Is Clean Water Technology a Solution for Africa?

drinking-pur-photo-by-greg-allgood.jpg

Sarah Joanne Jakubowski, Africa CorrespondentLast Modified: 21:25 p.m. DST, 30 June 2014

Chief Executive Officer of N&M Technologies, Head Office, South Africa

GHANA, Accra -- Earlier this month, Medwyn Jacobs, CEO of New and Master Technologies (N&M) once again presented at Annual Ghana National Health Environment and Safety (NAHES) Conference where he reintroduced N&M’s water harvesting machine that can take water out of the atmosphere and filter it into usable drinking water.

N&M Technologies is a proud South African registered and based company that was established in 1989 by the current CEO, Mr. Medwyn Jacobs. N&M's focus has always been to meet the challenges facing South Africa and Africa through new and innovative means, and addressing Africa's clean water problems is one of them.

Mr. Jacob's had hoped to convince NAHES participates in 2013 to adopt the clean water generating solution that his company offered; however, the lack of enthusiasm has Jacobs worried because a year later nothing has changed. Yet, the stakes are higher than ever since groundwater sources across Africa have been depleted and people on the Continent are running out of places to look for water.

"Your country has so much humidity," Jacobs said to conference attendees. "You will never be short of water." Even better, he promises to open factories in Ghana that produce the machine, creating jobs and keeping resources local. However, reception of the machine during this conference remained half-hearted.

The audience questioned the machines safety. Had it been tested in a variety of humidities? Perhaps it would act differently in different settings? They questioned its efficiency. Can you reuse the filter? What if somebody didn't follow directions, reused the filter and gets sick?

Those at the conference did choose to sample the water produced by the machine, raising their glasses in a toast to N&M and Ghana before ceremoniously drinking the pristine water; but at the end of the day, Jacobs was no closer to deploying his company's solution than in 2013.

Potable water is a grave problem in many countries with emerging economies. It is especially dire in Asia, Africa, and South America. According to the World Health Organization there are “780 million people don't have access to clean water, and 3.4 million die each year due to water-borne diseases.”

N&M’s machine could be one remedy to this problem, and the fact that Africans seem reticent to deploy this on a larger scale is problematic. The technology of water reclamation from the air is not new. There is an Israeli company called Water-Gen that has developed an Atmospheric Water-Generation Units using its "GENius" heat exchanger to chill air and condense water vapor.

Their solution has been deployed on a large scale and according to an April 2014 article by CNNco-CEO Arye Kohavi explained that "The clean air enters our GENius heat exchanger system where it is dehumidified; the water is removed from the air and collected in a collection tank inside the unit.

From there the water is passed through an extensive water filtration system which cleans it from possible chemical and microbiological contamination," he explains. "The clean purified water is stored in an internal water tank which is kept continuously preserved to keep it at high quality over time."

The system produces 250-800 liters (65-210 gallons) of potable water a day depending on temperature and humidity conditions and Kohavi says it uses two cents' worth of electricity to produce a liter of water.” (Source: CNN)

N&M often researches foreign ideas and technology to develop innovative solutions, and perhaps if the idea of large-scale water reclamation from the air is not readily adopted, Ghanians and other Africans may be open to another aspect of water generating systems like portable water purification systems.

These machines may be of great assistance to communities where the people are subject to the daily backbreaking tasks of carrying water for cooking, washing, and bathing over many miles in hostile conditions, often in contaminated, non-biodegradable containers, such as plastics that previously contained toxic liquids/materials.

“Water-Gen has developed a portable water purification system. It's a battery-operated water filtration unit called Spring. Spring is able to filter 180 liters (48 gallons) of water, and fits into a backpack -- enabling water filtration on the go. You can go to any lake, any place, any river, anything in the field, usually contaminated with industrial waste, or anything like that and actually filters it into the best drinking water that exists," says Kohavi.” (Source: CNN)

This is not to say that individuals in Africa can afford a single device, but perhaps in the near future, the South African company N&M could partner with a company like Water-Gen to increase market share in Africa. Through the economies of scale, such a partnership could potentially introduce life-saving alternatives to porting and drinking contaminated water. The most important aspect of this opportunity is that the solution to address this critical issue is available and now it is just a matter of scaling and adoption, and with this, perhaps N&M will receive a warmer reception at the 2015 NAHES conference.

