strawberry pie

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Unilever

 Recently, I've been researching on what MNCs (Multinational Company) are doing to help reach the MDGs (Millenium Development Goals). There are lots of information provided by the WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development) I thought it would be good to introduce some of the information relating to Africa since I'm writing an African series blog now.

 There are many MNCs which act an important role in reaching the MDGs until the year 2015. One of it is "Unilever". Unilever is a leader in nutrition, hygiene and personal care products, active in 150 countries worldwide. Unilever launched Annapurna iodised salt in India in 1999, followed by the launch in Ghana in 2001. The successful marketing of Annapurna iodised salt required a totally new marketing approach.
 Idoline deficiency problem is very serious among the developing nations. It causes coiters, mental retardation in children, braiin damage, congenital defects, miscarriages and stillbirths. UN research suggests that 30% of children under five in Africa suffer from idoline deficiency disorders. Unilever succeeded in offering iodized salt at close to the price local people paid for the non-iodized product. And this project Unilever is doing creates local jobs in manufacturing and distribution. Unilever helps local firms build capacity, investing in training, skills transfer and best practice which enables local salt producers to rapidly improve their output and quality.

 But the distribution in Ghana is very difficult due to extremely poor local infrastructure. And there are still local enterprises that sell non-iodized salt.
 This shows us that MNCs must cooperate with the government to construct a fair and consistent legal enforcement to make the aids become more effective.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Border


 Last year, we were given a map of Africa in class. This map was special because the borders were for the tribes and not for the states. We were told to draw the states borders in red as a home work. This taught us how the borders drawn by the suzerains doesn't match the original tribes borders. The main cause for the conflict in Africa is this missmatch of the borders. Different tribes are pushed into one country, or one tribe is divided into several countries. No wounder there are many conflicts in Africa!!


 But the solution is not to redraw the borders. If we do this, it will cause more confusion which will eventualy lead to conflicts. Even if it is not fair, the people in Africa should live with the existing borders. Because of the globalization, every country has different culture within itself. There are many ways for different cultured people to reside in one state. Becoming a federal state is one solution. Assimilation is another solution, though I think this is rather risky.

  When thinking about the melting pot vs. mosaic, I believe most people will think that mosaic is better. But is there a real answer? Because I think its the era that decides the right or wrong. Globalization was thought to be good, and it still is. But now there is localization. Before, everyone wanted to interact, know and feel other cultures. Now, everyone wants to preserve their own culture and refuses it to blend with other culture. Isn't this similar with the US changing from a melting pot to a mosaic?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Human development

 During the 1970s, education was seen as a human resorce for economic development. For example, Japan was able to become the world's economic power because of the high educational level after the war. In the 1990s, a new concept started to be recognized. This is the "Human Security". Before then, security was for states. But even if the state was secured, the human living in the states suffered oppression, starvation and so on. People started to think that human security was as important or more important than the state security. And in this new concept, education's role changed from supporting economic development, to development itself.

 In 1990, UNDP published the Human Development Report (HDR). The purpos of development aid changed from economic improvement to help many people live a life with respect of human dignity. To measure the degree of development, before we used only the GDP, but a new way was introduced. This is called the Human Development Index (HDI). The HDI indicates whether people lead a long and healthy life, are educated and knowledgeable and enjoy a decent standard of living. The HDI is a composite of three basic components of human development: longevity, knowledge and standard of living. Longevity is measured by life expectancy. Knowledge is measured by a combination of adult literacy and mean years of schooling .Standard of living is measured by purchasing power, based on real GDP per capita adjusted for the purchacing power parity (PPP).

 Besides the HDI, there are other index such as Gender-related Development Index (GDI)* which measures the same variables as the HDI except that it adjusts for gender inequalities in life expectancy, literacy and gross enrolment, and income. There is also an index to measure the poverty of that country called the Human Poverty Index (HPI). And this HPI is devided into 2 index measuring developing countries and industrialized countries differently.


(*GDI doesn't stand for God Damn Independent here.)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Afforestation


 Wangari Maathai is a woman from Kenya. In 2004, she won the nobel peace prise for "Contribution for sustainable development, democracy and peace". She was the first environmental field activist to win nobel peace prise. And she was also the first as an African woman.
 In 1977, she established the Green Belt Movement and started tree planting. In 1986, it changed its name to Pan African green belt network, and started tree planting all over Africa and also started promoting democracy and sustainable development. During that time, Kenya was ruled by a dictator and Maathai was trown into jail several times, but she stood up courageously.


