Posts Tagged ‘elderly’

China’s Solar Technology Pollutes Local Ecology


China’s Solar Technology Pollutes Local Ecology

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Posted 21 September 2011, by Li Le, The Epoch Times, theepochtimes.com

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Angry villagers argue with Jinko Solar staff over its pollution in Yuanhua Township, Zhejiang Province, Sept. 15. (Posted to an Internet forum by a Chinese blogger)

A four-day protest outside a solar manufacturing plant in a small Chinese township illustrates the harsh realities of China’s green energy manufacturing boom. While China is producing solar products for export at cutthroat prices, Chinese people get none of the green benefits. Instead they have to put up with the manufacturers’ cancer-causing pollution and get beaten up by police if they talk about it.

Villagers from Yuanhua Township of Haining City in China’s eastern Zhejiang Province had enough of a local solar company’s pollution. Anywhere between five hundred and a thousand local people staged a four-day protest that began on Sept. 15, to try and hold Jinko Solar Holding Co. accountable for its pollution and force an investigation into local residents increased cancer rate.

Authorities dispatched riot police who injured many protesters. Two local reporters who were on location were beaten by the solar company’s employees.

Jinko Solar Holding Co. is a manufacturer of solar silicon wafers and ingots. It was established in 2006 and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Local villagers told New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) that Jinko Solar Holding Co., has been discharging waste water since moving into the Hongxiao Village of Yuanghua Township in 2006. The pollution has caused fish to die and is threatening local people’s health.

Mr. Zhou, a villager, told The Epoch Times: “More than 10 villagers have developed leukemia and dozens have developed other cancers. We have been living in fear, and been constantly lodging complaints regarding the pollution to local authorities and the Jinko company.”

Because neither the authorities nor Jinko responded to their numerous requests, villagers went to the county government on Sept. 15 and demanded Jinko’s closure. But no one at the county government responded to them, so the villagers went on to Jinko’s, but were refused entry. Angry villagers then broke down the gate and rushed into the plant where they vandalized offices and work areas, Zhou said.

Protesters overturn and vandalize a vehicle; Yuanhua Township, Sept. 15. (Posted to an Internet forum by a Chinese blogger)

Jinko staff called the police, which quickly arrived, totaling one or two thousand. Police used tear gas to disperse people, injuring many, and took away an unknown number of villagers, according to Zhou.

One netizen said on a blog that he witnessed police beating even young girls and the elderly. He said he saw four police beating one elderly person.

Another netizen said: “A girl, aged 17 or 18, was chased and beaten into a coma and somehow fell into the river. Her body has not been recovered.”

Chinese media reported that protesters overturned eight cars in the solar company’s parking lot and damaged four police vehicles.

According to Zhejian Online News, Jinko staff beat two reporters from Zhejiang TV. The reporters’ video camera was also smashed and tapes were taken.

An NTDTV reporter called Jinko on the afternoon of Sept. 15. The person who answered acknowledged that there was a protest but would not provide details.

Haining municipal authorities announced on Sept. 17 that Jinko was ordered to stop production and that a villager surnamed Sun had been arrested for spreading “untruthful information” over the Internet.

Sun had posted information about the pollution produced by Jinko, saying it caused local people to have health problems.

Mr. Guo, a local resident, told The Epoch Times that a few years ago several young women working at Jinko had health checks because they weren’t able to get pregnant. Medical checkup revealed that they had radiation damage and would never be able to have children. After that came out, young women who planned on having families avoided working for the company, Guo said.

Local authorities dispatch riot police to squash the protest; Yuanhua Township, Sept. 15. (Weibo.com)

Some Internet postings said that the company is located 300 meters (984 ft.) away from a daycare center and only 100 meters away from an elementary school, and that the impact on the health of the children and neighboring residents is devastating.

According to latest reports by Chinese media, local authorities have detained 31 people, while Haning Environmental Protection Department fined Jinko 470,000 yuan (US$75,625).

Local villagers said they are not satisfied with the outcome; they want Jinko to leave Haning City.

The production of silicon involves high energy consumption and high pollution, Hu Chuli, director of the Institute for Industrial and Technical Economic Studies, National Development and Reform Commission, said at China’s Low Carbon Technology Innovation Forum on Dec. 17, 2010.

