Information and stories about Africa.

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mozambique-flood-victims
The nation of Mozambique experienced one of the worst floods in recent history due to extremely high amounts of rainfall throughout the month of January. The province of Gaza has been especially damaged by floodwater. Over 250,000 have been affected by the floods, with 150,000 people forced out of their homes in the province and over 100 killed.

While the victims of flooding in Mozambique are dealing with destroyed homes and families, the natural disaster has been exacerbated by the outbreak of cholera. There have been over 250 cases so far, fortunately no cases have proved fatal. Mozambique has experienced problems with cholera for years, so their response has been effective thus far. However, the potential for more flooding means that they must remain vigilant.

The complete rebuilding effort is estimated to cost over $30 million, according to The Humanitarian Country Team in Mozambique, an organization comprised of NGO and UN officials. UNICEF itself seeks $6.8 million from this fund to pay for projects to improve the welfare of children and those around them, like building clean water pumps and constructing new homes.

According to Jesper Morch of UNICEF, “emergency supplies and funding has been depleted…we urgently need additional funds if we are to help many children and families recover.”

Jake Simon

Sources: news24, UNICEF, Al Jazeera
Photo: Times Live

A Peace of Pizza
When most of us grab a quick slice of pizza, we don’t think twice about it. For the villagers of Fada N’Gourma, however, a slice of pizza in Africa means so much more than satisfying hunger or a late-night craving.

Claudio Vanni, from the Italian foundation “Heart Melts”, has established 3 pizzeria-bakeries in the small West African country of Burkina Faso. Workers from Heart Melts construct the restaurants, bring in all the technical resources and machinery, and train the employees, who are mostly youth coming in from the villages. The average pizzeria brings in about 20,000 euros in revenue which is used to fund other investments, including a carpentry school nearby.

These pizzerias have provided an ample source of job training and have helped modernize the small village in this uniquely peaceful country. While thousands of Malians flee to refugee camps in the northern region in Burkina Faso, the rest of the country is slowly bringing itself up on its feet and out of poverty.

Burkina Faso lies between Ghana, Niger, and Mali; countries that are of no shortage of civil strife. For those living in Burkina Faso, they experience a much different reality of religious freedom, with over 62 different ethnic groups living together in relative peace.

Projects such as Vanni’s pizzeria will not only help create jobs and a sense of self for the villagers but more importantly, will ensure that Burkina Faso remains a peaceful nation despite its struggling neighbors. “If this country explodes with ethnic and religious hatred like in Mali, Niger, Uganda…all of Western Africa will be ablaze,” says Monsignor Andre Cristiani, founder of the Shalom Movement. M. Cristiani found that when outside agencies and efforts are brought in such as Heart Melts, it gives Africans a change to ‘learn and do’ and not simply ‘take’.

Months after the conference “L’Africa sviluppa l’Africa” (“Africa Developing Africa”), this pizzeria is yet again another illustration of the age-old proverb “give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”. The Shalom Movement prides itself on the belief that Africa has all the internal power and passion it needs to bring itself out of poverty.

With ventures like “Heart Melts”, a world of opportunities is created; not just for job training, but also for community growth, self-purpose, and peace.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source: World Crunch

LifeExpectancy

The 10 countries with the shortest life expectancy can be found in one continent, Africa, with the exception of Afghanistan. Short life expectancy in Sub-Saharan Africa can be caused by famine, poor governments, low levels of education (research has suggested that education correlates with healthcare awareness), availability of clean water, and the existence of widespread AIDS. In Afghanistan, the main reason for short life expectancy has been due to infant mortality and women not surviving through childbirth. According to the Guardian, better access to healthcare in the last decade has helped cut infant mortality rates in Afghanistan.

What can we do? Well, donating and persuading our government to give more foreign aid helps solve the poverty issue. Once these countries move up, they can begin to fund higher levels of education, afford advanced agricultural tools which can help sustain growth, and improve healthcare.

