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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Climate change, sea level rise and coastal inundation along part of Nigeria Barrier Lagoon Coast - Journal of Applied Sciences and Environmental Management, Vol. 18, No. 1

It's 2015: What does that mean, exactly? Well, 2015 was the end-year of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It seems it was just yesterday when the UN announced what some were saying to be a radical shift forward for development, and while much has been done to counter the worlds many issues, there is still much to do. Recently, The Guardian published an article and interactive web outlining the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): "Sustainable development goals: changing the world in 17-steps interactive". These goals were produced by the many participating nations within the United Nations Assembly. To say the goals are anything less than amazing, would certainly be an understatement in itself. For starters, the UN Assembly plans to eradicate all poverty by 2030. This alone, will take great dedication, however, there is many, many more goals set forth. 

While the UN has met most of its projected goals under the MDGs, some projections, it seems, have been harder to reach than the others. Climate change has actually increased since the MDGs came into existence in 2010. This is largely due to the increase in carbon emissions (CO2). While focus on the others were just as important, it is just as important to note that the increase of climate change does, in fact, have a great impact on the outcome of the other developmental goals. The negative external costs associated with the increase in carbon emissions creates a ripple-effect throughout the world, consequently increasing agricultural droughts, floods, and other environmental disasters, thus increasing the rate at which poverty exists. This issue, some would argue, needs to be addressed more seriously in the future by the developed world.

Odunuga et al., in their journal: "Climate Change, Sea Level Rise and Coastal Inundation Along Part of Nigeria Barrier Lagoon Coast", analyzed the potential effects climate change could have on sea levels, as well as to evaluate the vulnerabilities of the surrounding infrastructure. Using an interactive GIS-based simulation, the authors of the study mapped the area of the Badagry coastal environment with data collected from two different sources: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (IPCC-SRES), and the Locally Oriented Economic Development Scenarios (LOEDS).

The resulting analysis of the IPCC-SRES scenario showed the area inundated with high emissions, as well as a worse-case sea level rise was less than 0.13%. Yet, the LOEDS inundation analysis showed a significant impact beginning at a 4 meter rise in sea level. It is suggested that since it is only environmental catastrophism and anthropogenic activities that can attain such serious dimension at local, regional, and global sea level scales; that significant coastal sea level infrastructures should be integrated in any developmental activities in and around the area. 

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Reproductive Tract Disorders among Afghan Refugee Women Attending Health Clinics in Haripur, Pakistan- The Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, Vol. 28, No. 5

Intrastate conflict - or known to most as civil wars - within the developing world attest to the greatest number of civilian displacements, more so than any other social or political upheaval. The Guardian's recent publication: "5.5 million people displaced over first half of 2014, say UN refugee agency", however, pays concern to, and addresses most frequently, the number of recently displaced people within the Middle East and the bordering regions of Africa. While conflict is a problem in-and-of itself, it is equally important in understanding the health problems within refugee camps in order to provide the necessary education for the people to prevent further health- related issues.

Balsara et al., in their journal: "Reproductive Tract Disorders among Afghan Refugee Women Attending Health Clinics in Haripur, Pakistan", emphasize this need. While this is a past study and most recently, Syrian refugees have surpassed Afghanis in the number of displaced people, the importance of the study is not who is displaced, but rather to underline the health issues effecting these refugee communities.

The objective of the study was to identify commonly-occuring reproductive tract infections (RTIs), asses the knowledge of the women with RTIs, as well as asses  the physical and behavioural factors contributing to the development of RTIs. Afghan women who had been displaced by conflict and were living in refugee camps in Haripur, Pakistan: Who had reproductive health-related complaints, were included in this study as well (n=634). 

The data collected included implementation of an interview-administered questionnaire, as well as a physical examination and laboratory tests with a descriptive analysis being conducted first. Qualitative data was then coded and analyzed using predetermined themes. Chi-square tests were used in determining the possible relationships between binary outcomes and categorical risk factors.

The outcomes were substantial: over three-fourths (76.7%) of the women who visited the clinics with complaints of reproductive complaints had, in fact, had an RTI. While nearly half (49.5%) of the women were diagnosed with some form of vaginitis, as well as 14.7% being diagnosed with clinical suspension of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Women with a cervical prolapse (p=0.033) or who cleansed after sexual intercourse (p=0.002) had a higher probability of having vaginitis. Yet, there was a substantial difference (p=0.017) in the prevalence of suspected PID among women who used mud to cleanse (11.1%). Whereas women who used water had an exponentially higher rate of prevalence at 18.8%. Women who used an old cloth or toilet paper had the lowest prevalence at 9.8% when cleansing after defaecation. In summary, specific physical and behavioural contributors to the high prevalence of RTIs in the refugee communities studied were identified and recommendations to counteract these health issues are recommended. 

