World News – BORGEN http://www.borgenmagazine.com Humanity, Politics & You Tue, 23 Jan 2018 15:30:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 Development Projects in Grenada Preparing the Island for the Future http://www.borgenmagazine.com/development-projects-in-grenada/ Tue, 23 Jan 2018 15:30:27 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=124000 SEATTLE — Grenada, a small island located in the southeastern Caribbean Sea, suffered widespread damage from Hurricanes Ivan and Emily in 2004 and 2005. Among the most severely affected areas were education, health, environment, power and agriculture. For example, in the health and education sectors, 11 healthcare facilities—including the second largest hospital— and all but [...]

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SEATTLE — Grenada, a small island located in the southeastern Caribbean Sea, suffered widespread damage from Hurricanes Ivan and Emily in 2004 and 2005. Among the most severely affected areas were education, health, environment, power and agriculture. For example, in the health and education sectors, 11 healthcare facilities—including the second largest hospital— and all but two Grenadian schools sustained severe damage. The reconstruction of affected areas is complete; however, due to international relief assistance, Grenada emerges from the successive disasters with a very high debt burden. Currently, there are development projects in Grenada addressing economic challenges and other areas of development.

Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA)

CSA is agriculture that both sustainably increases agricultural productivity and resistance to climate change and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. CSA is the government’s strategy to raise incomes and provide jobs for individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, improve food security and reduce poverty in Grenada.

In addition to economic development, CSA can effectively support social development and decrease youth employment rates in Grenada. “High levels of youth disengagement and unemployment constrain economic development and have negative social repercussions. These adverse impacts contribute to the creation and perpetuation of the cycle of poverty, increased crime and violence, and risky behaviors,” said George Yearwood at the Caribbean Development Bank.

Safe-Smart Hospital Project

The Smart-Safe Hospital Project’s objective is to upgrade one of Grenada’s hospitals, the Princess Alice Hospital, to a green facility, and is expected to have significant cost-saving health benefits for Grenadians.

The upgrade will include the installation of a new hurricane-resistant roof, improved safety features for the patients and staff, a new automated electrical backup power system and an improved water storage and supply system. With these changes, the hospital is expected to improve both its operations and service deliveries on the northern and eastern sides of the island and its capability to deliver care during times of disaster.

Geothermal Risk Mitigation Program for the Eastern Caribbean

The Geothermal Risk Mitigation Program for the Eastern Caribbean’s objective is to decrease dependency on energy imports in the Caribbean by increasing the availability of renewable energy through geothermal energy development. The program will provide up to 60MW of new capacity in Grenada, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The government of Grenada is looking to geothermal energy to help reach its development goal of reducing carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2025. By decreasing Grenada’s dependency on oil imports, geothermal energy development will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Integrated Solid Waste Management Project

The development goal of this project is to improve solid waste management in Grenada. The project involves research on waste resources and the commissioning of a new waste cell.

Grenada Education Enhancement Project

The Grenada Education Enhancement Project aims at expanding, rehabilitating and building schools in Grenada. The plan is to expand and rehabilitate six existing schools and to design three new schools. One part of the project is focused on enhancing the quality, relevance and effectiveness of teaching and plans to provide training and professional development for 1,700 Grenadian teachers and principals. Grenada has already demonstrated leadership in the education sector, achieving universal secondary education and gender parity in enrollment.

In recent years, Grenada has focused its efforts on climate change adaption, recognizing its link to economic, social and sustainable development. With these development projects in Grenada underway, the country continues to improve its capacity to address development challenges and constraints, to sustain growth and to build the resilience of socioecological systems and communities to climate change impacts.

– Gabrielle Doran

Photo: Flickr

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Sustainable Agriculture in Mali Benefiting Women Farmers http://www.borgenmagazine.com/sustainable-agriculture-in-mali/ Tue, 23 Jan 2018 09:30:59 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=124002 SEATTLE — Mali is one of the poorest nations in the world, with an estimated 60 percent of its population living below the poverty line. It is situated in West Africa, and like many other developing nations, Mali depends heavily on agriculture for food security and economic growth. However, conditions such as climate change and [...]

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SEATTLE — Mali is one of the poorest nations in the world, with an estimated 60 percent of its population living below the poverty line. It is situated in West Africa, and like many other developing nations, Mali depends heavily on agriculture for food security and economic growth. However, conditions such as climate change and population growth threaten agricultural production in the country, making sustainable agriculture in Mali a crucial goal.

The main issues that threaten sustainable agriculture in Mali include soil fertility decline and food deficits. Since 2001, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been carrying out several Integrated Production and Pest Management (IPPM) programs in the country and supporting the government’s agriculture-related programs and policies in order to ensure sustainable agriculture in Mali.

The IPPM was created with the intention of improving “farming skills and raising smallholder farmers’ awareness of risks from and alternatives to toxic chemicals.” The three main goals include developing farming capacity, improving food security and livelihoods and raising awareness.

