A week ago, CNN and BBC were plastered with news of escalating conflict in the Horn of Africa, with Ethiopia’s troops still in Somalia and the United States’ attempts to catch terrorists with bombs. But what have you heard about the county I currently call my home this week? Nothing. Yet, this week, a story just as news worthy has stormed the city of Addis Ababa: the African Union Summit. All weekend, roads have been closed off and police line the streets to ensure safe arrival to the likes of Ban Ki Moon (the new UN Secretary General), African presidents such as Bashir or Mugabe, and, perhaps with slightly less security, the continent’s policy makers.
I crave a mainstream media source that will give the same type of coverage and attention to this meeting as they have to the World Economic Forum in Davos this past week. I know it’s been said before- Africa is sidelined and pigeon holed in the media, where only stories of conflict and disaster grab the global spotlight- but it wasn’t until I arrived here that I realized just how much action is happening on the ground. I feel that without media attention, the outcomes of this type of meeting will not be supported to successful action. Put the spotlight on Africa, not just for more aid and new initiatives run by Western donors, but for support of sophisticated indigenous action that is already taking place.
CPAR is involved in this type of action on a smaller scale, working within NGO groups to increase its coverage, scale up its projects, and provide more integrated interventions. At the moment, it’s working with CANGO (a consortium of Canadian NGOs) to multiply its work around Dibate and Bullen in one of Ethiopia’s most developmentally isolated regions, contributing its experience and expertise to a project that, as a small NGO, CPAR wouldn’t have the capacity to implement on its own.