30 April 2012

Douglas Johnson on international engagement in Sudan

Douglas Johnson literally wrote the book on the "The Root Causes of Sudan's Civil Wars," which is considered to be the most authoritative account. 

Writing about Abyei, in May last year, he said;
The international community — particularly the United Nations and the United States — have been spectacularly ineffective in getting the Sudanese government to honor its own agreements.
To prevent the Abyei crisis from igniting other conflicts, the international community must stop pretending that both sides are equally at fault. Carrots haven’t worked. Washington will need to wield sticks, such as canceling debt relief talks or suspending normalization of diplomatic relations, if Sudan does not withdraw its forces quickly. But ultimately, Washington has limited leverage over the Sudanese government, having reduced both its diplomatic and economic ties during the civil war. 
The key player will be China.
There was a time though when Washington did have leverage over the Sudanese government, which it used to help broker the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
In early 2002 Khartoum was frightened of being bombed by the U.S. It had been bombed once before, and with its past support for Osama bin Laden, world opinion was against it [Douglas Johnson, again].
Just saying.  

Segmented Labour Markets: South Africa

Andrew Kerr and Francis Teal at CSAE have an interesting paper exploring the differences between public and private employees in South Africa. 

Unionised public sector and formal private sector workers earn more than informal sector workers - the question is whether this is just because they are simply "better quality" or more productive workers and earn that extra pay, or whether the labour market is "segmented" and trade unions keep wages artificially high and erect barriers to competition from all those informal sector workers. 

To explore these competing hypotheses they control for a bunch of individual characteristics which might indicate the "quality" of the worker to see if an unexplained residual remains which we can attribute to labour market segmentation. This includes controlling for "unobserved" but fixed individual characteristics, which is a pretty cool technique you can use when you have a dataset tracking the same individuals over time.

Their analysis shows that the higher wages for private sector unionised workers can be entirely explained through individual characteristics. They are just higher quality, more productive workers. 

The higher wages for public sector unionised workers can't be explained this way. Similar workers seem to earn more in the public sector than they would in the private sector.

28 April 2012

Sudan Links Roundup

Maybe South Sudan isn't losing the PR war after all. Though their taking of Heglig brought international condemnation, at least it brought some attention.

“The government of Sudan has never stopped bombing our innocent civil population even after signing Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). They have continued to do so and indeed intensified air attacks in August 2011 after South Sudan officially became an independent state but the international community has never come out to condemn them," Kiir said on Friday

And so Mark Tran from the Guardian just took a trip to Juba,

and there have been a few other "backlash" pieces, including;

Armin Rosen in the The New Republic
by assigning equal blame for the conflict, the Obama administration handed a strategic victory to the same regime in Khartoum responsible for the worst atrocities during the Darfur conflict, while alienating Washington’s Western-leaning partners in Juba. 
Baroness Cox on the Today Programme calling for Britain to impose diplomatic sanctions on Khartoum, saying that
"Khartoum is the major perpetrator of aggression"
and the President of Samaritan's Purse goes as far as calling for military intervention to destroy the runways used by SAF bombers (via @Laurenist);
Now I am asking [the US President] and his administration to do something that may sound unusual for a preacher of the Gospel. I am asking him to use our Air Force to destroy Mr. Bashir’s airstrips - the airstrips his military uses to launch bombers that carry out daily attacks in the Nuba Mountains. The Nuba people don’t want American soldiers - they can fight for themselves. They just want to be free. But they have no defense against bombs dropping from the sky on their villages, schools and hospitals.
Meanwhile Western diplomats have continued to be a little less than diplomatic about Juba in coversation with journalists;

  1. andrew harding  
    BBCAndrewH Arrived in Juba, South Sudan. Gloomy western diplomats blaming "smug, incompetent" govt for leading country towards war and economic chaos. from web
  2. this quote was generated by twtQuote  

I'll leave the last word to the President of the "smug, incompetent" government in Juba;
"The Security Council of the United Nations and the international community including the African union and the Arab league has never come out to condemn and hold Sudanese government in Khartoum, particularly President Bashir and his groups responsible for atrocities they have committed against the people of South Sudan and the three areas," he said. 
"They only come out to condemn us when we react to aggression by the Sudanese government within our territories," president Kiir told a crowd with placards calling for immediate border demarcation.
The people of South Sudan and North Sudan deserve better than the pathetic pandering by the international community to a thuggish murderous Khartoum government.

We can be heroes

Recently the figures for saving the life from people who are suffering from tuberculosis through the DOTS program was around about $250 for saving a life. And on that figure the average person living in the U.K. – so a medium income earner in the U.K. could if they wished with their salary while still living a reasonable life certainly by world standards, could save more than a thousand lives from tuberculosis. 
And so more than 50% of the population of Britain could save actually more than 1,200 lives, which is the number I picked because it is the number of lives Oskar Schindler saved in World War II and is generally thought to be a very heroic person in the time of heroes and villains where there were terrible things going on, but also amazing opportunities for heroism. And it’s very interesting to see that actually most people on the street could achieve that level of benefit for other people 
Why isn’t there a big public discussion about the fact that we all could do as much good as Oskar Schindler and yet we tend not to?
Toby Ord speaking to Owen Barder.

