Top of the Morning: Qadhafi’s Demise; Bangkok Opens the Flood Gates; MPs Cool on DFID; Piracy in West Africa

Top stories from today’s edition of the Development and Aid Workers News Service–DAWNS Digest.

Rumors of Qaddafi’s Demise

Twitter is a-blaze with word that Gaddafi has been killed or captured in Sirte today. The main source of the rumor is a report on Libyan State Television, but nothing has been confirmed. NTC officials don’t have a great track record on announcements like this, and so far NATO and the United States State Department are tight lipped. “Al Jazeera, citing Libyan television, said that the Libyan leader had been captured as fighters seized Surt on Thursday. But previous reports of the capture of high-level Qaddafi officials have proven false, and there was no confirmation from the interim government. Reuters reported that Colonel Qaddafi had been killed. That report, too, was not confirmed by officials. As rumor of his capture spread in the capital, Tripoli, car horns blared as many celebrated in the streets.” (NYT

Influential Group of UK MPs Warn that UK Aid Funds May Be Wasted

The UK has begun a general shift away from bi-lateral aid to a focus on working through mulitateral aid organizations and sharpening its focus on particularly fragile states. The plan has always been somewhat controversial, and now an influential group of MPs are warning that aid lost to fraud and corruption could rise because of the shift. “But the cross-party public accounts committee (Pac) cautioned that “operating in high-risk environments means the potential for increased risk of leakage through fraud and corruption”. “The department intends to focus more on fragile and conflict-affected states which pose higher risks in terms of poor security, delivery capacity, measurement of costs and outcomes, and leakage of funds through fraud and corruption,” it said in a report. The Pac also warned that increasing spending via multilateral organisations – such as the European Commission and the World Bank – may also mean more British money is lost to fraud and corruption. “The department plans to increase the proportion of its funding spent via multilaterals but does not have the same visibility over the cost and performance of multilaterals’ programmes as it does over its bilateral programmes,” the Pac said. (Guardian

The Security Council Discusses Piracy…in the Gulf of Guinea.

If you’ve been a longtime subscriber to the digest you’ll know that Piracy off the west African coast is nothing to scoff at. In her remarks to a Security Council meeting on the issue on Wednesday, Ambassador Susan Rice said the main difference between Somali pirates and their west African brethren is the Somalis are after the crew whereas Guineans are after the cargo. “The impact of maritime crime on local economies is substantial. It has become a crippling problem in countries including Benin, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana and Nigeria. Militants in the Niger Delta have demonstrated the capacity to reach offshore oil facilities in recent years, threatening the secure supply of the over 2 million barrels of oil that emanate from that region every day. The increasing frequency of attacks against the shipping sector in Benin is a particular concern. Beyond its impact on the oil sector, by one estimate, attacks on off-shore oil facilities result in the estimated loss of $2 billion annually to the broader regional economy, including the fishing industry and commercial shipping, which is obviously a very high price for a region with urgent development needs and fragile economies…In early August, only 50 ships were at anchor in Cotonou’s port-instead of the usual 150-and Benin has experienced a dramatic drop in the customs fees and other port revenues on which the government relies for 55 percent of its revenue.” (USUN

Flooding Inundates Industrial Heart of Bangkok. Government Apparently Paralyzed.

We’re no PR Gurus, but this is probably not the best way to re-assure a worried city. “Thailand’s new premier acknowledged Wednesday that the country’s flood crisis has overwhelmed her government, and she pleaded for mercy from the media and solidarity from the country in battling the relentless waters. In an emotional appearance before reporters, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said her administration is doing all it can and trying to be as clear as possible about where the flooding may strike next…’We have been doing everything we can, but this is a big national crisis,” Yingluck said. “I’m begging for mercy from the media here.’ Meanwhile, “Flooding of five other industrial parks north of Bangkok has idled hundreds of factories and about 200,000 workers while disrupting regional supply chains for computer hard drives and automobiles.” On Thursday, the city of Bangkok finally opened its floodgates, but there are worries that the water may overflow from the canals onto the streets. (AP