Kenya is planning to privatise prisons: why it's risky and needs careful planning

1 day 19 hours ago
Private companies can provide services - like catering - for inmates. LightField Studios/Shutterstock

Kenya is taking steps towards privatising its prisons. Gráinne Perkins asked expert Rob Allen, an independent researcher and cofounder of Justice and Prisons, about the benefits and risks of prison privatisation.

Why do countries involve the private sector in prisons?

Historically, prisons were facilities that generally fall under the authority of national governments. But this has changed over the last few decades, with private companies increasingly being brought in to run them. Governments have chosen to involve private companies in a variety of ways, for various reasons.

In high and middle-income countries some governments have contracted out –- in whole or in part –- the construction and running of prison establishments. Governments – like the US, UK, Australia and Brazil – have taken this route. The rationale has been that it will increase prison capacity, cut costs, and introduce innovation through better management and new technology. But these aims have seldom, if ever, been achieved in full. This is partly because pressures to cut costs and boost profits can mean there are insufficient staff to run safe and successful prisons.

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African countries' policies must shift to achieve zero hunger

1 day 23 hours ago
Hunger is a daily reality across large parts of Africa. Jon Hrusa/EPA

For the third year in a row hunger is rising across the world. And, as a recent report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation shows, the situation is worsening in most regions in Africa. Almost 21% of the continent’s population of 1,216 billion is undernourished.

Many factors drive this trend. Among these are rising population growth, conflict and poor governance. Severe weather conditions and climate change also play a role. This leads to food insecurity: a state of deprivation ranging from starvation through severe and constant hunger to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals. It’s rooted in poverty and inequalities that deprive people of the right to adequate food to meet their needs.

We reviewed whether the food security plans of 10 countries were aligned with the African Union’s Malabo Biennial Review technical guidelines (which is related to agriculture and food security), the continent’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goal targets. The ten countries were Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria and Togo.

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How insects can help fight hunger in the world

1 day 23 hours ago
Roasted mopane caterpillars are eaten in Livingstone, Zambia Rainer Lesniewski/Flickr

Insects could be a game changer in the race to combat food insecurity and achieve zero hunger – the theme of this year’s World Food Day.

Eating insects can help fight hunger and food insecurity. They are a fantastic source of nutrients – like protein – and food at times when the production of commonly eaten staple African food crops, like maize, fails due to the changing climate, droughts, or insect pest damage.

Eating insects is an ancient practice which is still prevalent today. About two billion people, more than a quarter of the world’s population, eat insects. Most live in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Insects should be tapped into as an excellent tool to fight hunger and malnutrition because they are abundant, healthy, have less of a carbon footprint to produce and can offer a range of business opportunities.

Why eat insects

Abundant: Insects are abundant in Africa. The continent is home to over 1900 edible insect species – mostly beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, wasps and ants.

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Shangaan shop owners chased out of Duduza

5 days 10 hours ago
South Africans not spared in latest xenophobic violence

By Kimberly Mutandiro

Photo of shack
Nkosi Kubheka was renting this shack to a Mozambican immigrant for R1,000 per month, who ran a kiosk from it. But in the wake of xenophobic violence the Mozambican man has left Duduza, leaving the area without a shop and Khubeka out-of-pocket.

After a four-year-old child was found dead and mutilated at Spaarwater Dam in Duduza last week, community members went on the rampage on Sunday. They looted Shangaan shops, blaming them for ritual killings.

For the past week Mozambican and Shangaan shop owners have been targeted daily with community members looting their shops. Some residents protested on the streets against Shangaan people, burning tyres and blocking roads.

But police say there is no evidence supporting the allegations against the Shangaan or foreign shop owners.

Nkosi Kubheka had been renting out a small shack to a Mozambican immigrant who had been using it to operate a tuckshop on his premises. “The death [of the child] has nothing to do with the attacks on the Shangaans. Some community members have been long planning to chase them out after they had dealt with the Somalis.”

“We have been told that the community wants to clean out all of the Shangaans. It is unfortunate because l have been getting a reasonable amount of money from renting the shack out,” he said. Kubheka said his tenant had been paying him a R1,000 monthly.

He said community members had come to his premises in broad daylight on Wednesday. They opened the roof of the tuckshop and cleaned it out.

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After mass demolitions land occupiers return to Wallacedene

6 days 13 hours ago
Family that was lawfully living on the land, but pushed out by occupiers, now lives in an Open Kadett.

By Vincent Lali

Photo of a woman and a demolished shack
Nthuseng Mzaci, centre, said she frantically moved her cupboard, TV and dishes when she saw officials arrive. “I quickly took my belongings out before they damage them as they did the last time they came here,” she said. Photo: Vincent Lali

After the City demolished as many as 600 shacks in Wallacedene, Kraaifontein, early last week, by Saturday the land was once again crowded with shacks. The City proceeded again to demolish shacks this week.

Land occupier Bukiwe Bhatyo said, “Law enforcement can shoot me and destroy my building materials, but I will build my shack again and stay here.”

Nthuseng Mzaci said the constant demolitions have affected her two children’s mental health. “My kids [in grade one and five] quickly wake up at night when they hear someone hit a corrugated iron zinc … thinking that the officials are destroying their home,” she said.

Nokulunga Koli quickly dismantled her own shack so that her building material would not get damaged.

Ntombovuyo Jola said she begged officials and started crying. They left her shack alone. She has two young children.

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Why South Africa should look to biomass for clean, water-wise energy

1 week ago
Torrefaction produces a substance that can be burned like coal. Deyveone/Shutterstock

Next time you’re strolling through a food market, stocking up on fruit and vegetables, consider this: you’re surrounded by unharnessed energy.

Cabbages, apples, potato peels and similar food stuffs are all potential biomass. That means they can be processed (usually by burning) and used as fuel. Trees, saw dust, grass and even some solid waste like animal waste are also examples of biomass.

And, through a process called torrefaction, this kind of biomass is already being used to generate electricity in a number of countries. Torrefaction involves heating biomass in a furnace without any oxygen to temperatures between 200 and 300°C for between 30 minutes and an hour. This breaks down its fibrous structure, as well as removing its moisture and some volatile components. It can then be combined with coal or used alone to produce electricity at power stations.

The process is used at biomass plants in Kenya’s Naivasha area (producing 1.7 MW of electricity); Chaiyaphum in Thailand (45MW electricity); and Igelsta in Sweden (20MW electricity). Costa Rica, Colombia and Mexico also have biomass power plants that use torrefaction, though these provide no details about their output.

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For Africa's people, culture and heritage are a form of liberation

2 weeks 1 day ago
Malagasy people take part in famadihana, the ritual of the dead, to honour their ancestors. Tee La Rosa/Flickr

Today, much effort is made to retell the stories of political activists who advanced the liberation of South Africa from apartheid. The heroic actions of Steve Biko, Chris Hani,Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela Mandela, as well as lesser known activists like Dulcie September, are being excavated. They’re presented in memoirs, recovered sites and memorabilia.

The thinking is that the journeys, actions and philosophies of these activists are the nation’s “liberation” heritage. But the reality is that the country’s “liberation” heritage goes much further back, and far deeper. For centuries, ordinary South Africans have used culture to liberate themselves from the yoke of oppression.

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17 hours 4 minutes ago
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