Friday, October 21, 2011

Rwanda has no cancer specialists

The country has no oncologist, even as Rwanda joins the world to mark the breast cancer awareness month. This is was revealed by the Minister of Health, Minister of Health, Dr Agnes Binagwaho, who however hastened to add that the country would hire one before the year ends. An oncologist is a specialised doctor trained in the management of cancer. “Besides that, we are also working on a strategic plan to train more health professionals like we have done for the other infectious diseases,” the minister said.

An official from the Ministry of Health, who preferred anonymity, said that there is an urgent need for the country to have cancer specialists. “There is urgent need for radiotherapy treatment because right now, patients are being referred to Mulago in Uganda or India. There is a very big gap in terms of medical personnel to cater for cancers,” he added. According to the Ministry of Health, breast cancer is on the rise in the country. This is attributed to dietary habits, lifestyle such as smoking, drinking alcohol and physical inactivity. The official noted that the ministry had devised strategies to reduce breast cancer such as the implementation of the cancer control activities, in accordance with the National Cancer Plan that will run from 2012 to 2016.

“There has been primary prevention by screening and auto–palpitation of the breasts as organised by MoH in various communities. Palliative care has also been strengthened whereby oncology courses have been incorporated in the curricula of nurses, lab technicians and doctors,” he said.

The Director of Kanombe Military Hospital, Lt. Col. Dr Ben Karenzi, revealed that his hospital is also working on modalities to address this glaring gap. “Currently there are no medics who are specialised in treating cancer. However, we hope to start offering radiotherapy cancer treatment in the near future and also get cancer medical specialists,” Karenzi said. Genetic factors such as females with a history of cancer are also some of the other attributes.

Environmental factors like exposure to radiation and hormonal factors in girls who start their periods at an early age of 12 years or younger, are also other causes of this cancer. Breast cancer comprises of 22.9 percent of all cancers worldwide among women. In 2008, it caused 458,503 deaths worldwide (13.7 percent of cancer deaths in women). According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cancer is one of the leading causes of death, but that 30 percent of cancer deaths can be prevented with proper medication. According to the Dr. Binagwaho, there are no current statistics on breast cancer. The minister said that her ministry would have to first conduct a survey to ascertain the number of cases. Breast cancer is predominantly prevalent among women, though at a small rate, estimated at one percent; it can be found in men. In order to prevent this form of cancer, it is advisable to encourage routine self and clinical breast examination, eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. Breastfeeding is also another preventive measure against breast cancer. The ministry official pointed out a few challenges such as little public awareness on cancer, generally, and breast cancer specifically being a big challenge. “Treatment is also limited, insufficient drugs and a reagent in the diagnosis .There is also no reliable data on cancer,” Karenzi added.

Read More Here

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

President Kagame appears on Mindspeak show- Kigali, Rwanda

President Kagame appeared on Mindspeak show, hosted by Aly Khan Stachu, CEO of Rich Management. Aly Sanchu invited President Kagame to speak in his show via Twitter!!!!twitter bird 2 60+ Ways To Increase Your Twitter Followers

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fatuma Noor -Telling Stories That Need To Be Told

Fatuma Noor is a 24 years old Kenyan journalist with Star newspaper and the 2011 CNN African Journalist of the Year. Noor won the award for her investigative three-part series on the Al-Shabaab. It was chosen from the 1407 entries from 42 nations across Africa. The series tells the story of the young men who give up their freedom abroad to return and fight for the Al-Shabaab in one of the world’s most dangerous places on earth – Somalia. Read the first part of Fatuma's award winning feature.

Fatuma Noor is also the recipient of the David Astor Journalism Awards, a UK-registered charity working to promote independent journalism in Africa. As winner of the award, Noor served as a David Astor Journalism Fellow in England and had the opportunity to hone her journalist skills at both the renowned Independent and Guardian newspapers.

Monday, October 10, 2011

USA Had Slums in 1949 ... Lessons for Africa

A new study by Vanderbilt economist William J. Collins and Ph.D. candidate Katharine L. Shester looks at the long-term economic impact of the ambitious (and highly controversial) Housing Act of 1949, which used federal subsidies and the powers of eminent domain to “revitalize” American cities, i.e., to clear out the slums. By the time the program ended in 1974, 2,100 distinct urban renewal projects had been completed using grants that totaled about $53 billion (in 2009 dollars). In one of the rare papers to collect and analyze data related to the program, Collins and Shester come up with a positive picture of its effects – at least in some ways. The authors are clear that the ugliness involved with pushing people out of low-income housing was the reason the program was shut down, and that their results do not “imply that the dislocation costs for displaced residents and businesses were unimportant.”

A tin shed structure surrounds a locked pit latrine in Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum. Communal pit latrines are the most common sanitation facility available to the residents of the low income settlement. Often shared by hundreds of people the pay-per-visit system of toilets in Kibera is a lucrative business for structure owners Flickr Photo

Cities that did the most slum-clearing or “urban renewal” had a higher increase in property values, income and population compared to non-participating cities. The results also show that these cities maintained roughly the same demographics, and did not push low-income residents out of cities, but rather redistributed the population.

Read More Here

Thursday, October 6, 2011

THE World University Rankings 2011-2012

LinkThe publication of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings has become one of the key annual events in the international higher education calendar. They are used by undergraduate and postgraduate students to help select degree courses, by academics to inform career decisions, by research teams to identify new collaborative partners, and by university managers to benchmark their performance and set strategic priorities. As nations across the globe focus on the establishment of world-class universities as essential elements of a dynamic economy, our rankings are increasingly employed as a tool for governments to set national policy.

