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How Bernice and her bamboo bikes are changing a small Ghanaian community
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GIRLS AND WOMEN

How Bernice and her bamboo bikes are changing a small Ghanaian community

18 August 2016 3:24PM UTC | By: ROBYN DETORO

 
   

Meet Bernice Dapaah – a young entrepreneur from Ghana who decided to build eco-friendly bikes to not only help the environment, but to improve the lives of those living in her community!

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 15.41.21

Bernice (on the left), the founder of the Ghana Bamboo Bike Initiative.

While studying for a degree in Business Administration, Bernice decided she wanted to take control of her future and build a business where she would be responsible for every element of the company. After graduating, Bernice’s journey to be her own boss took her back to her home town of Kumasi, where the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative was born.

The initiative uses mainly natural resources – such as bamboo – to create a more sustainable mode of transport for people to be able to get to school or work. And the great part? For every bamboo plant Bernice’s team uses, they plant 10 more to replace it!

The Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative is definitely a success story; reducing local pollution, helping people living in rural areas get to work, providing jobs locally, and, in turn, helping to reduce poverty.

Here are 3 reasons why we can get behind Bernice and her bikes:

1. They’re eco-friendly.

Locally sourced bamboo

Locally sourced bamboo. Photo Credit: UN.

The Ghanaian company is able to take advantage of locally sourced resources by using bamboo to build the entire frame of the bike. Conscious that they would be consuming large amounts of local bamboo, Bernice plants 10 new bamboo plants for every 1 plant that is cut down! By building the bikes out of bamboo instead of steel or aluminium, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced making the bikes friendly for everyone, everywhere.

2. They’re helping children get to school.

Bamboo1

School children receiving bamboo bikes! Photo credit: Ghana Bamboo Bike Initiative.

A product of education, Bernice is using her eco-friendly bamboo bikes to enable children to go to school. Some children in the community walk long distances to get to school, meaning they are often late, reducing their time to learn. Bernice donates bikes to them so they are able to focus on their education and maximise their time in the classroom.

3. They’re empowering women.

Local women working in the bike shop

Local women learning how to make the bamboo bike. Photo Credit: UN.

Not only is she enabling children to make learning a priority, Bernice is responsible for boosting the community’s local economy by employing locals to harvest and plant bamboo, build the bikes, and sell them to markets around the world. Oh, and did we mention that Bernice also made sure women were hired to be a part of her team of 35 employees so ‘they can do something on their own, rather than being at home looking after their husband’?

Two thumbs up, Ghana Bamboo Bikes, two thumbs up.

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ROBYN DETORO
18 August 2016 3:24PM UTC

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The simple delivery kit that’s saving mothers in Nigeria
2.6k
HEALTH

The simple delivery kit that’s saving mothers in Nigeria

30 November 2016 3:24PM UTC | By: GUEST BLOGGER

 
   

By Ayodeji Rotinwa

In June 2011, Adepeju Jaiyeoba heard that a sister of a close friend, Ramatu*, had passed away in hospital after an elective c-section. Ramatu arrived at the hospital on her due date and was informed that her consulting doctor was not available. Her surgery would instead be performed by a matron and house officer.

The baby was safely delivered, but Ramatu bled heavily afterwards. No one could work out why. Even after several blood transfusions, Ramatu eventually bled to death. It was only then it was discovered that the house officer had severed an artery during the birth.

Barely a month after Ramatu’s passing, another friend of Jaiyeoba’s died when heavily pregnant. She had had high blood pressure throughout the pregnancy, which had gone undetected until it killed her.

A woman’s chance of dying from pregnancy and childbirth is 1 in 13 in Nigeria. “It could have happened to anybody. I have four sisters; it could have been any one of them. I had to do something,” she says, so she founded the Brown Button Foundation and the Mothers Delivery Kit company.adepeju-jaiyeoba-photo-credit-path

The Foundation is a non-profit organization that seeks to improve women’s access to quality healthcare, train and improve the skills of those providing healthcare and champion the sexual and reproductive rights of women so they can access care for themselves. The Mother’s Delivery Kit is a product (and social business) designed to ensure safer births, instigate behavioural change in birth delivery procedures and create income-earning power for women selling and distributing the kits across 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states.

Jaiyeoba quickly established that it was mostly rural communities that needed most help. “In most of these communities, primary health centres aren’t headed by trained doctors or nurses because they don’t have enough. They are run by those who have interest in health care and are trained as community extension workers,” she says.

the-mothers-delivery-kitMothers in rural areas typically have to rely on traditional birth attendants, who solve complications with herbs and prayers and who in many instances will tell a bleeding woman post-birth to hold her legs close together to stop the flow instead of transferring her to a medical centre.

To kick off her work, Jaiyeoba contacted a senator in Sagamu, Ogun State to build the first maternity health centre for the community and provide traditional birth attendants with skilled training. Both goals were achieved.

She had begun to expand her work when she encountered a child who died as a result of his umbilical cord being severed with a rusty blade. Jaiyeoba decided to include sterile supplies in the Mother’s Delivery Kit. The kit is sold at a subsidized cost of N1, 700 (US$5.30) which most expectant mothers in fairly low-income communities can afford.

The kit includes basic supplies, like misoprostol – a drug that stops postpartum haemorrhage – and mucus extractors used to prevent newborns from asphyxiating. Incredibly, these basic supplies are often not readily available in even the most modern Nigerian hospitals. Many health centres and hospitals now rely on the kits to care for their patients. Dr. Alalade, a resident at a Kaduna hospital, orders hundreds of the kit at a time and describes it as a must-have in his facility

The supplies and training have proven to be the difference between life and death for mother and child. One community is already seeing the benefits of the training provided by the Brown Button Foundation. “We have saved an estimated 500 women as a result of training from the Foundation,” Shafaatu Abubakar, a community health worker, reports.

ms-jaiyeoba-at-work-talking-about-the-mothers-delivery-kitJaiyeoban has developed a tactic to connect with and lobby influential men who are respected within the communities she works with. Now, 30,000 of the Mothers Delivery Kits have been distributed across 30 different states and her trainings are practiced in 8. “When we mention our work in maternal health, it brings memories of people who have died: mothers, wives, sisters, it is not abstract to them. It would be hard for them to say no to anyone trying to improve maternal health indices in the area.”

She is well aware she is filling a gap in what should be a public health service and looks forward to the day when she can hand the responsibility over to the government. “The government needs to pay more attention to health care at the grassroots level,” Jaiyeoba says, “I hope we run out of business soon.”

