The question of who sets the research agenda remains.

 

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Sven Torfinn / Panos

Africa Analysis: Benefits of the restarted R&D alliance

“Many people argue that donors’ influence over health research agendas in Africa remains too strong.” Linda Nordling

Speed read

  • The second phase of Europe-Africa clinical trials partnership has started
  • It could help African countries increase their investment in health R&D
  • African governments need to help sustain the gains to be made

 

The reboot of the Europe-Africa clinical trials alliance could make Africa invest in health R&D, writes Linda Nordling.

In 2010 in Mali’s capital Bamako, representatives from over two dozen African health ministries signed a ‘call for action’ urging their governments to allocate at least two per cent of health ministry budgets toresearch. [1]

The aim of the call was for African governments to take ownership of the research agenda, which at the time was viewed as too driven by international donor priorities.

Nearly a decade on, many people argue that donors’ influence over health research agendas in Africa remains too strong. And the two per cent goal is still a pipe dream.

There is no doubt that African countries have seen increased investment in health research. But with most of this increase coming from international donors, the question of who sets the research agenda remains.

Mechanisms matter

In 2008, after the Bamako meeting, critics condemned the lack of mechanisms in the call of action for its proposed implementation. [2]

But for countries looking for a way to fulfil their two per cent ambition, a reinvented Europe-Africa clinical trials programme offers a vehicle for doing so and for directing international funding towards national priorities.

Read the full story: SciDevNet

Bacterial meningitis in Africa

 

 

Hot desert storms increase risk of bacterial meningitis in Africa

University of Liverpool

Jean-Francois Jusot, Daniel R. Neill, Elaine M. Waters, Mathieu Bangert, Marisol Collins, Laura Bricio Moreno, Katiellou Lawan Lawan, Mouhaiminou Moussa Moussa, Emma Dearing, Dean Everett, Jean-Marc Collard, Aras Kadioglu.

“Airborne dust and high temperatures are risk factors for invasive bacterial disease.”

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2016.04.062

Summary

Exposure to airborne dust and high temperatures are significant risk factors for bacterial meningitis, a new study has found. The Sahel region of West Africa has the highest number of bacterial meningitis cases in the world. Previous studies have suggested that climate factors play a role in outbreaks, but little was known about the specific impact of climate on bacterial meningitis and how it caused disease.

Read the full article: Science Daily

Success stories about food crops and drought-resistant plants

 

 

 

2016-04 SUCCESS STORIES: FOOD CROPS AND DROUGHT-RESISTANT SPECIES TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION AND POVERTY

by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem (Ghent University, Belgium)

Please read this article at:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pa78SSwsJwsGaAGKkQC0tzthCJZSmiWFdJXx3Z8ZOeU/edit?usp=sharing

Dams and malaria

 

http://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/2016/03/news-videonews-us-dams-increase-risk-of-malaria-infections-in-kenya/

News.VideoNews.us: Dams increase risk of malaria infections in Kenya

The study conducted by researchers from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) correlates malaria infections with the location of dams in the sub-Saharan Africa region.

In Kenya, residents living near the Kamburu Dam located on the Tana River in the Eastern Province complain of increased malaria infections. The dam’s slow-moving water is said to be the perfect breeding ground for the Anopheles mosquito, which carries the malaria parasites.

 

Read more..

Source: http://news.videonews.us/dams-increase-risk-of-malaria-infections-in-kenya-2250380.html

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http://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/2015/09/cnn-can-dams-increase-the-risk-of-malaria/

CNN.com: Can dams increase the risk of malaria?

By comparing the difference in the number of cases for communities further away, the researchers from theCGIAR program on Water, Land and Ecosystems and the International Water Management Institute stipulate that at least 1.1 million cases of malaria annually can be directly linked to the presence of dams.

Read more..

Source: edition.cnn.com

HOW MUCH LONGER WILL THE OTHER DRYLAND COUNTRIES WAIT TO FOLLOW THIS EXAMPLE ?

AND WHAT ABOUT THE GROWTH OF OPUNTIA IN AND AROUND THE REFUGEE CAMPS ?  IT’S A SUCCESS STORY. IT’S COMMON SENSE !

One can eat the Opuntia cactus pads (see “nopales”), drink pad soup, eat the fruits (barbary figs), make jam, use it as fodder for the livestock, ground the seeds to produce an oil, produce cosmetics and medicine against blood pressure and cancer.