Top African Universities 2011-2012

World RankOrdered by this column, descending Institution Country / Region
103 University of Cape Town South Africa
251-275 Stellenbosch University South Africa
251-275 University of Witwatersrand South Africa
301-350 Alexandria University Egypt

THE World University Rankings 2011-2012

World RankOrdered by this column, descending Institution Country / Region
1 California Institute of Technology United States
2 Harvard University United States
2 Stanford University United States
4 University of Oxford United Kingdom
5 Princeton University United States
6 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
7 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
8 Imperial College London United Kingdom
9 University of Chicago United States
10 University of California, Berkeley United States

Read More Here

Sunday, October 2, 2011

TV Commercials from the West on Africa

I recently came across a TV commercial for Bing search engine that had me raising my eyebrows.
Bing search engine advert on Krochet Kids International begins with this fellow saying after traveling to war torn Uganda they decided to engage and help folks through a crochet project. A noble cause indeed, though I cant help but wonder is Uganda a war torn country? I agree there is conflict in the northern parts of Uganda but would that mean the country is torn apart by war?

Bing: Krochet Kids from Nick Pezzillo on Vimeo.

Compare this commercial to this one by Google.

Food for thought!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kenya: Leaders to Blame for Food Crisis

By David Kigochi

It is a shameful and difficult moment for Kenyans as the world watches the images of people dying of hunger in some parts of the country. The apathy by the government is despicable as it has been clear that there was going to be a shortage of food. It is sad that the government has had to be jolted into action by individual Kenyans and corporates.

This is a reflection of an increasingly indifferent and inhumane leadership which lives on the great largesse and expense of tax payers whose resources they have failed to manage better.
The privileged few are busy creating a welfare state for themselves while the rest of the citizens wallow in poverty and hunger. The famine has not spared anyone irrespective of ethnicity, region or political enclaves. The areas ravaged by famine have MPs and ministers in the government. Their inaction borders on criminal negligence. They only give knee-jerk reactions when images of the dying invade their living rooms and appetites.

And if deaths are not reported to them, then no one surely could have starved to death!

Most Kenyans know what is needed to mitigate against drought and famine- water harvesting, sustainable land policy, efficient farming methods, resistant crops, forestation, banning useless imports, cheap credit, good storage facilities and irrigation.

Infrastructure is crucial. If there were accessible roads in these regions, food would be available to the drought struck regions and farmers would not be feeding their potato and cabbage crops to their livestock because they lack accessible roads to get their crop to market!

It smacks of criminal negligence for the government to admit its food distribution system is ineffective and the only response is to deploy the military and National Youth Services when people are dying. It appears that famine is big business. Famine is a cash-cow to well-heeled operatives in the corridors of power. There is big money in transport and logistics as administrators divert and sell famine relief supplies. Coincidentally, every famine is preceded by a season of plenty. Last year, for example, there was the glut that saw dairy processors empty thousands of litres of milk into trenches.

Less than eight months later, milk prices have risen from Sh21 to Sh30. Another bumper harvest in parts of Eastern went to waste due to poor storage. At the same time, the Government announced a measly price of Sh1,200 for a bag of maize due to glut. This price was considerably lower than the Sh2,500 being offered to farmers in neighbouring countries. Naturally, farmers found it only sensible to sell their produce to the more lucrative foreign markets, leaving the country struggling to replace the depleted strategic grain reserve.

We cannot talk of Vision 2030 as there can never be a vision for the dead. We need to get our priorities right. For decades we have been talking about food security and yet we continue with the same trend of talking and doing nothing.

We know the solutions to the problem-provide water for irrigation, educate farmers on modern agricultural practices, infrastructure to distribute food from surplus to deficit areas. For this to happen, we need proactive leadership one that is listening to the people. Kenyans are starving not because the land is infertile, but because there is total mix up of priorities. In the short term, the government can suspend the servicing of the Sh32 billion debt to the Central Bank of Kenya and divert the funds towards an aggressive programme to put up dams in drought prone zones, upscale irrigation projects, open up the road network in the famine ravaged zones to ensure access and supply of food in the affected areas.
Kigochi is the national convenor, Central for United Kenya Forum.

Read more here

Monday, September 26, 2011

So Long Wangari Maathai!!!

Wangari Muta Maathai
1 April 1940 – 25 September 2011
Kenyan environmental + political activist + custodian of Nature
First African woman to be awarded the Nobel prize for peace 2004
Founder of The Green Belt Movement

"MAMA EARTH" Wangari. You fought for green B4 it was cool. R.I.P"

Jamhuri Wear

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Somaliland President Siilanyo Monitoring Progress First Hand

While in southern Somalia Al Shabaab are busy blusting away small surveillance aircraft aka drones, in the north Somaliland President Siilanyo accompanied by the first lady, Presidential Minster, Somaliland Chief of Police and the deputy director of Somaliland Intelligence, were spotted on Friday September 23rd strolling different parts of Hargeisa, the capital.

Read more here

Mozambique Report Card by President H.E. Armando Guebuza

The President of the Republic of Mozambique, H.E. Mr. Armando Guebuza speaking at the 2011 Blouin Creative Leadership Summit.

What keeps President Armando Guebuza awake at night?-with all the work that he has to do daily as president, he gets very tired ....he sleeps 8^)

Key points and take aways:
  • The country has witnessed alot of positive strides since the end of the civil war
  • Growth rates at 7-8%... goal is to achieve two digit growth rates
  • Better utilization of local resources towards economic growth
  • 95% enrollment rate into primary education and would like 100% enrollment-though classes are overly congested. Goal is to have at least 30 students per class.
  • Mozambique used to import maize but stopped importing maize in 2003
  • More than 1 million Mozambique citizens outside the country and many have returned home to settle and help rebuild the country
  • 4.5 internally displaced... a majority returned back to their original home areas to begin to rebuild their lives

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Updates from Dr. Mohamed Abdullahi Omar, Somaliland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs

Crisis in the Horn of Africa: A Somaliland Perspective was the topic of an event featuring Dr. Mohamed Abdullahi Omar, Somaliland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. The event hosted by IRI was moderated by Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Michael S. Ansari Africa Center at the Atlantic Council.

