Sierra Leone: move to sell pristine beach and rainforest to China meets backlash

Sierra Leone has agreed to sell 250 acres of pristine beach and rainforest to China in a $55 million deal that would see an industrial fishing harbor built on the site.

The move has sparked outrage from conservationists, human rights and animal welfare groups and local landowners, who have said the project would “destroy pristine rainforest, plunder fish stocks, pollute the marine environment and five individual eco systems that are fish breeding grounds and support endangered bird and wildlife species.”

The details of the deal, first reported by the U.K.’s The Guardian newspaper, remain hazy. Local public policy research organizations the Institute for Legal Research and Advocacy for Justice (ILRAJ) and Namati Sierra Leone have written to the government requesting information on “plans to establish a fish harbour and carry out waste management operations at Black Johnson in the Western Area peninsula, a project funded by the Government of China.”

The groups are requesting copies of legally-mandated environmental and social impact assessments, along with the grant agreement between China and the Sierra Leonean government.

Both the Chinese and Sierra Leonean embassies in London and the Sierra Leonean state house were unavailable for comment when contacted by CNBC.

Black Johnson’s waters are rich in fish and local fishermen supply a substantial portion of the domestic market. Meanwhile, the Western Area Peninsula national park houses many endangered species.

press release from Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Emma Kowa-Jalloh on Monday contends that “the facility to be constructed is a Fish Harbour and not a Fish Mill as portrayed by the social media writers.”

“The objective of the Fish Harbour is to centralise all fishing activities. The government of Sierra Leone has been yearning for a Fish Harbour since the early 1970s, but could not actualise it due to the huge amount of money that is required,” Kowa-Jalloh said.

“With the new shift in government policy for the development of the fisheries sector, the Chinese government has given a grant of US$55m to build this platform.”

The release also asserts that Black Johnson was “the most suitable place for the construction of the facility in terms of bathymetry, social safeguards (minimum resettlement cost) and environmental issues.”

Kowa-Jalloh said the Ministry of Finance had set aside a compensation package of 13.76 billion leones (around $1.34 million) for landowners, and insisted that the sale of the land was intended to “ensure the regular supply of fish” to the local market.

Credit: CNBC

Sierra Leone’s agreement to sell 250 acres of pristine beach and rainforest to China in a $55 million deal has sparked outrage from conservationists, human rights and animal welfare groups and local landowners, who have said the project would “destroy pristine rainforest, plunder fish stocks, pollute the marine environment

CDC Releases First Report on Animal Contact Outbreaks

According to CDC’s first report on animal contact outbreaks, 59 outbreaks of enteric (intestinal) disease were linked to contact with animals or their environment in 2017.

Information in the report comes from CDC’s Animal Contact Outbreak Surveillance System, which is part of the National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS). State, local, and territorial public health agencies submit reports of enteric  disease outbreaks through NORS.

Although most illnesses linked to animal contact are not part of a recognized outbreak, these outbreaks can provide important information on germs that spread from animals to people and the types of animals and settings commonly involved. CDC plans to issue annual reports on these outbreaks.


  • In 2017, 59 outbreaks of enteric disease associated with animal contact were reported, resulting in 1,518 illnesses, 312 hospitalizations, and 3 deaths.
  • Cryptosporidium was the most common cause of confirmed, single-etiology outbreaks, accounting for 21 outbreaks (41%), 158 illnesses, and 6 hospitalizations.
  • Salmonella was the second leading cause of confirmed, single-etiology outbreaks with 18 (35%); these outbreaks resulted in the most outbreak associated-illnesses (1,237 illnesses, 84%), hospitalizations (286, 92%), and deaths (2, 67%).
  • Livestock (25 outbreaks) and poultry (15) were the most common types of animals implicated. The most outbreak-associated illnesses were from contact with poultry (1,149 illnesses), livestock (132), and reptiles (89).
  • Farms or dairies (11 outbreaks, 30%) were the most commonly reported setting among outbreaks with a single location of exposure, followed by private homes (10 outbreaks, 27%).

According to the CDC, each year, enteric diseases linked to animals or their environments are estimated to cause 450,000 illnesses, 5,000 hospitalizations, and 76 deaths in the United States.

