MDG Action Blogs
|Have you recently started a campaign to raise awareness about or mobilize other young people around the Millennium Development Goals? Or have you successfully started a lobbying campaign geared towards your local or national government? Whatever action you have taken, we would like to learn about it! Sharing your experiences good or bad - can be very inspiring for other young people. If you haven't been as active yet, you can use this GroupBlog to learn what you can do to add your voice to the global fight against poverty!
Malaria costs Africa $2 billion yearly, says WHO ex-official
FORMER Special adviser to the World Health Organisation, (WHO) and Emeritus Professor of Pharmacology, Lateef Salako, has put the cost of the endemic malaria disease in Africa at about $2 billion yearly.
Salako, a guest lecturer at the sixth yearly conference of the School of Clinical Science, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Idi-Araba and "2007 African Malaria Day" held on Wednesday, said it had been computed that if malaria had been eradicated in 1960, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Africa would have been $400.
He noted that countries that are highly endemic have an estimated GDP growth deficit of at least 1.3 per cent each year.
Speaking on "Malaria: The Unabating Scourge," Salako, who was the first Director- General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Yaba in Lagos, stated that "malaria has proven not only to be a disease of the poor, but has made Africa poor and keeps her poor."
He said: "It is one of the commonest causes of ill health in Africa, south of the Sahara with almost the entire population being at risk as about 500 million cases of malaria illness occur yearly in Africa, 70-80 per cent of them in the rural areas."
Salako said the disease has remained highly endemic in Nigeria, with most citizens remaining at risk because of the intensity of transmission. He remarked however, that infection with the parasite does not necessarily result in malaria illness.
Salako canvassed early diagnosis and prompt effective treatment, reduction of transmission through vector control and, strategic and operational research as options to pursue towards learning more about the disease and its transmission and improving methods for achieving the control objective.
Salako told the audience that "malaria is preventable, treatable and curable," with the tools presently available and need not continue to be a scourge if initiatives like Roll Back Malaria are adequately implemented.
Chairman of the conference organising committee, Dr. Dayo Adeyemi, said the forum would focus on malaria for as along as the tragedies occasioned "by this preventable disease remain in Nigeria and the world without any foreseeable indication of its permanent extirpation."
African Ministers Agree On a Set of Actions to Achieve the MDGs
African Ministers of finance planning and economic development adopted a statement on 3 April 2007 calling on governments to scale up interventions to achieve the MDGs by immediately increasing investments in health, education, agriculture, infrastructure and other critical sectors. The ministerial statement , issued after a two-day meeting convened in Addis Ababa by the Economic Commission for Africa recommends a plan of action focusing on the commitment to designing national owned development strategies that have MDGs at their core.
The theme of this year's Conference was: “Accelerating Africa's growth and development to meet the millennium development goals-emerging challenges and the way forward”.
The ECA organizes the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development every year. The meetings have become a key forum for agreement on strategies for tackling critical challenges facing the continent
Bill Gates Foundation earmarks $37.5m ...for crop biodiversity
BILL Gates Foundation yesterday in Rome announced the funding of a crop biodiversity initiative with 37.5 million dollars.
The initiative aimed at safeguarding 21 of the world’s most critical food crops through securing their seeds was a joint programme of Global Crop Diversity Trust and the United Nations Foundation.
Also in boosting the implementation of the new Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) international treaty on plant genetic resources.
In a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday in Abuja, the Director of the trust, Mr. Cary Fowler, said the grants would finance research into the world’s most important food crops that were critical to the poor, but largely neglected by plant breeding.
Some of the orphan crops are potato, yam, cassava and coconut among others.
"Although some orphan crops like yam cannot be grown from seeds, but needed to be cultivated from cuttings, roots or cell cultures thereby making their conservation more complex and expensive, but it would be included because it is important to the poor,’’ he said.
The initiative will fund 400,000 samples of more than 2,000 species of 150 crops amounting to 85 per cent of the diversity of all agricultural crops.
It would also develop state of art genetic bank management software system and enter at least 50 priority collections for 100 different traits of hidden genetic resources.
He said the efforts would secure more than 95 per cent of the under funded, disrepair and endangered crop diversity held in developing country genetic banks.
Fowler said the new technologies were expected to reduce conservation cost by 75 per cent and improve the security of collections of such crops.
He said the initiative would also transform communications for plant breeders and farmers around the world to search genetic banks for traits needed to combat new diseases and cope with climate change.
The President of the Gates Foundation, Mr. Sylvia Burwell, said the efforts was to help hundreds of millions of rural farmers and their families to overcome poverty and hunger rested in part on food security.
"There can be no food security without first securing the basis of food production,’’ he said.
He said crop diversity was vital part of the solution to many of the world’s great challenges from environmental conservation to climate and food security.
Burwell said that plant breeders across Africa would be able to adapt their crops to varieties that would grow in different climate conditions.