In his remarks, Dr. Omar highlighted Somaliland’s successes in holding democratic elections and conducting a peaceful transition of power from one political party to another, the country’s support in the fight against terrorism and piracy, and its growing economy with a private sector as the country’s main employer.

Although lacking international recognition, Somaliland has avoided the chaos characteristic of south-central Somalia. Dr. Omar credits Somaliland’s success and stability to good governance. Even as the Horn of Africa faces the worst famine in 60 years Somaliland has been able to stave off famine conditions despite widespread drought. However, Dr. Omar warned increased foreign assistance was required to ensure that catastrophe in Somaliland is avoided.

Read more here

Friday, September 16, 2011

At 27 Kingwa Kamenchu Is Ready For The Presidential Seat

A 27 year old Kenyan student from Oxford University has become the latest entrant in the now seemingly crowded 2012 presidential race. In announcing her intentions, Kingwa Kamenchu says that what she lacks in age and experience she makes up in a passion and determination to improve the lives of ordinary Kenyans. Evelyn Wambui tells us about a young poet and writer's dream to change not just the face but also the style of leadership in Kenya.

More grease to your elbows girl!!!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Getting it Right from the Start-Priorities for Action in the New Republic of South Sudan

Amidst jubilant celebration, the new Republic of South Sudan entered the international stage in July 2011 albeit as one of the least developed countries in the world. The challenges and opportunities are enormous, and donors, the government, implementing agencies and most importantly the people of South Sudan have a lot at stake – but much more to gain. This paper presents ten areas for action based on the experience of NGOs operating in South Sudan and lessons learnt during the Comprehensive Peace Agreement interim period. Donors must prioritise them in the first years of the country‟s independence so as to ensure the best possible results for the people of South Sudan.

1. Balance development assistance with continued support for emergency humanitarian needs
2. Understand conflict dynamics.
3. Involve communities and strengthen civil society.
4. Ensure an equitable distribution of assistance.
5. Prioritise the most vulnerable and ensure social protection.
6. Promote pro-poor, sustainable livelihoods.
7. Strengthen government capacity, from the bottom up.
8. Allow sufficient time for transition towards government management of international aid.
9. Provide timely, predictable funds.
10. Ensure integrated programming.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Famine in the Horn of Africa: Challenges and Opportunities for Mitigating Drought-Induced Food Crises

The current famine engulfing the Horn of Africa and threatening the lives of nearly 13 million people continues to dominate discussions about development worldwide. As relief efforts continue, experts and stakeholders from the region will gather in Nairobi to discuss longer-term evidence-based solutions and interventions needed to avert the profound effects of predicted extreme weather events in the future.

Although droughts can result in failed harvests, they do not have to result in famine. Famine mainly has to do with inappropriate policies, conflicts and neglect, which reduce people’s access to food, grazing for livestock, and water for both. We must support agencies delivering emergency aid today.

And we must do more.

Almost everyone living in the drought-afflicted areas of the Horn produces food from these drylands. Research into dryland agricultural and natural resources thus plays a critical role in uncovering the causes of food shortages and identifying ways of reducing these. Linking smallholder farmers and herders with research knowledge, products and innovations – from better uses of land, water and other natural resources, to better grazing and pasture management, to weather-based insurance that protects against drought and other shocks, to drought-tolerant crops – could greatly enhance the resilience of vulnerable dryland communities to future droughts.

Experts within the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) met in Nairobi on 1 September with a few selected development partners to discuss how CGIAR research can be used to find long-term solutions to improving and sustaining agricultural livelihoods in the drylands.

Lloyd Le Page, CEO of the CGIAR Consortium
Mark Gordon, Co-Chair, UN Somalia Food Cluster, World Food Programme
Namanga Ngongi, President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)
Joseph Mureithi, Deputy Director, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI)
Jeff Hill, Director of Policy, Bureau of Food Security, United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

Topics addressed include:

  • Promising options and innovations to help farmers become more resilient and food-secure in the face of weather and other shocks
  • The role of infrastructure and access to viable, functioning markets in food security and prices
  • Whether drought-tolerant crops and large-scale irrigation are the answer
  • Whether pastoralism is a driver of drought-induced food insecurity or a buffer against it
  • Policies that are needed, and at what levels, to ensure that recommendations and innovations for drought-prone areas are put in place in those areas that need them most

Read more here

Virgin Founder Sir Richard Branson joins UNAIDS-led effort to end HIV-related travel restrictions

News worth sharing...The British business pioneer Sir Richard Branson has thrown his support behind a global drive to rid the world finally of the remaining discriminatory laws that keep people from visiting, or living and working in countries solely because they are HIV positive. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has called for the global freedom of movement for people living with HIV.
Sir Richard Branson said, “I applaud UNAIDS' tireless efforts to encourage countries to remove travel restrictions on people living with HIV. Everyone should have the chance to travel freely, and I welcome the opportunity to work together on such an important issue.”
Last month, Fiji became the latest country to lift its restrictions on entry, stay or residence based on HIV status.

Read more here

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lost Boys of Somalia - Somali Youths Giving Back

AlJazeera recently reported on a group of Somali youths who have spent a majority of their lives living in the worlds largest refugee camp, Daabab Camp is North Eastern region in Kenya. The Somali youth's featured in the article fled to the refugee camp at the ages of 2.

