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Posted on on March 8th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

We find the following interesting for a different reason as well –
The use of these bulbs in relation to the introduction of decentralized solar and wind electricity. The bulb becoming its own battery!
(ST editor)


?UMEME Blackouts? No Worries with a Rechargeable Bulb.

GreenPower Uganda, March 5, 2013,
Rechargeable BULB that gives U light When UMEME Power Goes OFF– Only Ugsh. 15,000/=

Rechargeable LED Bulb with inbuilt Battery at 15,500/=

  1. 1.      Built in rechargeable battery, can last 4-6 hours when UMEME Power is off.
  2. 2. Screw the bulb into a bulb AC power holder for charging and at the same time as you use it for lighting the room.
  3. 3.      When UMEME Power goes off, the Bulb Automatically continues giving you light for another 6 hours.
  4. 4. It Can also be used as a torch when power goes off; a lamp, emergency light, camping lamp and all kinds of light source,
  5. 5.      Low power consumption- Only 3 watts compared to 100 Watts of Normal Bulbs.
  6. 6. LED super bright Technology with Built life of upto 100,000 hours- making it extremely durability.
  7. 7.      Excellent Energy-Saving Performance upto 95%.
  8. 8. Easy mounting: can be mounted directly into a normal Lamp holder.
  9. 9.      Remote Control: you can remotely turn on/off the bulb.

10. Simple to use, Convenient to carry

Available at:

Green Power Solutions
Shop F1-8 | Nalubwama Arcade
Plot 26/28 | Ben Kiwanuka Street
(Btn Old Taxi Park & Cooper Complex)
Ben Kiwanuka Street | Kampala | Uganda
Mob. +256-701-831 889 | +256-701-714488

Powered by Elmot Ltd.

Elmot Ltd is a medium size company with 10 employees and looks forward to employing more dynamic and talented individuals as we grow towards our vision promoting the use and appreciation of ICTs in Uganda.


Posted on on March 3rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

From a new IISD Newsletter – “Sustainable Development in Action” (First year – Third issue).

Co-facilitators for Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals appointed.

The President of the General Assembly has appointed the Permanent Representatives of Hungary – Ambassador Csaba Korosi – and Kenya – Ambassador Macharia Kamau – as co-facilitators to prepare for the first meeting of the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  In addition, as facilitators, the President of the General Assembly has also appointed H.E. Amb. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil in order to facilitate the transition from the Rio+20 or the June 2012 meeting that was run by Brazil, and Ambassador Dejan Sahovic as a Special liaison to Mr. Vuk Jeremic of Serbia – now President of the UN General Assembly. Last position before joining Mr. Jeremic in New York – Mr. Sahovic served as Ambassador of Serbia to Hungary (2008-2012)

Initially, they will facilitate consultations on the group’s leadership, agenda, and program of work and methods.

The first meeting of the OWG is currently expected to take place in mid-March 2013
(letter of appointment).


In UN fashion – this process, started last Mid-June having not led to a UNGA decision at the 2012 General Assembly meeting is now being pushed to bring forward suggestions to the September 2013 UN General assembly meeting, but rather then establishing directly a committee of specialists – the above decision leads to a group of diplomats that will in turn have to bring in the specialists – thus guaranteeing the continuation of the non-functioning UN Commission on Sustainable Development, rather then replace it with a better functioning body. We tend to bet that eventually the dead CSD will be asked to show the way; above pace is a disappointment to those that thought finally there will be action at the UN on Sustainable Development.

Establishing SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals to replace the MDGs that run out in 2015, is laudable but it seems also pre-ordained that the time till 2015 is intentionally not put to good use.

One of the main outcomes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, was the agreement by Member States to launch a process to develop a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Rio+20 did not elaborate specific goals but stated that the SDGs should be limited in number, aspirational and easy to communicate.

The goals should address in a balanced way all three dimensions of sustainable development and be coherent with and integrated into the UN development agenda beyond 2015.

A 30-member Open Working Group (OWG) of the General Assembly is tasked with preparing a proposal on the SDGs.

The Open Working Group was established on 22nd of January 2013 by the decision of the General Assembly.

The Member States have decided to use an innovative, constituency-based system of representation that is new to limited membership bodies of the General Assembly. This means that most of the seats in the OWG are shared by several countries.

The Rio+20 outcome document The Future We Want states that, at the outset, the OWG will decide on its methods of work, including developing modalities to ensure the full involvement of relevant stakeholders and expertise from civil society, the scientific community and the United Nations system in its work, in order to provide a diversity of perspectives and experience.


Posted on on February 22nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


Te Mängai o Aotearoa






15 FEBRUARY 2013

I thank Pakistan and the United Kingdom for refocusing the Security Council on this important issue.

In 2011 New Zealand supported the group of countries from the South Pacific and elsewhere who were calling on the Security Council to recognize the security implications of climate change. The fact that the Council adopted PPRST 2011/15 was a welcome step. But it was only a very modest beginning. A more intensive examination is now required.

While the global climate has always been variable, human-induced climate change is occurring at an unprecedented rate. It is not only small island states in the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean that are threatened, but climate change is also having an impact on security in regions such as Africa where decreased rainfall is increasing competition for scarce water and food. It is now beyond argument that international security depends on our collective ability to manage climate impacts in a shorter timescale. Globally, there is a tremendous body of scientific knowledge:  we have a good idea of what is going to happen and what we might be able to do about it. And the Security Council needs to be a part of the process of raising awareness.

We agree with the Secretary General’s report that the best way to avoid climate change impacts is through comprehensive adaptation and global mitigation action.  In the UNFCCC, New Zealand is therefore committed to developing a comprehensive legally binding climate change agreement, whose design ensures the participation of all major emitters and an ambitious outcome.  A rules-based system with bounded flexibility – and differentiation on a continuum of commitments – will support both of these essential goals.

But climate change is an issue that must also be addressed across most of the international agenda. While it is not the Security Council’s role to be the author of a new rules-based system, it can and should add its weight to the case for an effective global response.

Moreover the Council must step up its efforts for preventive diplomacy and conflict avoidance.  Internationally, and especially here in the United Nations, we already have mechanisms that address the kind of security challenges posed by climate change, whether competition for scarce resources including land and water, food security or disaster response. Existing mechanisms, including the Security Council, must recognise the threat multiplier that is climate change.

Security threats can be most effectively mitigated where climate change is “mainstreamed” in sustainable development planning to build confident, resilient communities, who have choices about whether to relocate or remain.  At a national level, building adaptive capacity allows countries to better cope with climate-related events before they spiral into major security challenges.  Work under way in the UNFCCC to consider arrangements on loss and damage from the adverse effects of climate change in developing countries will be an important part of that.


In 2011 New Zealand had the privilege of chairing the Pacific Islands Forum – a regional body that represents some of the smallest and most vulnerable states on this planet.

We share the fundamental concern of Pacific Island countries, and other particularly vulnerable countries, about the impacts of climate change – including stresses on food, fresh water, and energy supplies, as well as an increase in extreme weather events.  And we share the concern that the impacts threaten the viability of some communities and raise questions about relocation. Pacific Islands Forum Leaders have recognized the desire to continue to live in their own countries, which is vital to retaining the Pacific’s social and cultural identity.  It is time to think hard, and quickly, about how solutions to climate change can reflect the desire of people to continue to live in their own countries.

It was for these reasons New Zealand stood alongside our Pacific neighbours in co-sponsoring the UN General Assembly Resolution on Climate Change and its possible security implications in 2009 and New Zealand now in 2013 calls on the Security Council to take up this issue again this year.


Both climate change and the responses to it will have far-reaching impacts over the decades ahead.  We ask the Council to listen to the voices of those countries that face the most difficult transitions, and do all within its purview to ensure that the path to a climate-resilient future is stable and secure.


Posted on on February 16th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


(These irregularities in the title are in the original that seems to be guarded from us being able to correct it)

Fourm Name: 

New York,15 February 2013

I would like to thank the distinguished Permanent Representatives of Pakistan and the United Kingdom for organizing this informal meeting of the Security Council to discuss the security dimensions of climate change. I would like to thank the panelists for their presentations and commend the Secretary General for his commitment to engage the United Nations in the global adaptation and mitigation effort against climate change.

Now I would like to stress a few points:

1-Climate change is a clear and present danger. Climate change is a reality. It leads to sea level rise that threatens the very existence of nations that are members of this organization. It leads to extreme weather events that have affected us here at the headquarters of the United Nations. Hurricane Sandy was a vivid example of what many Carribean and Pacific states endure every single year.

2-Climate change is an issue of vulnerability, equity, responsibility, accountability, sustainability, development, and therefore security. It has devastating implications that may trigger conflicts or exacerbate them. It has a very particular nature since those responsible for it are not necessary the ones who are mostly affected by it.

