Daily Archives: March 23, 2017

New Technology Platform Designed to Provide African Park Rangers Real-Time Tools to Protect Iconic Animal Species

Philanthropist Paul G. Allen Builds on his Global Wildlife Conservation Effort with New Domain Awareness System (DAS)

SEATTLE, March 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Responding to the elephant poaching crisis illustrated in 2016’s Great Elephant Census (GEC), philanthropist Paul G. Allen and his team of technologists and conservation experts are partnering with park managers across Africa to provide a new technology platform to better protect this iconic species and other wildlife threatened by human activities.http://prnewswire2-a.akamaihd.net/p/1893751/sp/189375100/thumbnail/entry_id/1_y65zhrh6/def_height/400/def_width/400/version/100011/type/1

Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nluLPSRPA7U&t=2s

The GEC documented an alarming 30 percent loss of savannah elephants over the past seven years primarily due to increased ivory poaching. This confirmed conservationists’ greatest fears and gives new importance to technology to aid in addressing this crisis.

The Domain Awareness System (DAS) is a tool that aggregates the positions of radios, vehicles, aircraft and animal sensors to provide users with a real-time dashboard that depicts the wildlife being protected, the people and resources protecting them, and the potential illegal activity threatening them.

“Accurate data plays a critical role in conservation,” said Paul Allen. “Rangers deserve more than just dedication and good luck. They need to know in real-time what is happening in their parks.”http://prnewswire2-a.akamaihd.net/p/1893751/sp/189375100/thumbnail/entry_id/1_1zlvfxpg/def_height/400/def_width/400/version/100011/type/1

The visualization and analysis capabilities of DAS allow park managers to make immediate tactical decisions to then efficiently deploy resources for interdiction and active management. “DAS has enabled us to establish a fully integrated approach to our security and anti-poaching work within northern Kenya,” said Mike Watson, chief executive officer of Lewa Conservancy where the first DAS installation was deployed late last year. “This is making us significantly more effective and coordinated and is showing us limitless opportunities for conservation applications.”

The system has been installed at six protected wildlife conservation sites since November 2016. Working with Save the Elephants, African Parks Network, Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Singita Grumeti Fund as well as the Lewa Conservancy and Northern Rangelands Trust, a total of 15 locations are expected to adopt the system this year.

“When we are fully operational by the end of 2017, the system will cover more than 90,000 square miles of protected area,” said Ted Schmitt, lead program manager for DAS. “In speaking with park managers over the last few years, a large gap was a lack of a single technology platform that could make great use of the data to direct enforcement efforts and enable deep analysis.”http://prnewswire2-a.akamaihd.net/p/1893751/sp/189375100/thumbnail/entry_id/1_v9k9nji8/def_height/400/def_width/400/version/100011/type/1

The SMART Partnership, a consortium of conservation NGOs, government partners, and technology companies, is working with Paul Allen’s team to integrate DAS with SMART software used in nearly 500 sites across 46 countries to measure, evaluate and adaptively improve the effectiveness of wildlife law enforcement patrols and site-based conservation activities.

DAS is also powering the Save the Elephants Tracking App, a mobile tool for rangers and researchers that is already proving effective in many field sites across Africa.

“If you know where elephants are, and how they are moving, then you can help protect them,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, president of Save the Elephants. “We’ve been tracking elephants for a long time to get ahead of poachers in this way and the DAS is taking this into a new realm. I’m absolutely thrilled that Paul Allen is doing this. DAS is a game changer.”http://prnewswire2-a.akamaihd.net/p/1893751/sp/189375100/thumbnail/entry_id/1_v8g5dtab/def_height/400/def_width/400/version/100011/type/1

With early and eager adoption by the protected areas to date, the implementation team is focusing on the integration of new data sources as they become available. Satellites, drones, camera traps, animal sensors, weather monitors and technology yet to be invented can all be used for managing and protecting wildlife no matter what threats develop in the future.

ABOUT VULCAN INC.

Vulcan Inc. is a nimble private company working to solve some of the biggest global issues. The projects and investments we pursue are inspired by the ideas of our founder Paul G. Allen and tethered to a simple principle; we use data to inform our efforts and seek out opportunities that can make a positive impact—and share what we learn. Vulcan supports innovative approaches that can save endangered species, address climate change, improve ocean health, explore new frontiers, research how the human brain works and build sustainable communities. Our programs, projects and initiatives bring together industry leaders collaborating across disciplines to discover and develop smart, data-driven solutions and create inspiring experiences that help us tackle some of the world’s toughest challenges.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Janet Greenlee
Director of Philanthropic Communications
janetg@vulcan.com
www.vulcan.com

Photo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/481398/Vulcan_Inc_DAS_mock_arrest.jpg
Photo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/481443/Vulcan_Inc_Lewa_Conservancy_archive.jpg
Photo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/481446/Vulcan_Inc_Ranger_orientation.jpg
Photo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/481450/Vulcan_Inc_Close_up_of_Domain_Awareness_System.jpg

 

 

Armed Groups Occupy Central African Republic Schools

DAKAR � The armed group took over the school little by little. One day when a fighter came to collect and burn the students’ desks, teacher Thiernd Ouronfei decided he’d had enough.