The Dadaab refugee complex, made up of three camps - Dagahaley, Ifo and Hagerdaley - was initially built as a temporary measure to house the influx of refugees in the early 1990s. But with peace in Somalia proving to be elusive, these refugees have had little choice but to remain in the camps, and make a life for themselves. For 20 years, Somalis escaping famine or war have continued to trickle into Kenya, but a devastating drought, described as the worst in decades, has sparked a new exodus. There are around 1,500 new arrivals every day. Over the past month, more than 20,000 have arrived, pushing the numbers of refugees in the complex to over 380,000 in an area designed to accommodate just 90,000. In a twist of fate, young men and women who arrived as two- and three-year-old refugees in 1991 themselves, are now in the thick of things; working as relief workers and interpreters, assisting in the documentation of new arrivals from Somalia.

Aden Abdi Ali, 22
I was two-years-old when I came here, now I am 22. The life we lead here is very challenging, but with some effort, we are able to make it. The UNHCR provides shelter and food, and these are the basic needs for life. Some people gain support from the local community and do okay ... and the UNHCR offers resettlement opportunities, to move to a developed country. And if you are lucky enough, you can be chosen to be resettled somewhere else. But I am happy to be able to help my people as they arrive. I am one of the lucky ones. Most children go to the primary schools here [in the camps] when they are six years old, but most have to leave by the eight standard, because getting into secondary school is very challenging. As a result, most of my friends, the youth I grew up with, are unemployed and suffering and struggling. Most of the youth in the camp are battling because there is little work available, and the chance of getting into college after school is extremely hard. It is very limited. Every year, one or two from the 300 graduates of the high school here get selected for higher studies.

Mohamed Yusuf Hassen, 24
I came here in 1991, with my mother and father as a refugee. The only thing I remember is my mother carrying me here.I was three years at the time and I do remember the kids that grew up with me in the same block in the camp I live. I work as an interpreter to sustain my life in the camp, as well as to service my community who are in need of help as they arrive from their journey from Somalia. I try to help them in whatever way I can, including working as an interpreter. When I grow up, I want to be a politician [back home] in Somalia. I think the best way to help our country is to go back and build it. It is up to us even if we didn't finish school. I think if 20 years from now, these children [who have just arrived] become interpreters for more Somali refugees leaving the country, it would be a disaster. The world will hate us. We have been helped, we have been fed for the past 20 years. Another 20 years of this would tell the international community that we are not people capable of peace. I am hoping that politicians can create a space for people to return [because] the best way is not to go to Europe or America, the best way is to go back our country and to help build it.

Read More Here

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Investments in Pastoralism Offer Best Hope for Combating Droughts in Africa's Drylands

This blog post was meant to share an informative and timely article that seeks to encourage investment in livestock amongst pastoral communities living in arid areas within Kenya and similar dry-lands in neighbouring countries Somalia and Ethiopia. Article accompanied with images make a blog more intriguing especially images like those taken by one Brent Stirton. A visit to his site is a must!!!

Rendille Morans dig water for goats and camels in an area designated as sustainable by the Melako Conservancy comittee, Koya, North Kenya, 28 February 2010.

Pastoralist Masaai prepare a field of Maize in Orngayanet, Kenya, 22 February, 2010. Crop cultivation is a relatively new thing for the Masaai, and is a result of living next to other tribes who practise agricultural and have fared better than the Masaai with their cattle in times of drought and disease and shrinking grazing land. There are now large fields of maize under cultivation by the Masaai as some move from pastoralism towards a more stable means of income and subsistence.

A Dasenetch pastoralist father and son use netting to catch Tilapia fish in Lake Turkana in North Kenya, 20 May 2010. Fishing is a relatively new phenomenon for the Dasenetch, drought and climate change have forced them to look further than cattle for alternative sources of sustenance and economy. Fishing has become the primary means in the Lake Turkana region. The lake is the largest desert lake in the world and sustains both Turkana and Dasenetch people as well as Gabra and other tribes in the region. Lake Turkana faces an uncertain future however as the Gibe 3 dam project in Ethiopia, a massive hydro-electric scheme and Ethiopia's biggest single investment, comes on line.


As hunger spreads among more than 12 million people in the Horn of Africa, a study by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) of the response to Kenya's last devastating drought, in 2008-2009, finds that investments aimed at increasing the mobility of livestock herders -- a way of life often viewed as "backward" despite being the most economical and productive use of Kenya's drylands -- could be the key to averting future food crises in arid lands.

The report, "An Assessment of the Response to the 2008-2009 Drought in Kenya," suggests that herding makes better economic sense than crop agriculture in many of the arid and semi-arid lands that constitute 80 percent of the Horn of Africa, and supporting mobile livestock herding communities in advance and with timely interventions can help people cope the next time drought threatens.

The authors say that encouraging livestock herders to switch to farming crops or to move to cities is simply unrealistic in this region's great drylands, which will not support row crops without extensive irrigation, which is scarce and often impractical. An estimated 70 million people live in these arid lands, and many of them are herders. In Kenya, the value of the pastoral livestock sector is estimated to be worth US$800 million. And the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in Eastern Africa, which takes a regional approach to combating drought in six countries of the Horn, estimates that over 90 percent of the meat consumed in East Africa comes from pastoral herds. "Drylands in the Horn of Africa are too large to ignore," said Jan de Leeuw, an ecologist at ILRI and a lead author of the drought report. "With only 20 percent of Kenya's land suitable for arable crop production, and with an expanding population, the country cannot continue ignoring these dry areas without facing significant challenges in ensuring sufficient food production. Some of the worst impacts of the drought can be avoided if the region's dryland livestock systems are well regulated." The best way to prevent famine in arid lands is to ensure herder access to critical dry-season grazing and watering areas. All the herders interviewed for the report said that obstacles to the movement of their herds -- caused by lack of roads, land conflicts and demographic pressures -- constituted the largest problem they had in protecting their animals and livelihoods.

