Thursday, August 30, 2007

[Guinean news] Praise for the new prime minister

Despite massive challenges, an article in the pan-African weekly Jeune Afrique gives high marks to the new Guinean prime minister Lansana Kouyaté. The ex-diplomat was named head of government after a nationwide general strike earlier this year.

Ibrahima Diakité, head of the National Council of Civil Society Organizations said, "[Kouyaté] came to address the economic situation which had been seriously affected years of plunder and waste... at present, he hasn't been able to change the system in terms of the administration, but he has kicked out the old barons, ministers, governors and prefects."

Kouyaté himself added that basic services, particularly water and electricity, are in the process of being re-established in places that had been deprived on them for dozens of years.

A union official, under cover of anonymity, said that the new government was progressively beginning to 'make its mark.'

"The new government is the most transparent we've had for 20 years," he added.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

[NGO news] West African NGO seeking volunteer coordinator

Cody Donahue of the NGO Tostan writes:

Tostan is a rapidly growing US 501(c)(3) nongovernmental organization dedicated to providing human rights-based education to Africans who have little or no access to formal schooling.

Based in the West African country of Senegal, Tostan works in mostly rural regions to increase community engagement in projects related to health, literacy, the environment, child welfare, conflict resolution, and economic development.

Tostan is currently implementing its innovative educational program in Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea, Somalia, Mauritania, and Djibouti.

Each year Tostan welcomes college students, recent graduates, and professionals from all over the world who come to volunteer on its projects in Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea, and Djibouti.

Tostan is presently accepting applications for the position of volunteer coordinator. The volunteer coordinator is based in Senegal and is responsible for:

. recruiting qualified volunteers/interns;
. providing volunteers with an orientation to Tostan and life in Africa;
. working with staff to place volunteers throughout the organization;
. evaluating, supporting, and overseeing volunteers and their progress;
. various administrative duties.

A successful candidate will demonstrate:

. a strong interest in grassroots international development;
. a willingness to commit to a one-year contract (with preference given to candidates willing to stay longer than one year;
. values that are shared by Tostan;
. professionalism;
. strong time management and organization skills;
. strong written and oral communications skills in both French and English;
. previous experience living and/or working in Africa; ability to adapt and respect crosscultural differences;
. experience in managing volunteers or larger groups.

Tostan provides the volunteer coordinator with housing and a small stipend. Additional benefits may be available for qualified candidates.

To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to
gannongillespie @

[Guinean news] Guinea wants nuclear energy

After the discovery earlier this month of major uranium reserves in the country, the Guinean government has announced that it is seeking nuclear power as an antidote to the country's energy woes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

[Help wanted] Seeking Kpellé / Guerzé speaker

Lily Dalke of Human Rights First writes:

I’m looking for an interpreter for another asylum seeker, ideally someone who is fluent in both Kpelle / Guerze and English.

We are currently making do with someone who speaks Guerze and French and another translator who speaks French and English, but it would be wonderful if we could find someone who could help this client communicate more directly with her attorney!

Thanks in advance for any contacts or leads you might be able to provide.

If you are able and willing to help, please contact Lily at:

dalkel @

or 212-845-5231

Monday, August 20, 2007

[Guinean news] Soldiers warn of another mutiny

The IRIN news service reports that Guinean troops are warning of another mutiny if they are not paid their long overdue salaries.

Soldiers have set a deadline of September 8.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

[Development issues] Does US food aid hurt or help?

The International Herald Tribune has a good article on the debate surrounding US food aid. The prominent NGO CARE is rejecting $45 million a year in federal funding because it believes that the structure and delivery mechanism of US food aid is not only plagued with inefficiencies, but may hurt some of the very poor people it aims to help.

It contends that by flooding the local market with surplus US food, it drives down prices for indigenous farmers and undermines their broader anti-poverty efforts.