Hu pointed out that in the solar photovoltaic industry, China accounts for more than 40 percent of the world’s silicon production, yet Chinese people do not have the privilege to enjoy this kind of clean energy at all, because 95 percent of the production is for export.

In fact, the most unique characteristic of China’s solar photovoltaic industry is that production and resource consumption occur inside China, whereas product use and conservation of energy takes place outside of China, according to Meng Xiangan, secretary general of China Renewable Energy Society.

Hong Kong scholar and economics commentator, Larry Hsien Ping Lang said, “China protects the environment of other countries by exporting green products, but keeps all the pollution inside the country.”

Low labor cost in China, as well as disregard for the environment, and government subsidies to domestic enterprises make it often impossible for foreign companies to compete with Chinese manufacturing. California’s solar industry is an example according to Xia Ming, professor of political science at the City University of New York. Because of price subsidies paid by the Chinese regime and low labor costs, Solyndra, a California Solar company, announced bankruptcy on Aug. 31 Xia told the Epoch Times for a previous report.

Read the original Chinese article.

chinareports@epochtimes.com

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http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/china-news/chinas-solar-technology-pollutes-local-ecology-61860.html

Living with oil spill in Ogoniland


Living with oil spill in Ogoniland

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Posted 18 September 2011, by George Onah,Vanguard Media, vanguardngr.com

As the convoy of cars from Bodo town conveying journalists veered into the road leading to Goi community, the air became fetid. The  air was so offensive that two members of the entourage made to throw up. The air had been poisoned by the smell of crude oil that had enveloped the river serving the five communities of Goi.

The deeper the convoy rolled along the tarred road towards the river, the stronger the smell of the deadly spill. The stench, it was learnt, is worse at night when the ebbing river returns. As the vehicles brushed through the grasses that have grown into the road, few youths and elders stared at the group with gloomy faces. The road had obviously not been in full use because the spill had emptied the clan of its population.

None of the onlookers offered a smile. While mothers clutched their naked pale-looking babies, the old people and youths stood akimbo wearing long faces. The appearance of the rural folks reflected the extreme trauma the oil spill had programmed their lives. Minutes later, many deserted houses came into view. As we approaches the inner part of Goi, we beheld a community under siege by a demonic crude oil. Most of the buildings were in a state of disrepair.

The occupants have since fled  because of the massive spill. Goi, said to be the oldest in the area, and with a population of nearly 60,000, is tucked on a quiet hill in Gokana Local Government  Area of Rivers State.  The Goi River, which  has its source as Bonny River, flows through Opobo Channel and Bodo West, with tributaries scattered around the villages of the clan.

Damage
While examining the volume of destruction, it was observed that an area of the river, where spring water was gushing, had been covered by a  mass of oil. The thick oil stretched all around the edges of the water which overlooks the swamp in the far end of the river. It was the community’s source of drinking water. Clearly, aquatic life in the river had gone extinct. Paramount ruler of the clan, Mene Livinus Kobani, said the spring water used to accommodate crocodiles and boa, which the community embraced as its deities.

According to him, “Mudskippers and periwinkles, which sprinkled along the shores of the river and welcomed visitors to the water, are all gone. With what has happened here, no one can fish in the next 50 years”. Scores of carcases of fishing canoes and other seafaring materials littered the shores of the river. Even all the farmland, where the waterfront slopes in the clan, had been made infertile.

The exposed roots of coconut and palm trees whose leaves flutter as the ebbing water returns had started dying from the roots to the fronds. Spokesman of the land Alhaji Muhammad M. Kobani said four villages and scores of canoes in the clan were razed by a mystery fire when the spill spread round the area.

The fire and the spill have, according to him, rendered over 30,000 of the communities inhabitants homeless. “Those who refused to move out are daily inflicted by various ailments. Because the people do not have any choice of drinking water now, they scoop whatever they can find including water polluted with benzene. As at last count, we have lost 15 people in one month. What is happening here is a gradual extinction of our people by oil spill”.

When Sunday Vanguard visited Bodo General Hospital, the medical doctor in charge refused to comment on the effect of the spill on the people. He said he would need authorisation of the state government to speak. But some patients, including pregnant women, old people and youths said they started experiencing pain and nausea as soon as the spill was noticed in their river, three years ago (2008).

