News of Somalia

My recent trip in Mogadishu was one of the most interesting I had in years, with Somaliland, Dadaab, and Haiti (Kenya having a special place in my life, since I lived their a whole year).

I am still working about Somalia, preparing a longer article on the recent developments and above all following news from the Horn.

Here is the latest post from BBC Africa Facebook page: 

"Kenyan troops, supporting forces allied to the Somali government, have taken the strategically important town of Afmadow from the Islamist group, al-Shabaab. It says their fighters were pulled out without a fight. The Somali Prime Minister told the BBC the capture of Afmadow allows its troops to press on to the port of Kismayo, which would soon be in government hands".

As you may know, Somali leaders are currently in Turkey for a special summit on their future.

More details here on the BBC's website:

And more background details on Think Africa Press:

The two-day talks are hosted by the Turkish government, which has tried to raise its profile in Somalia since last year's drought in the Horn of Africa.

Let's see what it brings tomorrow for Somalis. 


Le Centre Pompidou Metz interroge l’année 1917

Mon article sur la nouvelle expo reine de Metz en français le site pour Toute la Culture :

On la surnomme souvent l’année « impossible ». Historiquement, 1917 a marquée par la désastreuse bataille du Chemin des Dames et la Révolution russe, mais elle est également devenue un moment d’apogée artistique pour le siècle et le monde entier… Le Centre Pompidou-Metz lui consacre une exposition sans comparaison et foisonnante jusqu’au 24 septembre prochain.

La suite ici:


AMISOM's progress against Al Shabaab in Somalia


Melissa Chemam for RFI English


The AMISOM launched its biggest operation against the Al Shabaab islamist militia in Mogadishu almost a year ago, in May 2011. Since August, the city is now considered freed from the enemy and the TFG, the Transitional Federal government, regained power and already started planning the reconstruction of the city, even though the rest of the country is still at war. For once in 20 years, Mogadishu is at peace and it starts coming back to life.
Melissa Chemam was in the Somali capital to report on AMISOM - the African Union mission’s progress in Somalia against Al Shabaab, late April.

The capture of Mogadishu stadium has become one of the symbols of the Amisom Victory… Col. Kayanja Muhanga, Deputy Contingent Commander of Ugandan forces of the African Union Mission, insists it was a strategic success.

Col. Kayanja Muhanga: “- As you can see here this was a training centre for Al Shabaab. They used to train their forces from this place. So when we reached here of course, we achieved”
- How many people did you find training here?
- They retreated, they run away as we advanced, but you can see there are bullets everywhere, the training was still happening here”.

It became the African Union most successful action.
Brigadier Paul Lokech is the Ugandan Contingent Commander. He explains the turn of the year was a key moment…

Brigadier Paul Lokech, Ugandan Contingent Commander: “The offensive started last year in May 28. By October we had about 75 to 80 percent of Mogadishu. This were crucial area of the Stadium, Bakara market… Bakara Market was the economic hub, the centre of gravity of Al Shabaab, where they were collecting revenue”. 

By December, AMISOM and the TFG forces, Somali Transitional government’s troops, were in control of the north side of the long war-torn capital. The troops have now ended Phase 2 of their operation, which is total urban control of the capital, says Brigadier Lokech.

Brigadier Paul Lokech, Ugandan Contingent Commander: “Now we are out of the urban terrain, we have consolidated our positions in the outskirts of Mogadishu. We kicked Al Shabaab out and are consolidating our position 20 km outside Mogadishu. That’s our position right now, we and the Burundians”.

According to Wafula Wamunyinyi, AMISOM Deputy Head of Mission, it is now time to work on the city’s reconstruction. Mogadishu needs some urban and maritime security as well as new infrastructure.
The task seems massive. Al Shabaad islamist militants are still trying to launch attacks in the city. They succeeded this week around a base called km 4. But commanders remain hopeful. 

The end of the military operation in Mogadishu now opens the way for a new political process. Current Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali was appointed in June 2011. He now wants to end the period of transition.

Somalia’s Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali:“We are in a critical time. Somalia is moving from an era of lawlessness and chaos into an era of peace and stability. To reach there we have a framework called the roadmap. Somalia has been in a transition for the last 12 years, we came to the end of that road and hopefully in August 2012 we will have a new Parliament, a new Constitution and a new government. Hopefully not a transitional government but a more permanent government”.

Islamist Threats remain great around Mogadishu but for the first time since 1991, the whole country believes peace might be possible for Somalia.

Melissa Chemam, Mogadishu, for RFI.

First visit in Switzerland

I had never been to Switzerland. Thanks to a few encounters and incentives from friends, the mistake is now forgotten.

My first visit was only a two-day trip to Zurich on my way from Metz, but it was a great introduction.

As you know my passion for sun, museums and cities with river banks (Paris, London, Prague, Chicago among my favourites), you can imagine why I liked Zurich.

Then, there is this strange feeling of slightly, slowly getting in touch with a new culture, a unique country. In the case of Switzerland, this feeling seems endless because most cities have a touch of somewhere else, like Germany, France, Italy, but in a magically special way, a Swiss way.

Zurich is clean, ordered, wealthy, pretty small and green. Hey, what did you expect? Its airport is the most well-organised one I have ever been through, and never crowded. But the city is much more than that. It is quiet on a bank holiday weekend, quiet enough to feel rested, busy enough to have this urban atmosphere I cherish.

