Thursday, 27 June 2013

What is middle class in Ivory Coast?

Two Ivorians, considered to be middle class by the African Development Bank, tell the BBC's Tamasin Ford how they survive on between $2 (£1.30) and $20 a day.

Konan Kouassi Vercruysses, 26, runs a phone booth with his cousin. He works five-hour shifts, six days a week and attends university.
Kouadio Koffi, 29, is a security guard who shares a one-room house with his cousin. He works 12-hour night shifts, six days a week.
Click on this link to read their stories.

A woman's battle to get her land back - radio version

Women produce nearly half of the world’s food but in some countries they own as little as two per cent of the land – according to figures from the UN.  As world leaders meet in Belfast for the G8 summit, issues around land ownership are expected to be high on the agenda.  It’s thought if more women are given land and property rights, more food will be produced reducing the burden of the world’s food security.  The BBC’s Tamasin Ford follows one woman’s fight to get her land back in Guinkin, in Western Ivory Coast.

To listen to this report, please click on this link.

A woman’s battle to inherit land in Ivory Coast

A woman in rural Ivory Coast has been called to a meeting under the shaded veranda of the local chief's house to defend her right to inherit her husband's property.

Barely in her forties, she sits quietly with her head down; the town chief in the small village of Guinkin, close to the Liberian border, is doing much of the talking.

Occasionally she speaks up to give her side of the story: "My name is Helene Tiro.  I lost my husband two years ago and I don't know where to go with my children," she explains, beginning to look desperate.

"My husband's brothers have sold all the farmland. I even don't know where to find food for my children."

Everyone looks at Mrs Tiro, somewhat stunned - not at what she is saying but the fact she is saying anything at all. It is unusual for a woman in these remote rural areas to have such confidence to speak out against her own family.

"Today I am looking for a way to take back my land and feed my children," Mrs Tiro finally says defiantly.

She adds that she has seven children and no access to the land she has farmed on every day since she got married more than 20 years ago.

Her husband was among the more than 3,000 people who died during the six months of violence that erupted after the 2010 presidential elections when incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to step down.  Mrs Tiro not only lost her husband, but her means of earning her living too

To read the rest of this story please click on this link to BBC's website.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Ivory Coast finding reconstruction easier than reconciliation

At first glance, Ivory Coast has come a long way since 2010's post-election violence. But is the progress merely an illusion?

Construction sites loom at every twist and turn of the super six-lane highways that weave around the Ébrié lagoon in the heart of Abidjan. Roads are being widened. New apartment blocks and shopping malls are joining 1970s skyscrapers on the skyline. And the final touches on a shiny new high-rise tower signal the African Development Bank's return after more than a decade.

Two years after the post-election conflict, when more than 3,000 people were killed, Ivory Coast's economy is bouncing back. With the country relieved of nearly $8bn (£5bn) in debt after reaching
(The inside of a cocoa pod.  Ivory Coast is the world's biggest exporter)

completion point of the heavily indebted poor countries initiative, investors are returning and GDP climbed to 9.8% last year.

"The recovery has been very impressive," said Marcelo Giugale, the World Bank's head of economic policy and poverty reduction in Africa, on a recent visit. "Not just economically speaking, but institutionally."

But amid the praise of the government's economic success under President Alassane Ouattara, the former deputy head of the International Monetary Fund, there are accusations of "victor's justice!, continued human rights violations and revenge attacks.

To read the rest of this article, please click on this link to the Guardian's website.