Sunday, April 28, 2013
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Two Harbors native promotes clean water in Ethiopia | Lake County News Chronicle | Two Harbors, Minnesota
Two Duluthians recently spent a few weeks in Ethiopia, traveling through the southern part of the impoverished African nation to promote clean water and hygiene.
Dr. Bill Himango, who grew up in Two Harbors, and Crystal Taylor, members of Rotary Club 25 of Duluth, traveled to the county for a 2,000-mile tour of villages, homes, orphanages and medical centers.
“It was a heart-wrenching experience,” said Himango, a retired neurosurgeon, adding that his visit made it painfully clear that clean water is an unattainable luxury to many Ethiopians.
The clean water effort has been a major focus for Rotary Club 25 recently. The club has partnered with the Proctor High School DECA club to raise nearly $50,000 for Global Team for Local Initiatives, a nonprofit that serves indigenous people in southern Ethiopia, through several events.
The Boeing Foundation also matched the fundraising with an additional $50,000 grant.
With the funds, GTLI was able to build five new water wells in indigenous communities. Himango and Taylor made the trip to visit the wells and see what their fundraising efforts accomplished.
“Before the wells, these people were getting their water literally from puddles,” said Taylor, the Rotary Club’s public relations chair. “Our streams and creeks are a lot cleaner than where they were getting their drinking water. There’s a lot of bacteria and problems with the water there.”
Himango and Taylor flew into Addis Ababa, the largest city and capital of Ethiopia in late March. They spent several days in the capital before embarking on a trip through the southern part of the county.
There is almost no economy in the country, said Taylor. Very few people have jobs, and those who do make an annual salary equivalent to about $2,000 to $3,000 USD.
Medical centers were overcrowded, with patients literally laying on top of one another sometimes with just one doctor to serve the entire facility, Taylor said. The saddest part of the trip, she said, was a visit to an overcrowded hospital where an entire facility was not being used.
“There was blood on the floor and the whole place smelled of urine,” Taylor said. “Then we went next door and they have brand new equipment, brand new technology, an ICU unit, 20 beds. And none of it was being used.”
Taylor said conditions were much better in medical centers run by private organizations, which are mostly funded by foreign nonprofits.
GTLI was picked as the recipient of the Rotary Club’s fundraising because the organization is helping to improve the lives of Ethiopians, Himango and Taylor said. The organization’s mission is to educate people about hygiene and how to live sustainably.
While in Ethiopia, Himango and Taylor traveled with Lori Pappas, the director of GTLI. Pappas is a Minnesota native, but now spends most of the year in Ethiopia
She realizes the importance of offering information without disrupting the culture, Himango said.
“Lori doesn’t want to throw western culture at them,” he said. Her focus instead is on increasing awareness of potential hygiene problems and providing tools for cleaner, healthier living.
While visiting with Ethiopians, both in the city and the indigenous villages, Himango and Taylor discussed the importance of practices that are taken for granted in America: properly cooking meat, washing hands, brushing teeth and having designated areas for getting water and going to the bathroom.
They also made a presentation to the Addis Ababa Rotary Club, encouraging members to do their own fundraising efforts to improve conditions in Ethiopia.
Himango and Taylor’s trip was a follow-up to about a year’s worth of fundraising efforts. Proctor DECA initiated the clean water project last year before partnering with the Rotary Club.
The first event, an “American Idol” style singing competition between local high schools, raised about $22,000.
In February, the two groups hosted a massive snow angel-making event at the University of Minnesota Duluth. The event fell short of the hoped-for world record, but it helped raise approximately $14,000 for the clean water project.
Still short of the $50,000 goal, rotary members applied for a grant from the rotary district office, and were awarded a matching $14,000.
Calculating expenses and fundraising from each of the events, the club is just shy of the $50,000 mark, Taylor said, although members expect to raise the additional money during their annual dinner and auction in May.
All told, with the Boeing grant, contributions to GTLI are expected to exceed $100,000.
Taylor, who works as public relations specialist at WestmorelandFlint, said the clean water project and trip inspired her to create her own nonprofit. She said she wants to establish an organization to help improve mental and physical health for local children.
“It inspired me to do something sooner rather than later,” she said. “I want to be able to bring back that cultural experience and find ways to give back to our community in a greater way.”
Friday, April 26, 2013
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Egypt Struggles to Reclaim
By: Abdelrahman Youssef for Al-Monitor Posted on April 23.
Egypt’s diplomacy has noticeably focused on African affairs during the past month, an unprecedented development in the nine months since President Mohammed Morsi came to power. It represents an exceedingly important turn of events as it relates to two main arteries providing Egypt with life. The first is the Nile river, without which Egypt would not exist, and around the basin of which other countries thrive. The second is the Suez Canal, Egypt’s largest source of national income, itself tightly linked to the Bab el-Mandeb strait and Somalia’s coast.
About This Article
As tensions heat up between Egypt and Ethiopia regarding a major Ethiopian dam on the Nile, Egypt is seeking to reassert itself, writes Abdelrahman Youssef.Original Title:
Egypt and African National Security
Author: Abdelrahman YoussefTranslated by: Kamal Fayad
Categories : Originals Egypt Security
The intense diplomatic activity in this regard saw Prime Minister Hesham Kandil visit South Sudan, while Morsi visited the north and Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr went to Somalia to inaugurate the opening of the Egyptian Embassy in Mogadishu following its move there from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. In parallel, a delegation of Somalia’s Muslim Brotherhood visited the Egyptian Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie in Cairo.
