Displaying 1-20 of 23 key documents
Source: UNESCO International Hydrological Programme | July 2012
This collection of papers was presented at a conference on linkages between climate change, water, conflict and migration, held in September 2011 at The Hague, in the Netherlands, where the discussion focused on: capacity building and resilience in climate hotspots; conflict prevention; and a legal framework to protect environmental migrants.
The publication includes a conference summary and a background document providing an overview of how climate change, water stress and environmental problems are increasingly seen as major threats to human security. Also included are papers that explore connections between these issues from the perspective of vulnerability; put forward a research and capacity-building agenda for climate-induced migrations; and review current literature, evidence and implications for policymaking on the environment, climate change and human displacement.
Source: Springer-Verlag | June 2011
This peer-reviewed paper examines the factors that motivate people to innovate, with the authors arguing that material rewards, such as capital or patents, make up only one aspect of their motivation. Using grassroots innovation in India as a case-study, the study found that the intrinsic rewards of "getting things done" and satisfaction play just as important a role as extrinsic factors, such as increased income.
The authors developed indicators of motivation by looking at innovation as a process of three stages — idea generation, experimentation and application. They found that intrinsic motivations were particularly important in the early stages, when there are high levels of uncertainty about the innovation. They conclude by outlining implications of their findings for innovation policies, suggesting that use of funding and patents could negatively impact innovators by reducing their desire to share their ideas locally.
Source: AdaptAfrica | June 2011
This report documents the proceedings of the AfricaAdapt 2011 Climate Change Symposium that include research, experiences and knowledge about how to coordinate efforts to address climate change in Africa in anticipation of negotiations at COP-17 to be held in Durban, South Africa.
It includes summaries of and links to presentations, experience notes and comments offered by participants, as well as photos, videos and reports from the symposium's interactive plenary sessions. The topics covered include community-led responses to climate change and the role of media in translating and sharing information about climate change.
The report highlights ten overarching conclusions and lessons learned from the research presented. These include the need for improved research into indigenous knowledge and deeper links between adaptation, mitigation and low-carbon development; creating more African forums for knowledge sharing; and strengthening the availability of non-Anglophone researchers and practitioners.
AfricaAdapt is a network dedicated to promoting and facilitating the sharing of knowledge on climate change adaptation in Africa.
Source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | October–December 2006
This report makes a case for the importance of antimalarial drug monitoring as an integral part of disease surveillance programmes in developing countries. Antimalarials are some of the most commonly counterfeited drugs — the high prevalence of malaria translates to a large consumer market in the developing world. The problem is serious in South-East Asia but is expected to become significant in African countries too. The report suggests that scientists ensure drugs are genuine and of a good quality before conducting efficacy or resistance studies in areas where counterfeits circulate widely.
Source: BMC International Health and Human Rights | October 2009
Too few effective antimalarials and poor use of bednets are two main reasons offered for why malaria still kills millions every year. This systematic review suggests that social and cultural factors in tackling malaria are often ignored. For example, many people in the developing world still use traditional medicine to treat malaria, which is often blamed on spiritual problems or curses, and can be a barrier to effective treatment.
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) | January 2010
This article, written by scientists in Niger and the United States, assesses the suitability of solar-powered irrigation for improving food security in rural regions of West Africa. The authors describe an irrigation system that combines drip irrigation with a photovoltaic solar-powered water pump, and test its efficacy and impact through household surveys and field data. They find that solar-powered drip irrigation is cost-effective and significantly boosts household incomes and nutritional intake.
Source: Renewable Energy | December 2009
This article assesses the practicality and affordability of solar systems for small businesses in remote rural areas. The authors did this by monitoring the use of six 'productive use containers' — shipping containers converted into solar-powered business centres — and surveying local entrepreneurs in a rural part of South Africa. The authors find that the containers offer significant benefits to local communities, including improved communications and higher incomes.
Source: Food Nutrition Bulletin | December 2006
This paper explains how interdisciplinary collaboration in health, nutrition, and agriculture has helped the Millennium Villages Project in 12 African villages meet the Millennium Development Goals.
Global science is increasingly under pressure to become more interdisciplinary. Econutrition is a good example of a cross-sector concept that joins environmental and human health, focusing on crosscutting areas such as agriculture and ecology.
Soil erosion and decreasing biodiversity causes environmental damage that lowers food production. A lack of food results in malnutrition and illness that, in turn, lead to poorer labour productivity and poorer agricultural management.
The Millennium Villages Project emphasises community engagement and leadership, and the case study from the Nyanza Province near Lake Victoria in Kenya illustrates that this can work well in improving nutrition.
