Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category
“NAIROBI, 2 March 2012 (IRIN) – How is it that the world’s most popular fizzy drink reaches even the farthest-flung corners of the planet, yet vast numbers of children in developing countries die for lack of one of the cheapest and most effective preparations known to medical science?
The world’s second-biggest cause of child mortality, diarrhoea, kills about 1.5 million children every year. Three-quarters of these deaths could be prevented with a simple course of oral rehydration salts (ORS) combined with zinc tablets, at a cost of just US$0.50 per patient.
Yet, despite being heavily promoted by the World Health Organization since the 1970s, fewer than 40 percent of child diarrhoea cases in developing countries are treated with ORS. That figure falls below 1 percent when the treatment includes zinc, which reduces not only the duration and severity of diarrhoeal episodes but also the likelihood of subsequent infections.
“The challenge is not what to do but how to deliver [ORS] at very high coverage,” Abdulai Tinorgah, who heads the UN Children’s Fund’s Child Survival and Development section in Nairobi, told IRIN.”
via IRIN Global | GLOBAL: Follow the fizz, save a life | Global | Zambia | Aid Policy | Health & Nutrition.
“Leapfrogging is the umbrella name for the systems available to us today that make all this possible. Cloud computing, social media, new professional paradigms such as social entrepreneurship, below-the-line marketing and a host of novel realities have transformed the global context for Africans with their eyes set on continental and beyond-continental scale…..
…..Quite clearly, while leapfrogging might contribute powerfully to hacking physical infrastructure, it is less useful when it comes to soft (cultural, social, regulatory etc.) infrastructure. Therein lies its limitation in driving the African Renaissance.
So what is my one big idea?
Leapfrogging is a set of tools and techniques, not a conceptual or ideological description of the socioeconomic evolution of Africa now or in the near future. What matters is how entrepreneurs and innovators, especially social innovators, employ this set of tools within prevailing constraints. That, and not the poetic power of a renaissance motif, will transform Africa, one entrepreneurial triumph after another.”
via Africa’s Chance to Leapfrog the West – Bright B. Simons – Harvard Business Review.
“Can something as simple as barcoding enable Liberia to resume its timber trade while still protecting its forests? The system’s inventors at the British company Helveta call it “the world’s most advanced nationwide verification system for wood products.” Initially funded by USAID, the scheme has covered all the country’s commercial logged forests for the past two years.
Every tree in a forest with a logging concession must be tagged with a unique barcode. When that tree is cut, the action is recorded and new tags are attached to each log. Every log that turns up at a port has to be traceable back to a stump in a forest. It’s as simple and as foolproof as checking out at the supermarket, says Ivan Muir, the local boss of SGS, the Swiss specialists in forest certification systems who are in charge of making it happen. Muir also issues export permits for the timber — which mostly gets turned into furniture and paneling — and monitors royalty payments to the government.”
via By Barcoding Trees, Liberia Looks to Save its Rainforests by Fred Pearce: Yale Environment 360.
“In the next 20 years, both farming and agro-industries in Africa need to undergo profound structural transformations in order to generate the jobs, incomes and food products so badly needed by the continent’s growing population. To be able to make the vital transition from the current agriculture-led growth strategy to a more prosperous agribusiness development strategy, the power of market demand will be essential to fully developing African agribusiness capacities and achieving international competitiveness.
In this seminar, Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella, Director-General of UNIDO, will discuss strategic policy recommendations set forth in the new book “Agribusiness for Africa’s Prosperity”. John Staatz, Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University, will offer his perspective on both the challenges facing Africa’s agribusiness development, as well as the opportunities most likely to provide food, jobs and income to the millions of Africans who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.
Copies of the book “Agribusiness for Africa’s Prosperity” will be available at the seminar. The book can also be downloaded from the UNIDO website: http://www.unido.org/index.php?id=1000076.”
via Agribusiness for Africa’s Prosperity | International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
“Dr. Pepin’s research over the years also involved testing the blood of older Africans; and he spent years sifting through historical documents on the colonial period – newspapers, records, academic studies – in capitals across Europe. His turning point, he said, came one day in the southern French city of Marseilles. He was poring over medical archives and found a motherlode of original records crammed with painstaking charts and entries outlining the massive use of injections in colonial Africa.
“That day was a revelation. I realized that these reports probably contained a big part of the explanation of what happened behind the emergence of AIDS,” he said. “If there hadn’t been those medical campaigns, in my opinion, there probably wouldn’t have been an AIDS epidemic.”
Being French-speaking helped him to tackle the mounds of records from the French and Belgian colonial powers, he added.
