What Our Analysts Are Reading – September, 2020

What Our Analysts Are Reading — September, 2020

Navanti’s data collection and analysis are based on networks of on-the-ground researchers from all walks of life: journalists, academics, and humanitarian workers, to name a few. Our analysts also keep abreast of open source reports to inform their work. Below, these analysts have summarized and contextualized the most important articles they have read over the past month.


Africa’s urban population is the fastest growing in the world, projected to grow at a rate of 3.5% annually over the 2015 to 2025 period and expected to double in the next 25 years. The increase in urban dwellers contributes to an increase in demand for staple foods at a rate of 4.8% per year. Despite having over half of the remaining arable land in the world, the continent’s import food bill averages $68.5 billion annually.  In order to feed the growing urban population, there is a need to increase agricultural productivity and to ensure efficient food value chains to guarantee that food produced by rural farmers is delivered to the growing number of urban consumers. At the virtual African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) summit earlier this month, African leaders from around the continent discussed efforts to invest in modern agricultural technologies such as irrigation and improved crops, as well as to create efficient markets and food distribution channels. In addition, leaders called for the need for greater investment in local seed extension services focusing on new crop varieties than can better withstand climate shocks. — Anadolu Agency

A shift in power in Kenya has been starting in the capital. In Nairobi, county municipal duties are being transferred from elected public officials to the hands of military officers, which report to the president. Many see this as a usurping of power from the county back to the president and as a potential harbinger for further power consolidation. — Foreign Policy

The Mozambican military does not appear to be able to effectively contain the escalating insurgency in the Cabo Delgado region, and a lack of a structured counterinsurgency strategy is likely to prolong existing issues. Furthermore, the historic marginalization and lack of economic opportunity in Cabo Delgado guarantees the long-term proliferation of the insurgency. — Foreign Policy

Fitzgerald and Badi analyze the 2009 revisions of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in which the Salafist-jihadist group declared an end to their armed struggle against the Qaddafi regime. Taking the revisions as a case study of deradicalization and transitional justice, the report charts the trajectory of key LIFG members through the fall of the Qaddafi regime into Libya’s post-revolutionary chaos. — Ifit-Transitions


The coronavirus pandemic has created a unique opportunity for neo-Nazi groups across Europe. The chaos and confusion is suited to their accelerationist ideology and increased social media use has widened their recruiting pool. Even previously de-platformed groups have found new avenues to reach an audience via “fight clubs” and mixed martial arts (MMA) promotional groups. — Bloody Elbow

Belarus and Bulgaria both surpassed 70 days of protests in September 2020. The two countries have many differences, but their protesters’ demands share many similarities. For Belarusians, the contested election results led to large-scale protests and demands for the removal of President Alexander Lukashenko and for free and fair elections. In a similar vein, Bulgarians are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov over allegations of corruption. In this piece for Carnegie Europe, Judy Dempsey writes that the stakes are high in both countries and the European Union cannot turn a blind eye to the violations of personal rights and democratic values. — Carnegie Europe

When the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh last escalated in July 2020, the fighting was not limited to on the ground and in Diaspora communities, it was also taking place online — especially through memes. Analyzing the political memetic content from the escalation of July 2020, Rippberger explains how popular memes convey humor to reinforce preconceived narratives among Azerbaijanis and Armenians. Political memetic content can also be weaponized and used in disinformation campaigns, adding an additional layer of complexity to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. — Lossi36

Detektor.ba reports that the QAnon movement has spread to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Bosnian version of the movement, classified by the FBI as “conspiracy-driven extremists,” is centered around its Facebook page which has 460 members. This movement could promote more disinformation in Bosnia and the Balkan region. — Detektor.ba

Middle East

Yemeni farms have been hit at least 918 times by airstrikes and shelling since 2018, averaging around one incident a day. Interviews conducted by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) document the loss of lives and property and how this is driving farmers off land they have farmed for generations, leaving food-producing fields barren. These attacks exacerbate the risk of famine across the country as the Yemeni currency continues to depreciate and food prices rise, now 140% higher than before the war started in 2015. In addition, humanitarian aid efforts are underfunded, short by at least USD 1 billion. Projections indicate that least a million more people in Yemen will drop into “crisis” or “near-famine” levels of hunger by December of this year. In a recent event featuring senior members of the World Food Program, the United Nations, and the governments of many countries involved in Yemen’s war, the Secretary General of the NRC pushed for an immediate ceasefire and increased humanitarian aid funding in order to end the food crisis. — Relief Web

Even before the August 4th explosion at the Port of Beirut in Lebanon, the small Middle Eastern nation was struggling to feed more than 3.7 million people as a result of an unprecedented economic meltdown, nationwide protests, and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. According to the World Bank, 45% of the population was slipping into poverty by April 2020 with unemployment rates over 30%, and the Lebanese pound has depreciated 80% since October 2019. Then on August 4th, the only large grain silo in the nation and the main entry point for essential food imports were destroyed, exacerbating existing shortages. To combat the looming food crisis, a grassroots network of Lebanese organizations, with the help of thousands of volunteers, is working together to distribute meals and run community kitchens in Beirut and vulnerable areas across the country.  — Yes Magazine

In early September, Houthi officials announced the closure of the Sana’a International Airport, citing a complete depletion of fuel reserves. UN officials have stated that these closures have delayed the delivery of 207 tons of medical aid used in COVID-19 response efforts. The Houthi group will likely use these closures to pressure the international community and the Saudi-led Coalition to remove embargoes imposed on fuel imports to Houthi territory.  — Anadolu Agency