Friday, March 31, 2006

 

Water in Africa: a SPRAT approach for sustainable development

African development is such a broad and diverse topic that I had to think and rethink on what to write. As the world celebrated the 14th world water day on March 22, I felt inspired and decided to write on this topic for my post of the week in this team blog.

I adopt the SPRAT technique, which we learnt from Lesley’s session at the world of work (WOW) training [http://www.pghumanities.wits.ac.za/wow/]. SPRAT stands for:
Situation, which is the story or trend on ground;
Problem or the issue that must be solved;
Resolution that is the answer or proposal to the problem;
Action, which is the implementation of the proposal, and lastly;
Thanks as for the closure.

To start with, what is the situation regarding water? Water is the thing that makes our daily life. Over 80 or 90 % of our bodies are made of water. The coffee, tea, juice, or coca cola we drink is made of water. We treat water, we eat water, we live water, we dive in water, we pay for water, play water, and pray with water. Water is our culture, water is our future. Yet, world water resources are shrinking when our daily needs for it are tremendously increasing.

The second stage of the SPRAT model is the problem, which teaches us that water is a non-renewable resource. Moreover, there is no substitute for water. Besides that, water is unevenly distributed in the world despite the fact that two third of the universe is made of water (unfortunately much of it is retained by polar ices). So many other issues are water-related:

Ø Almost one fifth of the world still does not have access to an adequate supply of drinking water;
Ø Ninety percent of natural disasters are water-related;
Ø Poor water quality is a key cause of poor livelihood and health, causing many deaths, remember Kostad and Umtamta in South Africa;
Ø According to the World Vision (http://www.worldvision.org/), every day, nearly 6,000 children die from water-related illnesses;
Ø Some tourists in 5 and 6 stars hotels in Jozzi or in Cairo demand up to 900 litres of water daily when some people in South African cities and townships can’t access more than 20 litres per day;
Ø Some sources of water like Lake Chad, are threatened of running dry;
Ø Some regions like Europe manage to use more than two third of their hydraulic potential when Africa makes use of only 7% of its potential. Hence the statement, Africa has considerable water.
Ø Some natural disasters like Tsunami, Catherina, etc are water related;
Ø Competition over scarcely distributed water, always brings Niger and Guinea to clash;
Ø Privatization promoted in some countries like South Africa has skewed access to water, determining who gets how much water,
Ø The list is not going to end.

To get back to the SPRAT model, how then is this issue being handled?

Let’s start with the global level,

In 1992, the United Nations (http://www.un.org/) came with a resolution that the 22 March of each year would become the World Water Day (WWD) as of 1993. For that celebration, a different UN agency is selected each year. For 2006, the theme is ‘water and culture’ under the auspices of the Unesco (http://www.unesco.org/).

The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) (http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/index.asp) plans to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.

Other solutions to water related issues are implemented at regional or country levels:

v Recycling sewage water, which decreases pollution;
v Riccardo Petrella (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricardo_Petrella), a prominent European academic suggests that we stop exploiting water as petroleum (petrolization of water, he argues);
v Museveni, intervening on CNN on the 2006 WWD refutes the statement that Africa has considerable water, he goes for reasonable water.

Action, as the fourth step in the SPRAT model, made some governments act pragmatically. Libya is one of them. In 1985, President Kaddafi launched the ‘Great Man made River’ (www.watert-technology.net/project/gmr/), a program aimed at extracting water from Saharan fossils and drain it to the Libyan shore, the most agricultural favourable region in the country. The program is expected to start delivering from 2010. Unfortunately, Kaddafi was criticised as building a white elephant, I do not share such view.

In brief, water-related issues are to be treated with same respect and attention as other burning development issues such as attracting FDI, trade, governance, etc.

Lastly, who should I thank? Remember the last step in the SPRAT model. Special thanks to Lesley for adding the SPRAT approach to my knowledge. Definitely, it will always be part of my analyses even if Lesley used that in a presentation on writing skills. I also thank you, my reader for spreading the news that with more than 6 billion people today and still increasing population, the earth is a risky place to be carrying of economic growth and prosperity only with less concern for environmental changes and water crisis. To avoid Africa becoming a source of world conflicts because of its reasonable (not considerable) water resources, we must start planning its equitable access and rationale management. By so doing, we are going to make a difference in the future with water as the African comparative development advantage.

