Guinea-Bissau receives anti-virus potion from Madagascar | AFP

A shipment of a Malagasy herbal tea, that President Andry Rajoelina has touted as a powerful remedy against the novel coronavirus and hopes to distribute across West Africa and beyond, arrives in Guinea-Bissau. Baptised Covid-Organics, the drink is derived from artemisia — a plant with proven efficacy in malaria treatment — and other indigenous herbs.

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These Bonds Designed to Help Developing Countries Fight Pandemics Haven’t Ever Been Paid Out

As Ebola spread through West Africa five years ago, the international community struggled to raise enough funds to help local governments control it. The World Bank decided it needed a way to quickly funnel money to developing countries so they can stop the spread of diseases before they become pandemics. Its answer was to start selling pandemic bonds — essentially insurance from private sector investors that would payout in the case of a large outbreak.

The bonds pay a high-interest rate, as much as 11% annually, to compensate investors for the risk they’re taking on. They were invested back in July 2017, with the stipulation that if there was no large outbreak in three years, investors would get all their money back. That means investors were set to cash them out this coming July.

But now the coronavirus is sweeping the globe, sickening at least 1.3 million people and killing more than 77,000. And the insurance still hasn’t been triggered. Its incredibly convoluted rules are partly designed to protect investors from a payout so they’d be willing to buy the bonds. The fine print includes a 12-week waiting period for coronavirus outbreaks and a minimum number of deaths in at least two recipient countries.

The bonds will likely be triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, paying out up to $196 million. But it will be too late to help them stop the spread early in many developing countries. There’s a lot of other support money flowing to them — the World Bank alone plans to make $160 billion available — begging the question why the bonds were ever needed in the first place. Especially in light of the current crisis, many critics say the pandemic bonds were just another insurance scheme.

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Meet the International Team Mapping the Real-Time Spread of COVID-19

Think of it like Wikipedia, but an open database — curated by volunteers — that instead tracks and maps the real-time spread of COVID-19 around the world.

Since the onset of what has become the COVID-19 pandemic, an international team of over 20 researchers has been aggregating information and developing publicly available datasets to help people study the outbreak as it evolves.

Many of the researchers part of the Open COVID-19 Data Curation Group first connected in 2015 while working on a similar project during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. But the scale of COVID-19 has already made this latest effort a much larger task.

“We didn’t necessarily anticipate in early January that this was going to become a pandemic,” says Samuel Scarpino, an assistant professor at Northeastern University’s Network Science Institute, who is a member of the collaboration. “It really is being operated now like the large scale project it has become”

The goals of the project are to make this raw data open to the public to inform how this outbreak began, give a real-time look at how the situation is changing, how it is unfolding both locally and globally and what is working to stem the spread.

The information is being widely used by an array of individuals and organizations including the CDC, European CDC, and WHO.

The project is collaboratively led by Moritz Kramer of the University of Oxford, and David Pigott of the University of Washington in Seattle.

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Spirit world: Voodoo makes a comeback in its Benin home | AFP

Benin holds its annual voodoo festival — an event that lures an influx of visitors to the capital Porto-Novo and underscores voodoo’s comeback in the country of its birth. Voodoo, more often called “vodun” in West Africa, has a hierarchy of deities and tribal spirits of nature and sees revered ancestors living alongside the living.

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Coastal erosion in Togo threatens local population | AFP

Evey year in Togo, the sea nibbles more than 2 metres of coastline, and up to 10 metres in some parts of the coast. Coastal erosion affects all of West Africa and is distorting Togo’s landscape and driving out fishing communities.

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Nigerians disagree over legacy of a 19th century Fulani Muslim ruler | AFP

In Sokoto, an old city in northern Nigeria, Usmane Dan Fodio’s tomb attracts pilgrims from all over West Africa. For many Muslims, this scholarly and reformist Fulani is considered a saint. In 1808, he established the Caliphate of Sokoto, an Islamic state that extended from Burkina Faso to Cameroon.

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Fulani herders seek to tap into Nigeria’s booming meat market | AFP

With 200 million inhabitants, Nigeria is the largest meat consumer in West Africa. Every day, 50 trucks unload cows, goats and sheep at the main livestock market in Lagos, the country’s economic capital. This is an essential supply chain for food in Nigeria, where livestock is mainly raised by the Fulani spread over about ten West African countries.

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Son of Mali hostage Sophie Pétronin expects more from France

A week ago, Frenchman Sébastien Chadaud-Pétronin headed to the Sahel region in West Africa with the hope of obtaining his mother’s release. She was running a charity helping orphans when she was kidnapped by armed men in Gao, northern Mali, in December 2016. No group claimed responsibility for kidnapping until July 2017, when Al-Qaeda’s Mali branch released a video showing her. In a interview with AFPTV, he says the French state “isn’t doing enough.”

Benin’s Pendjari National Park comes back to life

In the north of Benin, elephants, lions and antelopes roam in peace across the savannah of the Pendjari National Park. The park — on the border with Burkina Faso and Niger — is the biggest in West Africa and it’s spearheading a new drive to boost tourism in Benin. A voiced AFPTV report.

