|Ogden & Fry||February 28, 2015||1058||± 3.07%||42.7%||38.7%||
A Chicago polling firm is calling the city’s runoff campaign between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia a “dead heat.”
New numbers from Ogden & Fry show Garcia, a member of the Cook County board of commissioners, within reach of the one-term Emanuel. And the firm warned that the Hispanic population under-polls, meaning that population is underrepresented in the data.
“They’re likely dead even,” pollster Tom Swiss said Sunday night.
Ogden & Fry conducted two one-question polls for The Illinois Observer on Wednesday and Saturday. Emanuel had 42.7 percent support in the earlier poll of 1,058 likely voters one day after voters denied Emanuel a second term outright. Garcia had 38.7 percent support in that poll. The margin of error was +/- 3.07 percent.
In the Saturday poll of 979 likely voters, Emanuel had 42.9 percent support to Garcia’s 38.5 percent. The margin of error was +/- 3.2 percent.
Both polls show 18.6 percent of respondents were undecided.
Garcia campaign manager Andrew Sharp said in a statement that the challenger’s camp was not surprised by the results.
“We continue to believe that as the city learns more about Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia’s agenda for change, his support will continue to grow. We have seen a lot of polls over the last few months and we saw the results of the election last Tuesday. One fact remains constant — a majority of Chicagoans do not want four more years under Mayor Emanuel.”
Steve Mayberry, Emanuel’s campaign manager, said in an email: “Chicago voters face a clear choice between Rahm, who has a clear record and plan to create good jobs, and Chuy Garcia, who has failed to get much of anything done in nearly 20 years on the big issues facing the city, but who is all of a sudden making pie-in-the-sky promises and writing checks Chicago can’t cash.”
Connecting the dots
By James Thompson
As government officials pour over former Secretary of State Clinton’s private emails, some of us may want to look at the bigger picture. Certainly, Ms. Clinton’s judgment (or lack thereof) in conducting the business of the US government on her private email channels may send a chill down many people’s spines. However, this may just be the tip of the iceberg.
Although Ms. Clinton has not formally announced her candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination for president in the 2016 elections, most pundits maintain that she is the clear frontrunner just as they say Jeb Bush is the front runner for the GOP.
There has been a lot of controversy over the attack on Benghazi and Ms. Clinton went on record accepting the blame for what happened.
Let us put the attack on Benghazi into perspective. It occurred on September 11, 2012 and it was a horrible tragedy. However, it is important to remember that just one year prior, in 2011, the US engaged in a vicious attack on Libya with the aim of destabilizing the government there. At the urging of the Secretary of State, Ms. Clinton, NATO embarked on a US-led massive bombing campaign against Libya. Up until that time, Libya had one of the best infrastructures in that part of the world. The US and NATO were hugely successful in smashing that nation and deposing its leader.
Many people in the US were surprised at what happened next. However, what happened next was not surprising.
Whenever you suddenly destroy a nation, as George W. Bush destroyed Iraq, that nation will always descend into chaos and anarchy. If you destroy the infrastructure and government of a sovereign nation, you must expect there will be blowback.
Many buffoons on the right bray about the breach of security at Benghazi which resulted in the unnecessary deaths of US officials and personnel. However, it was not just the breach of security which led to the tragedy. It was the imperialist policy of the US government which sought to bring about “regime change” that resulted in the attack on Benghazi.
The anarchy and chaos created by the 2011 attack on Libya produced fertile grounds for right-wing terrorist organizations like ISIS/ISIL which led to the 2012 attack on Benghazi.
Just as George W. Bush has blood on his hands, Hillary Clinton has blood on her hands.
Voters should consider these facts when they read mainstream media reports that a Bush-Clinton race for the presidency of the United States is inevitable. If they do, it will be inevitable that other candidates will capture the US people’s attention. If the DP and GOP persist in nominating Bush and Clinton, the US people will inevitably turn to new parties since the US people will not want to elect either of the two candidates that have blood on their hands.
March 3, 2015 (150303)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
Lake Turkana, in the far northwest of Kenya and extending over the
border into Ethiopia, is the world’s largest desert lake, in a
region that is central to archaeological investigation into the
origin of humanity. It is now also central to two different projects
for expanding renewable energy due to come on-line in the next three
years, one based on hydropower and the other on wind. While both
will significantly expand the input to the East African power grid,
critics charge that expansion of hydropower on Ethiopia’s Omo River
also poses serious threats to the livelihood of local people both
around Lake Turkana and upstream along the Omo River.
