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US Fellowship Opportunity with Innovative Burundi Health Radio Program

January 14th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Shelburne, VT – January 14, 2014

For the first time, US-based Population Media Center has teamed up with Global Health Corps to offer two year-long paid fellowships in Burundi, one available to a US citizen and one available to a Burundi citizen. This opportunity coincides with the launch of a new radio soap opera produced by Population Media Center’s Burundi office addressing women and children’s health. The organizations are seeking passionate young professionals who are committed to global health and social justice to fill two positions starting in July 2014. The deadline for applying is in January 2014.

“We’ve never done this before,” says Kriss Barker, Population Media Center’s VP of International Programs. “It’s really exciting and different. We are looking for two great fellows, both of whom must be fluent in French since our Burundi office is entirely French-speaking.”

The radio drama, “Agashi” (“Hey! Look Again!”), addresses issues such as child nutrition and family planning through intriguing storylines and plot twists. Over the course of the episodes, characters demonstrate choices and consequences, learning from their actions and teaching listeners as well. “Agashi” will run for approximately two years, airing two episodes per week.

The Global Health Corps fellows will be an integral part of the Burundi office, helping with two large projects: program promotion and program research. Program promotion will include items such as publicity and events to generate awareness and encourage active engagement by the community. Program research will include items such as leading focus groups, analyzing listener responses, and helping inform writers with key information to influence storylines and plot development. Global Health Corps will provide a variety of additional trainings and professional development opportunities, as well as a completion award and life-long access to a network of globally-minded change-makers.

Global Health Corps mission is to mobilize a global community of emerging leaders to work for health equity. This commitment to health as a human right aligns perfectly with Population Media Center’s efforts to address population stabilization through four pillars: improving human health, human rights, economic equality, and environmental protection. “This program promises to be an exciting one,” says Barker. “We’re thrilled that our work will get more young people involved in addressing these issues.”

“These positions at PMC will offer fellows an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the improvement of life conditions in Burundi, and to increase their skills and knowledge by working with dedicated managers and mentors at PMC,” says Jean Bosco Ndayishimiye, PMC’s Country Representative. “My dream is that this innovative program in Burundi will generate significant positive results, causing behavior change in Burundian society.”

“We are so excited to partner with Population Media Center on this project,” says Jean Marie Karikurubu, the Burundi Program Manager at Global Health Corps. “Their mission and their communications strategies have been shown to be very effective and we’re excited to offer fellows the opportunity to get involved in this project.”

All applicants must be 30 years or younger, have earned an undergraduate university degree by July 2014, and be proficient in English and French. For more information, visit: http://ghcorps.org/placements/b03-usa-program-coordinator-population-media-center-burundi/

Population Media Center is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world.

Global Health Corps mobilizes a global community of emerging leaders to build the movement for health equity. GHC believes young people are the future to solving global health challenges. We place recent college graduates and young professionals from diverse professional backgrounds in health non-profits and government offices in the US, East Africa and Southern Africa for a year of service in order to strengthen and learn from the organizations. Fellows focus on creating solutions for a variety of current health issues like HIV, maternal child health, nutrition, and healthcare access. Through additional training, community building, leadership development and mentorship these young people complete their fellowship with skills to be change-makers and paradigm-shifters in the global health field throughout their careers. Since its founding in 2009, GHC has deployed 322 fellows to work in 7 countries. http://ghcorps.org/

MTV’s ’16 and Pregnant,’ Derided by Some, May Resonate as a Cautionary Tale

January 14th, 2014 | Add a Comment

MTV’s ’16 and Pregnant,’ Derided by Some, May Resonate as a Cautionary Tale
See:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/13/business/media/mtvs-16-and-pregnant-derided-by-some-may-resonate-as-a-cautionary-tale.html?_r=2

WASHINGTON – Kailyn Lowry, at age 17, decided to let MTV film her pregnancy and the birth of her first child in the hope of persuading other young men and women to wait to start a family.

“I did get two awesome blessings,” said Ms. Lowry, now 21 and married with a second child. “But I still haven’t gotten my bachelor’s degree, because, one, day care is so expensive and, two, how do you balance studying and having little ones at home?”

