalia has long been a concern for Kenya’s efforts in oil exploration in the Lamu region. However, with no central government or any legitimate governing body, Somalia will not be in a position to file the necessary documentation to secure its coastal areas, and therefore may lose its erritorial waters to Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Yemen. With the increased incidences of piracy in its waters too, it is likely that the international community will be more than willing to see the waters of the country be fall under the jurisdiction of one of its more stable neighbors. Already, the UN security council has given the green light to states to patrol the waters of Somalia to curb the incidences of piracy. Under the UNCLOS, this would actually not be allowed as it will be encroachment of a sovereign country’s territorial waters.

offshore oil leases == $$$$$$
Posted by: b real | Apr 9, 2009 11:37:34 AM | 33

Since US Ambassador Ranneberger is in charge of Kenya and Somali policy for the US. We can be sure he is involved in this diplomatic activity, robbing from the poor to give to the rich. In this case the rich are oil interests. They are moving back into Puntland. And it looks like someone is sending arms into Somalia:

MOGADISHU, Somalia Apr 12 (Garowe Online) – Witnesses and workers at Mogadishu’s main seaport said African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) closed off roads near the port and entered nearby neighborhoods as a ship docked.

“There were many AMISOM soldiers in our area…on top of buildings and they refused us to leave [homes],” said a witness.

Port workers said the ship unloaded military hardware, including vehicles, which were transported to AMISOM bases in Mogadishu.

The spokesman for Islamist hardliners Al Shabaab vowed to continue the war against the government of Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed after accusing the government of “selling the sea.”

President Sheikh Sharif’s government and the government of Kenya signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Nairobi that has stirred political debate across Somalia. READ: Somalia-Kenya sign MoU for maritime ‘area of dispute’

Al Shabaab rebels control many regions in southern Somalia, including regions near the border with Kenya.

President Sheikh Sharif’s government, which controls some sections of Mogadishu, is the 15th attempt by the international community to restore national order in Somalia.

Somalia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Its seas have been ruthlessly exploited since 1992. All of the navies supposedly fighting pirates are also guarding the illegal fishing and the illegal toxic dumping that have been ongoing and increasing since 1992.

The international navies are protecting their piratical raids on Somali resources, and calling the Somalis pirates when they try to fight back. This internationally sponsored piracy is completely brazen, and no one is held to account. The fishing pirates openly request the assistance of the supposedly anti-pirate navies in Somali waters:

Ecoterra Intl. – SMCM (Somali Marine & Coastal Monitor) Part IX
Leaders from the National Association of Freezer Tuna Vessel Owners (ANABAC) and the Big Frozen Tuna Vessels Producers Association (OPAGAC) have also sent written requests to the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs for the establishment of a secondary Atalanta Operation command centre in Mahe, Seychelles, or Mombassa, Kenya, that would bolster protection of tuna fishing vessels from Spain and the EU that operate off southern Somalia.

Amy Goodman interviewed Mohamed Abshir Waldo for Democracy Now:

AMY GOODMAN: Mohamed Abshir Waldo, explain how what you call “fishing piracy” began.

MOHAMED ABSHIR WALDO: Fishing piracy means fishing without license, fishing by force, even though the community complains, even though whatever authorities are there complain, even though they ask these foreign fishing fleets and trawlers and vessels that have no license, that have no permit whatsoever, when they tell them, “Stop fishing and get out of the area,” they refuse, and instead, in fact, they fight. They fought with the fishermen and coastal communities, pouring boiling water on them and even shooting at them, running over their canoes and fishing boats. These were the problems that had been going on for so long, until the community organized themselves and empowered, actually, what they call the National Volunteer Coast Guard, what you would call and what others call today as “pirates.”

AMY GOODMAN: So you’re saying illegal fishing is happening off the coast of Somalia. What countries are engaged in it?