For a version of this Bulletin in html format, more suitable for
printing, go to http://www.africafocus.org/docs15/turk1503.php, and
click on “format for print or mobile.”
To share this on Facebook, click on
The hydropower project, the Gilgel Gibe III dam, is expected to
generate its first power in June 2015 and grow to a capacity of
1,870 MW. It would also serve Kenya as well as Ethiopia through a
transmission line to be completed in 2018. The Lake Turkana Wind
Power project, which completed a complex financing package in late
2014, is expected to begin production of power in a little more than
two years, with an eventual capacity of 300 MW, increasing Kenya’s
electricity capacity by about 20% from current levels.
While the Turkana wind project has minimal environmental impact, the
Gibe III, like other such large hydropower projects, has a much
larger environmental footprint, raising multiple questions about the
impact on downstream populations of the dam and of large-scale
irrigated agricultural projects displacing local populations. The
Ethiopian government has rejected such criticism as uninformed. But
both the World Bank and the African Development Bank declined to
support the Gibe III project, which subsequently gained significant
Chinese backing. In contrast, the African Development Bank is the
lead financing partner for the Turkana wind project.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a press release and project
profile from the Lake Turkana Wind Power consortium responsible for
the project, and excerpts from two critical documents on the
potential impact of the Gilgel Gibe III dam on Lake Turkana, from
International Rivers and from Dr. Sean Avery, a consultant who
prepared impact reports for the African Development Bank and for the
University of Oxford African Studies Center.
Other relevant sources of interest include:
On Lake Turkana Wind Power:
Carlos Van Wageningen (Chairman of Lake Turkana Wind Power, talks
about Lake Turkana, the largest wind power plant in Africa. 10-
minute video interview, November 15, 2013,
On the Gilgel Gibe III dam and its impact:
Official site for project, including page responding to issues
raised by critics
World Bank, “The Eastern Electricity Highway Project under the First
Phase of the Eastern Africa Power Integration Program,”
http://tinyurl.com/88bw6vq (on the Ethiopia-Kenya transmission line
to be constructed)
Human Rights Watch, “Ethiopia: Land, Water Grabs Devastate
Communities,” Feb. 18, 2014
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on the environment and climate
change, visit http://www.africafocus.org/envexp.php
[AfricaFocus is regularly monitoring and posting links on
Ebola on social media. For
additional links, see http://www.facebook.com/AfricaFocus]
New and of particular interest:
“Renewed spread in Freetown, Sierra Leone – how easily virus can
take off again”
New York Times, March 1, 2015 http://tinyurl.com/ntojzqb
“Overview of economic impact & enormous difficulties of recovery,
particularly in Sierra Leone & Liberia”
Reuters, Feb. 27, 2015 http://tinyurl.com/l39qz9x
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor’s note+++++++++++++++++
Africa’s Largest Wind Power Project Achieves Full Financial Close
Lake Turkana Wind Power receives first disbursements of funds
Nairobi, Kenya, 19 December 2014
Following the financial close of Lake Turkana Wind Power Project
(LTWP) on 11 December 2014, LTWP has received the first disbursement
of funds pursuant to financing agreements signed in March 2014.
“Reaching this important milestone today caps a year of major
achievements by LTWP,” said Mugo Kibati, LTWP’s Chairman of the
Board. “This includes signing the financing agreements in March,
issuing notice to proceed by KETRACO to the transmission line
construction contractor in August, financial close of the LTWP
equity partners in September, as well as notices to proceed to
LTWP’s contractors in October.”
The LTWP project, Kenya Shillings 70 billion (623 million Euros), is
the largest single wind power project to be constructed in Africa
and is, to date, the largest private investment in the history of
Kenya and arguably one of the most complex and challenging project
financing undertaken in the renewable energy space in sub-Saharan
Africa. The project is a key deliverable under the Government’s
commitment to scaling up electricity generation to 5,000MW and is a
flagship project within the Vision 2030 program. The LTWP project
will provide cost effective renewable power to the Kenyan consumer
and will comprise approximately 20% of Kenya’s currently installed
The LTWP consortium is comprised of KP&P Africa B.V. and Aldwych
International as co-developers and investors, and Finnish Fund for
Industrial Cooperation Ltd (Finn Fund), Industrial Fund for
Developing Countries (IFU), KLP Norfund Investments, Vestas Eastern
Africa (VEAL) and Sandpiper as investors. Aldwych Turkana Ltd, an
affiliate of Aldwych International, will oversee construction and
operations of the project on behalf of LTWP.
