Pambazuka News 536: Polluters and corporates: Stealing the commons

The Burkina Faso authorities have sounded the alarm over the increased rate of degradation of forests in this Sahelian country. According to a study by the Ministry for the Environment and Sustainable Development, some 110,550 hectares of forest are destroyed each year, just over four per cent of the country's total wooded area – around three-quarters of this annual loss linked to farming. The data covers forest loss between 1992 and 2002, but the trend continues, according the ministry.

Equatorial Guinea's government has spent lavishly on diplomatic accommodations while neglecting the rights of the country's poor in the lead-up to hosting the African Union summit, Human Rights Watch and EG Justice said. The government has also sharply limited public dissent and critical reporting. While most citizens of Equatorial Guinea languish in poverty, President Teodoro Obiang's government, which holds the revolving AU chairmanship, spent more than US$830 million to construct a luxury more

As one way of updating one another on latest fuel supplies at gas stations, Malawians are using Facebook in advising where they can fill up their tanks. Over 210 subscribers share updates on an open group called Malawi Fuel Watch, reports Global Voices. Malawians have been queuing up for hours for fuel since last year.

A Tunisian court has sentenced former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his wife Leila to 35 years in jail for embezzlement and misusing public funds. The couple, who fled to Saudi Arabia in January after a popular uprising, were also fined $66m (£41m). The one-day trial in absentia focused on $27m of cash and jewels reportedly found inside one of their palaces.

Farmers in the eastern districts of Uganda that constitute the Elgon zone have rejected a proposal by Arthur Makala, the executive director at Science Foundation for Livelihoods and Development, to start engaging in the cultivation of genetically modified crops that are supposed to be drought resistant and give high yields. Makala had suggested that farmers should embrace the Genetically Modified Crops [GMC] for better yields but the farmers rejected it saying GMCs are contaminated with more