I visited two impressive museums, the Rietberg Museum, which display an exhibition of African Art, and the National Swiss Museum where the Swiss Press Photo 12 exhibit is currently to be seen.

I was very impressed by the Rietberg Museum, its beautiful location, its brilliant architecture, the beauty of the exhibition and the diversity of its collection. Special mention to the cafe, where delicious coffees and cakes are available and enjoyable in a lovely garden.

The National Museum Zurich is ideally situated in the heart of Zurich, next to the HB or Hauptbahnhof, the Central train station. It is also an incredible building gathering an impressive collection of Swiss design and even a cloister...

Sunday in Zurich was all about chilling in cafe and garden. Special mention to Kafischnaps for their delicious breakfast.

Switzerland, I'll be back!


Heroes – A new perspective on the art of Africa:


Heroes is the first comprehensive exhibition of unparalleled sculptures which illuminate early African history. The artworks come from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musée du quai Branly in Paris, the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium and many other museums and international private collections.

Rietberg Museum:



‘Swiss Press Photo 12’
05.05.2012 – 15.07.2012
The National Museum Zurich is hosting Swiss Press Photo 12, presenting the best works of Swiss press photographers to the public. An international jury will name the best photographs in six different categories, as well as a winning image. Around 90 photos on the topics of Current Events, Sport, Portrait, Foreign, Everyday and Environment, Art and Culture will be shown.
National Swiss Museum:


War and peace thoughts - 1917 (Pompidou Metz)

Back in Paris, I am currently writing a review of the wonderfully diverse and artistically fulfilling '1917' exhibition that opened in Metz at the new Centre Pompidou last Friday.

My favourite discovery is the British painter John Nash (1893 – 1977):

 Oppy Wood, 1917, Evening (John Nash).

 No wonder I loved the exhibition considering the painters featured... It includes some of my favourite artists from Claude Monet to Max Beckmann, including Emil Nolde and Marc Chagall.

Les Portes du Cimetière (Marc Chagall)

My article should be online tomorrow or Thursday.


Reporting from Africa, another debate...

"How not to write about Africa," a recent opinion piece Laura Seay, an assistant professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta, wrote for Foreign Policy:

She describs herself as “an old Africa hand,” bemoaned the foreign coverage of Africa. It makes her “cringe,” she wrote.

Tristan McConnell is GlobalPost's senior correspondent for Africa. He is based in Nairobi, Kenya and has lived and worked in Africa since 2004. He is also a correspondent for The Times of London and Monocle and has written for various magazines including the Columbia Journalism Review, London Review of Books, The Nation, New Statesman, New York, Prospect and the Virginia Quarterly Review. His reporting has won the Diageo journalism award and been recognised by the Kurt Schork Awards.

Laura Seay is, again, an assistant professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta, USA.


Here is the link to Tristan McConnell's article in the Gobal Post: 


Here is the link to Laura Seay's column:


Make up your mind...


On the road again, in Europe this time

After Paris and Metz, here I am in Zurich. Little European trips involving friends and exhibitions. Already went through la Maison europeenne de la photographie in Paris, the new Centre Pompidou Metz in Lorraine and the Rietberg museum in Zurich today. Wonderful weather and adorable people involved. More soon with an article to come on Pompidou 1917 exhibition.


Nairobi, capitale de l'humanitaire

Mon dernier article pour Slate Afrique... 

Nairobi, capitale de l'humanitaire

De nombreuses ONG et organisations internationales se sont établies dans la capitale kényane, une zone stable à proximité des foyers de crise somaliens et soudanais. Une manne dont les associations locales estiment ne pas suffisamment profiter.

 Slate Afrique





De nombreuses ONG et organisations internationales se sont établies dans la capitale kényane, une zone stable à proximité des foyers de crise somaliens et soudanais. Une manne dont les associations locales estiment ne pas suffisamment profiter.

Les panneaux colorés indiquant l’entrée des sièges d’ONG, d’institutions internationales et des bureaux de l’ONU sont parmi les signes distinctifs des rues qui forment les zones périphériques de Nairobi, au-delà du centre-ville relativement restreint, dans ces quartiers sans trottoirs de la capitale du Kenya, là où - pour beaucoup - tout se passe.
Plan International, Oxfam, Comité international de la Croix Rouge, Médecins sans Frontière ou encore Save the Children rivalisent dans la course au plus grand siège régional avec les nombreux bureaux des Nations Unies également installés à Nairobi. Au point que la ville a acquis le surnom de «Charity City» et la réputation de capitale de l’action humanitaire d’Afrique.
Elle détient en effet le record du plus grand nombre d'ONG par habitant après Monrovia et Kinshasa, bien que le niveau de vie y soit largement supérieur.

Un hub régional

L'Americain Kurt Tjossem dirige le bureau régional de l’International Rescue Committee (IRC), une organisation non gouvernementale qui travaille sur l’aide aux réfugiés et les crises humanitaires.
Les locaux occupent plusieurs étages à Upper Hill, un quartier proche du centre-ville et de la présidence du Kenya.
«Nairobi est une excellente localisation pour les ONG. IRC travaille dans 25 pays dont 15 en Afrique, et Nairobi est devenu un hub, une plateforme de connexion idéale pour les transports et l'accessibilité. Et puis, on y trouve des employés locaux d’un excellent niveau»,
assure Kurt.
Bien sûr, comme de nombreuses ONG d’urgence, le IRC travaille d’abord beaucoup au Kenya, notamment du fait de l’existence du camp de réfugiés de Dadaab, à la frontière somalienne, le plus grand du monde avec ses 400.000 résidents. L’organisation s’occupe également de réfugiés urbains dans les grandes villes du pays.