Look at the nice picture above. It could have been taken in any desert or desertification affected country. What do you need more to be convinced ?  Well, maybe first read about Morocco’s initiative below !

Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem (Ghent University, Belgium)

==============================================================

Photo credit: BBC NEWS

Women farmers find cactus plants are a real money spinner

Cactus commerce boosts Morocco

By Sylvia Smith
BBC News, Sbouya, Morocco

Opuntia in Yemen - Photo Yemen Times 1799-4117 - - get_img
Opuntia in Yemen – Photo Yemen Times 1799-4117 – – get_img

It is just after dawn in the hills above the Moroccan hamlet of Sbouya and a group of women are walking through the thousands of cactus plants dotted about on the hillside, picking ripe fruits whenever they spot the tell-tale red hue.

But these woman are not simply scraping a living out of the soil.

The cactus, previously eaten as a fruit or used for animal feed, is creating a minor economic miracle in the region thanks to new health and cosmetic products being extracted from the ubiquitous plant.

This prickly pocket of the semi-arid south of the country around the town of Sidi Ifni is known as Morocco’s cactus capital.

It is blessed with the right climate for the 45,000 hectares (111,000 acres) of land that is being used to produce prodigious numbers of succulent Barbary figs.

Every local family has its own plot and, with backing from the Ministry of Agriculture, the scheme to transform small scale production into a significant industry industry is under way.

Some 12m dirhams ($1.5m) have been pledged to build a state-of-the-art factory that will help local farmers process the ripe fruits.

The move is expected to help workers keep pace with the requirements of the French cosmetics industry which is using the cactus in increasing numbers of products.

_46109458_46107440
Barbary fig (Opuntia ficus-indica, prickly pear) oil is a lucrative market – http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/46109000/jpg/_46109458_46107440.jpg

Lucrative

Izana Marzouqi, a 55-year-old member of the Aknari cooperative, says people from the region grew up with the cactus and did not realise its true benefit.

“Demand for cactus products has grown and that it is because the plant is said to help with high blood pressure and cancer. The co-operative I belong to earns a lot of money selling oil from the seeds to make anti-ageing face cream.”

Read the full article: BBC NEWS

 

Water and sanitation challenges in Africa

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Addressing Africa’s water and sanitation challenges

The World Bank Group’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) was one of the key players at the congress, contextualising innovations and smart solutions in successful synergies.

(Alberto Leny)

Author Image

Alberto Leny
in Nairobi, Kenya

Water and sanitation challenges that confront Africa are not new on the continent.

Thus, the 18th African Water Association (AfWA) International Congress and Exhibition that took place in Kenya last week (22-25 February) raised my curiosity with the theme “sustainable access to water and sanitation in Africa”.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta officially opened the conference and noted that the world faces severe water stress, with Africa being the worst affected. He, however, indicated that not all is gloom as there has been significant progress under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that saw 6.6 billion people gain access to improved sources of water.

I attended key sessions as more than 1,200 delegates from 41 African countries deliberated on efforts being made to attain the targets set in theSustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that succeeded the MDGs.

At the opening symposium that brought together the water and sanitation community in Africa and the world — researchers, academics, managers of water utilities, policymakers, young professionals in the sector and donors — I pondered how they would go about meeting the ambitious targets.

Hamanth Kassan, the AfWA president, urged delegates to take stock of the current situation and come up with innovative ways of improving sustainable access to water and sanitation in Africa that will feed into the SDGs.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Climate change increases risks of droughts, floods and health problems

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Teun Voeten/Panos

 

Climate change increases risks in slums

“Residents of Nairobi’s informal settlements live in unsafe, overcrowded and often unsanitary housing, and lack access to basic services.” Eric Odada, African Collaborative Centre for Earth System Science (ACCESS)

Speed read

  • In Nairobi, 60 per cent of residents live in informal settlements
  • Climate change increases risks of droughts, floods and health problems
  • Experts say partnerships with officials, residents and donors could solve issues

————-

The impacts of climate change pose a serious challenge to human well-being, economies and livelihoods, particularly in informal settlements in Sub-Saharan Africa, a workshop has heard.

Informal settlements are the fastest growing segment in Africa’s rapid urbanisation, with more than 60 per cent of the Nairobi population living in informal settlements, said Griffin Songole, the director of the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company Ltd in Kenya.

