Pulitzer Center grantee Sam Loewenberg writes that “getting water to poor communities [in Africa] may sound straightforward: dig a well, put in a pump and hand out water filters. But as many NGOs and aid agencies have found, it is a lot more complicated than that.”

Reporting from Uganda for The Economist, Sam notes that the list of failures is long: “A review of ten years of EU-supported water and sanitation projects in sub-Saharan Africa, together worth more than $500m, found that more than half failed to perform, due to issues such as lack of financial sustainability, poor oversight, and not regularly testing water to make sure it was safe to drink.”

But a Christian missionary organization from South Carolina seems to have come up with a market-based model that actually works. After installing the pipes and pumps, Water Missions International hands the operation over to locals. The key is charging a small fee—about two cents for 20 liters of clean water—thus giving the local operator a stake in keeping up with the maintenance.


The distance between Xinjiang Province, home to China’s Muslim minority Uigher community, and the battlefields of Syria is more than just a stretch of the imagination. But as Pulitzer Center grantee Richard Bernstein reports in a timely dispatch for The New York Review of Books, Chinese authorities are insisting that more than 200 Uighurs—many of them women and children—arrested by Thai authorities in March were on their way to wage jihad in Syria.

More likely, says Richard, the Uighurs are fleeing well-documented Chinese repression in Xinjiang.  “They are like other refugees in this sense, but with one major difference. The Uighurs arriving in southeast Asia have triggered a tense, mostly behind-the-scenes tug of war between China, which is pressuring Thailand to send the Uighurs back, and the West, including the United States, which has entreated the Thais to reject China’s demand, arguing that giving in to it would subject the Uighurs to savage mistreatment.”

Thailand, a close U.S. ally but a close-by neighbor of China, is in a tight spot. According to Richard, “a sort of compromise is likely: as a gesture to its big and powerful neighbor, Thailand may agree to repatriate a few of the Uighurs, while allowing most of them to move on to Turkey,” a nation that has agreed to grant them asylum.


A cultural preference for sons and the willingness to abort female fetuses in places like India and China has resulted in an estimated global deficit of 100 million girl babies. The destabilizing social consequences of this gender imbalance are now being felt as a generation of men face the reality of not being able to find a spouse.

Pulitzer Center grantee Carl Gierstorfer has been documenting the crisis in India’s Uttar Pradesh state, where there are only 858 girls born for every 1,000 boys.

Traffickers capitalize on the shortage by recruiting or kidnapping women ensnared in poverty to sell as brides,” reports Carl in this piece for CNN. “It’s a cycle influenced by poverty and medical technologies, but one that ultimately is perpetuated by India’s attitude towards women.”   

Sword Ornament, Ghana; Asante Peoples, mid-20th century Gold and felt, 5 1/4 x 8 x 5 1/2 in. (13.335 x 20.32 x 13.97 cm). Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc. 2010.2.McD

Although well known in western art, the lion is surprisingly rare in the visual art of sub-Saharan Africa.  The subject of the lion as king of beasts is more of a European connotation than an African one, and this hollow cast gold sword demonstrates Western formal qualities.  The lion’s turned head, curved tail, and grinning mouth with protruding tongue are all elements typical of the heraldic lions found in European family crests. Ceremonial state swords communicate the power of a chief and are essential pieces of royal Asante regalia.  The use of the lion among the Akan federation, rather than the more common leopard motif, metaphorically communicates its owner’s prowess as a fearless leader, stressing that the chief should be respected because “if the lion has no intention to attack, it will not show its teeth before you.”     

Consulted Sources:

Doran H. Ross, “The Heraldic Lion in Akan Art: A Study of Motif Assimilation in Southern Ghana.” Metropolitan Museum Journal 16, (1981): 165-180.


By Nathan Popp

Numerous African Cultures revere the elephant as a symbol of strength, wisdom, and even hope. Not only because it’s the largest known land mammal, but also because they are masters of their environments. They hold very strong bonds to each other and even create burials for dead members. They even have herds lead by the eldest females; Matriarchy.  That’s why you see the animal represented so often especially in the Ivory Coast. A symbol of hope when the trunk is pointed upward. Just something to think about.
Written by @KingKwajo

Watch on fadumamomo.tumblr.com

White Supremacist finds out he’s 14% black! LOOOL that lady cackling next to him is killing me!!


