Thursday 22 October 2009

Millions need emergency food aid, 25 years after Ethiopia's worst famine

Ethiopia has appealed for emergency aid to help feed 6.2 million people.

NAIROBI, KENYA (OCTOBER 22, 2009) REUTERS - Ethiopia appealed for emergency aid to feed 6.2 million people on Thursday (October 22), 25 years after more than a million perished in the country's notorious 1984 famine. Aid agency Oxfam says although short term assistance is necessary, a long term solution is the only way to change what has become -- over the years -- reliance on handouts.
"It's more... what's not changed. So, what's not changed is that there are millions of people who aren't able -- year on year -- to reliably feed themselves, and that's not changed and that's not satisfactory. It's great that people don't starve, where there is assistance and there is predictable assistance, and that's great. But insufficient energy has been put behind finding the longer term solutions so people can get out of this current reliance on food aid and that's what we think needs to change," said Oxfam's Paul Lomas.

More than 1 million Ethiopians died in 1984 as millions in the rich world sat transfixed in front of their television screens. The huge scale of the suffering brought with it the biggest outpouring of charity money the world has ever seen.

But 25 years on, foreigners still feed huge numbers of Ethiopians.

Oxfam says food aid has trapped Ethiopia into a cycle of dependency on the West and that donations could be better spent.

"We are really looking for both definitely when people... when an emergency appeal like this comes out the donors must respond and people do need food. But we also think that the long term funding is needed too. Now, there are ways that you can do a certain amount of both -- if more money for emergency food aid is invested inside the region, then we could be recycling the economy far more, we could be promoting local agricultural investment far more than buying grain from somewhere on the other side of the world," said Lomas.

Many Ethiopians say they are sick of their image as a famished country and point to foreign investors' growing interest in the country.

"I think every time I meet people who are recipients of food aid it's not a place they are happy to be in, they have their own personal ambitions, their own dignity, they are looking for a way out themselves. People want to get to be in a situation where they can stand on their own two feet," said Lomas.

On top of the 6.2 million people needing food aid, another 7 million people are on a scheme that gives food in exchange for work, which means more than 13 million of the country's 83 million people rely on foreign handouts to survive.

Aid workers say a five-year drought is afflicting more than 23 million people in seven east African nations.

First ever UNESCO World Aquatic Heritage site in Malawi

UNESCO's first ever aquatic heritage site includes Lake Malawi which has some 250 unique fish species, holds an incredible 1000 of the world's 20,000 known fish species.

MANGOCHI, MALAWI (OCTOBER 19, 2009) REUTERS - The Galapagos islands are to Latin America what Lake Malawi is to Africa.
Christened as the world's first fresh water national park in 1980, Lake Malawi National Park was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984, mainly due to the fact that it boasts more species of fish than any other lake in the world.

Around five percent of the world's fish species - 1,000 out of 20,000 - are found in Lake Malawi, making its waters crucial for the study of marine life evolution.

Lake Malawi's 29,600 square kilometers makes it the third largest lake on the continent.

Indigenous to Lake Malawi is the Cichlid, a clourful medium-sized fish whose species number between 1,300 and 3,000.

Although new species are constantly discovered, 156 cichlid species are currently listed as vulnerable, 40 species are listed as endangered, while 69 species are listed as critically endangered.

There is also rich birdlife on Lake Malawi including the African fish eagle.

The park itself and the lake's two largest islands, Likoma and Chizumulu, contain five villages.

"It is very unique in the sense that this is the only national park in the country that has got villages inside the park. And Chembe is one of the biggest villages that is found in Lake Malawi National Park. There are about five villages with a total population of about 25,000 people and these people depend on park resources for their own survival," explained Joe Chinguwo, an education and enviromental officer in the park.

A number of the park's human residents make their living from tourists and have enjoyed their home's prominence in the world of conservation.

"We are always happy to receive tourists and visitors from all over the world. We have a lot to showcase within this heritage site. I am happy, as a businessman that many people are now coming here," said boat operator Andrew Njikho.

Lake Malawi national park officers do not just take care of what is in the water. They are equally conscious of conserving the surrounding mainland to avoid sediment building up in the water, which could ultimately be fatal to the fish.

"Apart from conserving the Mbuna (Cichlid) which is in the water, we also conserve the mainland, the trees so that we avoid siltation of our lake," said Chinguwo.

In the late 1970s, siltation caused by deforestation and the introduction of new species caused the disappearance of 80% cichlid fish in East Africa's Lake Victoria, a situation which Lake Malawi is determined to avoid.

Global action against poverty campaign breaks world record

More than 173 million people across the globe participated in the ''Stand Up, Take Action, End Poverty Now'' events, claiming the Guinness World Record for mass mobilisation.

NAIROBI, KENYA (OCTOBER 22, 2009) REUTERS - A global action campaign against poverty dubbed 'Stand up, Take Action' broke a world record for the largest number of people mobilizing for one cause at the same time, the United Nations Millenium campaign said on Thursday (October 22).
Stand Up and Take Action, a campaign of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) which sets out to eradicate poverty across the globe by 2015 by using popular artists in advocacy, witnessed a massive turnout of people worldwide over the weekend.

"Last night, we got a message from Guinness that we had actually shattered the world record, and that all together globally, 173 million people in events across the world, over 3,000 events across the world, in more than 120 countries, stood up and took action demanding that they want poverty to end.", said Sylvia Mwichuli, the UN Millenium Campaign's Acting Deputy Director for Africa.

The record for biggest mobilisation was broken in 2006, the event's inception year when approximately 23 million people participated.

The number grew exponentially, as the event kept shattering its own record year after. By 2009, it had increased by more than seven times since it first began.

