A Possible Solution to the Water Crisis in Ghana?

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.

Source: http://www.technologyreview.com/article/520186/ghanas-water-women/

Image Source: http://cdn.physorg.com/newman/gfx/news/hires/intheworldcl.jpg


Library Opening in South Africa


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

Ghana is Looking into Electoral Reform

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

Photo Source Link: http://static.ebony.com/ghana_election_small_article-small_20626.jpg

‘Ocean Economy’ in Mauritius Could Pave the Way to Economic Stability



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

South Africa Fuels HIV Vaccine Research

hiv prevalence

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