27 April 2012

Market failure

Sudanese first Vice-President Ali Osman Mohammad Taha asked the parliament last week to amend laws in order to allow execution of anyone found guilty of smuggling food to South Sudan.
Sudan's heterodox economic strategy to boost its floundering economy by executing exporters. 

Africa is a Country: Foreign Investment Edition (Branding Africa)

The BBC World Service is holding a radio debate this evening live from Kampala on whether Africa's image is prejudiced. This is part of growing media attention to efforts to try and "rebrand" Africa with some positive news stories, to provide a counter-balance to the typical land of rape and lions coverage.

The folks at Africa is a Country have some legitimate concerns, approvingly quoting Linda Polgreen;
What is more insulting than the idea of “positive news” from Africa? As if the continent was a dull witted child in need of encouragement.
Obviously my role in this debate is to point out some economic evidence, so here is Elizabeth Asiedu, "On the Determinants of Foreign Direct Investment to Developing Countries: Is Africa Different?"
Countries in SSA have on the average received less FDI than countries in other regions by virtue of their geographical location-there is a negative effect on FDI for being an African country. The negative and significant estimated coefficient of the Africa dummy suggests that there may be an adverse regional effect for SSA. There are two plausible explanations for this. First, the continent is perceived as being inherently risky. This perception of Africa is supported by the empirical evidence of Haque, Nelson, and Mathieson (2000), who find that commercial risk-rating agencies often rate African countries as riskier than warranted by the fundamentals. Second, due to lack of knowledge about the countries in the continent, investment decisions are often not guided by country-specific conditions but rather based on inferences from the environment of neighbouring countries. Thus, to some extent, foreign investors evaluate African countries as if the countries in the continent constitute "one big country."
So after controlling for the main determinants of foreign investment; including openness to trade, infrastructure, and average returns to capital, sub-Saharan African countries still have FDI/GDP ratios 1.3% lower than comparable countries. Which is pretty substantial. Now - these kind of cross-country statistical regressions are not incredibly reliable, because you only have about 200 countries to work with, which isn't an enormous sample, and there are lots of things that we can't measure which might be screwing with the results. There is a cross-country regression which shows that penis length causes economic growth. But the results are still suggestive, plausible, consistent with qualitative impressions, and interesting.

Does anyone know any more up to date research on this?

And finally, if we were to believe these results - they make a pretty strong case for more of that tacky "brand Africa" PR. Now I'm a Bill Hicks fan, but what if we need some tacky marketing to change the world for the better?

Probably the best Ugandan lifestyle & events website

InKampala.com went live today, check it out:

26 April 2012

Bombing "regrettable but inevitable"

ODI held an interesting event today with several Sudanese officials in Khartoum, which I managed to follow a bit of on twitter. 

Dr Mutrif Siddiq, a former Humanitarian Affairs Minister in the Khartoum government stated that bombing of civilians had been "regrettable but inevitable" and taken place during war. Which is interesting when there has been bombing of civilians for over a decade, and that the method of bombing is almost be definition illegal according to international humanitarian law because it is so inaccurate, and so unable to have any kind of targeting on military forces rather than civilians.

And for a bit of light relief, we heard that "Sudan is one of the few countries that is recording progress in development," (awkwardly timed to coincide with recent IMF estimates for a 7.3% reduction in GDP in 2012) and that "no one has been forced to accept a governor, etc from the center" (apart from in, ahem, Blue Nile, where the democratically elected governor was kicked out for being a bit too dark skinned).

The Orwellian double-speak from the Khartoum regime is incredible.

  1. hpg_odi Baroness Cox of APG on Sudan asks Khartoum panel: How do you justify aerial bombardments of civilians in the Nuba mountain? #Khartoumcalling from web
  2. LizFordGuardian Pressed on aerial bombing, Siddiq says it's 'regrettable but inevitable' that bombing occured #khartoumcalling #globaldev from web
  3. LizFordGuardian Bombing was necessary as 'sometimes forces take refuge in villages neighbouring our borders' #khartoumcalling #globaldev from web
  4. hpg_odi "It during war" says Dr Mutrif on aerial bombardments #Khartoumcalling #Sudan #SouthSudan from web
  5. LizFordGuardian 'Sudan is one of the few countries that is recording progress in development fields' says Siddiq #khartoumcalling #globaldev from web
  6. hpg_odi Dr Mutrif: "no one has been forced to accept an appointed governer, etc from the center" #Khartoumcalling from web
  7. this quote was generated by twtQuote

Why is media coverage of the Sudan conflict so biased?

