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The Action Thread Part Two

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HIV/AIDS

We answer your most Googled questions about HIV and AIDS

28 November 2018 8:49PM UTC | By: SADOF ALEXANDER

SIGN THE PLEDGE

Sign the pledge: We’ll do whatever it takes to end AIDS

 
  

WADGoogle_Social-1024x512.pngHIV/AIDS is a global health crisis that impacts the lives of millions of people a year, yet still many people don’t know enough about what it is, what it does to the body, and the best ways to prevent it. That’s why we’ve answered your most googled questions about HIV and AIDS, and added a couple extra in for good measure:

How many people alive today are living HIV or AIDS?

Around 37 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. That’s nearly the entire population of Canada.

What is the difference between HIV, AIDS, and HIV/AIDS?

You probably have a general idea what these three terms mean, but there are some key differences between them.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that weakens the body’s immune system. The virus moves into the body’s “T cells”, which fight off infections, and rearranges the DNA inside them. The infected cell is no longer able to combat diseases, and instead creates more HIV cells.

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the most extreme form of HIV infection. HIV becomes AIDS when the body has an extremely low amount of T cells left, greatly weakening the body’s immune system. It can take anywhere from two to fifteen years for untreated HIV to develop into AIDS.

HIV/AIDS is a term to describe the two together. The term also serves as a reminder that HIV always comes first. It is possible to have HIV without developing AIDS, but it’s impossible to contract AIDS without first having HIV.

How did HIV/AIDS start?

HIV didn’t begin in humans. The virus was originally an SIV— Simian Immunodeficiency Virus — that infects chimpanzees, and it is generally believed that the virus crossed over into humans through hunting. While this crossover happened around 1920, the virus wasn’t verified in humans until 1959 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

How do you contract HIV/AIDS?

The virus is spread through the exchange of certain kinds of bodily fluids, including blood, breast milk, semen, and vaginal fluids. That means you can’t contract HIV through things like hugging, hand-shaking, kissing, or sharing food and water.

What are the first signs of HIV/AIDS

In the first few weeks after infection, some people develop flu-like symptoms, including a rash, sore throat, fever, and headaches. However, not everyone has symptoms in the first few weeks. As the infection continues to develop in the body, some people experience swollen lymph nodes, fever, weight loss, diarrhea, or coughing.

Since the symptoms of HIV can be mistaken for the flu, or may not be present at all, testing is the only sure way of knowing whether someone has HIV.

If the virus develops into AIDS, the symptoms are more severe. Tuberculosis, meningitis, bacterial infections, and some forms of cancer can all develop due to a weakened immune system.

Is there a cure for HIV/AIDS?

While there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, it is possible to treat. Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs can help control the virus and even prevent transmission to other people. Antiretroviral therapy (ART), the combination of 3 or more ARV drugs, should start as soon as possible after diagnosis to slow the progression of HIV.

Who are the most ‘at risk’ groups for contracting HIV/AIDS

In some hard-hit countries in sub-Saharan Africa, girls and young women are especially vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Girls make up three out of four new infections among children between the ages of 10 and 19. Young women ages 15 to 24 in the region are also twice as likely to contract HIV than young men the same age.

The most-at-risk groups are men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, transgender people, and sex workers.

How do you get tested for HIV/AIDS?

Access to HIV tests are vital to prevent the spread of infection. An estimated 25%of HIV-positive people are not diagnosed. That means a quarter of HIV-positive people are not receiving treatment and are at risk of transmitting the disease to more people.

Serological tests are tests that examine the antibodies in blood. Basically, they’re tests that take a closer look at how the body’s immune system is working. A serological test with abnormal results could mean a positive HIV diagnosis. If someone has an abnormal result, it’s important to test again to make sure the diagnosis is correct.

How do you prevent HIV/AIDS?

There are lots of different ways to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. Prevention, in all its forms, can’t happen without knowledge. Awareness of HIV/AIDS and how it’s contracted is necessary for someone to protect themselves against contracting the virus.

Safe sex practices, including the use of condoms, can prevent transmission during sex. Voluntary medical male circumcision can also reduce the likelihood of contracting the virus by up to about 60%.

ART not only controls the virus in those living with HIV/AIDS, but also prevents HIV-positive people from transmitting the virus to other people. ART coverage for pregnant and breastfeeding women is at an all-time high of 80%, reducing the likelihood of mother-to-child transmission.

ART isn’t the only way to help to prevent transmission. If you are HIV-negative but considered high risk (if you have an HIV-positive partner, for example), you can take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) before coming in contact with risk factors in order to prevent infection. When taken consistently, PrEP reduces the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by over 90%. PrEP cannot be used by those who are already HIV positive.

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) means taking ARVs within 72 hours of potential exposure to the virus to prevent becoming infected. PEP is not meant for regular use and should only be used in emergency situations.

Which countries have the highest HIV prevalence?

All of the top ten countries with the highest HIV prevalence are in Africa. Eswatini, formerly Swaziland, has the highest prevalence, with over 27% of the adult population living with HIV/AIDS. The virus takes a much larger toll on the female population, with over 35% reporting an HIV-positive status.

Lesotho and Botswana take second and third for highest prevalence. In both countries, over a fifth of the population is HIV-positive. Like in Eswatini, gender inequality increases the prevalence among women in both countries.

How long can people live with HIV/AIDS?

With ART, HIV-positive people can continue to live full, healthy lives. Access to this life-saving medication creates near-normal life expectancy. That’s great news for people who have access to ART, but this isn’t the case for everyone.

Last year, almost a million people died from AIDS-related causes. That’s 2,500 people every day, nearly two every minute. This means that the life expectancy of a person with HIV depends on whether they are able to access and afford treatment.

There’s no doubt about it: AIDS is still a crisis. The numbers may be intimidating, but this fight is far from lost. We have the knowledge and resources to help those who are HIV-positive, while also preventing more people from contracting the virus. By increasing access to ART, education, and health services, we can create a world free of HIV/AIDS.

To win the fight against AIDS, we need you. This World AIDS Day, ONE members are turning our outrage into action and putting our leaders on notice – add your voice today!

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17
MEMBERS IN ACTION

THIS is what ONE members achieved in 2018

December 19 2018 | By: SADOF ALEXANDER

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Let’s be real: 2018 has been a *very* long year.

At times, it felt like the bad news wouldn’t stop, and that the challenges the world was facing were too big to take on. But amidst it all, ONE members rallied together and decided to tackle some of these problems head on, and their work has paid off in incredible ways.

For ONE members, 2018 wasn’t a year of turmoil. It was a year of triumph. While others were bickering, we built bridges. While the world was coming apart, our movement centered around coming together. While all of us felt outrage, ONE’s members turned it into action – 1,317,462 actions to be exact.

Thanks to the work of passionate people around the world, we made 2018 a year of victories.

Here are five of the outstanding things we accomplished this year:

We passed laws

At a time where it seems like governments are too divided to get anything done, ONE members rose to the occasion and achieved some major wins in the political arena.

For the past two years, activists in Nigeria campaigned to Make Naija Stronger. The campaign demanded better,more accessible healthcare in the country and the long-fought battle paid off! The Nigerian government have committed to a budget of N55.1 billion (US$153 million) for basic healthcare provisions, giving citizens easier and more affordable access to healthcare services. To make this win even bigger, there will be increased transparency in how these funds are used.