 Desertification is a serious problem. As you all know, the green has been rapidly disappearing at the Sahel strip. This area is also known as the "Starvation belt". The plants won't grow because there are no water. And because there is a lack of water, the people there use the dirty muddy water and even drink it. The only way to stop the desert from spreading anymore is to plant trees. But we must not plant all the trees for them. And also we must not force the people to plant trees. We must convince the people that planting trees are for their own benefit, and it is worth the opportunity cost of the time working at the farm instead.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

NERICA

 There are lots of people starving in Africa, and many countries try to help them by offering skills to make food. In Japan, we eat rice as our principal food. Rice is healthy, and it can be stocked for a long time. And right now there is a movement to grow rice in Africa.
 The accepted notion was that rice plant grown in Asia and in Africa cannot be breed together. But in 1992, Dr. Jones who worked in WARDA (West Africa Rice Development) succeeded in beeding rice plants of Asia and Africa. And the series of this new rice is called NERICA (New Rice for Africa). Right now there are 18 kinds of Nericas. The feature of Nerica is that it has a strong stem, it grows faster which gives time to grow other plants, the plant length is long so you don't need to bend, and it can resist the major bugs that eats rice plants.
 Uganda is the only country in Africa that the Nerica is grown in farm house level. In 1999, Uganda selected 3 NARIC from the upland rice variety and the number 3 Naric is Nerica 4. Uganda distributed the Narics to the private companies and that seed was distributed to farm houses.
 Nericas are spreading fast in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2002, Nerica 1, 2, 3 and 4 were the top varieties selected by farmers in trials in Benin, Burkina Faso, côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Sierra Leone and Togo. Within West Central Africa, Côte d’Ivoire released the first two Nerica varieties in 2000, and Nigeria released one in 2003. Farmers in The Gambia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone are growing several Nerica varieties. In Benin, Gabon, Mali and Togo, several Nerica varieties are under extension. Uganda has released a Nerica variety as "Naric-3". Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania are evaluating several Nerica varieties.
 
 Since rice isn't the principal food in West Africa, there are very few researchers and thus their knowledge and skill level is low. Also there aren't much machines too. It will be a long way to spread Nerica throughout Africa. But I hope Nerica will help save many starving people in Africa someday.

References

  1. Institution of Science in Society
  2. Gaiko Forum (November 2005, No. 208

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

African year

 During the 1960s, lots of countries in Africa independed. Therefore the 1960s are widely know as the African year. And this year, the year 2005, is also called the African year. The year 2005 is called an African year because the international society is paying attention again to the African problems.
 There was the AA(Asian African) conference this April, the G8 summit was held in July with Africa as their main theme, and the special summit of the UN gave a review conference of the MDGs (Millenium Development Goals) in September.


 Since this year is called the African year, I would like to take part in it by writing about the problems in Africa for a couple of times.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Banjul Charter

Africa is well known for many conflicts among the states just as its poverty problem. During the conflict in Rwanda, many innocent citizens were killed by the genocide. To prevent this from happening, there has been a movement to protect the human rights in Africa. Every country in the African Union (AU) ratified the "African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights”, known as the Banjul Charter. This charter was published in 1982 when AU was still the Organization of African Unity (OAU). This charter is different from the European Charter on Human Rights in many ways. First of all, Banjul Charter not only declares the rights but also declares duty. Second, it gives provisions on both human and peoples rights. Third, it guarantees the rights not only on citizenship and policy, but on economic, society and culture too. Forth, Banjul Charter is drafted so that it can make a wade range constraint to the exertion of right assured in the treaty. This charter is very important in Africa where there are many conflicts, and human rights are not generally respected.

As you all ready know, Human Security is becoming important as the State Security. This charter is an example of one type of a human security. As written above, this charter guarantees the rights also for culture. This is needed in a diversified world like now.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

toilettes

When I went to the global festa, I was able to listen to what some university's seminar did. One of the things this seminar did was the "Yamuna Action Plan". Yamuna is a river in India. The goal of this plan was to improve public health. In India, the sewage water is directly flowing into the river. And half burn dead bodies are thrown into the river. So this plan's goal was to make a public toilettes to keep the river clean.
In india, families with toilettes are only 20%. So there is a need for public toilettes. And this toilette is not for free. Because they take money, people will be concsious for the health and safety.

I was very surprised to know that the public toilettes take money. I thought it would be a burden for the poor people. But it was a reasonable thing.
In japan, most of the toilettes are for free. And in America, some toiettes need keys to get into it or you'll need to have the toilet paper because it isn't provided.
It is interesting that you can see lots of differences by just comparing the toilettes.

Friday, October 14, 2005

federal state

Last year, I wrote a report about a difference in the federal system between Germany and Suisse. I studied this topic because this system is taken where there are lots of different races and cultures in the country, such as ; USA, Canada, Russia etc. Since there are no homogeneous state left, I thought federal system may be the key point in the on comming world.

In Suisse, there are 2 religions and 4 official languages. There are 26 Cantons which each have almost have a single language and a dominant religion. The congress is made up of Nationalrat, the representatives of the nation, and Standerat, representatives of the states. And the electon of the Standerat is a direct vote.
Germany has Bundesland and special states which is generaly superior according to the basic law article 30. And bundesland has legislative authority. Germany has a congress and a German Bundestag. But what is different from Suisse is that from the past of Hitler' dictatorship with the nation's support, there are no referendums.

Like this, each federal state is the same in the way it emphasizes local authority. It is a system well made for diversity. But there are different characteristics between each federal states due to the different history and background each country has.
I think this is going to be nessesarry for this diversed world.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Hurricane Katrina and Aid

After the disasterous hurricane, many countries, companies and people are giviing aid. I saw a list of counties and the amount of money they have given aid. Many companies did not just give money, but gave things such as trucks. I was most interested in musicians who gave aid or asking for aid in the media. I often listen to the yahoo music radio. I was listening to Kelly Clarkson and between the songs and the commercials, she gave a brief speech asking for aid.

Since there has been lots of disasters recently, (Tunami and Earthquake too) it is a good thing to know that the world is cooperating. It may also be interesting comparing the aid between the countries and each disasters.

But what was most interesting for me, was that North Korea didn't give any aid but gave a letter saying how they feel sorry for the damage.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Just War

Just war is a theory which came from the christianity thought. Becaus it was a taboo for the christians to start a war, the priest wanted to make an excuse to start a war. This is the "just war". By dividing a war in to two categories , just and unjust, the christians allowed themselves to start a war if it was a just one. In this case, a just war meant a war started against another country's violation of the international law.
The just war theory declined and a new theory appeared. This is the "Indiscriminate war theory". The interesting thing about this theory is that the text books in the states and European countries do not use this phrase, but Japan uses it. This theory thinks that a war is an extralegal thing so you can't restrict it by law. Any state has a right to start a war. And this "indiscriminate" means the jus ad bellum, an appropriate justification to enter into war, is indiscriminate. It didn't mean for the jus in bello of course.
As you know, the Treaty for the Renunciation of War was signed and the UN was made. This means the end of the Indiscriminate war. But during the Indiscriminate war theory's period, Just war theory hasn't died out completly. You can see that from the rule of non-interventionin matters of domestic jurisdiction which was made during the In discriminate war period. And after the indiscriminate war period, it is said that the Just war theory restored.

Monday, October 10, 2005

starvation and diet

Recently, on a TV show, I saw a man going on a no-eating diet. According to this TV show, a woman went on a one-week fast and then drank only water for a year. She was very healthy and the man tried the same diet. And this man didn't eat and even drink for four years. The man was healthy and he was even able to play tennis, but he didn't eat anything. The doctors said the man's body makes the nutritions the man needs by itself. But this diet isn't medicaly proved.
Now I started thinking why are there people starving to death in Africa, and a man alive without eating or drinking anything for four years. This is totally wierd. I do not believe that everything on the TV is true. But if the man is really alive without eating anything for years, then can't we apply this thing to the starvation problem and save the people in Africa and also in other countries?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

global festa Japan 2005

Last saturday, I went to the Global Festa Japan 2005 @ Hibiya. The subtitle of this event was, from "know" to "act" -a challenge to the millenium development goal-. At that event, there were lots of NGOs and international organizations such as; UNESCO, UNDP, UNHCR, JICA, JBIC, Save the Children etc. It was very interesting to listen to what they were doing.
I am most interested in development and education. At this event, I had an opportunity to talk to a woman who was in a group making schools in Mozambique. She told me the importance of primary education and also university education. The students who goes to a university in a country like Mozambique are people promised to be president and other high rank officials. She told me it is neccesary to give aid to them because there are only few universities in the country and the fees + the dormitory and living money is a big burden for them. Their families are too poor to spend any money for them anymore and they have to quit school because they have no money.
I had a great time at the Festa and I was glad I was able to go there.