Africa

Ecotourism: not a win-win for the local people

This is the final installment of a three-part series on how social and economic interactions between people in the developing world and those in the developed world creates serious implications for fragile ecosystems.  We invite you to join Kenyan journalist John Mbaria on Earth Day as he takes you on a truly "green"  tour that might help you appreciate these issues. He has experienced first hand the struggles of many in Africa who face the consequences of an increasingly warming earth, the destruction of many life-sustaining ecosystems and the failure of political systems and institutions to plan for the consequences of these forces. Mbaria is a trained land use planner and a journalist who previously worked as the environment correspondent with The EastAfrican, a regional weekly read in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. He recently moved to Seattle from Kenya and is a contributing writer to InvestigateWest.

Part three of a series

Through a friend, I contacted officials of a local NGO, the Kenya Community Based Tourism Organization that lobbied for the interests of poor communities who owned land communally and had ventured into Kenya's emerging ecotourism sector.  Taiko Lemayan and David Mombo - both officials of the tourism organization - had made a report that detailed, not the rosy picture often painted about ecotourism, but how it had been used to mask exploitation of communities after they set aside part of their immense ranches for wildlife conservation and leasing it to investors. I was keen to see the report, not simply because it was going against the grain, but also because it was feeding into what I already knew - that something was just not right about business dealings between poor communities and hard-nosed foreign and local investors.

How green is 'ecotourism?' Taking apart the myth

This is the second of a three-part series on how social and economic interactions between people in the developing world and those in the developed world creates serious implications for fragile ecosystems.  We invite you to join Kenyan journalist John Mbaria, who has experienced first hand the struggles of many in Africa who face the consequences of an increasingly warming earth, the destruction of many life-sustaining ecosystems and the failure of political systems and institutions to plan for the consequences of these forces. Mbaria is a trained land use planner and a journalist who previously worked as the environment correspondent with The EastAfrican, a regional weekly read in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. He recently moved to Seattle from Kenya and is a contributing writer to InvestigateWest.

Part two of a three-part series

In my many travels across Kenya, I found enough justification to explode the myth that ecotourism - as practiced there and elsewhere in Africa- is responsible, respectful travel, that is also enabling the poor to bake real bread as well as helping to keep communities happy who communally own the land,.

Exploring 'green travel' on Earth Day, from a Kenyan's perspective

This is the first of a three-part series on how social and economic interactions between people in the developing world and those in the developed world creates serious implications for fragile ecosystems.  We invite you to join Kenyan journalist John Mbaria on Earth Day as he takes you on a truly "green"  tour that might help you appreciate these issues. He has experienced first hand the struggles of many in Africa who face the consequences of an increasingly warming earth, the destruction of many life-sustaining ecosystems and the failure of political systems and institutions to plan for the consequences of these forces. Mbaria is a trained land use planner and a journalist who previously worked as the environment correspondent with The EastAfrican, a regional weekly read in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. He recently moved to Seattle from Kenya and is a contributing writer to InvestigateWest.

Part one of a series

Long before the world put mass tourism under the spotlight, people had become accustomed to images of truckloads of excited tourists surrounding a pack of sleepy lions or a lone cheetah resting under a tree somewhere in Africa.

Malaria, DDT, and "eco-imperialism" by greens -- Tyee debunks story of blood on enviros' hands

rm iwest mugI've been hearing for some years now about unreasonable environmental activists fighting against resurrecting the use of DDT in Africa to control the malaria scourge, and meaning to check out the story. Michael Crichton, for example, charged that the ban on DDT has killed more people than Hitler. Hard to ignore.

My interest was further piqued when I met malaria sufferers on my trip to Africa, and again when I donated money to a campaign to buy pesticide-treated mosquito netting for African children. Something like 1 million people die annually from malaria -- most of them African children under age 5.

So, what's the real deal? Are the greens so caught up in their rhetoric they would allow kids to die? I'm afraid getting to the bottom of that question slipped pretty far down my priority list.

Fortunately for me and the rest of the world, Simon Fraser University media prof Donald Gutstein did a pretty thorough job poking into the controversy.

Ethiopian activists: PM Zenawi in Copenhagen to collect cash, not fight climate change

By Alexander Kelly and Blair Kelly

COPENHAGEN -- In this, the third and shortest of our video interviews with Ethiopians who traveled to Denmark to protest against their prime minister, Meles Zenawi, a demonstrator hints that climatic conditions are a factor in the unrest in his homeland, the Ethiopian region of Ogaden:

Anti-Zenawi Ethiopian protesters: Why is Obama meeting with murderer?

By Alexander Kelly and Blair Kelly

COPENHAGEN -- This is the second of three parts of our interviews with Ethiopians who traveled 3,600 miles* to Denmark from their home country to denounce Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. He is acting as spokesman for the  African Union in talks to reach a global climate treaty.

Two protesters hold forth here, including one who calls Zenawi a "murderer" and questions President Barack Obama's willingness to deal with Zenawi. We continue to await comment from Ethiopia's consulate in Seattle:

* Due to an editing error, this post initially misstated the distance from Ethiopia to Denmark.

Zenawi protesters at Copenhagen climate talks: Ethiopia raping women, environment, and killing

By Alexander Kelly and Blair Kelly
COPENHAGEN -- This is the first of three videos showing the Ogadenian protests against the Ethiopian government and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. This protester alleges widespread killing and raping by the Ethiopian military, as well as environmental damage.

We heard earlier that the Ogadenians were seeking to set up an autonomous region, like the Kurds in northern Iraq, but these people appear to be calling for full independence.

See our earlier post for details. Our efforts to contact the Ethiopian consultate in Seattle for comment still have not been successful:

Copenhagen climate talks' backstory: Ethiopia PM accused of genocide is top African negotiator

By Alexander Kelly

COPENHAGEN – Deafening chants rocked the entrance to the conference center where negotiators tried to piece together a global treaty to fight climate change today – chants that shed light on the intricate nature of the talks and the difficulty of concluding a deal.

[caption id="attachment_7630" align="alignright" width="342" caption="Ogaden is the region colored bright yellow."]Ogaden is the region colored bright yellow.[/caption]

As 130 heads of state took their place at the negotiating table, just hours before the talks were scheduled to come to a close, the cries outside came largely  from Ogadenians, people from a southeastern territory in Ethiopia, 3,600 miles from Denmark. They made their way to Copenhagen to tell United Nations leaders not to negotiate a climate deal with an alleged génocidaire.

That would be Meles Zenawi, prime minister of Ethiopia. Months ago, he was appointed as the African Union’s spokesman for the final days of the UN climate talks. Now, as he appears to be willing to accept less than most Africans want from the industrialized North out of a climate finance deal, many – including the Ogadenians outside – are calling for his removal from power as top-level negotiator.

[caption id="attachment_7532" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Ogadenians protest at the United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen. InvestigateWest photo by Mark Malijan.