Ms. Lowry’s cautionary tale seems to have made an impression on at least some viewers. A new economic study of Nielsen television ratings and birth records suggests that the show she appeared in, “16 and Pregnant,” and its spinoffs may have prevented more than 20,000 births to teenage mothers in 2010.

The paper, to be released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, makes the case that the controversial but popular programs reduced the teenage birthrate by nearly 6 percent, contributing to a long-term decline that accelerated during the recession.

“It’s thrilling,” said Sarah S. Brown, the chief executive of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a nonprofit group in Washington. “People just don’t understand how influential media is in the lives of young people.”

To read the full article, please click here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/13/business/media/mtvs-16-and-pregnant-derided-by-some-may-resonate-as-a-cautionary-tale.html?_r=2

West African Lion Faces Extinction

January 14th, 2014 | Add a Comment

West African Lion Faces Extinction
See: http://www.enn.com/wildlife/article/46885

To many, the mighty lion is the face of African wildlife and one of the most recognized predators across the world.

But despite sitting on top of the food chain, the lion is a vulnerable species and a new report concludes that the African lion is facing extinction across the entire West African region.

The new study reveals that the West African lion is down to a population estimated at 250, and these individuals are restricted to four isolated populations.

The paper, published in the journal PLOS One, was led by Panthera’s survey coordinator Dr Philipp Henschel and co-authored by an international team including Oxford University’s Professor David Macdonald and Dr Lauren Coad. It is the result of a six-year survey, covering 11 countries where lions were presumed to exist over the last 20 years.

The team discovered that West African lions now survive in only five countries: Senegal and Nigeria, with a single trans-frontier population on the shared borders of Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso. They are genetically distinct from the better-known lions of famous game parks in East and southern Africa. Recent molecular research shows they are closely related to the extinct ‘Barbary Lions’ which once roamed North Africa, as well as to the last Asiatic lions surviving in India.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.enn.com/wildlife/article/46885

Africa’s road-building frenzy will transform continent

January 14th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Africa’s road-building frenzy will transform continent
Expanding and upgrading Africa’s sparse highway network could pull people out of poverty – and pose environmental challenges

See: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22129512.800-africas-roadbuilding-frenzy-will-transform-continent.html#.UtPkRPRDu8y

AFRICA is embarking on a road-building spree. Ahead of the pack are mining organisations, largely funded by China, which have flooded into the continent over the last decade and need ways to transport materials. But also afoot is a larger, pan-African effort to upgrade and expand the continent’s highway network, as well as building many more smaller connecting roads.

The result will be a vast continental transformation with the potential to improve access to education and healthcare – and connect Africans to each other, enabling commerce. It’s not all good news, however. The roads, especially those built to service mines, could disrupt large tracts of natural habitat. “If you build the roads, there are environmental costs, but if you don’t, there are developmental costs,” says Jeff Sayer of James Cook University in Cairns, Australia.

The need for infrastructural change is undeniable. Compared with the world average, Africa’s existing road network is sparse and poorly maintained. According to a report for the World Bank, average road density on the continent is 204 kilometres of road per 1000 square kilometres of land area – only a quarter of which is paved. In contrast, the world average is 944 kilometres per 1000 square kilometres with more than half paved. This is partly due to Africa’s vast area, but its roads look sparse even when viewed by population (see diagram).

Enter the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa, or PIDA, funded mainly by African governments, plus international banks, governments and funding agencies. It was launched in 2010 and is due for completion in 2040. Transport makes up 30 per cent of the current budget, and roads are a big part of this.

The plan is to expand the existing, 10,000 kilometre-long network of major roads to between 60,000 and 100,000 km – either by upgrading existing poor roads or building new ones. The result would be nine arteries, some hugging Africa’s entire coastline, while others strategically criss-cross the continent. Some 250,000 km of smaller roads will be built or upgraded to connect smaller cities to the main arteries, plus another 70,000 km to plug in rural areas.