 

The problems with black economic empowerment

I believe that from a macro perspective BEE (black economic empowerment) can be seen as an integrated and orderly socio-economic process that was located within the context of South Africa's transformation programme. The aim of BEE was to address the imbalances of the past while also seeking to ensure a broader and meaningful participation in the economy by black people. But the question is -is the process working to reach its aim ?

Many people feel that the whole process of empowerment is not complete. Many companies are still owned by the the minority population and many farmers still see black economic empowerment as a threat to their own existence. Then there are also the misunderstanding of BEE. The people who get involved in BEE concerntrate only in ownership of assets (especially the mines) and overlook areas such as human resource development, management at senior level and indirect empowerment through corporate social investment. Then there is the big issue of BEE benefitting a selected few. I also question myself as to why certain individuals are always empowered. Then I come up with the possible answer which says people at ground-level are not well- informed of the role they could play in the economy.

I belelive that in order to achieve the aims of BEE, there should be an effort from both the citizens and government. The government should make more effort to inform people about the economic activities while also the citizens should broaden their business skills and views. Companies should also create an enabling environment which align black empowerment iniatives.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

 

Migration and HIV/AIDS

The HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa and indeed the world over should be viewed with particular concern. HIV/AIDS is incapacitating the most productive age groups in our societies. Its ravaging effects are stripping people of their human rights and human dignity. The way the disease has claimed so many lives and left examples of hopeless orphans, child headed families and old people who have to assume responsibility for them is very tragic indeed.

It is noble that the United Nations has seen it in its power to declare the pandemic a “global emergency” as it is undermining the social and economic development of all sectors in society be it national, regional, communal or the individual levels. The UN Special Session Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS in 2001 noted that the progression of the pandemic is in the long run going to have negative effects on the achievement or attainment of Millennium development goals www.un.org/ga/aids . I believe that there is need for governments to spearhead efforts at slowing down or putting an end to the spread of HIV/AIDS in the region.

This is with the realisation that we are now leaving in a global community where people are constantly migrating for different reasons. Some people have been displaced or forced to migrate by conflict and have found themselves having to settle in other countries other than their own. This presents new challenges in some instances and opportunities in others. Many countries are now potential destination points for different migrants there is need to put in place structures and programmes for HIV/AIDS that accommodate all the citizens in any particular country.

I know that this is a tall order given that some countries do not even have adequate health systems to take care of the “normal” ailments let alone this frightful disease HIV/AIDS. But it is important to have a situation where people have all the adequate information of where to seek medical help in case of necessity or where to get information concerning HIV/AIDS. In South Africa for instance several studies notably by the Forced Migration Studies department of this university and indeed several others by different organisations who work with migrants have revealed that most migrants’ especially undocumented ones are afraid to seek medical help from the big hospitals because there they will be asked for legal documents. They would rather go to the small clinics where service is hassle free but then what happens in the event of a complication that requires more expect involvement? It is evident also that the social stigma associated with being a migrant from a certain country also plays a role in the health seeking behaviour of some migrants.

It is imperative then for African states to commit themselves to providing health services to everyone in their countries regardless of legal status. For instance STDs are known to exacerbate the transmission of the virus so it is important that migrants get assistance if the pandemic is to be arrested. It becomes necessary to make sure that such services are available without discrimination as migrants may not have sex amongst themselves only but may also do so with local people.

It is then necessary to protect the health of everyone involved as migrants become integrated into the communities of the countries they have settled in. A cholera outbreak in a largely migrant community for instance can end up infiltrating nearby non migrant communities as well so governments need to consider that in order to preserve the health of their citizens they may also need to preserve the health of their “visitors” too.