Effet boule de neige

Mais, au-delà de cette action, la situation de son siège lui permet d’échanger facilement informations, expériences et personnels avec le Soudan, la Somalie et le Soudan du Sud. Il en est donc de même pour de nombreuses organisations humanitaires.
La stabilité du Kenya dans la région et la proximité des crises majeures ou durables en font un lieu incontournable pour les secteurs de l’humanitaire et du développement, et ce depuis des décennies.
Pour son action en Somalie, par exemple, Oxfam travaille sur place avec des employés somaliens tout en restant basée à Nairobi.
«Les employés somaliens de notre organisation auront toujours accès a des informations et des lieux que nous ne pouvons pas atteindre sans eux, mais pour toute la gestion et l’organisation des programmes, le staff d’Oxfam est à Nairobi car Mogadiscio est trop dangereuse et les infrastructures y sont totalement insuffisantes. Nous allons sur le terrain nous-mêmes le moins possible. Il nous faut envoyer ceux qui connaissent au mieux la Somalie pour prendre le moins de risque et mieux comprendre les enjeux»,
explique Peter Kamalingin, représentant du Programme humanitaire d’Oxfam Novib. «Etre a Nairobi nous permet d’atteindre Mogadiscio par téléphone ou sur place par avion en deux heures et d’envoyer des employés en formation a Hargeisa, au Somaliland, au nord du pays. C’est ce qu’il y a de plus efficace pour travailler sur la Somalie».

Des atouts à la carte

Dans les années 1960, c’est aussi à Nairobi que trois médecins britanniques et américains ont fondé Flying Doctors, une organisation de santé publique qui envoie du personnel soignant dans les zones rurales et dépourvues de structures médicales.
Aujourd’hui devenue l’AMREF, l’association couvre toute l’Afrique de l’est, de l’Ouganda au Soudan du Sud en passant par les Etats des Grands Lacs, et s’étend à présent à l’Afrique centrale et occidentale.
Jennifer N. Brass, de l’Université de l’Indiana, à Bloomington, aux Etats-unis a recensé plus de 4.200 organisations dans 70 secteurs du Kenya. Son étude publiée en août 2011 montre que les ONG recherchent avant tout une localisation sûre, qui réponde à leurs besoins, qui soit pratique et facile d’accès à la fois pour leurs équipes, les bénéficiaires de leurs actions, mais aussi les donateurs et les élites locales. Nairobi remplit alors parfaitement l’ensemble de ces critères.


Cette tendance à se recentrer sur Nairobi a donc tout naturellement touché les Nations Unies, dont de nombreuses branches ont même leur siège mondial au Kenya. C’est le cas du Programme de l’ONU pour l’Environnement (PNUE), et de UN Habitat, en faveur du logement et de l’urbanisme. Ce qui fait qu’a ce jour, plus de 3.000 employés de l’ONU vivent et travaillent à Nairobi - pour la plupart installés au siège de Gigiri, un quartier très cossu situé au nord de la capitale kenyane, au-delà de la belle foret du même nom, nom qui désigne d’ailleurs régulièrement l’ONU au Kenya.
Ce phénomène a commencé il y a déjà plus de 40 ans. Patrick Lavand’homme, directeur adjoint du bureau de OCHA, l’Agence pour la coordination humanitaire des Nations Unies, confirme cette «position stratégique» du pays:
«Beaucoup d’institutions internationales, d’ambassades s’y trouvent et le pays est efficace en terme de réponse logistique et d’assistance humanitaire ; de plus les matériaux commerciauxy circulent facilement et vers d’autres pays moins accessibles comme le Congo (RDC) et l’Ouganda».
Au total, L'ONU dispose de 75 bureaux au Kenya, où sont employés 2.000 salariés locaux et 1.000 internationaux. «Bien sûr, cela attire aussi les autres organisations», précise Kurt Tjossem de IRC.

Présents à tout prix

Le bon côté de cette tendance est l’efficacité qui en résulte pour les organisations internationales et non gouvernementales. Selon les directions de ces organisations, leur installation a également eu un impact positif pour le pays, apportant des emplois et de l’activité.
Pour les Kenyans travaillant dans les métiers de services comme John Komu Karanja, qui a sa propre société de taxi, il est clair que les expatriés apportent un véritable marché. «J’ai exclusivement travaillé pour des hommes d’affaires japonais ou britanniques ou américains, venus travailler avec des ONG, ainsi que pour des salariés de l’ONU», raconte-t-il. Une clientèle sans laquelle son activité n’existerait pas…
L’ONU défend également l'importance de ses activités: «La présence considérable des Nations Unies au Kenya rapporte tout de même 350 millions de dollars par an au pays, selon une étude que nous avons menée en 2000, la présence seulement, insiste Patrick Lavand’homme. Et l’ONU dépense 300 millions de dollars par an en assistance alimentaire pour les zones arides et les camps de réfugiés.»

