Over the past few years, South Africa has slowly been making progress in environmental reforms. So far, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has found reductions in carbon and energy have taken place, as well as better management of its natural resources, including water, biodiversity, and mineral resources. Moving towards a lower-carbon and more energy efficient society has allowed South Africa to maintain a better environmental quality of life.
In many cases, South Africa has been able to catch up with the developed world in its environmental standards, sometimes even surpassing the accomplishments that the developed world has made. Regardless, the country still releases great quantities of carbon emissions, and as a result many of South Africa’s rivers and lakes are polluted. Indoor coal and paraffin stoves decrease the air quality inside homes for millions of people across South Africa.
Environmental reform in South Africa faces some challenges as it progresses. One challenge is integrating the consideration of biodiversity when making policies for mining, energy, and coastal management. In the past these activities had been unchecked, especially during the urban development period, leaving a many river ecosystems endangered, depleting water resources, and damaging the country’s biodiversity. The country has made much progress in the area of environmental reform, but still has some changes to make to its policies before it can truly set an example for the rest of the world.
Fatou Bensouda, an International Criminal Court prosecutor
In 1998 the Rome Statute, a treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC), was ratified by many countries throughout the world. The first country to ratify this treaty was in fact Senegal, giving “the court the power to prosecute individuals for international crimes such as genocide.” Today however we see that the world, particularly the African continent, is directing a lot of criticism towards the ICC. The critics are claiming that the ICC only pursues cases against African leaders. There are many who believe that the ICC is merely a mechanism to target African leaders and contribute to fostering a negative view towards the continent of Africa.
Against this background, around 60 Senegalese law students have teamed up with various activists to discuss the faults of the ICC. Surprisingly, the result of the discussions has been that the criticism is unfounded. While all of the cases since the ICC was established have been targeted towards African leaders, this is because most of the genocides and war crimes were in fact committed in the African countries. This should not call people to criticize the ICC, instead it should make people strive to achieve democracy and stable institutions to ensure that there is never a need for African leaders to go to court in Netherlands. The students also concluded that if there is a disdain towards the ICC’s activities in regards to Africa, there should be a larger population of Africans who become more involved in the court as lawyers and judges so that they can change the focus of the court. Keeping all of this in mind, it is still prevalent in many African’s mindset to question the credibility of the ICC on account of the lack of support from the United States and Israel. However, this debate and discussion can contribute to further improving the position of the International Criminal Court and subsequently, providing justice.
In Senegal, while there has been substantial improvement in the healthcare industry, there are several issues that remain unaddressed. A key issue, that is easily solvable, is the lack of palliative care available for patients. The supply of morphine in Senegal is truly insufficient, leaving patients in chronic pain and depression. According to Human Rights Watch, Senegal currently stocks only enough morphine for around 200 patients each year. The reasoning behind the lack of palliative care can be attributed to the misconceptions of morphine and other pain relief medicines. Based on their culture and learning, it seems that many professional doctors are taught that morphine is a dangerous drug and should only be used as the last resort. Other times, a lot of patients are unwilling to take morphine because they associate the drug with dying.
There is a clear path to solving this problem and ensuring that patients can reduce their suffering. The first and foremost strategy is to produce more morphine for the hospitals. Considering the cheap cost of production, this is not a major investment of resources. It is a low cost, highly effective drug that can be beneficial to a lot of patients. Secondly, the government could change the regulations for prescribing morphine. Under this change, rural patients will have easier and longer term access to the drug when it is needed. In addition, there should be a specific training program for healthcare workers in palliative care. This will help solve the problems of misconception and increase the productive capacity of the nurses and doctors. Finally, the healthcare industry must focus on and improve patient relations by incorporating the demands and the needs of the patient into their diagnosis.
To end on a positive note, it is clear that Senegal is doing as much as it can to target this problem. Senegal spends around 12% of its budget on health, considerably higher than most of its neighbors. However, the priority of international donors on HIV/AIDS and child malnutrition has led to a clear lack of resources for other priority issues like pain relief treatment. If the importance of this issue is emphasized, it is evident that a lot of patients will receive accurate and relieving treatment.
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Ghana has been facing problems with lack of clean water for years. In the Northern region of the country, around half of the population living there does not have access to clean and safer drinking water. Many times, the most viable water source is a man-made trench that fills up during the rainy seasons. However, these trenches quickly become contaminated with waste, and the water is unfit to be ingested. On a university trip, a group of students from MIT travelled to Ghana to try to better understand the problem and hopefully come up with some solutions. They began a program called Community Water Solutions.