The FAO has worked with several foreign partners in order to carry out IPPM activities in Mali that help farmers improve efficiencies, production and profits for cotton, rice, vegetables and a variety of other crops. Additionally, the IPPM efforts also include a project on climate change adaptation, which works with communities in the country to explore ways to adapt to climate change effects such as droughts and flooding.

The IPPM activities aim to increase household incomes, improve diets and promote a sustainable environment. So far, one-third of the 85,054 farmers trained by the IPPM program have been women.

In addition to erratic climate changes, Mali also suffered from the 2007-2008 food crisis that hit most of West Africa, when international food prices reached their highest levels in 30 years. In response, FAO launched the regional initiative called APRAO (2010-2013) to aid the governments that were most affected, which included Mali. This program focused on the entire rice value chain and promoted successful technologies and approaches developed in the IPPM program.

Similar to the initiatives by FAO, CARE has also been working to promote sustainable agriculture in Mali with a special focus on women’s empowerment. Despite women’s notable contributions to this sector, Malian patriarchal society hinders them from significantly benefiting from agriculture.

CARE’s Nyeleni was launched to ensure gender equality in sustainable agriculture in Mali. The project is being implemented in four regions and focuses on farming, aquaculture and livestock rearing. The main objective is to “enable more productive and more equitable participation of selected segments of poor women smallholder farmers in sustainable agriculture within three livelihood systems”. Nyeleni is estimated to directly impact 39,000 extremely poor rural women and 167,500 other members of their households.

A huge percentage of Malians depend on agriculture, and the sector accounts for 38 percent of the country’s GDP. Hence, it is crucial that investment in sustainable agriculture in Mali does not fall short. The fact that Mali is considered the poorest West African nation makes continued efforts in this sector all the more important.

– Mehruba Chowdhury

Photo: Flickr

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The Success of Humanitarian Aid to Papua New Guinea http://www.borgenmagazine.com/success-humanitarian-aid-papua-new-guinea/ Mon, 22 Jan 2018 15:30:44 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=123988 SEATTLE — Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a country in the southwestern Pacific that is known for its wide range of biological diversity, active volcanoes and thriving coral reefs. However, with a population of approximately 7.3 million and over 800 spoken languages, PNG faces many internal challenges, mostly characterized by weak public service and gender [...]

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SEATTLE — Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a country in the southwestern Pacific that is known for its wide range of biological diversity, active volcanoes and thriving coral reefs. However, with a population of approximately 7.3 million and over 800 spoken languages, PNG faces many internal challenges, mostly characterized by weak public service and gender inequality as well as environmental disasters and lack of infrastructure.

PNG’s economic partner and neighbor, Australia, has been dedicated to helping PNG in its quest for a more stable economic and societal structure. In fact, for the 2017-2018 period, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is investing an estimated $546.3 million into the country’s infrastructure and strategic planning to lead to more successful humanitarian aid to Papua New Guinea. In their Official Development Assistance (ODA) plan, DFAT laid out three main objectives:

Promoting effective governance

One of Papua New Guinea’s main struggles is developing a stable rule of law. DFAT believes that this would not only enhance PNG’s economic growth, but it would also reduce poverty rates by strengthening the effectiveness of the public sector.

Together, the two countries drafted the Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct, a plan that was first introduced in 2014. The hope is that it “will build a new generation of leaders, both men and women, giving them ethical, practical and intellectual framework to lead Papua New Guinea into the future.”

Additionally, stemming from the Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct, the two nations began developing the National Public Service Gender Equity and Social Inclusion Policy in 2012, which was launched to create guidelines and a framework to offer a more inclusive workplace for all citizens of PNG. This policy targets those living with disabilities, HIV/AIDS and those who face discrimination based on sex, gender or other personal attributes.

 

While the policy is expected to be in full effect in 2050, the country has already begun to see positive change in the workplace in terms of more companies offering equal access to opportunities.

By developing a stable rule of law through providing leadership instruction and a more inclusive workspace, the hope is that the country will see more success in terms of humanitarian aid to Papua New Guinea.

Enabling economic growth

The next objective of Australia’s ODA plan is to help Papua New Guinea develop a more expansive economy that promotes a healthy workforce. One of the two major steps Australia is taking towards improving PNG’s economy is by investing up to $400 million into PNG’s Transport Sector Support Program.

So far, over 70 percent of Australia’s spending in Papua New Guinea’s transit sector has been directed towards rebuilding and resurfacing the country’s primary roads. This is a major factor in allowing citizens to travel to work without road delays or closures and ensuring safety on commonly used routes. Already, this investment has supported about 50 percent of the country’s road network in 12 provinces.

The next major improvement within the plan for economic growth is an additional $100 million investment that is geared towards the PNG-Australia Incentive Fund, which is a fund that “supports high performing organizations to expand their operations in order to improve service delivery capacity and promote economic growth.” This incorporates church and research organizations, as well as education and health initiatives, and the money will be mainly dedicated to acquiring better IT management to ensure that all business and services are done efficiently.