The United States also scored an incredible political win with the passing of the BUILD Act, which will bring US$30 billion in private sector dollars into the fight against extreme poverty. The bipartisan bill was backed by 78,000 petition signatures, which were hand-delivered to offices in every single state.

We secured funding for aid

We asked you to tell world leaders that #GirlsCount, and you delivered by creating 64 hours of footage and committing 750,000 signatures! World leaders at the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Summit committed over US$2.5 billiontowards getting 13 million girls back in school!

The good news for women and girls didn’t stop at the GPE Summit. At the G7, 146,000 ONE members signed a petition and told G7 leaders to invest in women’s economic empowerment. Together, leaders of the G7 countries invested CAD$3 billion (US$2.24 billion) towards women’s economic empowerment. Additionally, Canada committed to CAD$3.8 billion (US$2.9 billion) to education with a focus on girls.

For the second year in a row, the Trump Administration proposed cuts to foreign aid. And, for the second time, ONE members told their representatives, democrats and republicans alike, to prevent these cuts from happening. Thanks to their efforts, all US poverty-fighting programs will be fully-funded in 2019.

Next year, the EU will be deciding its long-term budget priorities for the following seven years. Members are already standing up to tell EU leaders to support the fight against extreme poverty, and we’ll continue to advocate for this important budget in the new year.

We told the world that Poverty is Sexist

We continued to say it loud and proud: Poverty is Sexist. We said it so much that the message traveled farther and wider than years past! Activists, everyday citizens, youth, celebrities, and influencers rallied in support of women and girls everywhere. In fact, nearly 250,000 people signed our open letter to share our crucial message with the world.

Today, many barriers still prevent girls and young women across the globe from achieving their dreams and rising out of extreme poverty. That’s why we put a spotlight on these barriers with our International Day of the Girl video. The video got more than 6 million views, becoming our most successful video ever!

Connie Britton made a bold statement by wearing our declaration about poverty front and centre on the red carpet at the 2018 Golden Globes! Chadwick Bosemanalso represented our message, wearing our “none of us are equal until all of us are equal” t-shirt at a rally in June. PLUS, Phoebe Robinson rocked the same shirt for an interview with the NYTimes Style Magazine in October!

We launched movements

Nigeria’s youth are taking control with the VoteYourFuture Campaign. This campaign is encouraging young people to participate in Nigeria’s 2019 elections, and pushing for them to vote on policy, not sentiment. The campaign kicked off in a big way with over 3,000 youth turning up for the launch event in October!

We’re also expanding our on-the-ground work in Africa, including a brand new office in Dakar, Senegal! Spoiler alert: expect big things from our incredible Senegal team in 2019.

We took action

What do all of these accomplishments come down to? Everyday people like you who committed to empowering other people and demanding equality by standing up, raising your voice, signing petitions, sending emails and tweets, meeting with representatives, and advocating for our causes with heart.

Don’t miss out on everything we’ll accomplish in 2019! Become a ONE member and take part in the action!

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18
GIRLS AND WOMEN

Women are powering change in Malawi

December 11 2018 | By: GUEST BLOGGER

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Guest post by Kate Pritchard, MCC.
Originally published by the Millennium Change Corporation (MCC). All photos are credited to them.

The Sub-Saharan nation of Malawi has made progress in human development over the past decade, but it remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Over half the population live in poverty, and 25% live in extreme poverty.

When MCC and the Government of Malawi began looking at the primary constraints to the country’s economic growth in 2009, one thing stood out—the availability and quality of the nation’s power supply. Just 10% of Malawians had access to grid electricity and even for those connected to the grid, power was often unreliable and cut for eight to 12 hours per day.

But inadequate power doesn’t tell the whole story of life in Malawi. The country is also hindered by gender inequality. Women in the agricultural sector tend to have smaller plots of land, and those in other sectors suffer from a lack of access to credit and capital. So, when we partnered with the Malawian government to revamp the nation’s power sector, we didn’t limit our efforts to producing more electricity. We also sought opportunities to help women in the country advance in the context of the power-focused compact.

I traveled to Malawi ahead of our compact closeout and met with some of the inspiring women who have been empowered by projects implemented under MCC’s compact. Not only are those women compact beneficiaries, they are working to reshape the country’s future.

At MCC, we believe that one of the best ways to accomplish our mission to reduce poverty through economic growth is by investing in women’s economic empowerment. The reason is simple—research shows that empowering women leads to stronger economies, increases in household incomes, and higher profits for businesses. So, no matter what sector we invest in—power, land, transportation, water—we look for ways to ensure that women are provided opportunities to play a key role in driving progress that will positively impact them and their communities. In Malawi, women helped to realize the potential of efforts across the power-focused investment, making key contributions to each of the three compact projects: infrastructure, power sector reform and environmental management.

Powering Change: Environmental and Natural Resource Management Project

Hydropower generation plays a big role in Malawi’s power sector, but chronic weed infestations and excessive sediment buildup in the Shire River Basin as a result of poor land and environmental management, have led to hydropower disruptions and inefficiencies.

The compact’s $32 million Environmental and Natural Resource Management Project was designed to implement modern environmental and natural resource management techniques in areas upstream from the hydropower plants. The project also included a Social and Gender Enhancement Activity that focused on engaging women to improve how land along the riverbanks is used and reduce the negative impact on natural resources while increasing economic opportunities and decreasing outages at downstream hydropower plants.

Emily Hussein used to spend her days collecting firewood and charcoal, which she would sell as her only source of income, leading to deforestation and soil erosion. But with the help of MCC’s Environmental and Natural Resource Management Project, she secured a loan that allowed her to become a beekeeper—decreasing her impact on the landscape and increasing her family’s household income.

“The project has changed the lives of women here,” said Emily. “I can now borrow money from the village bank and repay after I have sold honey. When I get the money, I use it to buy fertilizer in order to ensure that we have a good harvest.”

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Emily Hussein transitioned from cutting trees to beekeeping and selling honey.

Powering Change: Infrastructure Development Project

Upgrades to the power infrastructure formed a major piece of our compact with Malawi. A new high-voltage 400kV electricity transmission line—a significant upgrade from the old 132kV line—was built and is now connected by a host of newly constructed and upgraded substations. The line will provide a stronger and more efficient, higher voltage backbone for the transfer of electricity across Malawi.

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Women working at the Nkhoma substation outside of Lilongwe, one of the end points of the new 400kv line that has greatly increased the capacity of Malawi’s power sector.

Women worked on sites across the country as new lines and substations were constructed and rehabilitated. Women working at the Ntonda substation in Blantyre had the opportunity to work on site in the morning, and attend training sessions in the afternoon to build specialized skills in bricklaying and carpentry, skills that will help them to earn more in future work.

Powering Change: Power Sector Reform Project

Infrastructure alone cannot solve the systemic, long-term challenges of energy access in Malawi. Effective institutions and strong policy frameworks are also needed to support continued expansion, encourage private sector investment and boost economic growth. As MCC worked with the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM), the national electricity utility, to improve processes and operations, the role of women was front and center. The utility successfully recruited a Gender and Social Inclusion Manager and established a unit to lead the development and implementation of ESCOM’s Social and Gender Inclusion and Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy. Now, ESCOM will provide gender training and technical support to their entire staff.