Eric Reeves argues that it is about Abyei and a lack of attention to (recent) history:
Some of the confusion in international reporting comes from a failure to follow the course of the dispute over the Abyei border region, which Khartoum seized a year ago. Following Khartoum’s military assault on Abyei town in May 2008, the southern leadership---convinced that the matter could not be resolved militarily---concluded that "final and binding" arbitration of the Abyei border issue was essential, and succeeded in bringing the matter before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague. Though in many ways unfavorable to Juba, the PCA ruling was nonetheless accepted. Khartoum’s land grab last year flouted the court’s "final and binding" ruling, issued in July 2009, which defined the area in which the critical Abyei self-determination referendum was to be held. This abrogation of a key protocol called into serious question Khartoum’s commitment to honor the CPA.
Any other ideas?

Don't get me wrong, Sudan is complicated. I have trouble keeping track of all of the issues.

His conclusion is pretty depressing reading:
If there is to be a chance of peace, the factitious parceling out of equal blame to Juba and Khartoum must end. To be sure, the odds of changing this decades-long pattern seem exceedingly small next to the likelihood of war 
In all likelihood, none of these measures [required for peace] will be taken, with Khartoum’s obduracy used to justify diplomatic fecklessness. But the responsibility for that war will not be Khartoum’s alone. It will be shared by the international leaders who chose the expedient route, even with millions of lives at risk.

25 April 2012

Video: Blue Nile Civilians Describe Attacks, Abuses

Human Rights Watch has been interviewing refugees from Blue Nile who have escaped to South Sudan.
They took the baby and she said: "I am breastfeeding my baby." 
They said: "You don't believe in Allah. You are Malik's people who don't believe in Allah... you are not able to take care of your baby." 
And they just shot her with a machine gun.
I'm really not an expert on these matters, but that one sounds a bit like you might describe it as a war crime?

HT: John Ashworth

How Sudanese bombers work

The vast majority of aerial attacks are by Antonov aircraft, Russian cargo planes that Khartoum is reliably reported to be adding to its current fleet. It is crucial here to understand what an Antonov "bomber" is: the Antonov is a Russian-made cargo plane, and in no way designed for use as an attack aircraft. There are no bomb sighting mechanisms; there are no bomb racks or bays; typically, crude (and cheap) barrel "bombs" are filled with scrap metal, unusable ordnance, and other shrapnel-producing materials, as well as an explosive medium---and are simply rolled out the back cargo bay. These bombs explode not with a large blast capability (and often do not explode at all), but have enough force to generate a hail of deadly shrapnel in all directions. Moreover, for protection against ground fire and anti-aircraft fire, the SAF Antonovs typically fly at altitudes of about 5,000 meters---far too high to permit any kind of militarily purposeful aerial targeting. They are not by nature a military weapon, but a tool for civilian destruction and terror.
One more post from Eric Reeves, an extract from his Jan 2012 update report on bombings.

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps? (AP South Sudan War Reporting Edition)

Update: My friend just told me off. A lot of these reporters are up around the border right now and have seen some horrific shit. I have mad respect for anyone who is going to the border to report right now. You are far braver than me. There's just not a lot I can do apart from watch this stuff unfold, and get angry when I see what comes across as biased reporting. So without taking back any of the substance of what is below, none of this is personal, and I hugely respect anyone who is risking going to the border.


Ahem. So to borrow a meme from Brad Delong, why oh why can't we have a better press corps?
The president of newly independent South Sudan has told China's president that attacks by rival Sudan amount to a declaration of war on his country. 
There has yet to be a formal declaration of war by either of the Sudans, and Salva Kiir's remark, made in Beijing during talks with Hu Jintaoon Tuesday, signals a ratcheting up of rhetoric  between the rival nations, which have been teetering on the brink of war. [my italics]
This is after Omar al-Bashir has called Salva Kiir an insect, vowed to overthrow his democratically elected government, push him out of Juba, and instructed his army that Southerners only understand the language of the gun.

Could someone please explain to AP what "ratcheting up" and "rhetoric" mean?

24 April 2012

A history of bombing by the Sudan Air Force in Sudan

As well as maintaining databases of over 1500 individual bombing incidents, Eric Reeves has also put together a handy infographic of bombing incidents in both North and South Sudan conducted by the Khartoum regime. The file is quite big. Blame Khartoum.

Nice one Hilda!