The hope is that by 2019, both the Transport Sector Support Program and the PNG-Australia Incentive Fund will not only improve Papua New Guinea’s economic standing but also lead to more successful humanitarian aid to PNG by creating safer roads for people to use in their daily lives.

Enhancing human development

Although PNG’s health sector has improved over the past several decades, their health systems and services still face challenges in terms of providing quality access and education for all citizens, regardless of economic standing or geographical location.

Since 2012, Australia has invested $609.1 million, and many of these funds have been allocated towards providing better quality care for women and children, which is one of the most pressing concerns within the realm of extending humanitarian aid to Papua New Guinea.

For example, the Maternal and Child Health Initiative had graduated 152 midwives by the end of 2012 and 451 by the end of 2015, with all the graduates having learned standard midwifery clinical practice. The program proved to have positive effects, as at the end of 2010, the maternal mortality rate per 100,000 live births was 238, and at the end of 2015, the maternal mortality rate per 100,000 live births was 215.

Australia has provided humanitarian aid to Papua New Guinea that has been a key factor in the nation’s quest for peace, stability and prosperity. The hope is that in the coming years, the programs enacted through the Australia-PNG partnership will help PNG reach new, greater heights in terms of citizen health and happiness.

– Alexandra Dennis

Photo: Flickr

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The Astonishing Growth of Chinese Investment in Africa http://www.borgenmagazine.com/growth-chinese-investment-in-africa/ Mon, 22 Jan 2018 09:30:41 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=123976 SEATTLE — Chinese investment in Africa began in the early 1960s. While the United States and the Soviet Union vied for influence over the globe, including Africa, the Chinese government saw an opportunity to compete with the two dominant world powers, offering a third option to African countries who sought aid after gaining independence. While [...]

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SEATTLE — Chinese investment in Africa began in the early 1960s. While the United States and the Soviet Union vied for influence over the globe, including Africa, the Chinese government saw an opportunity to compete with the two dominant world powers, offering a third option to African countries who sought aid after gaining independence.

While the Chinese government has always sought to aid its partners in Africa, much of the aid comes in the form of investments, often as loans to the countries’ governments or business aid. When Chinese governments make deals with a nation’s government to mine or build in a country, in return Chinese companies employ and train the people of the country, both in skilled and unskilled positions.

This Chinese investment in Africa is viewed as both a blessing and a curse. Some say it is great that new money is being pumped into the African economy, new roads are being built and there are more jobs, but others see it as a form of neo-colonialism.

It cannot be denied that Chinese companies and in turn the government are concerned with the Chinese economy first. Chinese investment in Africa is based on the fact that China cannot meet all of its resource needs domestically. Energy is a major concern. In 2004, the Chinese bank Eximbank began to loan money to the Angolan government, backed by their oil reserves. In 2005, the Chinese oil company Sinopec began to acquire drilling rights for specific areas controlled by Eximbank in Angola.

As early as 2016, Angola began to see the pitfalls of an undiversified oil-based economy. The Angolan government struck similar deals with Western companies and Chinese companies. As the price of oil dropped, companies needed to extract more oil to continue loan repayment, leaving Angola vulnerable to these companies and governments. Much of Angola’s oil is used for debt repayment, so it was unable to extract as much oil for itself. Earlier that year, when China and Angola reached a new prefinancing deal, estimated to be worth $5 billion, Angola was left with little revenue of its own.

A similar deal was struck between the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Chinese government in 2008. The Chinese government would give the DRC $3 billion for mining and $3 billion for infrastructure development, to be used to build roads, hospitals, schools and dams. In exchange, the Chinese mining company Sicomines would be given access to DRC’s copper and cobalt reserves. Cobalt is an important mineral in the manufacturing of batteries and the DRC is in control of half of the world’s cobalt reserves. Unfortunately, from 2008 to 2015, less than half of the money earmarked for infrastructure improvement was spent on improvement projects. This is due to the high level of corruption in the Congolese government.

According to Amy Jadesimi, the managing director of Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base, a private company involved in foreign investment in Africa, China is improving its ability to work with local companies and governments under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s corruption crackdown, alongside select African nations’ similar crackdowns. She claims that this helps Chinese investment in Africa on two levels.

The first is that the money that China lends to nations in return for their natural resources will be used wisely, and not just to line the pockets of corrupt officials, bureaucrats and business owners. This helps the Chinese option look more attractive to other African nations that have yet to commit to large trade deals with China. Less corruption will also improve investment returns in both China and in Africa.

As population growth slows in the West, by 2050, 25 percent of the world’s population will live in Africa and the majority will be under the age of 30. By furthering closer cooperation between African governments and China, leading to an increase in effective Chinese investment in Africa, many opportunities will await these future generations.

– Nick DeMarco

Photo: Flickr

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Development Projects in Kyrgyzstan Focused on Energy http://www.borgenmagazine.com/development-projects-in-kyrgyzstan/ Sun, 21 Jan 2018 15:30:37 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=123934 SEATTLE — Kyrgyzstan, formally the Kyrgyz Republic, became independent in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. As a newly independent state, the landlocked Central Asian country struggles with issues of widespread poverty, cultural divisions and weak infrastructure. These are five development projects in Kyrgyzstan that seek to increase safety, productivity and quality of life [...]

