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Poison Corn_opt
Of the many climatic, soil, and logistical challenges the Ghanaian agricultural industry has had to overcome in order to encourage economic growth and production capacity, none have posed a greater threat to crop efficacy than that of aflatoxin exposure. Aflatoxin – a cancer caused by product of the fungi Aspergillus – found in yam chips, groundnuts, cassava, and maize has been a chronic public health concern faced by much of the local farmers and agribusinesses of the sub-Saharan country. In an effort to ameliorate the carcinogenic side effects of the compound, health officials are working to implement a policy of aflatoxin prevention in Ghana.

Thanks in part to the increased coordination between the Food Research Institute (FRI), Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), and support funding from the Southern African Trust, a newly invigorated policy of aflatoxin prevention in Ghana will be launched. What exactly does the new prevention program entail? FRI officials are asking for mechanical driers – needed to quickly dry the grains – along with requisite storage facilities in order to prevent contamination during the rainy season. Once implemented, this robust policy of quick drying and storage is expected to mitigate the public health effects of the aflatoxin compound.

In regards to aflatoxin prevention in Ghana, FRI official George Anyebuno noted that, “These toxins are also potent causes of cancer and suppress the immune system, causing humans and animals to be more susceptible to diseases… But they are not often visible on the corn when purchased; once the maize is infected, nothing can be done to remove the toxins as they are very stable compounds even at high temperatures making the maize unwholesome.”

Thanks to a newly energized policy of aflatoxin prevention in Ghana, the chronic health and agricultural problems caused by the hazardous compound will now be addressed. Furthermore, through the deployment of a policy that includes public health awareness, prevention, and interdepartmental cooperation, the resulting health problems caused by aflatoxin contamination will finally be eliminated.

– Brian Turner

Source Ghana Business News
Photo Tree Hugger

Development Aid_opt
The GDP, growth, and income derivatives of sub-Saharan African nations help to inform NGO’s in both the structure and deployment of a well targeted policy of development. However, what if the data linking economic indicators and development in Africa were both statistically flawed and misleading? Surprisingly, there is an increasing body of evidence showing that much of the economic numbers currently being reported to aid and development organizations are in fact fictional, and that little is actually known about the income generation of many African nations.

Sub-Saharan African nations such as Ghana and Nigeria have raised the eyebrows of World Bank leaders and policy makers with their upward revisions of their economic outputs over the last several years. Both countries initially reported their GDPs as much lower than they actually were, with the former upwardly revising their numbers by 60% and the latter increasing theirs by 15%. These numbers – although seemingly unimportant from the outset – have huge implications in regards to economic status and aid apportionment. The net result of misleading economic indicators and development in Africa means that resources allocated to specific countries by donors may in fact be better utilized by nations with lower GDP’s, and that targeted development plans may or may not be yielding the results originally reported.

Regarding the misleading economic indicators and development in Africa, New York Times author Jeffrey Sachs noted that current Malawi leadership “broke old donor-led shibboleths by establishing new government programs to get fertilizer and high-yield seeds to impoverished peasant farmers who could not afford these inputs. Farm yields soared once nitrogen got back into the depleted soils.”

The generous aid packages deployed by well meaning NGO’s have been instrumentally important in the international development of many low-income countries. However, flawed economic indicators and development in Africa leads to a misappropriation of aid that could be better used by other “high-priority” targets requiring greater attention and economic assistance. International aid is a finite resource that carries with it equal amounts of opportunity and responsibility, and should be allocated primarily to those nations that are plagued by the loop of global poverty.

– Brian Turner

Source CNN
Photo The Guardian

United States Continues Aid to GhanaThe United States Ambassador to Ghana, Scott DeLisi, has stated that the United States will not be cutting the foreign aid given to Ghana. Some donor countries have backed out of Ghana after accusations of the misuse of aid money by the local government but DeLisi claims that U.S. aid dollars have not been misused and that the office will continue to stand against corruption in the local government’s use of aid money.

DeLisi said that since U.S. aid to Ghana is not part of a direct budget support system, the money does not go to the local government to spend on anything; the money is easy to track and has not been misused. DeLisi also spoke about raising wages for regional health workers in order to retain well-trained workers.

The United States gives an annual $430 million to Ghana, a country with great potential for growth, especially in the energy sector. Some of the main programs that receive U.S. funding in Ghana focus on treating TB, HIV/AIDS, and malaria. This is a great example of how the United States’ aid money is being carefully monitored as the country’s aid organizations continue to stand against corruption, assuring taxpayers that American aid goes to helping the poor and building national infrastructure. Learn more about our donor history with Ghana. 