3-Africa, the continent to which Egypt belongs, is the continent that has less contributed to global climate change. Yet it is the most vulnerable to its adverse implications. It is not a coincidence that Africa occupies more than 70% of the Security Council agenda. It is the only continent where one of its worst conflicts has been directly linked to climate change. I am speaking about Darfur, where the Security Council has sent one of its biggest Peace keeping operations. The increasing drought and desertification is definitely exacerbating the causes of conflict in the Sahel. The Middle East, the other region to which Egypt belongs, is the most water scarce place in earth. Studies have predicted that future wars in these two regions would be water wars. The persistent practices of the occupying Israeli forces and settlers in the occupied State of Palestine include a systematic effort to dominate water resources and drive the Palestinians out of their arable land. These are all real conflicts that cause real loss of life and property.

4-Climate change is a disaster, yet it is man-made. The reasons behind it are well known. It is a very special phenomenon, since it hits more the ones that have not participated in causing it. This is why it needs special solutions. The special solution has been developed by the international community in a universal legally binding framework: the United Nations framework Convention on Climate Change.

5-This legal framework contains the agreed principles that address the special nature of climate change. These include the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities; historical responsibility and equity in the distribution of atmospheric space, the priority of development for developing countries. The Kyoto Protocol with its “Clean Development Mechanism” is an attempt to implement some of these principles.

6-This legal framework has passed through a number of important milestones in the last four years. The Copenhagen Accord that failed to convince the vast majority of countries that were not consulted during its negotiation. The Cancun Agreements that salvaged the valid points of the Copenhagen Accord, including the Green Fund that is supposed to gather 100 billion US$ a year by 2020 to adapt to and mitigate, climate change effects. The Durban Platform that aims at developing an additional legal instrument by 2015. The Doha Outcome that included the extension of the Kyoto Protocol.

7-This legal framework aims to redress the imbalance between those responsible for the bulk of climate change provoking emissions and those affected by it. This was a historical breakthrough that attempted to resolve sustainability and equity issues, compared to other frameworks that just formalize the status quo. We hope that the instrument that will be reached in 2015 does not divert from the “redressing approach”.

8-This legal framework has a compliance mechanism that has not worked properly so far. Despite the fact that the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol are the only legal framework available to address climate change in a collective manner, the international community did not exert enough efforts to ensure the universality of the Kyoto Protocol. It did not react to non-compliance with its provisions. It did not react to the withdrawal of one country from the Protocol in 2010. This encouraged others to follow suit.

9Now we are in a situation where small island states face an existential threat. Where in Africa, the Middle East, and all other continents, conflicts are exacerbated and natural disasters are proliferating, while the international community is still thinking about the shape of the new agreement in 2015, while we all know but do not want to say, that the pledges of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol will not be enough to stop the global increase in emissions and global warmth, and that the financial cost of adaptation and mitigation exceeds by far the targeted 100 US$ a year by 2020, if the target is reached at all.

(These are our editorial comments – the editor)

9-The danger of climate change might not be as visible as that of a potential nuclear war. Yet it is definitely more imminent as it is affecting all of us today. We are enduring the impact of the climate war in our daily lives in the form of food insecurity, water scarcity, conflicts over natural resources, increasing costs of energy and the status of the global economy; this in addition to the brutal effects of natural disasters. Yet, in many cases we are looking the other way. The countries that have both the financial and technological capability to lead the global efforts to contain climate change are distracted by trade and competitiveness wars that prevent them from focusing on the real danger that is affecting us all. This is a situation similar to the one that failed to prevent world wars in the past century.

10-Finally, I would like to stress that the Security Council is not the United Nations Organ that is most relevant in addressing the issues of sustainable development including climate change. The main responsibility lies more with the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. We are aware that the Security Council itself is struggling to reach the necessary consensus among its members on a number of ongoing conflicts that are causing dramatic loss of life and property. Yet, we are confident that this informal discussion will at least raise the profile of climate change. It should complement the work of the General Assembly and the ECOSOC. It should contribute to mobilize the political will to act now before it is too late.

Thank you for your attention.



Posted on on January 31st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

For Israel, droughts go down the drain.

Water Authority credits desalination advances, more than this year’s remarkably wet winter weather, for country’s new water wealth

By January 31, 2013, Times of Israel
Visitors top up their glasses with treated sea water at a desalination plant near Hadera (photo credit: Shay Levy/Flash90)

Visitors top up their glasses with treated sea water at a desalination plant near Hadera (photo credit: Shay Levy/Flash90)

After years of constantly being urged to conserve water, the National Water Authority announced Tuesday that Israelis no longer need to fear droughts and that the country’s water worries are essentially over.

The solution for the longstanding problem comes not from the clouds, which have provided generous amounts of rainfall this winter, but primarily from the sea — and the desalination technology that enables transforming its waters into something you can drink.

“Already we are desalinating 25 percent of our consumable water with the aid of three active plants. And with two more in the works, we will increase that amount to 50%. The drought that has plagued us in recent years is definitely over,” said Avner Hermoni, CEO of Derech Hayam desalination.

A man swims in the Sea of Galilee, Feb 2012. (photo credit: Yaakov Nahumi/Flash90)A man swims in the Sea of Galilee, Feb 2012. (photo credit: Yaakov Nahumi/Flash90)

“Sea of Galillee water levels are no longer an issue,” added Danny Sofer, a regional director for the national Mekorot water company. He said that water from the northern lake now makes up only 10% of Israel’s sources.

The Sea of Galilee — Lake Kinneret — has already collected enough water to reach its average yearly total, with over 330 days left to round out the total.

Thanks to the heaviest winter rains Israel has seen in decades earlier this month, the lake hit the 1.57 meter mark late last week — the average yearly intake — raising it to 210.84 meters below sea level, the highest it’s been since 2006, and only two meters below the level at which water would have to be let out.

The technological advances, together with the wet weather, have led the Water Authority to nix its water conservation campaign after running it for years.

“You can now shower alone,” Sofer joked, though he added that wise use of water is always sound policy.

Unfortunately for the public, being wealthy in water hasn’t yet translated to cheaper prices. Desalination is expensive, and on January 1 the price of water increased by 3 percent for the first 3.5 cubic meters per person in the household, bringing it to NIS 9.09 ($2.43).

Beyond the allocated 3.5 cubic meters, water costs NIS 14.60 per cubic meter. The price increases adds up to a total 36% increase since 2010.


Posted on on December 21st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Now the questions are – will UNEP speak for Science and the Global Environment rather then bow, as until now, to the few leading Member States interested in keeping it low and far?

Back in 1972 it was sent off to far away Nairobi so it would not impact the ongoing in New York or Geneva. The result was indeed that the Environment continued to be left out from discussions of the Development and Social Agendas.

The UN celebrates now: “United Nations Environment Programme Upgraded to Universal Membership Following Rio+20” and that is not funny. They also say now:

“UN General Assembly Strengthens UNEP Role in Addressing Global Environmental Challenges.
Renewed Focus on Improving Access to Technology and Capacity Building” says the UN.

Will ECOSOC – the Economic and Social Council – be allowed now to embrace this newly empowered UNEP and be upgraded to a body that is UNIVERSAL as well, and deals with Sustainability including all three legs of SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT – the Environment, Social Development and Economic Development? This at a time that sees the closing of the useless Commission – the UN CSD?

Will the new UNEP be charged to promote SUSTAINABLE ENERGY in the UN effort to provide Energy-4-All, the post RIO+20 other effort that will have its hub in Vienna? Sustainable Energy and the Global Environment are the twin pillars that will hold our arch to Future Generations.

New York / Nairobi, 21 December 2012 –
Another step forward to the ‘Future We Want’ was put in place today with a decision by the General Assembly of the United Nations to ‘strengthen and upgrade’ the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and establish universal membership of its governing body.

The landmark resolution, aimed at increasing the role of UNEP as the leading environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, was adopted 40 years after UNEP was established by the General Assembly, following the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.

The General Assembly resolution also provides for UNEP to receive secure, stable and increased financial resources from the regular budget of the UN, and calls for other UNEP donors to increase their voluntary funding.

The decision allows full participation of all 193 UN member states at the UNEP Governing Council in February 2013, and follows commitments by world leaders at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) last June to improve the institutional framework for sustainable development.

The provisions contained in the resolution are among the first practical steps by the UN General Assembly to implement the outcomes of Rio+20.

“The decision by the General Assembly to strengthen and upgrade UNEP is a watershed moment. Universal membership of UNEP’s Governing Council establishes a new, fully-representative platform to strengthen the environmental dimension of sustainable development, and provides all governments with an equal voice on the decisions and actions needed to support the global environment, and ensure a fairer share of the world’s resources for all,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

“The resolution reaffirms UNEP’s role as the UN’s authority on the environment, and provides the mandate to enhance our ongoing work on bringing the latest science to policy-makers, directly supporting national and regional environmental efforts, improving access to technology, and other key areas. For UNEP and the environmental community, this is a truly historic day,” added Mr. Steiner.

Improved governance for the global environment

In the forty years since UNEP was established, the environmental challenges facing communities around the world – from diminishing water resources and desertification, to climate change and hazardous chemicals – have increased in number and complexity.

Yet international responses to such challenges are often fragmented and weak.

The latest edition of UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook report, released in June 2012, assessed 90 of the most important environmental goals agreed by the international community, and found that significant progress had only been made in four.

The report warns that if current trends continue, several critical thresholds may be exceeded, beyond which irreversible changes to the life-support functions of the planet could occur.

The General Assembly decision reflects the commitment of member states to improve global cooperation on the environment in order to meet such challenges, and to promote the integration of the social, economic, and environmental pillars of sustainable development, as well as improving coordination within the UN system.

Prior to the new resolution, UNEP’s Governing Council consisted of 58 members only. Previous efforts to ensure wider representation in the running of UNEP resulted in the creation of the Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GMEF), which brought together the world’s environment ministers for high-level meetings in parallel with the Governing Council.

Member states will have the role of implementing the provisions of the General Assembly resolution – including arrangements for the future of the GMEF – at the first meeting of the newly-enlarged Governing Council at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi on 18-22 February 2013. The meeting will be held under the theme ‘Rio+20: From Outcome to Implementation’.

The General Assembly also stressed the important role of UNEP in providing the international community with comprehensive, science-based, policy-relevant global environmental assessments, such as the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) series, and others.

By endorsing the Rio+20 outcome document ‘The Future We Want’ in July 2012, and adopting the new resolution on UNEP
, the General Assembly underlined the need for UNEP to work more closely with non-governmental organizations, youth, women, indigenous peoples, local governments, business, and other interest groups, and to formalize their participation at the UNEP Governing Council and in global environmental decision-making overall.

UNEP is also tasked with further strengthening the vital link between policy-makers and the scientific community.

In a separate resolution relating to another Rio+20 outcome, the General Assembly welcomed the adoption of the ten-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns (10YFP), to which UNEP provides the secretariat.

The 10YFP is a global framework of action to enhance international cooperation on accelerating the shift towards sustainable consumption and production in developed and developing countries. The framework will support capacity building, and provide technical and financial assistance to developing countries.

The General Assembly also tasked UNEP with establishing a trust fund for sustainable consumption and production programmes in order to mobilize voluntary contributions
from donors, the private sector, foundations, and other sources.

40 Years of UNEP

The General Assembly resolution marks the first major structural change to UNEP in its four-decade history.

The first UN agency to be headquartered in a developing country, UNEP is the voice of the environment in the UN system. Its mandate is to coordinate the development of environmental policy consensus by keeping the global environment under review, and bringing emerging issues to the attention of governments and the international community for action.

UNEP also administers many multilateral environmental agreements and conventions, including the Ozone Secretariat and the Montreal Protocol’s Multilateral Fund, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and a growing family of chemicals-related agreements, among others.

Major UNEP landmarks and achievements over the past forty years include:

1979: Bonn Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) established. The agreement involves 116 member states and has overseen binding agreements and action plans to protect 120 migratory species.

1987: Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer established. One of the most successful multilateral agreements in UN history, the protocol has overseen a 98 per cent reduction of controlled ozone depleting substances, and delivered multiple health benefits, including millions of avoided cases of cancer and eye cataracts.

1988: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established by UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization. The panel delivers the world’s most influential, comprehensive and scientifically-reviewed reports on climate change.

1995: Basel Ban Amendment barring export of hazardous wastes adopted. Ratified by 70 countries and the EU, the agreement established a regime for minimization of health and environmental impacts of waste.

2002: Launch of Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles. Among other activities, the project has assisted countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to successfully phase out or begin the phase-out of leaded fuel. Associated health savings for the continent are estimated at US$92 billion per year.

2012: Launch of Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants: Voluntary initiative to reduce emissions of black carbon, methane, low-level ozone, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and other short-lived climate pollutants, to tackle climate change and improve human health. In less than 12 months, some 25 governments and additional partners have joined the coalition.

More UNEP milestones can be viewed at:

Texts of all resolutions of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly are available at:

Video: Adoption of the UN General Assembly resolution on UNEP universal membership:

Rio+20 outcome document ‘The Future We Want’ (strengthening and upgrading of UNEP outlined in paragraph 88):

More information on the 10 Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production is available at:

For more information, please contact:

Nick Nuttall, Acting Director, UNEP Division of Communications and Public Information, on Tel. +254 733 632 755 /+41 79 596 5737, E-mail:

Bryan Coll, UNEP Newsdesk (Nairobi) on Tel. +254 20 7623088 / +254 731666214, E-mail:

Jim Sniffen
Programme Officer
UN Environment Programme
New York
tel: +1-212-963-8094
Email: sniffenj at at


Posted on on November 11th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Drylands, Deserts and Desertification


The International Conference on Drylands, Deserts and Desertification (DDD) has emerged as an important global gathering of scientists, field workers, industry, government, CSOs, international development aid agencies and other stakeholders from over 60 countries concerned about land degradation in the drylands, and their sustainable use and development.
The program combines plenary lectures and panels, parallel sessions, workshops, field trips and social events. The four day conference provides an opportunity for a diverse group of experts, policy makers and land managers to consider a range of theoretical and practical issues associated with combating desertification and living sustainably in the drylands.
The 4th DDD conference will focus on the outcome of Rio+20 (UN Conference on Sustainable Development – UNCSD) and consider the science required for implementing the UNCSD recommendations relevant to drylands and desertification. Local case studies will be highlighted alongside success stories from around the world with an emphasis on indicators of progress. Additional sessions will be held considering a broad range of topics associated with sustainable living in the drylands and means to address desertification, as well as achieving the target of zero net rate of land degradation.


Posted on on October 25th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

RECEIVED October 25-th:

Reminder: Global online consultation: High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the post-2015 development agenda (19-26 October)  ???

The High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the post-2015 development agenda will hold its first substantive meeting in London from 31 October to 2 November 2012, and will focus on the issue of household poverty.

As part of the Panel’s efforts to reach out to civil society and other stakeholders, a global online consultation was being held from 19-26 October around the same framing questions the Panel will address, namely on:

1. Human development; and
2. Jobs and livelihoods.

Interested organizations and networks are invited to participate in the consultation here: Translations into French and Spanish will be available on Wednesday 24 October.

Substantive contributions will be compiled and synthesized by the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) and inform the Panel discussions in London.

This process is expected to be repeated for the subsequent Panel meetings, where more lead-time will be given for groups to be able to develop submissions
this we guess because the present event was not well publicized to the point we wonder if this was not a case that home office undermines change that was suggested by the outreach effort.

Subsequent High-level Panel meetings (dates to be confirmed) will be held in Monrovia (Liberia) and Bali (Indonesia) on the following topics:

•        Monrovia: national development
•        Bali: global partnerships


Posted on on October 22nd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Girl Shot By Taliban Becomes Global Icon.

Radio Free Europe
By Ron Synovitz
Oct. 11, 2012

In December, when the United Nations declared October 11 as the date for an annual “International Day of the Girl Child,” it said attention needed to be focused on promoting girls’ rights.

On October 11, when the newly minted UN day made its debut, global attention was focused on Malala Yousafzai — the 14-year-old schoolgirl from Pakistan’s northwestern Swat Valley who was shot this week by the Pakistani Taliban for defending her right to an education.

The Pakistani Taliban (TTP) expected to silence her campaign, which she had carried out since the age of 11 through an online diary she wrote for the BBC. Instead, they created an international icon for girls’ rights and made her known the world over simply as “Malala.”

At the European Union headquarters in Brussels on October 11, young schoolgirls at a launch event for “Day of The Girl Child” held up photos of Malala along with signs saying “Save The Girls.”

On social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, Malala was hailed as a brave girl whose story epitomizes the need for the UN day.

Stuart Coles, a spokesman for the international development charity “Plan,” an organization that has been campaigning for the education rights of children for 75 years, tells RFE/RL that social media appears to have latched onto Malala’s story.

“The public backlash has been very strong against this terrible event. And I think, inadvertently, she has become an example of the problems and the issues that many girls are facing across the world,” Coles says.

“It is an incredibly sad, tragic, event. But it is a reminder, really, of the dangers and risks that girls face when they are campaigning for rights and the right to education in some parts of the world.”

A statement tweeted by UNICEF on October 11 said, “Today our thoughts are with Malala Yousafzai, the inspirational 14-year-old activist for girls’ rights.”

Meanwhile, concerned activists forwarded Pakistani media reports about Malala’s transfer to a hospital in Rawalpindi after surgeons removed a bullet that passed through her head and lodged in her shoulder.
Social Campaigns

Nicholas Kristof, a Pulitzer-winning columnist for “The New York Times,” tweeted links to his most recent opinion piece about the shooting.
Kristof called the attack on Malala a reminder “that the global struggle for gender equality is the paramount moral struggle of this century, equivalent to the campaigns against slavery in the 19th century and against totalitarianism in the 20th century.”

He also shared information on how readers can “honor Malala” by donating to global organizations dedicated to the promotion of education rights for girls.

The Global Fund for Women also called for donations to the cause of girls’ rights, saying: “Ironically, the attack on Malala falls the same week as the first International Day of the Girl Child.”

Other online activists shared links to an October 10 editorial in “The New York Times” about the attack on Malala.
“If Pakistan has a future, it is embodied in Malala Yousafzai,” the editorial reads. “Malala has shown more courage in facing down the Taliban than Pakistan’s government and its military leaders…. The murderous violence against one girl was committed against the whole Pakistani society. The Taliban cannot be allowed to win this vicious campaign against girls, learning and tolerance. Otherwise, there is no future for that nation.”

