News in the Humanosphere: Massive flooding across southern Africa

Flooding in Malawi. Credit: MSF/Doctors Without Borders

More downpours are in the forecast in what is shaping up to be a major humanitarian emergency. The southern regions of Tanzania and northern Zambia are also affected. “More than 200 people have died in Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar in one of the worst disasters to hit the region in years. Rivers have burst their banks, flooding vast areas and destroying homes, bridges and crops. ‘After surveying the flooded districts from the air, we know that the scale of flooding is immense, and with the rains still falling, the water is unlikely to recede quickly,’ UNICEF’s representative in Malawi, Mahimbo Mdoe, said in a statement. ‘Stagnant water and poor sanitation can be deadly for young children, so we are in a race against time to reach displaced communities with clean water, sanitation and medical supplies.’ ” (Reuters

A Coup in Yemen? The poorest country in the Middle East is facing increased instability. Yemen’s U.S.-backed leadership came under serious threat Monday as government troops clashed with Shiite rebels near the presidential palace and a key military base in what one official called “a step toward a coup.” (NYT

Aid workers kidnapped in CAR: Two aid workers, including a 67-year-old French woman, were kidnapped on Monday in the capital of the strife-torn Central African Republic, the French government said. (AFP

Mali is officially Ebola free. (Reuters

U.S.-funded Ebola treatment centers in Liberia are empty. Is that a problem? (WaPo

A Cuban health worker sent to Sierra Leone as part of a team to help fight Ebola has died of malaria. (AP

Tak! Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt begins a visit to Sierra Leone on Monday, making her the first Western leader to travel to the African nation since it was hit by a deadly Ebola outbreak. (AFP

Children on Monday trickled back to school in Guinea, where the Ebola epidemic broke out in December 2013, as west Africa cautiously began turning the page on the deadly outbreak. (AFP

Cameroon’s army has freed 24 of some 80 hostages kidnapped during a cross-border attack by suspected Boko Haram Islamist fighters based in neighboring Nigeria, a defense ministry spokesman said on Monday. (Reuters

#OccupyPlaygrounds? Kenyan police fired tear gas into a crowd of Nairobi schoolchildren on Monday as the youngsters and adults protested against what they call an illegal confiscation of a playground. (Reuters

Security forces fired live rounds and tear gas at rock-throwing protesters in Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital on Monday as opposition parties tried to block a change in the law that may delay elections due in 2016. (Reuters

The Niger government says at least 45 churches have been set on fire in this predominantly Muslim West African nation in protests over French cartoons lampooning Islam’s prophet. (AP

Central African Republic’s Seleka rebels, who once overthrew the government, say they’re entitled to a $5 million award from the United States because they handed over a wanted international war crimes suspect to American troops. (AP

A white woman who worked as a personal assistant to Nelson Mandela has stirred unease about race relations in South Africa after criticizing the current president for allegedly making anti-white remarks. (AP

At least 14 people were killed over the weekend when the island nation of Madagascar was battered by a tropical storm, officials said Monday. (AP

Aid agencies raced on Monday to reach tens of thousands of people displaced by catastrophic floods across southern Africa, as more heavy rain was forecast in the coming days. (Reuters

The death toll from flooding in parts of Mozambique has risen to 71, the country’s disaster management services said Monday. (AFP

Three people were killed in Kinshasa on Monday in clashes between police and thousands protesting moves to allow President Joseph Kabila to extend his hold on power, a government source said. (AFP

Guinean President Alpha Conde said Monday his country would send some 500 troops to join a U.N. peacekeeping mission in strife-torn Mali. (AFP

Four years after Tunisia sparked off the Arab spring uprisings the country is seen as a rare regional success story, but its prospects hinge on it deepening reforms and attracting foreign investment. (Reuters

An Egyptian woman died of H5N1 bird flu, the health ministry said on Monday, the fourth person to die of the illness in the country this year. (Reuters

Syria has started the long-delayed destruction of a dozen underground bunkers and hangars that were used for the production and storage of chemical weapons, diplomatic sources told Reuters on Monday. (Reuters

A new United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees study “Living in the Shadows” released last week reveals the increasingly desperate conditions of Syrian refugees living in urban and rural areas across Jordan. (IPS

U.N. peacekeepers stationed in the Golan Heights along the Syrian-Israeli border observed drones coming from the Israeli side before and after an airstrike that killed several top Hezbollah figures, the United Nations said on Monday. (VOA

At least four Muslim villagers were killed, three of them burned to death, when their thatched huts were set on fire during a clash between Hindu and Muslim groups in eastern India, a government official said. (AP

Villagers living near Thailand’s largest gold mine asked the Thai government on Monday to quickly prove the source of arsenic and manganese contamination that has led to a suspension in operations at the mine. (Reuters

A concrete wall at a warehouse being built in the Philippines collapsed Monday, killing at least 10 workers, police said. (AP

Delivering aid to millions of Afghans in need is becoming more complex and dangerous as government forces and militant groups splinter and security deteriorates, analysts say. (IRIN

The Americas
An Argentine prosecutor found dead just hours before giving what was expected to be damning testimony against President Cristina Kirchner appears to have committed suicide, the nation’s top security official said Monday. (AFP

This past week, more than 2,000 mental health workers for the HMO health-care giant Kaiser Permanente in California went on strike. The strike was organized by the National Union of Healthcare Workers. The union says Kaiser Permanente patients have been the victims of “chronic failure to provide its members with timely, quality mental health care.” (NPR

Haiti’s foreign minister on Monday asked the U.N. Security Council and the rest of the world to continue supporting the impoverished Caribbean nation after President Michel Martelly named a new cabinet to end street protests. (Reuters

The app that saved 1,000 Nigerian children (GlobalPost

Sustainable development goals: all you need to know (Guardian

What’s most likely to kill you? Hint: probably not an epidemic (NPR

Food security hinges on better links between South America and Asia (The Guardian

Where are the aid workers with disabilities? (WhyDev

Why the SDGs should include NCDs (UN Dispatch

Davos: New briefing on global wealth, inequality and an update of that 85 richest = 3.5 billion poorest killer fact (From Poverty to Power

Building the X of Y (Find What Works

Does precolonial political centralization matter in Africa? (Rachel Strohm

Wealth accumulated by the richest 1 percent will exceed that of the other 99 percent in 2016, the Oxfam charity said Monday, ahead of the annual meeting of the world’s most powerful at Davos, Switzerland. (AFP

Climate change threatens the genetic diversity of the world’s food supply, and saving crops and animals at risk will be crucial for preserving yields and adapting to wild weather patterns, a U.N. policy paper said on Monday. (Reuters

It is unlikely U.N. member states will push for a cut in the number of proposed sustainable development goals – and risk undoing painstaking talks – despite concerns there are too many of them, the head of the U.N. Development Programme said. (Reuters

Well-intentioned education reforms around the world are being undermined because of a lack of proper assessment and analysis of their impact on outcomes for pupils, according to a leading economic think tank. (VOA


About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]