Les loyers explosent

Mais la lourdeur et le nombre de ces expatriés de l’humanitaire peuvent aussi poser problème. «Il est évident qu’en cas de crise, il est difficile d’évacuer une telle quantité de travailleurs étrangers », reconnaît Kurt. Or,la ville est déjà engorgée et la situation ne fait que se tendre de plus en plus. Un problème qui a causé la panique lors de violences postélectorales de fin 2007 - début 2008…
Pour les Kenyans, l’ONU et les ONG ne sont pas seulement synonymes d’emplois, de marché et de débouchés. Elles sont souvent critiquées pour avoir provoqué l’augmentation du coût de la vie et, en premier lieu, des loyers. Dans une ville où plus d’un million d’habitants vit encore dans des bidonvilles, la crise est aiguë. 

«Il y a tant d’argent gaspillé…»

A Gigiri ou dans le quartier de Westland, à l’ouest du centre-ville, si les centres commerciaux et les restaurants sont monnaie courante, il est rare pour les expats d’avoir des voisins kenyans, à l'exception de ceux qui sont d'origine indienne : ils vivent au Kenya depuis la colonisation britannique et en constituent désormais la classe moyenne. Certains ont même fait fortune en acquérant les biens immobiliers qu’ils louent désormais aux expatriés, souvent employés d’ONG ou de l’ONU. 
A Kibera, l’un des plus grands bidonvilles d’Afrique, située à quelques kilomètres seulement du centre ville de Nairobi,la présence de ces organisations n'est guère vue d’un bon œil… Pour Erik Ogoro Simba, de l’association Kibera Youth Initiative, les agences de l’ONU et les ONG reçoivent beaucoup trop d’argent qui ne touche jamais les gens les plus dans le besoin.
«Ici à Kibera, il y a tellement d’associations utiles et nous ne recevons rien. Il y a tant de besoin ici mais personne n’écoute ce dont nous pensons avoir besoin nous-mêmes ! Il y a tant d’argent gaspillé…»
Le business des ONG est donc devenu une économie comme les autres en Afrique de l’est. La preuve, les capitales voisines, Addis Abeba en Ethiopie (déjà siège de l’Union africaine), Kampala en Ouganda, et Kigali au Rwanda, tentent déjà de concurrencer Nairobi. «Et je pense que c’est une bonne dynamique», conclut Patrick Lavand’homme.

Mélissa Chemam


End of the Africa spring tour

I am back in Europe for further travel, but will be out of Africa for a while. I enjoyed more than ever those trips: Somalia, Tunisia for the first time, Ethiopia and my favourite African country, Kenya.

Thanks for all those experiences and wonderful moments.

See you soon joyful and welcoming continent.

PS. More stories on Ethiopia to come.


Reportage from Mogadishu

My latest radio piece in French:


The next one, in English, to come soon.


 Après les récents succès de l’AMISOM, la paix semble enfin de retour dans la capitale somalienne. La vie et le commerce reprennent. L’heure est même aux projets de construction d’un nouvel agenda politique. C'est une première en deux décennies de guerre. Melissa Chemam s'est rendue à Mogadiscio avec les forces de la mission de maintien de la paix africaine. Elle y a accompagné notamment Mohamed Ibrahim Fanah, l'un des membres de l'équipe de communication de l'AMISOM.

Celui-ci vient presque chaque jour à la rencontre des habitants de la capitale somalienne qui reprend vie depuis sa libération en août dernier. Il est somalien lui-même. Ici au camp de Tarabunka Dikefeer, en plein centre ville, il voit des milliers de femmes et d'enfants qui viennent chercher leur ration quotidienne de nourriture. Ces familles se réjouissent de vivre désormais dans un environnement libéré de la menace Al Shabab...

Écoutez l'intégralité du reportage :



Mogadiscio regarde à nouveau vers l'avenir

Après les récents succès de l’AMISOM, la paix semble enfin de retour dans la capitale somalienne. La vie et le commerce reprennent. L’heure est même aux projets de construction d’un nouvel agenda politique.
C'est une première en deux décennies de guerre. Melissa Chemam s'est rendue à Mogadiscio avec les forces de la mission de maintien de la paix africaine. Elle y a accompagné notamment Mohamed Ibrahim Fanah, l'un des membres de l'équipe de communication de l'AMISOM. Celui-ci vient presque chaque jour à la rencontre des habitants de la capitale somalienne qui reprend vie depuis sa libération en août dernier.
Il est somalien lui-même. Ici au camp de Tarabunka Dikefeer, en plein centre ville, il voit des milliers de femmes et d'enfants qui viennent chercher leur ration quotidienne de nourriture. Ces familles se réjouissent de vivre désormais dans un environnement libéré de la menace Al Shabab...
Écoutez l'intégralité du reportage de Melissa Chemam ci-dessous.
Edition : Anne Le Touzé

Le reportage de Melissa Chemam dans la capitale somalienne


  • Date 17.05.2012


May 2012 - The looming question: Where to in 2013?

Almost five months on the road and it's not over. I'm chilling and writing in Nairobi and still have a few travels ahead: in Italy in June then in DRC if all goes well, before London in July/August.

I have travelled to eight countries so far since the beginning of 2012 and I must say I still haven't found the perfect place to live in, to work from and where to write.

(The best view in Mogadishu)

Somalia facinates me but, hey, it is not yet the perfect timing to settle there...