Hillel Neuer, executive director of the nongovernment watchdog group UN Watch, circulated an online petition calling for Pakistan to be blocked from getting a seat on the UN Human Rights Council until the government “stops those who shoot little girls.”

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, social networks also were being used to organize a candlelight vigil in Karachi for Malala — a follow-up to a prayer gathering on October 11 that brought out thousands of supporters, many of them women.

Across the rest of the country, Pakistanis from a broad political and religious spectrum have united in outrage and revulsion at the attack.

As Pakistani politicians line up to condemn the shooting, commentators are pondering whether the tragedy can galvanize public opinion against the Pakistani Taliban enough to support a large military offensive against them.

If that becomes the case, the Taliban gun that was fired at a schoolgirl to enforce a radical interpretation of Islam will officially have backfired.

Original URL:


Posted on on September 25th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Intervention by Wole Soyinka, Member of UNESCO’s International High Panel, at the 2012 Conference on the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence, United Nations Hdqrs, New York, Sept. 21 2012


To such a degree has Religion fueled conflict, complicated politics, retarded social development and impaired human relations across the world, that one is often tempted to propose that Religion is innately an enemy of Humanity, if not indeed of itself a crime against Humanity.  Certainly it cannot be denied that Religion has proved again and again a spur, a motivator, and a justification for the commission of some of the most horrifying crimes against humanity, despite its fervent affirmations of peace. Let us however steer away from hyperbolic propositions and simply settle for this moderating  moral imperative: that it is time that the world adopt a position that refuses to countenance Religion as an acceptable justification for, excuse or extenuation of – crimes against humanity.

While it should be mandatory that states justify their place as members of a world community by educating their citizens on the entitlement of religion to a place within society, and the obligations of mutual acceptance and respect, it should be deemed unacceptable that the world is held to ransom for the uneducated conduct of a few, and placed in a condition of fear, apprehension, leading to a culture of appeasement.  There are critical issues of human well-being and survival that deserve the undivided attention of leaders all over the world. Let us recall that it is not anti-islamists who have lately desecrated and destroyed – and with such fiendish self-righteousness – the tombs of Moslem saints in Timbuktoo, most notoriously the mausoleum of the Imam Moussa al-Khadin, declared a world heritage under the protection of UNESCO and accorded pride of place in African patrimony . The orientation – backed by declarations – of these violators leaves us with a foreboding that the invaluable library treasures of Timbuktoo may be next.

The truth, alas, is that the science fiction archetype of the mad scientist who craves to dominate the world has been replaced by the mad cleric who can only conceive of the world in his own image, proudly flaunting Bond’s Double-0-7 credentials – Licensed to Kill. The sooner national leaders and genuine religious leaders understand this, and admit that no nation has any lack of its own dangerous loonies, be they known as Ansar-Dine of Mali, or Terry Jones of Florida, the earlier they will turn their attention to real issues truly deserving human priority. These cited clerics and their ilk are descendants of the ancient line of iconoclasts of Islamic, christian and other religious moulds who have destroyed the antecedent spirituality and divine emblems of the African peoples over centuries. Adherents of those African religions, who remain passionately attached to their beliefs, all the way across the Atlantic – in Brazil and across other parts of Latin America – have not taken to wreaking vengeance on their presumed violators in far off lands.

These emulators are still at work on the continent, most devastatingly in Somalia, with my own nation Nigeria catching up with mind-boggling rapidity and intensity. Places of worship are primary targets, followed by institutes of education. Innocent humanity, eking out their miserable livelihood, are being blown to pieces, presumably to relieve them of their misery.  Schools and school pupils are assailed in religion fueled orgies, measured, deliberate and deadly. The hands of the clock of progress and social development have been arrested, then reversed in widening swathes of the Nigerian landscape. As if the resources of the nation were not already stretched to breaking point, they must now also be diverted to anticipating the consequences – as in numerous nations around the world – that would predictably follow the cinematic obscenities of a new entrant into the ranks of religious denigrators, who turns out – irony of ironies – to have originated from the African continent.

In sensible families, while every possible effort is made to smooth the passage of children through life, children are taught to understand that life is not a seamless robe of many splendours, but prone to the possibility of being besmirched by the unexpected, and unpredictable. A solid core of confidence in one’s moral and spiritual choices is thus sufficient to withstand external assaults from sudden and hostile forces. That principle of personality development is every bit as essential as the education that inculcates respect for the belief systems and practices of others. The most intense ethical education, including severe social sanctions, has not eradicated material corruption, exploitation, child defilement and murders in society, not even deterrents such as capital punishment. How then can anyone presume that there shall be no violations of the ideal state of religious tolerance to which we all aspire, or demand that the world stand still, cover its head in sackcloth and ashes, grovel in self-abasement or else prepare itself for earthly pestilence for failure to anticipate the occasional penetration of their self ascribed carapace of inviolability.

It is time to demand a sense of proportion, and realism. Communication advance has made it possible for both good and evil to transcend boundaries virtually at the speed of light, and for the spores of hatred to travel just as fast, and as widely as the seeds of harmony. The world should not continue to acquiesce in the brutal culture of extremism that demands the impossible – control of the conduct of millions in their individual spheres, under different laws, usages, cultures and indeed – degrees of sanity.

What gives hope is the very special capacity of man for dialogue, and that arbiter is foreclosed, or endures interminable postponements as long as one side arrogates to itself the right to respond to a pebble thrown by an infantile hand in Papua New Guinea with attempts to demolish the Rock of Gibraltar. I use the word ‘infantile’ deliberately, because these alleged insults to religion are no different from the infantile scribble we encounter in public toilets, the product of infantilism and retarded development. We have learnt to ignore, and walk away from them. They should not be answered by equally infantile responses that are however incendiary and homicidal in dimension, and largely directed against the innocent, since the originating hand is usually, in any case, beyond reach. With the remorseless march of technology, we shall all be caught in a spiral of reprisals, tailored to wound, to draw virtual blood. The other side responds with real blood and gore, also clotting up the path to rational discourse.   What we are witnesses to in recent times is that such proceeding is being accorded legitimacy on the grounds of religious sensibility. It is pathetic to demand what cannot be guaranteed.  It is futile to attempt to rein in technology: the solution is to use that very technology to correct noxious conceptions in the minds of the perpetrators of abuse, and educate the ignorant.

I speak as one from a nation whose normal diet of economic disparity, corruption, marginalization, ethnic and political cleavages has been further compounded by the ascendancy of religious jingoism.  It is a lamentable retrogression from the nearly forgotten state of harmonious coexistence that I lived and enjoyed as a child. One takes consolation in the fact that some of us did not wait to sound warnings until the plague of religious extremism entered our borders. Our concerns began and were articulated as a concern for others, still at remote distances. Now that the largest black habitation on the globe has joined the club of religious terror under the portentous name, Boko Haram – which means ‘The Book is Taboo’ –  we can morally demand help from others, but we only find them drowning in the rhetoric and rites of anger and/or contrition. Today it is the heritage and humanity of Timbuktoo. And tomorrow? The African continent must take back Mali – not later but – right now.  The cost of further delay will be incalculable, and devastating.

The spiral of reprisals now appears to have been launched, what with the recent news that a French editor has also entered the lists with a fresh album of offensive cartoons. To break that spiral, there must be dialogue of frank, mature minds. Instant, comprehensive solutions do not exist, only the arduous, painstaking path of dialogue, whose multi-textured demands are not beyond the innovative, as opposed to the emotive capacity, of cultured societies.  So let that moving feast of regional dialogues – which was inaugurated by former President Khatami of Iran in these very chambers – be reinforced, emboldened, and even-handed. The destination should be a moratorium, but for this to be strong and enduring, it must be voluntary, based on a will to understanding and mental re-orientation, not on menace, self-righteous indictments and destructive emotionalism. Perhaps we may yet rescue Religion from its ultimate indictment: conscription into the ranks of provable enemies of Humanity.

Wole Soyinka

Sept. 21, 2012, United Nations Hdqrs,  New York.


WOKE SOYINKA was awarded the The Nobel Prize in Literature 1986.

From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1986, Editor Wilhelm Odelberg, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1987:

Wole Soyinka Wole Soyinka was born on 13 July 1934 at Abeokuta, near Ibadan in western Nigeria. After preparatory university studies in 1954 at Government College in Ibadan, he continued at the University of Leeds, where, later, in 1973, he took his doctorate. During the six years spent in England, he was a dramaturgist at the Royal Court Theatre in London 1958-1959. In 1960, he was awarded a Rockefeller bursary and returned to Nigeria to study African drama. At the same time, he taught drama and literature at various universities in Ibadan, Lagos, and Ife, where, since 1975, he has been professor of comparative literature. In 1960, he founded the theatre group, “The 1960 Masks” and in 1964, the “Orisun Theatre Company”, in which he has produced his own plays and taken part as actor. He has periodically been visiting professor at the universities of Cambridge, Sheffield, and Yale.

During the civil war in Nigeria, Soyinka appealed in an article for cease-fire. For this he was arrested in 1967, accused of conspiring with the Biafra rebels, and was held as a political prisoner for 22 months until 1969. Soyinka has published about 20 works: drama, novels and poetry. He writes in English and his literary language is marked by great scope and richness of words.

