Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Cape Town Water Crisis – The Day Zero Campaign

November 16, 2018

South Africa declares national disaster as water crisis deepens

The Daily Maverick released an article discussing the environmental challenges consumption has brought upon the city, especially where water is concerned. For years, humans consumed without any regard for things running out, something we can see very often in America. In Cape Town, thing were good before the water crisis, water was flowing, and homes had running water, until the drought hit.

When rains were good and dams were full, water was taken for granted. Hardly anyone blinked an eye when driving through leafy suburbs, with sprinklers hissing away litres of water every morning; no one timed their showers, or showered in buckets to catch the water and reuse it; and the thought of the taps running dry never crossed our minds.

The Daily Maverick lists three reasons as to what makes people make better consumption actions. “what they know; a moral feeling they get; and a sort of peer-pressure”. The Day Zero campaign was launched to set these things in place, it informed people about the water crisis and how they should be using the water effectively. It was a way to help them be more informed but also to make them feel shameful. Because of this, they were about to reduce water consumption to 516- million liters per day from 1.2-billion liters per day in February 2015. The Cape Town government understood how much educating people would make a difference. The people of Cape Town started growing stronger morals for environmental issues, and companies developed more environmental products.

I found it interesting that places that aren’t as seemed as the most commercialized place, want to adopt to that culture. The article mentioned a report that highlights 57% of South Africans want access to products and services at all times through the tap of a screen. Which leaves me to pose the question, does technology enhance consumption?


How trees might help save the earth

November 15, 2018

Deforestation seems to be one of the biggest concerns of our times. Looking at global warming, there are legitimate reasons to worry. In order to be able to halt climate change, the world needs forests to act as a carbon sink. With fewer trees stopping carbon from entering the atmosphere, global warming is very likely going to accel at an even faster rate. But the picture might not be as grim as it seems. While it is true that during the last century 6 million square miles of forest area has been lost, some countries have actually managed to gain forest area, according to the World Economic Forum. Of course, this still means that there is an overall loss in forest area. But there might be reasons to hope for a better picture in the future.


In the above graphic, you can see forest area that has been lost and gained since 1990. While a lot of forest area was lost in Sub-Saharan Africa and South America, there were big gains in other parts of the world. Especially China stands out in this picture – thanks to the Three-North-Shelterbelt Program. According to the World Economic Forum, this belt was planted by China to stop the Gobi Desert from expanding.

Another outstanding point in this graphic is that forest area has mostly been lost in countries of the global south, while it has been gained in countries of the global north. Some researchers claim that this is because “as per capita incomes in developing countries continue to rise, pressure on forests … lessen” (WEF).

There are a lot of projects all around the world that help regenerate forests. The city of Manchester, for example, has pledged to plant as many trees in the greater area of Manchester, as the city has inhabitants, which adds up to a total number of 3 million trees.
But not only countries of the global north plant trees in an attempt to make the world a healthier and happier place to live in. In Kenya, for example, people distribute seed balls in almost every way imaginable. Kids use them as ammunition for their slings, which they usually use to kill birds, others throw them out of planes or hot-air balloons. The seed balls do not only contain tree seeds but are also protected by a coat of charcoal dust, so that it is less likely that they are eaten by animals.

According to the World Economic Forum “[p]rotecting and expanding forests is one of the cheapest and surest ways to curb climate change”. Therefore, trees might, in fact, help save the earth.

Homelands under threat, Indonesian tribes rally for land rights

November 13, 2018

Thousands of Indonesian indigenous people gathered on Sumatra island to call on the government to protect their land rights as fears grow some tribes could become extinct.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo visits the burned forest at Pulo Keronngan village in Ogan Komering Ilir, South Sumatra province

A sprawling archipelago with more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia is home to an estimated 50 to 70 million indigenous people, but many do not have formal title to the land their families have lived on for generations.

For decades they have been locked in bitter battles with logging, palm oil and mining companies that have been expanding into their homelands in the resource-rich Southeast Asian nation.

President Joko Widodo has pledged to improve their lives, but activists say his ambitious plans to boost infrastructure and energy production – including by building dams – mean more tribes are at risk of being displaced.

“Even though the government has nice policies on paper, we continue to face land grabs… and forced evictions throughout Indonesia,” said Rukka Sombolinggi, deputy head of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago.

“We are willing to share, but development has to be done with our consent,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.


More than 5,000 people from 2,000 indigenous communities convened in Tanjung Gusta village outside North Sumatra’s provincial capital Medan. The gathering is organized by the alliance and held every five years.


Leaders of the Pandumaan-Sipituhuta community meet to look over proposed land divisions

Indonesia’s Constitutional Court ruled in 2013 indigenous people have the right to manage forests where they live, in a verdict hailed as a victory for indigenous land rights.

The government last December announced it would return 13,000 hectares of customary lands to nine indigenous communities, and committed to giving back a total of 12.7 million hectares – roughly the size of Greece – to local and indigenous groups.

Indonesia’s environment and forestry minister reiterated the government’s commitment to indigenous rights.

“It was only a start and not the end of this struggle,” Siti Nurbaya Bakar told the gathering, referring to the December announcement to return customary lands.

Campaigner Sombolinggi, of the Sulawesi island’s Toraja tribe, lauded these developments but said legal reforms have been slow.

More than 230 indigenous leaders and activists are currently on trial for battling to save their homelands, she said, while at least six tribes face the threat of extinction as a result of land conflicts.

“Our livelihood and our existence are being affected. When we are evicted from our land, what else do we have?” she asked.

Communities in the capital city of Sierra leone(Freetown) provides street lights

November 11, 2018

Sierra Leone News: Sierra Rutile provides street lights in ...IRIN | Lighting revolution in Sierra Leone

Sierra leone’ capital Freetown was deemed the darkest city in the world in 2007. A country which suffered ten years of brutal civil  war and economic hardship that hit the nation so hard that basic human needs such as electricity, water supply, poor housing, food shortage( due to low productivity of rice cultivation) as a result of the civil war and poor medical facilities  were present. during the period of 2000 to 2007, the UNDP Index rated Sierra Leone as the second poorest country in the world.

Things got better from World Bank support and other International agencies and also one of the country’s mineral resources (Iron Ore) price in the world market rose which boost the country’GDP and helped in many ways reduce poverty, improve the health services, provide domestic electricity for many household in the capital and many other main towns and also increase water supply. The challenges were huge for the government and things like street lights were not available to serve the city. The government provided solar electricity to serve most provincial towns but the capital city was without  street lights.

The emergence of the Ebola epidemic that hit the country in 2014 to 2016 made matter worse for the socio economic recovery of the state. Crime activities were on the rise in the capital city ; thus prompted the local communities to take action. Communities took upon themselves to contribute household to household in order to provide street lights. Communities after communities found it very important to organise themselves in areas to provide street slights and since they took the venture, it has become a normal practice which other communities around the periphery of the capital has started initiating.

‘Man of the hole’ – The Last of his tribe; The Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon

November 8, 2018


Brazil’s Amazon is home to more uncontacted tribes than anywhere in the world. There are thought to be at least 100 isolated groups in this rainforest, according to the government’s Indian affairs department FUNAIFUNAI is responsible for mapping out and protecting lands traditionally inhabited and used by these communities and preventing invasions of indigenous territories by outsiders.

Brazil is home to more uncontested peoples than anywhere on the planet. Their decision not to maintain contact with other tribes and outsiders is almost certainly a result of previous disastrous encounters and the ongoing invasion and destruction of their forest home. The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest and the largest river basin on the planet. Today, the Amazon is facing a multitude of threats as a result of unsustainable economic development; 20% of the Amazon biome has already been lost and the trend will worsen if gone unchecked. As Brazil forges ahead with aggressive plans to develop and industrialize the Amazon, even the remotest territories are under threat. Several hydro-electric dam complexes are being built near uncontacted Indian groups; they will also deprive thousands of other Indians of land, water and livelihoods. The dam complexes will provide cheap energy to mining companies, who are poised to carry out large scale mining on indigenous lands if Congress passes a draft bill that is being pushed hard by the mining lobby.

	© Nigel Dickinson / WWFAriel view of traditional Maloka, Yanomami communal dwelling in Roraima, Brazil

It is now thought that approximately 80 such groups live in the Amazon. Some number several hundred and live in remote border areas in Acre state and in protected territories such as the Vale do Javari, on the border with Peru. Others are scattered fragments, the survivors of tribes virtually wiped out by the impacts of the rubber boom and expanding agriculture in the last century. Many, such as the nomadic Kawahiva, who number a few dozen, are fleeing loggers and ranchers invading their land. As pressure mounts to exploit their lands, all uncontacted Indians are extremely vulnerable both to violent attack (which is common), and to diseases widespread elsewhere like flu and measles, to which they have no immunity.

It is not unusual for 50% of a tribe to be wiped out within a year of first contact, by diseases such as measles and influenza. Some uncontacted tribes are tragically down to their very last members.

Brazilian government representatives travelled to the territory of a solitary uncontacted Indian – the last known survivor of his tribe. They wanted to find out if he is still alive and how to best protect his land.

Imagine living on your own, in complete silence, always on the run, always fearful, invisible to the world. This is daily life for one solitary man in the Amazon. He’s the sole survivor of his tribe. His name is unknown, there is no knowledge of his language, what tribe he belongs to or who he is.  His people were probably massacred by cattle ranchers who are invading the region at break neck speed. He is sometimes known only as ‘the Man of the Hole’ because of the big holes he digs either to trap animals or to hide in. He totally rejects any type of contact even attacking a FUNAI representative who he recently came in contact with.

FUNAI field workers find a hole dug in the Amazon forest by the uncontacted Indian 'Last of his tribe', which he used to trap animals when hunting, Tanaru territory, Rondônia state, Brazil.

A hole dug in the Amazon forest by the uncontacted Indian ‘Last of his tribe’, which he used to trap animals when hunting, Tanaru territory, Rondônia state, Brazil.

FUNAI has set aside a small patch of rainforest for his protection. This is entirely surrounded by cattle ranchers. In late 2009, the man was viciously targeted by gunmen. In the past, many ranchers have used gunmen to kill uncontacted Indians in Rondônia. Some of the ranchers have their eye on his land and there are plenty of trigger happy gun men who would think nothing of bumping him off for the cost of a night on the town. FUNAI has decided not to contact the ‘Last of his Tribe’, but to enlarge his tiny territory by 3,000 hectares to give him more space and more game to hunt.

By law they are still considered minors. The most important goal for tribal peoples in Brazil is control over their lands – Brazil is one of only two South American countries that does not recognise tribal land ownership.

How can I help?



Angola: One of the Top Most Expensive Countries in the World, Yet Unable to Sustain its Population!

November 7, 2018



Angola is one of the most expensive countries in the world, and its capital, Luanda, is the most expensive city in the world. And yet, its minimum wage is under $50 per month. Despite this, it can afford to be home to the richest woman on the African continent, and one of the richest women in the world: 45-year-old Isabel dos Santos. She is the eldest daughter of the president Jose Eduardo dos Santos. CORRUPTION!!!

Cost of Living

Living in Luanda is far more expensive than living in Zurich, Bern and Hong Kong, which are also in the top most expensive countries in the world. Yet the GDP of these countries is absolutely no comparison to Luanda. Switzerland has a GDP of $87,000; Hong Kong $49,000 and Angola is just $7,700 annually. How is it possible that Angola only has this GDP per capita? As mentioned above, the minimum wage in Angola is less than $50 and most Angolans live on under $2 a day.  A one-bedroom apartment in Luanda costs around $5,000 to $10,000 a month in the city, and outside costs around $500 a month with monthly utility bills costing around $6,000. A single ride on public transport costs $2.50 and a regular 1 litre of milk costs $2 in the supermarket.


The world’s most expensive city is also one of the poorest


Why is That?

images (23)

Angola is one of the biggest oil exports in the world, yet most of the population live in extreme poverty. Most people have no access to clean water, sanitation and basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothes. Two in three children suffer from malnutrition, and one in six die before reaching the age of five. While the population faces such inhumanity, the government is busy spending the country’s resources, paying high wages to the expats, building luxurious housing and indulging themselves.

Angola is one of the most corrupted countries on the planet, where the ruling party, MPLA (the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola) has full control, from the general, the administration, the country’s natural resources, public and private sectors such as banks and shops, as well as the media. Everything in the country has the dos Santos name. That is to say, the President dynasty, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, has full power over everything and everyone, including over the new current president João Lourenço, who was hand-picked by Jose as his successor in September 2017.

The Angolan people are unable to sustain themselves because the cost of living does not reflect the income of the people, and the limited demand of resources and the corruption of the government makes Angola, particularly the capital city of Luanda, the most expensive and yet poorest country in the world. This is a devastatingly sad state of affairs, and something needs to change.

The elite Dreams                                  Reality





The price of ‘Commoning’ in Angola

November 7, 2018


Angola is a democratic country and yet it is governed under despotic regimes. The abuse of human rights from those in power is beyond imagination, and the Angolan people have simply come to internalise these abuses as a normal function of their daily lives. Therefore, commoning, or coming together to exercise the common rights of the country, is a terrifying concept among the majority of Angolans.

Before going any further, I confess that I would like the title of this blog to be a question instead of a statement. Yet, it would be romanticising the title because the heart-breaking reality is that commoning is impossible in Angola.

Angola is one of the top countries in the world that consistently abuses human rights. It has long been severely criticised for its human-rights record by the United States Department of State, who declared that the three main human-rights abused in Angola were the official corruption, impunity, and discrimination.

Official corruption:

Limits on the freedoms of assembly such as association, press, and speech; inhuman and excessive punishment, including beating, torture unlawful killings by police and other security personnel.


Judicial inefficiency, forced evictions without compensation, infringements on citizens’ privacy and lack of judicial process.


Discrimination and violence against women, people with disability, indigenous people and persons with HIV/AIDS; as well discrimination limits on workers’ rights and forced labour particularly child forced labour.

The Angola constitution and law prohibits any type of discrimination based on gender, race or social status, and guarantees peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. It also exercises its own freedom to not effectively enforce these prohibitions and instead limits them. The government is alleged to engage in illegal surveillance of any individual that rebels against this cruel regime; government opponents, journalists, ordinary citizens, and others, are harassed, arrested and even murdered.

17 human rights defenders being judged          Luaty Beirao

               The journalists Rafael Marques on the left, and Mariano Bras on the right,                             sentenced to 3 years for reporting on conflict diamonds and government c                          corruption.

Commoning in Angola is impossible, as those with strong influence and protection from the government are being brutally jailed, yet those with little or non-protection are immediately killed. This was the case of a 14-year old teenager, who was killed during a peaceful protest against the demolition of homes for a development project. Furthermore, there was a recent outrageous police attack on disabled protesters in wheelchairs that ended in the violent and traumatic deaths of some protesters.

In order to participate in commoning, people need autonomy to think and act, yet in Angola, it is out of reach and people are just too terrified to do something about it. Those who once attempted to have no choice but to remain quiet, unless they are prepared to meet with the brutality of the police, imprisonment or worse, a violent death.



Why I Cannot Live in My Country, Angola

November 7, 2018

Angola is a tropical country located in the Southern African continent. It is one of Africa’s most resource-rich countries including lumber, minerals, and fish. It is the second largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa and the fourth largest producer of diamonds. Its capital city is Luanda, which is situated on the Atlantic coast, and the largest city in Angola. It is also my home. And yet, I cannot live there.

The dream of any person in the world is simple: to be happy. Happiness includes being healthy, having basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothes, and most importantly, having the freedom to express oneself. Angola is an extremely rich and democratic country but lacks the basic yet essential elements to attend the needs of happiness.

Despite its extreme wealth, the country is unable to sustain 70 percent of its population of only 29 million people, including me. Its resources only serve to sustain the former president’s dynasty, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, and his closest allies. During my primary school years in Angola, I was taught to understand that ‘Angola is a big and beautiful country, rich in mineral resources and part of the African continent’. Big and rich I have no doubt, yet beautiful, I do not know anymore. The struggles that I experienced blurred my eyes to the beauty of my beloved country. The situation is just despicable, and it is deteriorating every day.

Most of us live on less than $2 a day and in Luanda, the capital of Angola where I am from, 90 percent of the population live in slums without water and electricity, and with no means of acquiring them. To access public services, such as free education, hospitals, or even to apply for qualified and non-qualified jobs, individuals must have a family member or are forced to pay bribes that they cannot afford and in foreign currencies such as dollars, euros or sterling. Being a democratic country, one ought to have the freedom to confront the grave abuses of human rights, yet this is not the case in my country. There are those who have attempted to revolt against the system. The lucky ones end up in prison or are tortured until they are released. The unlucky ones have been brutally murdered.

The reason I cannot live in Angola is not necessarily because of the lack of basic needs, but because of the lack of self-actualization. In other words, there is no opportunity to make meaningful choices that will sustainably improve our own lives. All I ever wished for while living in Angola was the opportunity to study, find a meaningful job and to live a safe and happy life. Yet, I came to find this modest dream impossible, as the government sees ordinary people unworthy of this.



Public School and Eileen Fisher Launch Zero-Waste Collection

November 5, 2018

Public School, Eileen Fisher Team Up on Limited-Edition, Zero-Waste Collection

If there is one industry that gets the most backlash for not being sustainable and helping to save the ecosystem, it would probably be the fashion industry. Last week, fashion brands Public School NYC and Elieen Fisher teamed up to launch a limited edition, zero-waste collection. The collection contains three ready to wear designs which are remade from previous designs. This is one of  Elieen Fisher’s collaborations towards being more sustainable. Dao-Yi Chow, one of the designers of Public School cosigns the initiative by stating “This is one of the most important collaborations we’ve worked on in terms of providing visibility and awareness around a critical issue — sustainability within our industry”.

Public School, Eileen Fisher Team Up on Limited-Edition, Zero-Waste Collection

I find this collaboration important to the fashion industry because it fuses a younger brand who is important to pop culture and an iconic brand to highlight a bigger issue- sustainability. The Elieen Fisher Renew program has redone more than one million designs and has a factory in Irvington where they received about 6,000 pieces of clothing a week.

“We saw Eileen speaking at the Copenhagen Fashion summit about her efforts in sustainability and knew right away we wanted to work with her. We took a visit to her Tiny Factory upstate in Irvington and we were blown away by their operation. She’s a leader in circular space and has been developing and implementing best practices to address the fashion industry’s carbon footprint. She’s been super generous in sharing her work with other designers and companies,” – Dao-Yi Chow

More fashion companies should take note of what Elieen Fisher is doing. This article makes me wonder if it is possible for a company to create clothes with a cap and should they be regulated by government to monitor their output?


November 5, 2018

The Wider Image: Hospital on wheels brings hope to Indian villages

Created thanks to a joint effort from the Impact India foundation, the Indian railways and the health minister, the lifeline express train, the first of its kind, provides medical services for free to the remotest of areas in India, thus providing the poorest and most neglected of people, the access to a higher level of health care.

Since its beginning in 1991, the train has covered over 70 000 km of railway and helped treat over 10,00,000 poor people in rural India. Providing services such as cataract operations to restore sight, hearing operations, cleft lip correction, dental and neurological treatment and even surgical operations that are contributing to eradicate polio for good, and the best of all, these aids are all completely free for the patients.

Following the surgeons in the documentary, we learn that the train stops at stations in some of the most remote rural towns of India and remains there for a set amount of time before moving on to the next village. Families living in surrounding villages travel up to 2 hours to attend the medical screening, (which is done on the platform) in hope that they will get the care they so desperately need.

The train has onboard a set amount of permanent medical and catering staff, who live on the train, then there are the organised volunteers. Some of the best surgeons around India are contacted and asked to provide their specialised expertise, by coming and working on the train. These surgeons will stay on the train for approximatively a week, attempting to see as many people and operate on as many cases as they can possibly see to in that amount of time.

In 2016, the lifeline express train gained an extra two coaches providing services for cancer and family health, thus making it now a 7-coach train, full of state of the art medical facilities.

This model hospital train has led to other areas of the world, such as China, Cambodia and Central Africa, to adopt a similar system with varying modes of transport such as river boats.