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Hilary Swank Spotted in Ethiopia
Hilary Swank’s recent trip to Ethiopia was marked by revelation and promotion. UNICEF flew Swank to visit various schools and education centers that received donations directly from the organization. The funding for this project will come directly from a new campaign launched in partnership with UNICEF and legendary watch and jewelry maker Montblanc.

The campaign encompasses Montblanc’s ‘Signature for Good’ collection which premiered earlier this month. The collection includes leather products, jewelry, and pens ranging from $220 to $810. For every product sold from the collection between now and March 2014, Montblanc will donate part of the proceeds to UNICEF’s education programs, funding schools that Swank visited.

According to Hilary Swank, the chance to visit Ethiopia and see first hand the benefits of the money being donated renewed her appreciation for organizations such as UNICEF and their efforts. She commented that seeing the books and learning material that the schools were able to accumulate due to these donations was “pretty extraordinary.”

For celebrities, it seems almost too easy to make their way over to a developing country, whether its because they’re already there on set or making a charity trip. Since their every move is already accounted for by the paparazzi who wait for them at gas stations and fast-food restaurants, a trip of such a scale would most definitely create a bigger buzz in the media. For causes big and small, piggy-backing off of a celebrity’s Google search carries no shame. It gives an opportunity for the world to find out more about these corners of the world even if that wasn’t their initial intention when searching for “Hilary Swank’s teeth”.

– Deena Dulgerian
Source:Star Pulse

Books For Africa Teams Up With The Peace CorpsBy pairing with the Peace Corps and other nonprofits, Books for Africa has become the world’s largest shipper of donated books to the African continent. With its headquarters based in St. Paul, Minnesota, Books for Africa has shipped nearly 27 million books to 48 countries in the past 25 years.

In countries where few classrooms have suitable resources, Books for Africa ship libraries of new scholarly and leisurely texts as well as new law and human rights texts. Classrooms in countries such as Ghana, Ethiopia and South Africa are filled with avid learners whose parents have sacrificed greatly to provide them with an education but often lack adequate supplies.

While many classrooms have adequate textbooks to constitute as reading material, noted on project organizer, the establishment of reading centers such as libraries indulge the hope that “Ethiopian children and their families will be able to experience the joys of reading and literacy activities directly.”

– Pete Grapentien

Source Huffington Post

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 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 percent 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 percent 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 its energy portfolio fourfold by 2015.

Christina Mattos Kindlon

Source: The Guardian

Canada Pledges $13 Million to Mali for Humanitarian EffortsIt seems that global media has been bouncing back and forth between reports on Mali and Syria. Both countries have been submerged in the mountainous political upheaval that many of us living here in the United States and other peaceful countries are not able to comprehend, due to no fault of ours. One way in which observers of these revolutions (yes these are revolutions and not merely protests or civil strife as the media chooses to call them) can help make a difference is by choosing on what issues to focus both their money and attention on. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper took the first step towards the right direction earlier this week at a global donor meeting in Ethiopia. Canada has made humanitarian efforts.

According to the Canadian media, Canada’s $13 million aid to Mali for humanitarian purposes stood out among the millions of dollars pledged by other countries specifically for combat resources and other military costs for AFISMA (the African coalition of about 20 countries and 3500 troops fighting against the Islamists in Mali).

However, the BBC notes that donations from other countries, such as the United States, Germany, and China, are also directed towards “Afisma, humanitarian assistance, logistics, improving security and the future development of Mali”.

Nevertheless, the Canadian government withstood arguments made on behalf of the African Union to put more money and troops into AFISMA’s military campaign. Prime Minister Harper made it clear that Canada will no longer be sending troops but instead “will continue its lifesaving work in Mali through humanitarian and development assistance”.

When political unrest creates such horrid living conditions in a country at war, it is understandable how concerned countries may be caught in the middle of choosing between military or humanitarian assistance. However, it can be viewed as a cycle, where choosing which end to start with makes the difference. By becoming involved at the ground level in the villages, schools, and health centers, outside aid can create stability, survival, and small patches of peace, which will hopefully create an internal domino effect. These acts may not remove the Islamist forces from the north in Mali, but they surely create a more constructive path with fewer deaths instead of instigating fighting with tank and arms donations.

As governments make decisions on where to funnel their money, the people of Mali will be patiently waiting. For them, other than becoming refugees, there is not much they can do against hunger and weapons. While keeping in mind the importance of political stability and the different ways to achieve it, the African Union and future global-donor meetings will hopefully not call for special meetings focused on collecting only a certain kind of assistance, especially when that assistance is not for the basic survival needs of the people of Mali.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source: CTV,BBC
Photo: CTV

Curbing Maternal Death In EthiopiaWhile Ethiopia’s health system has improved, women are still dying from common birthing complications that can occur before, during and after childbirth. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) reports that approximately 25,000 maternal deaths occur annually.

Luwei Pearson, Chief of the Health Section at the UN Children Fund (UNICEF) in Ethiopia said, “There must be efforts to ensure that health facilities are not just available but that they are also functional by, for instance, fitting them with electricity and piped water.”

As of 2011, Ethiopia recorded 676 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births. In 2005, there were only 673 maternal deaths recorded. Ethiopia aims to decrease its current maternal death rate to 267 as of 2015.

The five major causes of maternal mortality in Ethiopia are ruptured uterus, abortion complications, postpartum hemorrhage, puerperal sepsis, and preeclampsia/eclampsia.

The Ethiopian government has created steps to lower the rates of maternal death. These initiatives include the use of a scorecard to determine the effectiveness of the health system as well as the creation of a health extension program that has trained about 30,000 extension, health workers.

Currently, only 1% of expectant mothers deliver with the supervision of extension health workers. The Ministry of Health reports that these workers have individually helped 2,500 people. The number helped will increase as more extension health workers are trained.

Rural areas require particular attention as around 83% of Ethiopia’s 87.1 million residents reside in rural areas. There is a drastic difference between the percentages of babies delivered with the help of skilled personnel in urban versus rural areas with 45% in urban areas and only 3% in rural areas.

Health facilities must also be built in order to ensure hygienic birthing conditions in rural areas. The University of Addis Ababa determined in 2009 that in the rural Tigray Region, 80% of maternal deaths occur in the home and 50% were the result of failed transportation to a health facility.

“We are optimistic that [the] goal [of reducing child and maternal mortality] is achievable… because we have seen Ethiopia achieve a more than 40 percent reduction in child mortality [among children] under five in the last five years. We have seen sub-Saharan Africa achieve a 39 percent reduction,” said Rajiv Shah, administrator at the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

– Kasey Beduhn

Source: IRIN
Photo: World News Network