Thursday, April 21, 2016

Another critical look at "development" in Africa, this time, by Barbie

Another critical look at the trend of young people from more developed regions (or privileged backgrounds) combining volunteering and tourism in less materially developed regions:  Saviour Barbie goes to do voluntourism in Africa.

Educate yourself before jumping to do it — regardless of the intentions, you might end up doing more harm than good.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Primer Festival Literário da Matola

Bravo for the people behind the “Movimento Literário Kuphaluxa” for this milestone in promoting writing and literature in Mozambique.

For more information, contact them:

Address: Av. 25 de Setembro, nº 1728, Caixa Postal nº 1167. Maputo.
(Centro Cultural Brasil-Moçambique)

Phone: +258 82 27 17 645 e +258 84 57 78 511

Or go to their blog to find more about them.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Beekeeping workshop: not only for brave people / Taller sobre abejas y panales: no sólo para valientes

Not only does UBC* have a farm, but also some pretty cool beehives. So, why not learn a bit more about bees and beekeeping? (If you want to know why that might be important, check our previous post about what’s all the hullabaloo about bees)

Bee keeping fashion: better safe than sorry

A view of a section of the honeycomb

Look at all that honey!

I, together with other adults and kids, attended this bee keeping workshop / demonstration thanks to the community engagement program they have at the UBC Farm and Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, right on campus at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in the city of Vancouver, Canada. Cool to be able to learn about farming right in the city.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

How much space are we giving away to cars? / ¿Cuánto espacio le hemos cedido a los autos?

Nothing better than pictures to realize how much space are we giving away to cars.

A bit ridiculous to drive by yourself in a car if you have other options, isn’t it?

And wouldn’t it be nice to just be able to walk around the city freely?

It’s a bit scary sometimes with so many cars.
Karl Jilg/Swedish Road Administration

Check more on how much space cars take vs. bikes or buses here and how much of the city goes to serve those cars here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Parabéns Moçambique: outro passo pela paz

Ótima notícia! / Great news! (in English below):

Photo credits
“O Governo e a Renamo assinaram ontem a declaração de cessação total e definitiva das hostilidades militares” “Aquele acto pôe fim às hostilidades militares em todo o território nacional; a paz regressou ao país.”

As autoridades disseram: “A declaração de cessação das hostilidades militares ... representa a vontade de todo o povo moçambicano de estabelecer a paz, harmonia e a concórdia no nosso país”.

Pode ler mais detalhes do acordo aqui.

Em outubro 2013 o povo moçambicano tinha saído as ruas em uma marcha pela paz e contra os raptos.


The British media also reported on the peace signature between the government of Mozambique and the Renamo opposition party to end hostilities ahead of elections in October. 

A year ago, Mozambicans marched for peace, fed up with the increase in kidnappings and the clashes between armed members of Renamo and government forces.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Nature deficit disorder anyone?

Went to see a community screening of the documentary “Play again.”  First time I heard the concept of “nature deficit disorder,” that is, that “human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors resulting in a wide range of behavioral problems.” If you don’t believe it, just watch the documentary.

Here’s the official trailer. If you’re a parent or have children in your life, you should watch it! (and do something about it)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Finally! Vancouver will ban all food from trash

Small composters for apartments fit in a balcony
This is a policy that should be implemented everywhere. Organic products don’t belong in the  trash and should be composted.

The city of Vancouver has been moving in that direction for a few years now, promoting the use of composting bins in houses and subsidizing small composters to be used in apartments. The objective was to get people used to separating organic matter from.

Subsidized by the City of Vancouver

Once you get used to composting, it just feels wrong to throw fruit and vegetables in the garbage bin.

The neighbouring city of New Westminster had already implemented a similar series of initiatives successfully.

Here you can read more about the plan for Vancouver

Uma das coisas mas maravilhosas em Moçambique são as danças

E agora tem onde aprender.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Very smart Thai guy

In very simple words, a farmer from northern Thailand shows how senseless the rat race and over consumption are. After giving a try to life in the city, advanced studies and purchased clothes, he listened to his inner voice telling him: “That’s stupid!” He went back to work the land and provide for himself and others. Just brilliant!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dead Aid: why aid is not working and how there is another way for Africa

To buy, click here
This book by Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo generated a lot of buzz when it came out in 2009. Given the buzz and the fact that it became a best seller, I expected something more solid, a data-heavy book like The Lords of Poverty perhaps. With only 150 pages to go over the history and the culture of aid and its impact on a whole continent, the book felt a bit on the lighter side.

It might be unavoidable. Of course, it’s extremely difficult to talk about a complex issue such as this without making generalizations. Then, there will be always at least one example that contradicts any statement or claim made, more so when it’s a heavily politicized and ideologically-charged topic.Which is not to say that the author has some very valid points.

