The international community was slow to respond to the African ebola outbreak. One reason was a lack of early warning. It comes down to something population health scientists call "surveillance", a word that alarms the lay public, since it conjures images of Big Brother observing our intimate activities. Surveillance systems can be simple or complex. They always cost money. But if they help to identify an outbreak, and thus help to prevent an epidemic, then they save much more money. But poor governments are unlikely to invest in prevention systems when there are immediate health crises that need resources right now: HIV/AIDS, Malaria, maternal and reproductive health issues, etc.
#BringBackOurGirls was a massively popular way of protesting in part because it was so simple. Most major celebrities, politicians and even conservative political pundits participated. It was all an impressive display that sadly overlooked the real solutions to dilemmas like the Nigerian kidnappings.
Mosquito bites mean something different in many parts of the world. Working for an international aid and development agency, I've learned about the dangers of malaria, an infectious disease transmitted by the bite of an infected female mosquito. On World Malaria Day, I think about the millions of children who have no bug spray -- not ever.
Consider what is happening in Syria even as we read these words. Aid agencies have become so desperate for help that they repeatedly call upon the affluent West to step up and assist the 9.3 million people living at risk, and the 3.5 million Syrians living under siege. Surely these people matter to us, right?
The United Nations ranks the Central African Republic a level three emergency, among the top three humanitarian emergencies globally. The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are concerned about the lack of awareness of this crisis. What can the government do to raise awareness of the crisis in the international community and at home in Canada?
The recent troubles in the south that sprung up only a month ago, and the instability that has resulted, has pressed that African region to the precipice. But just this week, the Harper government, through its Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), has recommended, "that Canada consider downgrading its development program (in Sudan), or exiting entirely."
The recent native protests in New Brunswick against proposed hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") are not only devoid of facts but harm the potential for prosperity and lower personal taxes. Add in the anti-fracking frothing in neighbouring Nova Scotia, and also in Quebec, and it adds up to ill-advised provincial policies, this despite the safety of fracking.
Areas of Earth that have remained relatively free of industrial development have taken on a special significance. In Canada, they include awe-inspiring landscapes like the Sacred Headwaters in northwestern B.C. But the Sacred Headwaters is not protected under law. It remains at risk from a multitude of proposed mines, railways, transmission lines and other projects that will eviscerate the landscape if approved.
When I first heard about the dismantling of the Canadian International Development Agency in the government's recent budget, I was rather dismayed. Nonetheless, upon delving into the issue further, it became clear that my initial reaction was quite misguided. International aid from Canada is not coming to an end; the budget has merely initiated the merging of CIDA with the Department of Foreign Affairs. The aim is not to slash aid, but rather to have a more synergized approach to its deliverance in developing countries. The merger of CIDA with DFAIT ensures the money our government spends internationally will be more focused, effective and better reflect and preserve the national interests of Canada.
In yesterday's budget the government announced that Canada's International Development Agency (CIDA) will be merged within the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). CIDA's mandate of poverty reduction is distinct from the mandate of DFAIT, which is to promote Canada's interests abroad. The merger of these departments must be done without watering down CIDA's mandate.
In the course of my work at Plan I see so many young people with great potential of their own who have so few opportunities to explore or express it. Still, they bravely persist in striving to make their mark on the world, even in contexts of deprivation and conflict. Programs like Girls Making Media and International Youth Day, youth are changing the world.
Gil Blutrich, an Israeli born entrepreneur moved to Canada after many successful business ventures. However the one project of which he is so very proud is his purchase of the grand old lady of the Great lakes; the last remaining ship of its kind, the SS Keewatin. Thanks to a Canadian Israeli with a true sense of history, a relic of our past will now remind Canadians of a proud maritime era.
New malls, expensive hotels and fancy casinos are springing up everywhere in Uganda. Ex-pats and middle-class Ugandans drive flashy four-wheel jeeps and you can get any food craving satiated. Indian, Italian, Mongolian, Thai: they have it all here. And yet, it is a large urban centre where goats and chickens still roam the streets and witch doctors ply their trade.
In a report called "Left Behind by the G20?", Oxfam looks how every country treats its poorest. Inequality in Canada rose as fast as India's and nearly as fast as South Africa's. Only four have managed to reduce income inequality since 1990 and they are all emerging powers: Brazil, Korea, Mexico, and Argentina.