Many pregnant women were said to be miscarrying at an alarming rate. Mr. Barinua, a resident, said he had spent all his life savings catering for his sick family since the spill was noticed in the community. “We spend so much money on drinking water. If you have to spend so much on water alone, what about food, school fees, hospital bills and others? This oil spill has scattered the community and many families”.

Oil Spill

Another resident, Mrs. Barigboma Williams, said she had lost three pregnancies in a row due to the “bad water, smell of oil every day and the general hardship” occasioned by the spill. “We cannot even relocate because of the financial implications. I used to farm and trade while my husband fished to sustain the family. But we have lost our sources of livelihood because of the spill”.

Sources of Spill
Narrating the sources of their woes, Alhaji Kobani said the first spill in the area was in 2004 and was ignored by Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, because they said it was sabotage. He said the spill of 2008, which has remained till date, was accepted by SPDC as system failure at Bomu Manifold – Trans Niger Pipeline. The spokesman explained that Goi  has “always been at the receiving end of system failure and pipeline sabotage as claimed by Shell”.

The paramount ruler of the place, Mene Livinus Kobani, said he was taken aback that the UNEP report on the oil spill in Ogoniland did not mention Goi. Kobani said he was also surprised that the community has also not been involved in the distribution of drinking water by the Rivers State government.

Demands
Mene Kobani said, “Presently, there is no government or Shell presence in the community” and, for life to return to the area, they require a  health centre. My people want to return to the river to fish as well as to the land to farm. So, Shell should clean up the area and carry out remediation. We want adequate compensation from Shell and we want the company to build schools here.  Rivers State government should help us by supplying drinking water to this community”.

The lack of drinking water, he said, has contributed to the people leaving the area in droves. “The five sources of drinking water have been badly polluted. You see, only those who experience things would know the extent of pain. We are undergoing severe hardship in this community and the entire clan as a result of the oil spill here”.

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http://www.vanguardngr.com/2011/09/living-with-oil-spill-in-ogoniland/

In Kenya, Survey of Female Farmers Uncovers Challenges


In Kenya, Survey of Female Farmers Uncovers Challenges

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Posted 09 September 2011, by Staff, The World Bank, web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/

 

  • Rare survey seeks Kenyan women’s input and data to inform agricultural policy.
  • Female farmers have limited access to water, energy and finance; few women own property they can use as collateral for loans.
  • As agriculture becomes ‘feminized’ and men abandon farms to work in cities, policies must change to meet women’s needs, say experts.

September 9, 2011—Shelmith Wanjiru Kuria leans against the rustic wood fence bordering her farm in the Kenyan highlands, majestic Mount Kenya a picturesque backdrop. The area has some of Kenya’s most productive farmland, and some of its hardest working female farmers, says Shelmith, 34.

“Women are now dominating farming,” she says. She guesses 80% of farmers in her community are female. “Men here are supported by the women. The woman provides everything, even for the man. There’s nothing she can do about it.”

The widowed mother of two was one of many female farmers participating in a gender-disaggregated agricultural survey targeting 2,500 households and 5,000 individuals in eight regions of the Kenya.  The survey was conducted by Egerton University’s Tegemeo Institute between April and June 2011, and sponsored by the World Bank and the Kenya Ministry of Agriculture.

The resulting snapshot of farmers’ productivity and overall welfare is expected to influence agricultural, gender, and food security policy as Kenya moves to cope with drought and rising food prices that have driven millions of people to seek food assistance this year.

It will likely also confirm perceptions that more women than ever before are farming as men seek other jobs and migrate to cities and towns, says Beatrice Mwaura, gender officer in the Ministry of Agriculture.

“We need concrete data to inform issues of food security, marketing, access to services and resources,” says Mwaura.

“Agriculture is the backbone of the economy, and there is an awakening among leaders that gender issues could really matter after all. Anybody who doesn’t think it matters is being left behind.”

Most Interviews Are with Women

The survey was designed to capture input from both husband and wife in a household, to ensure it collected data from “people who really farm,” says World Bank Senior Gender Specialist Asa Britta Torkelsson.

