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World Water Day 2023: Accelerating Change in solving Africa’s Water and Sanitation Crises

Water is an essential resource with a direct impact on Africa’s economic potential: inadequate access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene services reduces economic opportunities.

One in three Africans is affected by water scarcity. According to the 2022 WHO/UNICEF JMP report [1], 411 million people in Africa still lack basic drinking water service, 779 million lack access to basic sanitation services and 839 million lack access to basic hygiene.

Climate change is causing water scarcity and drought, leading to projected water scarcity for close to 230 million Africans and as many as 460 million living in areas where the demand for water periodically exceeds the available supply by 2025. This also impacts food and energy security as the continent’s population continues to grow. Water access remains a matter of concern and efficiency in water use is now a crucial issue.

The theme of World Water Day 2023, “Accelerating change” is a wake-up call to do even more to solve water and sanitation crises. We need collective and urgent action by governments, regional associations, and global development partners. We must also consider the complex interplay between water and energy supply and demand, food ecosystems and the impacts of climate change to address the diverse needs and use of water, develop innovative ideas, and optimize finance in the water sector.

This year’s World Water Day also coincides with the United Nations midterm review of the Water Action Decade. This provides an opportunity for leaders, governments, and corporations to pause, reflect and determine urgent actions that are needed to increase the speed of progress in the delivery of universal access to water and sanitation. Together, these commitments form the Water Action Agenda that will be launched at the UN 2023 Water Conference (22-24 March) – the first event of its kind in nearly 50 years.

Within the African Development Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities, water security underpins food security (agriculture represents 70% of total water consumption), energy security (high dependence on hydropower, and water is an input for other sources of energy), industrialization (water as a key input and catalyst), regional integration (through transboundary waters) and particularly improving the quality of life for the people of Africa (impacts on health, nutrition, education, gender equity, and livelihoods). The bank’s Water Policy is built on a vision to improve Africa’s water security and transform water assets to foster sustainable, green, and inclusive socio-economic growth and development.

In 2022, our water and sanitation portfolio of $473 million provided water access to an estimated 6.8 million people, and jobs to over 24,000 people in Africa

Massive investments in integrated water development and management are central to achieving sustainable water, food, and energy security while assuring green and inclusive growth. In 2022, our water and sanitation portfolio of $473 million provided water access to an estimated 6.8 million people, and jobs to over 24,000 people in Africa.

Over the last 10 years, the bank has also invested approximately $5.2 billion in the water sector to support and strengthen water and sanitation resilience for almost 97 million people in Africa. Since 2015, the bank has invested an average of $900 million a year.

In Kenya, projects like the Kenya Towns Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation Program have improved the quality of life for beneficiaries such as Emmaculate Anyango, who used to walk two kilometers to fetch water for cooking, drinking, and other domestic uses. The program initiated projects to ensure access to clean, safe, and consistent water supply in 28 small towns in Kenya. For instance, the Oyugis Water Supply and Sanitation Project, which was completed in January 2023, already serves over 60,000 people by producing 12,000 cubic meters of water each day.

Towards 2030 and beyond, the African Development Bank will continue to work with and support African countries to drive the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6 targets. It will do this through financing, sector reforms and governance, knowledge generation, partnerships and private sector engagement, environmental and social responsibility, and mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Let’s all play our part and be the change!


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Ufitfly Boss Congratulates Gov Makinde, Urges Him To Do More For Hospitality, Tourism Sectors

The team Lead of a destination management outfit, the owner of the Ufitfly brand, Evang Ajibola Ogunkeyede has congratulated Oyo State Gov. Engr. Seyi Makinde on his re-election for the second term as the executive governor of the state, while urging him to take leverage more on the hospitality and tourism sectors to boost the state’s economy.

Ogunkeyede in a statement issued and made available to newsmen in Ibadan commended the peaceful and alluring disposition of Engr. Makinde to the electoral process which he believed was responsible for his landslide victory but advised him to create more enabling atmospheres for cross-cultural tourism to strive in the state.

Evangelist Ogunkeyede averred that the Ufitfly brand is a good ambassador of Oyo State because it has grown to become the biggest player in the Christian pilgrimage sector in Africa with many awards of recognitions for unblemished records in moving Christian pilgrims from Nigeria to Israel and Jordan.

“I want to believe that the governor has done well to earn the trust of Oyo State people which was evident in the way he was massively re-elected, hence we will like to see a good collaboration with the state government in the area of boosting the hospitality, sports-tourism, and pilgrimage sectors.

