Sustainable Africa News: May/June 2007
Current news from Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and the world.
Switching to Organic Crops Could Help Africa
By: Nicole Winfield
Researchers from Denmark told a United Nations conference recently that a large-scale shift to organic agriculture could help fight world hunger while improving the environment. Researchers found that food security for sub-Saharan Africa would not be seriously harmed if 50 percent of agricultural land in the food exporting regions of Europe and North America were converted to organic by 2020. While total food production would decrease, the amount per crop would be less than previously thought, and the resulting rise in world food prices would be mitigated by improvements in the land and other benefits. A similar conversion to organic farming in sub-Saharan Africa would help the region's hungry because it would reduce the need to import food.
FAO (Food and Agriculture Department of the UN): www.fao.org
Frequently asked questions in organic agriculture www.fao.org/organicag/fram11-e.htm Originally posted online May 5, 2007 through Associated Press (via HuffingtonPost.com)
Harvesting Hemp houses for the planet
By: Patrick Jackson
According to figures from the UN's industrial development agency (Unido), the developing world (80% of the world's population) has access to less than 20% of the world's construction materials.
US scientists believe that the production of concrete, alone (the staple of modern [western] building) accounts for up to 10% of man-made greenhouse gas. Add to that the energy spent on shipping the materials, and finally the power needs of the finished buildings, and the discrepancy between the developed and the developing world begins to crystallize.
However, if the number of "green" consultancy companies at London's Think '07 trade fair is anything to go by, environmentally-friendly architecture is becoming big business in the developed world. Sustainable rotation crops like hemp are the cost-effective future of building, according to Tom Woolley, a professor of architecture at Queen's University Belfast. One hectare of land can produce enough hemp-stalk to build a house, he told the BBC News website, and using about 12% of the UK's set-aside land, and you could grow enough hemp to build the 200,000 new houses the country needs. The bi-product is useful fiber and oil for thousands of other products.
Originally posted online May 2, 2007 via BBC News
Wood - The Gift That Can't Keep on Giving
By: Almahady Cissé
Reducing wood consumption in the West African country of Mali is something of a Herculean task, given the key role it plays in helping Mali meet its energy requirements. According to Niarga Keita, national coordinator of the Environmental Programme to Support the Fight Against Desertification, 80 to 90 percent of Malians depend on natural resources for their daily needs. "If nothing is done to reverse this trend, the difference between supply and demand for wood will be negative by 2010," predicts the '2006 Report on the State of the Environment', issued by government.
Originally posted online April, 2007 via IPSnews.net
Global Agreement Adopted to Protect World Forests By: Themba Gadebe
The United Nations (UN) has reached an agreement aimed at protecting the world's forests.
This agreement concluded 15 years of discussions around an approach agreeable to all, to protect the world's forests. "We have only one planet to share and must ensure its health and sustainability because the livelihood of over a billion of the world's poor is at stake," said Hans Hoogeveen, the UN Forum on Forests Chairperson. The new agreement is a reflection of the international commitment to promote implementation of sustainable forest management, to set a standard in forest management, to instill international cooperation and national action reducing deforestation, to prevent forest degradation, to promote sustainable livelihoods and reduce poverty for all forest-dependent people. According to the World Bank, more than 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods.
Article - allafrica.com/stories/200704300892.html
United Nations: Forum on Forests http://www.un.org/esa/forests Originally posted online April 30, 2007 from BuaNews (Tshwane) via allAfrica.com
Study Shows the Benefits of Outdoor Education By: Ben Klasky and Patricia Wasley
The outdoors makes a terrific classroom where students can observe, listen, count, measure and ask questions. Outdoors, students can actively engage in learning through taking water quality samples, restoring native landscapes, gardening and recording field observations about weather, flora and fauna. Reputable studies have shown that environmental education experiences improve all learning, especially that of math and science. In a report titled "Closing the Achievement Gap," research funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, it was found that in 42 schools that used the outdoors as the classroom for one year, more than 90 percent of educators reported that students showed better mastery of math and science skills. Research also shows outdoor education increases motivation for learning in all subject areas and also helps students develop critical thinking skills.
Starring role for street children in Kenya
Life is difficult for the street children living in Kenya. But for a fortunate few, they have found support and temporary roles in a new film, playing the part of child soldiers. Other film depictions of these unfortunate child soldiers can be seen in the recent Hollywood hit Blood Diamond, and the even more sobering documentary Invisible Children , shot entirely on location in Uganda. (Posted April 7, 2007. Source BBC News Kenya) Read more: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/
South Africa's ESKOM planning Cameroon dam for hydroelectric power -- Eskom, South Africa's giant utility, is the main backer of the Grand Inga project and it is already putting cash into Western Power Corridor (WestCo), a joint venture involving power utilities from Angola, Botswana, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). However, the trickle-down effect is disputed by International Rivers Network (IRN), a campaigning organization, which argues that Grand Inga is a scheme for big mining companies and does not include the costly local distribution networks needed to deliver power to the poor. (Posted March 16, 2007. Analysis by Carl Mortished. Source: TimesOnline UK)
Read TimesOnline UK Post Here: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/
Also read critical analysis by IRN's Terry Hathaway: http://www.irn.org/programs/congo/index.php?id=
Neema Mgana builds a network, which builds a clinic in Tanzania -- Neema Mgana is the leader of an AIDS treatment program in Tanzania, and was the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. She was inspired by Cameron Sinclair or Architecture for Humanity to do something sustainable in a rural Tanzanian village, Ipuli, which is a nine hour journey from Dar Es Salaam. With Cameron's help and a team of international volunteers, the buildings designed use local materials and craftsmen, and have sharply slanted roofs to harvest rainwater. The construction of the facility is helping train workers in the community, and is supervised by community elders, who donated 10 acres of land to the project. (Posted October 21, 2006 by Ethan Zuckerman. Source World Changing) Read full post here: http://www.worldchanging.com /archives/005121.html Photos from DazeDigital/RedAlert.