“I said he must put the kids’ desks down. They hit me in the head with a knife and I was sent to the hospital for at least a week,” he said. Even now, after the school in Central African Republic was liberated, parents are scared to send their children, he told The Associated Press.

Some 20 percent of schools in Central African Republic are not functioning, and students’ and teachers’ lives are threatened as armed groups have looted, occupied and damaged the properties in the conflict-torn country, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Thursday. An education is a rare opportunity for children in the impoverished country to get ahead.

“We’re talking about a lost generation. These are students who aren’t going to get those years back,” said Lewis Mudge, the group’s Africa researcher and co-author of the report. “Many rebels have also been quite open that they are going to reoccupy schools during the upcoming rainy season.”

Central African Republic descended into conflict in 2013 when the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels overthrew the Christian president. The Christian anti-Balaka militia retaliated with a backlash against Muslim civilians.

While the country held successful democratic elections last year, many remote areas remain outside the government’s control. Violence by armed groups has risen sharply since October. Various armed groups have used the schools as bases for years.

Human Rights Watch, which visited schools between November and January and interviewed children and teachers as well as fighters, has called on the country’s government and the United Nations to do more to ensure that armed groups stay far away from classrooms. In some cases, fighters may vacate a school, but still operate meters away.

One student in Ngadja in Ouaka province told Human Rights Watch that he feared for his life after Seleka fighters occupied a nearby school on and off for more than two years.

“I often ask myself, ‘Should I even bother to go to school? Is it worth the risk?'” he said.

The Seleka rebels for months used the school director’s office as a prison, teachers in Ngadja told the rights group.

“I’m afraid of the Seleka hanging around the school. So I can’t go, and that makes me just as uneducated as an animal,” a 15-year-old student in Mbres, Nana Grebizi province, told the rights group. In Mbali, Ouham province, a 16-year-old said classes finally started again in November after three years, “but they had burned all the books, and we don’t have any left.”

An 18-year-old student said he had lost four years of his life because he wasn’t able to study. “I want to be a doctor, but the Seleka are blocking my future.”

In November, the U.N. humanitarian office estimated that while 2,336 schools in Central African Republic were operational, at least 461 were not because of insecurity, destruction, occupation and lack of teachers.

Central African Republic’s government in 2015 committed to protecting schools from attack and military use and permitted U.N. forces to clear them. Progress was made but then undermined when U.N., African Union and French forces in some cases occupied schools themselves, Human Rights Watch said. Once U.N. officials were informed, they left, the group said.

“If there are to be any meaningful attempts at peace or at reconciliation, it’s important to restart these structures that provide a degree of normalcy,” Mudge said.

Source: Voice of America

New United Nations Partnerships Highlight Slavery Tragedy, Triumph of Black Achievement in Lead-up to International Day of Remembrance

Ten years ago this month, the General Assembly declared 25 March the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It also established the United Nations Remember Slavery Programme, which, in addition to educating about one of history’s greatest tragedies, works to combat racism and prejudice.

The Programme’s theme for 2017 is Remember Slavery: Recognizing the Legacy and Contributions of People of African Descent. It urges remembrance of the fact that the transatlantic slave trade, while forming a very dark chapter in human history, also led to an unprecedented transfer of knowledge and culture from Africa to the Americas, Europe and elsewhere.

In honour of the Programme’s 10-year anniversary, the Department of Public Information has rolled out a new logo and entered into new partnerships to better meet its goals. For example, it worked with the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool to launch a new exhibition, A Legacy of Black Achievement. On display in the United Nations Visitors Lobby until 29 March, it features 21 notable people who have personified the vital contributions that Africans and people of African descent have made across the globe. Ranging from Brazilian politicians to South African musicians, the achievers also include some home-grown heroes, among them former Secretary-General Kofi Annan and celebrated United Nations mediator Ralph Bunche.

The Programme also invited Lonnie G. Bunch III, Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., to deliver a keynote address at the General Assembly’s commemorative meeting on the International Day, to be held on 24 March at 3 p.m. The museum opened last September to widespread acclaim. Following the meeting, which will also feature remarks by the Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly and Member States, the Department will host a cultural and culinary event at 6 p.m. in the Visitors Lobby. Foods inspired by the African diaspora will be offered by Member States, and live music will be performed by La Familia Sextet, a band whose diverse members are united by their passion for Afro-Caribbean jazz.

In 2017, the Programme partnered with the International Decade for People of African Descent to produce a poster exhibition in all six official United Nations languages called Remembering slavery: recognition, justice and development. The posters, as well as a calendar to raise awareness of the Permanent Memorial to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, have been made available to the global network of United Nations information centres for use in their local events.