The support, interaction and uplifting of local communities is a
high priority for LTWP. As such, LTWP adopted a Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR) Program which will be implemented by the Winds
of Change Foundation (a wholly owned subsidiary of LTWP). This
foundation aims to uplift local communities through programs such as
the CHAT HIV awareness campaign, water, sanitation, electrification,
sustainable development of agriculture as well as the education of
boys and girls.
Initially, activities will be concentrated around the wind farm
communities (Loyangalani, Korr and Laisamis divisions, with South
Horr). CSR activities will gradually expand to the wider project
The financing agreements were signed in March 2014 with the African
Development Bank (AfDB), European Investment Bank (EIB), Nederlandse
Financierings Maatschappij Voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V. (FMO),
Société De Promotion Et De Participation Pour La Coopération
Economique (Proparco), Eastern And Southern African Trade And
Development Bank (PTA Bank), Nedbank Capital, The Standard Bank of
South Africa, Eksport Kredit Fonden (EKF), Deg — Deutsche
Investitions – Und Entwicklungsgesellschaft Mbh, East African
Development Bank and Triodos.
After eight years of development with the full support of the
Government of Kenya, Kenya Power, the Energy Regulation Committee
(ERC) and Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO),
utilization of the funds signifies the completion of the project’s
financing stage, which will allow the project to move towards
implementation and to commence producing electricity in 2017.
– Ends –
For further press information please contact: Mary E O’Reilly, Phone
: + 254 733 751 799 or +254 711 667 670, Email: email@example.com
Please also visit http://www.ltwp.co.ke for further information.
Notes to Editor:
The wind farm site, covering 40,000 acres (162km2), is located in
Loyangalani District, Marsabit West County, in north-eastern Kenya,
approximately 50km north of South Horr Township. The project will
comprise 365 wind turbines (each with a capacity of 850 kW), the
associated overhead electric grid collection system and a high
voltage substation. The project also includes upgrading of the
existing road from Laisamis to the wind farm site, which is partly
financed by the Dutch Government and is a distance of approximately
204km. In addition, the project will build an access road network in
and around the site for construction, operations and maintenance.
The Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (Ketraco), with
concessional funding from the Spanish Government, is constructing a
double circuit 400kV, 428km transmission line to deliver the LTWP
electricity along with power from other future plants to the
Lake Turkana Wind Power
Project Profile, August 2014
1. The Project Profile
The Lake Turkana Wind Power Project (LTWP) aims to provide 300MW of
reliable, low cost wind power to the Kenya national grid, equivalent
to approximately 20% of the current installed electricity generating
capacity. The Project is of significant strategic benefit to Kenya,
and at Ksh76 billion (Euro 623 million) will be the largest single
private investment in Kenya’s history. The wind farm site, covering
40,000 acres (162km2), is located in Loyangalani District, Marsabit
West County approximately 50km north of South HorrTownship.
Transmission line and access roads in relation to the wind farm
The Project will comprise 365 wind turbines (each with a capacity of
850 kW), the associated overhead electric grid collection system and
a high voltage substation. The Project also includes upgrading of
the existing road from Laisamis to the wind farm site, a distance of
approximately 204km, as well as an access road network in and around
the site for construction, operations and maintenance. The Kenya
Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (Ketraco), with concessional
funding from the Spanish Government, is constructing a double
circuit 400kv, 428km transmission line to deliver the LTWP
electricity along with power from other future plants to the
The Project proponent is the LTWP consortium comprising KP&P Africa
B.V. and Aldwych International as co-developers, Industrial Fund for
Developing Countries (IFU), Wind Power A.S. (Vestas), Finnish Fund
for Industrial Cooperation Ltd (Finnfund),and Norwegian Investment
Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund). LTWP is solely responsible
for the financing, construction and operation of the wind farm.