Wangari Maathai addresses Environmental Security seminar on February 28, 2007 at the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, "Security must embrace sustainable management of resources equitable distribution and the practice of good governance." Read more: http://allafrica.com/stories/
Read more about Wangari Maathai at Greenbelt Movement
Kenya: Project Seeks to Boost Palm Oil Output. Oil palm is the highest yielding oil crop in the world, with yields of between 35 and 50 kilograms of oil per plant annually. Palm oil can be used not only for cooking, but also as feedstock for clean burning biodiesel production. Read more: http://allafrica.com/stories/200703030063.html
Green Tips: Reduce Your Footprint
Choose CLOTH over "paper or plastic"
by bringing your own reusable canvas bag to the store you will help reduce the demand for wood pulp (from trees) needed to make paper bags, and petroleum (a non-renewable resource) needed to make plastic bags.
CONSERVE whenever possible.
- Replace old light bulbs with energy saving compact fluorescents
- Put on a sweater on rather than turning up the heater
Walk down the street rather than driving
- Recycling as a responsibility rather than a chore
Go to the library rather than the bookstore
Your individual efforts add up to a huge collective savings!
Feed an EARTHWORM!!
Did you know that kitchen scraps and other green waste account for nearly 60% of the average landfill mass? By diverting your biodegradable waste to either a city organized composting program, or by starting your own compost pile, you will decrease the solid waste that becomes useless as those nutrients and potential garden mulch gets mixed up and buried with non-biodegradable trash. If you live in an apartment find a local community garden to donate your compost to.
World Changing worldchanging.com
Plenty Magazine www.plentymag.com
Union of Concerned Scientists www.ucsusa.org
Co-Op America www.coopamerica.org
Environmental News Network www.enn.com
Discovery Channel: Planet Earth Guide
Sundance Channel: The Green
The Future of Food www.thefutureoffood.com
The Future of Food offers an in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled U.S. grocery store shelves for the past decade.
An Inconvenient Truth climatecrisis.com
From director Davis Guggenheim comes the Sundance Film Festival hit, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, which offers a passionate and inspirational look at one man's fervent crusade to halt global warming's deadly progress in its tracks by exposing the myths and misconceptions that surround it. In this eye-opening and poignant portrait of Gore and his "traveling global warming show," Gore also proves himself to be one of the most misunderstood characters in modern American public life. Here he is seen as never before in the media - funny, engaging, open and downright on fire about getting the surprisingly stirring truth about what he calls our "planetary emergency" out to ordinary citizens before it's too late.
11th Hour www.11thhourfilm.com
"So, we find ourselves on the brink. It's clear humans have had a devastating impact on our planet's ecological web of life. Because we've waited, because we've turned our backs on nature's warning signs, and because our political and corporate leaders have consistently ignored the overwhelming scientific evidence, the challenges we face are that much more difficult... What will guide this massive change? And does nature hold the answers we need to help restore our planet's resources, protect our atmosphere, and therefore help all life survive? — Leonardo DiCaprio
Excerpted (Vanity Fair May 2007) from the film The 11th Hour, a documentary created by Leonardo DiCaprio; directed by Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners; the film, to be released later this year by Tree Media Group and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Read more at www.leonardodicaprio.org
The Corporation www.thecorporation.com
Winner of 26 International Awards! 10 Audience Choice Awards including the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.
Provoking, witty, stylish and sweepingly informative, The Corporation explores the nature and spectacular rise of the dominant institution of our time. Taking its status as a legal "person" to the logical conclusion, the film puts the corporation on the psychiatrist's couch to ask "What kind of person is it?" The Corporation includes interviews with 40 corporate insiders and critics - including Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Milton Friedman, Howard Zinn, Vandana Shiva and Michael Moore - plus true confessions, case studies and strategies for change.
Cradle to Cradle
by William McDonough info
Introduction to Permaculture
by Bill Mollison info
The Art of Natural Building
by Joseph Kennedy, Michael G. Smith, Catherine Wanek info
Gaviotas, A Village to Reinvent the World
by Alan Weisman info
Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands
by Brad Lancaster info
The End of Poverty
by Jeffrey Sachs info
Refer to source for copyrights for content and photo and credits.