Follow Sarah on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Africa Correspondent: @SJJakubowski

Israel Plans to Deport African Migrants to Third Country

african-migrant-worker-in-israel-photo-by-sasha-y-kimel.jpg

Alex Hamasaki, Student InternLast Modified: 01:10 a.m. DST, 26 June 2013

Israel-Egypt border near Netafim, Photo by Vad LevinJERUSALEM, Israel - The Israeli plan to send its over 60,000 African migrants to an unidentified third country has received elicit criticism for the potential harm to the migrants.

Over the past eight years, thousands of African migrants, mostly from Eritrea or Sudan, have entered Israel through Egypt. Some of these migrants were fleeing repressive regimes or seeking job opportunities.

Israel has attempted to stop the influx of migrants by building a fence on the Israeli-Egyptian border. Additionally, since last summer, Israel has been imprisoning new arrivals in order to determine if they meet the criteria for refugee status. Israel also offered cash to migrants if they would leave the country voluntarily.

The Washington Post and the Associated Press allude that many Israelis feel some sort of “natural responsibility” toward the migrants from Africa because of the Holocaust. However, other Israelis worry that Israel’s Jewish character will be threatened with the arrival of the migrants.

Fears for the migrants safety from mistreatment in the third country sparked criticism toward Israel’s plan.

Israel has yet to announce the details of the plan and the country they plan to send the migrants to. According to the Washington Post, court documents show that Israel has an agreement with one country to take on some migrants, and is currently in talks with two others. It is not known what these countries would receive in return.

Under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, states cannot send refugees to countries where they will face physical or political danger reports the Associated Press. It is unclear if Israel will be monitoring the well being of the migrants when in another country.

Follow Alex Hamasaki on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Student Intern: @aghamasaki

Women's Rights in the Middle East

two-girls-qalqilya-west-bank-ps-photo-courtesy-of-michael-loadenthal.jpg

Alex Hamasaki, Student InternLast Modified: 22:40 DST, 4 April 2013

A quick update of the recent rulings on women’s rights in the Gaza Strip and Saudi Arabia.

 Hamas orders gender segregation in schools

Saudi Portrait, Photo Courtesy of Edward MusiakGAZA STRIP, Israel - Gaza’s Hamas-controlled parliament passed a law requiring separate classes in schools for boys and girls in public and private schools from the fourth grade, Aljazeera reports.

Osama Mazini, the Hamas education director, announced on Monday that the February 10th law was approved by parliament.

Article 46 bans “the mixing of students from the two sexes in educational establishments after the age of nine, and work to 'feminise' girls' schools." The law also bans males from teaching in girls’ schools.

In the past, Hamas has enforced conservative religious laws, such as telling school girls to wear traditional full-length robes and headscarves in a besieged territory.

Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist organization. The group was founded in 1987 during the First Intifada as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas’ original purpose was to liberate Palestine from Israeli control and to establish an Islamic state in the area of Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 when it won in a landslide against its opponents, Fatah.

In July 2009, Hamas’ political bureau Chief announced that they would settle for a resolution of a Palestinian state based on the 1957 borders so long as Palestinian refugees had the right to return to Israel and that East Jerusalem would be the new nation’s capital.

The traditional Muslim organization’s Article 46 forbids the "receipt of gifts or aid aimed at normalising (relations) with the Zionist occupation (Israel)." Article 46 will go into effect in September.

Saudis lift ban on women bicycling

Saudi women can now legally bike in public under certain conditions, Aljazeera reports. The Saudi Arabia’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice overturned the previous ban on cycling and motorbiking for women. However, women must wear a full-body abaya, be accompanied by a male relative, and stay within certain areas. Women are allowed to ride bikes for recreation purposes only.

Saudi Arabia still bans women from driving. The Shura Council warned that allowing women to drive would “provoke a surge in prostitution, pornography, homosexuality, and divorce.”

Follow Alex Hamasaki on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Student Intern: @aghamasaki

Israel introduces “Palestinian Only” Bus Lines

israeli-flag-photo-by-max-nathans.jpg

Alex Hamasaki, Student InternLast Modified: 20:10 p.m. EDT, 5 March 2013

Map of Israel, Photo by Mr. DevlarWEST BANK, Israel - The Israeli government announced today that it is introducing two segregated bus line in the occupied West Bank.

Aljazeera reports that the Transport Ministry in Israel called this move “an improvement in service.” The Transport Ministry also said that the new bus lines would “improve public transport services for Palestinian workers entering Israel,” and save Palestinians from being charged “exorbitant prices” by pirate buses.