*Not her real name

Sign our petition to join these members and many other Nigerians who are demanding more health investment from the Nigerian government.

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30 November 2016 3:24PM UTC

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What a Kenyan community can teach us about menstrual hygiene and human rights
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What a Kenyan community can teach us about menstrual hygiene and human rights

September 23 2016 | By: GUEST BLOGGER

 
   

By Ash Rogers, executive director, Lwala Community Alliance

The conversation surrounding women and girls’ is certainly changing.

2016 marks a real turning point — a year that ended the tampon tax in several cities across the United States, and saw an Olympian speak openly about her period. It is fitting that during the UN General Assembly, we reflect on menstruation in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals and its impact on a young girl’s development.

Let’s start with a story of a Kenyan girl, Grace*. She is 13 years old. Her father died of HIV and her mother struggles to maintain a household of five children. Grace is bright, but has less time to study than her brothers because of expectations that she help with chores.

Photo credit: Lwala Community Alliance

Photo credit: Lwala Community Alliance

One day, Grace stood up in her class to answer a question. Students around her began snickering and pointing. The teacher shouted at her to leave immediately. She looked down to realize, in horror, that she had blood on her uniform. She ran home, humiliated and concerned that she might be very ill. Later that day, she learned about her period for the first time — not from a parent or teacher, but from a classmate. This same friend pointed out that, since there aren’t latrines or water at school, the simplest option is to stay home while on her period. She also told Grace how some of the older girls would “play sex” with local taxi drivers to get money for sanitary pads.

Around the world, adolescence is a time of crisis and indignity for girls like Grace. In Kenya alone, nearly one million girls miss school because of menstruation, 25 percent of girls do not know that menstruation is connected to childbearing, and very few girls know that it is their human right to refuse transactional sex or that rape is a crime.

In rural Western Kenya, Lwala Community Alliance (Lwala) — in partnership with Johnson & Johnson, Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation, and Blood:Water Mission — has developed community-led solutions to the challenges faced by girls like Grace.

First, school management committees across 13 government primary schools created Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene plans, which made it possible to install latrines, water catchment tanks, and hand-washing stations — all of which are critical to helping girls manage their monthly cycles.

Photo credit: Lwala Community Alliance

Photo credit: Lwala Community Alliance

Education is also key, and as such, communities formed sexual and reproductive health committees that address rights issues, including child protection, gender inequity, transactional sex, and rape. Simultaneously, Lwala trained teacher-mentors to offer education on leadership and reproductive health to boys and girls.

Lwala spurred a spin-off social enterprise called New Visions, which produces uniforms and sanitary pads, and with Johnson & Johnson’s support, Lwala can now provide pads and uniforms for adolescent girls across 13 schools. A partnership with our friends at Afripads allowed Lwala to expand this program in 2016.

Through these initiatives, the ratio of girls graduating from primary school increased from 37 percent in 2009 to 44 percent in 2015. Communities themselves are ensuring that no girl drops out of school or becomes pregnant because they lack the tools to navigate adolescence.

girls-ed-photo

Photo credit: Lwala Community Alliance

Menstruation does indeed matter. It is a healthy, normal part of being a woman, and as such, all women and girls should access all of the interventions needed to manage their cycles and continue life normally. Lwala’s hope for the UN General Assembly is that issues surrounding menstrual hygiene are discussed openly, and that we see more focus on community-led, holistic solutions that keep women and girls safe and healthy.

Ash Rogers is the Executive Director of Lwala Community Alliance, a community-driven innovator in Western Kenya. Learn more here. Ash previously served at the Director of Operations for Segal Family Foundation.

Every girl counts.

130 million girls don’t have access to an education. So we’re asking the world to count them, one by one.

JOIN THE COUNT

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September 23 2016

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A participant displays a piece of cloth with colors of the rainbow as gay rights activists and their supporters march during a gay pride parade in New Delhi, India, Nov. 12, 2017.
AP
CITIZENSHIP

India's Top Court Will Reconsider Whether Gay Sex Is Criminal

"What is natural to one may not be natural to others," top court says.

JAN. 9, 2018

Brought to you by: Thomson Reuters Foundation

By Suchitra Mohanty and Roli Srivastava

MUMBAI, Jan 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - India's Supreme Court on Monday agreed to reconsider its 2013 decision that criminalises consensual sexual relations between same sex adults, a victory for equal rights campaigners.

The court said a larger group of judges will re-examine the constitutional validity of Section 377 - a colonial-era law that prohibits "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal" - widely interpreted to refer to homosexual sex.

Read More: India’s Supreme Court Rules Sexual Orientation Is a Protected Right

"What is natural to one may not be natural to others," the top court said on Monday. "A section of people or individuals who exercise their choice should never remain in a state of fear."

Lawyer Anand Grover, who appeared for five members of the LGBT community who had petitioned the court seeking a review of the ban, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation: "It is a big relief and a primary step taken by the Supreme Court to review its earlier order."

The petitioners had told the court they were living in constant fear of police action because of their sexual orientation.

"We are being cautiously optimistic about the development today. We have climbed mountains of hope in the past and come toppling down," said gay rights activist Harish Iyer and host of "Gaydio", India's first radio show on LGBT issues.

India's Supreme Court had in a surprise ruling in 2013 reinstated a ban on gay sex after a four-year period of decriminalisation that had helped bring homosexuality into the open in the socially conservative country.

India's LGBT community has argued the ban undermines fundamental rights as it fails to protect them. But earlier petitions to review the ban were overturned by the court.

Read More: India Gay Pride Parade Shows Hope for Country Where Being Gay Is Still a Crime

Although the law banning homosexuality is rarely enforced in India, it is used to intimidate, harass, blackmail and extort money from gay people, activists say.

There are no official figures on the number of cases and most go unreported as victims are too scared to report crimes to the police, fearing they will be punished too, activists say.

Gay sex is punishable by up to 10 years jail under the law.

"We want to emphasise that we are not asking for any special rights. We are asking for constitutional rights given to any citizen in the country," said Koninika Roy from the Humsafar Trust that works with the LGBT community.