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SEATTLE — Kyrgyzstan, formally the Kyrgyz Republic, became independent in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. As a newly independent state, the landlocked Central Asian country struggles with issues of widespread poverty, cultural divisions and weak infrastructure. These are five development projects in Kyrgyzstan that seek to increase safety, productivity and quality of life in the country.

Sustainable Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Development Project

The now $58.5 million project recently received additional funding in 2017 and should have positive effects for an additional 100,000 people in Kyrgyzstan. The project will improve or replace the water supply infrastructure of participating villages as well as revamp sanitation facilities in clinics and elementary schools.

Project implementers not only rely on infrastructure changes to spark improvements in sanitation, but also education programs in universities as well as training programs for sanitation facility constructors and designers. Additionally, some households will be eligible for incentive grants that will be provided to families whose sanitation facilities meet an established hygienic standard.

The project was implemented in 2017 and will continue to assist people in remote areas of Kyrgyzstan until 2025.

Electricity Supply Accountability and Reliability Improvement Project

Approved in July 2014, the Electricity Supply Accountability and Reliability Improvement Project aims to enhance the presence and performance of the electricity supply in select project areas of Kyrgyzstan.

According to Senior Energy Specialist Ani Balabanyan, the electric supply will not hold up for long in its current state. In fact, the poor condition of the power sector infrastructure could lead to severe power shortages without the help of significant development projects in Kyrgyzstan in the next few years.

However, the $25.47 million project could achieve fewer instances of electricity loss and less customer dissatisfaction by 2019 through three project components. The first component involves improving infrastructure throughout the country by allocating more resources to the particularly structureless areas of Kyrgyzstan. Without proper infrastructure, an electricity supply cannot be supported. The second component aims to enhance the quality of services and improve customer satisfaction. The third component involves institutional changes that will improve customer support and business processes through changes such as implementing a 24/7 call center.

Urban Development Project

The Urban Development Project aims to improve municipal services, energy efficiency and seismic resilience of the Kyrgyzstan infrastructure by 2020 through improving solid waste collection and creating energy-efficient alternatives for city lighting and operations. Project implementers believe that through improved municipal practices and urban planning, the issues of poverty in the cities of Kyrgyzstan can be addressed.

According to Kremena Ionkova, the World Bank’s Senior Urban Development Specialist, the Urban Development Project should benefit 59,000 Kyrgyzstan citizens. The project could increase safety through infrastructure changes by increasing the availability of heating in schools and improving the lighting in public spaces. The World Bank aims to implement the project in particularly highly populated and low-income areas.

Heat Supply and Development Project

The objective of the 2017 Heat Supply Improvement Project for Kyrgyzstan is to improve the efficiency and quality of the District Heating system in Bishkeky, Kyrgyzstan in selected project areas by the closing date in 2023. The project goal is to improve access to adequate heating throughout Kyrgyzstan, especially in the brutally cold winter months.

For a portion of the 83 percent of residents that are not connected to the district heating system, the project implementers will introduce clean heating stoves to replace the outdated and inefficient fuel-fired heating stoves that are currently owned by 14,000 houses. While many houses that use these stoves are low-income, the average user of fuel-fired heating spends 45 percent more money for fuel.

Lastly, the project will focus on introducing energy-efficient alternatives and solutions for public buildings that utilize the most heat.

Kyrgyzstan Integrated Dairy Productivity Improvement Project

This is the most unique of the development projects in Kyrgyzstan. With a modest budget of $5 million, the Integrated Dairy Productivity Improvement Project aims to increase dairy animal productivity and milk quality on farms in the Issyk-Kul region.

The project will increase the production and quality of dairy products. Additionally, the project should increase the possibility of trade between Kyrgyzstan and other countries. The increased production, quality and trading will mean more jobs for people in agriculture as well as increased incomes.

The project should prompt positive changes for 12,000 household farms in the country. Given that agriculture makes up 15 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP, this number should continue to increase, as well as making small improvements to agriculture during implementation.

The diversity of these five development projects in Kyrgyzstan shows that there are numerous ways to aid a country’s development. Hopefully in 2018, these projects will show progress toward their end objectives.

– Danielle Poindexter

Photo: Flickr

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Examples of Child Soldiers Escaping Their Captors http://www.borgenmagazine.com/examples-of-child-soldiers-escaping-their-captors/ Sun, 21 Jan 2018 15:30:00 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=123924 SEATTLE — On March 5, 2012, Kony2012, a short documentary filmed and produced by Invisible Children, was released. Its purpose was to get Joseph Kony, Ugandan guerrilla leader and head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), captured and arrested before the end of 2012. The release of this film and the support of many organizations [...]

