3 Big Ways UNICEF Is Helping Displaced Children In SyriaOut of the 2.1 million residents of Homs, 600,000 have been displaced by the Syrian conflict. This number, roughly 28%, is expected to increase as the violence continues. To help the people in need UNICEF has responded to the need of children in Syria in three big ways.

3. Establishing Remedial Classes in Neighborhood Shelters
UNICEF has established makeshift classrooms in housing complexes around the Al Wa’ar neighborhood which is where many displaced families have taken shelter. According to UNICEF, 20% of schools in Syria have been destroyed completely, damaged, or are being used to shelter internally displaced people. This has left many children without education for the past two years.

2. Vaccinating Children Against Common Diseases 
UNICEF has also begun a vaccination campaign to prevent the outbreak of common diseases such as measles, rubella, mumps and polio. This campaign is being enacted through schools and displaced family shelters and is predicted to help 2.5 million children.

1. Upgrading Water Systems 
As summer rolls into the Middle East, clean water and up-to-date water treatment facilities become a pressing necessity. In the aftermath of the conflict, many neighborhoods are littered with debris and garbage which pose a threat to children in Syria. UNICEF is supporting an upgrade of sanitation and water treatment facilities that will aid people like the extreme heat of summer arrives.

The Syrian civil war began on March 15, 2011, and has since left roughly 6 million Syrians in need of aid and 4 million people internally displaced. Due to these high numbers, many observers are concerned that, if the war drags on, this current generation of young people will become a lost generation.

– Pete Grapentien

Source UN News

5 Reasons Africa May Be A Future Leader in Science and Technology
Despite the widespread struggle with governmental stability, Africa continues to make big contributions to global science and technology. Literacy and higher education development seem to be at the forefront of problems in Africa, but there are many positive developments as well which foretell an optimistic future for African scientific and technological development. Here are 5 reasons Africa may be a future leader in science and technology.

1. The Square Kilometre Array
The Square Kilometre Array is a current collaborative international radio telescope project that involves Australia as well as eight sub-Saharan African countries. Once completed in 2024, the telescope will be the largest and most sensitive on the planet allowing scientists to address the most pressing unanswered questions of the universe.

2. The Next Einstein Initiative 
Since its creation in 2008, the Next Einstein initiative, created by Neil Turok, has been establishing centers of excellence in African nations with the intent of providing a nurturing environment for budding scientific minds. The goal of the organization is to help create the world’s next great scientist.

3. Previous Contributions to HIV Research
Since the 1980s when Africa became a hub for research regarding HIV, Africa has further contributed to research and breakthroughs regarding the virus. Among these breakthroughs was the understanding of mother-to-child transmission.

4. The MeerKAT Radio Telescope
Predicted to be operational in 2016, the MeerKAT radio telescope will be the largest and most powerful radio telescope until the completion of the Square Kilometer Array in 2024. The possible areas for MeerKAT research will be cosmic magnetism, galactic evolution and dark matter research.

5. Silicon Savannah
Konza City, nicknamed Africa’s ‘Silicon Savannah,’ will be an entire city in Kenya dedicated to research and technological development. The city will be roughly 5,000 acres, 64 km south of Nairobi, and is projected to create 100,000 jobs by 2030.

While these developments foreshadow a positive progression of the African contribution to science and technology, one problem still exists. Many African communities still struggle with making higher education available to students. The previous developments have occurred despite this setback and, as a higher educational infrastructure begins to come to fruition, more progress is certain to be on the way.

– Pete Grapentien
Source BBC

overconsumption may hurt more than just the environment
Currently, humanity uses natural resources 1.5 times quicker than the Earth can replenish them. Among the heavy consumers, the world’s richest 19% consume 85% of the total global output, which is 60-fold what the world’s poorest 19% consume. Although this type of consumption has a negative effect on the Earth, it has a less obvious effect on the world’s poor.

According to Professor Mohan Munasinghe, this type of over-consumption is not only too taxing on the Earth, but it also lessens the supply of natural resources to the world’s poor. The effect of this shortage is the increase of price for resources and basic products which heightens tensions among the impoverished.

By consuming sustainably, the world’s rich will both help impoverished communities and the environment. To help aid in the fight against over-consumption, Professor Munasinghe is an advocate of the Millennium Consumption Goals.

