“I’m not an expert in international affairs or diplomacy, but it doesn’t take that to see the tremendous suffering here”
Actor, Ben Affleck traveled to Africa’s Congo region three times over the last eight months, hoping to understand firsthand one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises of this century.
Affleck and the “Nightline” team traveled through refugee camps, hospitals and clinics, meeting with warlords, relief workers, child soldiers and members of parliament in an effort to better understand the place where over the last decade more than 4 million people have died in the deadliest conflict since World War II.
With the sharp rise and fall of global grain prices, many affluent countries with limited arable land have begun looking to Africa for food security.
Countries like Angola, Tanzania and Ethiopia have already shown interest in foreign investments and have restructured their land allocation laws to allow for this. The horticulture industry is one of the fastest growing non-traditional export sectors of many African countries, including Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi.
South Korean firm Daewoo has unveiled plans to plant corn on one million acres of land in Madagascar, to sharply cut its reliance on US imports.
Daewoo is leasing the vast tract of land – half the size of Belgium – for 99 years and hopes to produce 5 million tonnes of corn a year by 2023.
It will use South African expertise and local labour on the plantations.
Today in the Daily Nation, Kenya’s premier newsprint, there is a beautifully written article on Obama’s win, what it means to the country that gives him his last name, and what Africa expects from an Obama-Biden administration.
On what Africa expects from the United States:
Africa does not expect alms from the United States now that an African-America is soon to be sworn in as its president.
That was not the point of the overwhelming goodwill and support that the continent lent to President-elect Barack Obama in his audacious, and wildly successful, fight for the most powerful office on the planet.
Kenya is proud of Mr Obama, his almost unimaginable achievement, and just like he has inspired tens of millions of Americans, we too shall draw inspiration from his example.
On what Barack Obama’s win means for Africa:
His victory provides evidential justification for disadvantaged minorities and people of color to reassure their children that they too can rise above the limitations of their station, the sins of their parents, and the disadvantages of their circumstances.
And it is a lesson to every African father to create the right conditions for their children, to not allow the limitations of their own vision to be a hindrance to the aspirations of their offspring.
To Africa and the entire black race, Mr Obama is the vindication of our humanity.
and On Africa’s hope for Barack:
Africa hopes Mr Obama realizes that access to opportunities is not a preserve of Americans. While protecting America’s prosperity, he must have something to say about fair trade, particularly for Africa.
The earth is dying, poisoned by the avarice of man. Those who profit from the poisoning will not even acknowledge that their activities pose a danger to humanity.
Africa expects Mr Obama to add his voice to those cautioning that we shouldn’t live just for today but must take care of tomorrow too.
The DRC deployment can be found at http://DRC.ushahidi.com, and the mobile number to send SMS reports to is+243992592111
Internally Displaced People leave Kibati heading north from the city to their villages, Kibumba and Rugari, north of the provincial capital of Goma, Congo, on November 2, 2008. Several thousand people displaced in the fighting between rebels and government troops in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo began returning home Sunday as a ceasefire held, an AFP correspondent on the scene reported. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
The Ushahidi team released an instance of their crowd sourced crisis reporting engine for the Congo today.
Just days after announcing their alpha release Ushahidi already has it’s first major crisis deployment at hand. The team took a collective decision last week to work overtime and deploy in the Democratic Republic of Congo even though the Engine is still in Alpha and has some kinks — everyone agrees that the current situation is dire and we could not justify the wait.
The Congo poses a difficult, but all too common crisis situation and the team is working overtime to tackle multiple challenges. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced into refugees, many of them sick, wounded and starving. Since this is an open source project, a major part of the work is done by volunteers ALL of whom believe in the necessity of accurate reporting in a time of crisis.
Ushahidi was very effective when first deployed to document the incidents of violence and looting during the post-election crisis in Kenya, but more than the need for accurate reporting, the assimilated incident reports help Coordinate Humanitarian Resources and Aid to those most afflicted by the conflict.
I believe in Ushahidi. There are numerous reasons why Ushahidi must succeed, but most of all because it holds parties accountable for their atrocities when humanity is at its worst — thus preserving some dignity for those dispossessed.
How to Help?
Get the Word Out Help spread the word that the website is live. Share this with everyone you know – the more the people know about what is happening on the ground, and the more the media keep their focus on this story, the more likely our leaders will intervene to make a difference.
Help verify and collect reports: Unlike our first installation in Kenya, the Congo poses some real challenges for the Ushahidi team. UN peacekeepers and NGo’s are being evacuated in droves and we need to get the message to the people on the ground in the Eastern Congo that this tool is now available for them to report incidents in on. If you have contacts there, or can help spread the word through some other means, tell them about our SMS number +243992592111
Help make Ushahidi better: Since Ushahidi is an open source effort, we are always looking for help to make the tool better. We are still in the Alpha Stages of development but David Kobia and the team decided that we had a stable enough install to have a working version for the Congo. We are always working out kinks and incorporating lessons learnt. Hop on over to the Ushahidi blog for up to date updates and reach out if you think you can help.
Learn more about Ushahidi and how you can help here