Aldwych, an experienced power company focused on Africa, will
oversee the construction and operations of the power plant on behalf
of LTWP. Vestas will provide the maintenance of the plant in
contract with LTWP. The power produced will be bought at a fixed
price by Kenya Power (KPLC) over a 20-year period in accordance with
the signed Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
Several sites in Marsabit County were explored for suitability of
wind power generation. The proposed site was selected following an
extensive survey of the region focusing on environmental, social and
sustainability, technology and commercial considerations, including
the remoteness of the area, the strength and stability of the winds,
proven technology, benign environmental setting, low population
density, security of the area, fresh water availability and road
accessibility. In addition, in order to avoid possible bird contact
with the turbines, the proposed wind farm is sited at least 9 km
from the shore of Lake Turkana. A 12 month ornithological study has
been concluded and annual environmental audits will be done for the
entire wind farm during the 20 year operations period.
3. Who is LTWP?
Joint Development Parties
1. KP&P BV Africa
2. Aldwych International Limited
3. Wind Power A.S. (Vestas)
4. Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund)
5. Danish Investment Fund for Developing Countries (IFU)
6. Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation Ltd (Finnfund)
The lead arranger of the debt financing is the African Development
Bank with Standard Bank of South Africa and Nedbank Capital of South
Africa as co-arrangers.
4.1 Reliable Power
* Largest single wind farm in sub-Saharan Africa
* Optimal site location: According to the National Wind Resource
Atlas, as compiled by the Ministry of Energy, MarsabitWestCounty is
generally gifted with exceptional wind resources.
* Reliable wind: The site lies between 450m at the shore of Lake
Turkana and 2,300m above sea level at the top of Mt.Kulal. The area
around the site has a unique geographical phenomenon whereby daily
temperature fluctuations generate strong predictable wind streams
between Lake Turkana (with relatively constant temperature) and the
desert hinterland (with steep temperature fluctuations) and as the
wind streams pass through the valley between the Mt. Kulal and Mt.
Nyiru ranges (2,750m above sea level) which effectively act as a
funnel causing the wind streams to accelerate (known as the Turkana
Corridor low level jet stream). The Turkana wind phenomenon stems
from the East African jet stream which stretches from the ocean
through the Ethiopian highlands and valleys to the deserts in Sudan
in a south-east direction all year round.
* Data collected and analysed since 2007 indicate that site has some
of the best wind resources in Africa, with consistent wind speeds
averaging 11 meters/second and from the same direction year round.
4.2 Renewable Energy
* LTWP has registered with the UNFCCC and approved at the Gold
Standard rating; the income from the carbon credits will be given to
with the government and invested in the community (see below).
* The Project reduces the need to depend on unreliable hydro and on
expensive, unpredictably priced fossil fuel based power generation
and insulates Kenya’s power tariff by providing a low and consistent
* If the wind is less than predicted then only LTWP suffers as Kenya
Power only pays for the power produced at a fixed price per kWh.
4.3 Low Cost Power
* The Government of Kenya’s Least Cost Development Power Plan shows
that LTWP wind power will be the least cost power generation option
available in the country along with geothermal power and at even
less cost than the feed in tariff for other wind projects set at
* The LTWP tariff will be approximately 60% cheaper than thermal
4.4 Community Development and Environmental Impact
* MarsabitWestCounty is among the poorest counties in Kenya;
Loyangalani is one of the poorest districts in Marsabit.
* LTWP has all the required environmental and social approvals in
line with the IFC Performance Standards
* A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme is being
finalised based on extensive input from the communities in order to
ensure that livelihoods are improved; LTWP will use a combination of
revenue from carbon credits and profit to form and fund a trust,
which will ensure a well targeted plan over the 20 years of the
4.5 Macroeconomic Impact
* Largest single private investment in Kenya
* Will replace need for Kenya to spend approximately Ksh13.7 billion
(Euro 120 million) per year on importing fuel
* The LTWP tax contribution to Kenya will be approximately Ksh2.7
billion (Euro 22.7 million) per year and Ksh58.6 billion (Euro 450
million) over the life of the investment
Turkana’s “Forgotten People” Call for Halt to Ethiopia’s Imminent
International Rivers, Press Release, January 8, 2015
Berkeley, US: International Rivers is today publishing a report and
video with voices from Lake Turkana, which tell an emotional story
of a people facing a major crisis.
