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Entries in UN (13)

Tuesday
Jun052018

Mongolia Prepares for a Magazine Explosion | 1998

Publication: UB Post

Date: 08/09/1998

Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) - Mongolian newsstands are bursting at the seams. But while the content of the country's publications is varied, their form is not. Newsprint rules this country's publishing industry. The few glossy magazines for sale are imports from Russia.

When the democratic revolution unleashed the tide of free expression in the early 1990s, a flood of newspapers poured forth. It made sense. The cheap-and-cheerful technology of newsprint is low-tech, accessible and inexpensive. Suddenly everyone could be a publisher. 

But Mongolia's increasingly sophisticated media landscape is about to go "glossy". Tomorrow (September 9) sees the launch of Ger (Home), Mongolia's first on-line magazine. A bilingual quarterly funded by the United Nations, it combines entertainment - articles on the changing sexual attitudes of young Mongolians and the country's vibrant pop scene - with information on the work of the UN and other NGOs in Mongolia.

"We want something that will tell the stories of Mongolians and their experiences over the last eight years - both to Mongolians and to the rest of the world," says David South, communications coordinator at the United Nations Development Programme.

This month also brings the premiere issue of Tusgal (Strike), billed as the first full-colour, general-interest magazine in the new Mongolia. Published by Mongol News Company - the privately owned media group whose stable of publications includes the daily newspaper Onoodor and The UB Post - it offers a lively mix of sport, culture and celebrity articles, also aimed primarily at the young.

These two publications are just the top of the stack. Mongolia's two best-known printing houses, Admon and Interpress, are said to be working on titles of their own.

Mongolia's quick-to-learn capitalists see a gap - and they want to fill it. 

"In Mongolia there are many newspapers, but no world-class magazines," says Tusgal's editor-in-chief, Do. Tsendjav. "On the streets you can see a lot of publications that aren't exactly magazines but you can't call newspapers, either - newspapers that appear every 10 days or two weeks.

"We want to fill this space. We want to produce the first colour magazine that will reach world standards, something close to Time or Newsweek." 

"There's an enormous thirst for quality journalism, quality publications that are interesting to look at, top photojournalism - all the things newspapers don't cover," adds South. 

"We've seen newspapers moving to more colour, more photographs, and that shows a desire for quality."

That quality comes at a price. Tusgal, with 70 colour pages, will sell for between Tg 1500 and Tg 2000 - not much cheaper than an American publication like Time, and too expensive for many Mongolians. 

With only 1000 Internet subscribers in Mongolia, Ger has an even smaller market within the country - though South is quick to point out, the UN has established public-access Internet centres in Ulaanbaatar and several aimags. 

And he says a print version is planned to follow. 

"Distribution is the big problem right now," he says. 

"We have to see how we can organize distribution to reach the whole country. I know more magazines will be launched soon in Mongolia, and hope a distribution network may grow out of that."

The editors know Mongolia's magazine market and magazine technology are in their infancy. Although companies like Admon and Interpress get more sophisticated equipment by the month, the capacity to produce quality publications is still limited - the first issue of Tusgal has been printed outside Mongolia. 

Human resources need to develop as well, Tsendjav admits. 

"To produce a monthly magazine you need highly qualified journalists. We don't have that right now. We're still seeking them out."

But he is confident this will change - and quickly, too, if the pace of development in the past eight years is anything to go by. 

"During socialism, Mongolia had many magazines, but it all stopped after 1990," notes Tsendjav. "It was a question of economics.

"At first we don't think we can earn money from this. If you want to make money you have to wait two or three years. So what we are aiming for at first is to build a readership.

"I think in two or three years, living standards will improve. People will have more money to spend on things like magazines. But we don't want to wait for people to get enough money. We want to be the first, so people will develop an interest.

"There will be competition. Nowadays a lot of business-people understand the importance of the media. I welcome competition. It'll make us work harder. It's good for everybody."

From In Their Own Words: Selected Writings by Journalists on Mongolia, 1997-1999

© David South Consulting 2018 

Saturday
Mar052016

Innovator Stories and Profiles | 2012 to 2014

 

Southern Innovator was initially launched in 2011 with the goal of - hopefully - inspiring others (just as we had been so inspired by the innovators we contacted and met). The magazine seeks to profile stories, trends, ideas, innovations and innovators overlooked by other media. The magazine grew from the monthly e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions published by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) since 2006.

Southern Innovator visited South Korea's Songdo Smart City in 2012.

 

Thursday
Jul022015

Innovative Solutions Celebrated in Ashden Awards

 

New UNOSSC banner Dev Cha 2013

The world’s population is heading towards 9.6 billion by 2050 (UN). Combined with a growing middle class and rising living standards across the global South, that means ever-greater demand on the world’s finite resources. This raises a crucial question: Where will the energy to power rising living standards come from, and how much damage will be done to the planet’s environment by pollution created generating it (https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/news/population/un-report-world-population-projected-to-reach-9-6-billion-by-2050.html)?