MOHAMED ABSHIR WALDO: The countries engaged include practically all of southern Europe, France, Spain, Greece, UK. Nowadays I hear even Norway. There were not many Scandinavians before, but Norwegian fishing now is involved in this, you know, very profitable fishing business. So, there are others, of course. There are Russian. There are Taiwanese. There are Philippines. There are Koreans. There are Chinese. You know, it’s a free-for-all coast.

And to make things worse, we learned that now that the navies and the warships are there; every country is protecting their own illegal fishing piracies—vessels. They have come back. They ran away from the Somali volunteer guards, coast guards, but now they are back. And they are being protected by their navies. In fact, they are coming close to the territorial waters to harass again the fishermen, who no longer have opportunity or possibility to fish on the coast because of the fear of being called pirates and apprehended by the navy, who are at the same time protecting the other side.

So the issue is really a matter of tremendous injustice …

AMY GOODMAN: A little more on the issue of toxic dumping, if you would, Mohamed Abshir Waldo. I don’t think people in the United States understand exactly what it is you’re referring to and how it affects people.

MOHAMED ABSHIR WALDO: Well, toxic dumping, industrial waste dumping, nuclear dumping, as you are probably aware and have heard and many people know, for quite some time, in the ’70s mainly, in the ’80s, in the ’90s, there was a lot of waste of all these kinds that companies wanted to get rid of, following very strict environmental rules in their countries. So where else to take but in countries in conflict or weak countries who could not prevent them or who could be bought? So these wastes have been carried to Somalia. It’s been in the papers. It has been reported by media organizations like Al Jazeera, I think, like CNN. Many had reported about the Mafia, Italian Mafia, who admitted it, dumping it in Somalia for quite some time, for quite a long time.

And as we speak now, I heard yesterday, in fact, another vessel was captured in the Gulf of Aden by community—this time not pirates, by the community, when the suspected it, and it was carrying two huge containers, which it dumped into the sea when they saw these people coming to them. They have been apprehended. The vessel had been apprehended. Fortunately, the containers did not sink into the sea, but they are being towed to the coast. And this community has invited the international community to come and investigate this matter. So far, we don’t have action. So this dumping, waste dumping, toxic dumping, nuclear waste dumping has been ongoing in Somalia since 1992.

AMY GOODMAN: When I read your article, Mohamed Abshir Waldo, it reminded me of a controversial memo that was leaked from the World Bank—this was when Lawrence Summers, now the chief economic adviser, was the chief economist at the World Bank—in which it said, “I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest-wage country is impeccable, and we should face up to that. I’ve always thought that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly under-polluted.”

Using the same excuse people always use for offensive and discriminatory remarks, Summers said he was just being sarcastic. People always try to hide prejudice and offense behind “I was just joking”, or “can’t you take a joke”. Summers was voicing something that many people think, but are not willing to articulate. Do you think anyone in the international community will notice the toxic waste that was just dumped?

Nobody cared when the tsunami washed up many tons of toxic waste in broken and leaking containers, and poisoned whole communities along the Somali coast. Rather than protecting the Somali coast, the international navies are protecting the illegal fishing and toxic dumping, and treating Somali fishermen as if they are all pirates. The only chance Somalia has is to form a central government that has support from a majority of the Somali people. But with th US, Ethiopia, and Kenya, undermining all attempts to do this, things don’t look good. Plus it looks very much like the US wants to invade Somalia. The recent execution of the three teenage pirates is probably just another play in the invasion game. Stealing from the poor to give to the rich will continue unquestioned.

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Hero Rat sniffing a landmine

Hero Rat sniffing a landmine

From Afrigadget comes the story of:

“Scratch and sniff” Africas HeroRATS

I heard about this extraordinary use of rats years ago and am hoping that sharing it today will bring a smile to many faces. Although Mozambique’s civil war ended nearly two decades ago, unexploded ordinance continues to be a major cause of injury and death. But now they have a solution. Rats! Local giant rats are being trained and employed to assist in mine detection.

