Sunday, August 20, 2017

Angola's Election - Dos Santos does not bow out

Angola’s civil war lasted more than 25 years, ending in 2002, leaving the country devastated. The People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita)  are no longer warring over trenches, airstrips and dusty roads through scrubby forests, but fighting for the backing of 9 million voters as Angola goes to the polls on Wednesday to elect a new president.  Unita won just 18% in the last election, in 2012, against the MPLA’s 72%.

 José Eduardo dos Santos is to step down after electionshaving ruled for more than four decades. He has been guilty of nepotism, cronyism and corruption. 

“It would be extremely surprising if the MPLA loses power, but this is the first time in the past 40 years where there is uncertainty over what happens next,” said Søren Kirk Jensen, an expert on Angola at the independent policy institute Chatham House.  “There won’t be a revolution,” But Jensen added. “Lourenço is coming with a mandate to do things differently.

Dos Santos was Africa’s longest-serving president after Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Unless Unita can win the poll, dos Santos’s place will be taken by 63-year-old João Lourenço, the defence minister.

Dos Santos, will remain president of the MPLA , retaining significant powers and his family will  maintain its hold on a huge business empire. Dos Santos’ daughter Isabel runs the enormous state oil company and is Africa’s richest womanIn one recent poll, nearly 90% said the MPLA leadership acts in its own interest, and not in that of the state or the Angolan people.

There is widespread concern about the fairness of the electoral process. The government has deployed state resources on a huge scale and has consistently repressed critics, moving on 12 August to ban protests and demonstrations by groups not running in the polls. A new law has given regulatory control of all media to a body controlled by the government and the ruling party. Human Rights Watch said the election will be “marred by severe restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly, and limited access to information due to government repression and censorship”.

The MPLA  has failed to manage Angola’s economy.  Africa’s second-biggest producer of crude oil, has been hit hard by the global fall in oil prices, with revenues crashing from $60bn three years ago to $27bn in 2016. After years of surging growth, Angola has slipped into recession. One recent symptom of the poverty that 15 years of inefficient and expensive investment have failed to eradicate was an outbreak of yellow fever, among the world’s worst in decades, though the disease can be prevented by a single inoculation.

Poor people, many of them still living in shanty towns visible from the glittering office blocks and luxury hotels that line Luanda’s corniche, have been hit by inflation that peaked at 42% last year, steeply increasing the cost of rent and basic foodstuffs.

The income of the new "middle classes" – including vast numbers of civil servants, soldiers and teachers on the state payroll – has dropped steeply in real terms as salaries have remained unchanged. 

Even the elite have suffered too. Sales of hugely expensive European-made luxury cars have plummeted, dealers in Luanda say.

The economic crisis also undermines the system of political patronage that underpins MPLA rule, said Francisco Miguel Paulo, an economist at the Catholic University of Angola, because it reduces the government’s ability to invest in projects that “benefit the lives of people and bring it popularity. There was a time when Angola had a lot of money and the government had the chance to make a difference. That opportunity was missed,” Paulo said.

Do as i say not what i do

The presidents of Nigeria, Angola, Zimbabwe, Benin and Algeria all have something in common - an apparent lack of trust in their nations' health systems. They are leaving behind poorly funded and neglected health services, which most of their citizens have to rely on and seeking expensive medical treatments abroad. Unsurprisingly, no presidential spokesman has come out to say that it is because the health service in general is better overseas.

In 2010, the average amount spent on health in African countries per person was $135 (£100) compared to $3,150 in high-income countries, the UN's World Health Organization said. In many African countries, good private healthcare is available to those with money.

In Mugabe's Zimbabwe, for example, state-run hospitals and clinics often run out of basic medicines like painkillers and antibiotics, according to health watchdog Citizens Health Watch. It says that the public health care system "continues to deteriorate at alarming levels" with lack of money being the main problem. Mugabe makes frequent hospital visits to Singapore.