To read the full article, please click here:  http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22129512.800-africas-roadbuilding-frenzy-will-transform-continent.html#.UtPkRPRDu8y

Japan’s ageing population could actually be good news

January 14th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Japan’s ageing population could actually be good news

By Fred Pearce
See: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24822-japans-ageing-population-could-actually-be-good-news.html#.UtKT2fRDu8x

Is a nation’s destiny set by its fertility rates? The announcement that Japan’s population fell by almost a quarter of a million in 2013 – the fifth consecutive annual fall – brought warnings that the country may be in terminal decline.

“The stagnation of the lost decades is a symptom of problems brought on by demographic change,” wrote Reiko Aoki, an economist at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, last year (Population and Development Review, doi.org/qrc).

Japan has the world’s oldest population, with a median age of 46 years, an average lifespan of 84, and a quarter of the population over 65. But this doesn’t have to mean a gloomy future. What happens in the coming years might even point the way for other countries.

Japanese longevity can’t compensate for its ultra-low fertility rate – just 1.4 children per woman. Hard-working Japanese society has “embraced voluntary mass childlessness”, says Nicholas Eberstadt, a demographer at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC. One in four don’t have children. Some European countries also have low fertility rates, but top up with migrants. Insular Japan does not.

Lower care bills

The conventional view is that this is bad news: shrinking numbers hobble economic growth and the ageing population is a major financial burden. But Eberstadt says there is another side. The proportion of Japan’s population that is dependent on those of working age isn’t unusual, he says, it’s just that it has almost twice as many over-65s as children. Consequently Japan spends less on education. And because the Japanese are the world’s healthiest, care bills are also lower than in other nations.

Japan’s economy has been growing slowly for two decades now. But that too is deceptive, says William Cline of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington DC. Thanks to the falling population, individual income has been rising strongly – outperforming most US citizens’.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24822-japans-ageing-population-could-actually-be-good-news.html#.UtKT2fRDu8x

Kelvin Thomson: The Changing Nature of Power

January 14th, 2014 | Add a Comment

The Changing Nature of Power

See: http://kelvinthomson.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/the-changing-nature-of-power.html

Some commentators are correctly observing that the nature of political and other power has changed a lot in the past couple of decades.

Nick Reece, Public Policy Fellow at the Centre for Public Policy at Melbourne University, says “From boardrooms to battlefields, from churches to nation states, being in charge just isn’t what it used to be”. He says power is moving from states to non-state actors and from state control to market forces. “In a deregulated economy, politicians haven’t controlled interest rates, the exchange rate, wage levels or prices for decades. Nor do they hold sway over industries like they did when they were protected by tariffs or regulation or even owned by the government”. (The Age 21/12/13)

Lord Paddy Ashdown, former UK Liberal Democrat leader, writing in the New Statesman (15-21 November 2013) points to the changes in global power taking place. “We are reaching the beginning of the end of six centuries of the domination of western power, western institutions and western values”. He says “Power is not only shifting laterally, but vertically, too. It is migrating out of the structure of nation states and into the global space, where the instruments of regulation are few and the framework of law is weak.”

He points out that those institutions growing in power and reach – the internet, trans-national corporations, international money changers and speculators, international crime and terrorism – operate oblivious of national borders and largely beyond the reach of national regulation and the law.

This decline in government power brings with it, of course, a declining capacity to solve people’s problems. Nick Reece makes the astute observation that the gap between public expectations and the capacity of politicians to meet them leads to “a sharp decline in trust and confidence in political institutions”, and that this is a global phenomenon. He says “Almost every advanced democracy in the world has a deeply unpopular government that is unable to deliver on its policy agenda”.

This is a very significant insight. But how can this unhappy state of affairs be altered? Nick says governments and political parties should campaign to increase political participation. But political participation has declined precisely because governments have surrendered power and are no longer capable of solving problems – given this, why would you bother?

The author Christian Caryl has also noted an increasing gap between rich and poor, with wealthy elites gaining immense sway over the political process. He says that in the United States 40% of political campaign contributions in 2012 came from one hundredth of 1% of United States’ households. The rest of the population feels increasingly divorced from meaningful participation. Christian Caryl says the erosion of alternative power centres, such as labour unions, contributes to a sense of rising cynicism and disengagement.