This program was designed to teach Ghanaian women- they are traditionally the ones in charge of finding drinking water- about safe ways to treat water. The students had discovered that just a few miles away from many of the small villages, there were cities that offered equipment to treat water. Unfortunately, the women of these smaller villages were completely unaware of this. The program was able to connect the women in the more rural areas to the treatment equipment from the cities. This program trained a few chosen women, who treated the water and were able to make a business out of selling the clean water.
After a few years, the results of the Community Water Solutions program are clear. It has created a new entrepreneurship business for women, while at the same time providing clean water for thousands of people. This program has inspired many other similar programs to appear around the country, and is said to have provided drinking water for over 30,000 people in Ghana.
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The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has formed a literacy campaign in South Africa that has marked its entrance into corporate social investment. “Boks for Books” has recently opened a second library, located at Kwamanzini Primary School. The first one the campaign created had been opened in August, marking the campaign’s quick movement.
SARU’s “Boks for Books” provides disadvantaged schools in South Africa with fully stocked libraries and is teamed with the NGO Blue Groove Africa. Blue Groove Africa is an organization that not only provides the infrastructure for libraries, but also runs librarian training and forms committees that work towards the success of each library. Their goal is to provide two hundred new libraries to an audience of 160,000 people in South Africa by the year 2016.
The president of SARU, Oregan Hoskins, hopes that the library will have an impact on the schools and the community, saying “literacy is essential for the acquiring of skills and knowledge, and those who can read are usually in a position to make a very meaningful contribution to the social, welfare, and community affairs of their respective communities.”
SARU plans to create another library for Gauteng, South Africa, in November of this year. These libraries are of great importance in the country, because they can help spur further education in the communities and schools. They could possibly help to raise South Africa’s ranking in education in the world, and provide students with necessary skills and guidance to succeed later in life.
For more, see: http://allafrica.com/stories/201310251558.html
The Ghana Political Parties Programme (GPPP), working under the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), has begun looking at the possibility of a reform on the current electoral system of the country. The Senior Fellow at the IEA, Dr. John Kwakye, opened an address regarding this issue by stating that political parties cannot stay in power forever. He added that it was this fact that made electoral reform so important. He stated, “It is therefore imperative that we contribute our quota in dealing with the challenges of our electoral system and to create the peaceful and enabling environment for all of us to thrive whether in government or in opposition.”
It was noted that although it is clear that Ghana needs to strengthen its integrity with regards to election policy, it is far from being the only nation with the same issue. Kwakye added, “Indeed, the results of Ghana’s 2012 election were challenged on grounds of irregularities, although it is conceded that elections all over the world are fraught with some amount of irregularities.” Of course, the main goal of this reform is to mend the democratic process, and ensure that the results of elections in Ghana accurately reflect the will of the voters.
The Electoral Commission is working closely with both the GPPP and the IEA, as it has been successful in exacting change in the past. Members leading this reform are optimistic that they will be able to correct the problems in the system. Mr. Pwamang, the formal General Secretary for the People’s National Convention (PNC), stated “I am confident that if we undertake the needed reforms in the electoral process we can regain our record as a nation with a robust electoral system.”
Information Source Link: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/politics/artikel.php?ID=288796&comment=0#com
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Ocean tourism is a driving force of the Mauritius economy; due to a slowdown in the sector, government is exploring new ways of utilizing the ocean and its resources.
The tourism sector in Mauritius has developed rapidly over the past decade and is currently a major contributor to economic growth on the island, accounting for up to 11% of total GDP. In the wake of the global financial crisis, tourism in Mauritius has slowed down, inciting fear in a small nation that has become accustomed to steady growth rates. In response to this slow down, Prime Minister Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam plans to create an ‘ocean economy’ aimed at tapping into the vast potential of the available ocean resources.
The term ‘ocean economy’ implies the strategic development of a variety of marine related industries. Business opportunities in this field can be grouped into five clusters: marine services (marine tourism and marine pharmaceuticals); petroleum, minerals, and ocean energies; fisheries and aquaculture; seaport related activities; and deep ocean water applications. There has already been some development in the marine pharmaceutical sector. Advanced research on marine sponges has shown these organisms could potentially be used in drugs for cancer treatment; there has also been an ongoing search for eight marine organisms known to be beneficial in pharmaceutical products and valuable to the industry as a whole. Plans for a pump that would cycle cold deep water to cool buildings are also gaining momentum. The project aims at reducing carbon emissions on the island and reducing the environmental impact of the country. In general, the plan for an ocean economy will ideally restore economic growth, diversify the economy, and protect it from future external fluctuations.
