global development

Global Health
9:01 am
Thu December 13, 2012

What’s making us sick ... and what’s not

Credit Oliver Erdmann / Flickr

In 2012, it’s more likely to be obesity than infectious disease, even in many so-called "poor" countries.

People around the world are living longer – but they're also more likely to get sick from diseases that are common in America. These trends are highlighted in an ambitious Seattle-based project to track health and sickness in countries around the world.

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Global Health Innovation
5:01 am
Wed August 15, 2012

Extreme makeover: toilet edition (courtesy of Bill & Melinda Gates)

Civil engineers from California (the Safe Sludge UC Berkeley Team) are one of the more than 35 design teams taking part in the "Reinventing the Toilet" fair at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation this week.
Bellamy Pailthorp KPLU News.

When you flush the toilet every day, you probably aren’t thinking much about where your waste goes. But Seattle’s Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is putting that question on the international agenda.

They’re donating more than three and a half million dollars in grants and prize money to help developing countries take advantage of new waste treatment technologies. A “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” fair kicked off yesterday.

KPLU environment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp went to check it out. (Click "Play" above to hear the elements of her story.)

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Humanosphere
1:10 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

Prof. says Africa can feed itself, and the world, through science

Calestous Juma, center, jokes with one of his leading critics, Phil Bereano, at left
Tom Paulson Humanosphere

The Harvard University professor of international development is author of “The New Harvest,” a book (free online) in which he makes his case for how agricultural reforms offer the most promise for positively transforming African economies.

Juma, though entertaining, doesn’t mince words — “Africa is already doing organic farming … and it isn’t working very well.” He describes himself as a bit of ‘techno-optimist,’ a believer like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the fundamental power of science and technology to transform agriculture in poor countries, especially sub-Saharan Africa.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere
3:02 pm
Mon January 9, 2012

The desire for the latest e-gizmo is poisoning the poor worldwide

Chinese woman sorts electronic waste.
Basel Action Network

“This is against international law but not against the law in the U.S.”

The media love-fest with digital gizmos is moving from the high-pitched holiday phase (electronic devices are always the top gifts for Christmas) into a smaller, but more intense hysterical phase this week with the opening of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Tuesday.

When we buy new gizmos, we usually want to get rid of the old ones. Electronic waste (aka e-waste) is a surprisingly large, toxic and growing burden inflicted, like many such afflictions, mostly on poor people in poor countries.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Global Health
1:32 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

World population soon to hit the 7 billion mark ... will we survive?

Pretty soon, joining the crowd may not be an option – it'll be crowds everywhere.
Stefano Corso Flickr

Sometime around Halloween, we’re told, the world’s 7th billion living person will be born.

Whether you should celebrate this milestone, recoil in horror or shrug depends upon your perspective regarding global population growth.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Tickets available at the door
12:00 pm
Tue April 26, 2011

Can Seattle Save The World? Preview tonight's Town Hall event!

UPDATE: Advance ticket sales have ended. However, additional tickets are available at the door tonight for $10 - cash only, starting at 6pm.

For those who would like to use Twitter to follow and participate, or even suggest questions now, see #SEAsaves and chime in. My colleague Charla Bear has graciously agreed to live-blog the event on Humanosphere and KPLU.

Here are a few thoughts in advance of tonight's event...

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HUMANOSPHERE
1:24 pm
Tue April 12, 2011

Five Millennials on global health

Sarah Dawson is a University of Washington senior majoring in public health and Spanish. She’s pictured here working with children at a Burmese eye clinic.
Tom Paulson

Global health is a big deal in Seattle.

As a matter of worldwide significance, it is of course a big deal everywhere — by definition. But what I mean is that global health is today the cause célèbre for Seattle and throughout the region. It’s especially popular among the Millennials.

“Global health is the movement of our generation,” said Kristen Eddings, a program associate at the Washington Global Health Alliance and one of the primary organizers of a big global health shindig in Seattle coming this June known as Party with a Purpose.

Read more:

Humanosphere
5:08 pm
Fri March 18, 2011

Supermodel Christy Turlington on maternal health & cause celebrities

I caught up with supermodel Christy Turlington Wednesday night as she walked from the Andra Hotel over to the Cinerama Theater for the Seattle screening of her documentary on the global problem of maternal deaths and disabilities caused in childbirth: “No Woman No Cry.”