How is Paris those days, pals? Has spring finally arrived? Or a political spring maybe?

Or maybe I should have stayed in London all the way...

 (Trafalgar Square under the sun)

Luckily, I'll have a second chance, as I'll be there again this summer.

So where to spend 2013? These five months did not really help finding an answer. Any advise is welcome!


Algeria, independence and feminism

I don't think I had time to post this link before... An interview on Algeria for Deutsche Welle, realised earlier in February ahead of the commemoration of the Algerian independence:

Link to audio (in French):


50 ans après l'indépendance, la situation des femmes est problématique

Les Algériennes ont joué un rôle important dans la guerre de libération. Mais de nos jours, leur situation reflète-t-elle leur engagement passé ? 

L'Algérie du XXIème siècle n'est plus la même que celle des années 1950-1960. Parmi les évolutions sociales qu'a connues le pays, celle de la place de la femme. Malgré leur rôle à l'époque de la guerre d'indépendance, beaucoup d'Algériennes sont à présent reléguées au foyer.

Une situation que dénonce Wassyla Tamzali, militante algérienne pour les droits des femmes. Selon elle, aujourd'hui les femmes sont complètement absentes des mouvements politiques en Algérie.  

Cliquez sur le lien ci-dessous pour écouter son interview au micro de Mélissa Chemam.



Mon reportage sur le rapport du PNUD en francais

Le PNUD dénonce le paradoxe subsaharien

Le lien pour l'audio:


L'Afrique subsaharienne reste la région au monde la plus affectée par l'insécurité alimentaire. C’est ce que relève un rapport du PNUD. Une situation qui contraste avec la forte croissance économique dans cette région. 

Selon le programme des Nations unies pour le développement, une personne sur quatre souffre de malnutrition en Afrique au sud du Sahara. Une situation qui contraste avec la forte croissance économique observée dans cette région. Il s’agit d’une première. Le PNUD a publié ce mardi un rapport sur le développement humain spécialement dédié au continent africain. Le lancement de ce rapport était organisé ce matin à Nairobi en présence de Mwai Kibaki, le président de la République du Kenya.

La faim freine la reprise économique

L’une des conclusions avancées par le Programme des Nations Unies pour le développement dans ce rapport est que l'Afrique subsaharienne ne pourra pas maintenir sa reprise économique actuelle si elle n'élimine pas la faim, qui touche presque un quart de sa population. C’est ce qu’a souligné Helen Clark, Administrateur du PNUD :

« Le rapport est optimiste. Il précise que l’Afrique a les moyens de créer un avenir sur en matière de sécurité alimentaire. Il s’y trouve des terres disponibles pour l’agriculture, il y a des réserves d’eau et le rapport souligne donc qu’il faut des politiques efficaces dans les secteurs clé ».

Impossible de surmonter l'insécurité alimentaire par un effort exclusivement centré sur l'agriculture

Le Rapport affirme qu'il est impossible de surmonter l'insécurité alimentaire par un effort exclusivement centré sur l'agriculture. Il appelle donc à mettre en place une nouvelle approche couvrant de multiples secteurs, allant de l'infrastructure rurale aux services de santé, en passant par de nouvelles formes de protection sociale. Les partenaires occidentaux du PNUD étaient également représentés lors du lancement. Selon Bernard Rey, chef des opérations de l'Union européenne pour le Kenya, il est désormais temps de mettre fin à la dépendance vis-à-vis de l’aide d’urgence en matière alimentaire.

Le Rapport reconnait qu'il n'y a pas de solution miracle, mais soutient qu'il est possible d’atteindre la sécurité alimentaire en adoptant des mesures immédiates dans quatre domaines critiques : l’amélioration de la productivité agricole, le renforcement de la résilience, l’autonomisation et la justice sociale.« L'Afrique possède les connaissances, la technologie et les moyens nécessaires pour mettre un terme à la faim et à l'insécurité alimentaire », a conclu Dr Gettu.

Auteur : Melissa Chemam
Edition : Kossivi Tiassou


UNDP first Africa Human Development Report 2012

The lauch of the first Africa Human Development Report 2012 is taking place this morning (May 15) a the Nairobi UN compound.

It is presented by UNDP head Helen Clark, with the presence of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, as well as Kenyan ministers and UNDP experts.

According to Helen Clark, 'Africa can build a food secure future', and this is the core issue of the report.

Sub-Saharan Africa cannot sustain human development unless it eliminates the hunger that affects nearly a quarter of its people, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) argues in the newly released Africa Human Development Report 2012: Towards a Food Secure Future.

Looking beyond agriculture, the report looks into four broad categories of policy options: agricultural productivity, nutrition, resilience and empowerment.

Details from UNDP website:

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of hunger in the world. Until this situation improves, the human development prospects of millions of Africans will remain at risk. UNDP’s first Africa Human Development Report shows that food security and human development reinforce each other.

If African countries are to realize their long-term potential, the report says, they must boost agricultural productivity to both improve the availability of food and reduce poverty. Policies to enhance nutrition are central to ensuring that access to food translates into human development. The report argues further that local populations must have the resources and decision-making power to produce and consume nutritious food throughout the year, overcoming the risks represented by continuing conflict, climate change and variations in food prices.