Songole spoke during the Climate Resilience in Nairobi’s Informal Settlements workshop organised in Kenya last month (10 December) by the Kenya-based non-governmental organisation Maji na Ufanisi (Water and Development) in partnership with the African Collaborative Centre for Earth System Science (ACCESS) and the University of Nairobi’s Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation (ICCA).

An informal settlement occurs when people create housing in an urban location without approval from officials, and has the potential to result in slums.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Ending Hunger by 2030 ?

Photo credit: Action against Hunger

Children in South Sudan. Photo: ACF South Sudan

 

The Commitment to End Hunger by 2030

The post-2015 development agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals offer a historic opportunity for the world to finally end child hunger and malnutrition

Grow food on an A-riser or a H-riser to alleviate malnutrition

Photo credit: 

* Wooden Riser A-form – Photo Jojo ROM – 283225_4230820167045_1991451138_n.jpg

One of the best practices: The A-riser or the H-riser

By Willem Van Cotthem (University of Ghent, Belgium)

My good friend Jojo ROM (Davao City, The Philippines) is one of the famous experts on container gardening.  He was one of the first to construct in his own backyard an A-riser on which he grew (and still grows) vegetables and herbs in different types of containers.

It has been clearly shown that this is one of the best practices to grow vegetables and herbs in the smallest space.  As container gardening has many advantages over traditional gardening (mostly in bad soils !), this successful method deserves to be promoted at the global level, in particular in an environment with poor soils, e.g. in the drylands.

One of the applications to be strongly recommend is: construction of risers for the refugee camps, where people never have sufficient space or the necessary means to install a kitchen garden for their family.  Imagine the refugees’ joy being enabled to grow fresh food close to their tents: interesting time spending, being busy for a nice part of the day, and producing their own fresh food, herbs and mint for their tea.

Impossible you say ?  Have a look at the pictures below and convince yourself that minimal investment in risers loaded with containers will automatically yield a maximal food production.

You want to forget about the refugee camps ?  OK !  But please remain convinced that risers can be installed in small backyards and even on a flat roof, all over the world, also in your own neighbourhood.

Now then, enjoy the pictures !

* Wooden Riser - A-form - Photo Jojo ROM - 942231_10200263483608038_661084805_n
* Wooden Riser – A-form with bottles – Photo Jojo ROM – 942231_10200263483608038_661084805_n

* Riser - Bottles, Tetrapots - Photo Jojo ROM - 299197_2027431123696_1181604134_31907234_795222_n
* Riser – with bottles and tetrapots – Photo Jojo ROM – 299197_2027431123696_1181604134_31907234_795222_n

* Bamboo Riser with clay pots - Photo Victor S. Cabag (Philippines)  - 10422170_10201509648703265_4177847876384089747_n
* Bamboo Riser with clay pots – Photo Victor S. Cabag (Philippines) – 10422170_10201509648703265_4177847876384089747_n

* Riser with jugs - Photo Berlin ramos Sadler - 528880_3501510093823_1437046645_n
* Riser with jugs – Photo Berlin Ramos Sadler – 528880_3501510093823_1437046645_n

* Riser -with bottles, canisters and tetrapots - Photo Almar B. Autida430068_2870346474042_1121267916_32155811_1625702319_n
* Riser with bottles, canisters and tetrapots – Photo Almar B. Autida – 430068_2870346474042_1121267916_32155811_1625702319_n

* Riser - bottles and jugs - Photo Berlin Ramos Sadler - 549094_3575738549488_607260712_n
* Riser with bottles and jugs – Photo Berlin Ramos Sadler – 549094_3575738549488_607260712_n

* Riser with different containers - Photo Fe Mondejar - 66729_373215606134201_1286771557_n
* A simple riser with different containers – Photo Fe Mondejar – 66729_373215606134201_1286771557_n

*  An impressive riser for massive food production - Photo Almar B. Autida - 10255663_10201730750126773_1525730629288922985_n
* An impressive riser for massive food production – Photo Almar B. Autida – 10255663_10201730750126773_1525730629288922985_n

* Riser A-form with canisters and tetrapots - Photo Almar B. Autida - 578325_3062890287517_1121267916_32233687_1268465493_n
* Riser with canisters and tetrapots – Photo Almar B. Autida – 578325_3062890287517_1121267916_32233687_1268465493_n

* Riser with jugs - Photo Ako Si Arvin - 9999_363495210436408_1949884367_n
* Riser with jugs – Photo Ako Si Arvin – 9999_363495210436408_1949884367_n