The solution advocated by the world’s scientists is to move to sustainable energy creation, which does not rob from the future to create energy for today.

Such an approach requires fresh thinking and engagement from those who are actually involved in the struggle to raise living standards and improve human development.

One way to do this is to use high-profile awards and prizes to lure out fresh thinking and innovators and help them get the funding they need to realize their plans.

The International Ashden Awards (ashden.org) – considered the “leading green energy awards” – is about championing and promoting “practical, local energy solutions that cut carbon, protect the environment, reduce poverty and improve people’s lives”. It recently announced the finalists and winners for 2014.

The international finalists are 10 sustainable energy enterprises drawn from Africa (Burkina Faso, Tanzania), India and Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Myanmar). A handy, clickable and searchable online map (http://www.ashden.org/winners) further explains the winners and finalists for 2014 and previous years.

“With the stark warnings from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) of the impacts of climate change, especially for the most vulnerable, we need to find solutions before it is too late,” said Ashden founder-director Sarah Butler-Sloss.

“Our role at Ashden is to shine a light on those organizations around the world that are helping reduce carbon emissions and finding ways of adapting to the effects of climate change.”

The mix of non-profit organizations and businesses among 2014’s winners and finalists shows there is no shortage of enthusiasm and fresh thinking out there. Proof the global South is alive with innovators with solutions.

Among the five international winners – who will receive between US $8,566 and US $68,531 each – is India’s Greenway Grameen (greenwaygrameen.com). It is tackling the problem of harmful pollution caused by cooking. Despite rapid economic growth and the spread of consumer goods such as televisions and mobile phones, most Indian women still cook with wood or dung. This is not only time-consuming, it also produces health-damaging smoke. Greenway Grameen was founded by two young MBA graduates in 2010 to make and sell affordable, desirable cookstoves that reduce smoke, cook food more quickly and stay cleaner for longer, dramatically improving the quality of life for many women and girls. As of March 2014 more than 120,000 of Greenway’s made-in-India smart stoves had been sold, benefitting around 610,000 people.

Another Indian winner is Infosys (infosys.com). India’s fast-growing economy is making ever-greater demands on its electrical grid. Global IT giant Infosys is leading the way to more sustainable growth by embracing green building measures, decreasing electricity consumption per staff member across its Indian business campuses. Success lies in seizing every opportunity to cut energy consumption in its existing buildings – from reducing the size of chiller plants for air conditioning to painting roofs white to reflect the heat. Cutting-edge design of new buildings also helps keep offices cooler and maximizes natural light. Taking US $80 million off its electricity bills, Infosys has proven the business case for large companies to invest in energy efficiency – not just in India but around the globe.

Among the other winners:

– Tanzania’s Off Grid Electric (offgrid-electric.com) is a leader in solar energy in East Africa, using mobile money to sell solar power as a daily service at an affordable price. Mobile money – where customers pay with their mobile phones – is increasingly used as a method of payment. Off Grid stands out because it understands the importance of customer service, offering an all-day customer care telephone line and ongoing support from a local agent. More than 10,000 households have taken up the service since April 2012. As fast as systems are manufactured they are off to customers – thanks to a sophisticated mobile phone app-based customer registration and product-tracking system.

– Myanmar’s Proximity Designs (proximitydesigns.org) is introducing treadle pumps (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treadle_pump) and other sustainable agriculture technologies to the country for the first time. Lifting water from wells and carrying it across fields is back-breaking, time-consuming work for rural farmers. Combined with water-saving drip irrigation technology, foot-operated treadle pumps that draw up water from wells can dramatically increase yields and incomes. Farmers are now seeing their lives transformed with some harvests and incomes more than doubling – and the pumps are helping ease the daily drudgery of farming. With over 90,000 households benefiting so far, Proximity Designs continues to adapt and introduce new products like solar pumps, to meet the needs of this rapidly changing country.

– Cambodia’s Sustainable Green Fuel Enterprise (http://www.sgfe-cambodia.com/environment) is turning leftover coconut shells and other waste into clean-burning briquettes for use as cooking fuel in the capital Phnom Penh’s homes and restaurants. While most Cambodians cook on wood charcoal, contributing to the country’s rampant deforestation and air pollution, this pioneering Cambodian business – led by Carlo Figà Talamanca – can scarcely keep up with demand.

The finalists are also an innovative lot too. Kéré Architecture (kerearchitecture.com) in Burkina Faso, Africa, has set a new standard for green school buildings. The school it built has a ventilated roof and other clever design features, providing a much cooler environment for children to study in. Not only that, the school was built by local people, and largely with local materials. Germany-based Francis Kéré, originally from Burkina Faso, designed and built the school in his home village. Kéré Architecture has since designed and built more than 20 innovative, naturally cooled public buildings in Africa.