This year's leg comprised of some 3,000 global events, including the participation of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in New York, that of Nepalese president Ram Baran Yadav, a concert by Irish band U2 and one by legendary Nigerian artist Femi Kuti.

Through these events and numbers, Mwichuli believes global policy will have to be affected.

"We hope that these figures are going to translate into real actions, through these actions we have had thousands of policy related actions where we have provided petitions to governments both from the grassroots to the national level, we have demanded that governments must allocate resources to development programs.", said Mwichuli.

The UN estimates that almost half of the world lives on less than two US dollars a day, and one in six people does not receive adequate nutrition.


Wednesday 21 October 2009

Why We Need a Green Revolution: Insights and Opinions of Thomas Friedman

My husband and I went to see Thomas Friedman, a best
selling author and NY Times columnist speak about his most
recent book, Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green
Revolution - and How It Can Renew America, which is a
follow up to his previous book, The World Is Flat: The
World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first
Century. We enjoyed his presentation which was full of
vivid examples, memorable images, and humorous lines.

American Industry Problems

According to Friedman, America has lost its way over the
last decade or so. His entire book is about, as he put it,
how America can gets its groove back. His ideal solution is
that the U.S. should become a world leader in the green
innovation and technology that's needed to tackle the
world's largest problems, which all stem from the fact that
the world has become:

- Hot: As you can guess, this part of his book is about
the climate crisis due to global warming.

- Flat: Straight from his last book, The World Is Flat,
this term refers to the fact that far more people on the
planet have high paying jobs that allow them to achieve the
American standard of living.

- Crowded: The world's population is growing exponentially
which is going to tax all the resources on the planet.

With the world in this three-pronged predicament, five
significant global problems have arisen:

- Ecological and Natural Resources, Supply and Demand.
Increasing demand for raw materials such as timber, water,
and minerals is putting stress on the earth's ecosystems.

- Petrodictatorships. As the price of a barrel of oil
decreases, the pace of freedom increases, and vice versa,
in countries such as Russia, Iran and Nigeria. By
continuing to purchase oil from these countries we are
contributing to the problem.

- Climate Change. As the average temperature of the earth
increases, look for the weather to become more extreme.
Friedman prefers to think of this as global weirding rather
than global warming. In a way he is correct. All weather
patterns are going to become more extreme. Hot will become
hotter, but cool will become colder. Wet and dry, the same
thing. Weather patterns will shift dramatically with as
little as one degree of temperature increase.

- Energy Poverty. A large portion of the world's
population lives without electricity. No electricity means
no access to the world's knowledge. Ignorance through lack
of learning creates large scale problems.

- Biodiversity Losses. The world faces a mass extinction
larger than when an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs.
Currently we are losing one species every 20 minutes,
primarily due to loss of habitat. As the climate changes,
animals will have to search for new habitats, but they are
unlikely to evolve rapidly enough to survive the abrupt
shift in their habitat.

The Solution

Not one to despair over such large problems, Friedman sees
one solution to these five problems: cheap, abundant,
clean, reliable electrons

His hope is that our country will use the power of
innovation, technology, government and businesses
leadership to produce electricity that satisfies these
requirements. He refers to this new industry as Energy
Technology, or ET, the next generation of Information
Technology, or IT.

The Reality

As it stands now, the rest of the world is a step ahead of
the U.S. Of the top 30 clean tech companies in the world,
only 6 are American companies. If we don't take action now,
we'll lose our place as an innovative force in the world.

What we need is a bold revolution to solve the climate
crisis... a Green Revolution, so to speak. He described the
current green effort as a party where everyone gets to
continue enjoying life without making a commitment or
sacrifice. A party, a change in lifestyle, is not enough!
We need to take a stronger stand to get done what needs to
get done. As he put it... a Revolution isn't a revolution
unless someone gets hurt. There will be losers in this new
world, the outdated, dirty, carbon based businesses that
continue to contribute to the problem.

The Action

The ultimate goal of the green revolution is the
disappearance of the word green from our vocabulary. It can
happen as current green standards become embedded into our
everyday lives and become the norm, rather than the

To accomplish the goal of becoming an innovator in the race
for clean, abundant, clean, reliable electrons, we need to
create what he calls an Ecosystem for Innovation. To
explain this, Friedman used an analogy of a rocket on a
launching pad. The technology and innovation now bubbling
up within entrepreneurial start-ups is the engine exploding
with energy. For the energy of to be directed and focused,
we need the second set of engines to ignite and the
astronauts in the capsule on top to steer us toward the
goals. Unfortunately, at this moment, the astronauts in the
capsules (read politicians in Congress) are in disagreement
about the flight plan.

That flight plan, the system of rules, standards,
regulations, incentives and pricing, is essential to create
the necessary infrastructure for this Energy Technology
explosion. If we are committed to this goal, we need to
focus our attention on getting leaders in all levels of
government to believe in the cause and be willing to take
action. One of Friedman's take away lines was... Don't
change your light bulbs, change your leaders!

According to Friedman this is a critical moment in the
history of planet earth. The next great global industry,
Energy Technology, is just beginning to take shape. We must
act now to reduce the world's carbon output. We must all
take a part in turning the national conversation to issues
associated with cheap, abundant, clean, reliable electrons.

Our actions can't wait. The word later must leave our
vocabulary. There is no later when it comes to addressing
climate change.

If we all start now, we have just enough time to solve this.

About the Author:

Green Career Expert Carol McClelland, PhD, is the author of
the forthcoming book Green Careers For Dummies and founder
of Green Career Central, a membership website with useful
programs, 500+ pages of effective, targeted information to
help you identify your green niche, find a green job, start
a business or further your education. Visit to request our free
report - "Six Strategies to Find Your Green Career"d