News from Africa
Regional News from Stanford University - Africa
News Item Water Solutions: When Toilets Fly
Kory Russel had an epiphany in an outhouse.
Russel, now a graduate student in civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique in 2006. His bathroom was a small outhouse built over an open pit latrine. In cool weather, cockroaches would swarm up from the depths, and mass into a swarming ball. “It was disturbing,” Russel recalled. The experience got Russel thinking about how he had taken for granted access to piped water for sanitation and other uses.
In northern Benin, West Africa, the dry season between rains can last six to nine months at a time. Because most of Benin’s smallholder farmers rely on rain-fed agriculture for their food supply and income, the dry season can foster not only food insecurity, but poverty, illness and malnutrition. Groundwater is often too deep for traditional wells to reach, and the high price of fuel makes it difficult to rely on electric irrigation pumps.
The push to boost food production in East Africa that is accelerating the conversion of natural lands into croplands may be significantly increasing the risk of plague according to a study co-authored by several current and former Stanford Woods Institute researchers.
I admit it. I have crush on a fish. The object of my affection is the African turquoise killifish – a tiny, colorful fish that lives in seasonal ponds and puddles under the hot sun of Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Because the pools dry out regularly, the fish have evolved to have a normal lifespan of only a few months.
The Office of International Affairs awards seed grant funding to faculty for the purposes of expanding the scope of international research at Stanford. Last year, OIA awarded James Fishkin, Janet M. Peck Chair and Professor of Communications in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and Director of the Center for Deliberative Democracy (CDD), a seed grant to help him establish a collaboration with a new international partner to expand his work educating citizens around the world to make informed choices.
The little girl bounded up to us, wearing a filthy pink sweater, with a beaming smile on her face, and gave me a huge hug. Surprised at the reception, I hugged her back and swung her gently back and forth. She giggled and ran to hug my colleagues, then, hopping over an open sewer, darted into an alley that lead to her home.