Hilde Johnson (Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for South Sudan and head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission) said yesterday
“I remind the parties to the conflict of their obligation to abide by international human rights and humanitarian law, take all measures not to harm civilians, and guarantee the safety of international aid organizations and United Nations personnel and assets,”
Hilda! Why didn't you remind them sooner! That Omar al-Bashir is so forgetful, he's always forgetting about the whole "not allowed to kill civilians" thing, like the time he did all the crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur that the ICC wants to arrest him for. And his generals are always forgetting that they aren't supposed to bomb civilians or United Nations bases, like the time when they did that last week

The Sudan Air Force actually seems to be really forgetful. Below is a spreadsheet, compiled by Eric Reeves, of bombing attacks between June and September 2011. There 73 separate attacks. Maybe we should help them set up a daily email reminder or something?

Key Source Lat/Long Village/payam Vicinity County/Locality Date Type Casualties
(v) denotes vicinity
1 OHCHR 29°43'E   11°01'N Al Massani Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 06-Jun-11 bombing unknown
2 OHCHR 29°39'E   11°55'N* Shivi Dilling Locality South Kordofan 08-Jun-11 bombing 2 killed
3 HRW 30°31'E   11°05'N Kauda Kauda Locality South Kordofan 14-Jun-11 bombing unknown
4 HRW 30°31'E   11°05'N Kauda Kauda Locality South Kordofan 19-Jun-11 bombing unknown
5 HRW 30°03'E   11°01'N Um Sirdeeba Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 19-Jun-11 bombing 10 total casualties
6 HRW 30°31'E   11°05'N Kauda Kauda Locality South Kordofan 22-Jun-11 5 bombs 1 killed
7 HRW 30°31'E   11°05'N Kauda Kauda Locality South Kordofan 24-Jun-11 bombing unknown
8 OHCHR 29°33'E   11°41'N Julud Kauda Locality South Kordofan 25-Jun-11 2 bombs unknown
9 HRW 30°03'E   11°01'N Um Sirdeeba Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 26-Jun-11 bombing 2 total casualties
10 HRW 30°06'E   11°02'N Kurchi Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 26-Jun-11 bombing 33+ total casulties
11 Amnesty International 30°15'E   11°15'N* Tangale Kauda Locality South Kordofan 29-Jun-11 6 bombs 3 injured
12 Radio Dabanga 30°03'E   11°01'N* Alahmeir Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 29-Jun-11 bombing unknown
13 Radio Dabanga 30°03'E   11°01'N* Abu Hashim Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 29-Jun-11 bombing unknown
14 Radio Dabanga 30°06'E   11°02'N Koroji Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 29-Jun-11 bombing unknown
15 Radio Dabanga 30°03'E   11°01'N* Um Sirdiba Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 29-Jun-11 bombing unknown
16 Radio Dabanga 30°03'E   11°01'N* Alhamra Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 29-Jun-11 bombing unknown
17 Radio Dabanga 30°03'E   11°01'N* Elatmor Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 29-Jun-11 bombing unknown
18 Radio Dabanga 30°03'E   11°01'N* Alabo Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 29-Jun-11 bombing unknown
19 Radio Dabanga 30°03'E   11°01'N* Tibla Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 30-Jun-11 bombing unknown
20 Radio Dabanga 30°06'E   11°02'N Koroji Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 30-Jun-11 bombing unknown
21 Amnesty International 30°31'E   11°05'N Kororak Kauda Locality South Kordofan 01-Jul-11 2 bombs 1 killed
22 Radio Dabanga 24°27'E   13°29'N* Tibra Kabkabiya Locality North Darfur Jul-11 bombing unknown
23 HRW 30°06'E   11°02'N* Saraf Jamus Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 02-Jul-11 bombing 4 total casualties
24 Amnesty International 30°15'E   11°15'N* Tunguli Kauda Locality South Kordofan 08-Jul-11 6 bombs 1 killed
25 AFP 25°12'E   12°38'N*  Abu Hamara Shearia Locality South Darfur 09-Jul-11 bombing 3 total casualties
26 Radio Dabanga 25°16'E   12°38'N*  Mnoacy (v) Shearia Locality South Darfur 13-Jul-11 bombing unknown
27 Radio Dabanga 25°16'E   12°38'N*  Marshenq (v) Shearia Locality South Darfur 13-Jul-11 bombing unknown
28 Radio Dabanga 25°16'E   12°38'N  Khor Abeche (v) Shearia Locality South Darfur 13-Jul-11 bombing unknown
29 Radio Dabanga 25°16'E   12°38'N*  Hamada (v) Shearia Locality South Darfur 13-Jul-11 bombing unknown
30 Radio Dabanga 24°27'E   13°29'N* Kerubino Kabkabiya Locality North Darfur 14-Jul-11 bombing unknown
31 Radio Dabanga 24°27'E   13°29'N* Abouhmrh Linda Kabkabiya Locality North Darfur 14-Jul-11 bombing unknown
32 Radio Dabanga 24°27'E   13°29'N* Abokora Kabkabiya Locality North Darfur 14-Jul-11 bombing unknown
33 OCHA 29°45'E   11°01'N* Miri Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 25-Jul-11 bombing unknown
