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HOST: Straight ahead on "Our World," African leaders adopt a plan to help troubled fisheries, an ecologist and explorer describes his 7-month aerial survey of Africa and health workers gain a new weapon in the battle against malnutrition in Niger.
AUDIO: “Many children die for nothing. For nothing! Most of them could be saved with very simple intervention like we’re proposing. It’s not so hard to do.”
HOST: Packets of protein for starving children. That and the conflict between science and culture on the highest mountain peak in the Pacific Ocean and a website of global music that will keep you humming.
HOST: Hi! I'm Rosanne Skirble sitting in for Art Chimes. Welcome to VOA's science and technology magazine, "Our World."
HOST: World fisheries are in trouble. A United Nations reports says 52 percent of the world’s marine resources are already fully exploited. Another 24 percent are over- exploited, depleted or recovering. The situation is particularly acute in Africa, where 200 million people depend on fish as a primary source of protein.
African leaders, along with fisheries and agriculture experts from 26 African countries met in Abuja, Nigeria this week to discuss the looming fishery crisis and what to do about it.
Africa is the only region in the world where fish supplies per capita are dropping. A study released at the summit by the Malaysia-based World Fish Center says fish harvests must increase by 32 percent to keep pace with consumption as the population grows. The Center’s Deputy Director, Patrick Dugan, says wild fish stocks in Africa are leveling off.
AUDIO: CUT 1 PATRICK DUGAN
“There are very few places where it is possible to increase the harvest from Africa’s coastal fisheries, and in some cases there have been significant declines in recent years. That is why we are arguing very strongly that while we need to sustain the existing fisheries and where possible increase the benefits from them, if we are to meet the increasing demand for fish in Africa. We need to turn to other sources, and that is where aquaculture has a very important role to play.”
TEXT: Just three percent of Africa’s fish production comes from aquaculture, compared with 38 percent worldwide. Leaders at the summit agreed to promote small-scale fish farming, which could help alleviate poverty and hunger across the continent.
The ministers adopted a 5-point plan that, in addition to supporting new investments in aquaculture, called for greater protection of coastal and inland fisheries, improved market access, increased local and regional fish trade and creation of a system to monitor resources.
Patrick Dugan of the WorldFish Center says the ministers agreed to put the plan into action with investments in two major programs:
AUDIO: CUT 2 PATRICK DUGAN/SKIRBLE
PATRICK DUGAN: “One is focusing on sustainable aquaculture and the second is focusing on small-scale fisheries. These are 30-million dollar programs that will run over the course of the next five years, and we have commitments of 5-million dollars for each of these, but we are looking to support these further and will be going and visiting investors to secure the funding to carry these forward. In addition to that, the regional economic communities have agreed here at the summit to a series of actions that they will be taking to carry forward the action plan at a sub-regional level and then the individual countries, once they return from Abuja, will be sitting down and identifying their own priorities on the basis the action plan.”
SKIRBLE: “Why is it so important that you take these steps now?”
PATRICK DUGAN: “It is essential because if we don’t, our concern is that the captured (wild) fisheries will start to decline. That will mean lost income for communities across Africa, an increase in the fish supply-demand gap. And secondly, if we don’t foster aquaculture, then that gap will continue to grow, regardless of whether we sustain fisheries. And, the implications of that are a continued impoverishment of the diet of many people across the African continent, with all the negative consequences that that has for health, education and ultimately economic development in Africa.”
TEXT: The action plan adopted in Abuja moves Africa a step closer to achieving the United Nations Millennium Development goal of cutting the number of people who suffer from hunger in half by the year 2015.
TEXT: Biologist, explorer and conservationist Michael Fay recently completed a 7-month flyover of Africa to assess the continent’s ecological health. He made the 110,000-kilometer expedition in a small Cessna aircraft equipped with computerized maps, a global positioning system and a digital camera that was programmed to take a picture every 20 seconds.
AUDIO: CUT 1 MICHAEL FAY
“I am looking down at the ground the whole time through a glass door, and I am making observations clicking them into my computer the whole way. And, I am sitting there all day, every day and all I am doing watching those photos come up (questioning) whether (I am seeing) cows or wildlife. How is that river doing? Is there water in it or is it (silted)? What kind of mine is that? And just all day, all day (I am) frantically writing those notes, packing them in to (my) computer.”