As dramatist, Soyinka has been influenced by, among others, the Irish writer, J.M. Synge, but links up with the traditional popular African theatre with its combination of dance, music, and action. He bases his writing on the mythology of his own tribe-the Yoruba-with Ogun, the god of iron and war, at the centre. He wrote his first plays during his time in London, The Swamp Dwellers and The Lion and the Jewel (a light comedy), which were performed at Ibadan in 1958 and 1959 and were published in 1963. Later, satirical comedies are The Trial of Brother Jero (performed in 1960, publ. 1963) with its sequel, Jero’s Metamorphosis (performed 1974, publ. 1973), A Dance of the ForestsKongi’s Harvest (performed 1965, publ. 1967) and Madmen and Specialists (performed 1970, publ. 1971). Among Soyinka’s serious philosophic plays are (apart from “The Swamp Dwellers“) The Strong Breed (performed 1966, publ. 1963), The Road ( 1965) and Death and the King’s Horseman (performed 1976, publ. 1975). In The Bacchae of Euripides (1973), he has rewritten the Bacchae for the African stage and in Opera Wonyosi (performed 1977, publ. 1981), bases himself on John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera and Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera. Soyinka’s latest dramatic works are A Play of Giants (1984) and Requiem for a Futurologist (1985).
(performed 1960, publ.1963),
Soyinka has written two novels, The Interpreters (1965), narratively, a complicated work which has been compared to Joyce’s and Faulkner’s, in which six Nigerian intellectuals discuss and interpret their African experiences, and Season of Anomy (1973) which is based on the writer’s thoughts during his imprisonment and confronts the Orpheus and Euridice myth with the mythology of the Yoruba. Purely autobiographical are The Man Died: Prison Notes (1972) and the account of his childhood, Aké ( 1981), in which the parents’ warmth and interest in their son are prominent. Literary essays are collected in, among others, Myth, Literature and the African World (1975).

Soyinka’s poems, which show a close connection to his plays, are collected in Idanre, and Other Poems (1967), Poems from Prison (1969), A Shuttle in the Crypt (1972) the long poem Ogun Abibiman (1976) and Mandela’s Earth and Other Poems (1988).


Since 1087:

Soyinka has strongly criticized many Nigerian military dictators, especially late General Sanni Abacha, as well as other political tyrannies, including the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. Much of his writing has been concerned with “the oppressive boot and the irrelevance of the colour of the foot that wears it”. During the regime of General Sani Abacha (1993–1998), Soyinka escaped from Nigeria via the “Nadeco Route” on motorcycle. Living abroad, mainly in the United States, he was a professor first at Cornell University and then at Emory University in Atlanta, where in 1996 he was appointed Robert W. Woodruff Professor of the Arts. Abacha proclaimed a death sentence against him “in absentia”. With civilian rule restored to Nigeria in 1999, Soyinka returned to his nation. He has also taught at Oxford, Harvard and Yale.

From 1975 to 1999, he was a Professor of Comparative Literature at the Obafemi Awolowo University, then called the University of Ife. With civilian rule restored in 1999, he was made professor emeritus. Soyinka has been a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In the fall of 2007 he was appointed Professor in Residence at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, US.


Posted on on August 21st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

We get mail from the US and read in articles posted in the US press, about the push against the US Environmental Agency regulation that all gasoline should contain ethanol. Despite all the talk of producing ethanol from cellulosic material, the facts on the ground are that it is produced in the US and in Austria mainly from corn and some wheat. Now, as a result of the CLIMATE CHANGE caused in part by the use of fossil carbon gasoline in our motor-vehicles, the draught causes the yield of corn per acre to be lower this year and the perceived shortage leads speculators to increase the price.

Environmental NGOs, wearing their hearts on their sleeves – point at the use of corn to feed the motor vehicles rather then the farm animals and the people – in the producing countries and in the proverbial Africa that takes now the place of the previous proverbial China and India, as culprits in this process. All we can say is that these NGOs are in cahoots with the money making industries, or that they lack the minimum understanding of how policy makes economics.

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I fought in the seventies and eighties to explain the falsities in above finger-pointing.

The US Congressional records contain my testimonies where I said that instead of making the ethanol from corn that farm policy allows to be planted while subsidizing vast agricultural areas for non-production, I can deliver ethanol produced from CORN THAT WAS NOT GROWN AND PAID FOR BY MONEY THAT WAS NOT SPENT. I will agree to anyone who says this sounds insane – but it is true nevertheless. I had the number to show it was true in the US and had inquires from Brussels and Vienna where attempts were made to do similar calculations.

The true facts are that an agricultural policy – National in the US and the CAP (the Common Agricultural Policy) in the EU, are policies for non-production in order to SUPPORT the price of the commodity – read you create a shortage to increase the take by the farming companies. I said – this is fine with me but I want the excess land in order to plant on it what will become a substitute to petroleum – this in the name of National energy security and environment policy.

Further, I did calculate what happens when the lead compound is taken out of the gasoline and the need to increase octane levels of the first cut of the refinery product that eventually is marketed as gasoline. If you do not use lead or any other gimmick-compound that was offered by the refiners, they had to turn to chemical changes in the straight molecule hydrocarbon that is in the gasoline cut. They had to introduce branched chains and aromatic compounds that were carcinogenic – but this could not be even mentioned. What I was able to come up with the help of a refiners’ statement was that this was an energy intensive process that costs the refiner another 6% of petroleum crude/gallon. I never had a percentage composition of the ethanol-gasoline mixture – it was all an octane calculation and I never wanted to use more ethanol then the amount needed as octane additive. This depends on the quality of the crude and the structure of the refinery. But the important thing is that if for example me need 10% ethanol to obtain the right octane – we did not replace 10% low cut gasoline but 16% fossil carbon – and we get a different set of economics at the refinery.

In short – what I just said was that neither the agricultural interests found this interesting, nor the oil people. The first group because they got used to get money for not working and the second group found in this too much intrusion into the need for transparency in their industry.

In the US there was interest in all of this from Democrats and Republicans alike. I will just mention two famous Republican Senators – Frank Church and Jacob Javits and say – the US does not create Senators like them anymore. These two saw in it economics and NATIONAL SECURITY and were ready – and did suggest laws accordingly. There were also Democrats like Senator Birch Bayh, and there were Congressmen like Al Gore the Democrat and James Jeffords the Republican (who later as Senator defected from the Republicans to become an Independent when the party became very inhospitable to good ideas).

But what is even more to the point – in Austria, Chancellor Bruno Kreisky saw the potential of above ideas and initiated an Austrian ethanol fuel program that was then jeopardized by oil and agriculture with a newspaper article that displayed the front pagr banner – “GEMMA BRODT VERBRENNEN” (We are going to burn bread) – and that was it. Nevertheless, as all of above was actually part of a wrong farm policy – clever people saw that the excess land could be used for planting Ricinus in order to make an oil that could become a bio-diesel. And bio-diesel was born in Austria.

And what about hunger in Africa? On that I just posted an article that tells us how to handle that problem. Contending that those folks are dependent on industrialized agriculture somewhere else was always a misleading argument. Instead please see the new idea that we just found these days:

Posted on on August 20th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Backpack farm targets growth in Africa – Meet the start-up that takes a compact approach to agriculture in Africa.


From above introduction to the politics of today – the heaping on the US EPA by today’s Republicans and the unwise or corrupt NGOs, and the heaping on to Austria’s right-of-center OEVP “Minister of Life” Nikolaus Berlakovich, whose resorts include Agriculture, Forrestry, Environment, and Water management,  and by extension – climate, by members of his own party, by the letf-of-center Socialists, and the colorless Greens who

seem to have forgotten that environment and climate are part of their “Raison d’etre.”

We believe that what we said above is known to the Life Ministry, even they do not declare in public the facts we just displayed, we hope they will prevail – though past experience was not good. I am now in Vienna, if interested in further input from me – I am here and happy to tell them all that I know.


In I intend to bring out further info, whenever available, that using recycled carbon of agriculture provenance is better for the environment, for the climate, for our economy, for our security, then continuing dependence on petroleum, this even we bend the rule a little for Natural Gas if used only as an intermediary fuel while building the renewable energy systems.

The food issue is best handled locally and in no way will we encourage shipping of produce from one end of the World to another.


Some of the most recent relevant articles follow:

EPA seeks input on ethanol mandate waiver requests

Date: 21-Aug-12
Author: Ayesha Rascoe
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday said it has begun weighing requests to suspend the U.S. ethanol mandate, which requires refiners to blend ethanol into gasoline, and is seeking public feedback.

Further – relating to trade:

Argentina complains to WTO over Spanish biodiesel rules

Date: 21-Aug-12
Author: Tom Miles
Argentina has filed a complaint against the European Union at the World Trade Organization to challenge Spanish rules that the South American country argues discriminate against its biodiesel exports, the WTO said on Monday.


Posted on on August 20th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Backpack farm targets growth in Africa – Meet the start-up that takes a compact approach to agriculture in Africa.

