“The roads are wide and well maintained …”

I was incredibly happy to see that the African Arguments blog of the Royal African Society published an article on Burkina Faso today. Well researched analysis of political affairs here are few and far between and usually, African Arguments is the place to go for this kind of stuff. The piece titled “Compaoré’s Continuing Will to Power“, by Michael Keating and Coulibaly Nadoun, showed some initial promise, tackling the dark past of President Compaoré’s 25 year reign over Burkina and delving into the question, if he has the will to push this reign over the constitutional term limit of the ...

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Voice of America: Food crisis in the Sahel

Not much happened here on the blog for some days now. That’s mostly because I was busy actually working on stuff, which will be published over the next days/weeks. First up is a short news clip for Voice of America about the Sahel food crisis, for which I researched video and story, while David Axe did production and voice: Not much happened here on the blog for some days now. That’s mostly because I was busy actually working on stuff, which will be published over the next days/weeks. First...

ThinkBrigade: Hunger, rebellion, coup: Mali’s crisis has its history

I’m part of the new project ThinkBrigade, which brings together reporters and citizen journalists from around the world to experiment with new forms of collaborative and interactive journalism. This is my first piece for the project, but others will follow: Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa, about two times the size of France. It is dominated by vast expanses of sparsely inhabited desert and the fertile surroundings of the Niger river. In historical times, the area was home to powerful empires and the ancient city of Timbuktu, with its architectural wonders, still tells of this era. Mali is again ...

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Artisanal Gold Miners in Burkina Faso [Video]

Last month, I visited a gold mining camp in northern Burkina Faso. Here is a short video from that trip. Around 30 families live in that location and search for gold. The work is fully manual and unbelievably hard. Temperatures here reach 40°C in the shade easily and there is not much shade to begin with. If the miners (both men an women ply this trade) are very lucky, they find enough gold to sell for around 2,000 Franc CFA every few days. That equals about three Euros. Last month, I visited a gold mining camp in northern Burkina Faso. Here ...

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Sahel food crisis: The situation in Burkina Faso

Sahel food crisis: The situation in Burkina Faso
This is part of a series of posts, looking at the state of the Sahel food crisis. You can also find a regional overview and a report on the situation in Chad on this blog so far. On Tuesday, I was invited by Oxfam to look at one of their projects addressing the current food crisis in the wider region. A car took us from Ouagadougou, the capital, north to Kaya and from there to several surrounding villages. The dry season has the country in its hot and dusty grip now. Temperatures are above 40°C every day and it hasn’t rained for ...

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Sahel food crisis: The situation in Chad

Sahel food crisis: The situation in Chad
I’m currently writing a series of posts looking at the state of the Sahel food crisis. The first part, a regional overview, was published here. Over the coming days I will look at the other countries that are impacted by the food crisis, so come back if you like to know more! I’m beginning my country-by-country analysis of the Sahel food crisis with Chad, as it is this country that will probably bear the brunt of what is coming has already arrived. First the facts: parts of Chad have already descended into full-blown emergency, with thousands of children being admitted to ...

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Sahel food crisis: a roundup

Sahel food crisis: a roundup
This will be the first of a series of posts, looking at the current state of the food crisis in the Sahel. In this post, I will provide a short history of the current crisis and a general overview of the situation in the region. In future posts, I will analyze the state of various countries and their reaction to the upcoming famine. Forecasting a food crisis is no rocket science or guessing game anymore. All areas considered to be at risk of facing periodic food shortages are constantly monitored by regional and local early warning systems like the US ...

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Is genetically modified cotton really the new “white gold”?

Is genetically modified cotton really the new
In an interview with Jeune Afrique (French) Jean-Paul Sawadogo, the head of the national textile association of Burkina Faso, “Sofitex”, touts the advantages of genetically modified (GM) cotton.  Burkina Faso has been the first (and so far only) West African country to allow GM cotton onto domestic fields ten years ago. By now, GM cotton is something of the norm in international cotton production. In 2009, 49% of the worldwide total area planted with cotton used GM cotton. As countries like the USA and Australia grow almost exclusively GM cotton and have a high productivity, one can safely assume that well ...

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Microcredits revisited

Microcredits revisited
In 2008 I entered the microcredit business.That year I discovered the peer-to-peer lending platform MyC4, which lets you lend money to entrepreneurs in various African countries. My initial views on the platform were published in the German weekly “Der Freitag” but for those who don’t speak German or don’t like klicking links, here is a short round-up on MyC4: As “investor”* you can open an account with MyC4. The platform then let’s you choose from a number of open loans, which have been vetted by local partner organizations, the so-called “providers”. The lending itself is competitive – it uses the “Dutch” auction system. You can ...

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