The French military intervention in Mali since mid-January and much of the official discussion of Mali in the UN and among Western governments seem to have been driven by a quite narrow and short-term view of the issues the country faces. As in anything, if the problem is mis-diagnosed, the solution will probably mis-fire.
A fortnight ago I announced that the UK, through the Department for International Development, would throw its weight behind the global movement to finally bring an end Female Genital Cutting (FGC). Momentum is building and I firmly believe we have a chance to end the practice within a generation...
So, what is really happening in the Northern hemisphere? Why are nations referred as developed, in huge trouble? Is it because of the rise of China and India; the end of colonialism, and progressive coming to an end of neo-colonialism; and the decryption of western technological secrets by some emerging markets, leading to a new world economic order?
World Water Day is today, a time to pause and appreciate a substance that is available to us so freely and cheaply in the developed world. It is a day to address the fact that 783 million people in the world do not have access to clean water - representing roughly one in ten of the world's population.
On the surface, Pope Francis bears many similarities to his predecessor. The Cardinals it seems stuck to the traditional model, an elderly white man. But that only accounts for physical similarity. Beneath the surface however, the newly elected Pope Francis couldn't be more different from the Pope Emeritus.
We know this: that all art is the product of the modern human brain with its beginnings, over 100,000 years ago, in Africa. There, our species Homo sapiens sapiens evolved before spreading out around the globe to become the most successful animal ever. Those who migrated to the icy lands of Europe encountered Neanderthal people who, having evolved there over such a long period, had probably developed fair skin. The dark skinned, fully modern migrants who interbred with them produced the first figurative art in Europe. They themselves, in turn, gradually became fairer as they adapted to life at higher latitudes. Those are the facts. This is fiction: 'Race'.
Mali, along with several of its neighbouring countries in the Sahel region of West Africa, remains in a state of crisis. The rebel threat has not gone away, despite their withdrawal from strategic towns, and the recent fighting has increased tensions between different ethnic groups, some of whom have been associated with the rebels' cause.
In Africa, a solar revolution with different motivation is underway. Whereas in Europe, solar is part of the renewable energy mix that will help wean the European Union off CO2, in Africa, many people have not heard about climate change and a similar impetus does not exist for tackling fossil fuel dependency. In Africa a more urgent desire exists simply to 'develop'.
I was actually at the launch of the Commission for Africa in May 2005. While the Commission made a big show about having African input into the consultations, I couldn't help but notice that the Ethiopian I was sat next to was one of the few Africans in the audience. Everyone else seemed much of a piece: officials from BINGOs (Big NGOs), western journalists, a few civil servants, and Labour Party workers.