Media contacts: Peter Bosshard, Policy Director, +1 (510) 848-1155
ext. 320, firstname.lastname@example.org, @PeterBosshard
The world’s largest desert lake — Lake Turkana in Kenya — is at
imminent risk from upstream water grabs that will dramatically
reduce the lake’s main water supply, shrink the lake, and kill off
ecosystems and productive fisheries. Some 300,000 of the world’s
poorest people depend on the lake for their survival. The imminent
filling of Ethiopia’s Gibe III Dam and other water grabs on the Omo
River will mean the difference between marginal livelihoods and
famine for most. International Rivers calls on the Ethiopian
government and its donors to ensure sufficient downstream water
flows before closing the Gibe III Dam gates.
Ethiopia is building huge dams and plantations in the Omo River
Valley, displacing its own people in addition to causing lost
livelihoods in Kenya. Gibe III Dam (now nearing completion) is one
of Africa’s largest hydropower projects. The filling of its
reservoir will take an estimated three years and reduce water flows
by up to 70% in the Omo River.
The associated expansion of water-intensive sugar and cotton
plantations poses an even greater threat: if current plans described
by the Ethiopian government move forward, hydrologists estimate the
lake level could drop between 16 and 22 meters. The average depth of
the lake is just 31 meters. “These water grabs will disrupt
fisheries and destroy other ecosystems upon which local people
depend,” comments Lori Pottinger, International Rivers’ Africa
Campaigner. “Local people have not been consulted about the project
nor informed about its impacts on their lives.”
The new International Rivers report — called Come and Count Our
Bones: Community Voices from Lake Turkana on the Impacts of Gibe III
Dam — is based on interviews with more than 100 people in
communities around Lake Turkana. “Once the dam is operating,
everything people feed on will disappear. Starvation will take
over,” said pastorialist Rebecca Arot.
Kenya is planning to purchase electricity from Gibe III, and the
World Bank is supporting the transmission line from the dam to
Kenya. In spite of losing livelihoods and food security, the
downstream victims of the Omo River water grabs are unlikely to
receive any benefits from the power production. “We cannot eat
electricity. What we require is food and income for the Turkana
community,” said Christopher Eporon Ekuwom of the Turkana County
Government’s Ministry of Pastoral Economy & Fisheries.
“The lake is like our farm,” one pastoralist told International
Rivers. “The life of this place is fish . . . if this lake was not
there, the fish would not be there, and life in this place would
almost be impossible,” said a local businessman.
The Ethiopian government has thus far failed to acknowledge the
impacts of its Omo developments on Lake Turkana. The Kenyan
government has not publicly requested protection for the lake from
water diversions. Turkana residents who were interviewed had many
messages for these two governments.
The Ethiopian government and its infrastructure development plans
are highly dependent on aid from Western governments, China, the
World Bank, and other international institutions. International
Rivers calls on Ethiopia and its donors to avert this human-made
humanitarian disaster, stop water grabs from the Omo River and make
sure the Gibe III Dam is only operated with sufficient downstream
flows to sustain ecosystems and livelihoods in the Lower Omo Valley
and around Lake Turkana.
[Additional sources, including reports and video, available at link
Lake Turkana and the Lower Omo: hydrological impacts of major dam
and irrigation developments
University of Oxford, Africa Studies Centre, 2012
This study, by the Nairobi-based consultant hydrologist and civil
engineer, Dr Sean Avery, is one of the outcomes of the AHRC (Arts &
Humanities Research Council) funded project, ‘Landscape people and
parks: environmental change in the Lower Omo Valley, southwestern
Ethiopia’, run by Professor David Anderson and Dr David Turton
between 2007 and 2010. As work on this project proceeded, it became
clear that the landscape of the lower Omo would soon undergo one of
the biggest transformations in its history, thanks to the Gibe III
hydropower dam which had just begun construction in the middle basin
of the Omo, about 600 kilometres upstream from Lake Turkana. Due for
completion in 2014, Gibe III will regulate the flow of the Omo and
permanently modify the annual flood regime upon which the agro-
pastoralists of the lower Omo depend for their livelihoods.
Furthermore, by uplifting the natural low flows in the river, the
dam will make possible reliable large-scale irrigation development
in the lower basin.