A second major problem was a dearth of functioning commercial livestock markets. Destocking -- where herders sell off those animals they can no longer feed or water to the government -does not work where there are no dynamic livestock markets. Thus, during droughts, it is more helpful for local government agencies to organize the slaughter of excess cattle on site -- paying herders for the fresh meat, and giving the meat to the local herding communities to consume -- than it is to ship large amounts of hay or other fodder to drought-struck areas, or to try to transport cattle out of such areas.

Herding communities also found that corruption and mismanagement were major problems. For example, on many occasions during the 2008-2009 drought, Kenyan herders were urged to bring cattle to central locations to be sold, only to have the buyers fail to materialize, forcing the herders to watch their animals suffer horribly and die of thirst and hunger.

The authors found that investments such as better roads, markets, information access, agricultural outreach and schemes that pay herders for wildlife conservation and other ecological services may cost money in the short run, but in the longer term will help stabilize dryland communities and prevent famines.

In general, the ILRI report found that the response to the 2008-2009 drought, while better than that for a major drought a decade earlier, was still too little, too late.

The report was funded by the European Union to help Kenya improve its drought management system. Since 1996, with support from the World Bank and the European Union, the country has been moving to improve drought management through a national arid lands management program. Still, the 2008-2009 drought was devastating; more than half of all livestock died in many districts. The loss of livestock assets in successive droughts has had the effect of steadily impoverishing many herders in Kenya and other countries of the Horn of Africa.

Thus, the ILRI study findings reinforce what others found -- that migratory herding is the most productive use of much of this land.

To harvest the economic and other potential of Kenya's drylands, we need new approaches and effective models for managing risk and promoting sustainable development, especially in the face of climate change and increasing droughts in many areas, said de Leeuw. Investments in pastoral livestock systems and markets, and in transportation, communication and energy infrastructure, is vital, he said.

"The best way to tap into the potential of the drylands is to invest in systems that support pastoral livelihoods, rather than ignoring them and hoping they go away," said de Leeuw. "While such investments are risky, these areas support most of the animal protein consumed by the residents of the Horn countries."

Unfortunately, however, drylands and the pastoral livelihoods they support have long borne the brunt of underdevelopment, underinvestment and ineffective government policies that have tended to encourage mobile herders to transit into more settled ways of life. Many dryland regions lack the infrastructure and services that would help people cope with the hazards of climate change, variable rainfall and droughts. These and other factors are partly responsible for the Horn's recurrent hunger crises.

Furthermore, high population growth is putting pressure on agricultural farmland and urban centers in the Horn of Africa. More people (including non-pastoralists) are settling the drylands, as they are the frontier for agricultural expansion, said Polly Ericksen, another co-author of the ILRI paper. "The resulting sub-division and development of communal lands raises concerns about the management of Africa's drylands, highlighting the need for national policies on how such lands are used."

One successful national program, for example, helps provide income to pastoralists, while at the same time preserving the ecosystems. Kenyans herders who live near the country's protected wildlife areas are receiving payments for managing their ecosystems, and these payments are providing a stable, reliable and predictable source of income that both reduces poverty and protects wildlife.

Such ecosystem protection efforts are going on in the Masai Mara region of southern Kenya and in the Kitengela rangelands near Nairobi, where Maasai people have formed "eco-conservancies" to protect their grazing areas for livestock and wildlife alike.

Read More Here Burness Communications (2011, August 23). Investments in pastoralism offer best hope for combating droughts in Africa's drylands. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 24, 2011, from

Full Report Here

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Connect 4 Climate Initiative!!!

THE CAMPAIGN: Connect4Climate will kick-start an interactive dialogue on climate change issues amongst African youth and social media users around the world. Sign up now (go to the Sign Up tab) and join the conversation!

THE COMPETITION: Connect4Climate will launch a photo and video challenge in September 2011 focused on Africa. Young people from the ages of 13 to 30 are invited to share their per...sonal stories around six themes:

1. Clean Energy

2. Agriculture

3. Forests

4. Health and Climate Change

5. Gender and Climate Change

6. Local solutions

Through photos and/or short videos (60 seconds or less), participants will share ideas, present solutions and show how climate change is affecting their lives, families, communities and environment in Africa.The best entries will receive prizes at a high-profile awards ceremony and be exhibited at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Durban, South Africa this December.

THE COMMUNITY: With an ever-growing list of partners, Connect4Climate will host an interactive, global dialogue on climate change. Our partners include international organizations, social media networks, UN agencies, NGOs, academia, civil society, private sector, public sector, and youth.

The website will become an exciting digital hub and great new space for concerned voices to create a climate for change.Sign up now (on the Sign Up tab) and we'll let you know when the Connect4Climate competition is ready for submissions!

Sign up folks!!!!

Monday, August 22, 2011


Throughout Africa, there is amazing progress by civil society focused on ending extreme poverty and preventable disease. These new ideas and exciting approaches are designed and implemented by Africans who understand the complexities of bringing about change and transforming lives in their communities. The ONE Africa Award celebrates these innovations and progress towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the world’s blueprint to a better future, ranging from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education. The ONE Africa Award applauds the progress of unsung heroes and organizations and looks forward to solutions for the challenges still ahead. The award will recognize the Africa- driven, African led advocacy efforts that have demonstrated success at a community, national, or regional level. By honouring the commitment and progress on the ground, we hope that new efforts can be inspired and more lives can be saved. The 2011 call for applications is NOW OPEN to individuals, organizations or other groups based in Africa that can demonstrate commitment and success in advocacy to promote the attainment of one or more of the MDGs.