 

Africa and development

I believe Africa has got the potential to develop. We have the expertise and the resources. However, there are factors that impede development. They include civil wars, poverty, corruption and exploitation of resources to mention a few. It is therefore up to the international community and Africans in particular to deal with these issues if Africa is to develop. Peace and security, democracy and good political, economic and corporate governance and regional co-operation and integration are essential to ensure sustainable development. We need to improve the image of Africa to attract foreign investments.
The diversity in the continent should also be taken into consideration; different cultures and history and some countries have plenty of resources while others have limited resources. This is where African Union, New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), regional oarganisations and development agencies should come in an help identify solutions to unique situations. If all the objectives and principles of NEPAD were to be followed, then nothing would stop Africa from developing and be competent in the global economy.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

 

Nedlac and development issues

Since we are all social science students, I imagine that the development issue is part of our career aspirations. The presentations on NEPAD, Nedlac and other presenations that had something to do with developmet raised our interests.

NEPAD and Nedlac I think are good concepts, because they are part of developing a successful South Africa. I think that it is taking time though for the South African community to see the desired results. On the side of nedlac it might be difficult for us to see the results because, the organisation does not deal entirely with development. Nedlac deals with proposed laws and so on. However on the side of NEPAD we already see the results, and so far they are not as good as we innitially thought they would. Why I say this is because, for one thing only those who rich and can afford to trade with other African countries are the only ones who actually see the benefits of it, meanwhile those who are poor are actually getting more poor and some of them have no idea what NEPAD is about. One colleague even said that he feels as though NEPAD is only for the rich Africans, and he does not feel as he is part of of it.

As for the peer review mechanism, I don't think it will work on the long run, because for example if you take the issue of Zimbabwe and president's Thabo Mbeki's quiet diplomacy tactic, you actually see that it is just a waste of time and nothing will come of it. Some of our African leaders are scared of the challenge of reprimanding each other when comes the need to do so.

As postgraduates who aspire to introduce change to the injustices of this world I think that these organizations would do well to take us on as interns. Maybe on us will introduce an idea that will successfully speed up the pace of development in South Africa if given the chance to do it.

 

Community economic development

To start your own business it used be a problem. Now in South Africa there are number of business opportunities that are available to previously disadvantaged communities. Now they can own businesses as a community or individually. Local Economic Development (LED) is one of the government programmes that motivate local communities to become business entrepreneurs. For instance in Soweto there is a development of cultural tourism. Cultural tourism is a form of tourism that attracts foreign and local visitors to visit Soweto so that they can learn about its history and culture.

This is very interesting, because local people now own small business, such as guest houses, shebeens, restaurants and other small business. As a result people who were previously unemployed are now employed in this business. This also shows how local people can use their own available assets, such as their homes and labour to develop themselves. Like Marius Venter was saying that sometimes you do not need money to open up a business. All you need is a good calculated plan and motivation. Previously disadvantaged communities are now responsible for their own development. This should be a lesson to other African countries that they can use their own available assets to develop themselves.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

 

Two more reasons for this 2006 teamblog

Roy gave us 9 reasons for the existence of this blog and I do share his views.

I also think that this blog exists for whoever believes in teamwork. I like a comment Celeste wrote in her blog about teamwork. Actually she refutes Roy conception of teamwork http://celestewatch.blogspot.com/. I side along with Celeste and I urge the 2006 team to take up the challenge by demonstrating that teamwork is achievable, even if that works according to the Pareto principle.

Nonetheless, I am not over ambitious and I share Roy’s realism that 20% ends up doing the all job. Which side do you want to be?

Maina said something quite true in one of his blog posts ‘for teamwork to be effective, individuals have to perform to their best.’ http://mainamutonya.blogspot.com/. Let’s show how high our TQ is. Let’s do something for this blog guys.

The second reason comes from what Lesley wrote, referring to the HRSC study on job hunting among graduates. The workplace already makes it difficult for us to get jobs and we rank the last. If this team can properly use the blog tool, I think we are going to make a difference and show that we are different.

Cyrille

 

A Force for Good?

How do people feel about the intervention, or rather involvement, of South African companies in Africa? Or do most people see this as a means of pure self interest on behalf of the companies?

This has been one of my key interests for the past year and a half after I have completed a course in South African Corporate Foreign Policy. In the 21st century it has become crucial for business and state to sort out new challenges by figuring out how to work together in order to make their relationship work to benefit both the company and the state.