Company helping East African farmers go green
The for-profit startup Backpack Farm is selling backpacks containing seeds, training manuals, tools and green chemicals to small-scale farmers in East Africa at a deeply discounted price in an effort to improve crop yields. The founder, Rachel Zedeck, says her aim is “to impact the lives of a million farmers by 2017.”

The above is nothing less then a high tech revolution to solve the World Hunger misery. It starts with the cell phone electronics and beefs up the ego of a person who can see results from wanting to help himself.

Earning beets begging for hand-outs!

{This is our own comment – it also provides the honest answer to those in industrialized agriculture economies that contend you cannot use crops for fuel because people in africa are hungry. Face it – they are hungry because we in the West made them dependent on us by teaching that grains come from abroad while Rachel Zedeck does show them that grains are the result of their own work!}

The BBC – August 17, 2012 – and came to our attention via the UN Foundation.……


“We’ve been called ‘the McDonald’s of farming’,” Rachel Zedeck says with a laugh. The former development worker is the founder of a start-up called Backpack Farm, which aims to help farmers in East Africa grow more crops, more food and ultimately earn money.

“The reality is that Africa is the breadbasket of the world, and in eastern and sub-Saharan Africa, the way to impact the vast majority of human beings is through farming,” she says.

It is a simple idea. The company sells smallholder farmers a backpack stuffed full of seeds, irrigation, “green” chemicals and tools along with training manuals and advise on how to farm efficiently. It can cost up to $2,000, but at that price also includes a drip irrigation kit and water tank. Backpack Farm says that while the cost might seem high, it’s one seventh of what those materials would cost commercially. And it claims that the pack, used properly, can double or triple crop yields.

The McDonalds moniker comes in because the company offers franchises, meaning Backpack Farm sales and training centres have sprouted in various cities and towns throughout Kenya hoping to tap into the estimated 100 million farmers in East Africa, and 27 million in Kenya alone.”My goal is to impact the lives of a million farmers by 2017,” says Zedeck.

Just to be clear: Backpack Farm is not targeting subsistence farmers. It’s most definitely a for-profit venture. “This is business, not aid,” Zedeck emphasizes. She is targeting the millions of commercial and semi-commercial farmers who own two to five acres of land, and earn between three and five thousand dollars a year. These are the folks, Zedeck says, who have the commitment and determination to improve yields, and who are already supplying local and export markets with their products.

The backpacks are the most eye-catching part of the idea, but the business is really built on agricultural training. The firm already offers 47 different classes on everything from conservation farming, to water management and soil fertility, along with specific instruction on growing more than two dozen different crops, including maize, sorghum and mangoes.

But Zedeck says she realized early on that to have the impact she wanted, she needed to find a way to make this information more widely available. And that meant using the tool many Kenyan farmers already held in their hands – a cell phone. Along with the NGO Mercy Corps, the firm built and trialled a text-based agricultural education platform called Kuza Doctor (Kuza is the Swahili word for “growing”).

It allows farmers using low-end phones to receive information via SMS, in English and Swahili, on growing 20 different crops. The tips are not doled out randomly. Users of the system begin by answering a series of questions: What do you want to grow? What is the soil like? Do you have water resources? As a farmer answers, he or she can then receive more specific information on things such as soil pH, composting, and drip irrigation.

“What we do is help farmers be better green farmers,” Zedeck says, noting that the company’s emphasis on environmentally friendly techniques.

‘Not sexy’

Kuza Doctor got a boost recently when it won the “Young Farmers Idea Contest” sponsored by Africa Rural Connect, an online project of the National Peace Corps Association that fosters collaborative thinking to generate ideas to help solve rural Africa’s greatest challenges. “I think it was the delivery method that appealed to me,” says Peter Laugharn, a seasoned aid worker and one of the judges of the contest. “You’ve got specialized knowledge in African countries, but it tends to be centred in the capital cities or a couple of provincial towns. Getting it out to people is the real challenge. So, [this is] a game-changer.”

Laugharn cites the system’s curriculum and structured messages as major selling points. Given the number of small farmers in the world, he sees potential for the system far beyond just East Africa.

“Hopefully it can set up a network between farmers themselves,” Laugharn says. “That’s the fastest way to spread a new idea or new uptake of technology.” The most important question Backpack Farms needs to answer, he says is this: Where are things going? In other words, what happens when smart phones replace feature phones as the best selling phones in Africa and what happens when data networks become more reliable across the continent?

“We should all be thinking about what’s down the curve,” Laugharn says.

And that’s exactly what Rachel Zedeck of Backpack Farms is doing.

She says she will plough the prize money from Africa Rural Connect into the development of the next phase of Kuza Doctor. The company is in the final phase of launching an Android app that Zedeck calls “a farming Bible.” It builds on the SMS-based system, but also offers pictures, video links and in-depth data to help rural farmers in Kenya. The app will cost $1.25 as a kind of starter kit with information on two crops. The full app, priced at $4.25, will have information on 26 crops, including nine indigenous ones. It will also feature a community section to allow farmers to connect with each other, and exchange information on prices. “There is a lot of untapped talent in Kenya,” she says.

Zedeck says that they hope to also sell the new Kuza Doctor tool in conjunction with an Android phone for around $75. That cost will include both the phone and the content for one year.

Future updates to the app, Zedeck says, will focus on providing small business training to farmers. There will also be a feature that allows farmers to take and upload pictures and videos (“AgTube”, she calls it) to let the community help diagnose pest and disease problems and showcase their work. And yes, says Zedeck, there will be a tablet version of the app as well eventually.

All that will require funding, of course. “Innovation is phenomenal,” says Zedeck, “but if it doesn’t scale then it’s meaningless.”

Long term, she says, an ad-funded model could work, with apps carrying adverts for products likely to appear to famers. But until that happens, she has been forced to use her own funds – including selling her house – to get the company up and running. She is also trying to drum up support from venture capitalists, but is finding it tough.

“We are not super sexy,” admits Zedeck. “We are funny little farming company in Kenya that’s launching a mobile tool that we believe is going to bring back the basics of a market-driven, demand economy.”


Posted on on August 16th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Centre of Strategic Studies in Collaboration with Teamspirit Consult (Nig) Ltd. will hold an advanced Security training programme on “The Challenge of Homeland Security in Nigeria in an Era of Terrorism”

Dates and Phases:
Bullet 7Phase 1 – Abuja, Nigeria, 6 – 10 August, 2012
Bullet 7Phase 2 – Centre for Strategic Studies, Galilee International Management
Institute, Nahalal, Israel, 13 – 24 August, 2012.

For further information please visit the Advanced Security Training Programme webpage.


Posted on on August 12th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

from: Sam Barratt –

Middle Eastern kings and princes are about to force up to 48,000 people in Tanzania from their land to make way for corporate-sponsored big game hunting. But Tanzanian President Kikwete has shown before that he will stop deals like this when they generate negative press coverage. Deliver a media blitz that will push President Kikwete to stop the landgrab and save these Maasai.

At any moment, a big-game hunting corporation could sign a deal which would force up to 48,000 members of Africa’s famous Maasai tribe from their land to make way for wealthy Middle Eastern kings and princes to hunt lions and leopards. Experts say the Tanzanian President’s approval of the deal may be imminent, but if we act now, we can stop this sell-off of the Serengeti.

The last time this same corporation pushed the Maasai off their land to make way for rich hunters, people were beaten by the police, their homes were burnt to a cinder and their livestock died of starvation. But when a press controversy followed, Tanzanian President Kikwete reversed course and returned the Maasai to their land. This time, there hasn’t been a big press controversy yet, but we can change that and force Kikwete to stop the deal if we join our voices now.

If 150,000 of us sign, media outlets in Tanzania and around the world will be blitzed so President Kikwete gets the message to rethink this deadly deal. Sign the petition now and send to everyone:

The Maasai are semi-nomadic herders who have lived in Tanzania and Kenya for centuries, playing a critical role in preserving the delicate ecosystem. But to royal families from the United Arab Emirates, they’re an obstacle to luxurious animal shooting sprees. A deal to evict the Maasai to make way for rich foreign hunters is as bad for wildlife as it is for the communities it would destroy. While President Kikwete is talking to favoured local elites to sell them on the deal as good for development, the vast majority of people just want to keep the land that they know the President can take by decree.

President Kikwete knows that this deal would be controversial with Tanzania’s tourists — a critical source of national income — and is therefore trying to keep it from the public eye. In 2009, a similar royal landgrab in the area executed by the same corporation that is swooping in this time generated global media coverage that helped to roll it back. If we can generate the same level of attention, we know the pressure can work.

A petition signed by thousands can force all the major global media bureaus in East Africa and Tanzania to blow up this controversial deal. Sign now to call on Kikwete to kill the deal:

Representatives from the Maasai community today urgently appealed to Avaaz to raise the global alarm call and save their land. Time and again, the incredible response from this amazing community turns seemingly lost causes into legacies that last a lifetime. Lets protect the Maasai and save the animals for tourists that want to shoot them with camera lenses, rather than lethal weapons!