One-fifth of adults in the area have HIV and many have malaria and TB. People in the region go hungry for up to seven months a year and are malnourished. The villagers constructed a health clinic and organised teams of community healthcare workers trained in nutrition.
Farmers receive fertilisers and plants if they donate ten per cent of their harvest towards a school lunch programme that concentrates on providing missing nutrients. For example, by adding local crops such as sweet potatoes common vitamin A deficiencies are eliminated. The key to success, say the authors, is to ensure that farmers are supported, especially in producing a variety of crops.
Source: IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Conference | October 2005
This article describes how a network of sensors, linked by software and the Internet, can provide an automatic satellite-based surveillance system for disasters such as volcanoes, wildfires and flooding.
The system, or 'Sensorweb', uses data from low resolution, high frequency sensors to trigger imagery from high resolution instruments. The low-resolution data is collected regularly (twice a day or more) from instruments such as NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS).
Anomalies, such as hotspots in the case of fires and volcanoes or surface water for floods, are automatically detected. The SensorWeb then sends a request to a higher resolution satellite such as Hyperion, which is very sensitive in the infrared spectrum, to request data over the area of interest. These data can then provide disaster managers with early warnings of adverse events.
Source: The Earth Observer | January 2009
This article, written by Chris Funk of the US GS, outlines how the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) uses satellite data and statistical forecasts to provide early warnings of potential droughts in sub-Saharan Africa.
Funk outlines the role of satellite data in FEWS NET at all stages of the crop-growing season — from scenario building before the season to calculating the water balance during it and assessing yields at the end. Focusing on food security outlooks for East Africa in late 2008, Funk describes how data from NASA's Aqua and QuikSCAT satellites can be used to track moisture and wind conditions over the Indian Ocean and Africa, and how these help anticipate hydrologic conditions in the future to predict shortfalls.
Funk emphasises the need to combine such data with socio-economic analyses of, for example, crop prices, grain stores, political conditions and agricultural inputs. This will help maximise the accuracy and effectiveness of early warnings of drought and food shortages.
Source: Nature Nanotechnology | November 2007
This commentary, by South African scientists Thembela Hillie and Mbhuti Hlophe, examines nanoscience's potential to solve the technical challenges associated with removing pollutants from water. The authors describe a range of nano-based water treatment technologies already in the marketplace and discuss how nanofiltration membranes can be used in low-cost methods to produce safe drinking water. They highlight a case study in South Africa where such membranes were used to treat brackish groundwater.
The authors emphasise the importance of technology transfer in getting nano-based solutions to the countries that need them, arguing that direct transfer does not often work. Rather, what developing countries need are approaches that combine technology transfer with technology adaptation and adoption — involving local stakeholders in establishing water treatment devices and developing local capacity to use them.
Source: South African Journal of Science | December 2008
This paper examines the relative costs of research in South Africa and the apparent disparity in researchers' salaries. A 2004–2005 research and development survey provides data on the unit cost of research across higher education institutions (HEIs), science councils and the business sector. Analysis shows that research costs and salaries are highest in the business sector and lowest in HEIs, although the differences are not as wide as expected. Similarly, overhead costs are lowest in HEIs and highest in the business sector.
But the authors emphasise that while HEIs may provide the cheapest research — based on cost per hour — this does not mean that they necessarily provide the cheapest 'cost per deliverable', i.e. value to the client.
The authors call for more regular and detailed data to better understand the researcher labour market. They propose an annual salary survey focused on public sector researchers and a common pricing model for all institutions performing public research.
Source: The Lancet | December 2007
This series of five articles outlines new challenges and unsolved problems since the journal's last series in 2005. The first article ([189kB]) predicts the disease burden and economic losses that developing countries would face from chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes. In the 23 countries that the authors incorporated into a model, chronic disease was responsible for 50% of the disease burden in 2005. If no action is taken, they say, about US$84 billion of economic production will be lost from heart disease, stroke, and diabetes alone in these 23 countries between 2006 and 2015. The second article ([105kB]) looks at how to scale-up strategies to fight chronic diseases in developing countries. The authors review evidence to identify which methods are cost-effective and financially feasible, and therefore ready to be scaled-up.
Tobacco control, salt reduction (both of which are detailed in the series' third paper ([177kB])), and a multidrug strategy to treat individuals with high-risk cardiovascular disease (see an in-depth look in paper four ([220kB])) are prime candidates for scaling-up. What effect improving health systems has on the level of chronic diseases should be properly evaluated, say the authors. For some health interventions, such as preventing or controlling diabetes, there is little cost-effectiveness data for low or middle-income countries, but their scientific effectiveness is so compelling that countries should consider how best to incorporate them. The final paper ([92kB]) is a call to action to incorporate existing interventions into healthcare programmes, which in 2005 was costed at US$5.8 billion.