Since the Omo supplies 90 per cent of the water entering Kenya’s
Lake Turkana, the regulation of the Omo flows and the abstraction of
Omo water for large-scale irrigation will alter the hydrological
inflow patterns to Lake Turkana. This will directly impact the
ecology of the lake, which is Kenya’s largest, and the world’s
largest desert lake. The consequences of large irrigation
abstractions were not mentioned in any of the environmental impact
assessments commissioned by the Gibe III dam builders. An assessment
was made, however, by Dr Avery in a report commissioned by the
African Development Bank (AFDB) and submitted in 2010. This was
before any official announcement had been made of the extent of
planned irrigation in the lower Omo. Nevertheless, by using
irrigation water demand forecasts from the Omo Basin Master Plan and
a future hypothetical scenario, it was shown that the lake could
drop by 20 metres or more, causing, amongst other things, a
significant reduction in the productivity of its fisheries. The AFDB
report also warned of the cumulative impacts of other associated
developments and recommended that these be evaluated.
A few months after the AFDB report was submitted, the full extent of
planned irrigation development in the lower Omo became clearer, with
the announcement that the state-run Ethiopian Sugar Corporation
would soon begin developing 150,000 hectares of irrigated sugar
plantations. This was on land largely taken from existing protected
areas and was additional to other land in the lower Omo that had
already been allocated to, or earmarked for development by, private
investors. It appeared that the lower Omo was set to become by far
the largest irrigation complex in Ethiopia. We therefore asked Dr
Avery to undertake a second study, on behalf of the ‘Landscape,
people and parks’ project, updating and consolidating his earlier
findings on the hydrological impacts on the lower Omo and Lake
Turkana. This report, which can be downloaded below, constitutes the
most complete, detailed and authoritative assessment yet made of the
impact of river basin development in the Omo Valley on the Lake
[full report available at link above]
AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication
providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a
particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus
Bulletin is edited by William Minter.
AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at email@example.com. Please
write to this address to subscribe or unsubscribe to the bulletin,
or to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about
reposted material, please contact directly the original source
mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see
In recent weeks the Ebola epidemic in West Africa has slowed from a peak of more than 1,000 new cases per week to 99 confirmed cases during the week of February 22, according to the World Health Organization. For two countries that have taken diametrically opposed approaches to combating the disease, the stark difference in the results achieved over the last five months has become evident.
The United States, which sent about 2,800 military troops to the region in October, has announced an end to its relief mission. Most soldiers have already returned. Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby declared the mission a “success.” The criteria for this determination is unclear, as the troops did not treat a single patient, much less save a single life.
President Barack Obama proclaimed the American response to the crisis “an example of American leadership.” As is the case “whenever and wherever a disaster or disease strikes,” according to Obama, “the world looks to us to lead.” The President claimed that the troops contributed not only by their own efforts, but by serving as a “force multiplier” that inspired others.
Obama says the “American values” displayed “matter to the world.” They are an example of “what makes us exceptional.”
In October, the Daily Beast reported that soldiers would receive only four hours of training in preparation for their deployment to Africa. That is half of a regular work day for people with no medical background. When they arrived, they did not exactly hit the ground running. “The first 500 soldiers to arrive have been holing up in Liberian hotels and government facilities while the military builds longer-term infrastructure on the ground,” wrote Tim Mak.
The DoD declared on its Web site that “the Defense Department made critical contributions to the fight against the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa. Chief among these were the deployment of men and women in uniform to Monrovia, Liberia, as part of Operation United Assistance.” So, the chief contribution of the DoD was sending people in military uniforms to the site of the outbreak.
The DoD lists among its accomplishments training 1,539 health care workers & support staff (presumably non-technical and cursory); creating 10 Ebola treatment units (which you could count on your fingers); and constructing a 25-bed medical unit (for a country that has had 10,000 cases of Ebola).
USAID declares that “the United States has done more than any other country to help West Africa respond to the Ebola crisis.” Like the DoD, they are short on quantitative measurements and long on vague business-speak. USAID says they “worked with UN and NGO partners,” “partnered with the U.S. military,” and “expanded the pipeline of medical equipment and critical supplies to the region.”
USAID and other government personnel have clearly helped facilitate the delivery of equipment and supplies, but claims that the U.S. has done more than any other country are dubious.
