The Human Impact

Rain, rain everywhere and not a drop to drink

NAIROBI (AlertNet) – It’s bucketing down outside, washing away houses and people and causing total gridlock in the city’s evening rush hour.

And when you finally make it home and switch on your tap, it’s dry.

It’s infuriating.

In Nairobi, private water vendors do a booming business, selling water in 20-litre jerrycans to the poor and in 4,000-litre tankers to the rich.

City residents are the lucky ones. In rural areas, women and children walk for hours to collect water from streams and wells.

In the 80 percent of Kenya that is arid or semi-arid, people struggle to stay alive during recurrent bouts of drought and hunger.

MORE WATER THAN EUROPE

It needn’t be like this.

Kenya receives enough rain to supply the needs of six to seven times its 40 million people, according to a 2006 study by the United Nations Environment Programme and World Agroforestry Centre.

Architects seek funding for Namibia sandbag igloos

Are sandbag igloos the key to solving housing problems in dry regions?

Architects Nicola Du Pisanie of Stonewood Design and Ross McDonald of Alison Brooks Architects discuss a proposed project to build sandbag, or super adobe, igloo homes in the Namibian desert during a London Festival of Architecture talk at the Building Centre in London.

The geometrical domes are made with sandbags and barbed wire and then plastered for protection. They are not difficult to construct and they are wind and earthquake resistant, according to Du Pisanie and McDonald.

Du Pisanie and McDonald formerly worked with FCBStudios where the “Igloos for the Namib” project was initiated.

Foreign “land grabs” risk draining Africa dry, warns report

By Emma Batha

In the James Bond film Quantum of Solace, the power-hungry villain wasn’t seeking to control supplies of gold or oil but another commodity that some argue could one day be far more precious – water.

Not so long ago it would have seemed far-fetched to suggest water might ever be worth more than oil. But as the world population continues to soar, so does the demand for water to make enough food to feed us – it takes about 1,000 litres of water to produce just 1kg of wheat and five to ten times more for 1kg of meat.

The problem of finding all this water is highlighted in an interesting new report which looks at the recent scramble by foreign investors to snap up millions of hectares of land in Africa to grow crops for export.

Uganda school children put chill on teacher truancy

A new hard-hitting advocacy video highlights the success of a project at a Uganda primary school where students monitored the attendance rates of their instructors to try and reduce teacher absenteeism.

Uganda has the worst teacher absenteeism rate in the world, according to Anslem Wandega, a program manager at African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), which oversaw the project with funding from the Results for Development Institute (R4D) in Washington, D.C.

Following the success of the monitoring project in Uganda’s Iganga school district, ANPPCAN intends to use the video to persuade other school districts to take up the project, Courtney Heck, a senior program associate in R4D’s Transparency and Accountability Program, said.

Researchers hope to reduce sub-Saharan Africa newborn deaths

Clinical trials are underway to test a new treatment for pregnant women, which could tackle some of the leading preventable causes of death for babies in sub-Saharan Africa, researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) have said.

A large number of pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with both malaria and sexually transmitted–reproductive tract infections (STIs – RTIs), according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Each year an estimated 25 million women in sub-Saharan Africa  are at high risk of malaria infection during pregnancy, the study said. Malarial infection heightens the risk of miscarriage, still births, or premature birth and death.

A refugee, an amputee, a marathon runner: Abdifatah’s story

Abdifatah Dhuhulow takes a break from some training in London’s Hyde Park, February 17, 2012. ALERTNET/Shanshan Chen

For someone who struggles to run a few metres before collapsing with a stitch, I’m constantly amazed by the skill of long-distance runners, and used to think crossing the finishing line of a marathon was the height of physical achievement — until meeting Abdifatah Dhuhulow.

An amputee, Abdifatah lost his left leg due to injuries sustained as a young boy fleeing the outbreak of civil war in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu in 1991.

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