Source: PLoS Medicine | January 2005
1990 saw the first major effort to estimate the main causes of illness and the biggest killer diseases in different countries. The data are important for public-health officials to allocate their resources wisely but also for feeding into estimates to plan for the future. Importantly, these need to be regularly updated to ensure that health programmes are still going in the right direction. This paper updates the 1990 study and offer predictions up to 2030.
The most forceful change in disease trends is in developing countries, with the proportion of people affected by non-communicable diseases set to increase. Proportionally, the number of people with infectious diseases is set to fall, though not when it comes to HIV/AIDS.
Because the authors also rely on predicting socio-economic development trends, they created best-case and worst-case scenarios for economic growth. In the pessimistic scenario, by 2030, the three leading causes of illness will be HIV/AIDS, depression, and ischaemic heart disease; in the optimistic scenario, road-traffic accidents will replace heart disease as the third leading cause.
Source: International Journal for Equity in Health | January 2005
The WHO has provided its own estimates of how non-communicable diseases are set to rise in developing countries. These authors pool data from national registries and international databases to compare data on the differing burden from individual diseases. They outline the risk factors associated with the diseases.
The main three killers are cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. The paper ranks different types of cancer by how many people in developing countries they kill (lung and breast cancer are the deadliest) and also ranks diabetes prevalence by country (India, followed by China, has the highest prevalence).
To tackle these diseases, say the authors, people need to look closely at the risk factors in their life – eating healthily and exercising can do much to reduce the chances of getting one of these diseases.
Source: PLoS Medicine | May 2005
Cardiovascular diseases are set to rise dramatically in developing countries, partly because of an increase in risk factors for the diseases, which include diet, physical activity, smoking. The authors looked at cardiovascular disease risks such as being overweight or obese, systolic blood pressure, and total cholesterol, and related them to national income, food purchase constraints, and urbanisation. Body mass index (BMI) and cholesterol increased as national income increased, then flattened, and eventually declined. BMI also rose with increasing urbanisation.
The authors suggest that cardiovascular disease risks will increasingly be concentrated in low-income and middle-income countries. Thus, preventing obesity should be considered a priority in these countries, along with measures to control blood pressure, cholesterol, and tobacco use.
Source: Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences | 2002
This document presents the proceedings of a conference at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in December 2001. The conference papers deal with themes relating to the role of scientific research in the development of Northern countries and the need for North–South research cooperation. They document the experiences of research cooperation involving, among others, India, South Africa and a number of East African countries. Several papers deal with innovation and scientific cooperation, with case studies.
Source: African Journal of Biotechnology | November 2004
This scientific article provides an insight into the status of public research in genetically modified (GM) crops in Egypt, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe in 2004.
The authors document 54 transgenic 'events' — specific instances of genetic transformation — across the four countries. They identify work to develop GM strains for 20 crops, including cotton, maize, potatoes, sugar cane, tomatoes and wheat. South Africa is shown to be a particularly important centre for biotech research, accounting for 28 out of the 54 events examined.
The authors call for a simplified system to facilitate regulatory approval of GM crop trials and commercial releases across the continent as a whole and suggest measures to encourage inter-institutional links and South–South collaborations.
Source: International Journal of Biotechnology | 2005
This research article, by Rosemary Wolson at the University of Cape Town, assesses South Africa's biotechnology policies, reviewing three major initiatives — the national research and development strategy, biotechnology strategy and proposed laws to govern intellectual property rights derived from publicly funded research. Wolson explains the origins, goals and implementation of each.
The projects aim to create a coordinated strategy for promoting biotechnology in South Africa. Wolson concludes that the efforts are an encouraging sign of governmental commitment, but notes the continuing challenge of integrating the individual projects into a coherent framework. This may depend on promoting social networks to catalyse innovative industries.
She calls for the government to encourage more private enterprise and investment while remaining committed to basic research.
This article is useful to anyone hoping to understand the policy framework for biotechnology in one of sub-Saharan Africa's key scientific and industrial powers.
Source: International Journal of Biotechnology | 2005
In this research article, Victor Konde of the University of Zambia argues that industrial biotechnologies can improve food security in Africa through improved livestock feeds and vaccines, as well as biotechnological pesticides, fertilisers and herbicides. He adds that biotechnology can also help farmers process crop and livestock products for new markets.
But Africa must first overcome a number of key challenges, says Konde — including restrictions on agricultural exports, weaknesses in scientific capacity and investment, and a lack of diplomatic strength to effectively promote its interests in international negotiations.
The author proposes ways for African policymakers to encourage biotech enterprise and investment, collaborative and interdisciplinary research, strategic alliances and public–private partnerships.