Daily Archives: January 12, 2017

SOUTH AFRICA TO HOST INAUGURAL UN FORUM FOR STATISTICIANS

South Africa will host the first United Nations World Data Forum in Cape Town next week, says Statistician-General Pali Lehohla.

The forum, which will bring together about 1,000 global experts, including data scientists, academicians and civil society groups, will be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from Sunday to Wednesday.

The UN says more than 1,000 data experts from all over the world have registered for the forum.

Lehohla said here Wednesday that the event would help pave the way for standardising data. “There are increasing new sources of data that are useful and for them to be useful there must be standards,” he added.

The first UN World Data Forum will be hosted by Statistics South Africa, with support from the Statistics Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, under the guidance of the United Nations Statistical Commission and the High-level Group for Partnership, Co-ordination and Capacity-Building for Statistics for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

A UN statement said the event would be an opportunity for data and statistics experts from around the world to get together with governments, businesses, civil society and the scientific and academic communities explore innovative ways to apply data and statistics to measure global progress and inform evidence-based policy decisions on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

It would also enable them tp contribute to important discussions, data labs and interactive platforms aimed at improving the use of data for sustainable development and to launch new initiatives and solutions which will deliver better data for all.

Source: Nam News Network

ICT access for Mpumalanga learners

Kabokweni – Learners from schools in the rural town of Kabokweni in Mpumalanga will no longer have to wait until they get to varsity to gain skills in digital media technology.

The MTN Foundation’s Schools Connectivity Programme has provided 11 multimedia centres for schools in the area, which were officially handed over on Thursday by Communications Minister Faith Muthambi as part of the Back to School campaign.

Speaking to SAnews after the official opening of the multimedia centre at Enkhokhokweni Primary School, Minister Muthambi said: This ICT infrastructure will not only enable learners in this area to get access to information, it will enable them to get connected with the rest of the world, facilitating exposure of computer education and advanced technologies.

Without the necessary infrastructure, schools in rural areas cannot realise the true potential of technology. We strongly believe that this new technology will improve teaching and learning.

Through our partnership with the MTN Foundation, we took a decision to bring the ICT centres in this area because we know that schools in rural areas play an important role.

These centres will serve as community centres and a symbol of community pride.

MTN SA Foundation General Manager Kusile Mthunzi-Hairwadzi said: For us, education is a social need of our country so this is not a donation but an investment towards the future of learners in rural areas.

As a company, we view it important to expose learners in rural schools to ICT from an early age. These centres will enhance teaching and learning in that they are fully loaded with the basic education curriculum.

We are certain that through our Schools Connectivity Programme, learners from rural schools will not see a computer for the first time at university or college.

MTN can monitor from their offices if the computers are being used or not.

Mpumalanga Education MEC Reginah Mhaule said they expect to see quality results from the schools through the use of ICT.

Internet connectivity at these schools will benefit learners to access educational information. Learners will be able to chat to teachers and each other for knowledge sharing and problem solving.

Enkhokhokweni School principal Duduzile Madonsela said: The multimedia centre will motivate us as teachers to work hard Almost all the 26 educators at the school are computer literate so this centre is not going to be a white elephant.

Other schools that also received multimedia centres are Mbuyani Secondary School, Mvangati Primary School, Edwaleni Primary School, Hlanganani Secondary School and Phaftwa High, to mention but a few.

Tomorrow, Minister Muthambi will visit Izimbali Combined School in the Gert Sibande District.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Kenyan slum activists build climate change resilience from the bottom up

Living in the Kenyan slum of Mukuru is hard enough, but when it rains it’s downright miserable. Streets flood, sewage overflows, homes are inundated.

After each bout of torrential rain, Nairobi’s largest informal settlement is left a little shabbier, a little poorer, the community more insecure.

Climate projections for East Africa suggests parts of the region will receive heavier rains in the future, which will impact the most vulnerable. In the case of the Kenyan capital, that means the 60 percent of its residents currently living in informal settlements.