34 OCHA 30°31'E   11°05'N* Moro Kauda Locality South Kordofan 26-Jul-11 bombing unknown
35 HRW 30°03'E   11°01'N Um Sirdeeba Kadugli Locality South Kordofan Aug-11 bombing 3 injured
36 Radio Netherlands Worldwide 29°39'E   12°03'N Koleli Dilling Locality South Kordofan Aug-11 3 bombs 2 killed
37 Confidential source 29°59'E   10°18'N Jau Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 10-Aug-11 8 bombs unknown
38 Confidential source 29°59'E   10°18'N Jau Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 11-Aug-11 bombing unknown
39 HRW 30°06'E   11°02'N Kurchi Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 14-Aug-11 bombing unknown
40 HRW 30°06'E   11°02'N Kurchi Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 19-Aug-11 3 bombs unknown
41 Radio Dabanga 29°39'E   11°55'N* Kajora Dilling Locality South Kordofan 21-Aug-11 bombing unknown
42 Radio Dabanga 29°39'E   11°55'N* Karko Dilling Locality South Kordofan 21-Aug-11 bombing unknown
43 Radio Dabanga 29°39'E   11°55'N* Mendel Dilling Locality South Kordofan 21-Aug-11 bombing unknown
44 Radio Dabanga 29°39'E   11°55'N* Toy Dilling Locality South Kordofan 21-Aug-11 bombing unknown
45 Radio Dabanga 29°39'E   11°55'N* Sepoy Dilling Locality South Kordofan 21-Aug-11 bombing unknown
46 HRW 30°06'E   11°02'N Kurchi Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 22-Aug-11 bombing 2 injured
47 Sudan Tribune 30°22'E   10°38'N* Wirni Talodi Locality South Kordofan Sep-11 4 bombs 1 killed
48 Radio Dabanga 30°22'E   10°38'N* Warenne Talodi Locality South Kordofan 01-Sep-11 17 bombs unknown
49 Radio Dabanga 29°58'E   10°35'N Torgi  Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 13-Sep-11 bombing 1+ total casualties
50 Radio Dabanga 29°58'E   10°37'N Al Buram Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 13-Sep-11 bombing unknown
51 Radio Dabanga 29°45'E   11°01'N Kadugli Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 13-Sep-11 17 bombs unknown
52 Radio Dabanga 29°45'E   11°01'N* Ilbati  Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 13-Sep-11 bombing unknown
53 Radio Dabanga 30°03'E   11°01'N Umser Dibba Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 13-Sep-11 bombing unknown
54 USAID 30°33'E   11°02'N Kauda Kauda Locality South Kordofan 19-Sep-11 4 bombs 3 injured
55 Radio Dabanga 30°27'E   11°39'N* Cody Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 19-Sep-11 bombing 3 total casualties
56 OCHA 34°17'E   10°33'N Kurmuk Kurmuk County Blue Nile State 21-Sep-11 bombing unknown
57 USAID 34°17'E   10°33'N Kurmuk Kurmuk County Blue Nile State 23-Sep-11 bombing unknown
58 OCHA 34°17'E   10°33'N Kurmuk Kurmuk County Blue Nile State 24-Sep-11 bombing unknown
59 OCHA 34°17'E   10°33'N Kurmuk Kurmuk County Blue Nile State 25-Sep-11 bombing unknown
60 Sudan Tribune 28°15'E   09°58'N Kajama Abyei Locality South Kordofan 25-Sep-11 96 bombs unknown
61 OCHA 29°45'E   11°01'N Kadugli (v) Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 26-Sep-11 bombing unknown
62 OCHA 29°45'E   11°01'N Kadugli (v) Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 27-Sep-11 bombing unknown
63 Radio Dabanga 30°03'E   10°50'N* Umm Durain (v) Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 27-Sep-11 bombing 1 killed
64 Radio Dabanga 30°27'E   11°51'N* Abri Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 28-Sep-11 5 bombs 10 total casualties
65 Radio Dabanga 30°27'E   11°39'N Korgy Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 28-Sep-11 2 bombs unknown
66 Confidential source 30°27'E   11°51'N* Tongoli Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 28-Sep-11 2 bombs unknown
67 John Ashworth 30°27'E   11°51'N* Sabat (v)  Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 30-Sep-11 bombing unknown
68 Radio Dabanga 30°27'E   11°39'N Korgy Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 01-Oct-11 6 bombs unknown
69 Radio Dabanga 30°15'E   11°15'N* Tengil Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 01-Oct-11 3 bombs unknown
70 Radio Dabanga 29°58'E   10°37'N Al Buram Kadugli Locality South Kordofan 01-Oct-11 1 bomb unknown
71 AFP 34°17'E   10°33'N* Sali Kurmuk County Blue Nile State Sep-11 bombing 1 injured
72 AFP 34°17'E   10°33'N* Maiyas Kurmuk County Blue Nile State Sep-11 bombing  6 killed
73 ACJPS 34°21'E   11°46'N Al Damazein Ad Damazin District Blue Nile State 03-Sep-11 bombing  unknown

water reservoir destroyed

23 April 2012

Breaking: Aliens invade South Sudan

Photo: REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

Today local residents, military officials and a Reuters journalist observed planes dropping bombs in South Sudan.
"I can see market stalls burning in Rubkona in the background and the body of a small child burning," he said.
But it wasn't Khartoum
"we absolutely did not bomb anywhere in South Sudan," said Sudan's military spokesman, Al-Sawarmi Khalid.
and it wasn't Juba, who don't have any planes.

