Sub-saharan Africa news in brief: 27 January–9 February 2011


Source: SciDev.Net

Africa to benefit from nutrition research initiative
The European Commission has given the go-ahead to 'Sustainable Nutrition Research for Africa in the Years to Come', a two-year, €1 million (US$1,37 million) project that aims to 'rethink the research agenda for nutrition in Africa'. It is coordinated by the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp, and involves four African and five European institutions. Activities will include identifying current needs and emerging research challenges, and coming up with a research roadmap. More>>

Container labs to help Zambia fight TB
Zambia, hampered by lack of health workers and laboratories, hopes to step up its fight against tuberculosis (TB) with a slew of new technologies including 'container laboratories'. The Zambia AIDS Related TB Project (ZAMSTAR), a local non-governmental organisation, has introduced the cheap made-to-order labs. They are designed for specific needs of countries ordering them and arrive within three months. According a recent study conducted by ZAMSTAR, these innovations could help combat the high level of undiagnosed infectious TB. More>>

Nigeria to make world-class products from own tech innovations
Nigeria is ready to develop seven products fully made from the country's resources, covering information and communications technology (ICT), bio-resources, sports equipment, and agriculture. Umar Bindir, director-general of the country's National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), said it was disheartening that, 50 years after independence, Nigeria is yet to develop such a product. 'NOTAP is going to work with various stakeholders to launch seven standard products that the world will know us for. This is the secret for vision 20:20:20 to make sure that this country is also listed among the top 20 economies in the world, you must be strong in science and technology,' Bindir said. More>>

Developing world gets ready for global rollout of pneumococcal vaccine
Pneumococcal vaccines specially tailored for the needs of children in developing countries will be officially rolled out on Friday (11 February). The process will begin in Kenya — with a special ceremony next week (14 February) — and four other countries, eventually reaching more than 40 countries. Pneumococcal disease, the primary cause of meningitis and pneumonia, kills more than 500,000 children every year. The vaccines were rolled out early in Nicaragua last year. More>>

Africa needs major policy shift to fight climate change
Africa needs 'sweeping policy changes' to tackle worsening climate change, according to the Worldwatch Institute. The environment research organisation said the continent was prioritising adaptation whilst ignoring other factors. One such example is the recent heads of state proposal to build a massive 'Great Green Wall' of trees through the Sahara desert. The institute said such measures only solve part of the problem. 'Tree planting is important but the reality is that only 10 to 20 per cent of planted trees survive more than two to three years, particularly in dry conditions,' said the report. Substantial financial resources, information systems, technical capacity, and the right policies and institutions are also needed. More>>

West Africa 'needs climate early warning system'
Participants at a workshop discussing the integration of environment and sustainable development into policies, programmes and projects have said that West Africa should invest in an early warning system on climate change to reduce the vulnerability of various social groups. They also proposed establishing a task force and a think thank on key development sectors with climate scientists, policymakers and planners as members. More>>

Angola and South Africa cooperating on S&T
Angola and South Africa hope to strengthen their science and technology (S&T) partnership to boost research cooperation within the Southern African Development Community. According to South African officials on a tour of Angola recently, the former recognises existing regional asymmetries, and is pleased at Angola's commitment to the participation and innovation of the national systems of S&T. More>>

Simple device gives Cameroon locals access to clean water
A simple device is helping people in rural areas of Cameroon access clean water. Bio sand filters consist of a concrete base and a centre containing layers of crushed rock of varying sizes through which water is slowly poured. The filter removes 99 per cent of the bacteria that that passes through it and can be used for up to 12 months with little maintenance if properly looked after. The technology, launched late last year, was developed by the Life and Water Development Group Cameroon with assistance from the US-based Engineers Without Borders. More>>

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