India’s Sakhi Unique Rural Enterprise (sureindia.co.in), or SURE, is a not-for-profit social enterprise in central Maharashtra that has selected, trained and supported more than 600 female micro-entrepreneurs to sell clean energy products such as solar lanterns and cleaner cookstoves to other women. For the women entrepreneurs, selling energy products boosts income and carries a social cachet, while customers also see their lives improved with time-saving products.

Another Indian innovator, Mera Gao Power (http://meragaopower.com/), is demonstrating the business case for meeting the needs of some of the poorest people in India with unsubsidized commercial micro-electric grids, connecting more than 20,000 Uttar Pradesh families to clean, affordable power. Each system is easy to install and provides seven hours of light and mobile phone-charging for up to 32 houses. And with weekly payments of just US $0.42 cents, the electricity is even cheaper than kerosene.

The Rajasthan Horticulture Development Society (http://horticulture.rajasthan.gov.in/) in India has come up with a novel way to boost green agriculture and boost farming incomes. Farmers in the desert state of Rajasthan are seeing their sons return from cities to work on their farms thanks to a new solar-powered agricultural boom. The Rajasthan Horticulture Development Society (RHDS) has provided more than 10,000 farmers with new solar-powered water pumps, enabling year-round cultivation of high-value crops and the kind of high-tech horticulture that’s never been seen in the region before. With farmers’ incomes more than doubling, the programme has given them the “gift of life”.

And finally, Tanzania’s SimGas (simgas.com) is selling biogas plants that help people turn manure into clean gas for cooking instead of using charcoal, helping reduce deforestation. The plants are factory-produced and made of plastic, so they can be installed much more quickly than conventional plants and reach many more thousands of people. SimGas has just installed the largest plastic injection-moulding machine in East Africa, creating the potential to roll out biogas plants across East Africa.

The Ashden Awards were set up in 2001 to champion trailblazing sustainable energy enterprises and programmes that improve people’s lives and tackle climate change. Ashden says its 150 award winners have improved the lives of 37 million people worldwide, and are now saving over 5 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year.

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: July 2014

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP's South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South's innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=qBU9BQAAQBAJ&dq=development+challenges+july+2014&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challenges-july-2014-published

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

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This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Thursday
Jun252015

Mauritanian Music Shop Shares Songs and Friendship

 

 

Around the world, traditional music stores selling vinyl records, tapes and CDs (compact discs) are closing down. Digital downloads distributed over the Internet and mobile phones make it unnecessary to build a music collection in these hard formats.

While this has been a revolution that has made acquiring music as simple as firing up a digital download service like iTunes, it has many downsides as well. One of them has been the loss of vast swathes of musical history, as many songs recorded in the past have not made their way into digital downloads. And how can you find music online if you only remember part of a tune or song and can’t remember its title or the musician?

The background and knowledge that was once imparted by an informed person in a music store has been lost in the world of digital downloads.

A Mauritanian music shop is showing how a traditional record store can stay relevant and commercially viable in the 21st century. Entrepreneur Mohamed Vall’s Saphire d’Or store in Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nouakchott), is a treasure trove of the sort of long-lost recorded songs that normally vex lovers of African music. Pictures of the shop can be seen at the sahelsounds blog (http://sahelsounds.com/?p=887).

Vall has run the shop for three decades and amassed a large collection of rare African music on records and tapes. He has married this trove of African creativity to a clever business model: Vall doesn’t let customers buy the precious records themselves but instead will transfer the songs to a disc or a USB stick (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB_flash_drive) for US 30 cents each.

He has also used traditional hospitality to create an atmosphere that encourages people to interact and keep coming back.

“I have the biggest collection in Mauritania,” Vall told The Guardian newspaper. “Any music you want from Africa – I mean the kind of music that puts Africa on the map – I have it.”

The shop is down an alleyway in the bustling capital and offers a refuge for music lovers.

The atmosphere encourages friendly conversation and lets customers take their time making a selection. Customers can relax in armchairs while browsing and drink some traditional mint tea or enjoy a snack from a communal bowl.

The shop uses traditional Mauritanian nomadic hospitality to improve the customer experience. It also uses the music it sells to heal rifts between the different cultures that cross Mauritania, as it bridges Arabic-speaking North Africa and the majority black sub-Saharan Africa.

“When you are here, it doesn’t matter who you are,” Vall said. “We get youngsters wanting 1940s ballads and old people whose minds are musical museums. We get toubabs (white people) who heard one song decades ago.”

One of the treasure troves held in the shop is the recordings made by West African orchestras during the post-colonial period.

