In much of Africa, the prevalence of chronic hunger is an accurate barometer for the level of social instability, WFP Executive Director James Morris told the Security Council in a public meeting on food crises in Africa. “It does not matter whether that instability is caused by civil conflict, drought AIDS, poor governance, or any combination of those factors – hunger almost always comes with it,” he said. Setting the stage for the Council’s debate, Mr. Morris opened his briefing by quoting a recent plea made by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo: “A hungry person is an angry person. It is in all our interests to take away the cause of that anger.”Chronic hunger in the African countryside spurs continual rural to urban migration. The existence of at least some basic services acts as a lure, and, with the very likely possibility that waves of AIDS orphans will head to major cities as antiretroviral drugs become more widely available, unemployment, social disintegration and urban crime are sure to rise.With projections for urban population growth in sub-Saharan Africa among the highest in the world, at a certain point capacities of municipal governments will be stretched to the limit and social demands will not be met, which may aggravate internal political and social tensions, especially among competing ethnic groups perhaps not accustomed to sharing the same political space.Mr. Morris urged international donors to devote more attention helping governments bolster safety nets in booming cities like Nairobi, Lagos and Lusaka, and called on African governments to invest in agriculture and other sectors to encourage Africans to remain in the countryside.Mr. Morris, who is also Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa, singled out that region as particularly vulnerable and deserving of international attention. The HIV/AIDS pandemic was now beginning to take its toll not only in lives lost but also by undermining the capacity of devastated communities to produce food and educate their children, he said. “In 2003, alone, Lesotho lost a third of its health workers and 15 per cent of its teachers,” he said, adding that AIDS has claimed the lives of nearly 8 million African farmers – more farmers than there are in North America and the European Union combined.Mr. Morris went on to highlight some positive signs for Africa, such as its home-grown New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), greater cooperation within the continent on famine relief, Bob Geldof’s revival of “LiveAid”, and the G8’s recent debt relief initiative.But much remained to be done. “In 2000 at the Millennium Summit, every nation here made [the pledge] to halve hunger and poverty. It is time we began to show progress and with that, build peace and security in a troubled continent,” he said.
Kal Tire’s Gravity Assist System (GAS) has won more plaudits, this time receiving top honours among a host of products in the International Mechanical and Technology Innovation category at the Electra Mining Africa conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.GAS was one of more than 60 products reviewed across three categories on day two of the show, with the technology’s simplicity and effectiveness marking it out as a winner.This is the first year Electra Mining Africa has launched these awards to recognise new technology and innovations coming from both within South Africa and internationally.As Kal Tire says, the average mining tyre has a lot of lug nuts and, until now, support for the hefty 36 kg torque gun has come through the sheer brawn of tyre technicians.“Today, the GAS essentially renders the activity and the torque gun ‘weightless’, making the process much more safer, efficient and precise. The system reduces common risks associated with torque gun tasks, including pinched fingers, muscle strain and fatigue,” the company says.Eric Bruggeman, CEO SA Capital Equipment Export Council and judge of all the products at Electra Mining, said: “When I reviewed the GAS, I was taken aback at not only the simplicity of the machine, but how robust and effective it will be for tyre technicians on mine sites.“For decades, these technicians have been suffering injuries and strains related to managing very heavy tools, the GAS is one of those things that makes you say, ‘Why hasn’t this been invented before?’”Dan Allan, Senior Vice President of Kal Tire’s Mining Tire Group, said: “Investing in innovation at Kal Tire means we are developing practical solutions that not only improve the safety of how our teams work but also provide opportunities for vehicles to spend less time in tyre bays.“Our intent is to continually invest in innovation that brings new products and solutions to our customers that help to increase efficiency, productivity and safety.”Kal Tire’s Innovation Centre in Canada has created several exclusive and patented products that have been launched and field-tested in Canada, South America, Australia and Africa.