Turlington met with a number of local luminaries and experts on matters of global health, like the UW’s Chris Murray (who minutes before closed out a major global health meeting. See Horton post below), at a VIP reception sponsored by the World Affairs Council and the Washington Global Health Alliance.

Didn’t have much time, but I asked her two questions:

  • Does the high-profile attention given to maternal health as the cause célèbre of global health send the wrong message — that the primary concern for women is their reproductive ability, as opposed to health overall?

I was somewhat disappointed to discover that she was very friendly, well-spoken and gracious despite my attempt to get her to display the kind of behavior more expected of a supermodel. Here’s an audio clip of me chasing down Christy Turlington on the streets of Seattle.

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Humanosphere
10:53 am
Thu March 10, 2011

Eco-farming best for poor, UN expert says, not Gates Foundation approach

One of the Gates Foundation’s primary goals is to improve the lives of smallholder farmers in Africa by helping improve agricultural productivity.

On Tuesday, the United Nations issued a report that appeared to challenge the Seattle philanthropy’s approach.

The Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation have launched what they are calling a new Green Revolution for Africa. It is a multi-pronged strategy that tends to favor scientific and technological solutions and that some see as too heavily dependent upon Western-style, industrialized farming techniques.

This week, the UN issued a report urging “eco-farming” as the best strategy for improving farming in the developed world. In it, the author appears to challenge the wisdom of the Gates Foundation’s approach in agricultural development.

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Humanosphere
4:16 pm
Thu March 3, 2011

Gates Foundation has given BBC $20 million to “shape” stories on maternal, child health

zawtowers Flickr

The Puget Sound Business Journal’s Clay Holtzman reports that the Gates Foundation made its largest ever donation to a media organization, the BBC, in December but didn’t publicize the $19.9 million grant.

As Clay reports, there has been a lot of media attention given lately to the Seattle philanthropy’s funding of media — most recently a comprehensive review of the potential conflicts-of-interest inherent in this practice by the Seattle Times. Clay notes:

When the Seattle Times published a lengthy profile of the Gates Foundation’s grants to professional journalists on Feb. 19, the foundation apparently never disclosed that it had already approved its largest award ever to a media organization.

I’ve written plenty about the Gates Foundation’s support for media, about the potential for good as well as the potential problems given that the philanthropy often IS the story when it comes to global health and development.

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Humanosphere
12:28 pm
Mon February 28, 2011

Five reasons why microfinance is in crisis – and why it matters

TW Collins Flickr

The popular anti-poverty scheme of providing small loans and other financial services to poor people, generally known as microfinance, is in crisis.

“In one sense, you could say it’s a coming of age,” says Alex Counts, CEO at the Grameen Foundation, a leading non-profit microfinance organization with offices in Seattle and Washington D.C.. “Controversy often comes along with growing in size and impact.”

You could also say microfinance is actually suffering from several different crises: An external appearance of a crisis based on a damaged public image; a related, but slightly different, internal “identity crisis” and, at least according to one leading observer, a cash crisis in reverse — too much money.

Here are five reasons for the crisis:

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Humanosphere
11:15 am
Thu February 10, 2011

World Vision under fire for Super Bowl “loser” clothing donations

Ever wonder what happens to all those Super Bowl “champions” shirts and hats that are printed up in advance, but for the losing team? 

Given this, World Vision for the past 15 years has been collecting this loser gear left over from the Super Bowl and distributing it to people in poor countries:

World Vision identifies countries and communities in need overseas who will benefit from the gear. This year’s unused Super Bowl merchandise will make its way to Zambia, Armenia, Nicaragua, and Romania in the months to come. On average, this equates to about 100 pallets annually — $2 million worth of product — or about 100,000 articles of clothing that, instead of being destroyed, will help children and adults in need.

So don’t be surprised if you see lots of folks in southern Africa, eastern Europe or Central America mistakenly believing the Pittsburgh Steelers won.

It may sound like a nice enough thing to do, but a lot of folks think it’s actually harmful and even immoral: donating clothing.

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Humanosphere
3:27 pm
Tue January 18, 2011

New website wants your failures (and for you to admit you've had them)

Alex E. Proimos Flickr photo

It's uncommon to hear dialog about failure in our society, including among the leaders and agencies who work in the field of global health and development. Those organizations rely on funders who are banking on success to further international missions, according to Humanosphere's Tom Paulson

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