It must be aliens invading. Someone call NASA.

(Really though, given how successful the air strike campaign against Gaddafi seems to have been, does nobody else think that Khartoum and Bashir have lost their airforce privileges yet? How many more civilians do they need to murder?)

Uttar Pradesh Fact of the Day

via Tom:
“...teachers constitute 20 percent of the assembly in the early 2000s, and former teachers another 20 percent.” 
From this: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1895224
 For a bit of perspective on why that matters, consider that
With a population of over 200 million people, [Uttar Pradesh] is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity. Were it a nation in its own right, Uttar Pradesh would be the world's fifth most populous country, ahead of Brazil
 and then consider that
“the most striking weakness of the schooling system in rural Uttar Pradesh is not so much the deficiency of physical infrastructure as the poor functioning of the existing facilities. The specific problem of endemic teacher absenteeism and shirking, which emerged again and again in the course of our investigation, plays a central part in that failure. This is by far the most important issue of education policy in Uttar Pradesh today”
(that last part is Dreze & Gazdar, quoted by Kingdon and Muzammil in "A political economy of education in India: The case of Uttar Pradesh", HT:Abhi).

This post is dedicated to @DavidTaylor85 and @OfficeGSBrown

Blogging the World Development Reports

Tom just sent me a great World Bank paper on accountability in service delivery, which references the 2004 World Development Report on "Making Services Work for the Poor," which made me think I should really go and read that properly sometime. This just a week after he reminded me that we should really also read the 2008 Agriculture for Development report sometime (it probably nails the whole "economics of livelihoods" question). I'm also a big fan of the 2009 Report on Economic Geography (one of the most misunderstood economic realities there is?), and really looking forward to the 2013 Jobs Report.

Which brings me to.... drum roll please.... the Roving Bandit World Development Report Bookclub / Blogathon: Because you probably haven't read them either, and if you work in development you probably should have. So I'm going to go back to the beginning and read / blog / discuss one report per approximately-week-ish-length-period-of-time. Who's with me?

20 April 2012

"South Sudan does not want war"

More from John Ashworth on the current hostilities.
I beg to add to what my friend Richard Downie says, quoted in article 4, below: the US "really need to be laying down the law to the government in Juba now... The U.S. has to be pulling out all the stops and get the South to withdraw from Heglig". This would be fine if the US had also been "laying down the law" and "pulling out all the stops" to get the government in Khartoum to withdraw from its illegal military occupation of Abyei, or its short-lived illegal military occupations of Jau, or its military attacks on its own citizens in the Nuba Mountrains and Blue Nile, or its bombing of refugee camps and other civilian locations well inside South Sudan, all of which happened long before the current round of fighting. This one-sided approach by the international community, which has basically condoned (at best ignored, at worst colluded with, as in the case of Abyei) Khartoum's actions over the last months and years but then comes down heavily on South Sudan when, after months of restraint, it is finally provoked into a very limited military response, will not bring lasting peace to the region. 
Articles 2 and 3, below, sum up part of the problem. President al Bashir has been treating South Sudan as if it is a recalcitrant province (which he can "discipline" and teach a "lesson") rather than an independent sovereign state. It has not really sunk in to the mentality in Sudan that they no longer control South Sudan. They (and the international community) seem to be somewhat surprised that South Sudan actually negotiates in pursuit of its own perceived interests. They are also shocked that, following months if not years of military restraint, South Sudan has finally asserted its sovereignty with a limited military response which has been remarkably successful. They may also not realise how popular this assertion of sovereignty is with the population. Nobody welcomes the economic austerity which will result from cutting off the flow of oil, and nobody wants a return to war, but nevertheless the population appears to be firmly behind their government in these measures which they consider a necessary response to Khartoum's attitudes and actions.

"What's killing us"

Alanna Shaikh's new book is a nice quick fun read, packed full of things I didn't know on almost every page.