"Out of the total grant, 15 million dollars would go to the trust’s endowment while the proceeds would be used to maintain the collections of the 21 most important crops,’’ he said.
The UN foundation was created in 1998 with entrepreneur Ted Turner’s historic one billion dollars gift to support UN causes and activities.
While the Global Crop Diversity Trust was to ensure the conservation and availability of crop diversity for food security worldwide.
Water scarcity bites harder
Daybreak everyday, it is the same story. Several people, especially women, troop out of their houses at the first Muslim call to prayers with buckets, big basins, kegs and the likes. Sometimes, they hold lanterns or torches when there is power failure (which happens often) and the morning is still dark.
Vigilante men don’t bother these ones because they know what they are searching for in the early hours of the day when they should be sleeping or doing some other household chores. Moreover, their wives could probably be among those in the early morning search for water. An hour later, some of these people would be seen returning to their homes with big basins of water, sometimes muddy, on their heads while pulling buckets or kegs of water along. More pathetic are the cases of women who, in addition to the heavy water containers, have babies strapped on their backs, and little kids following them with small containers on their heads. Ironically, they always come back smiling and chatting, and calling on neighbours, who are yet to go on water search, to rejoice with them.
In Oja Oba area of Ibadan, Oyo State recently, a public tap (as is custom) that had not run for weeks suddenly had water flowing from it. The residents alerted one another and within minutes, the place was jam-packed with people, buckets and the likes. However, the water flow was rather slow; it could take an hour for a bucket to fill up. After waiting endlessly for the current to increase to no avail, the people discovered the cause of the slow flow – a pipe had burst and water that was supposed to be flowing to the tap was gushing out of the broken pipe. Though the pipe had been covered with refuse and mud, the people simply saw it as a miracle; they shifted the long queue to the broken pipe, scooping water from the dirt while some that couldn’t stand the putrid smell coming from refuse covered their noses.
The situation in other states is not any better. In fact, water crisis is a national problem in Nigeria, as the national water coverage is about 40 per cent for major cities like Lagos, Ibadan and Abuja, with a miserable five per cent in few local government areas. The most populous city in Africa, Lagos, has sufficient water resources that could meet the needs of its people, but actual water supply is very poor in most parts of the state.
But unlike Ibadan, most Lagos residents had stopped waiting for Water Corporation to bring succour to them. They have now found a solution in boreholes. Many drill boreholes for private use and, sometimes, commercial purposes. While the borehole alternative is easier in places like Lagos with high water level; the rocky terrain of Ibadan make it difficult for people to dig wells that will sustain them all year round.
Water has always been a big problem in Ibadan. During the dry season, the situation is unbearable. Many wells get dry and water stops flowing even in the few areas that normally enjoy treated water during rainy season and many people have to rely on the few wells and boreholes around them. Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, Alhaji Akorede, a resident of Isale Ijebu area of Ibadan, said everyone in the vicinity depends on the public tap, but unfortunately, the tap has not been functioning well since the dry season began. “Sometimes, the tap doesn’t run for two months and when it does, the flow is usually slow,” he said. “People have to walk long distance in search of water. Wells around here are already dried up; likewise the borehole that was constructed by UNICEF a couple of years ago has stopped functioning for over a year. We will be lucky if water tankers come around.
“Buying water is not easy for us as well. For instance, a basin of water sells for N40. The people around are poor; the average family can only afford two basins of water and you know the implication of that.” On the potability of water that flows from the tap, Mr Demola, another resident who spoke with Nigerian Tribune said: “The water is usually dirty; I guess is it because some pipes are broken and dirt filters into them. By the time the water comes out of the pipes, it would be brownish and smelly. Pointing at burst pipe, he said: “It has been broken for a long time. Despite the fact that the place is muddy and dirty, people would scoop from water from it. We can’t blame them because they don’t know when next they would come across water.
Asked how come the pipes were broken, he said: “We really don’t know, and if the pipes were broken by residents, it couldn’t have been an intentional act. Come to think of it, these pipes are really old, nobody cares about them, I don’t think officials of Water Corporation check on them. The best we can do is to secure the broken points with nylon or rubber so that the water will not get contaminated. Our fear is that if something is not done, there could be an outbreak of cholera.”
Without any doubt, the scarcity of water has disrupted the day-to-day activities of the residents. A clergy, Pastor Moses Daramola, narrated his ordeal as a pastor in a CAC church at Inalende, an area where water is next to gold. “During dry season like this, the turnout of my congregation is always poor,” he said. “ “Many of them complain that they couldn’t make church services because they had no water to bath. Sometimes after the service, I would see them still queuing up for water; some of them would be full of apologies saying, ‘Pastor, we are sorry. We’ve been here since 3 am…’ I know they are not lying because it is really difficult getting water in this part of the city.”
