Possible solution to the Africa food crisis?

 

 World leaders and policy makers met in Dublin this week to discuss the very serious and often interrelated issues of hunger nutrition that face the poorest people in the world. It has been suggested that sustainable intensification, which involves producing more crops, and better nutrition from the same set of inputs, should be put at the heart of African agriculture, the idea being that it reduces environmental impacts on a sustained basis. 

However these nations face very daunting challenges, in Africa the number of hungry people rose to 239 million last year. With the continent’s population expected to almost double by 2050, the current food production system would only be able to meet the needs of 13% of the 2050 expected population. These are scary figures. 

So it seems sustainable intensification would be the only approach that might wield an improvment on the continent’s dire needs. It may be acheivable for African smallholder farmers by using practices such as ‘micro-dosing’ (using the cap of drinks to measure small amounts of fertiliser) which boosts yields and keeps prices down, or combining mixed field and tree crops to promote regeneration of diverse natural species in common lands. 

But sustainable intensification will only flourish with the co-operation and organisation in rural areas. For example ‘grain banks’ run by local farmers helps smallholders to protect their grain from diseases and pests by depositing it in the ‘bank’. 

This requires the support of governments in order to truly make a difference but these talks in Dublin show the first steps are being made to develop the huge potential sustainable intensification could have as a driver of better food security, better nutrition and quality of life.

 
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Angelina Jolie speaks at G-8 about the ‘Forgotten Victims’ of wars

Angelina used her celebrity status for good in London on Thursday the 11th of April to raise awareness of an important cause: fighting sexual violence in military conflicts. She joined forces with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in announcing the $36million of funding that has been donated from G8 nations to go towards preventing sexual violence and ensuring justice for its survivors. Calling them the ‘ Forgotten Victims’ of the wars in the Middle East and Africa.
 
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ImageSource: Guardian.co.uk

Hague called it the ‘slave trade of our generation’ and stated, ‘now that we have put war-zone rape on the international agenda, it must never slip it off again.’
 
Calling the G8 meeting an ‘historic’ declaration, Hague puts the responsibility on nations to search for and prosecute anyone accused of such crimes.
 
Jolie, a special envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, hailed the ‘long overdue stand’ on sexual violence saying for too long it had been sorely lacking.
 
When people think of war many things come to peoples’ minds, however I’m not sure sexual violence would be one of the first. I love seeing celebrities raise awareness on important issues such as these, let’s hope the governments and nations take note!
 

 

Dan Pallotta: Business Can’t Solve the World’s Problems — But Capitalism Can

By Dan Pallotta, Chief Humanity Officer, Advertising for Humanity

 We would like to share this article by Dan Pallota from our friends at Business Fights Poverty. Dan Pallota makes a lot of sense about how to change charity for good. Enjoy!

http://www.businessfightspoverty.org/profiles/blogs/dan-pallotta-business-can-t-solve-the-world-s-problems-but

Business and capitalism get conflated — in our media, our language and in our thinking. They are not the same thing. One is a sector, the other a methodology. By inextricably linking the two, we confine the practice of real, turbo-charged capitalism to business, and we dangerously limit the capacity of non-business organizations to innovate, fund, and bring to scale the kind of breakthrough ideas that will begin to solve the huge social problems we face today.

 

To be sure, business can change the world. That is one of the things it does, consistently. Innovations such as the assembly line, the car itself, the distribution of electricity and gasoline, now the iPad, Google, and so on, have by many measures made the world a better place. Indeed, as Carl Schramm writes in his provocative essay, “All Entrepreneurship Is Social,” the fashionable new term “social business” in some ways “diminishes the contributions of regular entrepreneurs…people who… create thousands of jobs, improve the quality of goods and services available to consumers, and ultimately raise standards of living.” He uses the refrigerated box car and its achievements in reducing food-borne illness and saving millions of lives in the process to make his point.