* Riser - different containers with flowers - Photo Berlin Ramos Sadler - 538869_3628175340375_1965966353_n
* Riser – different containers with flowers – Photo Berlin Ramos Sadler – 538869_3628175340375_1965966353_n

* Riser - H-form -Photo Big Bug Creek Farm Store and Garden Center - 971804_565714960118122_175305211_n
* Riser – H-form – Photo Big Bug Creek Farm Store and Garden Center – 971804_565714960118122_175305211_n

* Philippinos constructing a metal riser - A-form - 12003284_1255229017836495_6671859800920701771_n
* Constructing a metal riser – A-form – in The Philippines -12003284_1255229017836495_6671859800920701771_n

 * Constructing a metal riser - A-form - in The Philippines -11218075_1255229134503150_2797106863206369602_n
* Constructing a metal riser – A-form – in The Philippines -11218075_1255229134503150_2797106863206369602_n

————————-

Still not convinced about the great value of this method to alleviate malnutrition and hunger ?  Please, send us your better idea.

Combating urban desertification: Trees and Health App

 

Tool shows where cities need trees most

by Megan Treacy

Urban tree mapping has become a popular thing and for good reason. Studies have shown that not only does living near trees make our bodies healthier thanks to cleaning the air around us, but they also make us happier and less stressed. They also cut down on the heat island effect and provide needed shade for kids and older people. These are all things that city leaders would want for their residents.

A new urban tree mapping tool called Trees and Health App, developed by researchers at Portland State University and funded by the U.S. Forest Service, not only maps the distribution of tree coverage around cities, but lets city planners (and anyone else for that matter) dive deeper into the data to see which neighborhoods on a micro level need trees most to best plan tree planting projects.

 

Read the full article: Treehugger

It makes sense to prioritize the quality of diet in hospitals, particularly in desertified countries

Photo credit: Treehugger

© St Luke’s University Farm — Farmer Lynn harvests lettuce

Innovative hospital farm provides fresh, nutritious food to patients

“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates

by Katherine Martinko

Nutrition plays such an important role in personal health that it makes sense to prioritize the quality of diet in hospitals. The question is, why as has it taken so long?

When my mother underwent a major surgery, she begged me to come cook for her as soon as she got out of the hospital. The food she received while in recovery was so tasteless, stale, and seemingly devoid of nutrients that she thought she would suffer from malnutrition before recovering from the surgery. I stayed with her for weeks, cooking meal after meal with produce from her huge kitchen garden, helping to heal her with nutritious and delicious food.

“That’s why I recovered as quickly as I did,” she told me four years later. “I don’t know how hospitals can get away with serving such awful food to sick patients – the very people who need nourishing meals more than ever.”

One hospital has caught on to this basic concept, realizing that patients should be well fed in order to recover better and to learn about the importance of good nutrition. St. Luke’s University Hospital partnered with the Rodale Institute (a groundbreaking leader in organic agriculture research) to create an ‘hospital farm’ on its Anderson campus in Easton, Pennsylvania.

Read the full article: Treehugger

You want clean drinking water ? Pay for it !

Photo credit: IPS News

Whether they like it or not, many Africans faced with the possibility of having to access water through prepaid meters have resorted to unprotected and often unclean sources of water because they cannot afford to pay. Credit: Jeffrey Moyo/IPS

Prepaid Meters Scupper Gains Made in Accessing Water in Africa

By Jeffrey Moyo

Despite U.N. recognition that water is a human right, international financial institutions such as the World Bank argue that water should be allocated through market mechanisms to allow for full cost recovery from users.

While many countries appear to have met the U.N. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water, rights activists say that African countries which have taken to installing prepaid water meters have rendered a blow to many poor people, making it hard for them to access water.

“The goal to ensure that everyone has access to clean water here in Africa faces a drawback as a number of African countries have resorted to using prepaid water meters, which certainly bar the poor from accessing the precious liquid,” Claris Madhuku, director of the Platform for Youth Development, a Zimbabwean democracy lobby group, told IPS.

Prepaid water meters work in such a way that if a person cannot pay in advance, he or she will be unable to access water.

As a result, African rights activists like award-winning Terry Mutsvanga from Zimbabwe and other civil society organisations are against the idea of prepaid water meters.

“If one has to pay upfront before accessing water, then it would mean those in most need would be denied access,” Mutsvanga told IPS, adding that water is a global human right.

Read the full article: IPS News