Devex: In US, Uncertainty Starts March 1 – Today, drastic across-the-board cuts to U.S. government programs take effect, and while the impact won’t be immediate, “further inaction by Congress will mean disaster within and beyond America’s borders.” Cuts will be deep to the relatively small foreign aid budget: $150 million to humanitarian assistance, $400 million to global health, $70 million to food aid, and $70 million to USAID. Early this week, “about 150 activists affiliated with ONE went to the Hill and had 170 meetings with lawmakers and their staff” to ask them to prioritize these lifesaving programs. (John Alliage Morales)
CNN: Africa’s rocky road to democracy – Since the 1990s, there have been “significant improvements in the transition to democratic governance in Africa,” but there have also been some major reversals. Some pre-incumbent leaders, like Paul Biya of Cameroon and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, remain in power, while Mali, which had made significant progress toward institutionalizing democracy, suffered major regression. In order to advance the transition to democratic governance in Africa, “each African country must engage all its relevant stakeholder groups in state reconstruction through democratic (i.e. bottom-up, participatory, inclusive and people-driven) constitution making. (John Mukum Mbaku)
The Economist: Aspiring Africa – Africa’s economy is flourishing, most countries are at peace, ever fewer children bear arms and record numbers to go school. Mobile phones are ubiquitous and, in the worst-affected countries, HIV infections have fallen by up to three-quarters. Foreign direct investment has tripled, and life expectancy rose by a tenth in the last decade. “Africans deserve the credit. Western aid agencies, Chinese mining companies and UN peacekeepers have done their bit, but the continent’s main saviors are its own people.”
The Guardian: Burkina Faso stages Africa’s film festival with a conscience – Burkina Faso’s capitol city of Ouagadaougou has hosted the pan-African film festival Fespaco for more than 40 years. This year, film fans will be in Ouaga for a film festival with a conscience. The theme is “African cinema and public policy” and films address issues of women’s rights, HIV, illegal migration and democracy. (Misha Hussain)
Al Jazeera: UN accused of Zimbabwe cholera cover-up – A United Nations investigation “reached a damning verdict on its own humanitarian operation, accusing it of ‘managerial ineptitude, high handed conduct and bad faith.” The findings refer to its operations during a Cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe that claimed more than 4,000 lives. The UN dispute tribunal in Nairobi, Kenya found that UN bosses did not want to upset Robert Mugabe’s government and thus did not act on warning by senior staffers.