His work led him to connect the dots between that first bush hunter, who probably got infected with HIV while manipulating chimpanzee meat, to the sex trade in fast-growing African cities decades later. Then, in a more speculative turn, he believes the virus bridged the Atlantic with a single Haitian teacher returning home in the 1960s after working in Zaire, before spreading through a Haitian plasma centre, sex tourism and finally surfacing among gay men in California.
Published this month by Cambridge University Press, the book is being praised by AIDS experts, even as some admit they had never previously heard of Dr. Pepin. His home is in Sherbrooke, 150 kilometres east of Montreal, where he heads the University of Sherbrooke’s infectious-diseases department.
Max Essex, chairman of the Harvard School of Public Health’s AIDS Initiative, describes the book as more scholarly and “substantial” than previous works that try to trace the path of AIDS before the 1980s.
“This was the first thing I’ve seen that tried to explain the origin of HIV … with all the phases of the emergence, through to the larger epidemic,” Dr. Essex said in an interview.
Oliver Pybus of the University of Oxford, an evolutionary biologist and AIDS researcher, said Dr. Pepin’s study of historical records from central Africa “makes his work new and insightful.”
Prof. Pepin said that even if his book focuses on the historical trail of the AIDS epidemic, it also contains the seeds of a cautionary tale for the medical world today.
“Doctors and scientists can draw a lesson in prudence and humility from this,” he said. “When you manipulate nature in a way you don’t completely understand, the consequences can be unpredictable and absolutely disastrous.” “
via Canadian researcher traces AIDS to single bush hunter from 1921 – The Globe and Mail.
In the competitive space of philanthropy and philanthrocapitalism, how do you break through the clutter and get people engaged in an issue that isn’t the tug-on-your-heart-strings norm?
This week, The Paradigm Project hopes to do just that by starting a conversation about fuel-efficient cook stoves. They hope to bring to light the issues that women in many parts of Africa face each day walking up to 15 miles to find wood to cook food with their live Woodwalk campaign. It’s a 10-day walk from San Diego to Los Angeles (October 4–13, 2011) during which a team of founders, staff, partners, and volunteers are carrying 50-pound bundles of wood on their backs replicating the trials and challenges of the women they’re working to help. At the finish line in Los Angeles on October 13th, they will construct an “African cooking experience” complete with a traditional Kenyan hut that they’ll also be cooking in along the way.
Visitors will have an opportunity to step inside and experience the smoky hut, which is equal to smoking 40 cigarettes per day.
The Paradigm Project is utilizing five uncommon sense principals to get in front of the people whose help they need to create permanent change:
via The Paradigm Project: A Model For Getting People Excited About Uncommon Causes | Fast Company.
The Paradigm Project has made it its mission to create a compelling experience with the Woodwalk, while engaging the local community to take action and assist in raising funds as the organization develops their work in East Africa. With these necessary elements, The Paradigm Project hopes to end open-fire cooking for 25 million people by implementing more than 5 million fuel-efficient rocket stoves before 2020.
You can learn more about the issue and The Paradigm Project’s proposed solution, which has been recognized twice by the Clinton Global Initiative, here. You can also learn more about the Woodwalk or find out how to get involved here.
” “Wangari Maathai combined the protection of the environment, with the struggle for women’s rights and fight for democracy,” he said.
Maathai said during her 2004 Peace Prize acceptance speech that the inspiration for her life’s work came from her childhood experiences in rural Kenya. There she witnessed forests being cleared and replaced by commercial plantations, which destroyed biodiversity and the capacity of forests to conserve water.
After arap Moi left government, Maathai served as an assistant minister for the environment and natural resources ministry.
Although the tree-planting campaign launched by her group, the Green Belt Movement, did not initially address the issues of peace and democracy, Maathai said it became clear over time that responsible governance of the environment was not possible without democracy.
“Therefore, the tree became a symbol for the democratic struggle in Kenya. Citizens were mobilized to challenge widespread abuses of power, corruption and environmental mismanagement,” Maathai said.
Maathai’s work was quickly recognized by groups and governments the world over, winning awards, accolades and partnerships with powerful organizations. Meanwhile, her dedication to nature remained, as could be seen in her role in a movie called “Dirt! The Movie,” where Maathai narrated the story of a hummingbird carrying one drop of water at a time to fight a forest fire, even as animals like the elephant asked why the hummingbird was wasting his energy.
“It turns to them and tells them, ‘I’m doing the best I can.’ And that to me is what all of us should do. We should always feel like a hummingbird,” she said. “I certainly don’t want to be like the animals watching as the planet goes down the drain. I will be a hummingbird. I will do the best I can.”