Nigeria's public health system is "terrible" because of poor funding, says BBC Abuja editor Naziru MikailuA health insurance scheme for government workers and some private employees has given some people access to private medicine, but most people have to rely on government-funded services.  Nigerian doctor Osahon Enabulele says that the example set by political leaders costs countries millions of dollars. In 2013 he estimated that Nigerians were spending $1bn (£770m) abroad on medical treatment and reckons that figure could have doubled by now. By comparison, the federal government's health budget for 2016 came to $800m. Dr Enabulele, who is vice-president of the Commonwealth Medical Association, says that the money taken out of Nigeria could be invested in the health system at home. "The whole ambition to have state-of-the-art facilities will remain a mirage if people keep going abroad for medical reasons." On top of that, he says, top Nigerian doctors are then enticed abroad looking for the best conditions, exacerbating the situation.

The Angolan government revealed in May that Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been president for the last 38 years, had travelled to Spain for health reasons.

Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika travels to a hospital in France for what the government calls "periodic" medical checks.

 Benin's President Patrice Talon, 59, travelled to France in June for two operations, one on his prostate and one on his digestive system.
Sudan President Omar al-Bashir had  "an exploratory cardiac catheterisation" at a hospital in the capital, Khartoum. It was, however, a private hospital, not a state one.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

When mountains tumble down

Floods and mudslides that left more than 400 people are believed to have been man made. and could have been avoided, according to Joseph Randall, executive director of Green Scenery, a leading environmentalist.

"When you look at the, Sugar Loaf, which is one of the highest mountains in Freetown, there have been a lot of human activities there in terms of removing the forest cover and constructing houses. People fail to realize that those parts of the city are not sitting on firm rocks. They are sitting on red earth (soil) which becomes easily saturated with water. And when that happens, it means then that there are possibilities that it can cleave off. So, that must have been the cause. For me however, the cause has been a long-term effect because human beings are constantly working on construction. They have been interfering into the structure of that hill, to the extend that the soil must have given way gradually until now when  there has been this rain pour and the soil can no longer hold and erosion is taking place. The other issue of flooding is, we have done so much deforestation. So now what happens is - when it rains the water just slides down and finds it way into a bigger mass. We see the effects of it all around the city. This is because of the construction of houses, settlements have expanded to such an extent that we are now close to two million people in the city. But above all our drainage system is also very poor."

Friday, August 18, 2017

Big Game Hunting or Survival

More than 100 Maasai huts in Tanzania have been allegedly burned down by game reserve authorities near the Serengeti National Park. Hundreds of people have reportedly been left homeless by the evacuation of local pastoral communities. One young Maasai is said to have been shot and critically injured. It's the latest example in East Africa of the growing tensions between wildlife conservation, which attracts tourists, and the need for locals to have pastoral land, especially during droughts.
The chairman of Ololosokwani village, Kerry Dukunyi, has told the BBC that villagers have lost property in the latest incident. "A large percentage of our food has been destroyed. We've lost a lot of food," he said. "A lot of our livestock are also missing."
It is part of a longstanding border dispute between local Maasai people and authorities who operate exclusive hunting experiences for tourists. The Tanzanian government had plans to establish a 1,500sq km (579sq mile) wildlife corridor around the national park for a Dubai-based company which offers hunting packages for wealthy tourists from the UAE. The plan would have displaced about 30,000 people, and caused ecological problems for the Maasai community, which depends on the seasonal grasses there to rear livestock.But the country's president tweeted in 2014 that an eviction would not take place, after more than two million people signed a petition against the action. However reported incidents of destruction of Maasai sites persisted.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The "other" refugee crisis

On Thursday, the number of people fleeing across the border from South Sudan to Uganda passed a million, the UN’s refugee agency said. Another million have fled into Ethiopia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Most were women and children escaping “barbaric violence”, according to the UNHCR.

Over the past year, an average of 1,800 South Sudanese have arrived in Uganda every day. At the reception centre in Imvepi, 30 miles from the border, officials have logged 1,400 children who have arrived unaccompanied, and 5,400 separated from their families. They include a 14-year-old who had led five younger children across war-torn forest and fields for weeks, a seven-year-old who made it entirely alone, and an abandoned three-year-old who has yet to be identified because he cannot describe his family.

Uganda has a generous policy toward refugees, allowing them to work and travel. Families get a 50 by 50-metre plot of land to farm and build a home.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Congolese Silent Tsunami

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)  has enough land to feed at least 1 billion people - roughly the population of Africa - and is wealthy in minerals. But grinding poverty and years of conflict have left many of its people chronically hungry.