The ministry claims, according to Haaretz, that “the new lines will lessen the burden that has formed on buses as a result of the increase in numbers of working permits provided to Palestinians,” and that the buses will “contribute to the improvement of services, for the betterment of Israelis and Palestinians as ones.”

For any of those unfamiliar with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the Israelis and Palestinians are currently engaged in a conflict over land rights. The “start date” of the conflict is argued heavily among scholars.

Both groups have historical, cultural, and religious claims upon the land the Arabs and Jews are fighting over. The following is an abbreviated history of the recent Israeli/Palestinian conflict; however, in the interest of expediency several major events have been omitted.

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 by British Foreign Secretary Aruther James Balfour in a letter to the Zionist Federation’s President Lord Rothschild, declared that British would “view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national Jewish peoples.” There have been several other papers and agreements that altered British support of the Jewish peoples, such as the White Papers of 1922 by Winston Churchill. Eventually, British handed the problem of Israel/Palestine to the United Nations (UN) in 1947.

The UN implemented a plan to partition the British Mandate of Palestine into two separate states with “a special international regime for the city of Jerusalem.” Through the Camp David Accords, Israel agreed to give Palestinians more autonomy in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Currently, Palestinians mostly occupy the West Bank and the Gaza strip, while Israelis occupy the rest of the territory. However, throughout the entire country, there are communities of Jews and Palestinians littered throughout the territory.

Both groups are currently vying for international sympathy in order to justify their claims toward the entire territory of the current Israel/Palestine. This recent event currently sways some sympathy toward the plight of the Palestinians.

According to the Guardian, the buses will run from the Eyal checkpoint by Qalqiliya across the border of the West Bank toward Tel Aviv. For passengers who have been granted permits by the army to enter Israel, they can only enter during the day to work. Further, Police spokesman Micky Rosenfield said that Palestinians returning to the West Bank would be searched for stolen property.

Although, Palestinian/Israeli relations are extremely complex and heavily influenced by regional and religious dynamics, this newly implemented plan to segregate Palestinian passengers is eerily reminiscent of Jim Crow laws.

The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities in Southern states of the former Confederacy, with, starting in 1890, a "separate but equal" status for African Americans. The separation in practice led to conditions for African Americans that tended to be inferior to those provided for white Americans, systematizing a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages. De jure segregation mainly applied to the Southern United States.

Human rights groups are fearful that Israeli police at the checkpoints in the West Bank will remove Palestinian passengers from the regular, non-segregated bus lines and order them to use the segregated bus lines, which could potentially inflame an already marginalized population. This newest legislation is incendiary at best, and racist at worst.

It remains to be seen if this suppression will spur passive resistance such as demonstrated by Rosa Parks, who in 1955 refused to sit in the 'Blacks Only' section of the bus. Her resistance and subsequent arrest led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and was a pivotal moment in the American Civil Rights Movement.

Though not a one-to-one comparison, nothing good can come from segregating people.

Follow Alex Hamasaki on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Student Intern: @aghamasaki
 
Sources: Haaretz, Aljazeera, Inquisitr, Wikipedia

Israel Admits to Sterilizing Ethiopian Jews

Some people who read this post may believe that it is impossible for this to happen in 2010; however, I can attest to the veracity of one aspect of this story. Recently my mother attended a school sponsored event in Potomac, Maryland. Upon her arrival the hostess glanced at her and imperiously informed her that the kitchen was in the back. My mother with aplomb, informed the lady that she was attending the event on behalf of her grandson who was a student attending the school. Upon hearing this, the woman grudgingly accepted my mother's proffered hand before stepping aside to let her pass. As my mother entered, the woman wiped her hand on her dress.

Read More

L'Shanah Tovah 5773 | Happy New Year 2012!

blowing-the-shofar-photo-by-mayim-hayimof-torah.jpg

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 00:30 AM EDT, 14 September 2012

Rosh Hashanah commences on Sunday evening, 16 September 2012. It is also known as Yom ha-Din (Day of Judgement), and begins the "Ten Days of Awe" (Yomin Noraim), the "Ten Days of Turning or Repentance" or "the High Holy Days" which conclude with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

During this period, it is customary to greet one another with the phrase, "L'Shanah Tovah Tikateyvu" meaning "May you be inscribed in the Book of Life."
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmTmiFkbXIE&feature=related]

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias