- Fertile Guinea is at risk of food shortages as a result of its political and economic crisis, UN agencies warn. Prices on food and fuel have skyrocketed more than neighbouring countries, while real incomes are shrinking due to inflation and political turmoil. This could lead to a new "civil crisis", a report warns.
"Due to the economic crisis, the rise of staple food prices and the decrease of revenues, there are risks of food insecurity in Guinea," a new UN report on food security in West Africa concludes. The situation is worst in urban areas, while the fertile countryside remains widely self-sufficient.
According information from the World Food Programme (WFP), the kilogramme of rice that costs US$ 0.77 in Senegal's capital Dakar is at US$ 0.95 in Guinea capital Conakry. That price is similar to the one practiced in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso which is a land-locked country. Guinea is facing a severe inflation, a currency that is depreciating and continues to be devaluated. After Senegal and Cape Verde, Guinea also has the region's the highest fuel prices.
In rural areas of Guinea, some certain stability has been noted regarding the exchange of agricultural products. 1.5 kilogramme of rice is exchanged against 1 litre of palm oil or 1 kilogramme of groundnuts, according to the UN report.
In urban areas, however, the population categories most affected by the price rise are people without qualifications and those who work in the informal sector. During the month of March, 61 percent of households' expenses in the vulnerable districts of Conakry were devoted to food. This was even before the increase of the fuel price in April. In 2004, this share was only of 50 percent in rural areas, the UN adds.
In Matoto and Ratoma - two vulnerable districts in Conakry - 73 percent of the households have reduced the number of meals as compared to the previous month, 72 percent have reduced the quality of meals, and 22 percent have sold their belongings to buy food.
To respond to the crisis, the Guinean government had decided to ban forest products exports and to increase salaries for April. However, the export ban may impact farmers' income, as 30 percent of their income comes from cash crops that hardly sell in the present context, the UN report warns.
"The most likely scenario is the continued increase of food insecurity and malnutrition during the lean season, which could cause social unrest with weak capacities for the government and United Nations system to react," the report says. "The worst case scenario would be the upsurge of a civil crisis during the lean season - worst than that of January-February 2007 - which would prevent partners to undertake actions aiming at mitigating the food crisis. Thus, the food crisis could result in a political one," it adds.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.