Africa Weekly – a round up of news and features from Africa

This week on Africa Weekly, we travel to Zimbabwe where the ghosts of past massacres are surfacing for the country’s new president, we go to Benin to meet the rangers specially trained to protect West Africa’s biggest national park from poachers, and we meet Octopizzo, the hip-hop star using his success to break down stigma around the slum he grew up in. FOR SUBSCRIBERS OF AFRICA WEEKLY ONLY

Soldiers killed in French airstrike were hostages – Malian president

In Mali, West Africa, the country’s president has confirmed Malian soldiers were killed in a French airstrike in October. France thought its operation was targeting forces that deserted to join an Islamist group. However, it is now believed those soldiers had been taken hostage by the jihadists.

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Burkina Faso launches Sahel region’s largest solar power plant

Burkina Faso is officially opening ‘the largest solar power plant in West Africa’ on Wednesday 29 November 2017. The country wants to turn to renewable energy to fill the deficit that forces it to import electricity from Ghana and Ivory Coast.

Simulated Reality: US war game imagines West Africa invasion after NY attack

A simulation for US war college students prepared participants for an invasion of West Africa in response to a terrorist attack on US soil, investigative news site The Intercept reports. The war game echoes US involvement in Afghanistan after 2001.
Jan Oberg, a political analyst, expresses his views on the matter. RT’s Polly Boiko reports.

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Migrant Crisis in Italy & Cooking Kelp: VICE News Tonight Full Episode (HBO)

This is the July 25th, 2017, FULL EPISODE of VICE News Tonight on HBO.

VICE News profiles a woman who pays drug users not to have kids.
Plus, The refugee crisis is escalating in Italy, where the majority of migrants are now coming from West Africa. And, Kelp could feed the planet and save our oceans — but no one really knows about it.

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On The Line: Kayla Ruble Discusses the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

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Kayla Ruble joined On The Line to discuss the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and the global response to the spread of the virus.

Since the outbreak began, the contagion has infected more than 25,000 people and claimed more than 10,000 lives — mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Although transmission rates have slowed, new cases continue to be reported, and the economies of the hardest-hit nations remain at risk.

VICE News reporter Kayla Ruble has been following the global effort to combat the disease – both on the ground in Liberia, and from our newsroom – and answered your questions live.

Watch “The Fight Against Ebola (Full Length)” – http://bit.ly/1aOpk59

Read “Life After Ebola: Pain, Flashbacks, and ‘Post-Ebola Syndrome’” – http://bit.ly/1Pb0Z9j

Read “The End of Ebola: Inside the Race to Finish Vaccine Trials in Liberia” – http://bit.ly/1zGoSMU

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This Week On The Line (Trailer): Kayla Ruble Discusses the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

On Thursday at 12pm EDT Kayla Ruble will join On The Line to discuss the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and the global response to the spread of the virus.

Since the outbreak began, the contagion has infected more than 25,000 people and claimed more than 10,000 lives — mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Although transmission rates have slowed, new cases continue to be reported, and the economies of the hardest-hit nations remain at risk.

VICE News reporter Kayla Ruble has been following the global effort to combat the disease – both on the ground in Liberia, and from our newsroom – and will take your questions live.

Watch “The Fight Against Ebola (Full Length)” – http://bit.ly/1aOpk59

Read “Life After Ebola: Pain, Flashbacks, and ‘Post-Ebola Syndrome’” – http://bit.ly/1Pb0Z9j

Read “The End of Ebola: Inside the Race to Finish Vaccine Trials in Liberia” – http://bit.ly/1zGoSM

VICE News and On The Line want to hear from you! Let us know your questions for Kayla on Twitter with the hashtag #ontheline, or send us a video message on Skype.

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VICE News Daily: Vatican Opens its Doors to Rome’s Homeless

The VICE News Capsule is a news roundup that looks beyond the headlines. Today: Ghana trains to fight piracy as attacks increase off West Africa, the world’s largest ships will soon be able to travel through the Panama Canal, Pope Francis opens his doors to some of Rome’s most disadvantaged, and a Chinese archaeologist claims to crack a rocky mystery.

GHANA
Military Exercise to Battle Piracy in Gulf of Guinea
The waters off Somalia’s coast used to be the most dangerous, but there’s been an uptick in attacks off West Africa in recent years.

PANAMA
$17 Billion Upgrade to Boost Capacity
Workers are installing 22-story locks that would allow the canal to accommodate the world’s largest ships.

VATICAN CITY
Pope Francis Extends a Special Invitation for a Private Tour
On Thursday, 150 homeless people were granted a rare opportunity to visit the Vatican’s museums and the Sistine Chapel.

CHINA
Stone Circles May Have Been Ancient Worship Sites
An archaeologist says an earlier theory that the more than 200 circles were grave sites is unlikely since the soil is undisturbed.

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Ebola: Has the World Stopped Caring?

The Ebola epidemic continues to spread across West Africa, yet the Western public’s interest in the outbreak seems to have waned. David Cameron will press world leaders to do more to combat the virus at the G20 summit later this week.

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The Fight Against Ebola (Full Length)

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The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa began in Guinea in December 2013. From there, it quickly spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Cases also appeared in Senegal and Nigeria, and there was another outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Today, Liberia is at the center of the epidemic, with more than 3,000 cases of infection. About half of them have been fatal.

As President Barack Obama announced that he would be sending American military personnel to West Africa to help combat the epidemic, VICE News traveled to Monrovia to spend time with those on the front lines of the outbreak.

Click to watch “Monkey Meat and the Ebola Outbreak in Liberia” – http://bit.ly/Monkey-Meat

Uncovering a Mysterious Cholera Outbreak in Haiti: http://bit.ly/1x7C90J

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