Monday, 21 November 2011

Raising news awareness on driving forces behind failing states

Interesting thesis that state failure is caused by deep tectonic shifts, specifically demographic increase.

I'd cite Yemen as an example.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Finally US gets smart about Somalia

According to the Somalia Report, a formal US delegation has visited Puntland.

As the report itself says:

For years the U.S. position on Somalia was to only support the TFG via the UN, AU and indirectly. Part of that policy was to ignore and even demonize independent-minded regional actors like Somaliland and Puntland. Meanwhile the aggressive use of outsider actors like Ethiopia and Uganda to directly intercede militarily created [an] unexpected resurgence of armed resistance.


I am not opposed to working through local actors such as Ethiopia and Uganda, but why do all that hard work with its traumatic consequences when there are indigenous building blocks to work with? Indeed, Puntland has always had a policy of eventually rejoining an independent Somaliland.

Subtlety - that's what was missing.

And this is the approach that should have been taken to Afghanistan from the very beginning - build on the pre-existing, tribal building blocks.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Light barrier used to repel mosquitoes

Marka is working on a project that uses infrared light to form a barrier between humans and mosquitoes, as well as other common insects such as moths and wasps. The theory is that you can use light to form a wall that separates space. In a phenomenon not fully understood, the mosquitoes that are outside the wall seem blocked, as if by a semi-invisible fence.

Sunbox solar power charging system

People who are trekking in the wilderness, stranded at disaster sites or living in developing nations all have one thing in common - lack of access to an electrical infrastructure. Solar charging devices such as the Solio, iCharge and Joos Orange have been designed to meet the needs of some or all of these groups. One of the latest such systems, Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies' Sunbox USB 3.0, is particularly versatile.


Readers involved in foreign aid might also be interested in Horizon's entrepreneur package. It allows small businesspeople in developing nations to charge ten Sunbox battery packs at once, which can then be rented out to members of the local community.

Gates Foundation funds composting toilet

Enter Marc Deshusses, a Duke University environmental engineer who has envisioned an innovative yet simple waste disposal system designed specifically for Third World countries that can be constructed from everyday items.

According to Deshusses, for less than $100 and a day's work a single family in an undeveloped country can construct a solid waste disposal system that processes the waste, requires no electricity or additional energy and destroys harmful pathogens.

In the system Deshusses is developing, the waste is directed to a chamber, most likely constructed of PVC pipe. Once sealed in the chamber, an oxygen-free, or anaerobic, environment is created and bacteria digest the waste. As a byproduct of this digestion, methane gas is produced. Instead of the methane escaping into the environment, the new approach captures and burns it, creating enough heat to kill the bacteria and viruses most commonly found in effluence.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Airdrop: Water from thin air

...Airdrop can harvest 11.5 millilitres of water for every cubic meter of air in the driest deserts such as the Negev in Israel, which has an average relative air humidity of 64 per cent. A small scale prototype Linacre installed at his parents' house created about a litre of water a day, but further iterations of the design are expected to increase the yield.

Rather than using complex, energy-intensive methods such as desalination or tapping into sacred underground water sources, Airdrop's source of water is abundant - the air - and so it can be used anywhere in the world.

It delivers the water to the roots of crops in dry areas by pushing air through a network of underground pipes, cooling it down to the point where water condenses. The water is then pumped to the roots of plants, which Linacre said was the most efficient irrigation method.


Friday, 4 November 2011

How AusAID allocates funds

We allocate our funds and efforts based on need, our capacity to make a difference, the effectiveness and scale of our efforts and Australia's national interest.