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: allAfrica
Photo: Flickr

New Website Will Boost Ghana's AgricultureThe internet has become a great way to bring people and news together. With the click of a button, people can easily find old friends on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, simultaneously read up on local and world news, and put their views and opinions on internet platforms for other people to view. And, as people in Ghana have discovered, the internet can help boost the agriculture industry.

The United States Agency for International Development and Ghana’s Centre for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Services at the University of Ghana in Accra have recently developed an online platform that creates easy access to important information and data, such as locations of small farm holders, tractor service providers, weather stations, and warehouses. Increasing accessibility to this type of information is expected to increase the efficiency of farmers.

Currently, agriculture makes up about 25 percent of Ghana’s GDP, while approximately 50 percent of Ghanaians are employed in some aspect of the agricultural realm. Increasing efficiency will increase the product and success of crops, leading to an increase in GDP and the income of individual workers. The website will provide tools that allow for the sharing of information on agriculture and other relevant topics, leading to quicker dissemination of information and, in essence, helping to boost Ghana’s agriculture.

– Angela Hooks

Source: The Africa Report
Photo: Guardian

US Water Partnership Fights Water Challenges

It’s been one year since former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the start of the U.S. Water Partnership. The partnership consists of public and private sectors and “unites and mobilizes U.S. expertise, resources, and ingenuity to address water challenges around the globe.”

According to the fact sheet, “The USWP is an alliance of 18 U.S. government agencies and 29 U.S. private sector and civil society organizations.” However, the USWP has increased from 47 to 61 partnerships in the last year. They work together to improve water resources worldwide and focus primarily on developing countries.

The partners pledged $610 million dollars on June 20, 2012. Funded projects included: control or elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases, increased solar power pump stations, and improved desalination projects.

The success of the USWP depends on collaboration and flexibility. Partners are able to work in groups or individually. For example, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation revitalized water purification systems throughout Ghana by providing funds for the Ghana National Water Infrastructure Modernization Project.  World Vision helped boost rural and semi-urban schools in India through the “Support My School” campaign, whereas multiple organizations joined forces to provide WASH technologies. These technologies decrease infection and increase public health.

Hattie Babbitt, Chair of the USWP Steering Committee, led the USWP first anniversary event at the National Academy of Sciences on Mar. 21, 2013.  She discussed the numerous projects that could not have occurred without the help of the partnership and congratulated the ten new partners. The USWP continues to grow and progress and strives to bring each person safe drinking water.

Whitney M. Wyszynski

Source: U.S. Water Partnerships
Photo: US Water Alliance

World Poverty Declines RapidlyOxford University’s poverty and human development initiative published a world poverty report.  As world poverty declines, the report notes that “never in history have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast.”  In fact, if some countries continue to improve at current rates, it is possible to eradicate acute poverty within 20 years.

The academic study measured new deprivations, such as nutrition, education, and health. By examining more than income deprivation, the study is able to convey the bigger picture.  The new methodology is entitled to the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI).  Past studies identify income as the only indicator of poverty.  This is a misrepresentation because multiple aspects constitute poverty.

The MPI measures poor health, lack of education, inadequate living standards, lack of income, disempowerment, poor quality of work, and threats from violence.  These factors provide a holistic look as world poverty declines.

Dr. Sabina Alkire and Dr. Maria Emma Santos developed the new system.   They named the system “multidimensional” because it is what people facing poverty describe.  “As poor people worldwide have said, poverty is more than money,” Alkire said.

This increased information and understanding better inform international donors and governments.  “Maybe we have been overlooking the power of the people themselves, women who are empowering each other, civil society pulling itself up,” Alkire said.  The new data could incentivize donors to provide assistance.  International and national aid contribute to declining rates.  Improvements to infrastructure, education, and healthcare help decrease poverty rates.  Trade has improved the economies of Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone.

Rwanda, Nepal, and Bangladesh experienced the greatest decrease in poverty rates.  It is possible that “deprivation could disappear within the lifetime of present generations.”  Close behind in the ranks of poverty reduction were Ghana, Tanzania, Cambodia, and Bolivia.

The study is supported by the United Nations’ recent development report.  The UN report stated that poverty reduction was “exceeding all expectations.”

Check out the MPI interactive world map for more details.