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SEATTLE — On March 5, 2012, Kony2012, a short documentary filmed and produced by Invisible Children, was released. Its purpose was to get Joseph Kony, Ugandan guerrilla leader and head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), captured and arrested before the end of 2012. The release of this film and the support of many organizations have helped to aid and bring awareness to many of the examples of child soldiers escaping their captors.

For the past 27 years, Joseph Kony has been known as the self-appointed leader of the LRA. He has kidnapped over 30,000 children from their homes to strengthen his army, forcing the boys to become child soldiers and the girls to become sex slaves.

Invisible Children, among many other organizations, has worked to create and establish campaigns that motivate child soldiers to peacefully surrender. With every child they return home, Invisible Children has been able to slowly reduce violence, reunite families and bring communities closer to peace. The organization also highlights the many examples of child soldiers escaping their captors and shares the stories of these triumphs.

Edward’s Story

At the age of 13, Edward was abducted from his village in Uganda by rebels in the Lord’s Resistance Army. He recollected how those that were abducted that night were forced to kill the other children who tried to evade capture.

By the age of 16, Edward had earned the rank of sergeant. He learned quickly that the best way to stay alive was to keep his head down and do as he was told.

In 2006, Kony encouraged his top leaders to meet with their families during a round of peace talks. When Edward met with his mother and sister, they pleaded with him to return home, but he refused, saying that it would violate army codes. It was when he was leaving that he was able to whisper to his sister that he would return home one day.

The final straw came for Edward when Kony accused one of his closest advisors of sleeping with one of his reserved women. He ordered Edward and others to kill their own commander and display the body as a warning sign. That was the night Edward escaped.

Fourteen years had passed since Edward had last been to his village. With the help of World Vision, Edward became one of the many examples of child soldiers escaping their captors.

After prayers and songs underneath the shade of a neem tree, each villager lined up before Edward and sprinkled him with water from the branch of a calabash tree – signifying the community washing away his past and welcoming him home.

Opondo’s Story

On June 21, 1998, 10-year-old Opondo was kidnapped from Lamwolode, Uganda by the LRA rebels. Like every other captive, he was forced to kill innocent people and was brainwashed into believing that escape was inevitable.

After 15 years of continuous killing had passed, Opondo overheard a former LRA member call out to him by name on a UBC shortwave radio, urging Opondo to safely surrender and reassured him that no harm would be done to him if he did.

A few months later, a group of hunters ran into Opondo and the rest of the LRA members. They fled before any violence erupted. Later that day, a note was found from the LRA group indicating that they wanted to escape. Invisible Children heard about the letter and took action, attempting to rescue Opondo and the group by dropping over 20,000 “come home” fliers over Garamba National Park, where the group was suspected to be hiding.

On July 31, 2013, Major Odano, the leader of LRA groups in Garamba National Park, fought with a group of local hunters and was killed as a result. Upon hearing the news of his commander’s death, Opondo realized that he could finally use this opportunity to escape.

On August 21, 2013, Opondo surrendered to U.N. peacekeepers, holding both the flier that was released by Invisible Children and his shortwave radio in his hands. For the first time in 15 years, Opondo became free from the LRA.

Norman’s Story

Norman was 12 when he was forcefully recruited by Joseph Kony and his army. He was brutally beaten in front of his family and whisked away in the middle of the night, but later became one of the examples of child soldiers escaping their captors.

Two months into his abduction, Norman was forced to kill an LRA veteran who had attempted to escape. That was his first of many kills.

The more he killed, the more violent Norman grew and each kill was celebrated. He received full blessing ceremonies and was promoted in ranks from munitions training to special artillery training. Every time he killed, Norman noticed that he was slowly losing himself and becoming more immersed in the life of an LRA rebel.

During Norman’s time with the LRA, the worst violence he experienced occurred during the Kitgum massacres in Uganda. The rebels moved through the villages of the region, slaughtering all the villagers.

This was the opportunity to escape that Norman had been waiting for. He took his chance and surrendered himself to the Ugandan soldiers, who then transported him to a treatment center in Gulu, Uganda. It took Norman years of therapy in order for him to rebuild his life. Today, Norman is a happily married father of two.

The most effective solutions to violence and exploitation experienced by these examples of child soldiers escaping their captors must be crafted by a collaborative society, with those most vulnerable to the injustices at the center.

– Zainab Adebayo

Photo: Flickr

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Battle of Mosul: Why Aid, Restoration and Resettlement Are Important http://www.borgenmagazine.com/battle-of-mosul/ Sun, 21 Jan 2018 09:30:20 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=123884 SEATTLE — A key city in Iraq with a population of 2.5 million, Mosul has been the epicenter of the combat against the Islamic State since it was captured in 2014. Since the beginning of the offensive in October 2016, Mosul has become the battleground for key stakeholder groups in the disputed region, including Shia [...]

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SEATTLE — A key city in Iraq with a population of 2.5 million, Mosul has been the epicenter of the combat against the Islamic State since it was captured in 2014. Since the beginning of the offensive in October 2016, Mosul has become the battleground for key stakeholder groups in the disputed region, including Shia militias, Kurdish fighters, Sunni-Arab tribesman and U.S. and Russian-sponsored coalition forces.