Business has not been as usual with businessmen that cannot do without water. Mr. Taiwo Akinola, a printer at Mokola hills said the non-availability of water has affected their businesses. “Printing needs water, and unfortunately, most printers are located in Mokola where water is very scarce,” he says. “We get water from wells, most of which are being locked up because of the drought. “Alternatively, we buy water from tankers and when they don’t come, we just have to go to areas like Eleyele, where we will be sure that water would flow.”
Areas where residents have access to water include Eleyele, Agodi, Bodija, Idi Isin, Montana and so on. These areas, however, rely on private boreholes. Areas like Agbowo, Inalende, Orita Aperin, Oke Agala and Aremo are untouched where treated water is concerned, while only some parts of Oja Agbo, Oje, Alajare, Idi Arere, Oke Ado have assess to treated water. Outskirts of the state are out of the question where water is concerned. Reacting to this situation, Mrs. Busola Adetunji, the Public Relation Officer of the Oyo State Water Corporation, said the government is aware of the water situation. “The government is not neglecting anyone,” she says. “Presently, we are working on extension areas and we would ensure that everyone gets water.”
In the meantime, the scarcity is really biting hard. It is hoped that a prompt and lasting solution will be sought before there is outbreak of cholera and other water related diseases.
|April 18, 2007 | 10:48 AM
International Community To Step Up Action On Water And Sanitation Agenda
DFID: Duty press officer + 44-20 70230600
UNDP: Benjamin Craft +1-212-906-5344, [email protected]
World Bank: Sergio Jellinek +1-202-294-6232, [email protected]
WASHINGTON, APRIL 14, 2007 – New commitments were today expressed by donors, international development institutions and developing countries to tackle the water and sanitation crisis that affects the world’s poor. Over a billion people in developing countries lack access to a reliable water supply and half the population of developing countries are without proper sanitation.
This global response took shape during a special event held during the World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings co-hosted by the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The meeting brought together developed and developing country government representatives along with civil society leaders and development agencies to galvanize common action on access to clean water and sanitation.
A number of donors present committed to increase and improve support to countries to expand water and sanitation services, including:
· Supporting those governments which already have plans in place and have committed to invest their own resources;
· Helping countries without water and sanitation plans to prepare them;
· Renewing commitment to the African Development Bank’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative. This provides a unique opportunity to harmonize, increase and improve donor support behind national plans;
· Giving special treatment to those countries that, despite their needs, do not receive sufficient attention from donors. As a first step this will include, reporting shortfalls in their funding and agreeing who will do what.
· Focusing on sanitation services and hygiene education. Both are cost-efficient and effective live savers.
In addition, participants agreed to better coordinate their actions at a global level to deliver a greater impact on the ground, and identified some practical initiatives, such as:
· A proposed annual global monitoring report prepared by UN Water and its members, to be launched with a special focus on sanitation in 2008, the year of sanitation. This will set out progress towards achieving the water and sanitation Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets;
· Agreement that there should be one annual meeting to discuss this report and agree actions on it. The Stockholm World Water Week in August 2007 was identified as the venue at which these future annual meetings will be identified.
· ‘Follow up’ to existing water action plans; and
· A common approach on sanitation.
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, said:
“Public spending on water and sanitation has declined to less than 1 percent of the GDP in most countries, and in poorest countries, private sector financing is nearly non-existent. Overseas development assistance for water has remained stable at best. What we need is for investments to be doubled, from $15 billion to $30 billion a year. Water, sanitation, and hygiene services save lives. The international community has an obligation to respond to this crisis with commitment and passion.”
Kemal Derviş, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, said:
“As we have seen in last year’s Human Development Report and other analyses, ensuring that the poor have access to sanitation and water is central to achieving all the MDGs. Reaching the Goals, including those for water and sanitation, is possible. We have the knowledge and the financial capacity needed to address the water crisis. What is missing now is sufficient political will, and concerted and agreed action. This is where our collective commitment and support is needed.”
Ugandan Minister of State for Water, Maria Mutagamba who also chairs the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) said:
“Our message to you is clear. Africa is ready to scale up and provide sanitation and water supply to all. We need donor support. Particular attention must focus on sanitation and hygiene. Over sixty percent of Africans is forced to defecate in the open. Toilets save lives and provide dignity. But more toilets will not improve health on their own. Better hygiene is what matters. And that means making hand-washing a part of normal everyday behavior in every family.”
The UK Secretary of State for International Development Hilary Benn said:
“I’m delighted that today we’ve agreed some really practical steps for tackling the global water and sanitation crisis – that takes the lives of 5,000 children a day. These include agreeing what will now be an annual report on water and sanitation, identifying an annual event when we get together to make decisions on the basis of this report, and agreement that the UN will identify one lead body on water and sanitation in each country.”
Notes to editors:
The side event took place today in Washington ahead of the World Bank/IMF Development Committee (comprised by Ministers of finance and development) meetings on Sunday.
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