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News round-up, March 30, 2023 by GERMÁN & CO

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Germán José Manuel Toro Ghio, son of Germán Alfonso and Jenny Isabel Cristina, became a citizen of planet Earth in the cold dawn of Sunday, May 11, 1958, in Santiago, capital of southern Chile....

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How Christian Is Christian Nationalism?

Many Americans who advocate it have little interest in religion and an aversion to American culture as it currently exists. What really defines the movement?

  THE NEW YORKER BY KELEFA SANNEH, MARCH 27, 2023

Chile detects first case of bird flu in a human

Avian (bird) influenza (flu) A viruses usually do not infect people, there have been some rare cases of human infection with these viruses. Illness in humans from bird flu virus infections have ranged in severity from no symptoms or mild illness to severe disease that resulted in death.

  REUTERS

Factbox: Potential bidders for Norway's first offshore wind areas

In order to compete for licenses at Soerlige Nordsjoe II, BP (BP.L) stated it will join Statkraft (STATKF.UL) of Norway and Mainstream Renewable Power, formerly known as Aker Offshore Wind.

  REUTERS BY NORA BULI

Bolsonaro returns to Brazil for first time since January 8 riots

The former president's supporters stormed the Supreme Court, Congress and presidential palace in January, after weeks of protests claiming fraud in his defeat to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Le Monde with AP, today at 12:50 pm (Paris)

Russian Security Service Detains Wall Street Journal Reporter Evan Gershkovich

The reporter is part of the newspaper’s Moscow bureau; the Journal vehemently denies allegations against him, seeks his immediate release

  WSJ BY DANIEL MICHAELS, NOW

Debt Forgiveness for Cape VerdeA Climate Deal that Could Become a Model for Others

Cape Verde is just one of many countries that are struggling under the effects of global warming. But a new approach could provide relief: Debt forgiveness in exchange for a climate fund.

  SPIEGEL BY HEINER HOFFMANN AND CARMEN ABD ALI (PHOTOS) IN CAPE VERDE

“We’re living in a volatile world…

it’s easy to get distracted by things like changeable commodity prices or a shortage of solar panels. But this wouldn’t be true to our purpose – we can’t allow ourselves to lose sight of our end goal; said Andres Gluski, CEO of energy and utility AES Corp


  Image: For many Americans, Christianity is more about “heritage” than faith, more about demography than doctrine.Illustration by Timo Lenzen

How Christian Is Christian Nationalism?

Many Americans who advocate it have little interest in religion and an aversion to American culture as it currently exists. What really defines the movement?

  THE NEW YORKER BY KELEFA SANNEH, MARCH 27, 2023

Seven years ago, during the Republican Presidential primary, Donald Trump appeared onstage at Dordt University, a Christian institution in Iowa, and made a confession of faith. “I’m a true believer,” he said, and he conducted an impromptu poll. “Is everybody a true believer, in this room?” He was scarcely the first Presidential candidate to make a religious appeal, but he might have been the first one to address Christian voters so explicitly as a special interest. “You have the strongest lobby ever,” he said. “But I never hear about a ‘Christian lobby.’ ” He made his audience a promise. “If I’m there, you’re going to have plenty of power,” he said. “You’re going to have somebody representing you very, very well.”

By the time Trump reluctantly left office, in 2021, his relationship with evangelical Christians was one of the most powerful alliances in American politics. (According to one survey, he won eighty-four per cent of the white evangelical vote in 2020.) On January 6th, when his supporters gathered in Washington to protest the election results, one person brought along a placard depicting Jesus wearing a maga hat; during the Capitol invasion, a shirtless protester delivered a prayer on the Senate floor. “Thank you for filling this chamber with patriots that love you, and that love Christ,” he said.

The events of January 6th bolstered a growing belief that the alliance between Trump and his Christian supporters had become something more like a movement, a pro-Trump uprising with a distinctive ideology. This ideology is sometimes called “Christian nationalism,” a description that often functions as a diagnosis. On a recent episode of “revcovery,” a podcast about leaving Christian ministry, Justin Gentry, one of the hosts, suggested that the belief system was somewhat obscure even to its own adherents. “I think that, spitballing, seventy per cent of Christian nationalists don’t know that they’re Christian nationalists,” he said. “They’re just, like, ‘This is normal Christianity, from the time of Jesus.’ ”

In contemporary America, though, the practice of Christianity is starting to seem abnormal. Measures of religious observance in America have shown a steep decrease over the past quarter century. In 1999, Gallup found that seventy per cent of Americans belonged to a church, a synagogue, or a mosque. In 2020, the number was forty-seven per cent—for the first time in nearly a hundred years of polling, worshippers were the minority. This changing environment helps explain the militance that is one of the defining features of Christian nationalism. It is a minority movement, espousing a claim that might not have seemed terribly controversial a few decades ago: that America is, and should remain, a Christian nation.