(Writing by Roli Srivastava @Rolionaroll; Editing by Ros Russell. Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org)

 
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ENVIRONMENT

This 105-Year-Old Woman Has Planted Hundreds of Trees in India

She can see the forest for the trees.

saalumarada_thimmakka_india_trees.jpg__1264x568_q85_crop_subsampling-2.jpg
 Saalumarada Thimmakka International Foundation
 MARCH 23, 2017

Brought to you by: CHIME FOR CHANGE

When life doesn’t give you children, plant hundreds of trees and save the planet. At least that’s what Saalumarada Thimmakka, a poor woman living in an arid region of southern India, did after she was unable to conceive a child with her husband more than 70 years ago

Thimmakka, now 105-years-old, began her environmental crusade during World War II and has not showed many signs of slowing down. She’s responsible for single-handedly planting and tending to an estimated 300-400 Banyan trees — and her environmental activism has gone a long way toward sparking large-scale change in India. 

Take action: Let’s All Work Toward Safe and Sustainable Sanitation In India

According to the Saalumarada Thimmakka International Foundation, Thimmakka grew up in Gubbi, a small, rural area in southern India. Because her town did not have proper educational facilities, she began working as a coolie (an unskilled laborer) at age 10, and eventually married into another poor family.  

After 25 years of trying unsuccessfully to conceive a child with her husband, Sri Bikkala Chikkayya, Thimmakka found a different way to bring life into the world. She began to plant trees, hundreds of them, in rows that stretched on for about four kilometers.  

Despite the fact that an estimated 15% of couples worldwide are affected by infertility, according to the World Health Organization, many women who are unable to bear a child face discrimination and stigmas throughout their lives on account of a natural occurrence they are unable to influence. 

Luckily for Thimmakka, her husband was supportive of her desire to plant trees, and faithfully helped her in her endeavor until he passed away in 1991

india-woman-trees-award.jpgImage: Saalumarada Thimmakka International Foundation

Read more: Meet the Guy Cleaning Rivers and Reinventing What It Means to Be an Environmentalist in India

Though fame was not what she sought by planting trees, she became a bit of a legend in India and throughout the world, winning at least 50 awards for environmentalism and receiving international press coverage for her work. 

“As the trees she planted grew in height, her stature as well as a legend has grown,” Al Jazeera wrote in 2013

Thimmakka herself is no longer planting trees, but her protege and foster son Umesh B N, is now the president of the Saalumarada Thimmakka International Foundation, which was founded in 2014 in her honor. 

Along with focusing on preserving the environment, it serves as an educational resource for poor Indians, provides poverty-relief programs, and even aims to establish a maternity hospital in the region.

Thimmakka’s environmental activism falls in line with the direction the country of 1.25 billion people has headed in recent years. India has placed a renewed focus on environmentalism, formally signing on to the Paris Agreement in October of last year, and pledging that at least 40% of its energy will come from renewable sources by 2030. 

Read more: Fight Against Climate Change Is Now Law as Paris Agreement Is Ratified

The country is currently debating a proposal that could put $6 billion USD toward protecting and expanding the nation’s forests. Currently about 20% of the country’s land is covered by forests. 

And just yesterday, the country officially declared that the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers are “living human entities” in an effort to slow pollution of these major waterways. 

While Thimmakka is not quite as old as the Ganges, her environmental impact might live on just as long. 

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ENVIRONMENT

Belize Just Banned Oil Exploration in Its Waters

Now other countries need to follow its lead.

 JAN. 9, 2018

 

Although it’s tiny, Belize is home to the Western Hemisphere’s largest barrier reef.

That barrier reef — harboring hundreds of animal and plant species — is also one of the country’s main sources of revenue, supporting the country’s $200 million tourism industry and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, according to Quartz.

And now the government is making sure the reef stays protected in the years to come by putting a moratorium on all new oil exploration in its waters, EcoWatch reports.  

Take Action: Stand Up for the Arctic

 

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It’s the first time a developing country has made such a decision, Ecowatch notes, and it could encourage other countries around the world to take similar steps to protect the environment.

The decision is fundamentally economic in nature, Quartz writes, because the reef’s survival is key to tourism. In this way, the vote reinforces the growing body of evidence showing that protecting the environment is in the economic interest of countries and further debunks the idea that environmental regulation is bad for jobs.

Belize-Coral-Reef-Oil-Banned-Export.jpgImage: Suzanne Schroeter/Flickr

“Ending oil activities will encourage other countries to follow suit and take the urgent action that is needed to protect our planet’s oceans,” Chris Gee, a campaigner at the World Wildlife Fund told Quartz. “Like the Belize Barrier Reef, nearly half of natural World Heritage sites worldwide are threatened by industrial pressures.”

Read More: Norway Court Greenlights Arctic Drilling in Blow to Environmentalists

Belize’s decision doesn’t significantly affect the global development of oil. In fact, the country produces just 3,000 barrels a day, compared to the 8.9 million barrels produced daily by the US, which just announced it would open up its coastal waters to drilling under President Donald Trump.

Belize’s decision does show that public pressure can overwhelm industry interests, according to Quartz. The moratorium is the outcome of a grassroots campaign stretching back more than a decade, according to EcoWatch.  

Blue-Hole-Belize-Banned-Oil.jpgImage: Seann McAuliffe/Flickr

If Belize wants its reefs to survive in the long-term, however, other countries have to follow its lead.

In recent years, coral reefs around the world have been greatly endangered by bleaching events, which are caused by warm ocean temperatures. Hotter oceans, in turn, are caused by the accumulation of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, which are released by burning fossil fuels.

Read More: Trump to Open Up Large Swaths of US Coastline to Offshore Drilling

Stopping oil exploration in Belize’s waters isn’t going to stop the dominance of fossil fuels around the world.

But if enough people recognize that the survival of precious ecosystems is not a given fact, and that they face an increasingly uncertain future, then perhaps more moratoriums will be enacted.

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals, which call for the protection of ecosystems around the world. You can take action on this issue here.

 
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146

5 gender equality campaigns you need to get behind in 2018

9 January 2018 12:25PM UTC | By: ROBYN DETORO

 
   

We promised you that 2018 would be the year our gloves came off, and we’re not the only ones ready to fight — for women’s rights, that is.

Around the world, people are joining forces and raising their voices together to speak up for equality and speak out against misogyny, sexism, violence against women and human rights abuses.

If you think a world where women and men are equal sounds pretty cool, here are five campaigns working to make this a reality that you need to get behind:

He for She

 

This movement, initiated by UN Women, aims to engage boys and men because gender equality doesn’t discriminate — it affects both sexes. Since its launch, over 1.3 million (and counting!) actions advocating for a more gender equal world have been completed. Be part of the change here.

Women’s March

 

On January 21, 2017, millions of women and men across the globe marched together in an effort to generate transformative social change — and it worked. Why? Because the Women’s March wasn’t just a march, it was the spark that started a fire. Get involved with their 2018 activities here.