Hunger in the DRC has soared in the last year, leaving 7.7 million people in urgent need of food aid and pushing the country closer to famine than it has been in a decade, food security experts said. Much of the rise in hunger - 1.8 million new people were added to the list - stems from escalating violence in the Kasai and Tanganyika regions, which in Kasai alone has forced 1.4 million people to flee their homes in the past year. Congo now has 3.8 million people displaced within the country, in addition to a steady flow of refugees from neighbouring Burundi, Central African Republic and South Sudan. The displaced - many of them women - need seeds and farming tools to become self-sufficient, ease pressure on the communities hosting them, and reduce tensions.

More than 1.5 million people are now facing "emergency" hunger levels. "Emergency" means people are forced to sell possessions and skip or reduce their meals. It is one level below a classification of famine in the IPC's internationally-recognised five stages of hunger.

Alexis Bonte, FAO's interim representative in Congo. said, "It's a humanitarian tsunami, but it's a silent tsunami, that's the problem." Bonte explained "It has been hidden by other crises.", referring to South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen. 
The crisis has worsened with the advance of fall armyworm, a crop-eating caterpillar that has spread to many parts of the country, including Kasai and Tanganyika, as well as by outbreaks of cholera and measles.
"I think the donors are really tired of funding the crisis in Congo," Bonte said, "We cannot hope to make change if we abandon the people. These people deserve to live in dignity. They have suffered enough," he said.
When local NGOs in Chikapa, a town in Kasai region, provided farmland for some 2,000 families who had fled their homes earlier this year, and FAO gave farming equipment, they were able to harvest vegetables to eat and sell within weeks. "Normally in a development project, it would take a year to do this. This was just a few weeks, because the ladies were desperate to do something ... to escape the trauma they had suffered and ... go back to dignity," Bonte said.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Who will be the winners in South Africa? (1994)

From the April 1994 issue of the Socialist Standard 

It was in 1652 that Dutch settlers first went to the Cape of Good Hope. This began as a supply station to service the ships of the Dutch East India Company. It also began 350 years of conflict which has now produced a very different beginning. In April, new constitutional arrangements will start with all adult South Africans having the vote and the election of a transitional government.

The struggle of mainly black workers against that bigoted, racist ideology, "apartheid" has been long and bitter. The struggle to get the vote has required determination and sacrifice. Socialists support that struggle. Without the power to capture control of the state by democratic means, socialism is impossible. This raises an important point. Getting the vote is not the end. Now that it has been won, how is it to be used?

Inevitably, in the first flush of the expected ANC victory in the election there is a lot of optimism amongst its supporters about what the ANC in power will do for them.

Great expectations
They foresee not just the end of race discrimination but the end of the grim poverty in which most of them have lived. They expect their living standards to rise on the basis of jobs and good wages for all. They expect decent housing, health care, education, pensions and other benefits. In fact, this will not happen.

This is not a question about the sincerity or good intentions of Nelson Mandela and his associates. It is about economic realities. The ANC leaders are now being fitted into the mould of reforming capitalist politicians and as such believe that when in power they will be able to do all sorts of good things for their supporters. They believe they are the right men and women for the needs of the hour. It has been a popular misconception that if only workers are able to get the right people into the right positions of power at the right time then everything will be alright. This false idea has led to failure and disillusion in almost every country throughout this century and it won’t be any different in South Africa. By now the reason should be obvious.

Committed capitalists
The ANC leaves no room for doubt that it is committed to running the capitalist system. For example, in the ANC "Freedom Charter" Nelson Mandela has written:
   "Under the Freedom Charier, nationalisation would take place in an economy based on private enterprise . . . [this] would open up fresh fields for a prosperous African population of all classes, including the middle class. The ANC has never at any period of its history advocated a revolutionary change . . . nor has it.. . ever condemned capitalist society " (page 179).
This means that in a South Africa run by an ANC government it’s going to be capitalist business as usual. Class differences, with a great gap between rich and poor, will continue. Black workers will still be exploited alongside whites. Through their labour they will continue to keep the wealthy and the privileged in a society which puts the profits enjoyed by a few before the needs of the whole community.

If a movement has at last managed to form a government to run capitalism, as Nelson Mandela says the ANC is going to do, it has no choice but to work within the economic limitations and class objectives of the market system. Particularly at this time of world slump most governments are in financial difficulties and this is the situation that the ANC will have to take on.

One of the first promises to go will be the promise of jobs for all black workers at good wages. No government can control the level of employment or wages; this is impossible. The promise to provide decent housing for everyone along with health care, education and pensions will also be forgotten.

What is also inevitable is that the ANC government will come into conflict with the trades unions. Despite the present links between the unions and the ANC, when in power the new government will be concerned to run and develop a profitable economy. The unions will be concerned with wage increases and better conditions.

Higher profits
The two objects of higher profits and higher wages will be in conflict with each other and as always, this will lead to disputes at places of work with the possibility of the ANC government using the state machinery to smash the workers’ strikes. The function of the state is to administer class society and enforce the exploitation of workers and this is the anti-working-class role that the ANC is about to embrace.

The policy of apartheid was never in the best interests of South African capitalists. The Nationalist government was kept in power by an eccentric alliance of Afrikaner fanning interests and white urban workers who. to their eternal discredit, imagined that it was in their interest to keep black workers out of the skilled labour force and to deny them the vote. Hence the support of white workers for the various job reservation Acts and other forms of discrimination against black workers.

Best interests
Capitalist interests would have been best served by a reform programme aimed at integrating the black population within a multi-racial system of exploitation. The old United Party formed by Smuts might have achieved this but it was obliterated by the success of the National Party which held power continuously after 1948. Latterly, capitalists like the Oppenheimers put money into a new reforming party, the Progressive Party, but this also failed.

For many years it seemed that the Afrikaner bigots of the National Party would be the last people on earth to change their ideas but they have at last caught up with economic realities. Confidence in the economy began to drain away as a result of poor investment returns, the collapse of the Rand and rising commercial and political risks coupled with stagnation. In February 1990 De Klerk told the South African Parliament that "a new South Africa is only possible if it is bolstered by a sound and growing economy, with particular emphasis on the creation of employment".

Before this, the ANC had already been in discussion with South African capitalists assuring them that their interests would be safeguarded under an ANC government. For their part, the capitalists were anxious to emphasise their own non-racist credentials. For example, in 1985, the Chairman of Anglo-American Corporation, one of the biggest in South Africa, told the ANC negotiators that::
  “what we are concerned with is not so much whether the following generation will be governed by black or white people, but that it will be a viable country and that it will not be destroyed by violence and strife" 
he added, 
   "they [by which he meant the ANC and South African business] shared a common interest in maintaining the profitability of the South African state".
At last it seemed that under the ANC a reforming regime could emerge to facilitate the maximum exploitation of South African workers without distinction of colour on the basis of a broad consensus between the main political forces. This leaves the question of whether the groups outside the consensus, Inkatha and the extreme Afrikaners, will be strong enough to disrupt the new arrangements.

So, who will be the victors in this long struggle that has held the attention of the world since the end of Second World War? If the extreme elements are so foolish as to plunge the country into a civil war that will only add new chapters to a conflict in which the main sufferers, as always, will be the working class.

Given that the new arrangements work out on the other hand, we take it that black workers will enjoy greater freedom to organize in trades unions and benefit from the end of political censorship and repression.

We shall see. But the most immediate class beneficiaries of the constitutional changes will be the South African capitalists and those with high investment in the country.

As the Chairman of Anglo-American emphasised, when it comes to the human resources that it wishes to exploit, capital is completely free of racial prejudice.

We should ask whether these results will be worthy of the suffering, torture, imprisonment and deaths which have been the input of black workers into the struggle. It will be a very poor testament to the courage of that struggle, and all the sacrifices that have been made, if its gains are now thrown away in a betrayal in which the great majority continue to be exploited.

Surely, the least that struggle deserves is that those who have won the vote should think long and hard about how it should be used. Since all the main strands of South African history still intrude so forcibly into the present political situation it is useful for black workers to think back to their past. It is worth remembering that working for wages is very recent and that tribespeople had to be forced into it.

A colonial report entitled African Labour Efficiency Survey - 1949 was concerned with the problem of how to force the people of the Kikuyu in East Africa to become wage workers. It said this:
    "The East African comes from a tribal economy in which his human needs of sustenance can still very largely be met. He has not, to any significant degree, been de-tribalised. The East African has not been bent under the discipline of organised work . . .  In respect of the few working activities which in the past occupied him he was free and independent.
     Though the tasks he performed were prescribed by tribal law and custom, he could do them in his own way and at his own speed, for him time had no economic value. The work he did for others was not for wages, but was one of the duties arising from his relationship with his fellows. He gave satisfaction by his work and he derived a measure of contentment from it. In these circumstances he was willing to do what was required from him.
      To work steadily and continuously at the will of another was one of the hard lessons he had to learn when he began to work for Europeans."
This was how African people lived for countless centuries, not working for wages but co-operating to provide for the needs of the community.

Healthy society
Why should black workers embrace and continue the economic forces of capitalism that destroyed that way of life? If the traditional relationships of co-operation are extended to all other workers and are applied using modern technology, modern communications and fully democratic methods of organization, they are all we need to create a healthy society which can serve all our needs without distinction of race or sex.

Pieter Lawrence

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Ghost Safari-land

Scientists are warning that a mass species extinction is already underway. Agriculture is one of the most serious threats to the planet’s biodiversity, and the demand for food and agricultural land is only going to grow. 

Lions, elephants and hippos have vanished from Kilombero valley after UK- and US-funded projects helped turn a once-thriving habitat into farmland, teak, and sugar plantations. In Kilombero Valley the World Bank predicts that “the demand for agricultural land will almost double in the coming 20 years, with a large increase for rice and maize and a smaller increase for sugarcane”. 

Ryan Shallom was 16 the first time he saw the Kilombero valley, in 1990. “There were 600 lions in the valley back then,” recalls Shallom, whose family were professional hunters, running trips for tourists and rich Tanzanians. The light tree cover in the valley’s higher ground, the rivers, the abundance of food and water, meant that this was a haven not just for elephants, lions, and buffalos, but for all wildlife: a pocket Eden. “We used to see herds of 100 elephants or more, buffalo in all directions … There was the world’s largest population of puku antelope, about 60,000. I think 75% of the world’s population of puku were in Kilombero.”

But from the mid 90s, the wildlife began to disappear. In 1998, elephant numbers in the valley were over 5,000, according to data collected by the Tanzania WildlifeResearch Institute. Now elephants are rarely seen. The lions have gone too, although there are rumours that there is one male lion left. The puku are vanishing: Shallom estimates their numbers have fallen to just over a thousand. The crocodiles, hippos, and zebra, have all more or less vanished.

“The encroachment started in the mid 90s when the cattle started moving in,” says Shallom. Tanzania, like other African countries, was experiencing a rapid growth in livestock – a profitable, moveable way to store capital at a time when demand for meat, both on the continent and in the rest of the world, was beginning to explode. Pastoralist tribes in Tanzania – particularly the Sukuma – began to move into the valley in ever larger numbers, bringing large herds of their distinctive long-horned cattle.

A teak plantation followed, funded by British aid money in the form of the Commonwealth Development Company (now known as CDC). Over the next few years it would take over 28,000 hectares (69,189 acres), and become the largest teak farm in Africa.