There is no canonical manifesto of Christian nationalism, and no single definition of it. In search of rigor, a pair of sociologists, Andrew L. Whitehead and Samuel L. Perry, examined data from various surveys and tracked the replies to six propositions:

The federal government should declare the United States a Christian nation.

The federal government should advocate Christian values.

The federal government should enforce strict separation of church and state.

The federal government should allow the display of religious symbols in public spaces.

The success of the United States is part of God’s plan.

The federal government should allow prayer in public schools.

Respondents who answered more often in the affirmative (or, in the case of the third proposition, the negative) were judged to be more supportive of Christian nationalism, and the scholars conducted interviews with fifty subjects, to get a better sense of who believed what. Near the end of Trump’s term, Whitehead and Perry published the results in a book called “Taking America Back for God,” in which they predicted a growing schism. “Christian nationalism gives divine sanction to ethnocentrism and nativism,” they wrote, noting that a number of respondents doubted that immigrants or non-English speakers could ever be “truly American.” Christian nationalism was, they argued, a divisive creed; its adherents were more likely than other groups to believe “that Muslims and Atheists hold morally inferior values.”

Perry expanded this argument last year in “The Flag and the Cross,” which he wrote with the sociologist Philip S. Gorski. For many people, Gorski and Perry argue, “Christian” refers less to theology than to heritage. Drawing on their own survey, they found that more than a fifth of respondents who wanted the government to declare the U.S. a “Christian nation” also described themselves as being “secular,” or an adherent of a non-Christian faith. Paradoxically, so did more than fifteen per cent of self-identified Christians. This last data point might be a sign that “Christian” is starting to become something more like “Jewish”: an ancestral identity that you can keep, even if you don’t keep the faith. There are, of course, plenty of nonwhite Christians in America, and even nonwhite Christian nationalists. (In the earlier book, Whitehead and Perry reported that Black Americans were in fact more likely than any other racial group to support Christian nationalism.) But Gorski and Perry argue that in American politics Christian nationalism has often served as a white-identity movement. They note, for instance, that white Americans who support Christian nationalism are likelier to evince disapproval of immigration and concern about anti-white discrimination. And they worry that “white Christian nationalism is working just beneath the surface” of American politics, ready to trigger an outburst, as it did on January 6th. “There will be another eruption—and soon,” they write.

Gorski and Perry warn that a second Trump Administration might lead to “Jim Crow 2.0,” with “non-white, undocumented immigrants” singled out for “mass deportations on an unprecedented scale.” But they also note that the white Christian nationalists in their survey expressed the most hostility not toward immigrants or toward Muslims but toward socialists. In this, the Christian nationalists are firmly within the historical mainstream of American conservatism. That may also be true even of those respondents who wish to “institutionalize Christian identity and values in the public square,” given all the ways in which America remains distinctively and sometimes officially Christian. (The federal government shuts down on Christmas, for instance, and on no other religious holiday; even in New York, there are special restrictions on the sale of alcohol on Sunday, the Christian Sabbath.) An allegedly insurgent demand is, in a way, a description of the status quo.

As a whole, the six Christian-nationalist propositions appear to be correlated with all sorts of other ideas and impulses. But, examined individually, most of them aren’t hard to defend. School prayer has been the subject of a series of fine-grained Supreme Court decisions; this past summer, the Court ruled, 6–3, in favor of a high-school football coach who liked to pray on the field after games. As for whether it is God’s plan that the United States succeed, even someone with nuanced views about Providence and predestination might nevertheless hope so. To a secular liberal, it might seem distasteful for a Christian to consider Muslim or atheistic values “morally inferior,” or to want the government to promote “Christian values.” But to claim any set of values as your own is to find them superior, in some meaningful sense, to the alternatives, and probably to hope that they will guide the decisions that your government makes on your behalf. In any case, it is impossible to separate the Christian history of America from the country we live in today. Both the secularization of the country and the counter-reaction to that secularization are reflections, in different ways, of a country founded on ideals of faith and freedom.