“Research has shown that organizations which have included women in their decision making forums and even in all the operations of those organizations are able to perform much better than organizations which don’t have women in their committees or teams,” Gender and Social Inclusion Manager Elube Chienda told me.

Elube-Chienda-blog-1200x859-1024x733.jpg

Elube Chienda, ESCOM Gender and Social Inclusion Manager.

ESCOM is also planning for their future workforce with a partnership with the University of Malawi. The scholarship and internship program aims to support the next generation of female engineers as students build their skills both in the classroom and in real world. “The idea is to ensure that we motivate them, and we inspire them so that when we have vacancies they will be the first ones to apply,” said Ms. Chienda.

When I spoke with ESCOM scholarship recipients about how the program had changed their lives and aspirations, they were full of hope and confidence. “I’m graduating not only with theory and knowledge. I’m also graduating as an experienced engineer,” said scholarship recipient Mary Mnewa.

ESCOM-scholarship-students-blog-1200x658

Recipients of ESCOM’s engineering scholarship and internship program.

With the completion of our five-year compact, MCC and the Government of Malawi have set the stage for more reliable power to be delivered across the country. At the same time, infrastructure upgrades and institutional reforms have secured the foundation for private sector investment while optimizing the potential benefits to women and local communities by promoting women’s economic empowerment through new job opportunities and reforms that incentivize women’s participation within the power sector.

Empowering women in Malawi is helping to power the country, and MCC is proud to have played a role in cementing new opportunities for women in the future. This compact shows that investments don’t have to choose between policy and institutional reform, infrastructure improvements, and economically empowering women. As we move forward in our pursuit of poverty reduction, MCC will continue to make the economic empowerment of women a priority, regardless of which countries and sectors we are investing in.

ONE welcomes the contributions of guest bloggers but does not necessarily endorse the views, programs, or organizations highlighted.

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CULTURE

10 facts you need to know about Nelson Mandela

11 July 2018 11:57AM UTC | By: SADOF ALEXANDER

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It’s hard to keep track of all the incredible things about Nelson Mandela and his accomplishments. We’re clearly inspired by his actions and wisdom, and there’s still even more to know about him! You may remember these 7 facts about Nelson Mandela, and there are a few more to add to the list!

1. His birth name was Rolihlahla Mandela. His primary school teacher gave him the name Nelson.

2. He began his long road to a college degree at the University College of Fort Hare in 1931. He was expelled for participating in a protest against the university’s policies.

3. After leaving the University College of Fort Hare, the King of his village threatened to arrange marriages for him and his cousin, Justice. They both ran away to Johannesburg to avoid the marriages.

4. He, along with fellow ANC member Oliver Tambo, established South Africa’s first black law practice in 1952. His practice primarily worked in challenging apartheid laws, including South Africa’s “pass laws,” which required non-white citizens to carry documents authorizing their presence in “restricted” areas.

5. In order to leave the country (which he was banned from doing), he used the name David Motsamayi to get out of South Africa in secret.

6. His activism continued while in prison, both inside its walls and out. He was a mentor to other prisoners and taught them about nonviolent resistance. He also sent notes to the outside world and was a consistent symbol for the anti-apartheid movement.

7. He loved sports and even used them as part of his activism. He believed that sport “has the power to change the world…it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.”

8. He was released from prison in 1990 by President Frederik Willem de Klerk. The two now share a Nobel Peace Prize.

9. He voted for the first time in his life in 1994 – at 76 years old!

10. Mandela Day is July 18th, with this year being the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth in 1918. This year, you can celebrate by taking #ActionAgainstPoverty with the Nelson Mandela Foundation!

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HEALTH

Here are the female bikers that ride to save lives in Nigeria

18 May 2018 4:10PM UTC | By: THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION

 
  

This story was originally reported by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani and edited by Claire Cozens for the Thomson Reuters Foundation

Whenever the all-female Nigerian biker group D’Angels hit the streets, people would stare in amazement at the sight of women on motorbikes. So they made up their minds to use the attention for a good cause.

Enter the Female Bikers Initiative (FBI), which has already provided free breast and cervical cancer screening to 500 women in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos.

589_378442295564809_1100924018_n.jpgThis August, D’Angels and another female biker group in Lagos, Amazon Motorcycle Club, plan to provide free screening to 5,000 women – a significant undertaking in a country where many lack access to proper healthcare.

“What touched us most was the women,” D’Angels co-founder Nnenna Samuila, 39, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Lagos.

“Some asked if the bikes really belonged to us. Some asked if they could sit on our bikes. We decided to use the opportunity to do something to touch women’s lives.”

Breast and cervical cancer are huge killers in Nigeria, accounting for half the 100,000 cancer deaths each year, according to the World Health Organization.

12309763_922499704492396_655342331158519Screening and early detection can dramatically reduce the mortality rate for cervical cancer in particular.

But oncologist Omolola Salako, whose Lagos charity partnered with the FBI last year, says there is not enough awareness of the need for screening.

“Among the 600-plus women we have screened since October, about 60 percent were being screened for the first time,” said Dr. Salako, executive director of Sebeccly Cancer Care. “It was the first time they were hearing about it.”

Even if women do know they should be screened, affordability is a barrier, said Salako, whose charity provides the service for free and also raises funds to treat cancer patients.

RAISING AWARENESS

This year the bikers will put on a week of awareness-raising and mobile screening, after which free screenings will be available at Sebeccly every Thursday for the rest of the year.

Members of the two clubs and any other female bikers who want to join in will ride through the streets, to schools, malls and other public places, distributing fliers and talking to women about the importance of screening.

“All the bikers turn up,” said Samuila, one of five women on the FBI’s board of trustees. “We just need to tell them, this is the location for the activity, and this is what we need you to do.”

Last year their funds, from private and corporate donors, could only stretch to two mastectomies, and they hope they will be able to sponsor more treatments this year.

bikers_social1-1024x512.jpg“We encourage this person to come, and then she finds out that something is wrong and you abandon her,” said Samuila, a former telecoms executive who now runs her own confectionery and coffee company.

“We would love to be able to follow up with whatever comes out of the testing.”

This is just the latest in a number of projects the bikers have organised.

In 2016 they launched Beyond Limits, a scheme to encourage young girls to fulfil their potential beyond societal expectations of marriage and babies.

They travel to schools to give talks and invite senior women working in science, technology and innovation to take part.

TURNING POINT

Samuila formed D’Angels with 37-year-old Jeminat Olumegbon in 2009 after they were denied entry to the established, all-male bikers’ groups in Lagos.

“They didn’t want us. They were like, ‘No, women don’t do this. Women are used to being carried around. Why don’t you guys just be on the sidelines?’ That sort of pissed us off and we then went on to form our own club,” said Samuila.

In 2010, the pair rode from Lagos to the southern city of Port Harcourt to attend a bikers’ event, a 617-km (383-mile) trip that the men had told them was impossible for a woman.

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“That was the turning point in our relationship with the male bikers,” said Samuila.

The two-day ride earned them a new respect from the male riders, some of whom now take part in the screening awareness programmes themselves.

In 2015 Olumegbon, also an FBI board member, took on an even bigger challenge riding 20,000 km through eight West African countries in 30 days to raise funds for children in orphanages.

“I’ve been riding since 2007. At first, I was the only female riding, then I found Nnenna and the other girls,” she said.

“Because we started riding, more females decided to look inwards, and decided that they could do so as well.”

bikers_featured-1024x1024.jpgThe bikers plan to extend their initiative to other parts of Nigeria, and have also received invitations from women riders in other West African countries.

For now though, they want to focus on making sure their efforts reach every woman in Lagos.

“When we speak to people on the streets, many don’t even know of cervical cancer,” said Samuila.

“It’s so painful to hear that so many people are dying from the disease when it can be prevented.”

*images via D’Angels Motorcycle Club

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Displaced people in Niger will now be protected by a new law
2
REFUGEES

Displaced people in Niger will now be protected by a new law

11 December 2018 5:06PM UTC | By: THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION

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This story was originally reported by Nellie Peyton and edited by Claire Cozens for the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Niger has adopted Africa’s first national law for the protection and assistance of people fleeing violence, floods and droughts, the government and United Nations said on Thursday.

The government says there are about 174,000 displaced people in the West African country, mostly in regions where Islamist violence has spilled over from Mali and Nigeria.

That figure excludes others who were forced to leave their homes to search for grazing land or water, said Lawan Magagi, Niger’s minister of humanitarian action and disaster management.

“The question of sustainable solutions has really guided us … because internal displacement in Niger is becoming more and more recurrent,” Magagi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

This is due to both climate change and conflicts in neighbouring countries that affect border communities, he said.

The new law was approved unanimously by the national assembly on Monday, Magagi said.

It is based on the Kampala Convention, a 2009 African Union treaty that establishes guiding principles for protection of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Other African countries have ratified the Kampala Convention, but not incorporated it into national law, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

“Niger continues to inspire and show its solidarity and generosity towards those forced to flee,” said Alessandra Morelli, UNHCR representative in Niger.

Magagi said the law would allow for a national fund to help IDPs and increase penalties for assaults on them.

The state will also play a bigger role in preventing land disputes when people are forced to move, and will help them return home if the situation has improved, he said.

“In general, it’s refugees who are supported most by partners. But the population of a country that flees within the country doesn’t have access to as much assistance,” he said.

Niger hosts about 176,000 refugees, mostly from the part of Nigeria battling Boko Haram, according to UNHCR.

The country has also opened its doors to vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers imprisoned in Libya while trying to reach Europe.

The United Nations has evacuated more than 2,000 of them to Niger so far, where they are being processed for resettlement in other countries.
ONE welcomes the contributions of guest bloggers but does not necessarily endorse the views, programs, or organisations highlighted.
(Images via United Nations.)

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GIRLS AND WOMEN

ONE’s 2018 Women of the Year Awards

December 19 2018 | By: SADOF ALEXANDER

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What do activists, authors, actresses, Nobel Prize winners, doctors, and presidents all have in common? They made the world a better place for women in 2018! We wanted to give special recognition to a handful of women who went above and beyond for gender equality this year.

Without further adieu, here are ONE’s 2018 Women of the Year:

Sahle-Work Zewde

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This year, Sahle-Work Zewde became the first female president of Ethiopia in a unanimous vote from the country’s two houses of parliament. As a career diplomat, she served as the under-secretary-general for the UN and as special representative of the secretary general to the African Union. She’s also served as Ethiopia’s ambassador to many countries, including France, Djibouti, Senegal.

In the ceremonial role of president, Zewde plans to advocate for unity and represent the women she serves. “The absence of peace victimises firstly women,” says Zewde, “so during my tenure I will emphasise women’s roles in ensuring peace and the dividends of peace for women.”

Connie Britton

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Our Poverty is Sexist movement kicked off in a big way this year, thanks to critically-acclaimed actress Connie Britton – who starred in three television shows this year and earned a nomination for the 2019 Golden Globes for her role in Dirty John.

At this year’s Golden Globes, she shared our message with the world by wearing a sweater with “Poverty is Sexist” embroidered across the front. She advocated for this movement on the red carpet, using her platform to speak for the girls and women who are hit hardest by extreme poverty. She also wrote an op-ed defending her bold outfit and the message behind it.

Nadia Murad

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Yazidi rights activist Nadia Murad, alongside Denis Mukwege, won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for combating sexual violence as a weapon of war. She is the second youngest Nobel Prize laureate after Malala Yousafzai.

Murad experienced this violence first hand in 2014, when she was taken captive by the Islamic State and sold into sex slavery. She recounts this experience in her bestselling memoir, The Last Girl. Two years after her captivity, she founded Nadia’s Initiative, a nonprofit that advocates for the victims of sexual violence and works to rebuild communities. All of her Nobel Prize will go towards building a hospital in her hometown for victims of sexual abuse.

Danai Gurira

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Actress Danai Gurira has done an immense amount of advocacy this year. In July, she hosted a Poverty is Sexist event in New York City alongside Connie Britton, where she put ONE in the spotlight and generated support for the movement. She also wrote an incredible op-ed piece for Refinery29, alerting readers that Poverty is Sexist. In the article, she advocates for girl’s education, health, and safety, stating that we must act for the empowerment of girls around the world.

On the big screen, she became a role model for young girls in the film Black Panther, which earned multiple Golden Globe nominations and a whole lot of Oscar buzz.

Dr. Marlene-Joannie Bewa

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Multi-award winning physician Dr. Marlene-Joannie Bewa is an accomplished advocate from the Benin Republic. She’s worked to advance HIV awareness, sexual reproductive health, and gender equality. Her advocacy work includes encouraging Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to invest in women’s health, becoming a “Goalkeeper for the Global Goals” for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and serving on multiple platforms that advocate for women’s health.

Currently, she is working to spread awareness as a UN-appointed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Young Leader. She’s also pursuing her second PhD, securing her a Doctorate in both Medicine and Public Health.

Phoebe Robinson

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Host of 2 Dope Queens and bestselling author Phoebe Robinson did a tremendous amount of advocacy for both (RED) and ONE this year. She released her second book, Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay, interweaving critique and comedy to look at the circumstances everyone–particularly women–are living. She discusses the obstacles that women are facing, how to understand our own choices, and how to become part of the solution.

During her nationwide book tour, she sold custom-made Poverty is Sexist merchandise to support (RED) and the Global Fund. She also had ONE volunteers at every stop collecting handwritten postcards addressed to Secretary Pompeo, urging him to replenish the Global Fund and continue the fight against AIDS.

Debbie Lucas

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Inspiring ONE member and activist Debbie Lucas has long been a local champion for international development. She has worked with the Darul Arkamm School in the Republic of the Gambia, where students raised thousands of pounds to support youth education.

Debbie has taught hundreds of students about international development, Global Goals, and what UK aid achieves around the world. Her teaching work continues to this day, now at her home in Portsmouth.

Tiwa Savage

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Nigerian singer and songwriter Tiwa Savage has faced many obstacles as a female afrobeats artist. Despite being told that she wouldn’t be able to compete against male artists, she rose to the top of the music scene. This year, she became the first female artist to win an MTV Europe Music Award for Best African Act.

Her humanitarian work also speaks for itself. In the past few years, she has worked with breast cancer screening projects, helped build schools in her hometown, and advocates for community-based social projects. She’s also a supporter of the Vote Your Future campaign.

Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin

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Nigerian activist Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin is a winner of the 2018 CNN’s Heroes Award for her work in empowering girls living in poverty. After building a successful career for herself in the tech industry, she shifted her focus towards teaching girls and young women about technology.

Her organization, the Pearls Africa Foundation, offers free classes and programs for girls and young women, like GirlsCoding, which teaches girls about computer programming. Many of the girls she’s mentored have already produced their own apps to combat issues, like poverty and female genital mutilation, in their communities.

Fridah Githuku

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Fridah Githuku is the Executive Director of GROOTS Kenya, a national grassroots movement led by women. The movement was created to give grassroots women visibility and decision-making power to create change in their own communities. They have invested in nearly 3,500 women-led groups across Kenya, sparking human-led and community-based change.

Githuku is especially adamant about supporting women’s and indigenous land rights. As an Equal Measures 2030 partner, Githuku and GROOTS Kenya are advocating for gender equality and the role that land rights play in achieving it.

Lola Omolola

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Nigerian-American activist Lola Omolola is the founder of FIN, a private Facebook group that connects nearly 1.7 million women from across the world. She began the group in 2014, searching for a way to create mutual support with other Nigerians after the kidnapping of over 300 girls by the Boko Haram. The group quickly grew into a hub for women’s issues, offering its members a safe outlet to discuss the struggles they face and connect with other women who share those experiences.

FIN–originally an acronym for “Female in Nigeria,” but now standing for “Female IN”–also holds events worldwide for FINsters to interact in person. On Facebook, a group of moderators ensures that all women are protected and supported. Omolola’s work has been recognized by Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook officials for her work in creating a positive impact through the social media platform.

Honorable Mentions

There’s plenty of women who have done fantastic work this year, so we want to give a shout-out to a few extra:

Violet Brown campaigns with Days for Girls, a nonprofit that provides hygiene kits and health education to young women.

Dr Patricia Nkansah-Asamoah is the former Director of the Prevention of Mother-to-Child (PMTCT) Clinic at Tema Hospital in Ghana and administered the hospital’s first successful PMTCT treatment.

Becca Bunce co-directs the award-winning IC Change campaign, which calls on the UK government to ratify the Istanbul Convention on Violence Against Women.

Bisola Aiyeola is a Nigerian actress, ONE Ambassador, and winner of the AMVCA Trailblazer Award at the 2018 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards.

Valerie Assmann is a board member for DISCOVER FOOTBALL, a program that uses football as a tool to advocate for girls and women in sports.

Scheaffer Okore is the Chief of the Trade and Investment Office with the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Vice Chairperson of the Ukweli Political Party.

Jennifer Lotito is the Chief Partnerships Officer at (RED).

Waje Iruobe is a musician, film producer, and ONE Ambassador advocating for transparency and accountability.

Are you inspired to take a stand for gender equality? Join our Poverty is Sexist movement to advocate for women and girls everywhere!

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EDUCATION

These shipping containers are being repurposed as schools

26 February 2018 11:35AM UTC | By: GUEST BLOGGER

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Story by Megan Gieske; photos courtesy of Breadline Africa.

Breadline Africa started as a grant-giving organization, where those in need applied for funding and Breadline Africa raised the funds to meet them. Almost 25 years later, those in need can still apply, but assistance comes in a new shape and size — infrastructure!

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Marion Wagner, Director of Breadline Africa, says that much of South Africa’s infrastructure is unsafe. For parents who work, this can mean sending their children to schools or care centers that are overcrowded or under-equipped to deal with extreme seasonal temperatures.

Few would look at old shipping containers and re-imagine them as schools, libraries, and kitchens, but the fireproof, stable and durable containers provide a creative solution to the problem of unsafe infrastructure.

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To become a classroom or childcare creche, the shipping containers undergo a conversion process that adds sunny windows to let light and warmth in, burglar guards to keep school supplies safe at night and full kitchens with indoor gas burners and ventilation.

The shipping containers have also transformed into libraries filled with books (provided in partnership with Help 2 Read and Room to Read), floor cushions, reading benches, and doors that open onto a veranda.

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“A lot of the areas that we work in are socially and economically disadvantaged, with high unemployment, huge overcrowding, and parents very often away looking for work,” Wagner said. Breadline Africa has placed more than 350 containers in areas of need across nine provinces, providing a safe space for children in the critical after school hours. “If we can reach more and more children, we can help them choose a path out of poverty.”

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In July, the program and its partners gave Oranjekloof Moravian Primary School and their 1,240 students in the Western Cape a new library complete with 7,000 books. In thanks, school Principal Mkhului Qaba said, “What this means for the children is they have a place of refuge, a place of hope and a place of learning.”

“Without an education, they really are never going to be able to find a way out of poverty,” Wagner said.

The Breadline Africa director echoed, “For children, their safest place is not on the street.”

There are hundreds of children who will benefit from each of those 350 container sites, which can last for 20 to 30 years.

ONE welcomes the contributions of guest bloggers but does not necessarily endorse the views, programs, or organizations highlighted.

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Office opening hours this Christmas

Office opening hours this Christmas

The Music Generation National Development Office will close temporarily over Christmas and the New Year.

We will be closed from Friday 21 December and will re-open with regular office hours on Thursday 3 January 2019.

Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

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"Christmas is here, Bringing good cheer, To young and old, Meek and the bold..." 🎄🙌🎶🎅

Brilliant performances all morning from members of the fantastic Music Generation Laois Senior Harp Ensemble and the Harpettes live on Virgin Media One Ireland AM!

Definitely worth the early rise! Congrats to you all, and merry Christmas 😀

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Christmas songs – the oldest ones are the best

Christmas carols were mostly a Victorian tradition along with trees, crackers and cards. Eugene Byrne explains the why the popularity of Silent Night has never faded, why there's always a place for Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, and why the British fondness of Good King Wenceslas has not yet subsided

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A group of carol singers on a wintry night at Christmas time, c1890. (Photo by William M. Spittle/Fine Art Photographic/Getty Images)
 
December 17, 2018 at 2:00 pm

Although Christmas was celebrated in song in the Middle Ages, most carols in use now are less than 200 years old. Only a handful, such as I Saw Three Ships or the decidedly pagan-sounding The Holly and the Ivy, remind us of more ancient yuletides. Carols fell from favour in England after the Reformation because of their frivolity and were rarely sung in churches until the 1880s when EW  Benson, Bishop of Truro (later Archbishop of Canterbury) drew up the format for the Nine Lessons and Carols service, which has remained in use ever since.

 

Silent Night (1818)

Words: Josef Mohr
Music: Franz Xaver Gruber

Arguably the world’s most popular Christmas carol comes in several different translations from the German original. It started out as a poem by the Austrian Catholic priest Father Josef Mohr in 1816. Two years later, Mohr was curate at the parish church of St Nicola in Oberndorf when he asked the organist and local schoolteacher Franz Xaver Gruber to put music to his words.

An unreliable legend has it that the church organ had been damaged by mice, but whatever the reason, Gruber wrote it to be performed by two voices and guitar. It was first performed at midnight mass on Christmas Eve 1818, with Mohr and Gruber themselves taking the solo voice roles.

Its fame eventually spread (allegedly it has been translated into over 300 languages and dialects) and it famously played a key role in the unofficial truce in the trenches in 1914 because it was one of the only carols that both British and German soldiers knew.

Three medieval carol singers, image dated 1911. (Photo by Chronicle/Alamy Stock Photo)

Good King Wenceslas (1853 or earlier) 

Words: John Mason Neale
Music: Traditional, Scandinavian

The Reverend Doctor Neale was a high Anglican whose career was blighted by suspicion that he was a crypto-Catholic, so as warden of Sackville College – an almshouse in East Grinstead – he had plenty of time for study and composition. Most authorities deride his words as “horrible”, “doggerel” or “meaningless”, but it has withstood the test of time. The tune came from a Scandinavian song that Neale found in a rare medieval book that had been sent to him by a friend who was British ambassador in Stockholm.

There really was a Wenceslas – Vaclav in Czech – although he was Duke of Bohemia, rather than a king. Wenceslas (907–935) was a pious Christian who was murdered by his pagan brother Boleslav; after his death a huge number of myths and stories gathered around him. Neale borrowed one legend to deliver a classically Victorian message about the importance of being both merry and charitable at Christmas. Neale also wrote two other Christmas favourites: O Come, O Come Emmanuel (1851) and Good Christian Men, Rejoice (1853).

'Merry Christmas' Victorian illustration of Santa Claus holding toys and blowing on a trumpet, chromolithograph, 1915. (Illustration by GraphicaArtis/Getty Images)

 

Once in Royal David’s City (1849)

Words: Cecil Frances Humphreys Alexander
Music: HJ Gauntlett

Cecil Frances Humphreys was born in Dublin to a comfortable Anglican family. In 1848 she published Hymns for Little Children, a book of verse explaining the creed in simple and cheerful terms and which gave us three famous hymns. So to the question who made the world, the answer was All Things Bright and Beautiful. Children’s questions on the matter of death were answered with There is a Green Hill Far Away, while Once in Royal David’s City told them about where Jesus was born. The book was an instant hit and remained hugely popular throughout the 19th century.

The organist and composer Henry Gauntlett put music to it a year later and nowadays it traditionally opens the King’s College Cambridge Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.
Cecil threw herself into working for the sick and poor, turning down many requests to write more verse. Much of the proceeds from Hymns for Little Children went to building the Derry and Raphoe Diocesan Institution for the Deaf and Dumb.

(Illustration by Eleanor Shakespeare for BBC History Magazine)

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (1739 or earlier)

Words: Charles Wesley
Music: Felix Mendelssoh
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Charles, the brother of Methodist founder John Wesley, penned as many as 9,000 hymns and poems, of which this is one of his best-known. It was said to be inspired by the sounds of the bells as he walked to church one Christmas morning and has been through several changes. It was originally entitled Hark How All the Welkin Rings  welkin being an old word meaning sky or heaven.

As with most of his hymns, Wesley did not stipulate which tune it should be sung to, except to say that it should be “solemn”. The modern version came about when organist William Hayman Cummings adopted it to a tune by German composer Felix Mendelssohn in the 1850s. Mendelssohn had stipulated that the music, which he had written to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the invention of the printing press and which he described as “soldier-like and buxom”, should never be used for religious purposes.

A Dickensian Christmas. (© Alamy/Mary Evans)

God rest you merry, Gentlemen

Origin unknown

This is thought to have originated in London in the 16th or 17th centuries before running to several different versions with different tunes all over England. The most familiar melody dates back to at least the 1650s when it appeared in a book of dancing tunes. It was certainly one of the Victorians’ favourites.

If you want to impress people with your knowledge (or pedantry), then point out to them that the comma is placed after the “merry” in the first line because the song is enjoining the gentlemen (possibly meaning the shepherds abiding in the fields) to be merry because of Christ’s birthday. It’s not telling “merry gentlemen” to rest!

 

This article was first published in the December 2007 issue of BBC History Magazine 

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A letter to… my brother, a special man with special needs

‘I try not to mourn the life you haven’t had. It’s easy when I remember that you live in a world without sadness, fear, guilt’: the letter you always wanted to write

Sat 8 Dec 2018 06.44 GMT

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Illustration of young boy and girl against pink background  ‘You live the naive and joyful life of a five-year-old.’ Composite: Getty Images/Guardian Design Team

Idon’t remember you being diagnosed, but I know I was nearly seven and you were nearly two. I do remember the metal braces that were strapped to your ankles for extra support when you were learning to walk, while other children your age tore around us.

I do remember crying on a walk home from primary school after being told that you needed glasses, because I couldn’t stop thinking, hasn’t he got enough to deal with already? I do remember lying in bed, praying to someone who even then I didn’t believe existed that I might wake up the next morning and find you miraculously “normal”.

But the brilliant truth is, you are blissfully and completely unaware of your differences. You live the naive and joyful life of a five-year-old in a 25-year-old’s body. You are incapable of malice. You crave the praise of those you consider most important – your mother, of course; me; your other sisters; and the amazing people who guide you patiently through your new independent life in the community.

You take immense pleasure from the simplest things. A story told for the thousandth time by our snoozy father, your hero, on a Sunday afternoon. The sound of a foreign emergency vehicle siren. Having the last sip of someone else’s drink.

You have some exceptional gifts, as those with comparable conditions often do. Playing “beat the intro”, you can name the song, seemingly before the first note is played. You can recall the names of staff from hotels we stayed in years ago, when the rest of us can’t even remember the hotel. You can, terrifyingly, get through international airport security without either passport or boarding pass, only getting caught trying to enter a lounge.

I try not to mourn the life you haven’t had. It’s easy when I remember that you live in a world without sadness, fear, guilt. It’s easy because everyone who meets you falls in love with you – so I know that, wherever you are, someone will be looking out for you. Even my one-year-old daughter can’t take her eyes off you.

I could write for ever about the moments with you that have changed us. You have made us kinder, softer and immeasurably happier – but you will never know it. Your sister, Rachel

 

As 2018 draws to a close….

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Worried about how your child will cope when you're no longer around? 👦 👩

Our Wills & Trusts Service is here to help. 👋

They can support you to make the right choices to protect your child’s financial future.

Call ☎️ Gina today on 020 7696 6925.

La imagen puede contener: 1 persona, sonriendo, de pie y exterior

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Kiril was born with multiple defects within his heart and has had the most difficult start in life.

Our brave surgeons, this week, saved young Kiril's life through open heart surgery in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Kiril is recovering in ICU at the moment, but is expected to be discharged just in time for his first Christmas at home with his loving family.

Please help us to save the lives of children just like Ivan this Christmas. Thank you.

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1
GIRLS AND WOMEN

How this inspiring program is helping girls soar

November 9 2018 | By: SADOF ALEXANDER

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The Zulu Sierra – Papa Whiskey Whiskey (ZS-PWW) may look like any other plane. But, this aircraft is special because it carries bright young minds to an exceptional future. The plane is owned by Refilwe Ledwaba. She’s the first black woman to fly for the South Africa Police Service and the first black woman to be a helicopter pilot in South Africa!

Refilwe grew up in Lenyenye, a small township in the Limpopo region of South Africa. She is the youngest of seven children, all raised by their mother in a single-parent home. Originally, she wanted to become a doctor, but everything changed on a flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town. That fateful flight had a female pilot, inspiring her to take to the skies!

She wrote to over 200 South African companies asking them to help fund her education. The South Africa Police Service responded, offering to pay for her training and help her get a commercial pilot license.

But Refilwe’s story doesn’t stop there. She’s since left the Police Service to focus on teaching. In fact, she founded the Girls Fly Programme in Africa Foundation(GFPA), giving a head start to the next generation of women aviation and space leaders in Africa.

