Thanks to an ambitious organising campaign by women throughout the country, women’s participation is on the increase in unions. This is the first report on a very promising campaign.

Two hundred kilometres. A long distance to some, perhaps, but in the context of desertification in Algeria, alarmingly short. Going in to 2007, the Sahara will have advanced to within 200 kilometres of the Mediterranean coastline of this North African state.

The over hundred thousand refugees from Western Sahara living in Algerian camps are to hold municipal and national elections, starting on Wednesday (22November 2006). Voters will be able to choose between different Polisario candidates to bodies of the exiled state of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which is a member of the African Union.

The Executive Director of WFP, James Morris, has called on the international community not to forget the plight of the Sahrawi refugees in Algeria, tens of thousands of whom are still entirely dependent on external assistance to survive, some three decades after fleeing a territorial dispute.

High international oil prices have emboldened Algeria to make a u-turn on earlier attempts at liberalising the sector. Algeria, which was a member of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), has slapped a windfall tax on surplus profits as well as curtailed the role of foreign investors in oil production in a set of new amendments for the sector. The new provisions require that state-owned Sonatrach, Africa’s largest company by revenue, take a mandatory minimum 51 more