The shop also acts as an interactive museum and archive of many African musical greats, from Senegal’s Youssou N’Dour to Nigerian afrobeat pioneers, Guinean pop legends and Maliaian and Congolese musicians.

Its collection ranges beyond Africa to take in musical genres from around the world, from blues to salsa to rock.

“The music allows you to travel in your head,” said one customer, teacher Abdoul Kaba.”When I first came to Mauritania from Guinea, I went round and round looking for zouk (West African funk) music that everybody listens to in Guinea until I ended up here.”

The shop also serves as a sanctuary for many from life’s everyday hardships.

“It’s not about the music any more. People come back because in here you can be free. You can listen to music and forget this hard life,” Kaba said.

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: June 2012

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP's South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South's innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=VLp5na3pgHIC&dq=development+challenges+june+2012&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challengessouthsouthsolutionsjune2012issue

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Monday
Jun222015

Disabled Congolese Musicians Become World Hit

 

A group of Congolese musicians is using music to overcome obstacles – both economic and social – that come with being disabled in a poor country. Called Staff Benda Bilili, they are on course to be a global sensation and are looking forward to their first European tour. A remarkable achievement for anyone from a war-torn country, let alone for musicians who live as paraplegics in the slums of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinshasa).

The South’s disabled are a large population and often suffer more than even the poorest residents. It is estimated that there are 500 million disabled people in the world, with mental, physical or sensory impairment. As many as 80 percent of all disabled people live in isolated rural areas in developing countries, and in some countries more than 20 percent of the population is classed as disabled (UN).

Obstacles are everywhere for the disabled and just being able to economically survive, let alone thrive, can be a superhuman struggle. There are many physical and social barriers in most countries which thwart full participation, and millions of children and adults live lives of segregation and degradation.

The four songwriters and musicians of Staff Benda Bilili use homemade wheelchairs to get around Kinshasa. The ‘wheelchairs’ resemble bicycles, tricycles and motorbikes, and are a testament to the resourcefulness of the band’s members. They sing about contemporary problems, like the importance of polio vaccinations – several of the band members are confined to wheelchairs because of polio (http://www.polioeradication.org/).

When performing, they are joined by a young group of acoustic rhythm musicians to complete their act.

One of the musicians, Roger Landu, just 17, plays a one-string lute called the satonge. He built it from old milk powder tin cans, a discarded fish basket and a single electrical wire. He builds the instruments for sale as well, charging US $20 for each one.

Benda Bilili means “look beyond appearances” in Lingala, a Bantu language spoken in Kinshasa.

Lounging after a recent performance on his hand-built moped wheelchair, Coco Ngambali, the group’s primary songwriter, told The Independent: “We see ourselves as journalists. We’re the real journalists because we’re not afraid of anyone. We communicate messages to mothers, to those who sleep on the streets on cardboard boxes, to the shégués (the disabled homeless).”

The band has a scrappy, street-wise persona. Being disabled, the members have had to fiercely protect their own security and economic position in society. Life on the streets for the band members, who were homeless – living near the city’s zoo – when they started, involved violent attacks and frequent attempts by thieves to rob them of the few possessions they have.

Polio victims were often abandoned by their parents and left on the streets to survive in Congo. It is a double pain: the disabled are seen as possessing demonic powers and are feared by able-bodied people. With this outsider status, the disabled have developed highly creative ways to survive, working as traders on the streets.

Staunchly self-reliant, the band members built up their musical careers with no help from others and have only just recently garnered attention from European world music fans. Prior to their recent success, they would have to busk on the street near the zoo – or even across the street from the United Nations office in Kinshasa – to make money for food.

None of the band members have formal musical training and they have learned what they know by training their ears to the sound of musical notes. Their songs can be decorated with the sounds of animals commonly heard, such as chirping frogs, or just the street noise around the zoo (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtVZhaZp6Ng).

The powerful web video service You Tube has driven awareness of the band, as hundreds of thousands of people have viewed their videos online. Their debut album is called Très Très Fort (Very, Very Strong) and is available from  Crammed Discs (http://www.crammed.be/news/index.htm). A feature film about Staff Benda Bilili is about to be completed by film producers Renaud Barrett and Florent de la Tullaye.

Another band with disabled members that is garnering success is Liyana (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLayxPj8OpI) from Zimbabwe. Despite the obstacles of hyperinflation, cholera, hunger and poverty in the country, the band recently completed a US tour. Their song ‘Never Give Up’ says it all: after being rejected from the African Idol television talent contest because of their wheelchairs, they didn’t let it stop them from going on to do a US tour.

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: April 2009

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP's South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South's innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=U7qgSRlhT8kC&dq=development+challenges+april+2009&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challengessouthsouthsolutionsapril2009issue

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.