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Food Crisis, COVID-19 and Africa’s Recovery in 2021

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The world waited to end the year 2020, and when it finally ticked its last minutes, it was all joy and luminescence.

In different parts of the world, limited celebrations were seen as the new year was ushered in, albeit, with colours and sounds. The excitement that greeted the coming of 2021 isn’t far fetched; 2020 was a difficult year in every ramification.

Africa, like the rest of the world has had to battle the raging COVID-19 pandemic. The disease has resigned nations to fate and sent them grappling with economic difficulties.

In different parts of Africa, economies were grounded and residents were asked to stay indoors. This meant the continent lost a lot of money due to the dearth of activities.

From manufacturing to tourism, the stories were pretty much the same.

Just when it seemed like one problem was enough, the continent was struck with a very nasty food crisis – double whammy!

Managing the coronavirus pandemic has been an ornery experience. Across the continent, more than 2.8m people have been infected while over 60,000 are dead. Governments have been seen flustering, as they seek solutions to the problems.

Climate change, regional unrests, and a heavy locust infestation in East Africa has dipped at least 265m Africans into food insecurity. In Kenya, it is the worst locusts attack in 70 years. These locusts have destroyed 500,000 acres of farmlands.

The unfortunate food crisis championed by climate change and resultant famine has seen at least four million Kenyans battling hunger. In Somalia and Ethiopia, there are at least five million people who find it difficult to feed.

Young children are dying of malnutrition, and where they appear to have a glimmer of hope, their parents are being driven away by war. In South Sudan, almost two million people are being displaced and are in need of food, according to the World Food Programme.

In West Africa, inconsistent and low rainfall have harshly affected production, with at least 24 million people in the bloc at the risk of food crisis by June 2021.

In the Southern part of the continent where South Africa is battling heavy infection rate with over one million cases of coronavirus, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia may soon be battling a food crisis. About 60% of Zimbabwe’s population currently face starvation.

These realities are gnarly and made the year 2020 a visitor whose back Africans desperately wanted to see.

In the year 2021, most African countries are looking to make economic recoveries, with the help of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The continent is being feared to be left behind in the distribution of the vaccines, owing to low financial power, but provisions are being made by top African countries to get in the mix.

Tourism-dependent nations like Madagsacar, Seychelles, and Mauritius are hopeful that the year 2021 will bring more peace and biological tranquility to see them cover lost grounds.

Manufacturing-dependent economies are also hoping the new year will be better with economic projections favouring a likely recovery.

Africa’s two biggest economies, Nigeria and South Africa are battling pandemic – induced recession but have indicated readiness to change the the narrative in 2021. Different countries in the continent have budgeted huge sums of money for the recovery of their economies. If there will be a political will to achieve it, in addition to accountability by leaders, there may be hope.

Many African nations will be holding key elections during the year and some of these are expected to drive development in these countries, if desires transform to reality.

Endless conflicts, terrorism and banditry are still some of Africa’s deepest security challenges and various governments have asked for support in tackling these issues.

Expectations are high across Africa that 2021 will be a better year, and the gory details of the past year will be banished to memory. However, leadership and will are critical factors that will expedite the achievement of these targets.

While the problems persist, Africans battling the second wave of COVID-19 and a food crisis, can only hope it will all be in the past soon.

There are critical situations on the ground, and they need instant and committed plans to help recovery. In 2021, it is hoped that the continent will consolidate on its gains in 2020 and the flailing hope of the people will be steadied.

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Semi Ajayi Trumps Boly as West Brom Beat Wolves 3-2

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Nigeria’s Super Eagles defender, Semi Ajayi, continued his scoring form for West Brom in the Baggies 3-2 away victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Molineux Stadium.

Ajayi, who has had success in front of goal this season, grabbed the equaliser for his side who were trailing 2-1 by halftime.

The 27-year-old Nigerian scored in West Brom’s draw against Liverpool last month while he was also on target in the FA Cup loss to Blackpool last weekend. He also had an effort ruled as a Ruben Dias own goal in the Baggies draw against Manchester City at the Etihad. His goal on Saturday afternoon was his second in 17 league matches.