TEXT: Mr. Fay’s Megaflyover – a joint venture by the National Geographic Society and the Wildlife Conservation Society - traced a cloverleaf pattern over the continent from South Africa north to Morocco.
Mr. Fay says the more than 100,000 photographs from the journey clearly show the impact of human activities. He says the ecosystems are healthiest where development has been balanced with conservation practices -- as in the mountainous regions of Kenya and Tanzania:
AUDIO: CUT 2 MICHAEL FAY
“Hundreds of thousands of people living very tightly around Mt. Kenya and Mt. Kilimanjaro, the forests around those mountain tops are protected. The water systems work. And, you see almost no erosion in those areas of Kenya and Tanzania.”
TEXT: Michael Fay cannot forget the sight in the desert of Niger of a pair of addaxes, remnants of a once-thriving population of spiral-horned antelopes, or the thousands of blue wildebeest and zebra migrating over vast stretches of land, an indication of a healthy ecosystem.
But elsewhere, he says, the picture was much different: rows of coffins in graveyards in South Africa presumably linked to the AIDS epidemic, deeply eroded streambeds and in Tanzania’s Katavi National Park, a huge mass of hippos dying in the scorching sun.
AUDIO: CUT 3 MICHAEL FAY
“You see that land uses upstream – rice culture and cattle – have really degraded that watershed. So not only are hippos suffering downstream at Katavi and Ruaha National Parks, but hydroelectric schemes that also depend on that flow downstream are also suffering.”
TEXT: Michael Fay says international donor organizations like the World Bank – the agency that funded the rice project in Tanzania – must rethink aid strategies. He says sustainable development must be part of the equation.
AUDIO: CUT 4
“If we are looking at developing a rice scheme in Tanzania, we should be thinking about hippos in Katavi. We should be thinking about hydroelectric production downstream. If we are going to be logging in Madagascar, we should be thinking about natural resource conservation. We should be thinking about water for agriculture downstream, and I don’t see that happening generally in the development community. (They) are talking about humanitarian assistance, about building roads, and hospitals and schools, but we are not really integrating it into a strategy that takes the natural resource base into account.”
TEXT: Michael Fay says natural resources management must also become part of the national consciousness, as in Gabon, where a network of national parks has become a catalyst for change.
AUDIO: CUT 5 MICHAEL FAY
“The real talk of the town now (in Gabon) is over logging and conservation, the management of forests as a resource and who it is benefiting and who it is not? That discussion gets launched by this move for conservation and protected areas, and I think that the more action like that we see, the greater this debate will bring us toward a sustainable future.”
TEXT: Michael Fay says he plans to use the images and data from the Megaflyover to urge governments to enforce existing laws that protect the environment and to encourage world leaders and international aid agencies to promote better management strategies that can sustain both Africa’s people and the natural environment.
TEXT: In the African nation of Niger, where the United Nations estimates that over one hundred and fifty thousand children under the age of five could die from acute malnutrition this year, health workers have found some hope in Plumpynut, a vitamin-rich peanut-paste that helps kids regain weight quickly and restores their health. VOAs Adam Phillips reports.
TEXT: Dr. Milton Tectonidis [TEK’ tun EED’ uhs], a Paris-based nutrition specialist for the international aid group, Doctors Without Borders [Medicins Sans Frontieres], recently returned from Niger, where six hundred thousand children face some form of malnutrition. He was appalled by how many children were suffering and dying, when simple treatments could have helped:
AUDIO 1: TECTONIDIS (:08)
“Many children die for nothing. For nothing! Most of them could be saved with very simple intervention like we’re proposing. It’s not so hard to do.”
TEXT: A key ingredient of the intervention Dr. Tectonidis is proposing is a ready-to-eat food called “Plumpynut, manufactured by a French company. It’s a made from peanuts, or groundnuts as they’re also known, plus dried skim milk, oil, sugar and a carefully calibrated balance of the nutrients and vitamins young children need to grow strong.
AUDIO 2: TECTONIDIS (:18)
“Why peanuts are particularly useful is because it has a lot of oil and it has some protein, and it has a good taste. Children, the like it. It’s like a very rich peanut butter. Kids like sweet fatty products. And the vitamins and minerals that are added are a special mix, very precisely controlled.”
TEXT: Plumpynut can be eaten straight from its factory-sealed foil packet. Each packet weighs less than one hundred grams, but children who eat two Plumpynut packets a day can gain a kilogram of bodyweight every week.
