New Book about Chinese Agro-Investments in Africa

Deborah Brautigam of SAIS at Johns Hopkins University has published a new book about Chinese Agro-Investments in Africa that is already available as e-book (as hardcover in November).

Like Oil for Food she points to misleading media perceptions and states a widespread implementation gap of Chinese agro-investments. She challenges four conventional wisdoms in particular:

a) Chinese land acquisitions in Africa have been limited.

b) Private actors have played a major role in Chinese agro-investments, the role of the state is less pronounced than commonly assumed.

c) There have been no grain exports from Africa to China. Chinese investments mainly target local markets. As far as food trade occurs it is rather the other way around, i.e. China exports food to Africa.

d) There has not been a large scale influx of Chinese peasant framers to Africa.

Food Security of Refugees in Iraq and Syria and the EU

I have just returned from traveling in the Kurdistan Region in Iraq and CIDOB has published a short brief of mine on the Iraqi and Syrian refugee situation and implications for the EU.

Currently there are 4 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries and 7.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) within the country. This is half of the entire population and almost a fifth of the global refugee population.

Iraq now has 3.2 million IDPs, mostly from the ISIS provinces Anbar and Ninewa and 250,000 refugees from northern Syria. Beyond IDPs and refugees there are non-displaced Iraqis who suffer hardship, pushing the total tally of people who are in need of humanitarian assistance to 8.2 million.

The food security situation is challenging in both countries. IDPs and refugees engage in negative coping mechanisms like eating less and cheaper, spending savings, incurring debt and selling assets. As these strategies are reaching their limits the inclination to move on towards Europe is growing.

Refugees and IDPs constitute a considerable pressure on domestic services and resources in Iraq, at a time when oil price declines have led to budget shortfalls. Besides, there are security concerns and sectarian prejudice. Meanwhile assistance programs of the World Food Programme are severely underfunded. It is high time for the EU tho step in and fund emergency relief in the region, otherwise the refugee crisis will get worse.