Does Sierra Leone have a housing and environment Minister?

October 31, 2017 by

Two years ago, I took my family to my country of origin Sierra Leone on a vacation. Whilst I was there, the country experienced a serious incident where a bridge in the centre of the capital collapsed killing 13 people. A few days before that unfortunate accident, I was driving along a main road leading to an affluent area of town where I spotted a massive wreckage and I was told the building collapsed with fatalities. We were barely at the start of the rainy season and disasters are happening. This was no news, the only news that comes from these accidents are the increasing number of deaths. There have been several reports like these for decades. Poor housing and environmental planning is the major cause for these incidents.

 

One evening accompanied by my cousin, we went for an evening stroll to one of the most beautiful beach in the city Freetown, I was shocked to find the beach was covered with dead seaweeds and the stench coming from them was suffocating. I thought to myself this was bad for our health and the economy. I asked my cousin “What is causing these seaweeds to take over our beach? How do we get rid of it now? How do we prevent it in the future?” She turn towards me laughing and told me to ask the government.

 

So we spoke about what the government should do to make the situation better, I suggested that the government should work with the tourist board and tourism ministry as well as business owners around our beaches to ensure a lasting preventative measure is taken. Freetown is no longer the green city that I grew up loving. The green hills are being covered with houses without any plan for adequate refuse collection, toilet facilities, and water supply facilities. No wonder the constant struggle for clean drinkable pipe borne water and the deplorable living conditions so blighted on the health of the populace.

 

We then continue towards the peninsular area, I then realised the damage caused in the centre of Freetown is being moved to the peninsula area wherein the abuse of wood as coal is destroying the Freetown peninsular forests. The housing boom taking place in that part of the western area is causing more harm than good to our environment.

I then asked my cousin again the question whether we have a Housing and Environment Ministry in Sierra Leone. She looked at me and smile and replied that we do have a Lands, Town and country planning Ministry and an Environmental Protection Agency, what we do know is that corruption and incompetence is stopping them from doing the right thing.

We met a man who introduced himself a  care taker I spoke to the caretaker at peninsular who explained to me that the houses which are built there are unplanned with no building permit which is causing environmental problems and that  many of these houses are owned by Sierra Leoneans who live overseas. It made me wonder and asked myself why these Sierra Leonean who live overseas will not do the same in their host countries thus it takes me back to the Sierra Leone government

 

The next day we drove to another beach area called Tokeh, I was shown an unoccupied house which I was told is meant for the forest guard who is meant to monitor illegal activities in and around the Freetown Peninsula. I also observed that people have been going deep into the forest in illegal burning of wood for coal while there were reports that the Police and environmental officers are being bribed. Why are we so mean to ourselves?

 

I later found out from my cousin that there is an agreements like the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna, but hunting of animals is still a major problem for Sierra Leone.  There is loss of bird biodiversity because people are destroying their habitats. We need to protect the country’s biodiversity from disappearing because of its economic benefits which are at threat at the moment, considering that many Sierra Leoneans are poor and depend on it for their livelihoods.

 

The heat in the city is also environmentally related and people in urban areas are most likely to be severely affected. Majority of the population in the country uses charcoal or wood for cooking and other related activities, and this has severely increased the amount of carbon dioxide produced. The people who live in Freetown are exposed to indoor and outdoor air pollution that can cause many different health problems. Furthermore, Freetown, like most other cities in Africa, is full of old and outdated vehicles that have been condemned in developed countries. These vehicles contribute immensely to carbon dioxide emission and further endangering the lives of the poor Sierra Leoneans.

The caretaker explained to us that a Lebanese business man has built a house at Tokeh beach causing residents to raise concern that they have lost tourists who used to go to the beach as a result of the construction of the dwelling house at the beach. While we are envious of having our house built by the seaside we must also not be selfish enough to ignore the communal and national benefits of maintaining tourism.

 

The country is suffering from a number of environmental issues, including sand mining, deforestation, especially the art of using wood for coal, making these communities prone to natural disasters. Already the country, like most others in the world, is experiencing global warming and a change in its climate. There have been reports of heat waves, thunder storms, altered rainfall patterns, flooding, storms, drought, landslides, etc. with the impacts on the socio-economic fabric of the country.

 

Many residents Sierra Leone lack access to clean water. The Guma Valley water dam at mile 13 was developed to cater for a population roughly above 900 thousand. When it was built in the 60s today that number has multiplied and has resulted to widespread water shortage for people especially at the hill-side communities of Freetown. Lack of access to clean water affects rural communities the most, who have to travel by foot miles to the nearest water well, which mostly lack the necessary purification for consumption. Water is polluted mostly by human waste. Diseases like typhoid, cholera, and diarrhoea come from contaminated water.

 

I can still vividly remember been taught in school the essence and importance of wildlife conservation and environmental protection. As school children, we were always involved in tree planting activities in order to protect our wildlife and environment. What has happened to such beneficial initiative? Climate change is real and Sierra Leoneans must be adequately sensitized and educated about environmental protection before the worst happens

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Wisdom, Insight or both for Future Generations?

October 30, 2017 by

The norms, values from our elders that are or we are still practicing in our daily lives that could be an inspiration, encouragement or reminder of how past generations have maintained the momentum of individual, family, community and national aspirations alive for future generations to learn from and adopt, where relevant in our daily livelihood is truly amazing. As people of the human race, can we reflect, or recall lessons passed on from generations before us that we can use to promote sustainability and the commons ethos? Here are 10 of the Most Heart warming Reactions to Rick Rigsby’s “Lessons from a 3rd Grade Dropout” Speech

Impact of new land bill in Uganda

October 30, 2017 by

There has been mounting concern since  a constitutional amendment Act (to amend article 26) was passed recently in July by the Ugandan parliament- a land bill which eases the Government’s ability to seize land- the implications of which affect the majority of landowners and leaseholders; small holders and traditional agrarian communities countrywide. The land will be taken over and it’s value determined by Government.

The timing of this new land bill having followed directly on the heels of a proposed  change to the constitution entrenching the power of ruling elites by lifting the age limit on presidents- despite Uganda having already no limit on number of terms presidents can serve. Previously; the acquisition of land by Govt in the 1998 Land Act, Section 15(2) ‘the Govt or local Govt may acquire land in the public interest’ raised the question of who determines ‘public interest’…using this clause and the accruing value of land it could increasingly be an arbitrary decision taken. Given that the 1998 Act gives considerable latitude to speculate on land by TNCs in cohorts with the Govt; the whole land tenure/ land reform issue seems to becoming more entrenched against the interests of commoners, subsistence farmers across the country.

Firstly any disputes regarding the value attached to their land ( deposited at disputed value) would need to be raised in the court, a process which can take years and be prohibitively expensive, even if such plaintiffs exist for subsistence farmers (the main victims of the proposed amendment).  The purpose of the Bill is ‘to resolve the current problem of delayed implementation of Government infrastructure and investment projects due to disputes arising out of the compulsory land acquisition process’.

 

There have been a spate of recent land grabbing cases including Green Resources near Jinja and  in Mubende/ Kiboga (within the last 2 years)-  involving the  New Forest Company plantations through the National Forestry Authority evicting 22,500 people to plant trees for carbon credits and for timber. In the name of ‘providing work opportunities and much needed investment’ http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Mubende-residents-reject-govt-compensation-package/688334-4029124-12q54b3/index.html

In this case  according to Oxfam; nobody in these communities were initially even compensated at all and considerable violence was used. Foreign Investors and the Forest Stewardship Council (it’s ‘regulators’) back what they claim is a ‘sustainable and socially responsible business’. The NFC have denied direct involvement in evictions but isn’t this just contracting out- the dirty work- in the name of Development..there by abdicating responsibility for impact on the Commons..

The recent threats to the Uganda Land Alliance and Oxfam https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2012/may/10/uganda-oxfam-land-grab  -in the light of what is alledged land grabbing-, officially claimed as ‘allocation of land to overseas business’ further exemplifies a worrying trend in compulsory acquisition of communual land.

 

Charity shop: The answer to your conpulsive buying disorder.

October 30, 2017 by

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During XIX and beginning of  XX century, the charity shop started to be present all over the western world after WW2, as the alternative solution to government aid and market price items. One of the first was founded by Edinburgh university settlement, called “Thrift shop for everyone”,  a genuine shop supporting poor people of primary household items and food.

Over the last 25years, these shops spread almost everywhere with a different name: in the UK(Charity shop), USA( thrift shop) and Australia(opportunity shop).It evolved in different research fields(scientific, social and environmental), and Its main mission still to erase poverty in different layers of this word means in different countries.

The charity shop is the arena where direct ethical action can really take place because as “consumer”, we have the power of “choice” and as a commoner, we have the freedom of think what is qualitative good for our community, city or nation.

People that go to charity,  operate an ethical choice, deciding not to be the slave of new brands or last market product.They participate as bigger picture, in sharing at a frugal price massive archives of historic unwanted items that still useful, sometimes new and desirable for others.

As follow, the charity system has really important role in the environmental solutions because reduce household waste and improve clothing textile recycling and reuse. This help instantly to lower carbon emission, reduce waste pollution and respect our universal commitment goals(MDGs).

If you still want to know why is important sustain charity watch this out:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Environmental Issues Portrayed in Hardin’s “The Tragedy of the commons”

October 23, 2017 by

 

Garret Hardin tells us how human population is destroying the environment. He refers to the commons as a resource that is owned by no one and used by a group of people, this can include the air we breathe, the water we drink and the ocean we fish. The tragedy is the people that do not look at the bigger picture; the over use of the resources for their own personal benefit will lead to the demolition of these resources. An example will be a fisher man wanting to fish the ocean as much as possible , this is can  be okay but what we need to think about is that, if very fisherman want to fish the ocean as much as they can this will be an example of a common being destroyed by human.

From watching a video on the commons on YouTube, I decided to use my family for my own experiment. I told them it was a competition. One weekend I took a bowl from my kitchen (this represent the Ocean) and put my nieces and nephews in two groups for the competition. I gave each group 20 skittles (this represent the fish ) even though I told them it was a competition, what I did not tell them was that if they catch all their skittles they will not get any more (because without any fish there will not be any production hence they will not receive any more skittles.

One of my nephew not knowing and think it was a competition eat all the skittles by himself thinking it was the prize for the competition, he did not receive anymore. The same thing is happening in our world today. Fishermen are fishing vigorously so they can have the most for themselves in order to benefit without looking at the bigger picture. They are destroying the common which can cause the disappearance of the commons.

Hardin‘s article states that “As a rational being, each herdsman seeks to maximise his gain. He asks “what is the utility to me of adding one more animal to head?” For me, the topic about utility has a positive and a negative element, the positive element is the cattlemen receiving more money while the negative element is if the cattlemen are to do the same they will end up destroying the commons. We can only prevent destruction when there is ownership, because of the responsibility of ownership as you have to think about long term use.

Another quote of Hardin is “The population problem cannot be solved in a technical way, any more than can the problem of winning the game of tick-tack-toe” What I understand from this quote is that, we cannot solve the world population problem because do not have a saying of what people should do. People’s morals about choosing right from wrong will always defer. Hardin also talks about pollution in one of his articles he says “The pollution problem is a consequence of population before it did not matter how people disposed their waste for there were not too many people but as the population become denser, the natural chemical and biological recycling process become overloaded”

 

 

Understanding The Complexity of Workplace Violence

October 20, 2017 by

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Workplace violence is an everyday related event that starts from the small insignificant act and eventually leading to a physical act. It can creates risk to the health and safety of employee, employer, clients and other innocent people.  

Workplace violence increase, being a heated argument in our daily work environment can be categorized as follows; worker-on-worker violence, this is basically common occurrence resulting from different employee personality clash and conflicts between employees within an organization. Criminal incidence is another popular form of workplace violence, in which the perpetrator has no legitimate relationship to the business or its employee(s) hence the violence is incidental to another crime, such as robbery, shoplifting, trespassing or terrorism. Lastly, the Customer/client violence which is the most popular in my opinion is more dangerous and common among high-risk jobs like night work, convenience store, gas station, prison staff, security officers amongst others. The violent person has a legitimate relationship with the business—for example, the person is a customer, client, patient, student, or inmate—and becomes violent while being served by the employees whom in most cases becomes the victim.

Workplace Violence can be prevented by organizing the special forum, initiating organizational principles, improving security, ensuring there is good mediation for all party involved to prevent personality clash at work. In a nutshell, workplace violence is a continuum process that is inevitable in any organization conflict is part of human nature but can be managed by all the parties involved.

YouTube: A digital commons for all

October 18, 2017 by

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Since its creation in 2005, YouTube has been propelled to the largest online video destination in the world. This transition to a global database was, without a doubt, made possible with the resources and digital infrastructure that Google can offer. However, the people that create and upload the video content do it on their own accord. This attitude of sharing common resources is inherent of the human condition. Of course, there are many Youtubers that do it for the money, but the average user does not pay money for the entertainment or educational value they receive. The providers of the content are not taking money from its users directly, although indirect costs may occur so, in a way YouTube is not completely ‘free’.  Users need to pay for a piece of technology to watch videos on (computer, smartphone, tablet) and they also have to pay for the internet access in order to stream the digital information. Yet these resources are available for free to many people also, in the form of libraries or open-source computer sharing spaces.

The content on YouTube can be marked with a Creative Commons (CC) license with the click of a button. There are several elements to CC which are explained in the short video provided (freely obtained from YouTube), but the basic idea is that anyone has the legal ability to access and reuse CC content legally without the need to get permission from the original producer of the content. This makes the distribution and reuse of original content easily accessible for students, designers, producers, businesses, so on and so on.

Anyone on the planet with access to these resources, can learn how to do anything from DIY arts and crafts, to wiring a car audio system. There is a tutorial video for any question or problem, and if there isn’t, any person can upload one at no cost.  Besides being an incredible tool for education, YouTube offers endless hours of entertainment to its users.

There is no other such platform that provides so much open, unrestricted, and re-usable content. Luckily, the vision shared by the creators of YouTube has remained intact, even after being bought out by a global corporation. In our current state of continual commodification, the test of time will show us if YouTube can stay true to its roots as a video sharing commons.

Your iphone was made by Apple … and all of us, the public

October 13, 2017 by

We live under the false perception that major innovations making life easier, more connected and shining are the results of innovative enterpreneurs like Steve Jobs and large companies like Apple. In this way we justify profit for the few, deregulated markets with minimum state control, and law taxes for corporations. What could be more wrong. In her book The Enterpreneurial State, Debunking Public and Private Sectors Myths(New York, Public Affairs Books), Maria Marzucato uncover another reality. Key technologies developed by the state have been an absolute necessity for the development of the iPhone. However the rewards were privatised by Apple, and the costs socialised to all of us. Below a diagram illustrating the key technologies developed by the public sectors without which there would be not iPhone.

 

And in the words of the author:

 

Community tourism: A simple way of exploring and sharing the commons.

October 11, 2017 by

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Tourism as other systems of the global market economy has a drastic and radical impact on the environment. The mechanisms that drive this system are trades.When trades were still part of natural instinct behavior of a small group, we have a share of resources, self-sufficiency, and development of community meaning.

Over the last 30 years, the economy machine sacrifices all these to replace it with a new set of global trade relations that excludes the developing country from travel and set up a real warning. The growth of domestic flights for example from the western country to remote and untouched part of the world brought devastating consequences in term of displacement, cultural degradation, distorting local economy and social structure and above all environmental problems.

the environmental cost has emerged from Tourism concern report.Tourism concern outline a new direction for the tourism also know as community tourism. Community tourism means anything that involves genuine community participation and benefits local community and not western economy(tour operator, Hotels, flying company of the rich world.)

Community tourism can really represent a new challenge for the entire unplanned and planned way of travel and will help to reduce the size of the economic footprint for the good of the commons and commoner.

This new ethical way of travel include projects in different interest category such as:

  • agritourism
  • archeological and historical sites
  • arts and craft
  • local culture
  • fishing
  • traditional healing

and much more.

Here some trips and tour suggestions if you wanna join the sustainable revolution:

http://www.amazonia.org/index.en.htm.

http://www.southernbelize.com/tea.html

http://www.nativetours.org/

https://www.indianpueblo.org/

Hope you enjoy:)

 

The marginalised groups. The Sierra Leone election 2018

October 10, 2017 by

The marginalised groups in Sierra Leone have yet to gain a place in the country’s economic and social life in the process of pulling themselves out of poverty. 56 years after independence with no good roads, good hospitals and quality education.

As marginalised groups decides their political future, they must now think with their brains as opposed to their heart on deciding which political party has their best interest at heart