Anyone looking for a charter of American Christian nationalism might begin in 1630, the year John Winthrop, the future governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, delivered his speech comparing the settlement to a “city upon a hill,” in “covenant” with God, serving as a beacon to “all people.” (The famous phrase came from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”) In the eighteenth century, arguments for American independence were often cast in religious terms. Congregationalists, who structured their churches around ideals of self-governance and free conscience, were particularly influential: Jonathan Mayhew, a Congregational minister in Boston, published a sermon in 1750 in which he denounced the “tyranny and oppression” of Charles I, the former king. (One of Charles’s transgressions: “He authorized a book in favor of sports upon the Lord’s day”; on this front, anyway, America is indisputably less Christian than it used to be.) And in November, 1777, the Continental Congress issued a message of wartime commemoration and gratitude—it is sometimes considered the first Thanksgiving proclamation—which extolled “the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue, and Piety.” There is a certain tension, of course, between the principle of liberty and that of piety: in 1791, the First Amendment to the Constitution prohibited the “establishment of religion” by the new federal government, but Massachusetts did not officially break with the Congregational Church until 1833.


  Image: A person holds a test tube labelled "Bird Flu" next to eggs, in this picture illustration, January 14, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Chile detects first case of bird flu in a human

Avian (bird) influenza (flu) A viruses usually do not infect people, there have been some rare cases of human infection with these viruses. Illness in humans from bird flu virus infections have ranged in severity from no symptoms or mild illness to severe disease that resulted in death.

  REUTERS

A person holds a test tube labelled "Bird Flu" next to eggs, in this picture illustration, January 14, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

SANTIAGO, March 29 (Reuters) - Chile detected the first case of bird flu in a human, the country's health ministry reported on Wednesday.

The case was detected in a 53-year-old man who presented severe influenza symptoms, according to a statement issued by the ministry, but they noted the patient was in stable condition.

The government is also investigating the source of contagion as well as others who were in contact with the patient.

Chile has reported cases of the H5N1 bird flu since late last year in wild animals.

Recent cases in industrial farms caused the government to halt poultry exports. Industrial cases have also been detected in Argentina, but Brazil, the world's largest exporter of poultry, remains free of the contagion.

Chilean health authorities noted the virus can be transmitted from birds or marine mammals to humans, but there is no known human-to-human transmission.

Earlier this year, Ecuador confirmed its first case of human transmission of bid flu in a 9-year-old girl. Global health officials have said risk of transmission between humans is low, but vaccine makers have been preparing bird flu shots for humans "just in case."


  Image: A windmill stands next to the ocean in Utsira, a North Sea island of just 6 square kilometres (2.3 square miles) and home to 210 people who already get most of their power from two onshore windmills, in this photo taken April 22, 2008. REUTERS/Wojciech Moskwa

Factbox: Potential bidders for Norway's first offshore wind areas

In order to compete for licenses at Soerlige Nordsjoe II, BP (BP.L) stated it will join Statkraft (STATKF.UL) of Norway and Mainstream Renewable Power, formerly known as Aker Offshore Wind.

  REUTERS BY NORA BULI

A windmill stands next to the ocean in Utsira, a North Sea island of just 6 square kilometres (2.3 square miles) and home to 210 people who already get most of their power from two onshore windmills, in this photo taken April 22, 2008. REUTERS/Wojciech Moskwa

OSLO, March 29 (Reuters) - Norway on Wednesday opened tenders for two areas in the North Sea to build wind parks that could produce some 3 gigawatt (GW) of electricity, in a first step towards a goal of producing 30 GW by 2040, garnering strong interest from energy firms.

Soerlige Nordsjoe II, bordering the Danish sector of the North Sea, is suitable for bottom-fixed wind turbines. It will be developed in two phases, with an initial 1.5 GW offered to supply Norway only.

Utsira Nord is located northwest of oil industry capital Stavanger and is suitable for floating wind turbines. Three licences for 0.5 GW capacity each are on offer.

Companies and joint ventures that have confirmed their participation are:

Shell has partnered with local utilities Eviny and Lyse to prepare bids for both Utsira Nord and Soerlige Nordsjoe II.

BP (BP.L) announced it will join Norway's Statkraft (STATKF.UL) and Mainstream Renewable Power, previously operating as Aker Offshore Wind, to bid for permits at Soerlige Nordsjoe II.