World Vision and 14 other charities disagree with CARE'S decision and argues that the system works because it keeps hard currency in poor countries, can help prevent food price spikes in them and does not hurt their farmers.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

[Guinean news] Cholera kills dozens more

Reuters reports that dozens of Guineans have died of cholera since the beginning of the rainy season a few weeks ago. The health ministry reports that the condition has killed 47 people since the beginning of the year. Guéckédou and Conakry are the two most affected aeras.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

[Guinean news] Libyan leader to head 50th anniversary celebrations?

The website reports on speculation that the Libyan leader Mouammar Gadhaffi might be the guest of honor at Guinean National Day celebrations next year. October 2, 2008 will mark the country's 50th anniversary of independence.

Friday, August 10, 2007

[Development news] Does the IMF threaten African public health?

The Center for Global Development has a good analysis of whether the International Monetary Fund harms Africa's public health systems unnecessarily by restraining spending.

[Guinean news] Major uranium reserves discovered near Kissidougou

The Guinean government says that commercially viable reserves of uranium have been discovered in the country.

Information Minister Justin Morel Junior announced that samples of uranium were extracted by a mineral company in Firawa [in the southeastern prefecture of Kissidougou].

A BBC correspondent says Guinea is hoping to cash in on the strong global demand for uranium as a nuclear fuel, which has led prices to boom.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

[Guinean news] Hyperdynamics' contract and finances under scrutiny

The site reports that an affiliate of the oil company Hyperdynamics has expressed its willingness to rewrite their controversial contract with the Guinean government for the right to explore and exploit potential offshore oil and gas reserves. The contract was widely criticized in the Guinean press and society for being far too favorable to the Houston-based company.

For its part, Guinéenews claims that the Conkary bank accounts of the Hyperdynamics' affiliate were frozen last week.

The US head of Hyperdynamics has reportedly created a non-governmental organization called American Friends of Guinea, which is not affiliated in any way to Friends of Guinea.

Note: I certainly welcome and encourage debate on this blog entry and all others, provided they are civilized and further the discussion. Ad hominem attacks or comments containing vulgar language will not be published. Personal accusations should be justified or substantiated, particularly when made by anonymous posters. I've already rejected three comments on this entry (two pro-Hyperdynamics and one anti-) based on the afforementioned criteria. Thank you for keeping the discussion above board. -Brian Farenell, FOG Communications Director.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

[RPCV news] RPCV seeking microenterprise/handicrafts projects

FOG Secretary Annie Kneedler passes along this message:

Please see message below from KJ Lewis from the company Global Sister Goods. If you have any ideas for handicrafts projects/cooperatives, please contact KJ at info @

Hi there,

I am an RPCV (Namibia 99-00) who currently owns a fair trade import business that partners with women artisans in several countries. We emphasize women's economic empowerment by telling artisan life stories, and connecting Americans with women's issues in the countries where we have partners. We are seeking new collectives or projects to work with, and wondered if anyone in your group might know of one. We have had much success partnering with current Namibia PCVs on secondary projects focused on microenterprise and handicrafts and have helped with everything from design and development to logistics and marketing. You can learn more about us at:

or give me a call at 503.285.6780.

Many thanks for your time, and hope to hear from you soon.

KJ Lewis
info @
(503) 285-6780

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

[Development news] UN projects target clean drinking water in the Forest

The IRIN news service reports that 14 UN-affiliated agencies and the Guinean government signed an $80 million aid package to improve access to clean drinking water in the country's southeastern Forest region.

The package envisages an increase in the number of people with access to drinking water in the region from 59 to 85 percent by 2011, with the main goal of reducing waterborne diseases like cholera and diarrhoea.

“There is a real need right now,” said Idrissa Souare, head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) N'Zérékoré office in the Forest Region. “It’s really very worrying.”

He told IRIN there were 3,067 drinking water points for over two million people in the Forest Region - about half the required number.

Cholera epidemics have affected several hundred in the last two years. The disease is closely linked to poor hygeine and limited access to clean water.

The Forest region bore the ecological brunt of the more than half a million refugees from Sierra Leone and Liberia that lived in Guinea in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

According to the 2006 UN Human Development index, half of all Guineans do not have reasonable* access to a clean water source.

(*-defined as 5.3 gallons per day from a source within 0.6 miles)