(Listed top-to-bottom from the country with the shortest life expectancy)

1. Chad

48.69

2. Guinea-Bissau

49.11

3. South Africa

49.41

4. Swaziland

49.42

5. Afghanistan

49.72

6. Central African Republic

50.48

7. Somalia

50.80

8. Zimbabwe

51.82

9. Lesotho

51.86

10. Mozambique

52.02

Leen Abdallah

Source: CIA World Factbook, The Guardian, Econs Guide
Photo: Google: Short Life Expectancy

End Poverty in Africa

As President Obama begins his second term, Reverend Derrick Boykin and his organization African-American Voices for Africa are asking that he make four policies his priority to end poverty in Africa. During the last decade, six of the world’s fastest growing economies were in Africa. This is due in no small part to assistance from United States. Sustaining this commitment, Boykin writes, “will help create the future we want for all of our sisters and brothers — a future marked by growth, shared responsibility, and mutual respect.”

 Maintain effective development assistance and trade policies for African agriculture. It is estimated that 80 percent of Africans make their living from farming. Initiatives that help to make resources available to develop agricultural infrastructure and diversify African economies are essential for the many people that rely on farming for their livelihood. Trade policies that encourage things such as revising subsidy levels, reducing tariff limitations, and strengthening smallholder farmers are essential to achieving this goal.

 Continue efforts to promote maternal and child nutrition. The group that has been affected most by rising food prices and the global financial crisis are children under the age of two. The first 1,000 days of a child’s life from pregnancy to its second birthday are critical and any harm done is often irreversible. The best way to ensure that the first two years are healthy ones are to promote important habits of hygiene and nutrition such as breast-feeding, healthy staple foods, hand-washing with soap, and therapeutic foods for those that are malnourished.

 Reduce the African debt burden. The United States, as a world leader, should use its leverage to convince multilateral agencies such as the International Development Agency to provide interest free loans and grants to poor African countries. Once African countries are free from their past debts, the growth that they are already experiencing can really take effect and push its many economies to not just survive, but to flourish and end poverty in Africa.

 Encourage standards of social responsibility. In the past, outside sources doing private sector business in Africa have been less than fair. Through regulatory policies such as the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, established at the May 2012 G-8 Summit, organizations must now be transparent about the business that they are doing in Africa. This will lessen the amount of corruption in Africa by outside sources. It is important that we continue to hold companies accountable for the business that they practice to ensure that they work in Africa’s best interest.

Sean Morales

Source: Huffington Post
Photo: The Guardian

African-Mining-Conference

Last week concluded the 19th annual Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa. The African Mining Indaba is an extremely important conference when it comes to maintaining global resources. With about 100 countries represented, 1000 international companies, and over 7,500 attendees, AMI spans over four days, not including the golf tournament.

Over these four days, investors, government officials, professors, economists, and directors from all over come to learn more about how to improve the mining culture in Africa and how it affects the global economy. A main part of the conference is the Sustainable Development segment. Here, speakers come together from different sectors to discuss mining’s environmental, economical, and social impact in and outside of Africa.

In order to prevent Africa’s resources from becoming too depleted, mining experts urged companies and their directors to develop more sustainable practices. Improved practices will make resources more durable so that the land and communities near mining sites will remain intact and in good condition.

When dealing with treasuries and mineral reserves, the economics behind mining starts focusing on the labor force and the numerous labor strikes. It is no secret that there is corruption within the mining market and its involvement in funding rebels and civil wars within Africa. The panel discussion on transparency and anti-corruption was created to address this very issue: for mining companies to make public their audits and payments to foreign governments in order to gain the trust of their workers and the communities around the mines.

The most important thing attendees of African Mining Indaba can take away is the fact that mining in Africa has the power to completely change the lives of millions, both in the African Union and elsewhere. The more transparent mining firms become in terms of regulations and in abiding the African Mining Vision, which strives “to harness the continent’s mineral revenues for more sustainable human development”, the better the relationship between the general population, companies, and government officials will be.