Some (on reflection, almost a little too extensive?) highlights:
Fifty-two percent of the women in Gabon are overweight, and so are 50 percent of the women in Zimbabwe and 53 percent of the women in Botswana. And obesity isn’t limited to Africa. Forty percent of the women in Thailand are overweight, as are 49 percent of the women in Bhutan (location 120).  
TB is our biggest global pandemic, though it doesn’t always make headlines. One out of every three people on this planet is infected with TB bacteria. (location 258) 
Each year, nearly 8 million children under the age of 5 die from disease. Six conditions cause 90 percent of those deaths: neonatal (early infant) illnesses, pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, measles, and HIV/AIDS. Most of the deaths could be prevented, and it wouldn’t be all that expensive to do so (location 376) 
And, surprisingly, better access to drugs isn’t the most important issue. What’s really needed are more health care providers with better skills. About 75 percent of child deaths are in Africa and Southeast Asia (location 379) 
We’ve already seen dramatic decreases in child mortality. From 1960 to 1990, child mortality in developing regions was reduced by half. Continuing to bring down the number of child deaths is largely a case of continuing to do the stuff that works and targeting the areas of child mortality we haven’t made progress in yet (location 380) 
70 percent of the deaths in children under 5 years old could be prevented or treated with simple, low-cost interventions (location 395) 
The real cause of maternal mortality is gender discrimination. In the U.S., for example, maternal mortality didn’t improve as the country grew richer. It improved in the 1920s, when women finally gained the right to vote. You can see the same pattern in other countries; as women gain political rights and greater decision-making power, maternal mortality decreases (location 454) 
Maternal mortality doesn’t improve along with other health issues; it improves only when women begin to be treated equally (location 458) 
Based on current projections, antibiotics will stop working in 10 years. Completely. (location 495)

19 April 2012

Probably the best Michael Jackson impersonator in Eastern Congo?

War in Sudan

It seems that South Sudan is losing the PR war. The decisions to shut down Southern oil production and now to take Heglig do not seem to have been viewed favourably by the international community.

I started trying to write something this morning, but I just got angry and frustrated. Just in time, here is John Ashworth, who for me is the best and most articulate political analyst on Sudan going, and who is frankly worth quoting in full. I would strongly urge anyone with any influence on the matter to read it. John is clearly like me very biased in favour of South Sudan, but this bias is based on considerable evidence rather than whimsy, not least of which for me the fact that amongst all this moral equivalence between the two sides, there is still an international arrest warrant out for the President of Northern Sudan for murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture, rape, pillaging, and intentionally directing attacks against civilians.

Here's John:
A senior international church leader said to me yesterday, "many statements, including those of AU and UN, seem to suggest that South Sudan just woke up one morning and decided to invade and occupy Heglig. And then they go ahead to apportion equal blame to the two states. We have to find a way of countering this perspective." The international discourse seems to be based on Khartoum's narrative. This must be balanced with Juba's narrative, not in order to support Juba's claim, but in the interests of resolving the problem. A one-sided approach will not lead to lasting peace. As Juba's Spokesperson Dr. Barnaba Marial says, “I think it is good that the Security Council first listens to the story of Heglig, and I think they have not listened adequately from our point of view" (article 6, below). 
Indeed South Sudan did NOT just wake up one morning and decide to occupy Heglig. It should be remembered that President Salva Kiir has always followed a policy of refraining from military action. In the run up to the referendum and independence, he specifically instructed his commanders not to be provoked by Khartoum's military aggression, and not to retaliate. This policy proved remarkably successful and helped to deliver a peaceful referendum and independence. 
The President then continued to pursue a similar non-military policy for 9 months or so after independence. Khartoum has walked out of negotiations, made unreasonable demands (eg demanding more than ten times the international standard fees for transit of South Sudanese oil through its pipelines), abrogated agreements which it had already signed (eg the peace deal with SPLM-N, the agreement on the status of South Sudanese in Sudan, to say nothing of the Abyei Protocol), continued its military occupation of the disputed area of Abyei, harassed South Sudanese in Sudan, continued to attack South Sudan's former allies in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, siphoned off (or stolen) a percentage of South Sudan's oil, attempted to build illegal pipelines, forcibly occupied the disputed area of Jau, bombed refugee camps and civilians well inside South Sudan, supported South Sudanese rebel movements (and allowed them to abduct and forcibly recruit South Sudanese in Sudan), stifled cross-border trade, and much more. As article 5, below, points out, "the Khartoum government has been launching ground and air attacks against [South Sudan] since it declared independence July 9 [2011]". During all of this, South Sudan's army did not retaliate offensively, limiting itself to pushing SAF out of Jau but stopping when it reached the current border (which is not the 1956 border). President Salva Kiir's policy of restraint was not popular in South Sudan; people were asking, "What is the matter with him?"

Now, after nine months of restraint in the face of intransigence and provocation by Khartoum, South Sudan has finally decided to assert itself a little, by following an SAF force which attacked South Sudan back to their base, the disputed town of Heglig/Panthou, and ensuring that it could no longer be used as a jumping off point for further aerial and ground attacks on South Sudan. It also made the political point that Heglig/Panthou is disputed, that the current border is not the 1956 border, and that it is erroneous to insist that a town is north or south of the 1956 border until the 1956 border has actually been demarcated to the satisfaction of both sides. It seems to be a very popular move amongst the people of South Sudan.