The deadline for the receipt of applications is September 16th, 2011.

Apply Here
Read More Here

Sunday, August 7, 2011

BBC Report New device makes circumcision safer and cheaper

PrePex Circumcision Device

Circumcision reduces one chances from being infected by HIV. The good news is that a new, safer, simple, plastic device, no anaesthetic, no surgery no stitches circumcision devise has been created. The devise stops the flow of blood to the foreskin, it dries up and it cut of after one week.

Rwanda government hopes to circumcise 2 million men by 2012. Staff need very little training to fit it - something extremely important in a country with only 300 doctors for ten million people.

Read more here

Thursday, August 4, 2011

UNECA & AIF 2012 Innovation Prize for Africa

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) are delighted to announce the first 2012 Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA). This annual prize honours and encourages innovative achievements that contribute toward developing new products, increasing efficiency or saving cost in Africa. IPA acknowledges and encourages innovators and entrepreneurs in their endeavours, since they are one group of stakeholders that have not been considered under Africa's development cooperation agenda. The prize is expected to promote among young African men and women the pursuit of science, technology and engineering careers and business applications.

The aims are to:

· Create platform for identification of innovative concepts and projects submitted by applicants that could be supported by IPA;

· Promote innovation across Africa in key sectors of interest through the competition;

· Promote science, technology and engineering as rewarding, exciting and noble career options among the youth in Africa by profiling successful applicants; and

· Encourage entrepreneurs, innovators, funding bodies and business development service providers to exchange ideas and explore innovative business opportunities.

In addition, the IPA is expected to yield the following outcomes:

· Increased commercialization of research and development (R&D) outputs in Africa;
· Increased development of start-up, adoption of new and emerging technologies and accelerate growth of an innovative and dynamic private sector; and
· Increased economic activity and development that results in long term sustainability.

The 2012 IPA will consist of two awards given to the two selected innovators/entrepreneurs in the following three thematic areas: ICTs; Green technology (energy and water); Health & Food security (including Agriculture). The first prize will be USD 100,000 for the selected best innovators/entrepreneurs, and the second Prize will be USD 50,000 for the second selected innovators/entrepreneurs. IPA is an annual event and will be carried over during 5-year period, targeting innovators/entrepreneurs in various thematic areas, to be determined by the IPA Technical Advisory committee each year.

The deadline for IPA 2012 Applications is Friday, 30th September at 24:00 GMT. The deadline is firm no extensions!

Read More Here

Thursday, July 28, 2011

HIV-positive patients in Swaziland eating cow dung before taking anti-retroviral drugs

Mbabene, Swaziland

BBC alarming report of some HIV-positive patients in Swaziland unable to afford to buy food have resorted to eating cow dung before taking anti-retroviral drugs.

"Some people are now saying they are going to stop taking anti-retroviral drugs because it [requires] that they have food in their stomachs," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme. Swaziland, with a population of about 1.2 million, has one of the highest HIV/Aids rates in the world. About 230,000 people are HIV-positive, of whom 65,000 get free drugs from government hospitals. Mr Dlamini said the protesters urged the government not to cut health spending. "We want the government to stick to its word and to prioritise health," he said.

Sad state of affairs indeed!!!

Read more here

Monday, July 25, 2011

Young People, Farming & Food Conference 19-21 March 2012 in Accra Ghana

In Africa, policy interest in the ‘young people – agriculture nexus’ focuses almost exclusively on the challenge of keeping young people in rural areas and engaged in farming. This approach ignores important drivers, trends and developments that are impacting on both young people’s aspirations and the structure of the agrifood sector. In the coming years the agrifood sector in Africa will undergo significant transformation that will result in both challenges and opportunities for young people, depending on who and where they are. Perhaps most importantly, the agrifood sector will become an increasingly important source of formal employment for young people, with a significant expansion of employment opportunities in food marketing, processing, retail, catering, research, input sales etc. These jobs will generally require higher levels of education and different skills, and many will be located in or near urban areas.

It is this context that the conference will critically examine, from both research and policy perspectives:

  • Dominant and alternative framings and narratives, and recent empirical data, relating to how young people engage with the agrifood sector in Africa (as producers, entrepreneurs, employees, consumers and citizens)
  • The dynamics of change in different components of the agri-food sector and the implications of these dynamics for young people
  • The implications for young people of alternative policy approaches to the development of the agri-food sector

Throughout, the need to consider different categories of young people and importance of different situations and places will be emphasised. Conflict will be one of the ‘situations’ that will be highlighted.

Through this conference we hope to help shift the debate away from questions such as “How can farming be made more attractive to young people?” toward a broader analysis of the opportunities and challenges for different categories young people in different situations associated with on-going and likely future changes within the broader agri-food system. Such an analysis should take account of changes not only in food production, but also in processing and transformation, marketing, retail, governance and so on.

The conference will be co-hosted by the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) based at the Institute of Development Studies and the Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER).

FAC ( is a multidisciplinary and independent learning alliance of academic researchers and practitioners involved in African agriculture. Based at the Institute of Development Studies ( it aims to encourage dialogue and the sharing of good practice by policy makers and opinion formers in Africa on the role of agriculture in broad based growth. With funding from the UK’s Department for International Development the consortium is active in twelve countries across East, South and West Africa.

ISSER ( is a semi-autonomous research institution within the Faculty of Social Studies at the University of Ghana. ISSER is committed to carrying out research and training that is geared towards promoting the socio-economic development of Ghana in particular and Africa in general. The Institute strives to maintain its reputation for solid social science research, paying close attention to exploratory, explanatory and evaluative aspects of the dynamics of development.

The organizers invite papers that offer rigorous analysis from various critical perspectives around the topics and questions listed below. We also encourage comparative studies and welcome proposals for thematic panels. Co-organized and hosted by the Future Agricultures Consortium and the Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER), the international conference on ‘Young People, Farming & Food: The Future of the Agrifood Sector in Africa’ will be held on 19-21 March 2012 in Accra Ghana.

Deadline 31 August 2011
  • Agrifood trends in SSA: What are expected to be the main trends in the agrifood sector over the next 20 years? What implications will these trends have for young people and their engagement with the sector?
  • Employment: What is the potential of the agrifood sector in addressing the problems of unemployment and under-employment among young people? What segments of the population of young people will be best placed to benefit from new employment opportunities? Where within the agrifood sector is employment creation likely to be strongest and the most desirable employment opportunities likely to be found?
  • Livelihood diversification / de-agrarianisation: What are the implications of the phenomena of livelihood diversification and de-agrarianisation for young people’s engagement with the agrifood sector?
  • Life and work aspirations: What forces and factors are driving change in young people’s life and work aspirations? What are the implications of changing life and work aspirations for young people’s engagement with the agrifood sector?
  • Education and training: What are the implications of MDG 2 (universal primary education) for young people’s perception of and future engagement with the agrifood sector? Are available training programmes and the tertiary education sector meeting the needs of young people and employers within the agrifood sector? Who is being trained in agriculture and agrifood and what do they do after their training?
  • Migration: What is the relationship between aspirations, migration and young people’s engagement with the agrifood sector? Is migration from rural areas a constraint to the development of viable smallholder farming? How should rural, agriculture and agrifood policy take account of migration?
  • Gender: Does a social relations approach to gender help in the analysis of patterns of differential access to and benefits from change within the agrifood sector? In twenty years time will Africa still be ‘the region of female farming par excellence’?
  • Conflict areas: How does civil conflict link to and impact on young people’s engagement with the agrifood sector? Do levels and patterns of engagement with farming and agrifood differ in conflict compared to non-conflict areas? What are the lessons from various experiences of trying link post-conflict programmes to agricultural development?
  • Agrifood policy: How are young people framed in agriculture and agrifood policy; what narratives about young people inform policy in this sector? Should young people have a privileged place in agrifood policy? How are young people’s views and voices being brought into agrifood policy processes, and to what effect?
  • Young people as agrifood entrepreneurs: How realistic is the idea that individual entrepreneurship can be a major means of generating employment for young people in the agrifood sector? What is the record of policies and programmes aimed at promoting and supporting such entrepreneurship among young people?
  • New markets and niches: What opportunities do new markets and niches in the agrifood sector offer to young people? Are there examples of success or failure that help to illuminate the opportunities and challenges associated with new markets and policy and programmes aimed at fostering young people’s engagement?
  • Young people, modern farming and African Green Revolution: How do young people figure within competing visions of an African Green Revolution? Will technology, credit and the promise of profit be enough to draw the attention of young people back to farming? What has been the experience and impacts of programmes and projects aimed at introducing young people to modern farming methods?
  • Climate change: What are the likely implications of climate change for young people’s engagement with the agrifood sector? From a policy perspective, should climate change be framed as a threat or an opportunity vis-à-vis young people’s engagement with the agrifood sector?
  • Other: We welcome papers addressing other aspects of the young people – agrifood nexus.

Please submit abstracts of proposed papers (up to 500 words) by 31 August 2011 to: Please be sure to include the title of your proposed paper, your full name, position, institution, full contact details (including e-mail) and whether or not you intend to apply for a Travel Grant (see below).

Additional information
For additional information you may contact one of the conference organisers:
Jim Sumberg, IDS, Nana Akua Anyidoho, ISSER, Sam Asuming-Brempong, Dept of Agricultural Economics, University of Ghana,

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Shiro Keziah Wachira beats world in English examination

Shiro Keziah Wachira

Shiro Keziah Wachira is extremely articulate, almost disarmingly so. She is only 16, but speaks like a person twice her age.

The first time one meets her, one is taken aback by her eloquent and coherent speech, devoid of redundancies like “umm”, “as in”, “like” and “yaani” that characterise a typical Kenyan teenager’s speech.

“We only speak English at home. I read everything, and that’s mostly due to the influence of my mum and dad. We have a big library in our house. I can’t really say I have a favourite genre of literature, I give anything a shot,” says Shiro.

Her parents’ influence has certainly paid off. The former student of St Austin’s Academy, Nairobi, scored the highest marks in the world in English Language when she sat for her Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) O-level examinations in June 2010.

She beat more than 420,000 students from all over the world.

“The news was unexpected, but I was very proud of myself,” she says.

Her English teacher at St Austin’s, Mr Frank Atuti, says she is an exceptional student and that her command of the English language is far beyond that of her peers.

...Her teacher attributes her skill to her voracious appetite for books, saying that he shared all kinds of literature with her. They included Shakespeare’s works, Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Weep Not Child, newspapers and magazines.
“She reads very widely, regardless of genre, but her forte is in analytical skills. She is able to think abstractly, and is very clear in the way she puts things across,” Mr Atuti says.

...The Cambridge IGCSE examinations are taken in 135 countries. Students at more than 2,500 schools around the world do the course. First Language English, in which Shiro excelled, is the third most popular IGCSE subject worldwide. But her talent is not restricted to English alone. She obtained two As and seven A*s in the IGCSE examinations. The A* grade is a score of 90 per cent or more.

...As a first language speaker, English is not that fascinating in class. In my French class, I had a classmate who was French, and he would get very bored. That’s how I would feel sometimes during English lessons,” Shiro says.