 

Business will move the great masses of humanity forward with advancements in pharmaceuticals, materials, process, and technology — but it will almost always leave 10% behind. It will almost always leave unaddressed humanity’s most disadvantaged and unlucky. Even social business will not address those issues for which markets cannot be developed. I serve on the board of a center for the developmentally disabled. More than anything, its clients need love. How do you monetize that?

 

This is where philanthropy comes in. Philanthropy is the market for love. The word itself derives from the Greek for “love of humanity.” Philanthropy and, specifically, the charities that benefit from it and that are chartered to solve social problems can address those people and issues that business leaves behind. But they can do so effectively only if we allow them to use the tools of capitalism — tools that the sector has thus far been denied, nearly wholesale.

We have two rulebooks — one for charity and one for the rest of the economic world. We blame capitalism for creating huge inequities in our society, and then we refuse to allow the “nonprofit” sector to use the tools of capitalism to rectify them.

 

This nonprofit rulebook discriminates against charities in at least five different areas: compensation, marketing, risk taking, time horizons, and capital itself. We allow people to make a fortune doing any number of things that will harm the poor but crucify anyone who wants to make money helping them. This sends the top talent coming out of the nation’s best business schools directly into the for-profit sector and gives our youth the mutually exclusive choice between making a difference and making money. This we call ethics. We let Apple and Coca-Cola plaster our billboards and television sets with advertising, but we are appalled at the notion of important causes “wasting” money on paid advertising. So the voices of our great causes are all but silenced, and consumer products get lopsided access to our attention, 24/7. This we do in the name of frugality. Amazon was permitted to forgo investor returns for six years to build market dominance. But if a charity embarks on a long-term plan with no return for the needy for six years, we are outraged. This we call caring. We aren’t upset when Disney makes a $200 million movie that flops, but if a $1 million charity walk doesn’t make a 75% profit to the cause in year one, we want the attorney general to investigate. So charities are petrified of exploring new revenue-generating methods and can’t develop the powerful learning curves that the for-profit sector can. This we call prudence.

 

We let for-profit companies raise massive capital in the stock market by offering investment returns, but we forbid the payment of a financial return (“profit”) in charity. The result? The for-profit sector monopolizes the capital markets, while charities are left to beg for donations. This we call philanthropy.

 

Combine those five things and you have just put the humanitarian sector at an extreme disadvantage to the for-profit sector. Yet we still expect it to solve the world’s problems.

 

Our social problems are gigantic in scale. We need gigantic responses to them. And if we freed the humanitarian sector to use the tools of capitalism, we could bring private ingenuity to bear on those problems, and we wouldn’t have to depend on the government to fill the gaps.

Where would all the money come from? From us! If we were to give the humanitarian sector the right capital, talent, time, and ability to innovate, it could build the kind of demand for philanthropy that, say, Apple builds for music on iTunes (which, by the way, stimulates the same reward centers in the brain as giving). Then we’d be on our way to the kind of scale we need.

 

Americans give about $300 billion to nonprofit organizations annually, most of it to education and religious institutions. Only about 15% of that — $45 billion — goes to health and human services causes. If we could use the tools of capitalism to increase charitable giving in the U.S. from 2% of GDP to just 3%, that would amount to an additional $150 billion in annual giving. If that money went disproportionately to health and human services causes, it would amount to a quadrupling of donations to that sector. Now we’re talking scale. Now we’re talking about big change.

http://www.businessfightspoverty.org/profiles/blogs/dan-pallotta-business-can-t-solve-the-world-s-problems-but

Business cannot solve all the world’s problems. But capitalism can.

Give Clean Water To Kids Who Need It….on Facebook!

UNICEF has developed a cool new way to include people in their successful Tap Project. The Tap Project was launched on World Water Day on 22nd March 2007 as a nationwide project that provides children from impoverished nations with access to safe and clean water. The project also aims to raise awareness about the dangers of waterborne illnesses which causes the death of nearly 4,000 children under 5 every day! It began by encouraging guests at New York restaurants to pay $1 for their tap water that they would usually get for free. It then expanded to restaurants around the United States and began gaining the support of high profile people to join the cause such as Lenny Kravitz and Giorgio Armani.