Environmentalists and animal rights activists have voiced concerns over the effect of increased resource pressure on the health of the ocean ecosystem. The Mauritian government has responded by emphasizing their sustainable approach towards the development of the ‘ocean economy’. Mauritius has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a law that demands the protection and preservation of the marine environment. If Mauritius can utilize this vast resource in a sustainable manner, it may prove to be a winning strategy to consolidate an already strong economy.
For more details: http://travel.cnn.com/could-mauritius-ocean-economy-be-future-island-states-854421?hpt=hp_bn5
Throughout the world, the scientific community for years has been searching for an effective vaccination to eradicate HIV. Recently, South Africa has started planning a large AIDS vaccine trial to test the vaccine used in Thailand in 2009. This trial in Thailand is, so far, the only vaccine that has affected the virus when tested on 16,000 people. South African scientists hope that the vaccine used in Thailand that produced 31 percent lower HIV infection rates will be just as effective in their country.
In South Africa, HIV directly affects 17 percent of the population, meaning that South Africans are more likely to have had a greater amount of exposure to the virus than those living in Thailand. Before beginning the full-fledged trial, the vaccine from Thailand will be used on a small group of South Africans to see if it works comparably. Researchers are concerned that differences in the environment and people will change the effectiveness of the vaccine, due to different levels of exposure to HIV than in Thailand.
If the trial is successful, scientists in South Africa plan to modify it so it will be effective against the predominant strain of HIV in South Africa. The modified strain will eventually be tested in a trial of 5,400 people if initial testing on a smaller group produces promising results. This new research and vaccine testing is extremely exciting, as a vaccination for HIV could be beneficial for many people in the country of South Africa. As of 2007, a UNAIDS report estimated that 5,700,000 out of 48,000,000 people in South Africa suffer from HIV/AIDS, making the number larger than any other country in the world. If the vaccination works similarly to the results found in Thailand, then statistically over a million people can be helped or eradicated of HIV. South African researchers are taking large steps to help find a solution and could possibly, if successful, help researchers all over the world in their own countries.
Find more information at: http://allafrica.com/stories/201310090231.html
The President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 23rd, has asked the asked that the world stop sympathizing with Africa, and instead offer partnership.He has emphasized the necessity for Africa to build up its economy by increasing the worth on its exportable goods. He states, “We need to add value to our natural resources by setting up industries in our countries that will add these values.”
Mahama urges other nations, particularly those in the West, to accept that Africa does not need to be handed money and aid. Rather, Africa needs nations to connect with on an economic level. He assures the United Nations that through endurance- and a sustainable economic partnership- Africa will thrive. Between 1980 and 2012, Ghana’s Human Development Index (HDI), which measures development through life expectancy, educational attainment, and income, rose by .9% annually to .558. In addition, the HDI for the Sub-Saharan region of Africa has risen to .475.See HDI Source: http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/GHA.html
“It’s not sympathy we want; it’s partnership, the ability to stand on our own feet. It’s not handouts we’re in search of; its opportunities. We have already shown that with time and the right opportunity, Africa can make it.”
See Article Source: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=287047
The government of South Africa has developed a new national food security policy, according to the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson. Under this policy, agricultural land in the country that is seemingly unexploited will be used to make new markets for smaller-scale producers. This food production “intervention” has been named by the government “Fetsa Tlala,” meaning “end hunger.”
Fetsa Tlala has accomplished much already, with Joemat-Pettersson explaining how 200,000 hectares of land have already been bought to fuel the project in seven provinces of South Africa. The primary goal of the intervention is to make sure that land that has not been producing food becomes more viable, thus creating a new outflow of agricultural production. Doing so will boost the economy greatly, because not only will workers be needed for the farms, but smaller enterprises in the agriculture industries will be needed for packaging the products and other post-production needs.
Such a project is a great initiative of the South African government. It will stimulate local economies where the farms reside, and will ensure the employment of many more people. Fetsa Tlala will create new markets for small-scale farmers who have not previously had access to a larger group of people to sell their goods to. Fetsa Tlala may become an extremely important step towards solving many of the hunger problems that exist in South Africa, and will stimulate the income of many South Africans.
For more details: http://allafrica.com/stories/201309180285.html