These drivers of change, by ending the ravages of hunger and malnourishment, will nurture capabilities and conditions for human development. A well-nourished and empowered population, in turn, is more likely to seek education, participate in society and expand its productive and human potential. With the right policies and institutions Africa can sustain this virtuous cycle of higher human development and enhanced food security.


Hello Kenya!

So, the African spring tour continues...

I arrived in JKIA late yesterday, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, after a very interesting, hard-working and passionate week in Ethiopia. Now I am back in Nairobi for further research on food security and on Somalia.

I have to say even arriving at JKIA is a pleasure. After the chaos in Addis' Bole Airport yesterday, long queues and disorganisations - two hours standing in lines... - my arrival was quick, and free of trouble. No queue at the visa counter, luggage right on time, foreign exchange office open and friendly and efficient. Even the taxi driver, a nice young Kenyan called Kennedy who used to dream of becoming a journalist was smiley and agreeable. We chatted about the excessive rains and Nairobi news roads like we had been working together for years...

Maybe Kenya just seems friendly to me because I lived here and I love it so much, and it is all very subjective. But then, welcome subjectivity and so nice to see you again Nairobi!

I am staying for the first time in the neighbourhood called Gigiri, next to the United Nations compound and the US Embassy thanks to wonderful generous and welcoming friends that I cannot thank enough! It is a tremendous change from the house I used to live in in Brookside, Westlands, with another great friend, and from the City Centre where I used to spend most of my time in and about the BBC office.

I am now working from the Java House Cafe and will later do my grocery shopping in the Village Market Mall. A new life seems to begin. But unfortunately this time it is only for eight days. Let's enjoy to the max.

See you Nairobians. 


My article from Tunis for the World Press Freedom Day

May 3, 2012
By Melissa Chemam
World Press Freedom Day: Tunisia leads the way in a stagnant Africa

Zied Mhirsi is an eternal optimist. And 2011 won’t turn him down. He has seen his country, Tunisia, change radically in terms of political and social issues and he believes it is time to make the Tunisian press play a life changing role. Zied Mhirsi is the manager of the first news website in English, Tunisia Live.
“After the revolution, Tunisians were having high hopes but lots of questions remained unanswered”, he admits. “One of journalists’ main problems nowadays is the lack of new laws and of a new Constitution, for this means the former laws are still in application to punish the media. But the context has already changed so much; there are no more censorship in Tunisia, for newspaper as well as the web; it is a major achievement”. Zied Mhirsi very much realised the work he is doing now with Tunisia Live would not have been possible at all two years ago, but that improvements are still necessary. “Now we also have to reform ourselves and to see some cleaning among the old guard of journalists who were so close to the former regime”.

As decades-old authoritarian regimes have vanished from Tunisia and countries like Egypt, Libya and others in the Arab World, freedom of the press gained precarious new footholds last year, according to a survey by the watchdog group Freedom House released Tuesday. “For the first time in eight years, global media freedom did not experience an overall decline”, according to the Freedom House report, “however, due to downgrades in some previously free countries, the percentage of the world’s population living in societies with a fully free press has fallen to its lowest level in over a decade”. The report, Freedom of the Press 2012: Breakthroughs and Pushback in the Middle East, found that three countries - Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia - experienced significant improvements as a result of the Arab Spring. “Dramatic gains in press freedom in Tunisia and Libya in particular marked major breakthroughs for countries long governed by autocratic rulers”. Outside the Middle East and North Africa region, positive improvements were seen in countries including Burma, Indonesia, Niger, the Philippines, Thailand, and Zambia.

It is one on the reasons why World Press Freedom Day, WPFD, is commemorated in Tunis, Tunisia, this year, 3-5 May, jointly by the UNESCO and Tunisian Government. The event intends to prove that media freedom has the “power to transform societies”. It does “by enlightening the decision making process with information, and thus empowering individuals to take control of their destinies”, the UNESCO says. In this context, media freedom plays a crucial role in the transformation of society by reshaping its political, economic and social aspects.


And Tunisia Live and the Centre for Developing Communication (CDC) organised a round table entitled “Media and Governance: Sustaining the Pioneering Role of Tunisia in the Arab Awakening”, sponsored by the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Africa still appears in bad rankings
But if North Africa evolves, the rest of the continent still remains press unfriendly, especially the Horn of Africa.
According to Amnesty International, the number of journalists killed increase from 2010 to 2011, and the number of those arrested nearly doubled. As protests spread across the Middle East and North Africa, so did crackdowns by security forces seeking to distort the first draft of history. In only the first few months of 2012, 17 journalists have already been killed around the world.
In its 2011 report, Reporters without Borders, RSF, shows that overall, 2011 took a heavy toll on media freedom, especially in the Arab world. Of the total of 66 journalists killed in 2011, 20 were killed in the Middle East - twice as many as in 2010. China, Iran and Eritrea continue to be the world’s biggest prisons for the media. According to RSF, among the 10 most dangerous cities for journalists in 2011 are Abidjan, in Côte d’Ivoire, Cairo in Egypt, Misrata in Libya and Mogadishu in Somalia. Four out of ten are in Africa.
The Committee to Protect Journalist in New York City, CPJ, declared Eritrea the most censored country in the world in 2011, followed by North Korea, Syria, Iran and Equatorial Guinea. Again, two African countries are in the first five on the list. For this list, CPJ considered only countries where restrictions are imposed directly by the state, but underline that in Somalia, journalists also practice extensive self-censorship in the face of extralegal violence. And in the runner-up can be found two other African countries: Ethiopia and Sudan. Addis where “censorship has become far more restrictive in recent years and the government of Meles Zenawi appoints managers of broadcasters and state newspapers and licenses all media; anti-terrorism legislation criminalizes any reporting that the Ethiopian government deems favourable to opposition movements designated as terrorist”. And in Sudan where “authorities frequently confiscate newspapers, which are the widespread form of media and security forces have increasingly confiscated newspaper editions wholesale to inflict financial losses on publishers.
 Shutting out international media and imposing dictatorial controls on domestic coverage, the Horn of Africa nation of Eritrea has emerged as the world's most censored country, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found in its newly updated analysis of press restrictions around the globe”, CPJ writes. No foreign reporters are granted access to Eritrea, and all domestic media are controlled by the government. Ministry of Information officials direct every detail of coverage. “Every time a journalist had to write a story, they arrange for interview subjects and tell you specific angles you have to write on,” an exiled Eritrean journalist told CPJ, speaking on condition of anonymity. Then in Equatorial Guinea, “all media is controlled, directly or indirectly, by President Teodoro Obiang”, the report says.
We can at this stage only hope that the North of the continent will inspire the rest.