West Brom’s Matheus Pereira scored twice from the spot to give Allardyce his first victory as the club’s manager.

The result gave West Brom a big boost in their bid to avoid relegation, as they moved to within three points of 17th place, albeit remaining stuck in 19th spot for now. Wolves stay in 14th place.

“It’s massive. If there was one game to change our season, this is the game. It’s the one fans look forward to the most,” West Brom midfielder Romaine Sawyers told BT Sport.

“We had seven days with the gaffer. This was the first time really on the training ground, getting back to basics… He’s a bit tough on us, but it’s not a happy situation we’re in, so we need that tough love.”

West Brom opened the scoring when centre back Willy Boly fouled Callum Robinson in the seventh minute on the edge of the box and Pereira stepped up to convert the penalty, sending Wolves keeper Rui Patricio the wrong way.

Boly made amends later when his back-heeled pass in the box freed up Fabio Silva, who side-footed the ball past David Button for the 18-year-old’s first goal at home.

Minutes later, Boly made it 2-1 when the ball fell to him during a corner kick, leaving Button no chance to make a save as the defender scored from six yards out.

West Brom turned things around with two quick-fire goals after the restart, the first from a long throw-in when Kyle Bartley’s flicked header allowed Semi Ajayi to loop his header past Patricio.

The visitors sealed the win when Robinson won another penalty after drawing a foul from defender Conor Coady and Pereira scored from the spot again.

“We wanted to control the game and be aggressive in defence and we didn’t do it,” Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo said.

“Two penalties and a throw-in. We knew we required better defending. We must rectify it and do better.”

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UN Peacekeeper Dies After Vehicle Strikes Landmine in Mali

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A United Nations peacekeeper has died in northern Mali after his vehicle struck a landmine, a statement said on Saturday.

The statement, issued by the United Nation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), said that the second of the two peacekeepers in the vehicle was seriously injured.

Mahamat Saleh Annadif, MINUSMA Head, said the peacekeeping mission’s tanker truck, which was part of a logistics convoy, drove over the mine near the town of Tessalit in the Kidal region.

While securing the site of the incident, peacekeepers detected a second explosive device and neutralized it, the statement added.

Mali’s central and north have experienced regular flare-ups of violent attacks following a 2012 military coup that saw separatist rebel groups and later al-Qaeda-associated militants take control of the region.

French and African military operations, alongside the Malian Army’s efforts scattered militants and restored government control over the area.

Rebel activities and military operations have, however, continued in some areas in spite of signing of various peace agreements.

MINUSMA is supporting the Malian Army and France’s Operation Barkhane in securing the volatile region.

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Three UN Peacekeepers Killed Injured in Mali, CAR in 3 Days

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No fewer than three UN peacekeepers were reportedly killed and four others injured in separate attacks in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Mali over the past three days.

According to the United Nations, the deceased peacekeepers were from Rwanda, Burundi and Egypt while the nationalities of those wounded have not been disclosed.

The UN said the latest attack, which occurred on Friday near Tessalit, a village in the Kidal region of Mali, targeted a convoy of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

An Egyptian peacekeeper died and another was seriously injured in that incident, UN spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said in a statement on Saturday.

Earlier on Friday, a peacekeeper from Burundi was killed and two others injured in an attack by combatants in CAR.

That attack targeted a convoy of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in CAR (MINUSCA) in Grimari, a city in the Ouaka prefecture.

It followed a similar attack by rebel fighters near the capital, Bangui, on Wednesday that left a Rwandan peacekeeper dead and another wounded.

Reports say violence has intensified in parts of the Central African Republic over the Dec. 27 presidential and legislative elections.

Armed groups opposed to the re-election of President Faustin-Archange Touadera, are alleged to be behind the attacks.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said the worsening post-election violence had forced no fewer than 120,000 people from their homes.

In different statements, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned all the attacks and called for action to bring the perpetrators to justice.

He emphasised that attacks against United Nations peacekeepers might constitute a war crime.

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