“Conventional surveys usually target the head of the household and hence miss out on one side of the story,” says Torkelsson. That fact has contributed to under-reporting of women’s views and involvement in agriculture,  she says.

The survey also collected data on farmers’ access to water, energy and finance – three areas where women face extra burdens and challenges. Women are typically responsible for collecting water and fuel. In addition, few women own property they can use as collateral for loans, she adds.

While full results are not yet available, enumerators who conducted the survey in Central Province say most of their interviews were with women heading households abandoned by men.

Enumerators also note that most farmers have small farms and grow crops for their own consumption, commonly selling them only to raise money to pay a medical bill or other expense.

Even in agriculturally productive regions, farmers have problems getting their produce to relatively nearby markets, let alone to areas of the country with food shortages. Most don’t own a truck, car, or even a bicycle. Female farmers, by custom, mainly walk or use public transportation when available.

As a result, brokers and hawkers with trucks, motorcycles and bicycles commonly transport produce to market, reaping most of the trading benefits. But the brokers won’t travel dirt roads that are washed out by rain, and produce often rots in the fields, farmers say.

Costly Inputs, Slim Profit Margins

In addition, high fertilizer costs and low prices from brokers result in slim profit margins, they add.

Jane Wambul says yields on her 4-acre farm are decreasing because she can’t afford to buy the recommended amount of fertilizer. She says the price for fertilizer has risen from 300 shillings (about $3.25) for a 250 kg bag in 2005, to about 4,000 shillings (about $43) today. Government-subsidized fertilizer, at 2,500 ($26.90) a bag, is rarely available, she says.

Neighbor Veronica Wariumu, 62, supports eight people, including four grandchildren, on her 5-acre farm near Kirimangai, west of the Abedare mountain range. But the family is often short of food. There isn’t enough money to open a bank account. Though power lines pass over their house, they can’t afford to connect to the grid.

“Life is worsening as years go by, because inputs are costly and prices in shops are very high. On the other hand, prices for what we produce are very low,” says Veronica Warimu, 62.

Lure of the City

Veronica’s daughter, Josphine Musa, 27, a single mother of two young children, works with her mother on the farm but says she’d rather be in business – any business—than farming.

“Men get most of the opportunities,” says Josphine, who completed three years of secondary school. “There is a bias toward men when it comes to a job.”

Farming has lost its luster for increasing numbers of young men, who have left for the cities while  women “eke out a living” in rural areas, says Professor Wangari Mwai, who speaks frequently on gender issues.  Just as agriculture has become feminized, policies and assistance must change to meet the needs of women, she says.

“When you target food security issues, you actually target women,” she says. “As a single woman with only one cow, you may not be able to be very productive. But if water points are provided and women are empowered to farm, I believe we can make a great difference in the lives of rural women.”

World Bank Senior Agriculture Economist Andrew Karanja says the survey will help the Kenya Agricultural Productivity and Agribusiness Project better serve women. The survey’s findings will have implications for technology development. Agricultural extension services, too, might change substantially, he says.

“We need to find ways to make it attractive to women, and available at suitable times for women, because they have other issues to deal with.”

Permanent URL for this page: http://go.worldbank.org/ETKDJPYK70

 

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Growing little by little

Growing little by little

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Posted 09 September 2011, by Kwanele Sosibo, The Mail & Guardian Online, mg.co.za

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A community farm in Phillipi produces fruit and vegetables on a small scale. (David Harrison, M&G)

Rain, wind-blown sand and sunshine jostle for dominance. There is no one in sight except for older women hunched over well-maintained rows of healthy looking vegetable plants at the Siyazama Community Allotment Garden Association in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

“There is too much wind in Khayelitsha,” says Monica Dilla when I comment on her extensive use of protective tunnels. “It destroys the spinach, giving it black streaks. The sun also burns the crops and makes the sand dry very quickly, forcing us to irrigate twice a day when it’s sunny.”

Dilla runs a co-op called Masikhanye Food Garden, measuring about 1.2 hectares, with 19 other women at the edge of the Siyazama association’s land. It was started in 2000, three years after the association’s first garden was established in the township. Masikhanye also has gardens in other parts of Khayelitsha, such as Harare.