Addis - Nairobi

Last day in Ethiopia after a very inspiring trip from Addis Ababa to Assosa, in the northern part of the country.

I visited different organic farming site with the Swiss foundation Biovision and the Afican NGO Bioeconomy Africa.

I will be flying tonight to Kenya for further research.

Reports to come soon, in French and English.

Next trips to Africa: probably Zimbabwe later in May and DR Congo in June.



Flying Doctors

Hello everyone,

Greeting from Ethiopia.

Here is the link to my TV report on AMREF flying doctors:


I filmed the interviews in nairobi in January and the report is now available on TV5 website. It is in English with French subtitles.

More on Ethiopia, and food security issues soon.

Cheers, M


First article from Mogadishu

Mogadiscio reprend goût à la paix

Par Melissa Chemam Mis à jour | publié



French Election - A night of loss...

French Election - 6 mai - UMP
Melissa Chemam
BBC Afrique
Le résumé de mon papier pour BBC Afrique depuis La Mutualité ou étaient rassemblés les militants UMP. 
Jusqu'au dernier moment la plupart d'entre eux voulaient y croire, agitant drapeaux bleu blanc rouge, scandant le nom du Président sortant et chantant la Marseillaise...

Et pourtant, les plus lucides étaient déjà résignés. Les chiffres avaient filtrés dans l’après-midi dans les médias étrangers et sur les réseaux sociaux, difficile de s'illusionner longtemps.

Mais la déception reste amère pour ces centaines de militants fervents qui semblent craindre le prochain mandat comme la peste...
Malgré l’ambiance morose, c’est un accueil triomphal qui a été accordé à Nicolas Sarkozy par ses partisans, un chef de parti arrivé bien plus tôt que prévu a la Mutualité, dès 20h20 et dont le discours ne s’est certainement pas éternisé…
Vers 21h, la plupart des militants quittaient le quartier.
La défaite est numériquement tolérable, autour de 52% pour le socialiste François Hollande contre 48 pour le sortant, mais symboliquement, le rejet est flagrant : Nicolas Sarkozy est l’un des rares présidents français de la Vème République a n’avoir pas été réélu et est parmi ceux resté le moins longuement au pouvoir, un mandat de cinq ans.
Son bilan a été sévèrement critiqué par ses adversaires mais aussi par les anciens alliés centristes et révèle déjà les divisions à venir au sein de son parti l’UMP.

Mélissa Chemam, à la Mutualité à Paris, pour BBC Afrique.


French election - Turn out at 5pm

71,96 % turnout at 5pm. It is more than in the first round with 70,57%, but less than in 2007 with more than 75% in the 2nd round.

Paris : radio Londres...

Hello folks and especially hello to those interested in the French elections.

Today is the final day, we are voting in Metropole until 8 pm in the largest cities, while some Pacific and American territories started yesterday. The official provisional results will be announced at 8pm by French media.

I'll be myself voting in Paris then covering the results' announcement tonight for the BBC World Service, French Section.

I'll be reporting from Nicolas Sarkozy's event at the usually very left-oriented venue called La Mutualite, where the UMP already organised its main event on April the 22nd, night of the first round.

I used to live very near the venue for five years between 2001 and 2006, where a lot of socialiist and trade unions' events usually take place.
If they win, they intend to celebrate, after Sarkozy's speech, at La Concorde, where I was in 2007 on May 7 for France24 when he was elected.

I'll be with the right-wing party and the incumbent President to discover the results from UMP side for BBCAfrique.
You can listen online: www.bbcafrique.com.

Tune in and enjoy this big European election day where France, Italy, Serbia and Greece are all voting for different kind of polls.

 Talk to you tonight.


Leaving Tunis

My (short) Tunisian trip is over.
These three days have been really interesting and unexpected. And I know I'll be back here.
I’m now going back to Paris to vote and to cover the second round of our presidential election on Sunday night from Nicolas Sarkozy and the UMP's headquartier in La Mutualite. 
Then I’ll leave again on Monday for Ethiopia.
 Africa is so wide and there’s so much to do.
After Ethiopia, I'll be in Kenya mid-May. Then it's still open. Only new appointment: Florence, Italy, mid-June for the Journalism Summer School. Looking forward.