Rats have the amazing record of being able to detect mines 95% of the time. If only all our politicians would work this hard and for a banana….. I keep hoping against hope…

For more scientific information, read this article in the Journal of Mine Action

HeroRat videos on YouTube:

APOPO (5:55)
(links corrected 3/22)

You can adopt a rat at the HeroRat.org website for 5€ per month.

Adopt a HeroRAT

HeroRats not only detect landmines, they also detect tuberculosis in sputum samples. When demining:

A trained HeroRAT can clear 100 m2 in 30 minutes, equivalent to two days work for a manual deminer.

In detecting tuberculosis:

… in 7 minutes one rat can evaluate 40 samples which is the equivalent of 2 days of microscopy work for a lab technician.

Plus, the rats are too light to explode landmines, they don’t mind repetitive tasks, and because, although they are large rats, they are small animals, they are easy to house and move around, and inexpensive to feed. The program provides work for farmers and restores land for farming.

I think supporting this program is an excellent idea for anyone. It is also nice because it is something that can be shared with children. But it would be even better to see some government security dollars spent on an inexpensive program that actually makes people a lot more secure.

seeddemobrazilSigns read:
SUICIDE SEEDS ARE HOMICIDE SEEDS
SAVE SEEDS__ TERMINATE TERMINATOR!

One technology AGRA, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, will bring to Africa is terminator seeds. One of the most concise explanations of these is from Teeth Maestro in Pakistan:

Monsanto is a chemical company posing as an agricultural company specializes in toxic, dependency-creating, genetically-engineered crops and pharmaceuticals. Monsanto is one of the world’s most notorious multinationals that has been caught red-handed for bribery, false studies and evaluations, and paying off scientists for favourable reports. It has been responsible for over 10,000 farmer suicides and thousands of poisoned sheep in India alone. Its GE products are banned in countries including in Europe after painful experiences.

“Terminator” seed controversy

In June 2007, Monsanto acquired Delta & Pine Land Company, a company that had been involved with a seed technology nicknamed “Terminator”, which produces plants that produce sterile seed to prevent farmers from replanting their crop’s seed, and are instead forced to continue purchasing seeds from Monsanto for every planting. In recent years, widespread opposition from environmental organizations and farmer associations has grown, mainly out of the concerns that these seeds increase farmers’ dependency on seed suppliers (having to buy these each year for seeding new crops)

… there have been countless protests all over India and Brazil demanding Monsanto be thrown out of their countries …

The picture above is from BanTerminator.org taken at protests in Brazil. They describe terminator seeds:

Terminator technology refers to plants that have been genetically modified to render sterile seeds at harvest – it is also called Genetic Use Restriction Technology or GURTS. Terminator technology was developed by the multinational seed/agrochemical industry and the United States government to prevent farmers from saving and re-planting harvested seed.

In India:

One of the top cotton-growing areas in India is Madhya Pradesh. It has a rich black soil, perfect for cotton. In 2002 farmers were persuaded to use BT cottonseed. — Some 10,000 acres were planted with it — although official permission had not been granted till then. The farmers ended up with 100 per cent failure. Due to the drought, indigenous cotton varieties had also been negatively affected but their ‘failure’ accounted for only 20 per cent of the crop, not all of it. Furious farmers demanded compensation from the company that supplied these seeds. That was Mahyco. And where did Mayco get these seeds from? – From Monsanto, the US multinational chemical giant which had a 27 percent share in Mahyco.

reports emerged, confirmed by a Gujrat khadi institute, of allergies not only among farmworkers but also itching and rashes in people wearing clothing made from Bt Cotton.

Even when farmers found the seed to be four times as expensive, they felt it was because of ultimate economy, and even went into debt to buy the input package. There were other problems. Bt cotton requires 20 percent more water than other hybrid cotton which needs more water than traditional varieties to begin with. No one said anything about Bt cotton being drought resistant. The truth was that Bt cotton was unable to adapt to stress conditions. It was criminal to encourage Bt cotton in drought-prone areas – and not telling farmers about this drawback in Bt cotton. The rains failed to come in some districts. Farmers were ruined because they had not grown the local hardy species that had evolved to withstand drought conditions with minimal loss.

