|Africa News Digest
In Africa, Agriculture Shrinks as Cultivators Die of AIDS
There are large reductions in the cultivated land area in some parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, because of AIDS. "In areas of Kenya there has been a 68% reduction in cultivated land and a decline in cash crops such as coffee, tea, and sugar," according to a Reuters paraphrase of Ann-Marie Kormawa, of the System-Wide Initiative for HIV/AIDS and Agriculture (SWIHA), speaking at the British Association of Science Festival in Dublin, Ireland, Sept. 8.
Reuters, citing Kormawa, also reports, "Some parts of Rwanda have experienced drops in the farm labor force of 60-80% because of [AIDS] sickness and deaths, while in Malawi, 70% of households suffered labor shortages following the death of a male. In Burkina Faso, 20% of rural families cut agricultural work or gave up farming because of HIV/AIDS."
In Sub-Saharan Africa, at least 25 million people have HIV.
SWIHA, headquartered in Cotonou, Benin, was launched by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) through its Africa Rice Center in Cotonou.
West Africa Becoming Hub for Drug Cartels
Ibero-American and Asian drug cartels are increasingly using West Africa as a hub for smuggling, working with criminal networks from the region, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which published "Crime and Development in Africa" in June. The U.S. State Department's "International Narcotics Control Strategy Report" (INCSR) for 2005 is consistent with the UNODC report: The INCSR recognizes that Nigeria and Togo are transit points for drugs going to neighboring countries, South Africa, and Europe; that the traffic is increasing; and that Ibero-America and Asia are sources.
The Scotsman July 29citing the UNODC study and remarks by Antonio Mazzitelli, the head of UNODC's office for West and Central Africa in Dakarmakes these points:
* Shipments of cocaine come mainly from Ibero-America through the Cape Verde Islands (300 miles off the coast of Senegal), Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo, and are re-exported, especially to Spain, Portugal, and the UK.
* Spanish authorities seized nearly three tons of cocaine on a Ghana-registered vessel in international waters off the African coast July 24, arresting 12 Ghanaians, four Koreans, and two Spaniards. Spain said the vessel had obtained the drugs from Ibero-America.
* The chief of Brazil's anti-drug efforts, Ronaldo Martins, said a ship carrying 2.2 tons of cocaine was raided by police 700 miles south of the Canary Islands just days before the seizure of the Ghanaian ship, and was linked to the Colombian FARC.
* Major shipments of heroin from southern Asia are flown by air couriers from Kenya and Ethiopia to West Africa, especially Cote d'Ivoire.