The result is that the international community leaps to blame South Sudan, which has been so restrained for so long. At the same time, President Omar Hassan al Bashir has now declared that his aim is to change the government in Juba, which he has described as "insects". Surely this is a rather serious matter, when a president declares that he will take military action to overthrow the government of another sovereign state? Can we now expect the international community to severely censure Khartoum and make it clear that any attempt to change the government of another sovereign state will be met with the strongest possible sanctions? Can we expect them to cease their "moral equivalence" and recognise that there is an aggressor here - and that aggressor is not the "insects" of South Sudan? Urging both sides to make peace is fine, but which is the side that has consistently refused to make peace, and which is the side that has acted in a restrained manner and genuinely tried not to be drawn into armed conflict? 
Note that South Sudan has offered to withdraw from Heglig/Panthou if the UN puts a neutral force there (articles 2 and 6, below), an offer which the international community is unlikely to accept because Khartoum will not agree. Again, which side is refusing to make peace in Heglig? 
I don't think I will ever understand the international community! 
The BBC makes two errors in article 1, below. Firstly, it is not true that Heglig is "generally recognised as Sudanese territory". Many analysts who actually know what they are talking about (as opposed to journalists, diplomats and politicians) argue that it is disputed. Millions of South Sudanese, Nuba and others "generally recognise" that Heglig belongs in South Sudan. Secondly, both sides do NOT "claim" Abyei. South Sudan claims that the residents of Abyei should have the referendum which they were promised in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to decide whether Abyei should be part of Sudan or South Sudan; Khartoum has blocked the referendum and occupied the area militarily.

15 April 2012

Why UNMIS failed

Not gonna lie, I opened this because I thought it was about social protection (cash transfers), but hey, a nice summary of what went wrong with the UN mission in South Sudan, based on fieldwork in Jonglei by Simon Harragin.
Opinions on UNMIS, on the rare occasions when local people expressed them, were often based on things heard on the radio or on seeing UNMIS convoys passing by in the distance. People noted that UNMIS acted in an ‘observer’ capacity without actively engaging with the problems they faced on a daily basis (particularly insecurity) ...
local people’s expectations that armed peacekeepers would defend them during periods of insecurity were not met. Time and again the presence of peacekeepers has been shown to be mainly symbolic ...

One of the biggest failures of UNMIS was that soldiers did not leave their bases in the State Headquarters to set up permanent bases in the Counties

DFID Livelihoods Program in South Sudan

DFID is planning to spend up to £100 million on food security and livelihoods in South Sudan over the next 5 years, the largest of all its programs. Is that a lot or a little?

DFID's expected results in this area are to support 1 million people to achieve food security.

Not knowing the details of the program, I am going to imagine for a second that DFID has a zero-overhead cash transfer or food voucher planned. 

£100 million over 5 years, divided between £1 million people, is 5.4 pence a day each. 

"Hello there Mr. Deng, here's 5 pence, buy yourself a sandwich yeah? Go nuts with it, I'll give you another 5p tomorrow! Sorted yeah?"

So - to get to an even slightly more realistic sufficient basic daily income, all we need is for economies of scale, support to production, and that vocational training, to have a 1000% return. Good job that we have all that evidence about the massive massive returns to livelihoods programs. Wait...

Questionable South Sudan Poverty Statistics

Yes, it seems that today I will mostly be procrastinating in avoidance of finishing my report by reading the House of Commons report. Thanks for that Tom.

Here's a quote from the backgrounder section: 
Eight out of ten people live on an equivalent of less than one $1 (63p) per day.
Now maybe this is nitpicking, but the best data we have says that the poverty rate in South Sudan is 50% (against a national poverty line). You can't just throw out an 80% figure without saying why you chose to look at $1 a day, whether you are talking PPP or not, or providing a source.

Shameless self-promotion

More from the UK Parliament International Development Committee report on DFID support to South Sudan:
DFID also helps to fund the secondment of ODI Fellows to key ministries such as the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning—which is generally regarded to be one of the better ministries in Juba. It was clear that the ministers we spoke to highly valued this technical expertise.

British MPs on UNMISS

This comment from Tom is worth repeating:
It's worth quoting the whole of the section of the executive summary of the Commons International Development Committee on South Sudan: "UNMISS...has been slow to produce a peacebuilding strategy. UNMISS is also a hugely expensive operation, costing the UK taxpayer £60 million in its first year—two thirds of DFID’s annual development and humanitarian budget. UNMISS does not currently provide value-for-money and its resources have not been deployed most effectively. The UK Government should press the UN for an urgent review of UNMISS’s cost, mandate, assets and operations."
Here is the link to the full report.