That was not all. There was serious oversight on the part of Monsanto scientists. Wouldn’t it be common sense to deduce that if the Bt cotton plant was poisonous to bollworms eating it, it could be poisonous to other living creatures too? After the harvest, sheep were allowed to graze on the harvested fields to eat the crop residues, a common practice worldwide wherever natural farming is pursued. In just four villages in Andhra Pradesh, 1800 sheep died horrible, agonising deaths within 2-3 days from severe toxicity. More deaths were reported in other areas. The word was quickly spread to avoid grazing sheep where Bt cotton had grown. It meant less fodder and greater expense for the sheep-owners.

Other reports have emerged from India on the ill health effects of Bt cotton on both people and animals. It is being held responsible for causing “untimely deaths, decline in milk quality and quantity, and serious reproductive failures.”

From SeattleTammy:

Farmers in 3rd world countries are being sold these patented seeds. The crops were planted by illiterate farmers, for whom, even if they could read, the information on the packaging would be worthless, it was in English only. That information would have told them that these crops would need irrigation, and shouldn’t be used in rain-fed farm lands. The crops would also need pesticides and fertilizers, again from Monsanto. These crops failed, leaving the farmers further in debt, to surprise, the company store: Monsanto. Since these seeds are patented, the farmers are forbidden from saving seed from one year to the next, selecting the healthiest traits for the next season. New seeds must be purchased. The in-debted farmer’s land is then seized by Monsanto, which compounds the debts. Now hopeless in their situation, the farmers are committing suicide.

By drinking Monsanto pesticides.

Many thousands of farmers in India have committed suicide.

In conclusion for today, I offer, and appreciate the words of this farmer from Zambia:

“Somebody is trying to befool me as a farmer,” said Clement Chipokolo of the African Biodiversity Network, who came here all the way from Zambia. “In my culture we don’t buy seeds. We save them. But now somebody is trying to bring agricultural slavery for us.”

Somali coastal seas with coastal shelf visible

Satellite view of the Somali coastal seas with the undersea coastal shelf visible, the target of IUU fishing fleets

You can read my article There Are Two Piracies In Somalia over at the African Loft. Only one of the piracies gets media attention. Everyone has heard about the Somali pirates raids on shipping. Not so many know of the far larger piracy. Since 1991-2 IUU, Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing fleets from all over the world have been fishing out the waters off the Somali coast, destroying the livelihood of Somali fishermen and fishing communities. During that same period, primarily countries from the European Union, have been dumping toxic and nuclear waste off the Somali coast.

With its usual double standards when such matters concern Africa, the “international community” comes out in force to condemn and declare war against the Somali fishermen pirates while discreetly protecting the numerous Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing fleets there from Europe, Arabia and the Far East.

Biased UN resolutions, big power orders and news reports continue to condemn the hijackings of merchant ships by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. If response to both piracy menaces was balanced and fair, these condemnations would have been justified. European Union (EU), Russia, Japan, India, Egypt and Yemen are all on this piracy campaign, mainly to cover up and protect their illegal fishing fleets in the Somali waters. …

The IUUs, which are estimated take out more than $450 million in fish value out of Somalia annually, neither compensate the local fishermen, pay tax, royalties nor do they respect any conservation and environmental regulations – norms associated with regulated fishing. It is believed that IUUs from the EU alone take out of the country more than five times the value of its aid to Somalia every year.

During this same time, as Johann Hari describes:

In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country’s food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness …

There is lots more to the story, read more at the African Loft.

Special thanks to b real for his extensive research on the unfolding situation in Somalia, posted in the comment threads at Moon of Alabama. You can read some of the more recent developments with links to more information in the comment threads on these posts:
Behind ‘Fighting Piracy’
A Carrier Group to Attack Somalia

b real continues these topics and more at his newer location
africa comments blog. 
If you want to follow events in Somalia and East Africa, I suggest you visit.

ricemadagascar

Rice fields in Madagascar

Glenn Ashton of the The South African Civil Society Information Service has written a telling article about the new colonial land grabs in Africa titled Madagascar: the new land grab.

Just when colonialism was considered dead and buried, along comes neo-colonialism in its latest guise. Allied with its close relatives globalisation, free marketeering and lack of transparency, it is currently launching a new offensive on the disempowered population of this continent. …

Neo-colonialism is now garbed in new clothes. Powerful interests are presently seeking and gaining access to land in government-to-government deals as well as through private capital. These arrangements ostensibly offer to manage land that is not being economically utilised in order to improve food security. But for whom? …

The global food security focussed NGO, GRAIN, issued a report on this phenomenon in October 2008, where they cited more than 100 examples of this new neo-colonial land grab. These land grabs are primarily by nations that have insufficient natural capital or space – such as the desert-bound nations of the Middle East and overpopulated nations such as China and South Korea. They seek to improve the food security of those nations while undermining the ability of host nations to access similar benefits, through the alienation of prime agricultural land. The ecological impacts can also be significant.

Since the GRAIN report was published, the land grab has continued apace. The recent acquisition of a reported 1.3 million hectares (ha) of land in Madagascar by the South Korean company Daewoo Logistics Corporation on 99-year lease has raised eyebrows around the world. This land represents around half of that island nation’s arable land.

In Madagascar a reported 70% of the population suffer from food shortages and malnutrition. Nearly 4% are fed through aid programmes. Besides this, more than 50% of the population is below the age of 18. What hope is there for local youth when South African farmers are reportedly being recruited to run the highly mechanised and automated farms under the Daewoo lease? …

China is also actively seeking new land. Given its massive population and constrained access to farmland, China has moved aggressively into Africa with land interests in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, Cameroon and Tanzania. …

Even the World Bank is continuing its role as a neo-colonial consensus agent by actively pursuing and financing access to ‘under-utilised land’ around the world through its International Finance Corporation.

Of course much of the land is “under-utilised” because African countries were following World Bank recommendations and requirements. Malawi used to provide free seeds and fertilizer to its farmers.

The results were impressive, but the subsidies ran afoul of the pro-market policies of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), which argued that subsidies were “crowding out” commercial sales and constituted undue government interference in the economy. Under considerable pressure from these financing institutions, the programme was phased out. The IMF also insisted that Malawi sell much of its national grain reserve to pay off the debts of the state-owned maize marketing agency.

Most Malawian farmers, however, were too poor to pay commercial rates for fertilizer and seeds. As a result, maize yields plunged. When drought struck in 2001 neither farmers nor the government had adequate grain stores to see them through, and more than a thousand people are estimated to have died. Then after the failed 2005 harvest left 5 million of Malawi’s 13 million people on the brink of starvation, the newly elected government of President Mutharika defied the donors and launched the subsidy scheme with its own funds.

Without the seeds and fertilizer, the land was “under-utilized.” People starved because they could not farm. This has been World Bank and IMF policy throughout Africa. As Ashton points out:

… international finance instruments run by the then G5 (now expanded to the G8), such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund used aid and so-called development finance instruments to further their interests.

It has been established by repeated research over decades that the smaller the farm the greater the yield. For more information read the article Small is Bountiful, and check the references listed at the end. There are economies of scale with big agriculture. Big agriculture allows the proceeds to be concentrated among a few people unrelated to the people actually living on the land. It is generally harmful to the land, due to the use of toxic chemicals needed to sustain monocultures, and due to unsafe genetic engineering. It is harmful to the people who live in its vicinity, depriving them of their livilihood and damaging their health.

Ashton continues:

Perhaps more sinister is the recent news of leasehold rights being acquired for approximately 400,000 hectares of land in the Southern Sudan from the family of former warlord Gabriel Matip. In a deal struck by US financier Philippe Heilberg, who has used a British Virgin Islands subsidiary of his Jarch Group to facilitate the deal, private interests have intervened directly in disputed territories. Co-directors of the group reportedly include ex-CIA operatives. Given the ongoing instability in that nation and the forced eviction of millions in the neighbouring Darfur region, this sort of land acquisition is perhaps a harbinger of an unsavoury trend in who gets to control the land in disputed territories.

I wrote about this in an earlier post: Jarch Colonial Holdings, and quote Heilberg: “You have to go to the guns, this is Africa”. His intentions are clear. The Jarch management contains people with connections to both the current and the previous US administrations. You can see their management listed on the Jarch LLC website.

Ashton concludes:

Activities to increase agricultural growth in Africa have also been severely compromised by questionable alliances. For instance AGRA, the African Union endorsed ‘Association for a Green Revolution in Africa,’ has seen the undemocratic and unsolicited intervention of supposedly neutral funders such as the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. The relationship between these funders and pro-genetically modified food interests (in what is now termed bio-colonialism) has served to actively undermine local agricultural collectives, NGOs and projects that aim to promote and share proven solutions to food insecurity and malnutrition.

This is perhaps the most dangerous manifestation of neo-colonialism as it operates behind a veil of philanthropy while (wittingly or unwittingly) undermining democratic structures and interests. The obscene profits accrued by capital over recent decades, instead of being taxed and distributed by state organs, are now in the hands of ill-informed and often ideologically biased do-gooders. For instance, given the technocratic origins of the Gates fortune, it is logical that undue emphasis will be placed on similar technocratic agricultural solutions.

These ‘solutions’ are imposed through slick public relations and the support of corporate aligned agri-business interests such as Africa-Bio and A New Harvest, both of which are linked to GM corporations such as Monsanto, the worlds biggest seed company and genetically modified seed distributor.

There is an urgent need to examine these new neo-colonial thrusts. Careful and objective analysis must be undertaken as to how food and land sovereignty is being compromised through naïve interaction with the new global powers of finance and trade. The interests of global capital need to be tempered by intervention and through more pragmatic approaches that take account of the historical relationships between land, community, food security and economic development.

It is ironic that while Africans have fought to cast aside colonial oppression and its concomitant heritage, we have instead opened gates (pun intended) to a new wave of colonial interests that threaten, yet again, to bypass the marginalised whilst enriching a well-connected minority.

It would be tragic to cast aside Africa’s recently won freedom for a yoke of a different design.

Under democratic governance the people who live on the land would determine how their land is used. As Vandana Shiva writes:

In a democracy, the economic agenda is the political agenda.

The US claims to support and foster democracy. This is a test. In fact, it is probably THE test. Without food, none of us survive.

Added January 31:

From the GRAIN website:

THERE ARE FOUR MAIN PARTS TO THIS LAND GRAB BRIEFING:

1. A summary and announcement – available online here:
http://www.grain.org/nfg/?id=610

2. The full report is available here:
http://www.grain.org/briefings/?id=212
Also available in PDF format:
http://www.grain.org/briefings/?id=212&pdf

3. The Annex to this briefing is a table with over 100 cases of land grabbing for offshore food production as presented in this report. It is available in a separate PDF file:
http://www.grain.org/briefings_files/landgrab-2008-en-annex .pdf

4. GRAIN has released a Google Notebook with full-text news clippings collected during the research for this briefing as a support to those who want to read more.
http://tinyurl.com/landgrab2008

The notebook is only available online, and the news clippings are not in any order, but it can easily be searched. We are doing this because this is not always an easy subject to research on the internet, if you want a broad picture. People may add further clippings to the notebook as they wish, to further build this collective resource – if you would like to participate, please send an email to landgrab@grain.org . GRAIN will not be maintaining nor be responsible for it. Most of the articles are at present in English. (A backup copy is available in PDF format from here: http://www.grain.org/m/?id=209 )

Somali ostrich, possibly dangerous, probably not a terrorist

Somali ostrich, possibly dangerous, probably not a terrorist

extraordinary rendition of Somali wildlife

Has Somalian wildlife been enlisted by al Qaeda? Are the ostriches and oryx harboring terrorists? Or is Somalia just on the receiving end of another form of piracy?