 These illnesses are attributed to contact with an animal’s feces or bodily fluids, which can be present on the animal, in its environment, or in its food or water. Outbreak data can provide insight into human illnesses caused by pathogens transmitted through animal contact and can inform efforts to prevent disease. The findings in this report exemplify the One Health concept by highlighting how the health of people is interconnected with animals and the environment.

During 2017, 59 animal contact outbreaks were reported, resulting in 1,518 illnesses, 312 hospitalizations, and 3 deaths. Forty-six were single-state outbreaks; these were reported from 18 states. Thirteen were multistate outbreaks; exposures occurred in 49 states and Washington, D.C. The median reporting rate among states was 1.1 outbreak per million population; rates ranged from 0.2 in Florida to 6.3 in Nebraska

GMES and Africa partners rally to weave together solutions to Africa’s development challenges

African development experts and institutions have begun a five-day meeting in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, to weave together strategies and mechanisms of delivering on the services they are mandated to provide under the banner of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES and Africa).

A joint initiative of the African Union Commission and the European Commission, GMES and Africa aims to address the growing needs of African countries to access and use Earth Observation (EO) data for the implementation of sustainable development policies, management of the environment and natural resources, as well as monitoring of humanitarian operations in Africa.

GMES and Africa is built on aspirations of the African Agenda 2063, which craves for a prosperous, peaceful and integrated Africa, and for a robust and responsive African outer space programme. It focuses on thematic areas reflecting Africa’s developmental priorities, including Water and Natural Resources, and is implemented through consortia of regional and national institutions across the continent. The Dakar meeting, which will also be attended by officials from the AU’s Regional Economic Communities and organizations, and from European technical institutions, is a platform to discuss and provide solutions to the implementation of the four pillars of GMES and Africa, including Infrastructure and Data, Products and Services, Training and Capacity Development, as well as Outreach, Awareness and Engagement.

The GMES and Africa Coordinator, who is also the African Union Commission’s Space Science Expert, Dr. Tidiane Ouattara, describes the meeting as an opportunity for the participants from different thematic backgrounds to share experience and forge ideas on the design and development of Water and Natural Resources services. “It enables them to plan together training and capacity development activities, and drive the operationalization of ICT tools and digital platforms created to facilitate seamless communication among stakeholders”, he observes. Some of the institutions and experts under the GMES and Africa banner have extensive and cross-cutting experience in service delivery on the programme’s four thematic pillars and will use the Dakar convergence to impart best practice ideas and models to their peers.

GMES and Africa was launched in November 2016, following continent-wide and international consultations on Africa’s needs and priorities in pursuit of exploiting earth observation data and information to leverage sustainable development in the continent. The programme is funded by the European Commission to the tune of 30 million EURO, and implemented by the African Union Commission through an open Call for proposals from African institutions which are provided with grants to deliver services to user communities.

SIERRA LEONE: Lands Minister calls for inclusive system in land development

By Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (De Monk)

Dr. Dennis Sandy: all-inclusive approach to management of land in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Lands, Housing and Environment, Dr. Dennis Sandy, has urged stakeholders to join his ministry to adopt an inclusive system in the administration and development of land in the small West African country.

Speaking at a one-day workshop on the Implementation of the National Land Policy in the context of Responsible Agricultural Investments organized by Solidaridad Sierra Leone on Tuesday at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Freetown, Dr. Sandy emphasized that the land governance situation in the country is a cause for concern.

“The land situation in the country is really, really serious; that is why we must ensure an all-inclusive system (driven by the ministry and land owning families) that strengthens relations for planning, administration and land use for proper management and development of the agricultural sector,” said Dr. Sandy.

The Minister of Lands, who described his presence at the workshop as a demonstration of his ministry’s commitment to the issues of land in the country, noted that nowadays people sign contract for land in rural areas without even consulting his Ministry (and Government) which he said is against the laws of the land.

“Our role as a ministry does not only stop at surveying exercises,” he clarified. “My ministry should be involved in all arrangements, from start to finish. We know we have challenges with our two land tenure systems, but the practice of our local authorities giving land to investors for commercial use without our consent must stop.”

At the same workshop, Dr. Sandy’s colleague, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Hon. Tetema Tondoneh equally lamented the exclusion of his ministry in land development in the rural areas.

Meanwhile, the Lands minister warned that agricultural investment- no matter how huge the capital involved- should not be at the expense of the environment.