For its part, UNStories, a video series tailored for the Web and spun off from United Nations Television’s UN in Action, has produced a 90-second video in all six official languages, titled The African Roots of Cuba’s Music, on the transatlantic slave trade’s impact on the culture and music of Cuba.

Source: United Nations

Minister Lynne Brown hosts 2030 NDP Career Expo for local schools in George, 27 Mar

Minister Lynne Brown hosts the 2030 NDP Career Expo for local schools in George and handover bursaries to matriculants

The Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynne Brown will hand over 10 bursaries to learners from four high schools in the George Local Municipality for the 2018 academic year in George on Monday (27 March 2017).

The Minister will be accompanied by the Western Cape MEC for Education, Debbie SchA�fer, to the career expo in George and guide Grade 10�12 learners on career paths that they can pursue to become future artisans and engineers.

Learners from the Thembalethu, Imizamoyethu, Parkdene and George High schools will be informed how they can qualify for future bursary opportunities at the career expo.

Admission at tertiary institutions without funding leaves many prospective students destitute. To this end Minister Brown requested the State Owned Company, (SOC) Eskom, to reserve 10 bursaries for top learners in the George region to attend tertiary institutions of their choice next year.

Minister Brown’s allocation of the bursaries is part of the Department’s Back-to-School campaign to resource poor schools and motivate academically deserving learners as part of efforts by government to advocate and promote academic excellence in the country.

At the event, learners will also be treated to a world of knowledge and exposed to career opportunities in industries such as engineering, aviation and forestry, among others. Over 20 exhibitors from Government, SOCs and the private sector will showcase their bursary and learnerships schemes and how learners can access them.

Furthermore, Minister Brown will hand-over 2000 dignity packs, 100 school shoes and school uniforms to 20 under-privileged leaners.

What’s more is that SOCs reporting to Minister Brown have also contribute through their respective Corporate Social Investment programmes to the following:

Denel will offer tutorials at the 2017 Winter School

Transnet will contribute renovate the George High School Hostel

Transnet will provide four container libraries to the four schools

Source: Government of South Africa

WORLD LEADERS URGED TO UNITE TO ENSURE EXPANDED ACCESS TO WATER AND SANITATION

DURBAN, March 23 (NNN-SA NEWS) — The World Water Day Summit and Expo has opened in Durban with a call from the United Nations High Level Panel on Water (HLPW) o world leaders to unite and do more to support the global push for expanded access to water and sanitation.

The Panel seeks to inspire world leaders to provide political leadership and to galvanise support to accelerate the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and, in particular, SDG 6 on Water and Sanitation,” says South African President Jacob Zuma, one of the 11 sitting heads of State and Government making up the panel.

[The 2017 World Water Development Report] is aimed at drawing attention to the current dismal global status of water and sanitation and to inspire commitment to an urgent ‘Call for Action’ by world leaders to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, President Zuma said Wednesday at the opening of the conference and expo at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre here.

World Water Day is observed annually on 22 March to put the spotlight on the fact that 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. The SDGs include a target to ensure that everyone has access to safe water by 2030, making water a key issue in the fight to eradicate extreme poverty.

This year’s World Water Day is held under the theme, “Water and Sanitation is a Human Right”, which fits in with South Africa’s celebration of Human Rights Month in March.

Speaking in his capacity as Chairperson of the Heads of State Committee on the UN High Level Panel, President Zuma said the panel was seeking to inspire world leaders to provide political leadership for the attainment of SDG 6, which places water and sanitation at the core of sustainable development, critical to human survival and the environment.

In order to address the goal of 10 billion people getting access to water and sanitation by 2030, President Zuma launched the 2017 World Water Development Report, which focuses on the theme Wastewater: the untapped resource.

The President said the bleak global picture presented in the report required world leaders to urgently prioritise the improvement of access to essential water and sanitation services. The report showed that 147 countries had met the SDG drinking water target, while 95 countries had met the sanitation target and only 77 countries had met both.

These statistics do not do justice in conveying the development and health challenges faced by so many people or in contextualising how unevenly these basic services are distributed around the world and within societies. For example, it was reported that in 2011, nearly 60 per cent of the world’s one billion extremely poor people lived in just five countries. It seems that little has changed since 2011, said President Zuma.

The President said this unacceptable situation would only get worse, unless the world joins forces to create equal chances for success at all levels in the race against time to secure the most precious resource of freshwater for current and future generations.

The United Nations Commission on Population and Development estimates that the global population, which currently stands at about 7.3 billion people, may grow to 9.7 billion by the year 2050, with as many as 3.1 billion additional residents in urban areas.

The largest increase in population is expected to happen here in Africa, followed by Asia. These are already amongst the regions most adversely affected by water and sanitation problems, said President Zuma.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK