Posts filed under ‘africa’

Migration and Population

Migration is not a new phenomenon, but it is one which increasingly hits the headlines. It is highly controversial, with some believing the UK is too open to migrants and others defending migrants as beneficial to our economy. Meanwhile, the population of the UK and the world continues to grow amid fears about sustainability. Is there a solution to the problem?

The information in this book comes from a wide range of sources and includes government reports and statistics, newspaper reports, features, magazine articles and surveys, literature from lobby groups and charitable organisations.

You can read more about this book on the publisher’s website; you can buy it there, or on Amazon.

Editor: Cobi Smith and Lisa Firth
Publisher: Independence Educational Publishers
ISBN: 978 1 86168 423 3
Published: January 2008

February 17, 2008 at 12:51 pm Leave a comment

World Nomads podcast documentary scholarship

World Nomads offered a podcast documentary scholarship to Cambodia, to visit the Fred Hollows eye camp and produce a travel podcast. Entrants produced a short travel-focused podcast on the theme, ‘it opened my eyes’.

The winner put a lot more effort into audio production than I did and definitely deserved to win – congratulations Kylie!

I was shortlisted; my story was about my experience covering health issues in the developing world, from my base in the UK.

You can access it direct, or through the page about the podcast documentary scholarship, where you can also hear the other finalists.

January 30, 2008 at 11:53 pm Leave a comment

Antimalarials ‘give children an edge’ at school

Preventative malaria treatment could improve schoolchildren’s performance in endemic areas, a study suggests.

The research was presented at the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine’s conference in London, United Kingdom, last week (14 September).

Benson Estambale, director of the Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, investigated whether giving preventative antimalarial drugs to primary schoolchildren improved their educational performance.

More than 6000 students from 30 schools in the Bondo district of West Kenya were administered antimalarial drugs three times in 2005–2006.

“[Preventative treatment] is very much recommended for pregnant women and has been tried in infants and young children, but nothing had been done in children over five years of age,” Estambale said.

“We found that quite a number of people wanted to have their children treated for malaria, because they said that malaria was causing a lot of absenteeism in school and the children were coming home when they had fever.”

Treatment cut the students’ risk of malaria parasite infection by more than a third, as well as reducing anaemia. Researchers found that treated children performed better in cognitive tests and also did slightly better in school exams.

Previous studies of malaria-infected regions indicate that up to 50 per cent of all preventable absenteeism in schools is due to malaria, and the research team found that a number of people wanted to have their children treated for malaria because of absenteeism, Estambale told delegates.

Estembale said the Kenyan Ministry of Education had expressed interest in the study and the researchers hope it could lead to the introduction of routine preventative therapy for schoolchildren, as the government has done with de-worming.

“De-worming has become official policy in the country and school health programs are now de-worming the children twice in a year to remove all the intestinal worms that could impact negatively on children’s performance in schools,” Estambale said.

Nick White, head of tropical medicine at Mahidol University in Thailand and a WHO advisor, said the results were exciting but future research should further examine the exact relationship between drug efficacy and educational performance, and whether the findings applied in other malaria-affected regions.

Nick White, head of tropical medicine at Mahidol University in Thailand and a WHO advisor, said the results were exciting but future research should further examine the exact relationship between drug efficacy and educational performance, and whether the findings applied in other malaria-affected regions.

Further studies are planned for Kenya and Senegal, but Estambale also hopes to hear from other potential partners.

“We would like to get partnerships even in Asia as well as South America, because children are children, and we know that in malaria-endemic areas, although quite a number of them are semi-immune, they continue having malaria impacting negatively on educational performance,” he said.

Read this story on the Science and Development Network.

October 5, 2007 at 1:09 pm Leave a comment

End of monopoly could mean better connectivity in west Africa

The Association of African Universities has called for African leaders to use the end of a monopoly on a submarine communications cable to provide cheaper Internet access for students.

The SAT-3 submarine communications cable — which runs from Europe down Africa’s west coast — is currently monopolised by a consortium of state-owned and private telecommunications providers in different countries, and pricing structures have been the subject of criticism.

That monopoly ends in June, which could open up internet access for west African nations.

Information and communication technology (ICT) initiatives in African universities are suffering due to expensive, slow and limited connectivity, says Akilagpa Sawyerr, the executive secretary of the Ghana-based Association of African Universities (AAU).

“In our universities you’ve got 18,000 students and 1,000 teachers using the same amount of bandwidth as an American household,” said Sawyerr at a conference on African development at the UK-based Open University last week (16–17 May).

“The more people that use it, the slower it works. And because of the monopoly pricing in Africa, that university will pay 50 times more per unit than the American household.”

Sawyerr says the association needs to persuade governments that ICT programmes will not work without connectivity and effective networks between universities.

Rather than looking at expensive satellite Internet services as a solution, west African universities should be accessing the SAT-3 cable, he says.

“The monopolies run out in June and it is very important that before our governments renew their licenses we persuade them that these companies could give away a portion of their lines at a discounted rate to us,” Sawyerr said.

“We need those who are making the choices at higher levels to realise that it would cost them quite little and make a difference.”

He said the AAU is keen to work with other African organisations to lobby governments to this end.

Read the whole story on the Science and Development Network.

May 29, 2007 at 10:29 am Leave a comment

Norfolk technology to eliminate world’s broadband black holes

A Norfolk company has developed an inexpensive wireless internet service, which has been linking coastal villages in the East of England and will now be distributed in the developing world.

Newman Concepts has partnered with the Commonwealth Business Council to supply the broadband technology to developing Commonwealth countries.

The company’s Managing Director Will Newman is heading to Johannesburg in coming months to organise distribution of the technology to Africa.

“The fact that technology developed here in West Norfolk will benefit those far less fortunate in the developing world is a humbling realisation,” said Will.

The Digital-Bridge Network technology uses a wireless backbone system, with users connecting at access points along the backbone using fixed aerials from their premises.

While in England and Europe the technology can eliminate black spots, much of the developing world is a black hole when it comes to internet access. Solar energy can be used to power the broadband access in developing areas, where schools and hospitals will be brought online.

“Giving access to schools and hospitals has the potential to help a lot of people in countries where most can’t afford their own computers,” Will said.

The technology will be distributed to more English black spots by another Norfolk business, Swains Voice and Data Plc, while the East of England Innovation Relay Centre is working to take the technology to mainland Europe.

“This is good news for us, for all those who have helped us, and for the people of West Norfolk,” Will said.

“It is just a first step and there remains a great deal to do. As we step down this path there will be many hi-tech jobs created here in Dersingham which will boost the local economy and provide a career path for more local people.”

Read this article on the Norfolk Network.

November 21, 2006 at 8:58 am Leave a comment

Reflecting on the World Youth Congress – UniSA student magazine piece

I was one of the first students enrolled in the University of South Australia’s double degree in journalism and international studies. I’m now in my fourth year, which will drag into my fifth because of extracurricular commitments. The latest has been attending the World Youth Congress in Stirling, Scotland, as one of six Australian delegates.

Starting out in the degree, I thought the logical resulting career would be as a foreign correspondent! Some years later, after working for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, I’ve replaced that ambition with something a little more complex. The best thing about the degree – more than any lectures or tutorials – is the opportunities that come with it. I’ve tested the waters with jobs as diverse as reporting at the Rugby World Cup, looking at legal issues in radio programs for the Law Foundation of South Australia, and editing an environmental paper.

I’d say these diverse jobs, along with my international experiences, led to my acceptance as a delegate and journalist for the World Youth Congress. I was one of 40 journalists, and about 550 other young people working towards sustainable development, who attended the 10-day event.

Young journalists were asked to arrive in Stirling two days early for media training and briefings. This was in addition to delegate responsibilities of attending workshops and helping prepare a policy document, to be submitted to governments worldwide, and an action toolkit for young people wanting to contribute to development. As journalists, we were also involved in making documentaries that screened at the Congress each day, publishing a daily newspaper, and editing and formatting the outcome documents prepared by delegates. It was a busy 10 days.

The two days before the Congress, which included film documentary and photography workshops, were a great opportunity to network with young journalists from places like Serbia, Brazil, Cameroon, and China. It was the ideal way to get experience in both the disciplines I’m studying.

As well as being great personal development for all the delegates, the Congress will hopefully go beyond that and contribute to international development. I’ve joined some Australian and international non-government organisations as a result, which is just the beginning. There’s a worldwide movement for youth-led development, particularly in African and Pacific nations where, unlike Australia, the majority of the population is young people.

We’re lucky in Australia. Most young people have the chance to be students. As students, we have opportunities that most young people in the world don’t. It’s only in the latter half of my degree that I’ve really started to get active on international issues. I’ve been reporting on them, and studying them, but I haven’t done much. I’m trying to change that.

The next World Youth Congress is planned for 2008, to be held in Quebec. If it sounds like something you’d be interested in, start thinking now about how to get there. As a student, there is ample opportunity for you to contribute to youth-led development.

Make the most of it.

You can read this story on Students@UniSA.

November 8, 2004 at 8:09 pm Leave a comment


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