Reported by Mareeg Online:

People living along the pirate-infested central Somalia coastline have been scared by helicopters bearing US flags.

The US troops in Somalia are now hunting the country’s wildlife under the guise of fighting pirates or protecting the Somali coastline.

The environmentalists have especially pointed their finger of blame at the administrations Some Somali regions of exporting the illegally commodities and the national properties those are reportedly signed private contracts with foreign agencies.

They have threatened that everything is now being recorded and one day those responsible and those giving them the facilitation for the export will be brought before the justice.

And from Garowe Online:

“Three helicopters landed three separate days,” said elder Mohamed Hussein Warsame, quoting witnesses and community leaders.

Soldiers jumped out of the helicopters and loaded live animals, including deer and ostriches, the he added. The helicopters then returned to a warship off the coast.

Mr. Warsame said the foreign soldiers used a technique to subdue the animals, some of which are extremely fast and agile.

He indicated that the identity of the warships remained unknown, but that locals have reported seeing the American flag hovering above one of the warships in the distance.

Foreign warships from a number of countries, mainly in the West, are patrolling Somalia’s waters in an international anti-piracy campaign.

Since 1991, when the country’s last government imploded, Somalia’s long and unprotected coastline became subject to illegal practices including overfishing and toxic waste dumping.

Is this one of the benefits to local people of “nation building” and “peace keeping” in the “ungoverned spaces”, to be robbed of your wildlife heritage?

UPDATE Oct.23, 2009

b real sends this latest news from IRIN on poaching by helicopter:

IRIN covered the story on the mystery poachers swooping out of the sky and rustling up some of the local game

Puntland investigating “flying poachers”

NAIROBI, 22 October 2009 (IRIN) – Authorities in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, are compiling data on foreign helicopters said to be poaching and stealing wildlife from the area while at the same time scaring off the farm animals.

“We have been getting reports in the past few months of unidentified helicopters swooping in from the sea and attacking and taking wildlife,” Abdiqani Yusuf Ade, Puntland’s Environment Minister, told IRIN.

He said the authorities did not have a clear picture of “who was involved or from what countries”.

Ade said Puntland was calling on countries whose forces were stationed off the Somali coast as part of the anti-piracy efforts to stop the poaching if they were involved.

He said the authorities had asked residents in the coastal villages to take photographs of the helicopters. “We are trying to get visual evidence to show the world. If the information we are getting is correct, what is happening is illegal,” he said. “These forces are here to fight piracy; they should not be poaching our natural resources.”

Abdiaziz Aw Yusuf, the district commissioner of Jariban, near the area where the helicopters are alleged to be poaching, told IRIN it had been going on for some time. “They usually operate in an area between the coastal villages of Eil Danan and Dhinowda Digdigle.”

He said the helicopters scattered the wildlife and once they had landed, two or three men captured the animals. He said the most common game in the area was gazelle and ostrich.

Yusuf said the noise of the helicopters was affecting the local population and their livestock. Many were lost after being frightened by the planes and stampeding. He said some had been eaten by predators.

“We have forwarded our complaints and what information we have collected to the Puntland government,” Yusuf said.

Ahmed Aden, an elder in Garad town, 5km south of the area, told IRIN the helicopters came from ships that could be seen from the land.

Aden said because the area was flat and grassy, it was easy for the helicopters to land. He said the dust raised disoriented the animals, allowing the men on board to capture them.

It has become normal to see them on a daily basis,” Aden said. “They [foreign forces] claim to be guarding against pirates but who is guarding us and our resources against them?

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