GFPA is a non-profit that has set-up a training program and an annual flying camp for teenage girls. The camp, run with Women and Aviation, teaches girls from across South Africa, Botswana, and Cameroon about aviation.

The girls spend their days figuring out computer coding, building robots, and completing flight simulations. They also get an opportunity to take a flying lesson on board the ZS-PWW, where they learn the basics of soaring through the skies. At night, they get to know each other around an open fire and sing and dance, forming lifelong friendships.

The girls come from different backgrounds, from townships to private schools, but all achieve high scores in math and science at their schools. GFPA gives them the opportunity to meet professionals working in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM), and learn about the exciting and hugely varied career opportunities for them in these fields.

“I think STEM is very important because, on a personal note, it opened a lot of doors for me,” says Refilwe. “So if you’re not going to prepare women for those jobs in the future, then we’re lost.”

Refilwe made history in South Africa. Now, she’s paving the way for a new generation of girls to do the same.

Every girl deserves the opportunity to reach the skies. If you want to support girls worldwide, join our Poverty is Sexist movement!

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AGRICULTURE

Winner of the ‘alternative nobel prize’ turns desert to forest in Burkina Faso

25 September 2018 3:43PM UTC | By: THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION

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This story was originally reported by Nellie Peyton, editing by Claire Cozens for the Thomson Reuters Foundation

A farmer from Burkina Faso who popularized an ancient farming technique to reverse desertification is among the winners of Sweden’s “alternative Nobel prize”, announced on Monday.

Yacouba Sawadogo shared this year’s award with three Saudi human rights activists and an Australian agronomist. The 3 million Swedish crown ($341,800) prize honours people who find solutions to global problems.

Sawadogo is known for turning barren land into forest using “zai” – pits dug in hardened soil that concentrate water and nutrients, allowing crops to withstand drought.

The technique has been used to restore thousands of hectares of dry land and in doing so reduce hunger in Burkina Faso and Niger since he began to teach it in the 1980s, according to the Right Livelihood Award Foundation.

Sawadogo said he hoped he would be able to “use the award for the future”.

“My wish is for people to take my knowledge and share it. This can benefit the youth of the country,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from his village in Burkina Faso.

The country dips into a semi-arid zone below the Sahara desert known as the Sahel, where climate change and land overuse are making it increasingly difficult to farm, experts say.

“Yacouba Sawadogo vowed to stop the desert – and he made it,” said Ole von Uexkull, executive director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation.

“If local communities and international experts are ready to learn from his wisdom, it will be possible to regenerate large areas of degraded land, decrease forced migration and build peace in the Sahel.”

Last year, erratic rains left nearly a million people in need of food aid across the country.

Sawadogo initially faced resistance for his unconventional technique, based on an ancient method that had fallen out of practice. Now “zai” have been adopted by aid agencies working to prevent hunger in the region.

Sawadogo told his story in a 2010 film called “The Man Who Stopped the Desert“.

ONE welcomes the contributions of guest bloggers but does not necessarily endorse the views, programs, or organisations highlighted.

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GIRLS AND WOMEN

Meet the elderly entrepreneurs weaving works of art in Kenya

18 September 2018 1:28PM UTC | By: THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION

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This story was originally reported by Caroline Wambui and edited by Robert Carmichael for the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Sheltered by a tarpaulin from the blazing sun, a group of Kenyan women weave handfuls of dried reeds, their practised hands turning them into exquisite baskets, mats and hats that have been sold to tourists from around the world.

Their success stems not from choice, but from necessity. On hot days like this, that is easy to understand: the region around Mathiga village, which lies 200 kilometres (124 miles) northeast of the capital Nairobi, makes for poor farmland. The sun withers crops and cracks the earth.

Regina Kaari, 70, is a member of the Tharaka Green Gold group, the collective of elderly entrepreneurs who started weaving baskets a decade ago.

“We could barely manage to farm, yet we had to survive, eat, clothe (ourselves) and have a decent shelter,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation of their motivation.

The women — all of whom are older than 60 — simply made what they could, Kaari said. They would sell the baskets locally for about 20 Kenyan shillings ($0.20) apiece, a “very low price”. It was demeaning, she said, but they had no alternative.

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

Not long afterwards a resident of the area called Catherine Kareaikwa visited the coastal town of Malindi where she saw vendors selling woven baskets to tourists for as much as 1,200 shillings.

Back home, Kareaikwa found the baskets being sold in her village were identical to those in Malindi. She tracked down the elderly weavers and learned they were getting just 20 shillings per basket.

So she offered them a deal: 50 baskets at 50 shillings each, which she then sold in Malindi, which lies 400 kilometres to the southeast, for around 1,000 shillings apiece.

As the business opportunity grew, the prices paid to the women rose too: to 100 shillings per basket, then higher still.

At Kareaikwa’s suggestion, the women began to embed other materials into their creations — leather and other decorative elements — which increased demand further.

More customers meant higher prices, Kareaikwa said, a virtuous circle that saw the women’s quality of life get better and better. Other women joined too, or started more groups, weaving goods for resale to Kenya’s growing tourism market.

CHALLENGES

By now it was 2014, and that year everything changed when dozens of Kenyans were killed in attacks by Somali-linked Islamists in the coastal area near Malindi.

In the worst attack, men were executed in front of their families while watching the football World Cup on television. The al Shabaab group claimed responsibility.

The effect on tourism was predictable: countries warned their nationals against travel to Kenya, and the number of international arrivals dropped markedly – to 1.18 million in 2015, a sharp drop from 2011’s record of 1.82 million.

The effect on the women of Mathiga village, hundreds of kilometres from the attacks, was predictable too: fewer tourists meant fewer sales, and their business rapidly declined.

Once again, circumstances were stacked against them.

“As a family, we were forced to get back to the tough life where we had come from of relying on one meal a day,” said 60-year-old Faith Gakii.

To earn money, the women turned to making charcoal – a practice that not only releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but also, in a dry area like Mathiga, accelerates deforestation and worsens an already poor environment.

Before long, though, they were persuaded by aid groups to stop felling trees for charcoal. Instead, they harvested more of the fruits of the tamarind and baobab trees for juice and, with help from the aid groups, learned how to package it for sale.

The benefits of working together like this go beyond simply diversifying income, said Jafford Njeru, a natural resources management expert and lecturer at nearby Chuka University.

Doing so also brings together the community in conserving and managing their natural resources, which helps to mitigate the impact of climate change at the local level in various ways.

“(Their actions would result in) increased rainfall, adequate water both for livestock and domestic use, and reduced massive destruction on the environment through firewood and charcoal burning,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Although the 2014 attacks made life for the women much more difficult, they were fortunate that steps had been taken the previous year to raise awareness of their woven products.

That came when the regional authorities had asked Kareaikwa to exhibit the goods.

Instead, she suggested that the women who wove them should showcase them. They did, and took home two awards. Since then their goods have been exhibited in Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo, and earlier this year at Britain’s Birmingham Spring Exhibition.

Today more than 100 women in weaving groups in and around Mathiga are again making the range of hats, baskets and mats, and they are again selling well.

In part they have been helped by Kenya’s move last year to ban plastic bags. That has created more demand for their baskets, and so the women have planted more reeds to meet that. More reeds, fortuitously, also means less soil erosion.

Also helpful is that tourist arrivals have started to climb, reaching 1.47 million in 2017, according to government data. And although it is still not safe to sell in Malindi, Kareaikwa said, the group is looking at other retail options, such as setting up small shops in parts of the country.

Meantime they keep weaving. Even in low season, this group of 30 women will make 600 baskets a month, bringing in a total of about 37,000 shillings. In busier months they earn more. In an area where opportunities for an income are extremely limited, that makes a big difference.

Indeed, said Kaari, being elderly entrepreneurs has changed their lives for the better. She bought a machine to help with the weaving process, allowing her to earn more.

Sixty-six-year-old Faith Karauki said it had helped her provide for her family, even in the driest months. And Faith Gakii has been able to pay for her grandchildren’s education at both primary and secondary school.

The venture may have brought financial independence, said Kareaikwa, but it has also given the women more besides.

“Basketry has not only offered a source of livelihood, but it has also opened doors for us in the world,” she said.

ONE welcomes the contributions of guest bloggers but does not necessarily endorse the views, programs, or organisations highlighted. All images via Flickr.

 

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AID AND DEVELOPMENT

Over one billion people lifted from extreme poverty since 1990

October 31 2018 | By: KEREZHI SEBANY

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We’re closer than ever before to ending extreme poverty. In 1990, 36% of the world’s population was living on less than US$1.90 a day. By 2015, this figure had shrunk to just 10%. That’s over a billion people no longer living in extreme poverty!

Despite remarkable progress, the fight is far from over. The World Bank’s latest official poverty estimates show that poverty reduction has slowed down to less than half the rate it was. In 2015, 736 million people worldwide were still living on less than US$1.90 a day. If poverty reduction doesn’t happen faster, we may not end extreme poverty by 2030.

In 2015, more than half of those living in extreme poverty were in sub-Saharan Africa. That’s 413 million people, up from an estimated 278 million in 1990. Without urgent action, nearly 9 in 10 people living in extreme poverty are predicted to reside in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030.

Poverty is also on the rise in fragile and conflict-affected countries.. The proportion of people living in extreme poverty in these countries has been increasing since 2010. In 2015, nearly a quarter of all people living in extreme poverty were in these countries. Most of these countries are in Africa and face some of the most severe structural barriers to development.

How can we step up efforts to end extreme poverty? That was one of the main questions at the World Bank’s launch event to mark the release of the new poverty estimates. Jamie Drummond, ONE’s Co-Founder and Executive Director of Global Strategy, was straightforward: we need to increase investments in people, particularly young women.

We’ve come a long way, and we know how far we need to go to win this battle. In order to win, governments need to invest in people to grow economies. This won’t be easy, but it is possible. More importantly, it is necessary to create a world where everyone can thrive.

You can join the fight against extreme poverty by becoming a ONE member today!

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MEMBERS IN ACTION

Dear World Leaders: Youth is not wasted on the young

8 August 2018 1:15PM UTC | By: ONE AMBASSADORS

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Join the fight against extreme poverty

 
  

Whoever said youth is wasted on the young has probably not met us.

We are one hundred young activists: 50 in Nigeria and 50 in France. We have not met in person, but we are all fighting for the same goal. We are the generation that could end extreme poverty, and we intend to do everything that is in our power to make this happen.

Each one of us, on our respective continents, advocate to convince our governments to do more to fight AIDS and other preventable diseases in the poorest places on the planet, to make sure every girl in the world can go to school and to combat corruption so governments are accountable to their citizens.

https://www.facebook.com/ONE/videos/10155940386619472/

From France to Nigeria, the European Union to the African Union, we all believe the fight against poverty is not about charity, but about justice and equality. We also believe that there are no national solutions to international challenges and that Europe and Africa need, now more than ever, to build a strong partnership together, a partnership from which each partner would benefit equally.

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ONE Champions in Abuja, Nigeria

Africa is on the cusp of demographic transformation, which will give it the world’s youngest population by 2050 – 10 times the size of the European Union’s. With this comes a huge opportunity for growth on an unprecedented scale for both our continents and for the rest of the world. However, doing more of the same will not be sufficient. Seizing this opportunity will mean that African and European countries need to come together and make commitments for policy reforms, on key areas such as transparency, education and health; as well as create the millions of new jobs each year that will be needed for our generation and the next ones to become a transformative power for the economies and societies of our continents.

World leaders, we would like you to know that citizens are your greatest allies. We are affected when a policy is ineffectual. We know when implementation is inadequate. We can validate when an international policy does not work.

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ONE Youth Ambassadors in Paris, France

We have seen some encouraging signs: in France, over the first year since his election, President Emmanuel Macron has clearly made the relationship with Africa and girls education some of his top priorities, and in Nigeria, the Buhari administration has committed significant resources towards youth empowerment. However, new commitments are needed.

We hope that as our leaders meet, they will agree that together they can lead our world towards the strong future that the youngest generation needs. We will pay attention to your discussions, ultimately, they affect us.

We know that only by working together will we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals that our leaders agreed on just a few years ago. We have a roadmap, now we need our leaders to transform their commitments into actions. By 2030 we will be too old to be called young, and as we will look back, we will be assured that we did not waste our youth and that we did everything we could to make this world a better place – and we hope our world leaders will too.


Najib Ait Hammou, Ibraim Assogba, Yacine Belhadi, Sarah Bouaffou, David Bouchard, Annabelle Buisson, Charlotte Castillon, Léna Collette, Laëtitia Coly, Marion Cubizolles, Mariam Diallo, Flore Faveyrial, Pauline Ferraz, Paul Frégeai, Chloé Fuchs, Daphné Gatté, Arthur Gazagne, Solenne Geffroy, Marion Giard, Benoît Golitin, Madeline Heudes, Adrien Hors, Anthony Ikni, Camille Imbert, Salomé Jacquet, Laure Jégard, Sarah Juan Dané, Yvan Koa Biloa, Anthony Lamaudière, Amel Lamri, Claire Leduc, Jordan Madiande, Jade Martineau, Charline Martin-Ramelli, Romane Mika, Audrey Morice, Chloé Petat, Caroline Pusset, Mia Raichon, Jean-Baptiste Rallu, David Reviriego, Younès Rifad, Hugo Rivet-Rodriguez, Pauline Robin, Héma Sibi, Lina Sibi, Bastien Tournié, Eugénie Tressens, Adrian Uracs, Marie Véron, Vanessa Woerner, Joshua Alade, Adi Nuhu, Clinton Ezeigwe, Ijeoma Chiemela, Chidinma Ibemere, Terese Akpem, Atuogu Abigail, Austin Ekwujuru, Zara Mohammed Kareto, Fausiat Bakare, Olasupo Abideen, Sophie Abache, Fatty Bello, Sipasi Olalekan, Aliyu Tukur Mukaddas Gengle, Ebere Chukwu, Alhaji Muazu Modu, Sarah Williams, Melanie Idehen, Ijeoma Chiemela, Olaloluwa Oluwasola, Clinton Ezeigwe, Ngunan ioron Aloho, Benedicta Uweru, Idris Mohammed, Chidinma Ibemere, Hadiya Usman, Joseph Stanley, Rosemund Edem, Sani Muhammed, Adeniyi Joel, Amina Abdulazeez, Wadi Ben Hirki, Kemi Vaughan, Ibrahim Banaru, Georgeleen Ekon, Grace Gara, Akeukereke Ibrahim

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