– Whitney M. Wyszynski

Source: The Guardian

Top Priorities for Africa in 2013The Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) at Brookings released a report of top priorities for Africa.  The AGI “brings together African scholars to provide policymakers with high-quality research, expertise, and innovative solutions that promote Africa’s economic development.”  The Foresight Africa report shows promising opportunities in Africa.  It outlines the top priorities for Africa in 2013.

Moving from “economic stagnation to above 5 percent GDP growth on average,” Africa is prospering.  Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania are some of the fastest-growing economies in the world, and African governments are embracing this growth by lowering transaction costs.  Africa’s economic growth is creating a new middle class.  This middle class means new markets for goods and services.  The Foresight Africa report notes that it is a prime time for investors.

Some African countries are mirroring Asian models and engaging their diasporas for economic and social development.  South Africa, for example, is using TalentCorp’s model.  TalentCorp is a partnership between the government, the private sector and the overseas diaspora.  The model aims to bring highly skilled Malaysians living abroad back to their home country.

Countries everywhere recognize the potential in harnessing Africa’s diaspora.  In 2011, the United States Congress proposed the African Investment and Diaspora Act.  The bill was designed to support African development.  Ghana and Kenya are on the cutting-edge and have already “established units within their respective governments to oversee diaspora affairs.”  AGI’s Foresight Africa report points to these examples as models for other countries.

Check out the full report for more information.

Whitney M. Wyszynski

Source: Brookings
Photo: Daily Maverick

EU-UNICEF Project Provides Safe Water to Ghana
In an effort to combat the toxic effects of poor water quality, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with the European Union (EU), recently completed a multi-million dollar project to provide safe water to Ghana.

The project, which was centered around the Ghanaian towns of Nyankpala and Tolon, involved the construction of several steel water tanks and over twenty kilometers of pipe. The tanks – which hold 200,000 liters each – will help deliver water to more than 30,000 residents and provide a large supply of safe water to Ghana all year round.

Previously, during the seven months-long dry season, Ghanaian residents would frequently be forced to seek water from unsafe sources that are often rife with various infectious microbes, pathogens, and parasites. Subsequently, outbreaks of diarrhea and Guinea worm would cripple local communities, requiring medical attention and long waits at the clinic. By enabling safe water to Ghana, residents will no longer expose themselves to health risks in order to avoid severe dehydration and chronic thirst.

In an interview with UNICEF representative to Ghana Dr. Iyabode Olusanmi regarding the completion of the project, she remarked, “Now, school children do not have to absent themselves from school in search of water for domestic chores neither do they have to walk long distances and join long queues drinking water.” By providing safe water to Ghana, organizations such as UNICEF are helping to make a real difference in the health of communities by granting access to even the most basic of human necessities, and that being a water supply free of disease-causing bacteria.

Brian Turner

Source Ghana Business News
Photo Ghana Web

US AID Says Ghana's Fishing Industry is Rapidly Depleting Supply
At the third National Fisheries Governance Dialogue, the Mission Director for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Cheryl Anderson, revealed that Ghana’s unsustainable fishing industry is on the verge of collapse after its peak catch has dwindled significantly within the last 10 years. Just 10 years ago, the country’s fishermen were able to bring in 120,000 metric tons of fish, while today the peak catch is at a mere 30,000 metric tons.

The country’s artisanal fisherman contributes nearly 70 percent of the country’s fish supply, and fish is a main dietary staple in many households throughout Ghana, with nearly 60 percent of citizens citing fish as their main source of protein. Because of this, USAID says it is of the utmost importance to reverse unsustainable fishing practices and mitigate for what damage has already been done to the supply.

The Coastal and Fisheries Initiative, financially sponsored by US AID, is working to come up with a system that will include more efficient management of fisheries and that would allow for swift action and changed policies. The talks will include input from “Members of Parliament, traditional leaders, district chief executives, fisheries stakeholders, international consultants, chairman and officials of Fisheries Commission and World Bank representatives.”

Anderson said that US AID hopes the measures to be taken will prevent Ghana from falling into economic disarray and hunger crisis, as other countries who relied so heavily on the fishing industry have done in the past.

The Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development for Ghana admitted that the country had not used its fishing resources efficiently, with many fishing communities still poverty-ridden, but said that the administration was ready and willing to consider new methods for encouraging sustainable practices in Ghana’s fishing industry.

Christina Kindlon

Source: GhanaWeb

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