Statkraft and Mainstream Renewable Power have also teamed up with Ocean Winds, a joint venture of France's Engie (ENGIE.PA) and Portugal's EDP (EDP.LS) for a floating offshore wind bid.

Denmark's Orsted (ORSTED.CO) has formed the Blaavinge consortium with Fred. Olsen Renewables, a subsidiary of Bonheur and utility Hafslund-Eco, which plans to jointly develop offshore wind in both areas.

Equinor (EQNR.OL) is working together with Germany's RWE (RWEG.DE) and Norsk Hydro (NHY.OL) for a bid at Soerlige Nordsjoe II.

It will also bid at Utsira Nord together with Vaargroenn, a joint venture of Italian Eni's (ENI.MI) renewable offshoot Plentitude and Norway's HitecVision (HITV.NFF).

RWE is also planning a bid for Utsira Nord as part of another consortia, together with northern Norwegian utility NTE and contractor firm Havfram, majority-owned by HitecVision.

Vaargroenn has also formed the Brigg Vind consortium with Norwegian utility A Energi and Corio Generation, part of Macquarie's (MQG.AX) Green Investment Group, for a bid at Soerlige Nordsjoe II.

Separately, A Energi and Corio Generation have announced plans to bid for offshore wind acreage at Utsira Nord.

French energy major TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA) is part of the Skjoldblad consortium, together with Spain's Iberdrola (IBE.MC) and Norwegian firm Norsk Havvind, that will be participating at both sites.

Sweden's Vattenfall has joined Seagust, a joint venture between industrial investment firms Arendals Fossekompani (AFK) (AFK.OL) and Ferd, seeking to bid for both areas.

Germany's EnBW (EBKG.DE) and several Norwegian partners, including wholesale and retail food supplier Norgesgruppen, have announced the Norseman Consortia initiative to develop a 1.4 GW wind farm in the Soerlige Nordsjoe II area.

Magnora Floating Wind and TechnipFMC (1T1.F) plan to bid for a site at Utsira Nord through their Magnora Offshore Wind partnership.

France's EDF (EDF.PA) is working on bids for both sites together with Deep Wind Offshore, a joint venture of shipping company Knutsen OAS and utilities Haugaland Kraft and Sunnhordland Kraftlag.

A joint venture of offshore supply firm NorSea, majority owned by shipping firm Wilhelmsen (WWI.OL) and Belgian offshore wind development firm Parkwind, has said it plans to apply for licences in both areas.

They are joined by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners for developing floating offshore wind.

Norwegian specialist firm Odfjell Oceanwind has formed a partnership with European developer Source Galileo for a bid at Utsira Nord.


  Image: Jair Bolsonaro, former President of Brazil, arrives to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, US, March 4, 2023. EVELYN HOCKSTEIN / REUTERS

Bolsonaro returns to Brazil for first time since January 8 riots

The former president's supporters stormed the Supreme Court, Congress and presidential palace in January, after weeks of protests claiming fraud in his defeat to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Le Monde with AP, today at 12:50 pm (Paris)

Former President Jair Bolsonaro arrived back in Brazil on Thursday, March 30, after a three-month stay in Florida, seeking a new role on the political scene as authorities in the capital braced for the far-right populist’s return.

Bolsonaro left Brazil just before the end of his presidential term. In so doing, he broke with tradition by declining to hand the presidential sash to his successor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who won the October election with the narrowest finish since Brazil’s return to democracy over three decades earlier.

While in the US, Bolsonaro mostly kept a low profile, although he delivered several speeches to Brazilian ex-pats and conservatives, including at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland.

For the first time in 30 years, the lawmaker-turned-president does not hold elected office. "I’m without a mandate, but I’m not retired," Bolsonaro told television network Jovem Pan on Monday.

The Federal District's security secretariat mobilized hundreds of police officers and the Esplanade of Ministries was closed to prevent gatherings of Bolsonaro's supporters.

A horde of his supporters stormed and ransacked the capital's most important government buildings on January 8, one week after Lula took office, seeking to oust the new president from power.


Seaboard: pioneers in power generation in the country

…Armando Rodríguez, vice-president and executive director of the company, talks to us about their projects in the DR, where they have been operating for 32 years.

More than 32 years ago, back in January 1990, Seaboard began operations as the first independent power producer (IPP) in the Dominican Republic. They became pioneers in the electricity market by way of the commercial operations of Estrella del Norte, a 40MW floating power generation plant and the first of three built for Seaboard by Wärtsilä.