The responses to these challenges have to take into account the necessity to provide a better life for those who are living in the chosen country. The relationship between the state and the companies are ever changing, especially in Africa and specifically South Africa. Reminiscent of what we have learnt from Mr Kapelus from the AICC, corporate governance are one of the aspects to make life better for those who are affected by companies. In other words, there is an increasing need or demand for companies and states to be more transparent, accountable and regulated. Of course there are global institutions that are there to provide information and regulations for companies to measure their accountability (like the World Trade Organisation), but this is a whole different area that I would rather not get into due to my lack of patience and enthusiasm with these types of global organisations. However this topic is definitely open for discussion if anybody wants to dare go there.

In this day and age it is unavoidable for companies not to think seriously about the implications of their actions on their own personal reputation. This brings me to the actual point I would like to make. The increase in activities by South African companies is heavily debated. It is beyond a doubt that South African companies play an enormous role in Africa. It helps with African development and increases growth. But most of all, this growth and development of Africa also serves the interest of South African companies.

Mr. Metcalfe tried to explain to us the other day how Nepad is a way to improve the relationship between companies and states and how FDI can be generated when Africa becomes a safer investment zone. This is still a wait and see process. Some companies still face challenges while others have gained from these interventions. However, there is still the problem of some companies exploiting African nations and raking in the profits.

Consequently it is highly important for companies to assess their corporate foreign policy towards African nations. I feel the majority of South African companies are a force for good in Africa and that most African states, NGOs and other stakeholders should be open to their involvement in their countries. This will eventually show the rest of the economic world that Africa can be a safe environment to invest in. I do realise there are many other aspects to consider and not just the hope of generating more FDI, but shouldn’t this be the point of departure for the development of Africa? Am I being too ignorant and optimistic or is there some concurrence on this subject matter?

 

What makes us different...

Thanks for the description, Roy.

All I can think of that needs to be included is that we are postgrads from the Humanities and Social Sciences.

A repeated criticism of human sciences training is that too often it is an irrelevant scholarly endeavour: just “knowledge for knowledge’s sake”. Add a dose of skepticism from industry about the value of human science training in terms of direct economic or political benefit and the result is precarious career prospects for humanities and social science students.

The case is worse for those humanities and social science students who will graduate from academic programmes that are not specifically oriented to meet the needs of an industry or profession. A 2003 HSRC (Human Sciences Research Council) study tracked the job-hunting progress of 2 672 graduates who obtained their first degrees between 1990 and 1998. The type of qualifications held by graduates was also highlighted by the HSRC study. Graduates from the humanities and the arts had the highest unemployment rate, at almost 47%. Graduates in medical science had the highest success rate in finding employment (79%) followed by engineering graduates (77%).

There are no other similar interventions out there that look at how 'people like us' should re-package knowledge for the workplace. So the fact that Humanities and Social Sciences people are doing this through the World of Work Programmes, and through this blog, makes us unique.

What do you all think?

Lesley

Saturday, March 25, 2006

 

Let's come up with a better description for this blog

I've taken the liberty of adding a description to the blog, and I think it's probably better if you guys come up with your own one. Here's my stab at it:

"The World Of Work 2006 Team

An intensive course for post-graduate students to get immersed in the 'world of work' before they actually enter it. This blog is put together by the team to guide the way for other students to ease themselves into the great wide yonder."

Your objectives in writing this blurb will be for people who visit this blog to see at a glance why they should read it. What are they going to get out of it?

It doesn't have to be one line. It could be several sentences. Take a few stabs at it.

Blue skies
love
Roy

 

Why does this blog exist?

Here are the reasons I can think of for having this blog. I'm sure you can think of some to add.

1. Make your learnings open to the world. In other words, share.

2. Keep your group together in cyberspace, so that you may continue to network together, into the future. It's VERY easy to say, 'let's do coffee'. But when you're in the working world, time runs out, and you end up seeing your buddies once a year.