The other country who has taken a very public role in the Ebola crisis is Cuba. Unlike the U.S., Cuba sent nearly 500 professional healthcare workers – doctors and nurses – to treat African patients who had contracted Ebola. These included doctors from the Henry Reeve Brigade, which has served over the last decade in response to the most high-profile disasters in the world, including in Haiti and Pakistan. In Haiti, the group was instrumental in detecting and treating cholera, which had been introduced by UN peace keepers. The disease sickened and killed thousands of Haitians.
Before being deployed to West Africa, all the Cuban doctors and nurses completed an “intense training” of a minimum of two weeks, where they “prepared in the form of treating patients without exposing themselves to the deadly virus,” according to CNN.
After Cuba announced its plan to mobilize what Cubans call the “army of white robes,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said that “human resources are clearly our most important need.”
“Money and materials are important, but those two things alone cannot stop Ebola virus transmission,” she said. “We need most especially compassionate doctors and nurses” to work under “very demanding conditions.”
Like their American counterparts, Cuban authorities also recently proclaimed success in fighting Ebola. They used a clear definition of what they meant.
“We have managed to save the lives of 260 people who were in a very very bad state, and through our treatment, they were cured and have gotten on with their lives,” said Jorge Delgado, head of the medical brigade, at a conference in Geneva on Foreign Medical Teams involved in fighting the Ebola crisis.
The work of the Henry Reeve Brigade was recognized by Norwegian Trade Unions who nominated the group for the Nobel Peace Prize “for saving lives and helping millions of suffering people around the world.”
The European Commission for humanitarian aid and crisis management last week also “recognized the role Cuba has played in fighting the Ebola epidemic.”
For more than 50 years, Cuba has carried out medical missions across the globe – beginning in Algeria after the revolution in 1961 and taking place in poor countries desperately needing medical care throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America. They have provided 1.2 billion consultations, 2.2 million births, 5 million operations and immunizations for 12 million children and pregnant women, according to Granma.
“In their direct fight against death, the human quality of the members of the Henry Reeve brigade is strengthened, and for those in need around the world, they represent welcome assistance,” writes Nuria Barbosa León.
The mission of the DoD is one of military involvement worldwide. As Nick Turse reports in TomDispatch, U.S. military activity on the African continent is growing at an astounding rate. The military “averages about one and a half missions a day. This represents a 217% increase in operations, programs, and exercises since the command was established in 2008,” Turse writes. He says the DoD is calling “Africa the battlefield of tomorrow, today.”
Turse writes that the U.S. military is quietly replicating its failed counterinsurgency strategy in Africa, under the guise of humanitarian activities. “If history is any guide, humanitarian efforts by AFRICOM (U.S. Africa Command) and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa will grow larger and ever more expensive, until they join the long list of projects that have become ‘monuments of U.S. failure’ around the world,” he writes.
There are some enlightening pieces of information listed by the DoD as part of the “transition to Operation Onward Liberty.” The DoD “will build partnership capacity with the Armed Forces of Liberia” and will “continue military to military engagement in ways that support Liberia’s growth toward enduring peace and security.”
It is unclear what role the U.S. military will help their Liberian counterparts play, unless peace and security is considered from the perspective of multinational corporations who have their eyes on large oil reserves, rather than the perspective of the local population.
The U.S. military, unsurprisingly, seems to be using the Ebola crisis as a pretext to expand its reach inside Africa, consistent with the pattern of the last seven years that Turse describes. The deployment of several thousand troops to West Africa can be understood as a P.R. stunt that is the public face of counterinsurgency.
U.S. troops are used as props. What may sound like a massive effort is little more than propaganda. The idea is to associate troops with humanitarianism, rather than death, destruction and torture. In reality, one doctor can save more lives than hundreds of soldiers. A true humanitarian mission would be conducted by civilian agencies and professionals who are trained and experienced specifically in medicine, construction and administration, not by soldiers trained to kill and pacify war zones.
“Countering Ebola will require a whole new set of protections and priorities, which should emerge from the medical and public health communities. The now sadly underfunded National Institutes of Health and other such organizations have been looking at possible pandemic situations for years,” Greenberg writes. “It is imperative that our officials heed the lessons of their research as they have failed to do many times over with their counterparts in public policy in the war on terror years.”