With hope and determination,

Sam, Meredith, Luis, Aldine, Diego, Ricken and the rest of the Avaaz team

For More Information:

The Guardian: “Tourism is a curse to us”

News Internationalist Magazine: “Hunted down”

Society for Threatened People: Briefing on the eviction of the Loliondo Maasai

FEMACT: Report by 16 human rights investigators & media on violence in Loliondo

Voices of Loliondo: Short film from Loliondo on impact of eviction on Maasai


Posted on on August 11th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Guor Marial: A man without a country on world’s biggest athletic stage.

By , Saturday, August 11, 2012.

LONDON — With no nation to represent and no countrymen to cheer him on, Guor Marial has a marathon to complete this weekend at the Summer Olympics. More than 3,500 miles away in South Sudan, his family will tackle an even longer distance.

Marial, a 28-year-old marathon runner, hasn’t set eyes on his family since 1993, when he fled his home as a child in the midst of the Sudanese civil war. Lacking a passport for travel, he doesn’t know when he might be reunited with them, but Marial says members of his family are planning to watch him compete Sunday in the longest running event of the Summer Games. The slight problem: The nearest television is about 30 miles away from their tiny village.

It’s the rainy season in South Sudan, and vehicles can’t pass on the rural roads that connect their village to the nearby town of Panrieng. So they’ll complete a marathon of their own, making the long walk with the hope of seeing just a glimpse of their long-lost son, an athlete without a country, finding refuge in these Olympics.

Marial was just 9 years old when he said goodbye. With great difficulty, he eventually escaped to Egypt, where he lived with an aunt and uncle. Then to New Hampshire, where he attended high school. And Iowa, where he enrolled in college. And now Arizona, where he lives, works and runs. But Marial doesn’t identify himself as American and certainly not as Sudanese. Just one week before the Opening Ceremonies, Marial learned he would be allowed to compete at these Summer Games unaffiliated with any nation. He’s running under a white flag that features the Olympic logo.

“Representing the five rings, it’s the best,” Marial said Friday. “I’m representing the whole world, basically.”

Marial was born in the early stages of a troubled nation’s bloody civil war. His family now calls their home the Republic of South Sudan, the year-old nation carved out of so much strife and death. To compete at the Summer Games, a country must have a recognized Olympic committee. Forming such a sports organization wasn’t high on South Sudan’s to-do list in its early stages of countryhood.

Last fall, Marial posted a qualifying time for the Olympics, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) initially urged him to represent Sudan, whose Olympic committee extended him an invitation to join its team. But that was never an option, Marial said.

“When I left Sudan, there was a lot of issues that happened to me,” he said, “that happened to the South Sudanese.”

Eight of his siblings were among an estimated 2 million people who died during the course of the war. Marial was just a child when he was kidnapped and forced into hard labor. There were no luxuries then and each day was focused around finding enough food to eat. “Survival of the fittest,” Marial calls it.

“I didn’t know what the outside world was,” he said. “I knew this was the only world we have, being able to survive this way.”

The idea of running — competitive running — was foreign. The Olympics didn’t exist there because televisions didn’t exist there.


On the other hand:

Arata Fujiwara, who does not belong to a running club, coaches himself and trains for speed instead of endurance, is nevertheless considered Japan’s best medal hope in the men’s marathon in 20 years. We shall see if being an outsider can actually help to develop running technique.


Posted on on August 9th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

9 August 2012
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:“We Risk Creating a ‘Lost Generation’ of Squandered Talent and Dreams”

Message on International Youth Day,
12 August 2012

VIENNA, 12 August (UN Information Service) – Today’s generation of youth — the largest the world has ever known, and the vast majority of whom live in developing countries — has unprecedented potential to advance the well-being of the entire human family. Yet too many young people, including those who are highly educated, suffer from low-wage, dead-end work and record levels of unemployment. The global economic crisis has hit youth the hardest, and many are understandably discouraged by rising inequalities. A large number have no immediate prospects and are disenfranchised from the political, social and development processes in their countries. Without urgent measures, we risk creating a “lost generation” of squandered talent and dreams.

Working with and for young people is one of my top priorities. Youth are a transformative force; they are creative, resourceful and enthusiastic agents of change, be it in public squares or cyberspace. From their pivotal role in efforts to achieve freedom, democracy and equality, to their global mobilization in support of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, youth have energetically demonstrated yet again their capacity and desire to turn the tide of history and tackle global challenges.

Young men and women are not passive beneficiaries, but equal and effective partners. Their aspirations extend far beyond jobs; youth also want a seat at the table – a real voice in shaping the policies that shape their lives. We need to listen to and engage with young people. We need to establish more and stronger mechanisms for youth participation. The time has come to integrate youth voices more meaningfully into decision-making processes at all levels.

Around the world, there is growing recognition of the need to strengthen policies and investments involving young people. On International Youth Day, I call on Governments, the private sector, civil society and academia to open doors for young people and strengthen partnerships with youth-led organizations. Youth can determine whether this era moves toward greater peril or more positive change. Let us support the young people of our world so they grow into adults who raise yet more generations of productive and powerful leaders.


Posted on on August 8th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (


For One Kenyan Olympian, Throwing Beats Running

Doug Mills/The New York Times

For part of this year, Julius Yego trained in Finland, where the javelin means perhaps as much as distance running does in Kenya.

Published by The New York Times: August 7, 2012

LONDON — Kenya has sent 44 track and field athletes to the London Games. Forty-three are runners who aspire to win gold medals from 800 meters to the marathon. The other is Julius Yego, javelin thrower.

On Wednesday night, Yego, 23, will try to qualify for the championship round of throws. It will be a historic moment. Kenya had never before entered the Olympic javelin competition. Yego is the African champion. Surely he is one of the few competitors who began throwing with a stick and learned the nuances of his craft by watching fellow athletes on YouTube.

A distance of 82 meters, or 269 feet, would automatically put Yego into the Olympic finals on Saturday. A shorter distance may also put him into the championship round if he finishes among the top dozen qualifiers. He is considered a long shot. There have been 100 throws in the world farther this year than Yego’s career best, set last month, of 266 feet 2 inches. He is the smallest Olympic javelin competitor at 5-foot-9, 189 ½ pounds. But he is here and he is Kenya’s first in the Summer Games.

“Making the final would be my main dream,” Yego said in a recent interview in the athletes’ village. “It is important for my country. Just being here is a glorious thing.”

He has surpassed the distance — 80 meters, or 262-5 — that confers legitimacy on an athlete in his event. For part of this year, Yego trained in Finland, where the javelin means perhaps as much as distance running does in Kenya.

“In Finland, if you throw 80 meters, you are a javelin thrower,” Yego said. “Below that you are just another guy.”

In Kenya, everyone but Yego is just another guy. There are only a few elite javelin throwers. And only a few elite javelins, Yego and officials said. Three, maybe four. They are available for use only at two stadiums in Nairobi, the capital. For one thing, a top-flight javelin can cost $450 to $1,000. Kenya also lacks the gyms needed for weight training and the coaches who can provide technical expertise.

Running is a natural movement that can be done barefoot. But a javelin requires proper equipment and the rehearsed precision of a proper hold, run-up and launch. Technique is more important than simple strength.

“If we could bring the javelin to the rural areas, we could have very many good throwers,” said Peter Angwenyi, a spokesman for the Kenyan Olympic team. “But the equipment is costly. You need gyms and specialty training and coaches. We don’t have them.”

Yego is a Nandi, a subset of the Kalenjin ethnic group, sometimes called Kenya’s running tribe. When he arrives at competitions, people occasionally assume that because he is from Kenya, he must be a runner. He has tried the 100 meters and cross country but said he much preferred the javelin. Everyone runs in Kenya, he said, “but not everyone can win, not everyone can go to the Olympics.”

His brother threw for a time, Yego said, and he followed in elementary school, using sticks instead of actual javelins. In high school in the village of Kapsabet, he began to get more serious in 2003, drawing regional, then national, promise. In 2004, Yego was intrigued by the javelin at the Athens Olympics. In 2005, he said, his school’s only javelin broke and a geography teacher bought a replacement for him. A year later, he set a Kenyan national junior record with a throw of 71 meters, or 232-11.

He was eventually recruited and sponsored by the Kenyan national police, which provided a job and time to train. At the 2011 All-Africa Games, Yego won a gold medal, Kenya’s first in a continental meet, with a national record of 78.34 meters, or 257 feet. Lacking elite-level coaching, Yego sometimes turned to YouTube to watch the technique of such stars as Jan Zelezny of the Czech Republic, the three-time Olympic champion and world-record holder at 98.48 meters, or 323-1; Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway, the two-time and reigning Olympic champion; and Tero Pitkamaki, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist from Finland.

“I had to watch videos to see what these people are doing,” Yego said. “They are my role models.”

This year, he was invited to spend about two months training at an indoor/outdoor facility in Kuortane, Finland, which is sponsored by the I.A.A.F., track and field’s world governing body, and is considered a spiritual home of the sport. Launching the javelin has been described by Chris Turner, a writer and expert on the event, as a reflection of the quietude in Finnish culture and a metaphor of escape from the country’s interminable winters.

Describing his fascination with the event, Yego said: “It’s how the javelin flies. When you release it and it flies high, you know it is going far. You say to yourself, ‘Please don’t let it come down.’ I can feel it in my hand that I have hit it right.”

