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 http://aljazeera.com/

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!!! http://saturnic.livejournal.com/420423.html

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 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110823115210.htm#.TlV_PAzNDlA.twitter

Full Report Here http://mahider.ilri.org/

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 www.connect4climate.org 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 http://one.org/c/international/hottopic/3921/
Read More Here http://one.org/c/international/hottopic/3788/

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 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-radio-and-tv-14231466

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 http://ipa.uneca.org/
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