UNICEF has now developed a new app that allows Facebook users to participate by initially donating $5 (or equivalent) and inviting two friends to join. This then provides portable water to a child for 200 days. A donation allows you to open your tap and pass the water onto two friends, who then donate and open their tap and so on. This activity is all mapped out within the Facebook app where you can watch your network grow and feel as though you are a part of something bigger. The activity currently stands at 1,097 taps open, $5,390 donated which equals to 215,600 days of clean water to those who knew them. It’s a really fun, interactive way to see the effect you can have by donating a small amount of money.

UNICEF has also enlisted the help of celebrities to raise awareness for the new social media ‘taps’. Celebrity favourites such as Seth Rogen, Heidi Klum, Kevin Spacey, Emmy Rossum and Sting, to name just a few, are going to be promoting the campaign by starting their own ‘tap’ networks that will be visible to all, and will encourage their fans to join via their twitter and Facebook pages. This could deem incredibly successful due to the amount of fans and social influence they have over the people who follow them.

 

Click on this link to get involved and start your own tap network : https://apps.facebook.com/uniceftapproject/

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I started my own tap network today! The $5 donation turned out to be just £3.41 and has given someone 200 days of clean water 🙂

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Sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/20/unicef-tap-project_n_2918115.html?utm_hp_ref=impact#slide=2244040

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/11/business/media/celebrities-help-unicef-turn-on-taps-for-clean-water.html?_r=0

Want to join a live debate about the development of information technology in third world countries?

 

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The guardian website are hosting a live debate answering questions about how development organizations can make information more accessible to hard to reach third world countries. The debate will take place on Thursday 14th March at 13.00 on the guardian website http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development-professionals-network/2013/mar/11/information-data-access-global-development in the comment section. You can also join in on twitter by tweeting your questions with the hashtag #globaldevlive.

This debate will explore the extent to which information has been developed in these countries and the effect it will have on them. While on the outside it would seem that this development would empower those who can obtain it, but what about those who can’t? Also it seems these projects cannot be implemented without follow up, what benefit would this information have if the countries don’t know how to use it? This debate should answer all these questions and more, aswell as making us aware how much work needs to be done to bring data to these countries.

The panel consists of:

Melody Clark, Communications & Knowledge Sharing Manager,Technology & Social Change Group, Seattle, US. @melodyrclark @taschagroup

Melody formerly researched for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation global libraries initiative. Melody focuses on communications and dissemination, impact measurement and evaluation of public access to information and communication technologies programmes.

Samuel Lee, Open Data Specialist, World Bank, Washington, DC, US. @OpenNotion

Sam works to make financial data about the World Bank’s activities readily available, re-useable, and useful to the public and various stakeholder groups. The Bank’s Open Finances programme leverages an open data website and a suite of mobile applications.

Tony German, Executive Director, Development Initiatives, London, UK. @tonygerman @devinitorg

Tony is well known for his expertise in working with governments, multilateral organisations and NGOs. Tony works to make aid more transparent and accountable, and to empower communities developing countries to access and understand information about aid.

David Banisar, Senior Legal Counsel, Article 19, London, UK. @article19law

David leads Article 19’s efforts on access to information, post 2015 goals, sustainable development and environmental transparency. Article 19 is an NGO that defends the rights for freedom of information and freedom of expression.

Steve Song, Founder, Village Telco, Nova Scotia, Canada. @stevesong @villagetelco

Steve formally worked at the International Development Research Centre, where he led the Information and Communication Technology for Development programme in Africa, which researched impact of information and communication technologies on social and economic development.

 Sources: http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development-professionals-network/2013/mar/11/information-data-access-global-development

 

 

 

Could this be the end for HIV?

A baby girl in the U.S.A who was born with HIV, has reportedly been cured of the infection. The baby was given very early treatment with standard drug therapy, and it is the first account of an infant achieving a ‘functional’ cure-meaning she will not need drugs for the virus. This case differs from the other, now famous case of the so- called ‘Berlin patient’- who also was cured completely of the virus. The difference being, Timothy Ray Brown (the Berlin patient) had to undergo extremely elaborate treatment for leukemia that resulted in the destruction of his entire immune system and a stem cell transplant from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resists the HIV infection- not exactly the easiest cure. Especially not when you compare it with the new case of this baby girl, she was given a cocktail of three standard drugs that are widely available and have already been used to treat HIV in infants. The key success of this case seems to be due to the early use of the drugs. The baby was given the cocktail at just 30 hours old, reportedly even before the test results confirming the baby had the infection had come back. This was a bold move from Dr Hannah Gay, the doctor who made the call, based on this fact that the baby’s mother only tested positive for HIV during labour, which meant that the baby had not received the six-week course of drugs in the womb intended to reduce the chance of the mother transmitting the infection.

But does it sound too easy? The drugs used on the baby were the standard HIV fighting drugs, just a potent mix of three instead of one or two at a time, and it is thought that this along with the early use of the drugs seem to have eradicated the virus before it took hold. Some researchers are arguing that the results are ‘premature’.  For example the NHS reported that although standard laboratory tests could not detect HIV in the babies blood at 1 month old, highly sensitive lab tests could still detect its presence at low levels. However, even though they may not have found a complete cure, there is hope that they may have found a functional one – one that requires no further treatment, that gives this little girl a chance at a normal life, not having to rely on drugs and a good life expectancy.  If this case turns out to be legitimate, it makes the idea of curing HIV seem like a realistic goal, which a few years ago would have been seen as impossible! Maybe it is premature, but this potential groundbreaking news is progress towards saving millions of lives in the future-so let’s hope it does!

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Image Source: http://annyra.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/hiv_aids_11.jpg

Articles: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9906439/Baby-born-with-HIV-cured.html

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/03/06/doctor-gutsy-move-led-to-baby-hiv-cure/

http://www.nhs.uk/news/2013/03March/Pages/Reports-of-HIV-cure-are-sadly-premature.aspx

Haiti Victims vs UN in Cholera Outbreak!

The United Nations have rejected a damages claim for the cholera outbreak in Haiti that has now claimed almost 8,000 lives. The outbreak began in October 2010 and is currently the worst outbreak of the disease in the world having infected nearly 600,000 people. The claim was filed in November 2011 by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, citing claims that the disease was inadvertently brought into the country when a local contractor failed to properly sanitize the waste of a U.N base which then leaked into one of Haiti’s biggest rivers. The UN is stating immunity from such claims under the UN’s Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the UN, also saying that it is impossible to pinpoint the exact source of the disease despite the added claim that infected Nepalese peacekeepers were present at the U.N camp whose poor sanitation allegedly started the outbreak. The lawyers representing the cholera victims now plan to challenge the UN’s immunity in national court to seek compensation and justice for the victims. They are calling for the UN to provide clean water and sanitation infrastructure, a public apology and 100,000 dollars for victims that have lost family members. 

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Image Source: http://www.haitiaction.net/News/IJDH/11_9_11/11_9_11.html

 

Prior to this outbreak, the country had not a single recorded case of the disease for more than a decade which makes it all the more horrifying. Who should claim responsibility for these deaths, or should it be simply put down as a careless accident that has affected the lives of so many?

 

Heres an interesting report on youtube summarising this story, including a clip from the documentary film ‘Baseball in the Time of Cholera’  which converges the stories of Joseph, a young boy who falls in love with baseball and the cholera outbreak which tragically affects his family.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViElN2tPHd

 

Sources: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-20686142

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-21542842

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/22/un-haiti-cholera-victims_n_2743367.html?utm_hp_ref=impact