In 1998, the Tanzanian government sold the sugar plantation to Illovo, Africa’s biggest sugar company, now owned by the mega-corp Associated British Foods which continued an outgrower programme that was being tried out. There were already farmers moving into the area, but the outgrower system would turbo-charge the in-migration. The main plantation supported small-scale farmers by buying their crops at a set pre-agreed price: in some cases out-growers got training and support, and had a ready market for their crops. The model caught on fast and by 2002 there were about 3,300 outgrowers; by 2006 that number had swollen to nearly 6,000.
Finally buyers were found for the rice plantation; another international consortium involving Agrica, another British-based company. This too began an outgrower programme which was as popular as the one up the valley. Within a few years the plantation was dealing with 480 or more outgrowers.
In 2010, the then Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete went to the World Economic Forum to pitch his country for investment, positing a new model for sustainable agricultural development based on the Kilombero outgrower model; clusters of agribusiness which incorporated small-scale farmers. Sagcot – the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania – was born and the investors loved it. USAid promised $2m on the spot. Aid money and international funds came rolling in. A bewildering network of initiatives and partnerships between business and the international sector (Feed the future, the New Alliance, the New Vision for Agriculture Initiative, the Grow Africa Partnership) was either setting up or already in place and focusing on Africa, and Tanzania and Kilombero were perfect candidates. British and Norwegian aid money went to the rice plantation. World Bank money went to the teak plantation. USAid came in to rehabilitate roads, build bridges and generally slosh cash around. Thanks to the west, thanks to aid, it was boomtime in the valley. Today farms completely line the road that lies along the west of the valley. A brand new road is planned that will lead from Ifakara, in the centre, along down the east side beside the Selous. Everywhere you look, there are blackened stumps and cleared land, marking the new arrivals creating new farms. Forests that were here a year ago have disappeared. New farms have sprung up in their place.
The population, meanwhile, grew rapidly. All you needed to do to set up a farm, after all, was to get permission from the local village and pay them a small fee, and then clear an area and get cracking. Nearby were readymade markets for your produce. The valley was beautiful, the land welcoming and fertile. It is hardly surprising that between 1964 and 2015 the valley’s population rose from 56,000 to more than half a million. The valley was being radically transformed. Pressure on the wildlife was  coming from the rising population. “There has been a massive increase in smallholder farming (predominantly rice) and nomadic cattle herding,” says KVTC head Hans Lemm. “Pastoralists have entered the valley in significant numbers since the early 2000s.” The old tribes would eat fish, according to Father Klimakus Chahali, who grew up in the valley, and now runs the mission in the town of Itete. “They didn’t cut down trees.” Rumours abounded that some of the new arrivals in the valley had a less friendly attitude to wildlife, and were killing the lions in the valley to protect their livestock. “One year,” says Shallom, “I found 22 lion carcasses. They were poisoning them with pesticides.” Bushmeat consumption and poaching rose too. Anna Estes, a conservationist working in the north of the country, says: “The main threat to elephants overall is not big agriculture, but unofficial development from subsistence farmers. 80% of farming in Tanzania is small-scale subsistence farming. Because it is unplanned, this causes a lot of damage to elephant habitat. Aside from the immediate threat from poaching, habitat loss is the number one threat to elephants these days, and human-elephant conflict is an extension of that.” The outgrower programme – if inadvertently – magnified that effect tenfold.
The miombo forest, the open plains, were disappearing as the small farms and the big farms encroached. Every day more of the valley floor was covered with miles of sugar and rice plantation, or with the monocultural teak forests.  Miombo forest is a mixture of high trees, evergreens, shrubs, flowers, creepers and undergrowth. You can actually hear the density of life here; the low throb of bees, a whine of other insects, the calls of the doves and the shrikes. Teak is entirely different. The trees are slender, elegant, reaching up to 150ft when mature. The leaves are huge, simple, obtuse in shape with undivided blades; they are thick and slightly sandpapery to the touch. “When they fall on the ground,” Hinde says, “they kill undergrowth. You can’t grow anything beneath teak trees.” The empty ground beneath the trees, which grow in neat and unnerving lines, means that in this forest it is nearly silent. We spot a solitary buffalo spider, and a few butterflies.
Trevor Jones of the Southern Tanzania Elephant Program (Step) explains “It has been very sad to see all the overgrazing and conversion to farmland of wildlife habitat in the Kilombero valley over the last decade."
“I work more and more with the World Bank or the African Development Bank,” says scientist Holly Dublin, “and I see what their plans and what they are giving loans for to these governments. It is like there’s a total disconnect. So what you are going to see is that of course, elephants come last. In fact, anything to do with wildlife comes last.”
The World Bank did 320 pages of assessment on Sagcot  with a specific case study on Kilombero. They highlighted the “high risk from accelerated agribusiness investment” noting possible “increasing pressure on the forests and their biodiversity”.
 “There was some discontent at the World Bank around the project,” says Doug Hertzler of ActionAid, who has closely followed the impacts of the Tanzanian agricultural plans. “For a long time the funding was held up because of the concerns.” They hesitated and dragged their feet – but in the end the money went through.
 USAID noted in their own extensive report that “Kilombero Valley Floodplain is of global, national, regional and local importance in terms of its ecology and biodiversity” and added that “the most important direct threat to biodiversity comes in the form of the conversion, loss, degradation, and fragmentation of natural ecosystems”. But they went in nonetheless, and their work can be seen all over the valley – including the rehabilitation of a road that runs straight through the heart of the Ruipa wildlife corridor and which will, undoubtedly bring more traffic.
UK money went in too, in the form of a grant to the rice plantation and support for SAGCOT (they had also been key funders of the teak plantation).