In April, he won the Kenyan championship and broke his national record with a throw of 79.95 meters, or 262-3, reaching the Olympic B qualifying standard. Last month, at a competition in Finland, he smashed the Kenyan record again with his career best of 81.12 meters, or 266-2.

On Wednesday, Yego will carry his javelin into the Olympic Stadium, hoping that adrenaline and technique and the swell of the crowd will carry his best throw beyond 269 feet, putting him in the final. But the experience will be as important as the result.

“It is something you will never forget in your life,” Yego said. “I went for the Olympics.”


Posted on on August 1st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (


Building on Rio is vitally important, we must not let the momentum end nor the plethora of good ideas wither. But there is also a need to push the boundaries of sustainability into new frontiers to make it the holistic, integrated approach it needs to be if we are to see the real results and benefits it can deliver.


We learned today that the UN Secretariat has started on a path that does not yet take into account the above mandate – so we are compelled to point out that without attention to above, there is no gain from RIO+20.


Posted on on July 11th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

UN Media Advisory: Nelson Mandela International Day (18 July)

In recognition of Nelson Mandela’s contributions to democracy, racial justice, and reconciliation and his service to humanity, the United Nations General Assembly declared 18 July (his birthday) as Nelson Mandela International Day.

Every year since 2010, on 18 July individuals around the world are encouraged to devote 67 minutes to helping others – by volunteering in a hospital, tutoring a child, providing food for the homeless, or any other community service. The 67-minute campaign – “Take Action – Inspire Change” – is based on people devoting one minute of their time for every year that Nelson Mandela devoted to public service, as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected President of South Africa.

This year – Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday – the following activities are being planned in New York:

Informal Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly
An informal plenary meeting of the General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters on the morning of 18 July will be devoted to “Building a Caring World – Nelson Mandela’s Vision.” Speakers include Mr. Jeff Radebe, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development of South Africa; Professor Ibrahim Gambari, last Chair of the UN Special Committee against Apartheid; Dr. Enuga Reddy, former Principal Secretary of the UN Special Committee against Apartheid; and others to be confirmed. The event starts at 10 a.m. and will be webcast live at

Performance by University of Cape Town Opera School Students
Two South African graduate students at the University of Cape Town Opera School, Mr. Thesele Kemane, a bass baritone, and Ms. Bongiwe Nakani, a mezzo soprano, will perform during the General Assembly meeting. The Opera School, under the direction of the American Kamal Khan, has made major efforts to cultivate gifted singers and introduce them to the international stage. As a result, some of the world’s greatest new classical opera talents over the past few years have emerged from the townships of South Africa. The performance will be webcast live at

UN and Diplomatic Staff at the Bowery Mission Soup Kitchen
A group of staff from the United Nations Secretariat, the Permanent Mission of South Africa to the United Nations and the South African Consulate General will volunteer at the Bowery Mission ( on 18 July, helping to serve meals for homeless people. Since 1879, the Bowery Mission has provided homeless men and women with a warm meal, shelter, clothing and medical care. Information and photos will be posted

Mandela Corner
The south-east corner of 42nd Street and 2nd Avenue was named after Nelson and Winnie Mandela in 1984, in recognition of their fight against apartheid in South Africa. This year on 18 July, UN volunteers will be handing out postcards on the corner, raising awareness of Mandela Day and the “Take Action – Inspire Change” campaign.

Queens Museum of Art
The Queens Chapter of the United Nations Association of the United States is partnering with the Queens Museum of Art ( in an event at 6:00 p.m. where audience members will be asked to state what Nelson Mandela means to them – in 67 seconds. The interactive evening will include a brief film screening, music, and guest speakers. The event is organized in association with the United Nations Academic Impact’s “7/18 for Mandela” initiative.

Immigrant Movement International
This community centre in Queens ( is organizing an event at 6:00 p.m., largely in Spanish, featuring remarks by representatives of the diplomatic community, a film screening and a performance by a local artist. The focus is on multiracialism, which Nelson Mandela embraced in South Africa and which is evident in Queens. The event is organized in association with the United Nations Academic Impact’s “7/18 for Mandela” initiative.

Madiba Restaurant
Madiba – a South African restaurant in Brooklyn ( – will donate 7.18 per cent of its day’s revenue on 18 July as a tax-deductible donation to two local schools, and is encouraging other businesses in the Fort Greene neighbourhood to do the same. The action is part of the United Nations Academic Impact’s “7/18 for Mandela” initiative.

Harlem Arts Summer Camp
ProjectArt (, an after-school, weekends and summer visual arts education program for children and youth in Harlem, will be marking the day by teaching 30 children aged 4 to 12 about Nelson Mandela and having them create paintings inspired by South Africa and Mr. Mandela.

The Hope and Promise of Leadership
Brahma Kumaris, an international NGO, is organizing an event at the Church Centre for the United Nations (777 UN Plaza), from 1 to 3 p.m., exploring the hope and promise of leadership. The event will feature expert presentations, South African dancers, reflection and dialogue in small groups. For more information and to R.S.V.P., please contact 212-688-1335646-290-1770 or

Around the World:
Young Changemakers, a non-profit youth group in India, is arranging 67 scholarships for children at the Shree Ganesh Vidya Mandir primary school in the Dharavi Slum in Mumbai who need to finance their own education after the seventh grade. The scholarships will be announced on 18 July at an event in Mumbai, organized in association with the United Nations Academic Impact initiative.

A number of UN offices around the world are also marking the day.

Further information, photos, videos and other resources:

Media contact:
Martina Donlon
UN Department of Public Information
Tel +1 212 963 6816

Issued by the UN Department of Public Information, 11 July 2012


Posted on on July 9th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

We were incensed when in  Afghanistan Bamiyan world heritage monuments were raised, now similar forces destroy world heritage in Timbuktu, Mali,  and I heard no whimper so far.

Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley
Afghanistan Statua di Budda 1.jpg
The taller of the two Buddhas of Bamiyan in 1976

They were dynamited and destroyed in March 2001 by the Taliban, on orders from leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, after the Taliban government declared that they were “idols.”


And 2012 – ongoing in Timbuktu, Mali:

Islamists destroy century-old religious monuments in Timbuktu

Islamists destroy century-old religious monuments in Timbuktu

Al Qaeda-linked Mali Islamists armed with Kalashnikovs and pick-axes destroyed centuries-old mausoleums of saints in the UNESCO-listed city of Timbuktu on Saturday in front of shocked locals, witnesses said.

The Islamist Ansar Dine group backs strict sharia, Islamic law, and considers the shrines of the local Sufi version of Islam to be idolatrous. Sufi shrines have also been attacked by hardline Salafists in Egypt and Libyain the past year.

The attack came just days after UNESCO placed Timbuktu on its list of heritage sites in danger and will recall the 2001 dynamiting by the Taliban of two 6th-century statues of Buddha carved into a cliff in Bamiyan in central Afghanistan.

“They are armed and have surrounded the sites with pick-up trucks. The population is just looking on helplessly,” local journalist Yeya Tandina said by telephone.

Tandina and other witnesses said Ansar Dine had already destroyed the mausoleums of three local saints – Sidi Mahmoud, Sidi El Mokhtar, and Alfa Moya – and at least seven tombs.

“The mausoleum doesn’t exist any more and the cemetery is as bare as a soccer pitch,” local teacher Abdoulaye Boulahi said of the Mahmoud burial place.

“There’s about 30 of them breaking everything up with pick-axes and hoes. They’ve put their Kalashnikovs down by their side. These are shocking scenes for the people in Timbuktu,” said Boulahi.

Contacted late on Saturday, Tandina said Ansar Dine had halted the attacks on the holy site. Attempts to contact members of the group were unsuccessful.

Locals said the attackers had threatened to destroy all of the 16 main mausolem sites by the end of the day. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova called for an immediate halt.

“There is no justification for such wanton destruction and I call on all parties engaged in the conflict to stop these terrible and irreversible acts,” she said in a statement. The sites date from Timbuktu’s Golden Age in the 16th century.

France’s Foreign Ministry condemned the attacks on what it called “a part of the soul of this prestigious Sahelian city.”

Ansar Dine has gained the upper hand over less well-armed Tuareg-led separatists since the two joined forces to rout government troops and seize control in April of the northern two-thirds of the inland West African state.

Salt, Slaves, Gold, and Learning

Located on an old Saharan trading route that saw salt from the Arab north exchanged for gold and slaves from black Africa to the south, Timbuktu blossomed in the 16th century as an Islamic seat of learning, home to priests, scribes, and jurists.

Mali had in recent years sought to create a desert tourism industry around Timbuktu but even before April’s rebellion many tourists were being discouraged by a spate of kidnappings of Westerners in the region claimed by Al Qaeda-linked groups.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee said this week it had accepted the request of the Malian government to place Timbuktu on its list of endangered heritage sites.

“The Committee … also asked Mali’s neighbours to do all in their power to prevent the trafficking in cultural objects from these sites,” it said of the risk of looting.

The rebel seizure of the north came as the southern capital, Bamako, was struggling with the aftermath of a March 22 coup.

Mali’s neighbors are seeking UN backing for a military intervention to stabilize the country but Security Council members say they need more details on the mission being planned.