Major gains were made by coalition forces, with IS soldiers moving to the fringes of the Old City area over the past year. Unfortunately, throughout the course of the attacks, significant damage was done to Mosul’s infrastructure and public facilities, particularly the bridge across the Tigris River connecting the east of the city to the west, buildings, industries and key archaeological sites.

During the course of the battle of Mosul, aid convoys affiliated with paramilitary troops made routine deliveries of necessities including food, water and blankets from Shiite-populated areas of southern Iraq.

The Mosul strike has predominantly been a full-scale urban battle. As a result, it has affected a large proportion of civilians in the city. Over the course of the nine-month defense, civilian casualties have been estimated to range between 9,000 and 11,000. However, many are still unaccounted for and are assumed to be dead due to injuries sustained from falling rubble.

According to an estimate by the International Organization of Migration, over 800,000 individuals have been forced to flee the city due to human rights violations. Since 2014, a further three million have been displaced and are in need of food and water. Furthermore, the city’s government and business sector are in a beleaguered state, as nearly 20,000 buildings have been destroyed in the aftermath of the battle of Mosul.

The restoration of the city proves to be an arduous challenge for authorities, as 40,000 homes need to be rebuilt. U.N. experts also highlight that reparation costs could reach over $700 million. Corruption also remains a pressing issue in the provision of aid and is quite rampant. Moreover, a predicted $100 billion is required to address the short and long-term impacts of the battle of Mosul.

Seeing as the need remains dire, there is an immediate emergency appeal for humanitarian aid. Up until now, the United States has provided over $1.4 billion in humanitarian assistance to address the immediate needs of the affected civilians. The international community has provided funding of over $400 million to improve the conditions of water, electricity and other basic amenities.

Despite the obvious limitations in funding, the United Nations World Food Programme is assisting citizens still trapped in the interior of the country. Additionally, a majority of the rebuilding initiative is being undertaken with the financial savings of Mosul’s citizenry, owing to the lack of funding.

Psychological trauma also remains a very widespread concern in the aftermath of the battle of Mosul, especially for children. UNICEF is taking on an active role in mitigating the impacts the battle of Mosul still has on young children.

Resettlement and restoration are yielding great progress in specific areas in Mosul. According to a report in July by the New York Times, crucial infrastructures in the city’s east side, such as schools and hospitals, are reopening and civilians are steadily beginning to return. Moreover, according to a report released on April 18, 2017, the Shabak minority civilians are beginning to return to their home communities.

To ensure the steady recovery of the city, the joint presence of United States and Iraqi forces is expected in the short run, though a long-term military presence still remains only tentative.

Addressing the immediate concerns of Mosul can help build the foundation for a long-term settlement to the problem, ranging from key concerns like overcoming food insecurity to improving food production and agriculture. As IS influence on the region begins to grow smaller, effective solutions concerning humanitarian aid, restoration and employment can be implemented in the near future.

– Shivani Ekkanath

Photo: Flickr

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Varied Groups Funding Development Projects in Micronesia http://www.borgenmagazine.com/development-projects-in-micronesia/ Sun, 21 Jan 2018 09:30:03 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=123920 SEATTLE — As a country comprised of over 600 small islands, the Federated States of Micronesia provides an incredibly unique landscape and represents a diverse population. Around 105,000 people inhabit these islands, and about 77 percent live rurally. Micronesian communities have a heavy reliance on fishing and agricultural endeavors to sustain their economy and deal with the [...]

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SEATTLE — As a country comprised of over 600 small islands, the Federated States of Micronesia provides an incredibly unique landscape and represents a diverse population. Around 105,000 people inhabit these islands, and about 77 percent live rurally. Micronesian communities have a heavy reliance on fishing and agricultural endeavors to sustain their economy and deal with the ever-present danger of natural disasters which could threaten their entire economic structure. Thus, there is a constant need for development projects in Micronesia that will stabilize the climate and increase economic profits.

Among many groups invested in development projects in Micronesia are the Marine and Environmental Institute of Pohnpei, The World Bank Group’s Adaptation Fund, The Micronesia Conservation Trust, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Peace Corps. Each of these organizations focuses on a different area of Micronesian agricultural, social and economic struggles, and each has had major success implementing their ideas in Micronesia.

The Marine and Environmental Institute of Pohnpei (MERIP) is one of the leading marine conservation programs in Micronesia. They have a laboratory which consists of 30 lab spaces and classrooms, boats and other diving equipment needed to conduct marine research and an on-campus dormitory for students and staff who are doing intensive research. The MERIP program aims to “develop low-impact aquaculture as a means of income generation for communities who sponsor and support marine protected areas,” according to their website. With their extensive research in sponge, clam and marine-invertebrate farming, MERIP’s goal of creating a sustainable living culture for marine farmers while still protecting rare and endangered marine species has helped encourage a more healthy and sustainable living environment for Micronesians.

Another development project in Micronesia is through the World Bank Group’s Adaptation Fund. According to their website, the fund is an accessible grant of $9 million in support of environmental research and the implementation of climate-change-resilient infrastructure and agriculture in Micronesia. With a largely rural community, access to clean drinking water is one of the main concerns of the Adaptation Fund, and with water levels changing and the ever-fluid solubility of ocean water, water shortages are a serious concern for many communities spread across the 600 islands. The Adaptation Fund also aims to build hurricane and natural disaster-resistant infrastructure. Not only do they help through funding for labor and resources, but they also work to produce sound economic policies that favor climate resilience.

The Micronesia Conservation Trust is another development project in Micronesia that is making significant headway in the area. The Micronesia Conservation Trust stands out among other development movements because not only is it based on Micronesian policy and not an outside organization, but it also focuses on 1strengthening a community of NGOs as opposed to working independently. Currently, the Micronesia Conservation Trust is working to expand the current fishery economy in Micronesia and to collaborate with other local farmers to prevent over-farming in the region. The Micronesia Conservation Trust is one development project in Micronesia that is not only reaching out to the government and large companies, but also to tribal, traditional and local leaders to strengthen a community.

As one of the largest benefactors of overseas agricultural projects, the United States Department of Agriculture ranks high on the list of development and outreach programs focused on Micronesia. However, while other programs focus on agricultural or environmental issues, the Department of Agriculture works through the U.S. embassy in Micronesia to implement the Single Family Housing Program and business programs, among others. The Single Family Housing Program is an incredibly vital development project in Micronesia, because many households lack the resources and funds to renovate their homes and make them safer to live in. Similarly, the business programs in Micronesia offer funding for small-business owners to preserve the quality of jobs and implement cleaner working environments. While these are not the only USDA-funded projects in the area, they stand out from others because of their community-minded focuses.

The fifth major development project in Micronesia is the Peace Corps’ efforts in the region, specifically in the category of education. While there are many Peace Corps projects in the region, the Let Girls Learn program is one of the most influential education and women’s rights development projects in Micronesia. The Let Girls Learn program gives Micronesian girls the opportunity to attend summer camps where they learn about health education, STIs, HIV/AIDS and other gender-related issues. This is just one step of many in making Micronesia a more gender-inclusive and safer environment.

These development projects in Micronesia are not only high-grossing and well-funded, but they are also versatile. Focusing on everything from climate change to women’s issues, these projects help Micronesians in almost every facet of daily life.

– Molly Atchison

Photo: Flickr

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Improving Infrastructure in Grenada http://www.borgenmagazine.com/infrastructure-in-grenada/ Sat, 20 Jan 2018 15:30:52 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=123837 SEATTLE — Though it has maintained its status as a large tourist attraction, Grenada is in need of improved roads, buildings and new power supply methods. Improving infrastructure in Grenada is especially important for encouraging long-term economic growth, along with providing jobs for residents living in some of the country’s most rural and deprived areas. [...]

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SEATTLE — Though it has maintained its status as a large tourist attraction, Grenada is in need of improved roads, buildings and new power supply methods. Improving infrastructure in Grenada is especially important for encouraging long-term economic growth, along with providing jobs for residents living in some of the country’s most rural and deprived areas. Projects have been put in place to improve infrastructure in Grenada and, if successful, could provide more business opportunities for the country’s people.

By November 2015, Grenada’s government had made significant progress in improving infrastructure for the country’s schools. As a result, three of Grenada’s schools won awards in the first annual Best School Infrastructure Competition. Judging criteria was based on maintenance of the buildings’ structures, furniture and general cleanliness of restrooms. St. Rose Mary Modern Secondary School placed first in the contest and received $8,000. “I think what we want to do is to inculcate the right attitude, to ensure that those of us who use the class understand the need to keep the environment clean,” said Elvis Morain, Grenada’s chief education officer.

Size will be another factor to consider in improving some of Grenada’s education facilities. In 2016, 217 children at J.W. Fletcher Catholic Secondary School struggled with inadequate space in their classrooms. The Grenada Education Enhancement Project (GEEP) plans to rehabilitate J.W. Fletcher and other schools throughout the country, constructing new blocks that will be able to provide more administrative spaces and classrooms for art, drawing and music. “Opportunity is a right that inspires educators to truly devote their lives to empowering our children,” states Keith Mitchell, Grenada’s prime minister.

Plans to improve electrical infrastructure in Grenada are being made as well. In June 2016, the Grenada electrical company Grenlec announced plans to complete the country’s largest solar project. Costing $6.4 million, the project will be implemented at 11 of Greenlec’s sites throughout Queen’s Park, Plains and Grand Anse. Greenlec’s chief engineer Clive Hosten says the project has potential to help Grenada achieve its goal of having 20 percent renewable energy by 2020, stabilize residents’ electric costs and helping the country move toward eco-friendly energy methods. Grenada’s parliament also approved an Electricity Supply Bill that seeks to reform and regulate the country’s electricity sector.

In January 2017, preparatory work began for improving the structurally unstable Lanse bridge in Gouyave. Chinese engineers and construction workers are helping to erect a stronger steel walkover that will connect the Grenadian city’s northern and southern territories. Though the new bridge is expected to cost more than one million Eastern Caribbean dollars to complete, it could open new employment opportunities for St. John and St. Mark residents.

Improving Grenada’s roads has become a priority as well. In October 2017, the Caribbean Development Bank approved a grant of £930,000 to Grenada’s government and prepared a feasibility study for the country’s western road corridor. Reconstruction is especially crucial since the road is used by people who work in the capital and farmers who transport products to port facilities in the south. “Rehabilitation of this road is expected to improve traffic flow, improve road safety, reduce vehicle operating costs and create a more climate resilient road infrastructure,” says Andrew Dipigny, the Caribbean Development Bank’s Head of Infrastructure Partnerships.

In December 2017, the China Development Bank began helping Grenada’s government draft a national development strategy. The multibillion-dollar plan calls for constructing deep water ports capable of accommodating cruise and cargo ships, a highway connecting Grenada’s major towns, an airport with modernized runways and other infrastructural projects. The China Development Bank also promised to provide any further assistance to the country’s economic and social development upon Grenada’s request.

Improving schools, power supply methods, roads and other facilities will continue to modernize infrastructure in Grenada. The China and Caribbean Development Banks, GEEP, Grenlec and other factors can continue to contribute to advancing Grenada’s infrastructure and creating new job opportunities for residents. When the projects will be completed is not yet known, but the work being done will continue to move Grenada’s infrastructural reform in a positive direction.

– Rhondjé Singh Tanwar

Photo: Flickr

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The Success of Humanitarian Aid to American Samoa http://www.borgenmagazine.com/the-success-of-humanitarian-aid-to-american-samoa/ Sat, 20 Jan 2018 09:30:37 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=123827 SEATTLE — American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States, which means it upholds the fundamental rights of the U.S. Constitution. It consists of a group of islands formed by volcanic activity and is located in the southern Pacific Ocean, halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. U.S. federal grants are an integral part [...]

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SEATTLE — American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States, which means it upholds the fundamental rights of the U.S. Constitution. It consists of a group of islands formed by volcanic activity and is located in the southern Pacific Ocean, halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand.

U.S. federal grants are an integral part of the economy, although tuna canning and tourism are also important contributors. The region is often beset by natural disasters such as hurricanes, storms and earthquakes, which disrupt the economy.

In September 2009, the territory was hit by a massive earthquake followed by a tsunami, causing extensive damage to its infrastructure. Humanitarian aid to American Samoa was provided by the American Red Cross in the form of food, water, flashlights and other basic needs which were distributed from their local warehouse.

Countries like Australia and New Zealand, although they have trade relations, do not provide aid to American Samoa as it is a U.S. territory. Humanitarian aid to American Samoa is mainly provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI). In September 2015, DOI earmarked $7 million to renovate the different sectors of infrastructure in the territory:

  • $1 million for the repair and maintenance of public schools.
  • $300,000 for improving the airport rescue and firefighting facility of the Department of Port Administration.
  • $2 million for the design and construction of ferry vessels.
  • $900,000 for equipment and supplies at the shipyard.
  • $500,000 for a fully equipped and operational health care center.
  • $1 million to build a two-story classroom building at Samoana High School.
  • $1 million to improve the water distribution system of the American Samoa Power Authority.
  • $1 million to rectify safety hazards at Pago Pago International Airport.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted $2.7 million in September 2016 for different environmental protection programs. These include:

  • Improving air and water quality for residents.
  • Identifying threats to coral and protecting the health of coral reefs.
  • Monitoring the safety of beaches so they are clean for swimming and fishing.
  • Developing and cleaning up sites contaminated by waste.
  • Protecting human health by implementing the Piggery Compliance Program.
  • Educating farmers on proper usage of pesticides.
  • Educating school children and communities through American Samoa’s Anti-Litter Program and the Keep American Samoa Beautiful campaign.

The 2009 tsunami destroyed the Satala power plant and its 23 MW diesel generation capacity. Louis Berger Power, along with the American Samoa Power Authority, has built a new, resilient power plant which, in addition to generating reliable and affordable energy, can withstand the effects of earthquakes, typhoons, flooding, high humidity and the corrosive salt on the island.

The goal of American Samoa is to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2040. The plant helps to reduce fuel costs and minimizes environmental impacts by employing low-emission generators and a separate oil-water separation system before ocean discharge. It also has a rooftop rainwater harvesting system.

The territory has promise in fish processing and tourism development and also attracts foreign investors with its minimum wage and tariff-free facility. But its remote location, limited transportation and climate pose a threat to its growth and development. Grants and subsidies received as humanitarian aid to American Samoa are not enough to remove that threat.

– Mahua Mitra

Photo: Flickr

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