“This significantly is aimed at promoting cultural assets for national pride, deploying our diverse and rich experiences and resources aimed at helping the government combating the vices such as youth restiveness, insecurity, unemployment etc with hospitality, sports-tourism, and pilgrimage”.

The popular tour broker said sports is now a money-spinning venture and a key component of tourism which brings some significant benefits to the destinations where sports events are hosted, with economic boosts, both direct and indirect, being among these advantages, saying our government is yet to take full advantage of this.

Ogunkeyede added that the direct spending by sports tourists at host facilities, hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues stimulates the local economy, Jobs are created, and tax revenue is earned.

He however, called on Gov. Makinde that had to rebuild the Lekan Salami Sports Complex into an international standard to complement the good deed by ensuring synergy between sports and tourism which fall under five categories: sports participation, sports training, sporting events, tourism with sports content, and luxury sports travel.

If the youths are properly managed through active engagement in sports and good collaboration is fashioned out between sports and tourism, the state and the country will generate great revenues that surpass what is derivable from oil.

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Visas in Africa are Barriers to Trade and Movement, Says President Ruto

President William Ruto has urged African countries to rethink their visa regimes to boost intra-Africa trade and position the continent for true transformation.

African governments, the President said, should facilitate “people-to-people, business-to-business and government-to-government affairs,” not create barriers.

“The people who introduced visas to Africa have abandoned them. In Europe today, citizens of the 27 countries in the European Union don’t need visas to travel from one country to the other,” he said.

He spoke on Thursday when he met President Emerson Mnangagwa’s special envoy, Ambassador Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, at State House Nairobi.

President Ruto said he will hold discussions with his Zimbabwean counterpart on a visa-free regime between the two countries.

He also said they will discuss the need for more flights from Nairobi to Harare and vice versa.

President Ruto said Kenya opposes the continued economic sanctions against Zimbabwe, adding that they are unnecessary.

“At a time of economic difficulty, climate change effects, and pandemics, sanctions only exacerbate the burden on the citizens of Zimbabwe,” he said.

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AFRICA: Violence Soars in Mali in The Year After Russians Arrive

Alou Diallo says he was drinking tea with his family one morning last month when groups of “white soldiers” invaded his village in central Mali, setting fire to houses and gunning down people suspected of being Islamic extremists. He scrambled to safety in the bush, but his son was shot and wounded while fleeing, then was finished off as he lay on the ground.

“I watched my 16-year-old son die,” Diallo told The Associated Press in Mali’s capital, Bamako, where he lives in a makeshift camp for displaced people. As he recounted that awful Saturday in his village of Bamguel, the 47-year-old former cattle breeder made no attempt to hide his anger toward the troops, which he believed to be Russian mercenaries, who turned his world upside down.

“I really want peace to return and things to go back to normal,” he said. “Here in Bamako, I live a life I didn’t choose.”

It’s been more than a year since hundreds of fighters from the Wagner Group, a shadowy Russian military contractor, began working alongside Mali’s armed forces to try to stem a decade-long insurgency by Islamic extremists in the West African country, Western officials say.

But since the mercenaries arrived, diplomats, analysts, and human rights groups say indiscriminate violence against civilians has grown, the extremists linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group have only gotten stronger, and there’s concern the Russian presence will further destabilize the already-troubled region.

More than 2,000 civilians have been killed since December 2021, compared with about 500 in the previous 12 months, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a nongovernmental organization. At least a third of those deaths recorded last year were from attacks involving the Wagner Group, according to the data compiled by ACLED.

“They are killing civilians, and by their very presence, giving Malian security forces a green light to act on their worst inclinations,” said Michael Shurkin, a senior fellow at Atlantic Council and director of global programs at the consultancy group 14 North Strategies.

Military contractors from Wagner, which was founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a millionaire businessman with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, have been bolstering Moscow’s forces during its invasion of Ukraine. But experts say they also operate in a handful of African countries.

Ever since Mali’s military seized power in two coups starting in 2020, a junta led by Col. Assimi Goita has had tense relations with the international community.

France sent troops to Mali in 2013 to help its former colony drive Islamic militants from northern areas of the country but withdrew them in August as relations frayed and anti-French sentiment grew in the population. The West says Mali is increasingly looking to Moscow for security, although the junta says it has only invited in military trainers.