“Every investment in our land should take into account the conservation, protection and promotion of our environment. My ministry should be at the fore front of every land use,” he said, adding that more often than not rural people depend on land for their livelihood and their rights must be safeguarded.

The workshop, organized by Solidaridad, seeks to share experiences and lessons learnt from their successful intervention in Makpele chiefdom where tensions were mounting between the people and the company Natural Habitats Sierra Leone (NHSL) regarding the lease of 30,700 hectares of land for agricultural purposes. NHSL inherited the lease from West Africa Agriculture II but the people disowned the agreement claiming they were ignorant of such. Solidaridad’s intervention brought all stakeholders together through its DFID-funded LEGEND (Land: Enhancing Governance for Economic Development) project applying international best practices. One of the key outcomes is the reduction of the NHSL’s concession from 30,700 hectares to 2,320 hectares, with a total of 28,380 hectares ceding back to the people of Makpele chiefdom.

Solidaridad is a not-for-profit organization that works globally towards the sustainable production of commodities and has built a reputation as a catalyst for sustainable innovations in commodity supply chain in 50 years. The goal is to improve livelihoods for vulnerable producers, while respecting the environment, one another and the next generation.

Climate change, water and the spread of diseases: connecting the dots differently

Half a century ago concerns about climate change, environment vulnerability, population density and the sustainability of earth systems reached a broad audience. This was clear from books like the Silent Spring published in 1962, and The Limits to Growth published 10 years later.


Lenore Manderson 
Visiting Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies, Brown University, USA, and Distinguished Professor, Public Health and Medical Anthropology, University of the Witwatersrand

Disclosure statement:

Lenore Manderson has received research funding from the Australian Research Council and more recently, the South African National Research Foundation. She has been an advisor to Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) for the past 30 years.


University of the Witwatersrandprovides support as a hosting partner of The Conversation AFRICA.

These works influenced environmental activism at the time. They also laid the foundations for growing scientific evidence that climate changewas happening and was negatively affecting the earth.

But one piece of the puzzle has been missing: the impact of climate change on people, and specifically, on public health.

This changed at the beginning of this century with growing advocacy and gatherings such as the Conference of Parties and the publication of new research. Scientists began writing about the earth moving into a new era called the Anthropocene. This is an era in which ecosystems were increasingly being affected by human behaviour, and in which people were being affected by the changes brought about by their actions.

The Anthropocene provided the impetus for renewed attention on health and sustainability for all species. This new understanding led to increasing new research, across disciplines, to new interdisciplinary journals, and to policy documents on the impact of climate change on health. Major new insights began to emerge. These included the fact that changes in weather patterns were affecting the behaviour of mosquitoes. This in turn was affecting our ability to control disease. A raft of work also started to emerge on the affects of changing weather patterns, heat waves, and access to clean water on people’s health.

The next step along this journey was that academics came to realise that they can’t work in disciplinary silos. For example, health scientists came to grasp that they need anthropologists, sociologists and economists for a full understanding of the impact of climate change. The circle of knowledge has, as a result, begun to expand.

Parallel to these efforts, artists and advocacy groups have worked to keep climate change on international and national policy agendas. For example, artists have taken inspiration and drawn from scientific research in engineering, chemistry, biology, and the earth sciences to make their art. In a first of its kind on the African continent, these efforts are reflected at a 10-day public and academic programme at the University of the Witwatersrand. The programme enmeshes art and science to provoke new thinking about water and how its politicisation affects public health.

Insights from different disciplines

Extreme weather events, shifts in temperature variation and precipitation, and higher mean temperatures have dramatically affected human health and well-being.

From a health perspective, incremental environmental changes over time have undone decades of investment in the control of infectious diseases. Many of these are water-borne and water-washed diseases, such as dysentery and scabies. They are result of poor personal hygiene because of inadequate water availability. These diseases, common throughout Africa, are often described as neglected diseases of poverty.

Scientists have started to explore the various affects in different settings in relation to different diseases.

For example, changes in temperature and rainfall have, in turn, changed the behaviour of vectors such as mosquitoesflies and snails, with other factors complicating the spread of disease (for a summary, see). This means the settings that create the conditions for debilitating and potentially fatal diseases such as malaria, zika, and dengue have shifted. For example, mosquitoes have moved to new areas, introducing infection to previously unaffected people and certain animals.