Recognizing that never-say-die attitude, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Maathai’s death “strikes at the core of our nation’s heart.” Odinga said Maathai died just as the causes she fought for were getting the attention they deserve.
The United Nations Environment Program called Maathai one of Africa’s foremost environmental campaigners and recalled that Maathai was the inspiration behind UNEP’s 2006 Billion Tree Campaign. More than 11 billion trees have been planted so far.”
via First African woman to win Nobel Peace Prize dies | The Associated Press | News | Washington Examiner.
“The solution to Africa lies squarely on its youth. This is according to world renown and music legend Youssou N’Dour. The Senegalese artiste, one of the greatest in the world, advises that African leaders must engage the youth if the continent is to grow.”
via ONE.org Africa Blog | African youth hold keys to continent’s future – Youssou N’Dour.
The Senegalese Grammy award-winning artiste was in Kenya last week visiting the refugee camps in Daadab in the North-Eastern Province where he called for “inadvertible and undivided focus” on the plight of children affected by the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa. More than 12 million people are in desperate need of food, water and basic sanitation.
He at the same time lauded charity organisations on the ground helping the needy starting with UNICEF.
“I am confident that humanitarian agencies are doing everything they can to reach those who need their help,” he said. “We have a responsibility to do all that we can so that every child can be reached, their immediate needs met, their health is safeguarded and that they are protected from all harm.”
He also called on African leaders to end the annual cycle of drought and disease in the region. “African nations, African figureheads and African communities, alongside other world leaders, need to prioritise lasting solutions by strengthening governance so the right investments are made in basic services, championing peace so that people are no longer forced to flee their homes and livelihoods and empowering local communities from where the process of change will emerge,” he said.”
Agriculture as a catalyst for health and social change in Ghana. An excellent prescriptive model.
“Ghana’s transformation over the past decade has made it one of the more politically stable countries in Africa, and, as President Kufuor writes, Ghana has “made some of the greatest progress in reducing hunger, poverty, and malnutrition.”
Kufuor, a recently announced recipient of the 2011 World Food Prize, served as Ghana’s democratically elected president from 2001-2009. In the opening of the report, titled “Ghana’s Transformation,” he writes, “When I became Ghana’s President in 2000, my country needed solutions for hunger, malnutrition, and a host of other problems.”
Kufuor found agriculture to be a catalyst for these solutions. Agriculture is critical to Ghana’s economy, as some 60 percent of the country’s population depends directly on rural agriculture. Kufuor’s administration worked to harness an agriculture transformation to strengthen the nation’s economy.”
via John Kufuor helps transform Ghana into a model for African agriculture – CSMonitor.com.
A multifaceted approach to food production , health and nutrition is especially critical in the early growing stadges of a child. It is a welcome foresight to view that not just quantity but also nutritional quality of food is being considered.
“Gaps remain in research and data on how agriculture can help boost people’s nutritional status. A 2007 report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and World Bank said: “Malnutrition remains an urgent global public health concern. Yet the question of how agriculture can most effectively contribute to improved nutrition outcomes remains essentially unanswered.”
One of the paper’s authors, Marie Ruel, director of IFPRI’s poverty, health and nutrition division, says this question is still largely unanswered, partly because any initiatives over the years have not been well documented.
What has changed in the past few years, however, is that many more policymakers, donors and researchers are talking about it, she said. “A lot more people are recognizing that we really don’t have the choice; we have to bring the sectors together, we have to make agriculture recognize better its role in providing not just enough food to feed people but also enough of the quality, nutritious foods, and that these are made more accessible to the poor.”
Agriculture could boost nutrition either by increasing income so a family can purchase more and higher quality food, or by helping farmers produce more nutrient-rich foods. The merits and effectiveness of both are still under study but, IFPRI’s Ruel said, neither approach can be standalone.
“Having the right foods at the household level, either because you produce them or because you buy them in the market, is not enough; people need to know how to use the food and how to use it for the age groups that are most vulnerable to malnutrition – that is, of course, young children and women of child-bearing age.
“The key to success [in countries that have made progress] has been to press all the buttons at the same time, that is, address the problems in the society that contribute to poor nutrition, while also targeting vulnerable groups with specific nutrition interventions, for example, micronutrient supplementation and promotion of optimal breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices.”
She said the 2007-2008 food price crisis had been a wake-up call about the need to incorporate nutrition into other social sectors. “I think the fact that nutrition was always the orphan and always falling between the cracks is maybe less of an issue now because other sectors are… interested in finding ways to incorporate nutrition in social protection, in agriculture, in education.” “
via IRIN Africa | GUINEA: Nutrition finds a place in agriculture plan | Guinea | Children | Food Security | Health & Nutrition.