With numerous keynote speakers and presenters speaking about this subject at the conference, the event brings hope that there will be a change in the African mining culture that is so desperately needed.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source: ONE.org, Mining Indaba

Geothermal_Energy_Ethiopia
In a new program, the World Bank is partnering with the Development Bank of Ethiopia to fund geothermal energy exploration in the country, which is extremely rich in geothermal resources that lay through the Great Rift Valley.

Up until recently, no geothermal energy projects have been pursued in the Ethiopia due to high costs and lack of funding, but the new project will fund an initial $20 million to ignite such projects, with an additional $20 million to be given down the road. The agreement states that the World Bank will pledge $200 million towards developing Ethiopia’s energy infrastructure.

This is not the first energy investment the World Bank has made in Ethiopia; they gave $40 million to the country’s private sector for renewable energy pursuits last year. Initial funds will be put towards exploratory drilling to determine the potential of geothermal projects, and once more information is available, the World Bank will start accepting proposals from organizations and investors interested in developing geothermal projects and power plants within Ethiopia.

Other such geothermal projects have already been in the works by the African Development Bank, with geothermal programs slated for Kenya, Tanzania, and Djibouti. Professor Paul Younger of Glasgow University asserts that the promise for geothermal development in these areas of East Africa is great, with Kenya as the latest “success story.” Although projects in other areas are merely in the preliminary stages, Dr. Younger maintains that the energy industry in the region is developing quickly, and energy development in Eritrea and Uganda may even be possible in the future.

Along with rich geothermal resources, Ethiopia also has considerable hydropower potential of up to 45,000 MW, taking into consideration the great water and rainfall resources in the country. Hydropower already accounts for 86% of energy produced there, so officials recognize the need to diversify current energy sources, and are aiming to harness the potential 5,000 MW of energy that geothermal technologies can offer. The country’s dependence on water resources for power are especially alarming in light of climate change issues, which include increasingly sporadic rainfall and drought conditions.

Although the country has come very far in energy development within the last few years, 85% of the population still lacks access to an affordable source of energy. The country is hoping to provide for the population and decrease dependency on hydropower through aggressive pursuits of renewable energy. As part of the five-year plan, Ethiopia is aiming to increase their energy portfolio fourfold by 2015.

Christina Mattos Kindlon

Source: The Guardian

Brain Drain
The encouraging news is that, over all, African students who study abroad are returning to Africa for many reasons. The “Brain Drain”, when students go elsewhere to study and never return, has been a serious problem all over the continent with students attending universities in the United States and Europe and staying there to work.

As of late more and more students are returning to their home countries because of the growing number of opportunities for young businessmen and women to make profit and a difference. The changing trend is not to be strictly attributed to a sense of duty. Instead, business sense and entrepreneurship fuel the change. A greater retention of the best-educated scholars could lead to new businesses, job creation, social change and a higher level of government efficiency- all changes that would be welcomed throughout many Sub-Saharan countries.

As seen in many international aid programs, the most successful projects are those in which the local community is invested and involved. The growing return rate of students aids the “local” aspect and also leads to business growth as well.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source:Voice of America
Photo: CAFWD

drc

Peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo may finally be on its way. With nearly four million people killed since the outbreak of the war in 1998, the DRC is one of the deadliest countries on earth.

Although some kind of comfort and lull may have briefly calmed the residents of the DRC, the recent attack in November by the M23 rebel group had taken over the provincial capital of Goma. Following the attack, a series of riots and chaos erupted around the city, concerning peacemakers and leaders and raising serious questions about the stability in Congo.

There has been a UN report that the M23 rebel group was supported by Rwanda, but President Kagame denied the accusation to CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour. In their interview together, Kagame told Amanpour, “It’s a big ‘no’ on the issue of saying that I am accepting this kind of responsibility, but what I am accepting is that people can work together to find a solution to this problem that affects Rwanda [and] also affects the Congo.”

Congo’s conflict has seriously threatened development. Considered as the deadliest and one of the poorest countries in the world, the emphasis on peace has become a key to the leaders and peacemakers of the DRC and other nations.