#EndFGM

 

Around the world, a grassroots, Africa-led movement is happening to end female genital mutilation (FGM) within a generation. With incredible organisations like The Girl Generation leading the charge, it’s clear that progress is possible. Learn more about how you can #EndFGM here.  

Times Up

 

A brand new movement created in the wake of #MeToo seeks to address the systemic inequalities and injustices women experience in the workplace around the world. Times Up will raise awareness about these experiences AND provide valuable subsidies towards legal support for individuals that bring legal action against perpetrators of sexual harassment or related retaliation in the workplace. To find out how you can get involved, check out their site.

Poverty is Sexist

 

We know sexism is global – and we know the fight against it should be too.

Our #PovertyIsSexist campaign aims to break down the barriers that keep women and girls in the world’s poorest countries from achieving their full potential.

If YOU agree that none of us are equal until all of us are equal, then join the movement today.

Tell world leaders: ACT NOW for 130 million girls out of school

Dear World Leaders, 130 million girls are out of school - this is a crisis and we need to act. Please fully finance the Global Partnership for Education as part of the solution so it can help millions of girls in the poorest countries get the education they deserve.

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HEALTH

How foreign aid helped make progress in fighting tropical diseases

April 20 2017 | By: SAMANTHA URBAN

 
   

Neglected tropical diseases, or NTDs, are parasitic and bacterial diseases that can cause severe pain and long-term disability. In 2015, more than 1.5 billion of the world’s poorest people needed treatment or care for NTDs. That’s more than HIV, TB, and malaria combined. They cause severe pain, long-term disability, and are the cause of death for more than 170,000 people per year.

In 2006, President George W. Bush launched an initiative to combat NTDs that was implemented by the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID. The program initially focused on five countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Uganda) but ultimately expanded to support 31 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

So… ten years later, can we say the program worked? Yes! Over the past decade, USAID and its partners have delivered more than 1.6 billion treatments to more than 743 million people! According to USAID, “the U.S. is charting a new course for people, families, and communities around the world, making it possible to imagine a future free from those diseases.”

For example, as a result of the support provided by USAID — which is less than 1% of the total U.S. budget — 140 million people now live in areas where they are no longer at risk of acquiring lymphatic filariasis, a painful and profoundly disfiguring parasitic infection transmitted by mosquitoes.

Here’s another example: Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of preventable blindness. Today, thanks to USAID-supported interventions, 65 million people live in areas where trachoma is no longer a public health problem! In fact, by 2020, 70% of USAID-supported countries are on track to stop treatment for both lymphatic filariasis and trachoma!

Preventing and controlling NTDs is crucial to ending extreme poverty in the next two decades. That’s yet another reason why protecting the U.S. foreign aid budget is so important. Aid works — and we shouldn’t allow the progress we’ve made to stall now. Call your elected official today and ask him or her to #DefendAid.

Aid works.

USAID and its partners have delivered more than 1.6 billion treatments to more than 743 million people with NTDs. Aid works. Call your elected official today and ask them to reject President Trump’s proposed cuts to foreign aid.

CALL NOW

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April 20 2017

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CULTURE

These women will bobsled for Nigeria in the 2018 Winter Olympics

December 6 2017 | By: GUEST BLOGGER

 
   

By Imani LaTortue, ONE Digital Intern

Imagine transitioning from running on a track in sunny Texas to maneuvering a bobsled in snowy Utah and Canada. That is exactly what sprinters Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere, and Akuoma Omeoga decided to do in order to make their mark in Olympic history.

No Nigerian has ever competed in a Winter Olympic event before. But that will all change as three Nigerian-American women have qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

In 2014, Seun Adigun yearned to return to the Olympic stage after representing Nigeria in the 100m hurdles at the London 2012 Olympic Games. In an interview with Great Day Houston, Adigun said that she decided to try bobsledding after interacting with fellow track-and-field athletes who had transitioned into the sport. Following a year of participating as a brakeman for the U.S. bobsled team, she was inspired to lead the charge in creating a new normal for the continent of Africa. She built her own bobsled out of wood and began to practice the sport in Texas.

From left to right: Pilot Seun Adigun, brakeman Ngozi Onwumere, and brakeman Akuoma Omeoga. (Photo: Business Wire)

From left to right: Pilot Seun Adigun, brakeman Ngozi Onwumere, and brakeman Akuoma Omeoga. (Photo: Business Wire)

Akuoma Omeoga was introduced to the sport through her college track-and-field coach, who had previously competed with the U.S. bobsled team. Seun Adigun was able to convince Omeoga to join her on the Nigerian team. Similarly, Ngozi Onwumere was a novice to the sport but was persuaded by her peers to participate. On the team, Adigun acts as the driver while Onwumere and Omeoga perform as breakmen.

It’s actually not uncommon for runners to take an interest in bobsledding. According to Medill News Service, the running mechanics necessary for pushing the back of the bobsled allow for sprinters to do well in the sport. And of course, many remember the track-to-sled story of the 1988 Jamaica’s men’s bobsledding team, which inspired the popular Disney film, Cool Runnings.

 

Fundraising was a key component to the women making it to the Winter Games. Adigun started a GoFundMe in 2016 to help raise money for a bobsled for practice and competition, tools for the sled, ice time, the cost of shipping the sled to different tracks, winter gear, athlete insurance, membership fees, and a host of other necessities. Fortunately, after the team completed their five qualifying races, they secured a sponsorship with Visa.

“We are proud to be part of a team that shares our mission and has connected us with the resources we needed to reach our goal, and hopefully empower others to do the same,” says Adigun.

This awesome story is a testament to the power of hard work and perseverance. Good luck to these amazing athletes!

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Music Network

€245,500 ANNOUNCED FOR MUSIC CAPITAL SCHEME 2017

09 January 2018

2017_MCS_Crumlin.jpg

 

Music Network today welcomed the announcement by Josepha Madigan TD, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, confirming funding of €245,500 for the Music Capital Scheme 2017.

The Music Capital Scheme, supported by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and managed by Music Network, comprises two distinct awards that provide funding for the purchase of musical instruments to both non-professional performing groups and to professional musicians.

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan TD said:

“The Music Capital Scheme is a wonderful initiative which has benefitted thousands of people since the scheme was set up in 2008. The Music Capital Scheme is a key music resource through which musical groups and talented individuals may be awarded funding towards the purchase of musical instruments. I am very pleased that my Department is once again in a position to support the scheme and I wish all of the musicians involved every success with their future musical endeavours”.

