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U.S.-built Ebola treatment centers in Liberia are nearly empty as outbreak fades – The Washington Post

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U.S.-built Ebola treatment centers in Liberia are nearly empty as outbreak fades – The Washington Post.

Near the hillside shelter where dozens of men and women died of Ebola, a row of green U.S. military tents sit atop a vast expanse of imported gravel. The generators hum; chlorinated water churns in brand-new containers; surveillance cameras send a live feed to a large-screen television.

There’s only one thing missing from this state-of-the-art Ebola treatment center: Ebola patients.

The U.S. military sent about 3,000 troops to West Africa to build centers like this one in recent months. They were intended as a crucial safeguard against an epidemic that flared in unpredictable, deadly waves. But as the outbreak fades in Liberia, it has become clear that the disease had already drastically subsided before the first American centers were completed. Several of the U.S.-built units haven’t seen a single patient infected with Ebola.

It now appears that the alarming epidemiological predictions that in large part prompted the U.S. aid effort here were far too bleak. Although future flare-ups of the disease are possible, the near-empty Ebola centers tell the story of an aggressive American military and civilian response that occurred too late to help the bulk of the more than 8,300 Liberians who became infected. Last week, even as international aid organizations built yet more Ebola centers, there was an average of less than one new case reported in Liberia per day…

Will the world’s hungry benefit from falling oil prices? – TRFN | Reuters

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Will the world’s hungry benefit from falling oil prices? – TRFN | Reuters.

ROME, Jan 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A slump in global oil prices has brought cheaper food to many of the world’s poorest, but from the slums of Manila to the fields of Malawi, the benefits are not universal.

Globally, 805 million people still face chronic hunger, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. While the poorest in cities may see a reduction in food bills, those in rural areas, not integrated into world food markets, may not.

The price of oil dropped by half last year, the second-biggest annual decline ever, hitting a five-and-a half-year low. Oil prices have a knock-on effect on the price of food, which fell for a third straight year in 2014.

“For many poor people who spend a lot of their budget on food, this is good news,” said Shenggen Fan, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute. “There is a high correlation between oil and food prices.”…

ISS Africa | Africa in 2014: the good, the bad and the ugly

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ISS Africa | Africa in 2014: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Africa is not a country. What might have been an excellent year for some was a disaster for others. For protesters in Burkina Faso who have known only one ruler for the last 27 years, 2014 was a very good year. The peaceful overthrow of Blaise Compaoré at the end of October was a victory for democracy. Whether the strong positioning of military officials in the transitional government will undermine the democratic gains remains to be seen.

Compaoré’s ouster inspired those rejecting their own leaders’ bids to stay on beyond their legal term limits, like in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo or Burundi – and sent a clear warning to leaders in countries like Zimbabwe, Uganda and Angola. The African Union (AU), which should give itself some credit for ensuring that Compaoré was replaced by a civilian-led government in Burkina Faso, also had quite a good year.

AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma got the private sector to contribute to AU programmes, notably the AU Support Mission to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa. Following a fundraising meeting on 8 November, South African cellphone giant MTN came out tops with a sponsorship of $10 million for the fight against Ebola and Masiyiwa’s Econet donated $2,5 million…

Renewable Energy: The Untold Story of an African Revolution

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Renewable Energy: The Untold Story of an African Revolution.

“There is a revolution going on in the continent of Africa and the world is not noticing it. You can go to Egypt, Ethiopia Kenya, Namibia, and Mozambique. I think we will see renewable energy being the answer to Africa’s energy problems in the next fifteen years,” Steiner said in an interview with IPS.

Sharing the example of the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, Steiner told IPS that the decision was taken that “if UNEP is going to be centred with its offices in the African continent on the Equator, there can be reason why we are not using renewable energy. So we installed photovoltaic panels on our roof which we share with UN Habitat, 1200 people, and we produce 750,000 kilowatt hours of electricity every year, that is enough for the entire building to operate.”

He noted that although it will take UNEP between eight and 10 years to pay off the installation, UNEP will have over 13 years of electricity without paying monthly or annual power bills. “It is the best business proposition that a U.N. body has ever made in terms of paying for electricity for a building,” he said.

According to Steiner, the “revolution” is already happening in East Africa, especially in Kenya and Ethiopia which are both targeting renewable energy, especially geothermal energy.

“Kenya plans to triple its electricity generation up to about 6000 megawatts in the next five years. More than 90 percent of the planned power is to come from geothermal, solar and wind power,” he said…

Can women make the world more peaceful? | Global Development Professionals Network | Guardian Professional

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Can women make the world more peaceful? | Global Development Professionals Network | Guardian Professional.

Do women hold the key to a peaceful society? Much is known about the victimisation of women through rape, trafficking, and early marriages, but much is yet to be discovered about how women can be empowered in conflict settings to bridge the gap towards peace.

I recently conducted research analysing female peacemaking and found that women do hold a significant role in the peace process. However, this role is not always long-term, unless gender equality is institutionalised through quotas. A better understanding of how women can transform conflict situations, and how to create space for them to do so, will be vital for the UN and other concerned actors in the coming years.

Billions promised to Africa – here’s how it would be spent | Africa | Africa | Mail & Guardian

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Billions promised to Africa – here’s how it would be spent | Africa | Africa | Mail & Guardian.

“IT is summit season in Africa. The US-Africa Leaders Summit is the second major meeting this year, following the EU-Africa summit in March, and comes hot on the heels of similar summits with France, Japan and Arab nations last year.

Later this year India will hold its second triennial summit with African leaders, as Beijing’s flagship Forum on China-Africa Co-operation waits in the wings for next year.

These summits have recently been similar in that they are carefully wrapped in varying degrees of “co-operation” and “equal partnership” talk, but despite this the headlines are usually around the money and investment promised.

We take a look at the numbers announced so far: (Quoted exchange rates reflect the time the deal was announced.)

1: United States, ($33-billion), August 2014

President Barack Obama has become the first American leader to convene a summit of such magnitude with African heads of state, with the US-Africa summit themed around investment, security and rights issues.

On Tuesday, Obama announced $33-billion in commitments, with American companies planning $14-billion worth of investments in Africa, and his Power Africa drawing an additional $12-billion in commitments to go with the initial $7-billion it had attracted…”

Africa: Behind the smokescreen of charity – Counting the Cost – Al Jazeera English

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Africa: Behind the smokescreen of charity – Counting the Cost – Al Jazeera English.

Africa receives billions in aid from wealthy countries, but a new report suggests that notion is actually a smokescreen for politicians and corporations to plunder Africa’s vast resources.

Aid to Africa amounts to less than $30bn but it is losing $192bn a year and it still remains unclear how much there is in illicit money that is squirelled away in tax havens and money loans to other governments.

So, does aid make a difference to the poor in the region? And are the different nations taking more than they are giving?

Counting the Cost discusses this and more with Martin Drewry, the director of Health Poverty Action.

Watch each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 2230; Saturday: 0930; Sunday: 0330; Monday: 1630.  Click here  for more  Counting the Cost .

 

 

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