I think the Queensland academic Jane O’Sullivan has identified a key cause of the problem in her work on the burden of infrastructure provision on rapidly growing populations, which I have written and spoken about previously. In cities with population growth of 1% per annum or faster, no Council, State or Federal authorities are able to keep up, and many people cannot get basic problems solved.

Population growth also diminishes democracy, as pointed out by the late Professor Al Bartlett of Boulder Colorado. As towns and cities grow, people are no longer listened to as much as they used to be. They often respond to this powerlessness by disengaging from the political process, or with increasing resentment that can be seen in increasing incivility in our political discourse, or simply increasing incivility in our society full stop.

To stop the gap between the governing and the governed from becoming ever larger, and protect the quality of our democracy, I believe we need to stop the rapid population growth, and that countries should each seek to stabilise their populations. Only in this way can we retain the quality of our democracy and arrest the drift towards powerlessness, apathy and incivility.

The other thing we should do is recognise that although large corporations like disempowering governments and citizens, it’s not a good thing. We shouldn’t go further down this path. This means no to privatisations, and no foreign ownership of essential services. It means no to “investor-state dispute resolution” clauses in our trade treaties, which enable foreign corporations to sue the Australian Government if it takes decisions that disadvantage them.

And it means no to the silly idea I saw recently of amalgamating and reducing the number of Councils in Melbourne or Sydney. Larger Councils have increased the distance between Councillors and ratepayers, and even larger Councils will only increase the distance still further, leading to ever-more alienated and dis-satisfied citizens.

Predicting the future of global water stress

January 14th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Predicting the future of global water stress
MIT researchers find that by 2050 more than half the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas and about a billion or more will not have sufficient water resources.
See: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2014/predicting-the-future-of-global-water-stress.html

Population growth and increasing social pressures on global water resources have required communities around the globe to focus on the future of water availability. Global climate change is expected to further exacerbate the demands on water-stressed regions. In an effort to assess future water demands and the impacts of climate change, MIT researchers have used a new modeling tool to calculate the ability of global water resources to meet water needs through 2050.

The researchers expect 5 billion (52 percent) of the world’s projected 9.7 billion people to live in water-stressed areas by 2050. They also expect about 1 billion more people to be living in areas where water demand exceeds surface-water supply. A large portion of these regions already face water stress – most notably India, Northern Africa and the Middle East.

The study applies the MIT Integrated Global System Model Water Resource System (IGSM-WRS), a modeling tool with the ability to assess both changing climate and socioeconomics – allowing the researchers to isolate these two influencers. In studying the socioeconomic changes, they find population and economic growth are responsible for most of the increased water stress. Such changes will lead to an additional 1.8 billion people globally living in water-stressed regions.

“Our research highlights the substantial influence of socioeconomic growth on global water resources, potentially worsened by climate change,” says Adam Schlosser, the assistant director of science research at the Joint Program on Global Change and lead author of the study. “Developing nations are expected to face the brunt of these rising water demands, with 80 percent of this additional 1.8 billion living in developing countries.”

To read the full article, please click here: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2014/predicting-the-future-of-global-water-stress.html

The Future of Global Water Stress: An Integrated Assessment

January 14th, 2014 | Add a Comment

The Future of Global Water Stress: An Integrated Assessment
Link to full report (PDF): http://globalchange.mit.edu/files/document/MITJPSPGC_Rpt254.pdf