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Friday, January 09, 2015

A Comparative Kinetic Study of Acidic Hydrolysis of Wastes Cellulose from Agricultural Derived Biomass - Journal of Applied Sciences and Environmental Management, Vol. 15, No. 4

Agricultural waste has been an issue for farmers throughout the world, specifically, the conversion of said waste into useful resources to further development, both socially and economically. The Guardian's recent publication: "Rice waste makes 'green wood' to build low-cost homes in India", outlines this very issue. The article takes into account the negative externalities from the production of rice and how a young girl from India has - essentially - thought of a way to counter this problem. The 16 year-old girl from Delhi, decided after seeing the amount of waste that was produced from the production of rice: that she could search for a way to use the rice husks to contribute to the growth of her community, which allowed for her to create a positive, rather than a negative external cost of production and to a more sustainable community, overall.

Today's featured journal: "A Comparative Kinetic Study of Acidic Hydrolysis of Wastes Cellulose From Agricultural Derived Biomass" by Ajani et al., studies the use of bioconversion of agricultural waste in order to produce economically and environmentally sustainable chemicals and fuels that have a significant advantage over traditional fossil- based products.

For this study, the authors of this journal observed the kinetics of acid hydrolysis cellulose that was isolated from banana skin, cowpea shells, maize stalks and rice husks at temperatures ranging between 70 - 100°c in a stirred conical flask, which served as a batch reactor. The effects of acid concentration on cellulose hydrolysis were also taken into consideration while conducting this study. 

The results showed that the rate of hydrolysis by virtue of glucose yield, generally increased with increase in temperature and acid concentration for all four of the agricultural wastes used. The experimental data was fitted to integrated first-order rate kinetics, and the results obtained suggested a first-order rate of glucose formation for the four agricultural waste cellulose used.

The activation energy estimated while using a Arrhenius equation was 39.60 kJ/mole for banana skin cellulose. While the use of cowpea shells' cellulose revealed an estimated 38.83 KJ/mole and 34.29 KJ/mole for rice husk cellulose. Maize stock cellulose yielded the highest amount of energy at 44.37 KJ/mole. These values suggest the ease with which hydrolysis can occur between the four agricultural wastes' cellulose.  

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Sunday, January 04, 2015

Differential returns from globalization to women smallholder coffee and food producers in rural Uganda - African Health Sciences, Vol. 13, No. 3

The African Growth and Opportunity Act was signed into law under the former American President, Bill Clinton in 2000 and while the promises of economic stability and better working conditions sounded great, unfortunately this was not the case. The Guardian's recent publication: "Uganda has little to show for African trade agreement with the US", emphasizes this very issue, that although the African growth and Opportunity Act was a great step to diminishing the poverty-stricken communities within African countries, not much has changed since. Further, special interest is taken by the author in regards to gender inequality. This inequality of women is important when discussing working conditions in developing countries.

While the signing was an important step in gaining traction of this issue, it is by no means the first step that has been taken against inequality and poverty of workers in the developing countries of Africa. In the late 1980's, it is suggested by Kanyamurwa et al. in their journal: "Differential returns from globalization to women smallholder coffee and food producers in rural Uganda", that globalization-related measures were applied in Uganda to create a more liberal trade, as well as hopes to stimulate export in coffee and other agriculture sectors. The intention being, that doing this would not only revitalize agricultural production, but also increase the incomes of farmers and improve rural food security throughout the country. To this end, the authors' objective of the study was to explore the different effects the measures had on the health and dietary outcomes of female owners and operators of small coffee and food farms in Uganda.

The methods used in this study were of a cross- sectional comparative interview survey of 190 female coffee producers, as well as a 191 female food producers in Ntungamo district, Uganda, employing mainly quantitative methods of data collection, specifically targeting the sampled households. Three months after the original quantitative data was collected, the authors also utilized qualitative data from the same households. Extra qualitative information was collected from key informants at national, district, and community levels using qualitative interviews based on an unstructured interview guide in order to concretize the study. Using indicators of production, income, access to food and dietary patterns, women's health and health care and from the two study-groups selected from the same area, female coffee producers represented a higher level of integration into liberalized export markets.

While Uganda's economy grew exponentially throughout this period, the household economic and social gains after the liberalization of the markets  may have been less than expected. In the survey carried out, both food and coffee producers were similarly poor, involved in similar scales of production, and of the same age and education level. Yet, coffee producers had greater land and livestock ownership, greater access to inputs, higher levels of income and used a greater variety of markets than food producers. Consequently, however, they spent longer hours to obtain these economic gains, and spent more money on healthcare and food from commercial sources. Their health were similar to the food producers, but with poorer dietary outcomes and far greater food stress.

In summary, it is suggested by Kanyamurwa et al., that the small-scale women farmers who are producing food cannot rely on the economic infrastructure to give them support for sustaining meaningful levels of agricultural production. Yet, despite having higher incomes than their food producing neighbours, female farmers who are dependent on producing coffee as an export commodity cannot rely on the income made by their crops to sustain their health and nutritional wellbeing. Consequently, both groups have limited levels of autonomy to address these very crucial issues.

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