A walk through Mukuru is enough to appreciate the magnitude of the challenges. A courtyard turned into a pond by recent flash floods reflects the metal shacks surrounding it, now inaccessible until the water dries up. That could take weeks.

Residents cross, tiptoeing on the rocks just visible above the water to reach the main street. A short walk ahead, a bridge over the nearby river leads to the other side of the slum, where the local school is. When the river bursts its banks, the bridge becomes inaccessible, sometimes for months, and kids miss their classes.

Insecurity

Finding solutions in Mukuru is especially difficult because it is built partially on private land, which traps residents in chronic land tenure insecurity: they could be evicted and lose what little they have at any time. This doesn’t encourage them to plan for the long-term.

Aware that climate change will magnify risks, slum activists from local universities and research institutions are teaming up to take action in Mukuru, working with the residents to build resilience, and develop legal and financial tools to force accountability from public authorities.

Shadrack Mbaka, of Slum Dwellers International, is one of the brains behind the project � spurred on by the fact that informal settlements [have] been cut out of the development plans of the Nairobi City Council.

SDI is partnering with Strathmore University, the International Development Research Centre, Nairobi University, the Katiba Institute and Muungano wa Wanavijiji, a slum dwellers’ network, to develop the research and come up with recommendations for upgrading Mukuru.

The lack of pipe-borne water and sanitation is one major issue. Of more than 800 households surveyed in Mukuru, just four percent had access to adequate bathrooms, only seven percent had proper toilets, and just 29 percent had adequate water provision.

Christine Wayua makes a living for herself and her family by threading beads into colourful jewellery. She works from a bench outside her home in a narrow passage, off one of the main roads in Mukuru.

Whenever it rains it’s a disaster for the communities living here, she told IRIN. There will be a lot of flooding and it’s not just rainwater: it’s water mixed with sewage, and the water gets into the homes.

That can lead to the spread of waterborne diseases, like cholera, which is common in Kenya’s slums.

Profiling

SDI and its partners are trying to tackle the community’s vulnerability from the bottom up, with the help of people like Wayua.

First they profiled Mukuru, counting people and households. Then they sat down with the residents to imagine a new, better design for the community’s infrastructure. With an agreed plan, they can engage the politicians, who had previously ignored their needs.

Wayua is aware of climate change, and recognises it may exacerbate the problems the community already faces. But she is pragmatic, looking to focus instead on how to prepare for the future.

In the case of Mukuru, she feels the issue boils down to land tenure. We need more guarantees that we will be able to occupy this land in the future, she explained.

Mukuru’s coalition of activists are exploring a range of strategies to improve land tenure and property rights � including converting private holdings into community land, and then establishing a Community Land Trust. The CLT will help defend constitutional rights to housing, water, health, and sanitation.

Another approach is to foster liveability, safety and affordability. This includes initiatives to improve service delivery through community partnerships and community-based management structures. One target is the cartels, whose control means prices for services in Makuru, as in other slums, is higher than in Nairobi’s middle-class suburbs.

It’s fundamental that people realise that the community is theirs to protect and upgrade, said Wayua.

She gave the example of a garbage point, designated as a place where the community could collectively dispose of their rubbish: But still you will find that no one really wants to carry their garbage there, so the nearest open space they see is where they are going to dump it.

Mbaka says that engagement is growing, and will lead to behavioral change. Even garbage collection could, eventually, be a success.

Urban poor

Responding to the complex realities in Mukuru could help develop the long-term solutions to benefit the rest of Kenya’s informal settlements, says a Strathmore University study.

There are 158 overcrowded informal settlements dotting Nairobi. They host the majority of the city’s population, but take up just 1.6 percent of the city’s land area.

The land is marginal and disaster prone, and houses are typically flimsy. But what really drives vulnerability for the urban poor is the lack of risk preparedness, and the capacity to respond when something bad happens, said David Dodman, an expert on resilience with the International Institute for Environment and Development.

You can’t separate the process of rapid urban population growth, which means that more people are located in increasingly hazardous sites, from the actual changes in the climate that may be making those sites even more risky.

Source: IRIN