We assess the ability of global water systems, resolved at 282 large river basins or Assessment Sub Regions (ASRs), to the meet water requirements over the coming decades under integrated projections of socioeconomic growth and climate change. We employ a Water Resource System (WRS) component embedded within the MIT Integrated Global System Model (IGSM) framework in a suite of simulations that consider a range of climate policies and regional hydroclimatic changes through the middle of this century. We find that for many developing nations water-demand increases due to population growth and economic activity have a much stronger effect on water stress than climate change. By 2050, economic growth and population change alone can lead to an additional 1.8 billion people living in regions with at least moderate water stress. Of this additional 1.8 billion people, 80% are found in developing countries. Uncertain regional climate change can play a secondary role to either exacerbate or dampen the increase in water stress due to socioeconomic growth. The strongest climate impacts on relative changes in water stress are seen over many areas in Africa, but strong impacts also occur over Europe, Southeast Asia and North America. The combined effects of socioeconomic growth and uncertain climate change lead to a 1.0 to 1.3 billion increase of the world’s 2050 projected population living in regions with overly exploited water conditions- where total potential water requirements will consistently exceed surface-water supply. Under the context of the WRS model framework, this would imply that adaptive measures would be taken to meet these surface-water shortfalls and would include: water-use efficiency, reduced and/or redirected consumption, recurrent periods of water emergencies or curtailments, groundwater depletion, additional inter-basin transfers, and overdraw from flow intended to maintain environmental requirements.

To read the full studyy, please click here: http://globalchange.mit.edu/files/document/MITJPSPGC_Rpt254.pdf

From Food Insufficiency towards Trade Dependency: A Historical Analysis of Global Food Availability

January 14th, 2014 | Add a Comment

From Food Insufficiency towards Trade Dependency: A Historical Analysis of Global Food Availability
See: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0082714

Achieving global food security is one of the major challenges of the coming decades. In order to tackle future food security challenges we must understand the past. This study presents a historical analysis of global food availability, one of the key elements of food security. By calculating national level dietary energy supply and production for nine time steps during 1965-2005 we classify countries based on their food availability, food self-sufficiency and food trade. We also look at how diets have changed during this period with regard to supply of animal based calories. Our results show that food availability has increased substantially both in absolute and relative terms. The percentage of population living in countries with sufficient food supply (>2500 kcal/cap/d) has almost doubled from 33% in 1965 to 61% in 2005. The population living with critically low food supply (<2000 kcal/cap/d) has dropped from 52% to 3%. Largest improvements are seen in the MENA region, Latin America, China and Southeast Asia. Besides, the composition of diets has changed considerably within the study period: the world population living with high supply of animal source food (>15% of dietary energy supply) increased from 33% to over 50%. While food supply has increased globally, food self-sufficiency (domestic production>2500 kcal/cap/d) has not changed remarkably. In the beginning of the study period insufficient domestic production meant insufficient food supply, but in recent years the deficit has been increasingly compensated by rising food imports. This highlights the growing importance of food trade, either for food supply in importing countries or as a source of income for exporters. Our results provide a basis for understanding past global food system dynamics which, in turn, can benefit research on future food security.

Click here to read more: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0082714

Kenya’s Excess of Policies Can’t Deal With Climate Change

January 14th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Kenya’s Excess of Policies Can’t Deal With Climate Change
By Miriam Gathigah
See: http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/12/kenyas-excess-policies-cant-deal-climate-change/

NAIROBI, Dec 31 2013 (IPS) – Kenya is facing its greatest challenge as weather patterns are starting to significantly affect food production. And experts are blaming the low adaptive capacity of the farming sector on an excess of policy and institutional frameworks that are silent on both climate change and agriculture.

Joshua Kosgei, an agricultural extension officer in Elburgon, Rift Valley province, told IPS that at least 300,000 maize farmers in the province are affected by climate change as the region has become too warm for maize farming. Production of this East African nation’s staple crop is expected to fall by at least 25 percent.

The country’s food security outlook covering June to December shows that a gradual increase in maize prices is expected. “Currently, wholesale maize prices are about 10 percent above the five year average and by December, maize prices are likely to be higher,” the outlook report said.

The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa, a regional research body, predicts that as temperatures become too high for maize production, the country’s granary will shift from the Rift Valley province to parts of lower Eastern province.

“Maize has done well in Rift Valley, but the region is receiving less and less rainfall, so maize farming must move to other regions that were hotter but are now receiving adequate rainfall,” Kosgei told IPS.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, five million out of a total eight million households in the country depend directly on agriculture. In addition, small-scale farmers here account for at least 75 percent of the total agricultural output and 70 percent of marketed agricultural produce.

To read the full story, please click here: http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/12/kenyas-excess-policies-cant-deal-climate-change/