The Millennium Consumption Goals are a set of benchmarks which help reduce consumption without drastically changing the lifestyle of the world’s rich. These benchmarks were designed to be used in accompaniment with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) established by the UN. Since their creation, the MDGs have made a huge impact in reducing the amount of global poverty. Perhaps, with a little effort, the Millennium Consumption goals can have the same effect.

– Pete Grapentien

Source: The Irish Times

Will Poverty End in Your Lifetime_opt
According to the Oxford University Poverty and Human Development Initiative, the poorest nations in the world may be brought out of poverty in twenty years if current rates of development continue – a sure sign that foreign aid and global relief programs are working.

Oxford released the study after the United Nations published a report documenting that poverty reduction drives were exceeding all expectations. The study also noted that this was the first time in history that poverty has been beaten back so dramatically and quickly.

This type of shining development is the effect of the investment of foreign aid and development projects in helping communities establish higher standards of living and the infrastructure to help sustain those standards of living. The UN pointed out that trade had become an important factor in improving conditions in impoverished countries such as Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

As Secretary of State Kerry pointed out during his first address, eleven of the top fifteen trading partners of the United States were once beneficiaries of foreign aid. If advocacy groups continue to work toward sustainable development in impoverished nations, it’s possible a few of these countries will make that list in the coming decades. Among the current countries pushing forward, Rwanda, Nepal, and Bangladesh are the countries in which poverty is declining the quickest, followed closely by Ghana, Tanzania, Cambodia and Bolivia. In the three former countries, if poverty continues to decline at this rapid rate, it is projected that the global community can eliminate poverty within the current generation’s lifetime.

– Pete Grapentien

Source: The Guardian

BRICS Think Tanks Plan Involvement With AfricaBRICS think tanks are planning the proceedings of the 2013 BRICS summit in Durban, South Africa. The proceedings will decide the course of BRICS’s support and capitalization on exploring African economies.

BRICS (an association of the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) will be discussing the establishment of the BRICS Development Bank which was proposed at last years’ BRICS conference in New Delhi.

Although it would be an internationally supported bank, the BRICS Development Bank would not be competing with larger banks such as the World Bank or International Monetary Fund (IMF). Instead, the BRICS Development Bank will be concerned with financing and supporting intra-BRICS programs and emerging African economies.

Among the finance projects of the BRICS Development Bank will be creating job prospects, urbanization and infrastructure development of African communities and economies. While the goals of larger organizations such as the World Bank are in line with these same pursuits, many representatives affiliated with the BRICS association feel that reform is necessary and that a more focused bank could better meet the needs of developing African economies.

If the BRICS Development Bank is established, South African officials believe that it should be based in their country.

-Pete Grapentien

Source Business Day

Is A 'Silicon Savannah' The Answer To Poverty In Africa?While many African economies are showing tremendous growth, a new struggle is beginning among African nations to establish technological hubs and assert themselves as leaders in Africa’s emerging technological boom.

Perhaps following Egypt’s lead, Ghana and Kenya have begun constructing entire cities focused on IT research and software development. Ghana plans to create Africa’s largest building, a 75-story tower reaching over 885 feet backed by the telecom group RLG. Some 4,000 miles away, Kenya has invested $14.5 billion to create what it has nicknamed “Africa’s Silicon Savannah.” Konza City will be a tech city focused on software development.

These cities are a great improvement and move toward the direction of developed nations, but the actual number of jobs may be a future problem. Cities like Konza may be new to Africa, but they are common in the developed world and often supported by a network of adjoining developed tech-savvy cities.

However, the unique advantage African based tech communities have is the first-hand access to the emerging markets in Africa. African economies have been growing exponentially and are set to outpace their Asian counterparts in the coming years. Being so closely linked to these markets will allow African tech communities to better assess and meet the needs of the quickly developing markets. While a “Silicon Savannah” may not be the only answer to poverty in Africa, it will definitely help on the road to development.

– Pete Grapentien

Source ZD Net

World Bank & India's Most Impoverished StateAkhilesh Yadav is more than just a cool name; he’s the Chief Minister of India’s Uttar Pradesh and has recently sought monetary assistance of more than $3.5 billion from the World Bank Group over the next three to five years.