Her father is a constitutional lawyer and her mother is an accountant. Her 14-year-old brother is in Year 10 (equivalent of Form 2) at St Austin’s.

Read more here

Saturday, July 23, 2011

21st Century Exodus- Famine in Somalia

"A stitch in time saves nine"

This old saying best describes the situation currently plaguing Somalia as we read and watch the unfortunate events unfold through the multitude of media sources covering the events.

The drought and instability in Somalia is nothing new. For those interested and have been following the events unveiling within the Horn of Africa are well familiar with this reality. Given that the situation has exacerbated itself to this level, is a sad constant reminder of the inaction by the Somalis both local and in the diaspora and the international community to actively seek better solutions and address the stalemate within this region. Pro-active engagement usually yields very little positive outcomes as they are often rushed and not well thought out.

The U.N. estimates that tens of thousands of Somalis have already died of malnutrition and warns a rapid increase in aid is needed to prevent the widespread loss of life. The notorious Al Shabaab which controls South Central Somalia continue to serve as a bottle neck to the much needed relief humanitarian efforts. They have accused the foreign donor aid groups for acting as spies and have banned many of them from operating within Somali. Few like UNICEF have had some success in delivering relief items inside Somalia, working in conjunction with the AL Shabaab as a matter of principle as reported in the VOA. Clan leaders and local communities blame the Al Shabaab for their woes. Who wouldn't!!!

Read more and consider donating to Islamic Relief
Photo from Urban Christine News

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Microfinance Capacity Building Fund for Africa

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB), in partnership with the Government of Spain, has launched the Microfinance Capacity Building Fund for Africa. Its purpose is to help strengthen capacity building efforts in the financial sector that benefit poor and low-income populations in the continent, particularly women and those living in rural areas.

The core mission of the Microfinance Capacity Building Fund is to:
  • deepen the outreach of the African financial sector by developing inclusive financial sectors that are composed of diverse institutions providing permanent access to a wide and adapted variety of financial services for a broad range of poor and low-income people
  • help increase transparency within the microfinance sector, supporting projects in rural areas and empowering women
  • provide technical assistance at three levels: at the micro level to retail institutions, at the medium level to market infrastructure, and at the macro level for legal and regulatory framework and supervision.
  • provide technical assistance across various parts of Africa.

The fund will provide awards through three separate Calls for Proposals, occurring annually over the course of 2011 – 2013. Each call will focus on a specific area(s) of intervention and a specific set(s) of African countries.

Read more here and here

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Global Changemakers Global Youth Summit 2011: Call For Applications

Global Changemakers are accepting applications for the upcoming Global Youth Summit 2011, which will take place in the UK from 13-19 November. The call for applications is open for social entrepreneurs, community activists and volunteers aged 16-19 from around the world.

If you’re already a Changemaker who has taken part in one of their summits, you can apply for one of the positions as peer facilitator.

Please note that the application deadline is 24 July 2011!

Read more here

Friday, July 8, 2011

Africa Youth Uprising Says Wyre

Time for the Youth to rise...this is an uprising for the youth...
tell 'em not loose hope in life...
only you control where your life goes.

Wyre the Love Child

South Sudan-Born 9th July 2011

A bright new dawn in Africa, welcome South Sudan!

Oh God
We praise and glorify you
For your grace on South Sudan,
Land of great abundance
Uphold us united in peace and harmony.

Oh motherland
We rise raising flag with the guiding star
And sing songs of freedom with joy,
For justice, liberty and prosperity
Shall forever more reign.

Oh great patriots
Let us stand up in silence and respect,
Saluting our martyrs whose blood
Cemented our national foundation,
We vow to protect our nation

Oh God bless South Sudan.

Official National anthem of the Republic of South Sudan click here

I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

African Countries Large Recepient of Remittances

Gallup surveys in 135 countries reveal about 3% of adults worldwide live in households that receive remittances -- either in the form of money or goods -- from someone in another country. In 35 countries, however, 10% or more report their households get this type of help. These countries are primarily concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa.

Read more here

At Least 1 in 5 African Youth Plan to Start a Business

Gallup surveys in 27 African countries and areas underscore the interest young people in the region have in entrepreneurship. A median of one in five Africans between the ages of 15 and 24 who are not already business owners say they plan to start their own business in the next 12 months, although they are less likely than those aged 25 to 35 to have these plans. In general, young women are as likely as young men to report plans to launch a business.

plan to start a biz.gif


Gallup finds African youth believe they can rely on social networks to launch their businesses. A median of about 6 in 10 African women (57%) and men (61%) between the ages of 15 and 24 say they trust someone other than a family member enough to make them a partner in starting a business. Similar proportions of women and men in the older age group (aged 25 to 35) say the same.

Young Africans -- whether they are currently thinking about starting a business -- paint a mixed picture in terms of starting and running a business, be it a formal or informal venture. They are relatively positive about the safety of assets and the potential financial success of their business, but fewer find the paperwork process and access to loan money easy enough for would-be entrepreneurs. It is important to note that young people in the older age group as well as both genders share similar views.


Young people in different countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan and northern Africa have different views about some aspects of entrepreneurship. Young people residing in northern African countries are less likely than their counterparts south of the Sahara to say they plan to start a business. Young people's perceptions about business outcomes in northern Africa are generally less positive than those in sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, young people in each region found more agreement with respect to ease of business entry and trust in business partners.

Gallup finds other country differences across income groups. Intent to start a business among those aged 15 to 24 is highest in low-income rather than middle-income countries, and ranges from 3% in Morocco to 40% in Uganda. In many of the countries and areas surveyed in Africa, majorities of young people believe they can trust non-relatives to be their business partners, although in the Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, and Tanzania, less than 50% of young people believe they can.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact or call 202.715.3030.

Read more here

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