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December 23, 2013 | 0 comments

National Geographic Society has launched the Terra Watt Prize to support entrepreneurs and investors in the quest to bring basic access to electricity to people worldwide. Two winners will receive grants of $125,000 to implement demonstration projects providing energy solutions to off-grid communities: https://www.terrawattprize.com/ABOUT

December 23, 2013 | 0 comments

A program initially launched to help African partners prevent pandemics has expanded to encompass preparedness for a full range of natural or man-made disasters, and should one occur, to reduce the associated pain, suffering and loss. Recognizing the global impact of a pandemic, U.S. Africa Command began helping African nations develop the capacity needed to address the challenge almost immediately after its standup in 2008, Mike Hryshchyshyn, chief of humanitarian and health activities for the command’s security cooperation programs directorate, told American Forces Press Service. The initial three-year program relied on U.S. Agency for International Development funding to help partners plan for and establish the systems and programs to prevent an outbreak and control its spread, he explained. Africom launched a broader, Defense-Department funded initiative when that program concluded last year. The new effort addresses not just pandemics, but also natural and manmade disasters such as floods, droughts and earthquakes. More at http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=121363&utm_source=Africa...

December 18, 2013 | 0 comments

Earlier this year, Scandinavian flat pack furniture maker IKEA unveiled an easily deployable solar-powered shelter that can provide sturdy, safe housing in an emergency. Designed in collaboration with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the shelters are ideal for situations such as the ongoing mass displacement of individuals fleeing from the war in Syria. However, as many Syrian refugees enter Lebanon, the Lebanese government has been hesitant to approve the use of the IKEA shelters for fear that they might prove too permanent. Now, after six months of negotiations, the IKEA housing will finally be available to Syrians in Lebanon, but they may not be ready in time to protect many from the harsh winter.
Read more: http://inhabitat.com/ikeas-solar-powered-flat-pack-shelters-approved-for...

December 18, 2013 | 0 comments

The United States is providing nearly $25 million in additional humanitarian aid to help the Philippines deal with the enormous devastation and deaths wrought by Typhoon Haiyan last month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday after touring the worst-hit region. Kerry flew to central Tacloban city, where he was overwhelmed by the vast landscape of wrecked villages. He visited a food distribution centre run by USAID and government welfare officers, talked with officials and consoled survivors. "This is a devastation unlike anything that I have ever seen at this scale," Kerry said at a temporary USAID headquarters in Tacloban. "It is really quite stunning," he said. "It looks like a war zone and to many people it is." The new food aid, shelter materials, water and other supplies he announced for typhoon-lashed families bring the total U.S. assistance package to $86 million for one of its closest Asian allies. Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/u-s-sending-25m-in-new-aid-to-typhoon-ravage...

December 17, 2013 | 0 comments

The rapid deployment of engineers by international and national telecommunications companies to hard-hit areas of the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan demonstrates the private sector’s increasingly vital role in relief efforts. With more mobile phone subscriptions than people in the Philippines (107 mobile phone subscriptions per 100 people), and industry estimates of at least one billion text messages sent daily, analysts say the telecommunications industry is not only able to re-connect the estimated 3.8 million displaced people with their families, but is also an ideal vehicle for raising relief funds. Telecommunications play a critical role in disaster preparedness and response by disseminating early warning messages, tracing survivors and providing vital aid information, said Kyla Reid, the head of disaster response at the London-headquartered Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), a trade organization representing more than 800 mobile network operators worldwide. Within 72 hours after Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) hit the central Philippines on 8 November, international mobile companies Vodafone and Ericsson deployed teams equipped with emergency kits to help local providers get the network running again: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99234/telecom-led-relief-in-the-philippines