  Image: Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich, who was detained by Russia’s Federal Security Service. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Russian Security Service Detains Wall Street Journal Reporter Evan Gershkovich

The reporter is part of the newspaper’s Moscow bureau; the Journal vehemently denies allegations against him, seeks his immediate release

  WSJ BY DANIEL MICHAELS, NOW

Russia’s main security agency said it had detained a Wall Street Journal reporter for what it described as espionage.  

The Federal Security Service said Thursday it had detained Evan Gershkovich, a U.S. citizen, in the eastern city of Yekaterinburg.

The FSB said in a statement that Mr. Gershkovich, “acting on the instructions of the American side, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex.”

“The Wall Street Journal vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter, Evan Gershkovich,” the Journal said. “We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family.”

Mr. Gershkovich reports on Russia as part of the Journal’s Moscow bureau. He is accredited to work as a journalist in Russia by the country’s foreign ministry, the FSB said.

The FSB said it had “stopped the illegal activities” Mr. Gershkovich was conducting and that an espionage case had been opened against him in Yekaterinburg.

“What an employee of the American publication The Wall Street Journal was doing in Yekaterinburg has nothing to do with journalism,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Telegram. 

Mr. Gershkovich, 31 years old, has worked as a reporter in Russia since 2017. Before joining the Journal, he worked at Agence France-Presse and the Moscow Times. Earlier, he was a news assistant in New York for the New York Times. A graduate of Bowdoin College, he most recently wrote about the impact of Western sanctions on Russia’s economy

Reporting in Russia has become much more difficult since President Vladimir Putin in February last year launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine and then cracked down on domestic dissent. 

Russia last March passed a censorship law that makes it illegal to publish what authorities deem false information about military operations in Ukraine. In response, many domestic news outlets ceased operations or left the country and foreign media significantly restricted reporting inside Russia and withdrew many staff.

Mr. Putin in October tightened restrictions across Russian society with a presidential decree granting local governments in the country’s regions new authority to address security concerns. The measures were aimed at maintaining public order, boosting industrial production in support of the military campaign and protecting critical infrastructure, Mr. Putin said at the time.


Cooperate with objective and ethical thinking…


  Image Nothing is possible without irrigation: a farm on Santiago Island in Cape Verde. Carmen Abd Ali / DER SPIEGEL

Debt Forgiveness for Cape VerdeA Climate Deal that Could Become a Model for Others

Cape Verde is just one of many countries that are struggling under the effects of global warming. But a new approach could provide relief: Debt forgiveness in exchange for a climate fund.

  SPIEGEL BY HEINER HOFFMANN AND CARMEN ABD ALI (PHOTOS) IN CAPE VERDE

Global Societies

For our Global Societies project, reporters around the world will be writing about societal problems, sustainability and development in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. The series will include features, analyses, photo essays, videos and podcasts looking behind the curtain of globalization. The project is generously funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

A colossal white cruise ship, absurdly over-sized for the small pier, is docked at Praia Harbor, German tourists rushing out of its belly onto waiting buses. They set off into the interior of Santiago Island, driving up the tight hairpin curves and past the spectacular rock formations. From their windows, they have vistas of yellow grass for a far as the eye can see. The color green, though, is in rather short supply.

Cape Verde is located more than 600 kilometers (370 miles) off the coast of Senegal in the Atlantic Ocean. Geographically, though, the archipelago belongs to the Sahel region. It is extremely arid and only rains a few weeks out of the year. And, as statistics show, Cape Verde is getting less and less precipitation each year - and it often comes in the form of downpours so intense that roads and homes are flooded.

Climate change represents an acute threat to the islands in many different ways: While extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, sea levels are also on the rise. Furthermore, the Atlantic Ocean is becoming more acidic, coral reefs are dying out and many fish are migrating to other areas. "We contribute next to nothing to climate change, but we are paying the price for it," says Alexandre Rodrigues, senior climate adviser at the Environment Ministry.

  Image: As an adviser to the Environment Ministry, Alexandre Rodrigues has negotiated a climate deal. Carmen Abd Ali / DER SPIEGEL

In late January, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres visited the archipelago, issuing an urgent warning that Cape Verde was "on the front lines of an existential crisis," and said he was "deeply frustrated" that governments in the rest of the world weren’t doing enough about it.