3. Focussing you on professionalism. When each of you posts to this blog, you'll be accutely aware of the standard of posts by your colleagues. My guess is that one of two things will happen: either all of the posts will sink into being absolutely awful, and the blog will stop, quickly; or you guys will call an emergency meeting, get angry with each other, and vow to create a professional product. The people who come through that process will be great bloggers, and will make a superb blog. Some of you will drop out of the blog, cos it's just too much work.

4. Giving employers something to think about. If you show a brilliant team blog, employers can read between the lines as to how individuals on the team blog might fit into their organisations. It'll also warn them off people who won't fit.

5. Making it easier for your guys to motivate each other to greatness. Each of your individual blogs will benefit from this process.

6. Giving Lesley a single, united front to show off on her WoW website. Hopefully, you'll use this space to make her proud.

7. For you to learn a little bit about how the world of work ACTUALLY works. The Parieto Principle almost always holds in the real world. It's also known as the 80/20 Principle. It works across allll sorts of things. In short, it can be stated as 80% of the success of a group comes from the efforts of 20% of the members. Or, 80% of the profits of a company come from 20% of its clients. And so on. In this case, you guys are going to come face to face with some ugly truths about each other, about teamwork, about motivation, about how tough things are, about projects, about project planning. Hopefully, you'll also get to see some amazing things about those topics!

8. One day, several of you are going to go into business together, either as partners, or as collaborators. Doing this blog together will let you know who you want to work with in the future.

9. The team blog (and your individual blogs) are very potent job interviews that are continuously happening. If you think of the blog as a microscope into your world that anyone can look at anytime they want, then you're on the money. This is an extravagant career-creation tool. If you use it properly.

What I'd love from you guys is to jump into this as a debate, either in the comments section, or in separate blog entries.

Friday, March 24, 2006

 

Bravo Celeste

Congratulations Celeste for taking up this task.
We have been all busy with our own blogs when you decided to make this work.

Thank you Roy for this brilliant idea. Hope We going to keep it for the 18 months!!!

Please tell me Roy if this is going to work for 18 months, what is going to happen next year when new interns will start the 2007 programme?I may sound silly if technically that is feasible to make it work for both years, but i am worried about us interfering in the interaction of 2007 team.

Go 2006team,

 

testing

Hi guys, sorry you have not read from me in a long time, i had a lot of problem in accessing the blog stuff, i ll keep you guys posted,
Have a great day
Beatrice

Thursday, March 23, 2006

 

WoW!

This World of Work Team Blog is very exciting!

It's the best way for people in this team to share ideas and network, long after the training programme.
I think it will also become an important reference for all postgrads from the Humanities and Social Sciences who are about to enter the workplace.
It will certainly be a valuable reference for employers.

Thanks Roy, for the idea. Thanks Celeste, for the action.

Best,
Lesley Emanuel

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

 

Well done to Celeste on creating this team blog

Hiya Guys...

Just a quick congratulations to Celeste on setting up this team blog.

Now we've got to work out the technical details. I'm a little bit baffled as to why it's only showing Celeste's profile. Maybe it's a matter of selecting one of the other blog templates?

I'm on a team blog called TECHNOLOGY CIRCLE which automatically lists all of the team members under the profiles list.

Slowly slowly we'll sort this one out.

Blue skies
love
Roy

[update: 25 March 2006] The mystery about listing team members evaporated as soon as I made my first post... this one, in fact. It would seem that as soon as a second person makes a post in a Blogger team blog, the list of team members is created. Sorted!

Monday, March 20, 2006

 

Welcome!

Hello everybody

Welcome to the World of Work 2006 Team blog. This is the chance for all of us to show what we are made of. And what a fantastic way to do it by writing down our ideas and passions for people to read. I hope you all enjoy it and I'm looking forward to reading everybody's thoughts and comments.

Happy blogging!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

 

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed on this, The World of Work Team Weblog, are the personal views and opinions held by the individual contributors. This blog does not represent any official university policy or opinion of the University of the Witwatersrand, its World of Work Programme, or any other organisation (whether that organisation is associated with the World of Work Programme as a host organisation or not). These organisations do not endorse anything contained herein. All content on sites linked to the World of Work Team Blog, regardless of their authors' affiliation with the University of the Witwatersrand or the World of Work Team Blog, are also not endorsed by the university.

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