In their entirety, the association’s gardens cover about 3.5 hectares of a narrow stretch of municipal land that was once temporarily occupied by Eskom. According to the Abalimi Bezekhaya organisation, which assists communities like these to establish gardens, it is the first community garden of its size in Cape Town.

Although the Siyazama gardens are thriving, Nobesuthu Mgomane, a gardener who is in her fifties, says membership of the association has dwindled as women have left because of old age or impatience.

“There isn’t a big youth movement in this sector,” says Dilla, who qualifies for a pension in October. “Many regard it as a job for old people who are uneducated. So we still have to find ways of getting them involved.”

With the help of Abalimi Bezekhaya, Masikhanye Food Garden sells its produce to suburban Capetonians at a weekly market known as Harvest of Hope. Crates with a variety of vegetables fetch R95 each and Dilla says the co-op makes between R8 000 and R11 000 a month, which is divided among the women. They also distribute food parcels of vegetables to members of the group twice a week.

The department of social development has reportedly told Masikhanye that it “needs to be sustainable and can’t be babysat forever”.

Masikhanye has joined forces with other farmers to form the Vukuzenzele Farmers’ Association, with the aim of approaching the department of rural development and land reform to acquire more land and access bigger markets.

In the long run this could bolster Masikhanye’s fortunes, because it struggles to meet the demands of a larger-scale market closer to it. “The Phillipi [fruit and vegetable] market wants us to pay for stalls and they demand a lot of quantity. We are small farmers — where are we going to get pallets of carrots?” asked Dilla.

In the heart of Phillipi other community farmers who are constrained by space, failing crops and the need to make a living are contemplating repatriating to the Eastern Cape. Rose Makosa, who has lived in the township for more than 20 years, wants to return to her ancestral home to work with young people.

Looking over the 400m² plot she cultivates with her colleagues from the Sakhulwazi Women’s Organisation, she says: “This is not farming. In the Eastern Cape there is a lot of land that we can use. There are huge tracts of land where our fathers used to plant. Those children [living there now] may as well learn to be farmers.

“If we can get a government contract we can supply prisons, orphanages and hospitals with our produce. Then we can begin to reverse urbanisation, which has only succeeded in turning our youth into criminals.”

In a good month the garden generates about R3 500, which is distributed among the organisation’s 10 members, who also make beads to earn extra income.

But good months have been evading Makosa and her colleagues recently. When Makosa — the only one in the group who has received horticultural training — recently went on a six-week trip to the Eastern Cape, she came back to an unkempt garden, which suggested that her colleagues’ strengths lay more in beadwork than agriculture. Part of their crop failed because of a pest problem that they were ill-equipped to handle.

Makosa says she has appealed to the group’s sponsor, the non-profit organisation Heart’s project, called FoodTents, to assist urgently with the problem. “People get demotivated because they have to wait so long for a harvest,” said Shaun Cairns of FoodTents, which sponsored the group with its patented protective covering. It has taken over the site and turned it into a “grow zone” where it plans intensive training sessions to assist potential small-scale farmers to turn a profit from the crops they produce.

The protection afforded by the food tents, which cushion plants from the harsh elements, helps farmers to reduce the impact of inclement weather on their crops. They could, in the future, in other contexts across the region, help mitigate the effects of climate change and water shortages.

Kwanele Sosibo is the Eugene Saldanha Fellow in social justice reporting, supported by CAF Southern Africa. This feature was produced in partnership with the Southern Africa Trust

Rainy days

  • Trends suggest that large regions of Africa — particularly the Sahel and part of Southern Africa — could experience a warming of 3°C to 6°C by 2100.
  • Precipitation patterns will be affected dramatically, declining by more than 20% compared to 1990 levels.
  • More than 95% of Africa’s agriculture is rain-fed. Agricultural production will be severely compromised by climate variability and change. The amount of arable land, the duration of growing seasons and the yield per hectare are all expected to decrease, adversely affecting food security and exacerbating malnutrition.
  • Three-quarters of African countries are in zones where small reductions in rainfall could cause large declines in overall water availability. By 2020, between 75-million and 250-million people are projected to be exposed to increased water stress.

Source: www.africapartnershipforum.org

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http://mg.co.za/article/2011-09-09-growing-little-by/