Alassane Maiga, head of communications for the junta, insisted that Wagner was not operating in the country. Asked about the attacks on civilians, Maiga said Mali’s government protects its citizens and their property.

“The army’s protection and security missions are carried out with respect for human rights and international humanitarian law,” he said.

The Wagner Group did not respond to requests for comment. At a U.N. Security Council debate Tuesday, Russia’s deputy ambassador Anna Evstigneeva rejected attempts from abroad “to besmirch Russian assistance to Mali,” where Moscow has a bilateral agreement to assist the transitional government. She did not mention the Wagner Group.

Up to 1,000 mercenaries have been deployed and the Wagner Group is being paid nearly $11 million a month to provide security and training, according to a report by the U.S. Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center, which studies extremist violence.

The report said Wagner’s forces are struggling to make significant gains, with jihadi violence increasing. During the rainy season between June and September when fighting usually subsides, there were over 90 attacks against civilians and the military by an al-Qaida-linked extremist group, compared with six in the same period a year earlier, it said, and an August assault on a barracks by an Islamic State-linked group killed at least 42 Malian soldiers.

In the bloodiest attack, Human Rights Watch said Mali’s army and foreign troops suspected to be Russian rounded up and killed an estimated 300 men in the town of Moura in March. Some were believed to be Islamic extremists, but most were civilians. The investigation cited 27 people, including witnesses, traders, community leaders, diplomats and security analysts.

Mali’s Defense Ministry reported a similar incident at the time but said it had killed 203 “terrorists” and arrested 51 others.

“There are broad reports of human rights abuses across the region where they are working,” U.S. Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland said of the Wagner mercenaries. “And we worry that these forces are not interested in the safety and security of the people of Mali but, instead, are interested in enriching themselves and strip-mining the country and are making the terrorism situation worse.”

Samuel Ramani, an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a defense and security think tank, said Russia is not very credible at counterterrorism in Africa.

“What we’ve seen repeatedly is that Russia and the Wagner Group forces are much better at strengthening the hold of authoritarian regimes in power than actually combating rebels and terrorist groups,” Ramani said, citing their limited knowledge of the terrain, strained relationships with low-ranking officers and a rigid command and control structure.

Many Malians accuse the military and the white soldiers working with them of arbitrary arrests of civilians herding cattle, farming or going to market. Most of them are ethnic Fulani who are increasingly targeted by security forces suspecting them of supporting the Islamic militants.

Rights groups say these alleged abuses aid the extremists, who capitalize on public grievances for use as a recruiting tool.

A 29-year-old cattle herder named Hamidou said he was arrested at his home in Douentza village in central Mali with two other people in November and accused of being an Islamic militant. He was locked in a room where he was bound, beaten, and interrogated by “white soldiers.”

“We were severely beaten daily. We didn’t think we’d survive,” said Hamidou, who asked to be identified only by his first name for fear of reprisal, adding that most of those detained were ethnic Fulani, like him. “From the day Wagner came to Mali until today, arbitrary arrests and killings of Fulani civilians have been increasing tremendously.”

The AP was unable to verify his account independently but a human rights researcher who also asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal said he saw the scars on Hamidou’s back and forehead after his release.

Thousands of United Nations peacekeeping troops have been in Mali for nearly a decade to protect civilians from violence, but Mali’s government has constrained their ability to operate, and countries such as Benin, Germany, Sweden, Ivory Coast and the United Kingdom have announced troop withdrawals, according to the International Crisis Group.

Nuland, the U.S. diplomat, said the Wagner Group has encouraged the junta to deny the peacekeepers access to areas where it has the mandate to investigate abuses.

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Police Will be Adequately Funded to Secure the Country- Ruto

The National Police Service will be adequately resourced to enhance its capacity to work.

President William Ruto asked the service to utilize its funds prudently to secure Kenyans and their property.

He said the resources should be used to equip police officers with modern equipment to efficiently combat the ever-evolving and sophisticated crimes in the country.

The President asked the Inspector General of Police not to allow crooks in the procurement chain to squander the funds.

We will not allow funds allocated to the security sector to be abused by brokers

“We will not allow funds allocated to the security sector to be abused by brokers,” he said.

The President made the remarks on Thursday during the 49th passing out parade for more than 900 General Service Unit officers in Embakasi, Nairobi County.

Present were Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki, Inspector General of the National Police Service Japhet Koome, and Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja.

At the same time, the President said the government will operationalize County Policing Authority to enable County and National Governments to work together to confront insecurity in the country.

“We do not want matters of security to be an exclusive affair of the police; we want all citizens to be involved in security matters of their locality,” he added.

He asked those in the Police Service to steer clear of politics and instead focus on serving Kenyans.

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Mass death sentences marred by torture claims, unfair trials in Algeria- Report

The trials of 54 individuals who were sentenced to death over the events that happened in the Kabylie region, in the northeast of Algeria in August 2021, including the lynching of an activist, were marred by fair trial violations and torture claims, while at least six were prosecuted due to their political affiliations, Amnesty International said today.

Of the 54, who was sentenced to death in mass proceedings in November 2022, five were convicted in their absence, one of whom was a woman. According to the decision from the chamber of accusation of the Court of Algiers, reviewed by Amnesty International, at least six were prosecuted due to their association with the Movement for the self-determination of Kabylie (MAK), a political group labeled as a “terrorist” organization by the Algerian authorities in June 2021. Five told the court they were subjected to torture or ill-treatment while in detention.

“By resorting to the death penalty in mass proceedings following unfair trials, the Algerian authorities not only reveal their utter disregard for human life, but also send a chilling message about how justice is delivered in Algeria today,” said Amna Guellali, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Meting out the death penalty is never justifiable, no matter what offense was committed. These callous death sentences and convictions must be urgently overturned. All allegations of torture or other ill-treatment must also be promptly investigated, and retrials ordered for all those convicted in their absence or prosecuted over their political affiliations.”

Rampant fair trial violations

The 54 individuals were convicted and sentenced to death on various charges — including murder, terrorism and setting fires — over the lynching of activist Djamel Ben Smail in Tizi Ouzou, a wilaya in the east of Algeria, on 11 August 2021, the lighting of fires the same month in Kabylie in northeast Algeria, which resulted in the deaths of at least 90 people as well as their membership in MAK. They were also accused of “torture and incitement to torture”, “violently assaulting law enforcement officers” and “dissemination of hate speech and discrimination”.

Meting out the death penalty is never justifiable, no matter what offense was committed

At least 62 others faced similar charges in the trial bringing the total number of prosecutions in this case to 116. On 24 November 2022, the judge acquitted 17 defendants, yet 28 were sentenced to between two and 10 years in prison. Their lawyers have appealed the verdict.

In at least two cases the court did not notify the defendants of the charges or the time and place of the trial, violating international fair trial standards.

Other fair trial violations include nine witnesses being absent in the trial that took place behind closed doors between 15 and 24 November, in which the families of victims of the events of August 2021 were not present.

Electrocution and rape threats in custody

According to one lawyer, who asked to remain anonymous citing the sensitivity of the issue, at least five of those convicted told the judge that their statements were extracted under duress. Defendant Mohamed Laaskri said that law enforcement officers electrocuted him, attempted to waterboard him, and threatened him with rape while he was in custody. The judge responded by saying that it was the responsibility of the defendant to file a complaint before the prosecutor.

Two lawyers also said that at least four defendants sentenced to death in their absence were not in Algeria when the alleged crimes took place. Aksel Bellabbaci, a top executive of MAK who lives in France, said he has not visited Algeria since August 2019. During interrogation, several detainees said Bellabbaci is a contact person for the organization, yet the prosecution could not prove his involvement in the lynching.

Mourad Itim, who lives and works in Canada as the manager of webcast TV Taqvaylit TV, having formerly worked as a coordinator for MAK in North America, said he has not visited Algeria since 2016. He believes his conviction stems from his efforts to peacefully exercise his right to freedom of expression by covering the events of August 2021.

“It is absolutely disgraceful that the Algerian authorities are using the lynching incident as a tool to prosecute state critics and members of the MAK political group. This wilful repression is a grave violation not only of the rights to freedom of expression and association but also the right to life,” said Amna Guellall

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Eight soldiers charged over foiled coup in Gambia

The Gambia charged eight soldiers with treason and conspiracy on Friday for their role in a foiled coup last month, the government said in a statement.

The government said on Dec. 21 that a group of soldiers had been arrested in connection with the coup attempt in the West African nation of 2.5 million people almost entirely surrounded by Senegal.

“The Gambia government this afternoon charged eight soldiers of the Gambia Armed Forces with two counts of Treason and Felony Conspiracy to Commit Treason,” the statement said.

One of the soldiers was still at large, while the rest were remanded in custody, it added.

They pleaded not guilty to the first charge and did not enter a plea on the second charge, a government spokesman told Reuters.

Two civilians and a police officer were also charged earlier this week with concealment of treason and conspiracy to commit a felony.

Coup attempts are not uncommon in Gambia, which is still reeling from over two decades under former president Yahya Jammeh marked by authoritarianism and alleged abuses.

Jammeh himself seized power in 1994 and foiled several attempts to overthrow him before he lost an election in late 2016 to Adama Barrow.

The latest coup attempt was condemned by leaders of the West and Central Africa region amid wider concerns about the region’s stability. There has been no information on who was behind it or whether it was linked to the previous regime.

West Africa has witnessed six successful military coups since 2020, marking a backslide of democracy in a region that had been seen to be making progress in shedding its “coup belt” moniker.

Chad’s government on Thursday said its security forces had foiled an attempt by a group of army officers to destabilize the country, which is already under the transitional rule.

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Senegal declares national mourning after bus crash kills dozens

 Thirty-eight people died and about 80 were wounded in central Senegal after two buses collided in the early hours of Sunday, local officials and President Macky Sall said in statements.

The crash, one of the deadliest in the West African country’s recent memory, was on one of the main east-west arteries near the town of Kaffrine, about 220 kilometres (137 miles) southeast of the capital Dakar.

Sall said on Twitter that he was “profoundly saddened” by accident and announced three days of mourning starting on Monday.

The accident occurred after the tyre of one passenger bus burst, sending it into the path of another bus coming in the opposite direction, a statement from the area’s local prosecutor said.

Footage from the scene shared online showed two white buses, their mangled fronts entwined. Debris was strewn across the narrow road.

Road accidents are common in Senegal, where large trucks and buses, often decades old, overburdened, and listing, hurtle down two-lane highways pitted and rutted by overuse.

In 2017, two buses collided, killing 25 people, including some heading to a religious festival.

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Military junta leader pardons detained Ivorian soldiers in Mali

Mali’s military junta leader, Colonel Assimi Goita, pardoned the 49 Ivorian soldiers convicted of undermining Mali’s state security and conspiracy against the government on Friday.

The pardon comes one week after 46 of the soldiers were sentenced to 20 years in prison. The three women who had been freed in early September were tried in absentia and sentenced to death.

Government spokesperson, Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, shared the news on national Malian television

This gesture by colonel Goita is promoted as a way to keep the peace between the neighboring countries

“This gesture, which once again, demonstrates his attachment to peace, dialogue, pan-Africanism, and the preservation of fraternal and secular relations with the countries of the region,” added Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga.

The 49 soldiers were detained in July when they went to work for Sahelian Aviation Services, a private company contracted to work in Mali by the United Nations. A January 1rst deadline set by ECOWAS for Mali to release the soldiers was missed but ECOWAS decided not to sanction the country.

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Zambia Govt Abolished death penalty, says ‘Its a historic milestone’

President Hakainde Hichilema announced the move on 23 December, which “followed years of advocacy efforts by concerned stakeholders, such as the National Human Rights Commission, civil society groups, development partners, the UN team and other partners,” it said.

The UN team in Zambia is led by Resident Coordinator Beatrice Mutali.

Several UN entities there contributed to the milestone by providing a wide range of technical support to the authorities.

Support for rights review 

For example, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN human rights office (OHCHR) assisted the country with preparation for the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Reviews (UPR), including the fourth review scheduled for this year.

The abolition of the death penalty has been consistently included in the first, second and third periodic reviews, as a key subject

The UPR process was established in 2006 to review the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.  It is conducted by a Working Group that meets three times a year, with 14 countries reviewed each session.

The abolition of the death penalty has been consistently included in the first, second and third periodic reviews, as a key subject.

‘Breakthrough moment’ in May 

President Hichilema took office in August 2021, and a “breakthrough moment” occurred the following May when the leader and the new Zambian Government pledged to abolish the death penalty and work with parliament to this end, the statement said.

Since then, the UN team has stepped up its advocacy efforts, which culminated in the celebration of International Human Rights Day with government partners in December.

The UN team also supported the review, amendment, and enactment of ordinary laws, including the Penal Code and Public Order Act, also contributing to the recent repeal of the defamation of the President as a criminal offense.

The UN and the Zambian Government also recently signed a new roadmap for the partnership covering the next five years.

“With this UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, the country team will continue to support the government’s efforts to consolidate democracy, human rights and the rule of law,” said the statement.

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