To illustrate India’s need more clearly, Minister Yadav took World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim on a tour of Uttar Pradesh. Home of the Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh is also home to the largest number of impoverished people in all of India – a country that has an estimated 37% of people living below the country’s poverty line. With India’s urban population expected to grow by 10 million each year, states such as Uttar Pradesh are in dire need of assistance.

After seeing the poverty in India’s most impoverished state firsthand, Kim agreed that helping Uttar Pradesh and other Indian states are in line with the World Bank’s mission of eliminating global poverty. Among the goals the World Bank supports is the national mission to clean the Ganga River. The World Bank will be contributing $1 billion. The money is to be dispersed through five of the basin states. This contribution supports an existing Indian program: the National Ganga River Basin Project. The Ganga River’s basin community supports more than 400 million Indians, about one-third of the population, and is India’s most important river.

– Pete Grapentien

Source: The World Bank

Mobile Money Africa Set To Return In 2013
The fifth annual Mobile Money Africa Conference is projected to gather over 400 mobile banking industry leaders in Johannesburg, South Africa to discuss ways to move the market forward.

Mobile Money is a mobile banking concept that has taken root in African communities in rural areas where the nearest bank is often several miles away. Mobile bankers use their cell phones to transfer money from one person to another with only the use of a SIM card.

While Mobile banking continues to spread slowly, primarily throughout the developing world, its biggest markets are in Africa. 15 of the top 20 Mobile Money-using countries are located on the African continent. Generally about 10% of people in these countries use Mobile Money, but in Kenya the number of users reaches 68% of people.

Mobile banking continues to spread through developing nations because the fees for banking are too high and the locations are too sparse. Mobile Money Africa works to help alleviate these problems and develop a stronger market, possibly in alliance with traditional banking methods.

This year, Mobile Money Africa will be hosting the Mobile Money Awards – a contest in which Mobile Money innovators are recognized and rewarded by the industry. The conference is slated for the 28th and 29th of May.

– Pete Grapentien

Source: BizCommunity
Photo: IT News Africa

US AID Fighting Terrorism With WoolQuinoa seems to be on everyone’s mind lately, but for the district of Mastung – a district located on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan– sheep and shepherding account for more than 40% of the economy. Unfortunately, many farmers in Mastung use outdated techniques which limit their production even though demand for wool is high.

To help with this dilemma, USAID has funded an agricultural project in which Australian shepherds, who are among the world’s finest, instruct a best-practices workshop which teaches Mastung farmers current techniques and educate the farmers on how to use current technologies. These new techniques have been combined with direct marketing practices and, with the two disciplines combined, the result is an 80% growth of income for farmers in the communities where these practices have been implemented.

While this type of growth does help border communities in Pakistan, the strengthening of these communities has an unforeseen effect on U.S. national security and global security as a whole. It is no secret that extremist groups target poor communities by offering financial assistance and other forms of aid. In a region that has been plagued with extremist groups such as the Taliban, contributing to the economic growth of communities and helping them remain stable prevents the spread of terrorism and extremist ideology. For the Mastung, fighting terrorism with wool production is a win-win situation.

Not only do these contributions help create a better life for those in the border communities of Afghanistan and Pakistan, but they also help these communities as a means to furthering global security as a whole.

– Pete Grapentien

Photo: Pakistan Today

Too often, the positive effects of government aid are either overlooked or overshadowed. However, the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cabinet Cluster (HDPRCC) of the Philippines has released Voices of Change, a book documenting the triumphs of 18 people over poverty.

One of the stories the book documents is that of Bec, a 56 year-old woman with a visual impairment. Although Bec was born into poverty with a disability, through government assistance and hard work, she earned her bachelor’s degree and has spent her life giving back to the community by preparing braille for students with visual impairments in public schools.

Bec’s story stands as a symbol of the progress that governmental assistance can make in impoverished communities. Not only has Bec pulled herself out of poverty, she continues to pay it forward and contribute to the education and development of children who were born at a disadvantage. Government aid in this case has given rise to a butterfly effect of progress and economic development. Bec’s success has enabled more impoverished students to attain success which will have a ripple effect on their communities, the Philippines, and eventually the global economy.

In a country that is fighting its way into the ranks of developed nations, stories like Bec’s continue to inspire and motivate people to contribute despite their disabilities or economic situation. All they need is a hand up.

– Pete Grapentien

Source Rappler