No Light No Light

The sound of this night...

Wonderful song. The lyrics I would have written tonight if I had the gift of music making...


"No Light No Light"

You are the hole in my head
You are the space in my bed
You are the silence in between
What I thought and what I said
You are the nighttime fear
You are the morning when it's clear
When it's over, you're the start
You're my head and you're my heart

 No light, no light
In your bright blue eyes
I never knew daylight could be so violent
A revelation in the light of day
You can't choose what stays and what fades away
And I'd do anything to make you stay
No light, no light
Tell me what you want me to say

To the crowd I was crying out and
In your place there were a thousand other faces
I was disappearing in plain sight
Heaven help me, I need to make it right

You want a revelation
You want to get "right"
But it's a conversation
I just can't have tonight
You want a revelation
Some kind of resolution
You want a revelation

No light, no light
In your bright blue eyes
I never knew daylight could be so violent
A revelation in the light of day
You can't choose what stays and what fades away
And I'd do anything to make you stay
No light, no light
Tell me what you want me to say

Would you leave me
If I told you what I'd done?
And would you leave me
If I told you what I'd become? '
Cause it's so easy
To say it to a crowd
But it's so hard, my love
To say it to you out loud

No light, no light
In your bright blue eyes
I never knew daylight could be so violent
A revelation in the light of day
You can't choose what stays and what fades away
And I'd do anything to make you stay
No light, no light
Tell me what you want me to say

You want a revelation
You want to get "right"
But it's a conversation
I just can't have tonight
You want a revelation
Some kind of resolution
You want a revelation You want a revelation
You want to get "right"
But it's a conversation
I just can't have tonight
You want a revelation
Some kind of resolution
Tell me what you want me to say



Somalia: World Press Freedom Day - Matt Baugh

Somalia: World Press Freedom Day - Matt Baugh

On World Press Freedom Day, my thoughts are with the families of the brave Somali journalists who were killed on the course of duty and those who still brave the dangers of operating in one of the most difficult places in the world to be a be a journalist.

The shocking fact is that so far in 2012 one Somali journalist has been murdered each month. The latest victim Farhan Jiime Abdulle of Radio Daljir was killed in Galkayo yesterday.

Other victims in 2012 have been Mahad Salad Adan, a reporter for Radio Shabelle, Ali Ahmed Abdi, a Radio Galkayo reporter, Abukah Hassan Mohamoud who was the Ex-Director of Somaliweyn, and Hassan Omar Abdi who was the director of Radio Shabelle.

On behalf of the UK Government, I condemn the killing of Farhan and reiterate the statement of the UK Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham which condemned the killing of Abukah Hassan Mohamoud.

The UK stands for universal human rights, the rule of law, democracy and freedom of expression. As always we wish to express solidarity with Somali journalists in resisting intimidation and maintaining the freedom of the press.

Our commitment is clearly reflected in the Communique of the London Conference on Somalia where all participants emphasised that journalists must be able to operate freely and without fear.

This commitment is further highlighted in the 2011 Foreign and Commonwealth Office Human Rights and Democracy Report.  The report lists Somalia as one of the countries of concern.

The report notes that international and local media reporting remained limited and journalists continued to operate in extremely difficult circumstances, with media freedoms often suppressed and intimidation of Somali journalists and civil society by armed groups commonplace.

The next few months will be crucial as Somalia enters an important phase to end the transition in August, and more than ever there is a need to have a vibrant media sector in Somalia that will be able to inform the Somali public about all that is happening in their country.

It is important that the freedom of the press is enshrined in the new Constitution as this will guarantee the media the space to operate freely. It is in this regard that we look forward to the consultations regarding freedom of expression in Mogadishu next week.

I therefore call on Somali authorities to help protect journalists and respect the principal of freedom of expression, so that Somali media can play an effective role in the stabilisation of Somalia.

As we mark this day, I would like to assure Somali journalists and other stakeholders in the media that the UK will continue to stand with them.

Think Africa Press Google+ hangouts on Oxford University's Africa Society 2012 Pan-Africa Conference

Your Questions for the Oxford Pan-Africa Conference Speakers

This Saturday (5 May) Oxford University's Africa Society is running its 2012 Pan-Africa Conference: Building Capacity for a New Generation. You have the chance to take part and engage with the speakers, even if you can't make it on the day.

Think Africa Press will be running Google+ hangouts throughout the conference. This is an opportunity to get involved and ask the speakers your own questions. A Google+ hangout is a real-time conversation between 10 people. Here it will be one speaker, one moderator, and eight other Google+ users.

How to join

If you are a Google+ user and are available on Saturday you can join our hangouts live, just let us know in advance which speaker you would like to hang out with and tell us a little about yourself. We will be choosing eight people for each hangout. If you don't use Google+, don't worry, send us your questions and we can put them to a speaker on your behalf. Leave questions and hangout requests in the comments below, email us on info@thinkafricapress.com, or send them to us via twitter (@thinkafricafeed) using the hashtag #OxAfr12 or via facebook. Please start your message with the name of the speaker your question / hangout request is for.
More details about the schedule for the hangouts, and how to follow them live online, will follow soon.

See speakers here:


Presentation on Oxford University's Africa Society's website here: