Top of the Morning: Hillary Clinton’s West African Democracy Tour; More Warnings of Food Crisis in Sahel

Top stories from the Development and Aid World News Service–DAWNS Digest.

Hillary Clinton’s West African Democracy Tour

Togo, Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia and Cape Verde on the schedule…(but Ghana totally gets snubbed!) “Clinton’s whirlwind trip – four countries in two days – highlighted what U.S. officials say has been a resurgence of democracy in West Africa, long seen as lagging other parts of the continent as it struggles to free itself of military coups and ethnic violence. But it also showed that the United States is determined to step up its engagement with the region, hoping to counter growing Chinese influence across Africa, shore up ties with important oil suppliers and build tighter security ties with governments targeted by both Islamic militant groups and narcotics trafficking networks. Clinton’s stops in Liberia and Ivory Coast allowed her to both congratulate them and to urge sustained efforts to consolidate democratic gains across West Africa where Nigeria, Niger and Guinea have all held elections since 2010.” (Reuters

Yet Another Warning on the Impending Food Crisis in the Sahel.

This time it’s from the International Federation for the Red Cross/Red Crescent, which is not exactly a group that is prone to exaggeration. “Many countries across the Sahel will experience a major food crisis if urgent measures are not taken now to mitigate the effects of declining rainfall that is destroying crops and livestock. And this during a time of higher food prices. The most affected countries are likely to be Mauritania, Niger, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso and northern Senegal. Compounding the issue, a severe shortage of fodder is also expected. The rains arrived late, which meant that many farmer were forced to sew late or replant their crops. Moreover, the rains were irregular and stopped earlier than normal, leading to a 25 per cent slump in agricultural production compared to the past season. This average masks huge disparities between regions where cereal production seriously declined. As a result, the food situation has become difficult for millions of people, and could deteriorate in the coming months if nothing is done.” (IFRC

‘La Nina’…Spanish for “Flu Pandemic”?

Some new research on the ever growing link between climate change and global health. This time, the culprit is the weather pattern known as La Nina. “US-based scientists found that the last four pandemics all occurred after La Nina events, which bring cool waters to the surface of the eastern Pacific. In Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), they say that flu-carrying birds may change migratory patterns during La Nina conditions. However, many other La Nina events have not seen novel flu strains spread around the world, they caution. So while the climatic phenomenon may make a pandemic more likely, they say, it is not sufficient on its own – and may not be necessary either.” (BBC