Such food supplements are nothing new. Aid workers have used oral re-hydration and vitamin- laden milk products to treat acutely malnourished children for years. But Dr. Tectonidis points out that they had to be administered under direct medical supervision in field clinics, often over the course of weeks.
AUDIO 3: TECTONIDIS (:14)
“In the past, because the water had to be cooked properly -- to make sure that the water wasn’t contaminated and to make the right dilution and give the kid the right amount of milk, it was not really conceivable to distribute milk in powder for use at home.”
TEXT: Distributing Plumpynut directly to mothers, who can feed it to their children at home, frees up hospital beds and other medical resources for starving children with other complications, such as infection, chronic diarrhea, or malaria.
AUDIO 4: TECTONIDIS (:23)
“Yes. This is an attempt to show that, rather than try to provide top quality care for small numbers, there is reason to make much more effort to treat as many as you can. … And it should democratize the treatment of malnutrition - which is really the big hope…. But it’s got to have people who are serious about the treatment of malnutrition, that take this product and use it for its real potential.”
TEXT: Introducing “Plumpynut” to Niger has been easier than other types of imported food aid. Dr. Tectonidis notes that peanuts are already a big part of Niger’s food culture, and mothers feeding Plumpynut to their malnourished children can see the results very quickly.
AUDIO 5: TECTONIDIS (:01)
“We are overwhelmed!”
TEXT: Dr. Tectonidis says that last year, when “Plumpynut” was first introduced, there were only five distribution points, and the number of children served was modest.
AUDIO 6: TECTONIDIS (:11)
“This year, everything exploded [expanded very quickly]. Now we have 27 [distribution] points like that. We are following five, six, seven thousand children at a time through these places.”
TEXT: But Dr. Tectonidis quickly adds that there is more to solving malnutrition than simply, in his words, ‘throwing Plumpynut’ at it.’ He says it’s also important that malnourished children receive weekly medical examinations, and that their mothers receive health training, especially in basic hygiene, and how to identify and treat various types of childhood illnesses.
TEXT: This week’s featured website creates a museum of sound on the Internet. Smithsonianglobalsound.org lets us discover and enjoy the world’s diverse musical traditions.
MUSIC CUT – ESTABLISH AND HOLD UNDER TEXT THAT FOLLOWS
TEXT: The website is a project of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Folkways Recordings director Daniel Sheehy says the Smithsonian worked with archives around the world to digitize over 40,000 recordings.
AUDIO: CUT 1 DANIEL SHEEHY
“Essentially (the website) is (giving new life to) this music, these gems of music that are locked away and hidden on shelves in archives around the world. The website also promotes a new relationship in terms of revenue sharing between the archives and the artists. This is breaking new ground as well.”
TEXT: It costs 99-cents to download a song, and the fee is split between the archive and the artist. But, it doesn’t cost anything to listen to a sound clip. Mr. Sheehy says users can search the site by geography, by instrument or by cultural group.
AUDIO: CUT 2 DANIEL SHEEHY
“Also something that it offers that commercial downloads don’t offer is that there are over 2,000 albums of music and the liner notes and the story about the artist is there essentially for free.”
TEXT: Daniel Sheehy expects a broad audience to tap into the smithsonianglobalsound.org network.
AUDIO: CUT 3 DANIEL SHEEHY
“One of them is a young person hungry to find out more about the world beyond the glitzy pop-music world and hear the music of real people that people have been doing for generations. The face I see – college teachers, public school teachers (who) see that rich texture of information. Anything that has to do with people or with culture, this smithsonianglobalsound.org can be a powerful adjunct to.”
TEXT: Smithsonianglobalsound.org features the entire collections of Smithsonian Folkways and Folkways Recordings, the Library of African Music in Grahamstown, South Africa and the Archives and Research Center for Ethnomusicology in New Delhi, India. Daniel Sheehy expects the website to expand as other world archives come online as partners in the project.
MUSIC – SNEAK ABOVE UP AND OUT
HOST: It’s the highest peak in the Pacific -- a dormant volcano on America’s island state of Hawaii known as Mauna Kea. The mountain’s 4,205-meter summit is home to some of the largest astronomical telescopes in the world. But for Hawaiian natives, Mauna Kea is a religious site, home to their mightiest gods and the burial place of their ancestors.
A plan to put more telescopes on the mountain is being opposed by native Hawaiians like Kealoha Pisciotta who comes to Mauna Kea to worship her ancestors. On this cool evening, she parks on the side of a steep gravel road that leads to the summit. Friend Paul Neves blows a resonant tone from a conch shell to announce their arrival. They ask permission from the mountain spirit to enter this sacred space:
AUDIO: CUT 2: SFX OF CONCH SHELL AND PRAYER UP AND UNDER TEXT THAT FOLLOWS
TEXT: Gazing at the setting sun, Kealoha Pisciotta walks off the road and down the barren terrain to gather some stones. She and Paul Neves begin piling the stones into a shrine.
AUDIO: CUT 2: KEALOHA PISCIOTTA/PAUL NEVES
KEALOHA PISCIOTTA: “All of our families connect here. It is essentially the place where Hawaiians mark their beginning. Here is where I place my family shrine.”
PAUL NEVES: “This is a place for Kealoha’s and her particular line and I am honored to be here. And you notice how perfect those stones (are we) picked, as if we were masons. They (the stones) are telling you, ‘pick these up. Put these over here.’”
TEXT: According to legend, Mauna Kea is the mountain of the gods. It is here that Wakea – the sky father and Papa his wife - gave birth to the Hawaiian Islands. Ms. Pisciotta says construction on the summit has disturbed the land, polluted the water, cut into volcanic cinder cones and desecrated ancient burial grounds.
AUDIO: CUT 3: KEALOHA PISCIOTTA
“If you put your stone down, people don’t respect the old way and so you have to be careful where you place it. But of course here, it was here for years and years and years up until the University (of Hawaii) was feeling challenged, I guess. So, personnel decided to take them down. So my historical family shrine has been taken and never been recovered. The new ones we placed, we just learned today that that was taken (away). My family ashes also have been destroyed.”
TEXT: The Office of Mauna Kea Management – founded in 2000 - helps the University of Hawaii manage the mountain as a science center and cultural reserve. Director Bill Stormont says the Office seeks to balance the interests of astronomers, native Hawaiians and environmentalists.
AUDIO: CUT 4: BILL STORMONT/SKIRBLE
BILL STORMONT: “I don’t think that there is any denying -- and NASA’s environmental impact statement says so -- that the past activities in astronomy development (telescope construction) have had a significant impact on the environmental and cultural resources of the mountain. That is done. What we do from here on is very important. How do we adequately address the cultural and natural resources impacts of any new project?”
SKIRBLE: “So, answer that question. How do you move forward responsibly?
BILL STORMONT: “Well, I think that you jump through every hoop the community asks you to. You don’t come up short and do just an environmental assessment because some ‘legal eagle’ (lawyer) says you have to. You adequately address the cultural impacts and mitigate those as best you can. There are a lot of different things that need to happen, but what we need to do is to ensure that the community is listened to. That has been the biggest problem.”
TEXT: Kealoha Pisciotta is among a group of Native Hawaiian activists who have filed multiple lawsuits to stall a plan to build four to six small telescopes. The U.S. space agency, NASA, has endorsed the project saying that it will do little harm to the environment. Final go-ahead rests with the University of Hawaii, which leases the land from the state. Kealoha Pisciotta – a former telescope operator herself - doesn’t dismiss the value of astronomy. She wants greater control over her cultural destiny.
AUDIO: CUT 5: KEALOHA PISCIOTTA
“You know the biggest claims that happen up here in terms of astronomy is that astronomy is necessary to search for life in the universe. And that is a great and noble endeavor and we all support that. But we don’t think that astronomy or science that claims that should also require desecration or threats to endangered species. I don’t (believe) that good science would want to do that. Good science would want to preserve and uphold all of those things including traditions that date back millennia.
TEXT: Rolf Kudritzki – a native of Germany - is director of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy that manages the Mauna Kea observatories. He says science and culture can co-exist on the mountain.
AUDIO: CUT 6: ROLF KUDRITZKI
“I think that it is more a matter of respect and willingness to be in a dialogue and also eventually of accepting the thought that science can not have everything. You have to be careful in the way you proceed and develop things in the future.”
TEXT: Kealoha Pisciotta prays that she has a voice in determining a future that protects the past.
HOST: And that’s our program for this week. Rob Sivak edits the program. Our technical director is Eva Nenicka. I’m Rosanne Skirble wishing you a joyous and healthy New Year. Join us online at voanews.com/ourworld or on your radio next week at this same time with Art Chimes as we explore the latest in science and technology on “Our World.”