Magi Concept Art: Masrur
[from bluray vol. 3, 4 & 6 ]

  • “Masrur was supposed to be a black swordsman, the Dark Continent was supposed to be like Africa [...]” [x]

“Quand le village se réveille …” (When the Village Awakes) is a project to collect and share the culture and traditions of Mali through new information and communication technologies, sharing texts, videos, audio, and testimonies drawn from elders – the guardians of tradition, culture, and collective memory of African society.

When the Village Awakes: A New Malian Culture Blog

Parasites and poor antenatal care are the main causes of epilepsy in sub-Saharan Africa

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological conditions worldwide, and it is well known that it is significantly more prevalent in poorer countries and rural areas. The study of more than half a million people in five countries of sub-Saharan Africa is the first to reveal the true extent of the problem and the impact of different risk factors.

The study - conducted at International Network for the Demographic Evaluation of Populations and Their Health (INDEPTH) demographic surveillance sites in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania and Ghana - screened 586 607 residents and identified 1711 who were diagnosed as having active convulsive epilepsy.

These individuals, along with 2033 who did not have epilepsy, were given a questionnaire to complete about their lifestyle habits. The team also took blood samples to test for exposure to malaria, HIV and four other parasitic diseases that are common in low-income countries.

The team found that adults who had been exposed to parasitic diseases were 1.5 to 3 times more likely to have epilepsy than those who had not. Epilepsy has previously been linked with various parasite infections, but this is the first study to reveal the extent of the problem.

Professor Charles Newton from the Wellcome Trust programme at the Kenyan Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University, who led the study, said: “This study demonstrates that many cases of epilepsy could be entirely preventable with elimination of parasites in Africa, some of which - for example, onchocerciasis - have been controlled in some areas. In some areas the incidence of epilepsy could be reduced by 30-60 per cent with appropriate control measures.”

In children, the greatest risk factors for developing epilepsy were complications associated with delivery and head injury. Interventions to improve antenatal and perinatal care could substantially reduce the prevalence of epilepsy in this region, say the authors.

The study focused on people with convulsive epilepsies as they are the most reliably detected and reported and there remains a substantial stigma attached to patients with the disease.

“Facilities for diagnosis, treatment and ongoing management of epilepsy are virtually non-existent in many of the world’s poorest regions, so it’s vital that we take these simple steps to try and prevent as many cases of this debilitating disease as possible,” Professor Newton added.

The findings were published today in the journal ‘Lancet Neurology’. The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust, with support from the University of the Witwatersrand and the South African Medical Research Council.


Dispatch #2: Labor of Love
Crocuta crocuta
©Joel Sartore

The spotted hyena, also known as the laughing hyena or tiger wolf, is a species of hyena native to Sub-Saharan Africa. It is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN on account of its widespread range and large numbers estimated at 10,000 individuals. The species is however experiencing declines outside of protected areas due to habitat loss and poaching. The species may have originated in Asia, and once ranged throughout Europe for at least one million years until the end of the Late Pleistocene.

The spotted hyena is a highly successful animal, being the most common large carnivore in Africa. Its success is due in part to its adaptability and opportunism; it is both an efficient hunter and a scavenger, with the capacity to eat and digest skin, bone and other animal waste. In functional terms, the spotted hyena makes the most efficient use of animal matter of all African carnivores. Source

Joel Sartore drives his mobile studio to U.S. zoos to photograph endangered species from around the world.

Other posts:

Spotted Hyena

Male Lion Portrait

Black or White Rhino - How to tell…

"International experience is a must. It is what will make you stand out from the crowd."

Q&A With Emily Bamford, Water Unit, UNICEF HQ 
Sanitation & Hygiene Officer, New York


If you had to describe your job to a 5 year old, how would you explain it?

We work to make sure that families living in Africa and Asia have access to toilets and clean water, and that they wash their hands with soap.

Describe how you became a UNICEF employee.

I applied for a UNICEF internship in India whilst studying for my Masters, but never heard back.  Instead, a month later, I got offered a Communications consultancy with UNICEF in the Central African Republic (CAR) and within a week I was living in Bangui. To this day, I’m not sure how all of this happened, but I was really grateful to be given such an opportunity at such a relatively young age.

Any specific tips for getting noticed when applying for jobs like yours?

International experience is a must I think. It is what will make you stand out from the crowd. Being highly specialized in one particular area (e.g. Water Supply or Public Health in Developing Countries) is always important too, especially if you’re doing Programming. 

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