Anthropologists have used a different lens to understand the impact. Research shows that inequality influences people’s exposure to vector-borne diseases and other environmentally sensitive infections. Gender, class and age have also emerged as points of vulnerability for disease and poor health in the context of climate change.

Climate change has, most notably, begun to affect weather patterns. Changes in precipitation and quantity, floods and droughts, and water insecurity are increasingly common as the planet warms.

Scientists have begun to track how this affects food production and other farming activities. This in turn affects people’s livelihoods and food security. These changes are increasingly being followed not just by climate scientists, but also by academics from disciplines as wide-ranging as economics and politics. This follows the realisation that challenges of ageing infrastructure and water governance, for example, complicate finding solutions to overcoming the challenges posed by global warming.

Creative interventions

Scientists across disciplines – social, biological, and physical sciences as well as the humanities and arts – need to continue to work on ways to interrupt disease transmission in the context of global warming. They seek to identify appropriate interventions where climate change affects health – and to come up with creative solutions that cut across narrow paths of thinking.

Artists and civil society have a key role to play by creating narrative, visual and acoustic forms to support advocacy on issues of climate change, pollution, the ecology and environmental justice.

The article is published courtesy of

Africa is paving the way to a climate-resilient future

Since the presentation of the World Bank’s first Africa Climate Business Plan at the COP 21 in Paris in 2015 and the Transport Chapter in Marrakech in 2016, a lot of progress has been made on integrating climate adaptation and mitigation into our transport projects.

The World Bank initially committed about $3.2 billion toward mainstreaming climate action into transport programs in Sub-Saharan Africa in the form of infrastructure investments and technical assistance. Following the Paris Agreement, and building on African countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the size of this portfolio grew to $5 billion for 2016 to 2020.  In 2017, the institution added another $1.9 billion to that amount, bringing the total to $6.9 billion in projects with climate co-benefits— more than twice the size of the original portfolio. These investments will help improve the resilience of transport infrastructure to climate change and improve the carbon footprint of transport systems.

Climate change has already started to affect African countries’ efforts to provide better transport services to their citizens.  African transport systems are vulnerable to multiple types of climate impact: sea level rise and storm surge, higher frequency and intensity of extreme wind and storm events, increased precipitation intensity, extreme heat and fire hazard, overall warming, and change in average precipitation patterns. The increased frequency and intensity of extreme climate event challenges the year-round availability of critical transport services: roads are damaged more often or are more costly to maintain; expensive infrastructure assets such as ports, railways or airports can be damaged by storms and storm surges, resulting in a short  life cycle and capacity than they were originally designed for. Critical infrastructure such as bridges continue to be built based on data and disaster risk patterns from decades ago, ignoring the current trend of increased climate risk. For Sub-Saharan Africa alone, it is estimated that climate change will threaten to increase road maintenance costs by 270% if no action is taken.

Since the adoption of the first concept of the Africa Climate Business Plan, several success stories have demonstrated how the World Bank is continuing to standardize the approach to accounting for climate finance in its projects and define the contribution each project is making to the reduction in GHG emissions. The move will lead to more uniform reporting of mitigation and adaptation co-benefits, particularly as explicit inclusion of climate-smart measures becomes more common in World Bank-financed operations.

In the Central African Republic, for instance, a new project to upgrade rural roads has been developed to take climate change into consideration through every step, from infrastructure design to road construction works and maintenance arrangements. This long-term, climate-smart approach is expected to improve the durability of road improvements by a significant margin.  A community-based maintenance system will make a particularly important contribution to the climate resilience of the targeted roads.

Another example of how the World Bank has successfully assisted African governments in incorporating climate adaptation and mitigation into project design is the $300 million Dakar Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) pilot project which was approved by the World Bank in 2017. The project design includes the construction of 18.3 kilometers of fully segregated bus lanes in Dakar, build or provide terminals, metro-style stations, bus fleets, and intelligent transportation systems (ITS), improve access for pedestrians, better integrate the system into the urban environment, and restructure the public transit network.

The project is expected to reduce long-term greenhouse gas emission by 1.5 million tons of CO2 emissions equivalent by shifting riders from older buses to new, efficient, high-quality buses and by adopting a holistic, integrated land use and transport planning policy.

For the people of Dakar, the project will increase access to public transit services, reduce travel time, and improve comfort and safety. For public transit users within a one-hour radius, it will increase access to employment opportunities by 7%. By 2020, two-thirds of the population will have access to at least 8,000 more job opportunities than they do today. The increase will disproportionately benefit poorer areas in the northern suburbs, where access to more than 120,000 employment opportunities will be made possible.

This pilot project is included in Senegal’s Nationally Determined Contribution and can easily be expanded or replicated in other African cities facing the same mobility challenges as Dakar. The project is the backbone of an ambitious and comprehensive strategy for sustainable urban mobility and low-emission transport modes. It is included in the Emerging Senegal Plan, the government’s plan to make Senegal an emerging economy by 2035.

The road connectivity program in the Central African Republic and the Dakar BRT are among many projects that demonstrate how interventions looking to improve mobility, boost economic growth, and create jobs can also deliver significant climate co-benefits. This is at the core of the World Bank’s approach to sustainable development: our work is based on the premise that socioeconomic gains and climate action shouldn’t be seen as conflicting interests, and instead can reinforce each other. With the expected surge in urbanization and infrastructure investment across Africa, the region has a unique opportunity to grow in a way that is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable. The World Bank’s Africa Transport team stands ready to support these efforts and develop innovative solutions that will help turn this vision into reality.

Article published courtesy of the World Bank Group

Millions may face protein deficiency as a result of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions

If CO2 levels continue to rise as projected, the populations of 18 countries may lose more than 5% of their dietary protein by 2050 due to a decline in the nutritional value of rice, Wheat-1024x683wheat, and other staple crops, according to new findings from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Researchers estimate that roughly an additional 150 million people may be placed at risk of protein deficiency because of elevated levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. This is the first study to quantify this risk.

“This study highlights the need for countries that are most at risk to actively monitor their populations’ nutritional sufficiency, and, more fundamentally, the need for countries to curb human-caused CO2 emissions,” said Samuel Myers, senior research scientist in the Department of Environmental Health.

The study will be published online August 2, 2017 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Globally, 76% of the population derives most of their daily protein from plants. To estimate their current and future risk of protein deficiency, the researchers combined data from experiments in which crops were exposed to high concentrations of CO2with global dietary information from the United Nations and measures of income inequality and demographics.

They found that under elevated CO2 concentrations, the protein contents of rice, wheat, barley, and potatoes decreased by 7.6%, 7.8%, 14.1%, and 6.4%, respectively. The results suggest continuing challenges for Sub Saharan Africa, where millions already experience protein deficiency, and growing challenges for South Asian countries, including India, where rice and wheat supply a large portion of daily protein. The researchers found that India may lose 5.3% of protein from a standard diet, putting a predicted 53 million people at new risk of protein deficiency.

companion paper co-authored by Myers, which will be published as an Early View article August 2, 2017 in GeoHealth, found that CO2-related reductions in iron content in staple food crops are likely to also exacerbate the already significant problem of iron deficiency worldwide. Those most at risk include 354 million children under 5 and 1.06 billion women of childbearing age—predominantly in South Asia and North Africa—who live in countries already experiencing high rates of anemia and who are expected to lose more than 3.8% of dietary iron as a result of this CO2 effect.

These two studies, taken alongside a 2015 study co-authored by Myers showing that elevated CO2 emissions are also likely to drive roughly 200 million people into zinc deficiency, quantify the significant nutritional toll expected to arise from human-caused CO2 emissions.

“Strategies to maintain adequate diets need to focus on the most vulnerable countries and populations, and thought must be given to reducing vulnerability to nutrient deficiencies through supporting more diverse and nutritious diets, enriching the nutritional content of staple crops, and breeding crops less sensitive to these CO2effects. And, of course, we need to dramatically reduce global CO2 emissions as quickly as possible,” Myers said.

Funding for the study was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and by the Winslow Foundation.

“Estimated Effects of Future Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations on Protein Intake and the Risk of Protein Deficiency by Country and Region,” Danielle E. Medek, Joel Schwartz, and Samuel S. Myers, Environmental Health Perspectives, online August 2, 2017, doi: 10.1289/EHP41

“Potential rise in iron deficiency due to future anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions,” M. R. Smith, C. D. Golden, and S. S. Myers, GeoHealth, Early View article, August 2, 2017, doi: 10.1002/2016GH000018