Commenting on the announcement, Music Network CEO Sharon Rollston said:

“This year’s announcement will add to the 301 awards granted to musicians and organisations under the scheme to date, supporting Music Network’s mission to make live music happen throughout Ireland. As well as individual musicians, among others the scheme supports youth bands, ensembles, orchestras, community initiatives and resource organisations working in a diverse range of genres. The instruments provided through the Music Capital Scheme continue to make a significant impact on the quality of, and access to, music making and live music performance throughout Ireland. We greatly appreciate the continued support of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in this respect.”

The Music Capital Scheme was established by The Arts Council, The IRMA Trust and Music Network in 2008 as an action-research initiative designed to provide support for the purchase of musical instruments. In response to the success of the initial pilot scheme, funding has been made available since 2011 by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The Music Capital Scheme has funded 301 musicians, groups and organisations, benefitting up to 31,000 people throughout Ireland since its inception in 2008.

The Music Capital Scheme will open for applications on Thursday 11th January 2018 with a deadline of 12 pm on Tuesday 20th February 2018. Further information is available at www.musicnetwork.ie.

For further details, please contact Music Network’s Programmes Administrator Sarah Cunningham at Tel 01 475 0224 / programmesadmin@musicnetwork.ie.

© 2018 Music Network Ltd. National Concert Hall Building, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2

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306
EDUCATION

Two trailblazing African teens fighting for girls’ education

December 14 2017 | By: SAMANTHA URBAN

ARE YOU WITH SAFI AND DIEYNABAH?

Send Safi and Dieynabah a message to let them know how inspiring they are. And tell world leaders it shouldn't be this hard for girls to get an education.
 
  

These two teens from Senegal are fighting for girls’ education!

“In the world today, if you don’t study, you will lose out. I want to study until I achieve something.” — Safi

Safi and Dieynabah, 18, are trailblazers. They have fought hard to stay in school and get a good education.

It hasn’t been easy. They were both under pressure to get married — but refused — and persuaded their parents to let them stay in school. That alone is a huge achievement, but it doesn’t stop there.

Because they are girls, every day they have to fetch water, prepare food, sweep the house and wash the dishes.  When they are finally free to go, it’s a two-hour walk to school, so most days they miss some classes.

Safi wants to be a teacher, and Dieynabah a doctor – jobs that give back to their community. They are role models for other girls, as well as the generation that could end extreme poverty across Africa.

“130 million girls don’t go to school — that really hurts me in my heart. I would give every girl an education, so that they have the chance to become a doctor or a teacher or a midwife.” — Dieynabah

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CULTURE

10 words President Trump could’ve used to describe Africa

January 12 2018 | By: SAMANTHA URBAN

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The Washington Post has reported that President Trump, in response to a bipartisan group of lawmakers discussing protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries, asked, “Why are we having all these people from s***hole countries come here?”

President Trump then suggested that the United States should instead bring in more people from countries such as Norway, whose prime minister he met with Wednesday, or Asian nations that White House officials say President Trump feels could help the United States economically.

Students in Livingstone, Zambia. (Photo credit: Jonx Pillemer)

Students in Livingstone, Zambia. (Photo credit: Jonx Pillemer)

Today, President Trump is denying those specific words, but acknowledges he may have used “tough” language. Even so, we at ONE take offense at using those words to describe any nation, particularly the African countries that we work with on a regular basis.

In fact, we’d use a completely different set of words to describe African countries:

BRILLIANT

1280x720-1024x576.jpeg

Professor Jane Catherine Ngila. (Photo source: mg.co.za)

Just look at these female scientists, named the top in their fields by the African Union. These smart African women are experts in technology, global health, water pollution, and more—their work helps people living in their own countries and beyond.

BREATHTAKING

Screen-Shot-2018-01-12-at-16.50.56.png

A photo of Durban, South Africa, featured in our 2015 blog post, “54 countries, 54 photos, 1 continent.” (Photo source: Instagram user awharvard)

As a continent, Africa is an incredibly diverse and beautiful place, from the heights of Kilimanjaro to the coasts of South Africa. Many African destinations regularly land on tourism publications’ list of top spots, which is why we made a list of our own. Check it out and start adding these gorgeous countries to your bucket list.

RESILIENT

Eva-Home-TilesTile-750-x-482px.jpg

Eva Tolage in Tanzania. (Photo credit: Sam Vox)

Tanzanian Eva Tolage, 17, spent years rallying her fellow students to campaign their government for a clean water source in their village. Her bravado and determination to make change happen in her community is just one example of the amazing activism that takes place every day in African countries.

ENTREPRENEURIAL

Bamboo1.jpg

Schoolchildren in Ghana with the bamboo bikes. (Photo credit: Ghana Bamboo Bike Initiative)

After getting a degree in Business Administration, Bernice — a young entrepreneur from Ghana — became her own boss when she started a bicycle business. Her eco-friendly bikes not only help the environment, but help improve the lives of those living in her community.

INNOVATIVE

googlegilrssocial.jpg

From left: Stacy Owino, Purity Achieng, Ivy Akinyi, Synthia Otieno and Macrine Atieno outiside a classroom in school. The five girls from Kenya will be representing Africa in the annual Technovation challenge. (Photo courtesy of Technovation)

Last year, these five young women from Kenya were selected to visit Google’s Nairobi offices after they developed an app to help girls at risk of female genital mutilation. In fact, Kenya is one of the most technologically advanced countries in Africa, known for its pioneering mobile money transfer apps.

Want more? We’d also describe African countries and their people as strong, brave, hopeful, kind, and determined. So the next time President Trump is looking to describe these complex and incredible countries, we hope he’ll pick a more accurate word.

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CULTURE

Why Connie Britton wore THIS sweater at the Golden Globes

January 7 2018 | By: MEAGAN BOND

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Why Connie Britton wore THIS sweater at the Golden Globes

 
  

The red carpet at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards was filled with celebrities dressed in black as a statement of solidarity with women and men who have faced sexual harassment. Connie Britton’s all-black ensemble included a sweater with “Poverty is Sexist” embroidered across the front. The sweater was made as part of a partnership with Lingua Franca.

 

Connie wore the sweater to bring awareness to ONE’s Poverty is Sexist campaign, which aims to put a stop to extreme poverty by breaking down the barriers holding girls and women back. The data shows that women and girls in developing countries are hit hardest by extreme poverty and helping them thrive is the most effective way to lift everyone out.