Prime Minister Matata Ponyo Mapon stated, “Peace is really now at our reach in the whole of the DRC. If M23 rebels did not have external support to come and destabilize both territories, by now, we would have had peace and security in the whole of the DRC.”

While peace cannot be obtained overnight, Prime Minister Matata Ponyo Mapon is currently striving for peace by pursuing further diplomacy at the United Nations, in the United States, and in Washington, D.C.

Jada Chin

Source: CNN

UN_Panel_MDG_Poverty
The UN’s High Level Panel on the Post 2015 Development Agenda met last week in Liberia to discuss the continuing goal of diminishing global poverty. The panel, which is co-chaired by British Prime Minister David Cameron, includes 27 world leaders and is responsible for generating ideas to challenge poverty after the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  A series of three meetings are scheduled, and the panel is set to reconvene in May 2013.

The panel will create goals to combat poverty beyond 2015, and will do so by hearing from local communities, charities, corporations, and experts in international development to formulate their priorities for fighting global poverty in the future. The panel is also encouraging comments and suggestions from individuals, and has set up two avenues for citizens to express their opinions  and ideas – My World, a survey of global issues, and World We Want 2015.

Although the panel has three general areas of interest – environmental sustainability, social equity, and economic improvement – the primary focus is specifically on Africa. Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, also co-chair to the panel, stated, “Through robust consultations, we are hearing what the world considers a reasoned, practical development agenda that can successfully eliminate the myriad dimensions of poverty by 2015 and beyond.”

Christina Mattos Kindlon

Source: AllAfrica

 

 

 

 

MenAfriVac immunization

Providing vaccines for children in Africa may be easier if vaccines created for Europe or the U.S. were redesigned for Africa. In 2001, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) took the first step with the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP). The aim of MVP was to eradicate the meningitis epidemic internationally, with a particular focus on the African countries that had received financial aid from the Gates Foundation.

MVP developed the MenAfricVac vaccine. The Serum Institute of Indian Limited then produced and tested MenAfriVac on people between the ages of 1-29 in the meningitis belt, which includes countries like Mali, Gambia, Senegal and Ghana.

MenAfriVac was determined to protect people from ages 1-29 from meningitis caused by meningococcal A. It also was found to be the first vaccine that could be kept for up to 4 days at 40 degrees, and is currently priced at $0.50 a dose.

“This is the first time that a vaccine intended for use in Africa has been tested and submitted to regulatory review and approved for this type of use. And we expect this announcement to build momentum for applying the concept to other vaccines and initiatives, allowing us to save more lives in low-income countries,” said Michel Zaffran, director of Project Optimize, the PATH-WHO collaboration.

PATH and WHO believe vaccines against yellow fever, hepatitis B, HPV, rotavirus and pneumococcal disease could all be kept at higher temperatures than the typical 2-8 degrees prescribed by the manufacturers.

“We’re now working with one manufacturer to re-label hepatitis B,” said Simona Zipursky from the WHO. “It’s something people have become more and more aware of as possible, but as an immunization community we have been a little bit afraid.”

Evenly Adda, the Acting Municipal Health Director of the Kessena Nankana East, said the outbreak of meningitis has reduced significantly since MenAfriVac was introduced. Last year only one out of the six people diagnosed with meningitis died.

But, MenAfriVac remained unable to protect children under 1 year old.

This has been fixed with the Navrongo Health Research Centre’s (NHRC) discovery of a new conjugate vaccine which protects children under 1 year old from meningitis.

The new conjugate vaccine was created through the efforts of NHRC’s research team, health centre staff, district health management team, regional health directorate and with the help of collaborators that include WHO, UNICEF, MVP, and the University of Sienna.

The Principal Investigator of the Research, Dr. Abraham Hodgson, said the new conjugate vaccine will be available at EPI in 2015. He also said that the Centre is working on the development of a vaccine that can fight various types of meningitis.

– Kasey Beduhn

Source: The Guardian
Photo: Meningitis Vaccine Project