The island nation itself, though, has big plans, and Rodrigues can spend hours talking about the numerous initiatives the country would like to pursue. They include seawater desalination plants for irrigating fields, wind turbines and solar power plants, aqua-farms to save fisheries and artificial coral reefs. The list is long. The only thing missing is cash. It would be impossible to finance all these measures with the Cape Verde government’s limited budget.

Now, though, there is hope in sight. In early February, Cape Verde signed a deal with former colonial power Portugal. Some 140 million euros of debt owed to Lisbon is to be gradually cancelled - on the condition that the entire amount is invested in a climate fund. That fund is then to be used to finance the Environment Ministry plans, though the precise shape of those plans is still under negotiation. Cape Verde is one of the more economically stable countries in Africa, which increases the chances of success for such a deal. Some 12 million euros are expected to flow into the climate fund by 2025.

"This is a real breakthrough," says Rodrigues. "And hopefully just the beginning for other creditors to follow."

  Image: Farmer Simao Dos Santos, Carmen Abd Ali / DER SPIEGEL

  Image: Solar panels have been installed to run irrigation for farmers, but there is a shortage of water. Carmen Abd Ali / DER SPIEGEL

  Image: Simoa Don Santos grows squash in his garden, but the harvest is rather meager. Carmen Abd Ali / DER SPIEGEL

Simao Dos Santos is standing barefoot in his field, and the dust he kicks up with each step is immediately blown away by the wind. The farmer bends down and lays a thin plastic hose along the dry furrows. Later, water will flow through and drip into the ground through small holes. Otherwise, nothing would grow here. Dos Santos points to the left side of the field, where green leaves are poking out of the ground – in a few weeks, he’ll be able to harvest squash. There’s little growing on the right side, despite the irrigation. Dos Santos points to a group of trees located right next to the field. "The roots take away what little water there is," the farmer explains.

The fact that he can irrigate his field at all is thanks to a government project. A well was drilled, solar panels for pumps installed, and hoses were laid to the individual fields. But the joy didn’t last for very long. The groundwater level in the area continues to drop due to a lack of rain. "We would need ten times as much water to farm the fields effectively," Dos Santos laments. Sometimes, he can’t water for a week because the pipes stay dry. The result being that a large part of his fields lie fallow.

The government now wants to try a new solution: There are plans to build a large desalination plant for seawater nearby so that the fields can be irrigated, with the Environment Ministry hoping this will significantly boost agricultural production on the island. Currently, more than 80 percent of the food on Cape Verde has to be imported, an expensive endeavor. "The new desalination plant would save us," farmer Dos Santos believes. The government has already secured funds from Hungary for the project, and the debt deal with Portugal would allow for expansion.

  Image: A desalination plant near Praia. Carmen Abd Ali / DER SPIEGEL

  Image: Around 90 percent of the drinking water of Santiago Island is produced here. Carmen Abd Ali / DER SPIEGEL

The capital city of Praia already has a similar plant, which supplies residents of the drought-stricken island of Santiago with tap water. At least it was supposed to. Senior engineer Mario Pereira is standing in front of a large monitor displaying the various pumping and filtration systems: four lines, each representing a capacity of 5,000 cubic meters. But only three of the lines light up green. The fourth is red, meaning it is out of commission. "There’s always something," Pereira mumbles, pushing a few buttons, although it does nothing to change the red status.

The desalination plant, which runs 24 hours a day, has been expanded twice - once in 2013 and again in 2022. But the operators still can’t keep up with Praia’s gigantic growth. "We fill maybe 70 percent of the demand," says engineer Pereira. "We actually need much more capacity." Demand has also been growing because many wells and dams on the island have long since dried up, and seawater is the only alternative. The plant’s electricity is generated primarily by an old diesel generators, an expensive and not exactly environmentally friendly technology. The government in Cape Verde also wants to change that in the future, and it could use the money from the debt deal with Portugal to do so.

They are still just plans, big ideas, but at least they provide a ray of hope for this country on the western edge of Africa, plagued as it is by climate change. Several other countries like Kenya, Colombia, Pakistan and Argentina are seeking similar deals with their creditors, and the model is already being implemented in some Central American and Caribbean countries. It could, in other words, become something of a standard - a beacon of hope. In part because criticism of the industrialized world - that wealthy countries are not doing enough to combat climate change - continues to grow louder.

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