Connie has been a longtime champion of ONE and Poverty is Sexist. In March, she teamed up with Robin Wright to deliver ONE’s open letterdemanding action on the critical global crisis of girls education at the United Nations. She also took part in ONE’s #GirlsCount video petition alongside Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson of 2 Dope Queens, and previously starred in ONE’s PSA calling for action on the Ebola crisis.

 

 

On a night when so many amazing activists are sending an important message about equality, we were proud and grateful to see Connie make such a powerful statement. It’s critical that the conversation about gender inequality include the women who are hit hardest by it. None of us are equal until all of us are equal.

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Irish Government Launches Cultural Programme Across Britain for 2018

Éna Brennan (Photo: Riccardo Servini)

Irish Government Launches Cultural Programme Across Britain for 2018

GB18 programme to feature over 60 projects and performances.

Culture Ireland and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht have announced a programme of Irish cultural events taking place across Britain in 2018 under the banner GB18

GB18 will feature more than 60 projects, including concerts, performances and exhibitions, and will open with a showcase concert at London’s Barbican Centre on 5 March.

Imagining Ireland: 21st Century Song, produced by Bell X1’s Paul Noonan, and the National Concert Hall’s Gary Sheehan, will celebrate a new generation of independent artists and songwriters. Performing as part of the concert will be members of Crash Ensemble performing a new work by J Colleran, urban music duo Mango & Mathman, violinist/composer Éna Brennan and Loah – recently described in a recent Journal of Music review as ‘captivating’. The concert programme will also be performed at the National Concert Hall in Dublin on 3 February as part of the NCHPerspectives series.

The full GB18 programme has yet to be announced, but will also feature a performance of contemporary Irish choral music by Chamber Choir Ireland in Wales (31 July), Irish performances at the Celtic Connections festival in Scotland (18 January–4 February), and a run of Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh’s opera The Second Violinist at the Barbican Centre (6–8 September).  

For further details, visit www.cultureireland.ie.

Published on 8 January 2018

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Ensuring everyone has the right to read and learn
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TECHNOLOGY

Ensuring everyone has the right to read and learn

7 November 2016 3:47PM UTC | By: ROBYN DETORO

 
   

Literacy skills are one of the most powerful tools that enable people to lift themselves out of poverty. But today, nearly 17% of the world’s adult population is still not literate; two thirds of them women, making gender equality even harder to achieve.

margaret1Reading is one of the best ways to help students improve these skills, but for families around the world living on less than $1 a day, books are an unaffordable luxury.

To overcome this barrier, Worldreader devised a mobile app that gives anyone with a phone, tablet, or e-reader access to over 40,000 free book titles in over 43 different languages. With many African schools equipped with few or no books, the availability of digital books has been transformational.

margaret4For women like Margaret in Kenya, attending school was not an option so she missed out on learning even the most basic literacy skills. Unable to read or write, Margaret took a job as a cleaner in a local nursery school and spent days watching the small children learn. This is what inspired her to become a teacher, but first she would have to start her learning too.  

margaret5She began classes at an Adult Learning Centre, quickly adopting the skills she would need to become a qualified teacher and achieving her dream. However, once Margaret was at the front of the classroom, she quickly realised the cost and lack of access to books were a barrier to her student’s education, so she turned to the Worldreader reading app. “Everything you want to learn, you can find it in the phone,” she said.

Margaret now uses her mobile phone to lead lessons and engage students in the classroom. Her students can access thousands of ebooks for free on their mobiles for just a few cents a week of data cost in an in environment where a single physical book can often cost $5 or more.

margaret3“They tell me, ‘Teacher, we want to know more, we want to know more!’,” Margaret says.

To learn more about Worldreader, visit worldreader.org. To read books on your mobile phone using Worldreader’s applications visit read.worldreader.org or download the app on the Google Play Store.

Call on leaders and innovators from all countries, industries and communities to make universal internet access a reality by adding your name now.

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The ICESCAPE mission, or "Impacts of Climate on Ecosystems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment," is a NASA shipborne investigation to study how changing conditions in the Arctic affect the ocean's chemistry and ecosystems. The bulk of the research took place in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in summer 2010 and 2011. Credit: NASA/Kathryn Hansen
NASA US Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr
ENVIRONMENT

This Team of Climate Change Experts Is Reuniting Months After Trump Disbanded Them

Undeterred by deniers in high office, the team is back together to fight global warming.

 JAN. 5, 2018

 

A few months after the Trump Administration broke them up, a band of top climate scientists is getting back together, this time to study the effects of climate change at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

Earth Institute researcher Richard Moss, a former member of the Federal Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, has led the effort to reunite the researchers, the Independent reports.

Though the team lacks the funding and influence of the federal government, other entities have stepped in to support the project. On Wednesday, for example, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York would help fund the research conducted by the shadow panel.

Take Action: Stand Up for the Arctic

 

Take Action: Tweet

 
 
 
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“The Advisory Committee will continue its critical work without political interference and provide the guidance needed to adapt to a changing climate,” Cuomo’s office said in a statement.

Global Citizen campaigns on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, including Number 13, Climate Action. You can action on this issue here.

Read More: Trump to Open Up Large Swaths of US Coastline to Offshore Drilling

The team of laid-off scientists will complete an addendum to the National Climate Assessment released in November with a specific focus on local impacts of climate change in the US. Their previous work has explicitly identified humans as the cause of global warming in direct contradiction to the Trump Administration’s position.

While the federal government has lagged in its pursuit of solutions to delay climate change and prevent its devastating consequences, US states and NGOs have picked up some of slack.

In June, California and Hawaii became the first US states to sign climate change commitments that mirror the international Paris climate agreement.

"Our island communities lead the way when it comes to climate change impacts and policies," Hawaii Gov. David Ige said at the time. "We also need to be first when it comes to creating solutions.”

Virginia also announced its goal of becoming a climate change leader by expanding its use of solar energy and reviewing ways to limit carbon use.

Read More: 3 Reasons Climate Change Is Real, Even Though It's Cold

Elsewhere in the world, several nations have championed innovative solutions to reduce carbon emissions and slow climate change. China has invested billions of dollars in solar energy projects, Germany has developed efficient wind farms, and Costa Rica has gone almost a year without using fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, France has framed itself as the world leader in climate change research and French President Emanuel Macron has embraced science as part of the worldwide effort to “Make Our Planet Great Again.”

 
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ENVIRONMENT

It Snowed in the Sahara — And the Photos Are Insane

This is the third straight year the Sahara has seen snow.

 JAN. 9, 2018

 

It wasn’t quite a “white Christmas,” but it was close.

Earlier this week, the world’s largest hot desert — the Sahara — was blanketed in more than a foot of ice cold snow. 

It was the third time in the past three years that the paradoxical snowstorm-in-the-Sahara has occurred, the Independent reports. And while the phenomenon is a beautiful one to behold — it’s also concerning for scientists and global citizens. 

Take Action: Call on World Leaders to Help Millions of People Affected by Extreme Weather

 

Take Action: Tweet Now

 
 
 
1 point

 



United StatesUnited KingdomGermanyCanadaAustraliaAfghanistanÅland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBruneiBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCabo VerdeCambodiaCameroonCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo (the Democratic Republic of the)Cook IslandsCosta RicaCôte d'IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands  [Malvinas]Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambia (The)GeorgiaGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and McDonald IslandsHoly See  [Vatican City State]HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIranIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKuwaitKyrgyzstanLaosLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedoniaMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia (the Federated States of)MoldoviaMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorth KoreaNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestine, State ofPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarRéunionRomaniaRussiaRwandaSaint BarthélemySaint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth KoreaSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyriaTaiwanTajikistanTanzaniaThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaVietnamVirgin Islands (British)Virgin Islands (U.S.)Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe 

 

The snowfall was recorded near the Algerian town of Ain Sefra, and piled up to about 40 centimeters (16 inches) before melting completely away by 5:00 p.m., according to TSA Algeria.

"Essentially [the weather pattern] came from North America and eastern Canada," Brenda Ekwurzel, director of climate science at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Global Citizen. "It’s sweeping up over Canada, going across the Atlantic and Europe to create the conditions in the Sahara." 

"Ultimately this links back to the cold air outbreaks that bring the extreme conditions that tend to be more unusual in recent memory," she added. 

Before December 2016, snow had only been recorded in the Sahara once, in 1979. It also snowed in January of 2017 — and that time the desert saw nearly a meter (40 inches) of snow. 

Scientists attributed the cold weather in the Sahara to a high pressure system in Europe pushing cold air into northern Africa, TeleSur reports. But the increasing prevalence of extreme, volatile weather could also point to another phenomenon: climate change. 

“Such situations, including snowfalls in Sahara, a long cold spell in North America, very warm weather in the European part of Russia and sustained rains which sparked flooding in Western European countries, have been occurring more frequently,” Roman Vilfand, head of Russia’s Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, told the Russian news agency TASS

“The high recurrence of these extreme conditions stems from global warming,” he said. “It is not just my standpoint, but an opinion shared by members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” 

Read More: 3 Reasons Climate Change Is Real, Even Though It's Cold

As Global Citizen has reported previously, climate change doesn’t only mean warmer temperatures, but also shifting global weather patterns brought on by melting ice in the Arctic. 

Despite colder temperatures in the eastern United States, much of the rest of the world has actually seen unseasonably high temperatures this winter, according to the Climate Reality Project

“[T]he unusual weather we’re seeing this winter is in no way evidence against climate change,” Dr. Michael Mann, a professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University, wrote about the so-called “Bomb Cyclone” that hit the US northeast last week. “It is an example of precisely the sort of extreme winter weather we expect because of climate change.” 

With increasing climate change, scientists expect that "the winter is going to change more than the summer," Ekwurzel said, "so ironically we have to pay more attention to our winter weather forecasts than before." 

As for the Sahara, the desert may eventually revert to the “fertile grassland it once was,” according to geologist Trevor Nace, who wrote an article in Forbes

In the meantime, this rare weather event made for at least one thing: beautiful photos. Check them out, below. 

 
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What's Trending In Environment

Jan. 9, 2018

It’s one of the world’s toughest bans on the harmful microplastics. Read More

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Scientists think this is a clear consequence of climate change. Read More

 
 
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ENVIRONMENT

It Snowed in the Sahara — And the Photos Are Insane

This is the third straight year the Sahara has seen snow.

 JAN. 9, 2018

 

It wasn’t quite a “white Christmas,” but it was close.

Earlier this week, the world’s largest hot desert — the Sahara — was blanketed in more than a foot of ice cold snow. 

It was the third time in the past three years that the paradoxical snowstorm-in-the-Sahara has occurred, the Independent reports. And while the phenomenon is a beautiful one to behold — it’s also concerning for scientists and global citizens. 

Take Action: Call on World Leaders to Help Millions of People Affected by Extreme Weather

 

Take Action: Tweet Now

 
 
 
1 point

 



United StatesUnited KingdomGermanyCanadaAustraliaAfghanistanÅland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBruneiBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCabo VerdeCambodiaCameroonCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo (the Democratic Republic of the)Cook IslandsCosta RicaCôte d'IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands  [Malvinas]Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambia (The)GeorgiaGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and McDonald IslandsHoly See  [Vatican City State]HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIranIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKuwaitKyrgyzstanLaosLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedoniaMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia (the Federated States of)MoldoviaMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorth KoreaNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestine, State ofPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarRéunionRomaniaRussiaRwandaSaint BarthélemySaint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth KoreaSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyriaTaiwanTajikistanTanzaniaThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaVietnamVirgin Islands (British)Virgin Islands (U.S.)Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe 

 

The snowfall was recorded near the Algerian town of Ain Sefra, and piled up to about 40 centimeters (16 inches) before melting completely away by 5:00 p.m., according to TSA Algeria.

"Essentially [the weather pattern] came from North America and eastern Canada," Brenda Ekwurzel, director of climate science at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Global Citizen. "It’s sweeping up over Canada, going across the Atlantic and Europe to create the conditions in the Sahara." 

"Ultimately this links back to the cold air outbreaks that bring the extreme conditions that tend to be more unusual in recent memory," she added. 

Before December 2016, snow had only been recorded in the Sahara once, in 1979. It also snowed in January of 2017 — and that time the desert saw nearly a meter (40 inches) of snow. 

Scientists attributed the cold weather in the Sahara to a high pressure system in Europe pushing cold air into northern Africa, TeleSur reports. But the increasing prevalence of extreme, volatile weather could also point to another phenomenon: climate change. 

“Such situations, including snowfalls in Sahara, a long cold spell in North America, very warm weather in the European part of Russia and sustained rains which sparked flooding in Western European countries, have been occurring more frequently,” Roman Vilfand, head of Russia’s Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, told the Russian news agency TASS

“The high recurrence of these extreme conditions stems from global warming,” he said. “It is not just my standpoint, but an opinion shared by members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” 

Read More: 3 Reasons Climate Change Is Real, Even Though It's Cold

As Global Citizen has reported previously, climate change doesn’t only mean warmer temperatures, but also shifting global weather patterns brought on by melting ice in the Arctic. 

Despite colder temperatures in the eastern United States, much of the rest of the world has actually seen unseasonably high temperatures this winter, according to the Climate Reality Project

“[T]he unusual weather we’re seeing this winter is in no way evidence against climate change,” Dr. Michael Mann, a professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University, wrote about the so-called “Bomb Cyclone” that hit the US northeast last week. “It is an example of precisely the sort of extreme winter weather we expect because of climate change.” 

With increasing climate change, scientists expect that "the winter is going to change more than the summer," Ekwurzel said, "so ironically we have to pay more attention to our winter weather forecasts than before." 

As for the Sahara, the desert may eventually revert to the “fertile grassland it once was,” according to geologist Trevor Nace, who wrote an article in Forbes

In the meantime, this rare weather event made for at least one thing: beautiful photos. Check them out, below. 

 
Stay up to date

Receive alerts about the world's biggest challenges.

 
SIGN UP

What's Trending In Environment

Jan. 9, 2018

It’s one of the world’s toughest bans on the harmful microplastics. Read More

Jan. 9, 2018

This is not a drill. Read More

Jan. 9, 2018

Scientists think this is a clear consequence of climate change. Read More

 
 
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
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  •  
  •  
  •  
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Philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, is pictured in Paris.
Kamil Zihnioglu/AP
HEALTH

Bill and Melinda Gates Are Paying Off Nigeria’s $76 Million Debt to Japan

Nigeria owes Japan $76 million for a polio eradication loan.

 JAN. 11, 2018

 

As some leaders are increasing their focus on issues solely within their own borders, Bill and Melinda Gates continue to show the importance of looking outward — and they’ve demonstrated this yet again by announcing they will settle Nigeria’s $76 million debt to Japan.

Nigeria’s debt to Japan is the result of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) provided by the Japanese government in 2014 for increased polio eradication efforts.

The country has made great strides in its efforts to eliminate the disease thanks to this funding.

Nigeria did not record a wild case of polio from July 2014 to August 2016, when two cases werereported.

Take Action: Call on Canadian Ministers to Commit to Global Health Security

No new cases of the wild poliovirus were reported in 2017 and there were only four cases reported in 2016, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

All of this means that Nigeria is very close to eradicating polio, which would leave just two countries in the world where the disease is still endemic, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Global Citizen campaigns to eradicate polio and ensure all individuals have access to good healthcare. You can take action here.

As the largest private philanthropic organization in the world, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation spends just over $3 billion a year on development assistance, according to The Guardian.

Eradicating polio is one of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s top priorities. In fact, at the last annual Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, the Gates Foundation announced it would match two-to-one Rotary's commitment to raise $50 million a year over the next three years, which would result in $450 million towards polio eradication efforts.

Read More: WTF Is Polio? 17 Facts About the Disease That We’re This Close to Eradicating

“Some people, especially these days, think the world is getting worse,” Gates said at the convention  last June. “The progress on polio is a reminder of what people can accomplish when they are bold, determined, and willing to work together.”

While the Gates family is notoriously generous and forward-thinking when it comes to supporting the accomplishment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Bill Gates has said that organizations like his foundation are not prepared to fill the gaps that could result from foreign aid cuts like those proposed by US President Donald Trump.

“Helping other countries fight poverty and disease makes the world more stable, and it makes Americans and people everywhere safer. Foreign aid delivers a fantastic return on investment,” Gates said at the convention.

Polio eradication efforts have not only helped eliminate the disease in most countries, but they have led to better health systems and improved responses to other global health crises like ebola and Zika.

Read More: These Tweets From Bill Gates Will Remind You That 2017 Wasn’t All Bad

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun announced the debt repayment on Tuesday in Abuja when she met with Japanese House of Councillors Parliamentarians.

The repayment was set to begin four years after Japan’s loan in 2014, which is what has now sparked the repayment.

 
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FOOD & HUNGER

This Tokyo Restaurant Lets Diners Earn Their Meal by Working a Shift

Chef Sekai Kobayashi believes everyone deserves a good meal.

 JAN. 9, 2018

 

For folks in Tokyo who can’t always afford a hot meal, one restaurateur is using a clever business model to ensure that a lack of funds never has to mean a lack of food.

At restaurant Mirai Shokudo in Tokyo’s Jimbocho district, customers have the option to earn one free meal by electing to work a 50-minute shift cleaning, serving, and working the cash register.

Upon completion of this work, customers have the option of receiving their free meal immediately, or electing to donate their meal ticket to another hungry customer by tacking it to a public board at the front of the establishment.

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Known as the ‘makanai’ system, the model is similar to the concept of free staff meals familiar to any restaurant worker.

What sets Sekai Kobayashi’s business apart, however, is its innovative and fundamentally democratic approach to combining community and food. No full-time staff members work alongside Kobayashi, meaning that she completely relies on her customers not just to dine, but also to work. At any given time there must be several soon-to-be customers assisting by serving dishes, clearing tables, and any of the other tasks necessary to operate a successful kitchen.

Kobayashi told The Straits Times the goal of her unique model is foster a place where “everyone is welcome and everyone fits in.”

“I use this system because I want to connect with hungry people who otherwise couldn't eat at restaurants because they don't have money,” she said.

As the world’s third-largest economy, Japan is not commonly associated with hunger, despite the country having a 16.3% poverty rate, extreme income inequality, and staggeringly high rates of child poverty for a developed nation.

Though Japan has a relatively strong economy, it has been reported that up to 20% of children in Tokyo come from financially challenged households that have trouble providing proper food and clothing, according to a government survey.

Read More: How This Chef Is Helping Refugees One Dinner at a Time

Global Citizen Campaigns on the United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Achieving zero hunger worldwide is global goal number two. You can take action on this issue here.

An additional benefit of Kobayashi’s method is that it allows customers to gain valuable work experience in restaurant settings. For people who are unemployed or living in poverty, the chance to not only eat for free, but also gain work experience in the restaurant industry almost seems too good to be true. Kobayashi even extends this opportunity to foreigners who are interested in learning Japanese cuisine, or improving their Japanese language skills.

 

Mirai Shokudo occupies an interesting and inspiring sector of the food industry, one focused not just on the bottom line, but on the people who are a part of that equation. Providing meals for work, and allowing customers to gain experience doing so is just a part of Kobayashi’s conception of the kind of business she always envisioned having.

"Sharing something with others means supporting those with ambition. That underpins my approach to work," she said.

 
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