Coverage of Kenya’s Constitution Campaigns

Nick Wadhams in Time has a good overview.

In the Star courtesy of the Mars Group media pages Wycliffe Muga suggests that William Ruto’s role as a “no” leader reflects his strategic plan to establish himself as political boss of the Upper Rift Valley rather than a serious expectation of actually defeating the proposed constitution.

In this month’s free article, Africa Confidential says “Campaigning for next month’s constitutional referendum is a mixture of ideology, religion and personal ambition – and now the thugs have moved in”.

Mugambi Kiai writes in the Star (via Mars Group): “It is so easy to miss the obvious. There is so much shouting around narrow sectarian issues that the massive gains in the proposed constitution are hardly getting any airtime” and goes in to detail several of the governance reforms.

Trade and Aid [Update]

A Good African Tale: an African entrepreneur struggles for recognition in rich county markets from the Economist.

Update: “Rwanda Coffee Success Story” from William Easterly’s AidWatch (HT Texas in Africa)

Nick Wadham’s latest in Time: Bad Charity (All I got was this lousy t-shirt) — and his related blog post, Top-Down Aid for Africa.

Texas in Africa has a great related multi-part series of discussion questions May 4-7 about the Western approach to aid and development in Africa:

This week I’ve been trying to sketch an outline of how Westerners tend to develop and characterize our relationship with Africa and the people who live there, specifically with reference to the international aid and development system. I’ve argued that the savior mentality is misguided, that Africa is not rightfully ours to save, and that a better way to assist would be through a paradigm of empowerment. . . .
Today I want to conclude this series by thinking about what is probably the biggest barrier to moving into an empowerment paradigm: the governments that give and receive aid. . . .
Why? Because aid – for donor governments and the governments which receive the bulk of aid – is inherently political. Except in cases involving natural disasters or epidemic disease, donors don’t typically give freely to everyone out of the goodness of their intentions. Aid projects are funded at least in part (and sometimes entirely) on the basis of donor priorities. When aid projects take into account the real, expressed needs of recipients (which is, I’m glad to say, increasingly real for most project), they are often structured in such a way as to advantage suppliers or producers in the donor state, or to reward good governance or provide support to an ally.
As we might expect, there is often a contrast between donor goals and what is actually needed in order to improve the material situations of the recipients. . . .

NYTimes: “At Front Lines, AIDs War is Falling Apart”; “Paper Cuts: How Obama’s Father Came to Hawaii”; “Letters: From Kenya to America”

Reuters: Donors to slash Tanzania budget aid.

Nick Wadhams at NPR:“Somali Pirates Take the Money and Run, to Kenya”

The Times (London): Book review–“War Games: The Story of Aid and War in Modern Times by Linda Polman
Humanitarian aid prolongs conflict and misery because the bad guys learn how to exploit it”
“Easy Money: the great aid scam”

Is the worst over for Kenyan horticulture? [with updates]

Nick Wadhams from Naivasha in The Guardian: European flight paralysis exacts high price on Kenyan flower trade:

The ash cloud over Europe stopped most flights out of Kenya last Wednesday night. Now the horticulture industry is losing about $2m a day from the disruption and thousands of casual labourers – some of whom make a few dollars a day – have been laid off.

Some farmers hope the worst may be over. Two cargo flights left Kenya early on Monday after a number of airports in southern Europe opened up, and a KLM cargo flight left in the afternoon.

“I don’t think that four days is going to bankrupt the Kenyan flower industry,” said Peter Szapary, owner of Wildfire Flowers in Naivasha. “But if it goes on for two weeks then it will be a problem for us.”

Oserian managed to fly 40 tonnes of flowers to Spain on Sunday morning. tTrucks were making the 30-hour trip to the UK and the Netherlands to deliver them to supermarkets and the Dutch flower auction.

The company is paying 60%-70% more in freight charges and does not yet know how much it has lost from the disruption. What it does know is that 3m flowers so far have been disposed of.

[Update] See this interesting post about Naivasha on Nick’s blog: “Murder on the Lake” :

Naivasha is in some ways emblematic of the larger problems facing Kenya. A handful of whites live in gorgeous houses along the shore of Lake Naivasha. Next to them are the flower farms that contribute so much to the economy but also pay their workers very poorly and suck huge amounts of water from the lake. And behind are the dusty slums where hundreds of thousands of people live in terrible poverty. The lake is gorgeous, and so are the flowers that grow next to it, but sometimes it seems that such beauty comes at too high a human cost.

[2nd Update]-“British skies to reopen as EU strikes ash deal”, TimesOnline