Dr. Hamdi Abdel Rahman, a professor of political science and African studies, analyzed this shift for Al-Monitor, saying that the Egyptian regime’s current moves came late, especially considering the ongoing geo-strategic changes that Western nations are striving to impose in East Africa and the Nile Basin. The reasons for these changes have to do with combating so-called Islamic fundamentalist forces in Africa, as well as other issues relating to petroleum and the fight against the ever-increasing Chinese influence in the region.
Furthermore, the secession of South Sudan and other regional arrangements concerning Somalia have posed risks for Egypt while bolstering the strategic importance of non-Arab regional countries such as Ethiopia and Kenya. In this regard, Abdel Rahman cited Ethiopia’s insistence on adopting a dam-building strategy and moving ahead with the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, as well as becoming a signatory to the Nile Basin Initiative adopted in Entebbe. Ethiopia signed this initiative despite Egyptian objections to such an agreement, which allows countries upstream of the Nile to build water projects and dams without deference to the downstream countries Egypt and Sudan. This threatens these two countries’ historical Nile water quotas as prescribed in the 1959 agreement, which gives Egypt a share estimated to total 55 billion cubic meters of water annually.
Dr. Hani Raslan, head of the Sudan and Nile Basin Studies program at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said that Egypt’s crisis in the Nile Basin was caused by an imbalance of power in the region resulting from Egypt’s waning influence in its traditional areas in the Horn of Africa and Sudan. This is especially true considering that Ethiopia, the major player in the Nile Basin region, has been trying to evolve from an important country to one that dominates the Nile Basin and the Horn of Africa.
Raslan considered the latest African moves undertaken by the Egyptian regime to be “doomed to fail,” as can be seen in South Sudan’s desire to sign the Entebbe Convention despite talk about it signing understandings and entering into cooperative endeavors with Egypt. He also characterized Morsi’s visit to Sudan as “meant for mutual political exploitation” between himself and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, while the announced results did not reflect the reality on the ground.
A journalist and researcher specializing in African affairs, Aya Aman, told Al-Monitor that so far, these visits had not led to any positive developments. She considered Morsi’s recent visit to Sudan as having reignited the controversy concerning the disputed Halayeb Triangle border area.
Aman said that none of the committees announced by Bashir have held any meetings until now, and none of the promises made during the visit have been fulfilled. Meanwhile, most commercial endeavors were of a personal and individual nature on the part of certain businessmen.
Aman continued to say that the apparent good relationship with Sudan was not beneficial to Egypt in the Nile Basin affair, and that Egypt’s position grew increasingly worse in that regard, as evidenced by the failure of the joint Nile Water Technical Committee to meet for the past year. This signifies the existence of undeclared differences in opinion between Egypt and Sudan.
Aman also indicated that Kandil’s visit to South Sudan did not yield the results desired by Egypt. For South Sudan — despite signing three recent agreements with Egypt relating to an Egyptian grant valued at $26.6 billion first discussed in 2006 — has clearly shown that it intended to sign the Entebbe Convention. Meanwhile, Juba has hinted that not one Egyptian businessman had taken steps to implement any of the projects prescribed in the agreements signed last month.
Aman ruled out the possibility of Egypt resorting to military action against Ethiopia, despite the grave threats posed by the latter in diverting the Blue Nile’s waters and moving forward in building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. This is because, among other factors, Egypt’s internal situation is weak, and Ethiopia has emerged as an African superpower. In addition, the Ethiopian people had rallied in support of the dam project despite the fact that their prime minister and strongman, Meles Zenawi, had passed away. Furthermore, five African nations have endorsed the agreement which permits the building of the dam, and consider that Egypt’s participation in its building would guarantee that it have a say in its use, thus safeguarding Egyptian interests.
Regarding Somalia and the Horn of Africa, Abdul Rahman opined that Amr’s visit was part of a public-relations campaign, and that Somalia’s fate was drawn not by Egypt, but by Western powers with the participation of regional players such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda. He thought that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood playing host to members of the Somali Brotherhood “was aimed at establishing popular relations with some of the influential Islamic factions in Somalia.”
Raslan, on the other hand, considered the visit to be “intended to give the impression that Egypt was returning to play its role in the Horn of Africa,” while pointing out that the Brotherhood in Egypt sees itself as the leader of Islamist movements throughout the world, and as such, communicating with the Somali Brotherhood would give Egypt a certain advantage there.
But he felt that the Brotherhood’s attempt to recover its influence through that avenue was “wrong and dangerous, because Somalia is a failed state that lacks a central government, where different factions, including al-Qaeda, vie for power. It therefore was not prudent to open dialogue with one of those factions while ignoring the remaining components of Somali society.” He warned that “the proper way for Egypt to recover its influence in Somalia is through national and state relations, as opposed to ideological ones.”
For her part, Aman said that Egypt’s recognition of a new government in Somalia was an attempt to restore internal security to that country. She felt that the Brotherhood playing a role in African affairs might be feasible in West Africa, but that it would be detrimental to Egyptian interests in East Africa as a result of the prevalence of Islamophobia in countries of a Christian-majority region. The focus of relations in that region must therefore remain diplomatic.
Aman stressed the fact that Egypt’s efforts could be successful only if it revives its role in the Arab League by adopting common Arab policies meant to restore security and development to Somalia, especially considering that the latter is an Arab state. She explained that such a role would serve as a counterbalance to Ethiopia, the most influential nation in the African Union, which it exploits to further its influence in Somali affairs.
Abdelrahman Youssef is an Egyptian journalist specializing in religious issues and political affairs. He has written for a number of Egyptian publications, including Al-Shorouk, Al-Youm Al-Sabe'a, Al-Watan, Egypt Independent and Egypt Daily News, as well as for news organizations outside of Egypt such as the Lebanese Al-Akhbar and Reuters.
Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/04/egypt-africa-role-tensions-ethiopia.html#ixzz2RScTb9uJ