Archive for Mozambique
www.nytimes.com 10th April 2011
The global recession has had many an unintended consequence in our society. One way European governments are tightening their belts is by reducing subsidies on new technologies such as renewable energy, thereby making it more expensive for citizens to use. Coupled with the current negative attitude towards nuclear power following the awful Japanese tsunami of March last year, there is suddenly a gap in the energy market. And it seems we are falling back on fossil fuels as a result. Countries all over sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing billions of dollars of investment as energy giants look for the next lucrative oil or gas field to exploit. Mozambique, for example, has seen interest from the American company Exxon-Mobil, the British BG Group, and the Italian Eni. Potentially, the eastern African country has more gas reserves than the largest producer in Europe: Norway. Much of these resources will be diverted towards the energy hungry East, where China’s demand is forever increasing. The scramble for new resources good have benefits on a national scale. Energy companies are diversifying their sources for fossil fuels, and the introduction of the contentious ‘fracking’ of shale gas could allow countries like Poland escape their reliance on Russia for gas. However, environmentally, this renewed boom of fossil fuel exploration can only have a detrimental effect.
www.telegraph.co.uk 9th November 2010
Old land-mines have been a particularly problem in countries such as Mozambique,which saw long periods of civil war in the latter stages of the 20th century. The hidden explosives acted as a constant reminder of the past and hinder development by effectively sealing off large parts of land. However, a Dutch non-governmental organisation called APOPO may have found a solution. They have trained rats to not only sniff out land-mines, but also tuberculosis. The rodent’s acute sense of smell can easily detect the TNT within the mines. Giant African Pouched rats are trained from the age of 4 weeks old to give off a click sound to signal a food reward, usually banana, whenever they make a correct detection. Two human deminers can take a whole day to clear a 200 square-metre minefield but with the help of the rats they can do the same area in two hours. “Detection is the most difficult, dangerous and expensive part of mine action. Since rats are much easier to train than dogs, rats in this environment are much more appropriate,” said Bart Weetjens, the founder of APOPO. “They are very effective. We have very high success rates. So far they have helped re-open almost two million square metres of land”. So far the mine-detecting rats are being used mostly in Mozambique but others have been trained to work in hospitals in Tanzania. By sniffing out tuberculosis in laboratory sputum samples, they provide a second-line of screening for doctors in an environment where lab testing only has 60 percent accuracy. APOPO have now set up an adopt-a-rat scheme to help raise funds for the successful project.
Sources: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news 3rd September 2010
The UN has called together a special meeting to discuss the global rise in food prices. The meeting will take place on the 24th September in Rome and has been called in response to Russia’s decision to continue a ban on grain exports. The ban, originally intended to run from the 15th August to the 31st December, was implemented as a result of the severe droughts experienced by Russia this summer. Devastating wild-fires added to the loss of crops. Russia is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, barley, and rye but with crops believed to be as low as 60 million tonnes (Russia’s domestic consumption alone is 80 millions tonnes) it is unlikely any crops will be exported until the next harvest is reaped (according to Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin). The ban, along with other grain shortages across the world, has caused wheat prices to rise 50% since July. Riots have been recorded in Mozambique with 7 reported to have been killed.
As global temperatures rise and weather conditions grow harsher, surely such events are going to become more frequent? With a growing world population more and more space is needed for farming cereals and yet crop production is among the lowest is have ever been. How else can society sustain a multiplying population. Will riots related to food-shortages become common place?