Initially, the author seemed to have ben misinterpreted as saying that all aid in any circumstance was to be avoided—which she then clarified as not being the case. But even then it’s easy to see why some NGOs and donors jumped to attack the book and responded defensively. Let’s Moyo illuminate why that might be the case. She points out that, taken together, about half a million people, between the IMF, UN agencies, charities and NGOs, and government aid agencies, are employed in the aid industry:  

“Sometimes they make loans, sometimes they give grants, but they are all in the business of aid ... Their livelihoods depend on aid ... [In addition, f]or most developmental organizations, successful lendings is measured almost entirely by the size of the donor’s lending portfolio, and not by how much of the aid is actually used for its intended purpose. As a consequence, the incentives built into the development organizations perpetuate the cycle of lending to even the most corrupt countries. Donors are subject to ‘fiscal year’ concerns: ‘they feraed the consequences within their agencies of not releasing the funds in the fiscal eyar for which they were slated’ (Ravi Kanbur). Any non-disbursed amounts increase the likelihood that their subsequent aid programmes will be slashed. With the added corollary, of course, that their own organizational standing is placed in jeopardy.” (Moyo 2009, p. 54)

The little glitch in the aid industry is that NGOs and donor agencies, if they were to be successful, they should be working to make themselves redundant and to disappear. Once established, very few organizations and/or people are willing to do that (jeopardizing their existence or jobs/positions). And so the wheels keep on turning...

Most of the book, though, is forward-thinking, as Moyo proposes a number of alternatives to aid. Worth considering.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Organic gardening: dealing with pests III

Infested leaves

There are few things as frustrating as seeing your beautiful plants eaten by bugs. After all the effort you put into composting and preparing the soil and taking care of the seeds and the little plant! As soon as the plant is looking good: bugs!!!

Luckily, you don’t need to be an expert to try to get rid of them. Worms, I pick them out of the plants one by one (the moment of zen, an opportunity for meditation practice). The beetle-like bugs that were eating my bellpepper plants, though, were more difficult to grab, so, it was time for some brewing.

Concoction time!

I’ve tried some different things, but the general rules is that they don’t like anything strong-scented. So, garlic, coffee, rosemary it is. In this particular case, I added a little bit of hand soap for good measure.

The solution: garlic-rosemary + soapy water
Took a few days of spraying and scattering used coffee grounds, but it worked!

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige, and Corruption of the International Aid Business a new book but one that you need to read if you are thinking about (or already are) working in international development.

Published in 1989,  but it still applies.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Bike ride around Richmond

When I discovered Let's Go Biking! I was thrilled to find tons of information on where to bike in and around Vancouver, for pleasure, and away from cars.

Had to give it a try and the first ride was around Richmond, for one simple reason: it is flat!

Saw turtles and a fox, herons, eagles and fish, mountains and sea planes, historical sites and one of the new Olympic buildings, farms and hidden hippie communites.

It’s about 95% away from cars, and in some places you really feel you’re on holidays far away from the city. Just brilliant!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rising above war and despair

Leave aside that it’s a short documented by a company. Incredible subculture in Brazzaville, Congo:

Friday, June 20, 2014

Planta de Clasificación de Envases en Montevideo

Iniciativa de la Intendencia de Montevideo para la formalización de la gestión de residuos sólidos:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How to build consumers out of citizens

The Century Of Self: Happiness Machines (Episode1)

The Century of the Self is documentary series focused on how the work of Sigmund Freud and his nephew Edward Bernays influenced the way corporations and governments have analyzed,‭ dealt with, and controlled ‬people. It asks deeper questions about the roots and methods of modern consumerism and representative democracy. It also questions the modern way we see ourselves, the attitudes to fashion and superficiality. (quoted from website)

Some points considered:

* Warning of the government against corporations misusing media and public relations’ people as a threat to democracy (~50:00)

* Ann Bernays (Edward’s daughter) saying: “To my father, the world’s fair (Futurama) was a way to keep the status quo, that is capitalism in a democracy, that marriage, that link. He did that by manipulating people and getting them to think that you couldn’t have real democracy in anything but a capitalist society [...] you would infer that democracy and capitalism went together.” (~51:00)

* Citizens as passive consumers controlled by manufactured desires (~53:00)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Aid comedy

It was a question of time until somebody started making fun of the whole international development business. Who better than the recipients of all that help?

Here a clip of one of the first episodes of a Kenyan TV comedy series poking fun at the realities of develompent and international aid:

The series, created by a Kenya-based production company, “chronicles the work of Aid for Aid – an NGO that, in the words of its creator, ‘does nothing’.”

Read an interview with the creator here.

You can find out more about the series or watch more episodes at

Monday, April 28, 2014

Ciclovida: organización que promueve el uso de la bicicleta

Ciclovida surge con el firme propósito de ayudar a los demás. Promover y apoyar políticas de movilidad urbana.

Porque la bicicleta es el transporte que contribuye a lograr una ciudad limpia, a reducir la contaminación, a descomprimir el tránsito vehicular.

Promovemos algo mas que andar en bicicleta, investigamos, asesoramos, diseñamos e implementamos acciones para lograr cambios culturales que integren la bicicleta como un medio de transporte más.

Nuestra aspiración armar es mecanismos y proyectos desde el poder civil que permitan desarrollar políticas publicas enfocadas en la transformación de comportamientos en la cultura ciudadana.

Ciclovida es un espacio de reflexión e intercambio sobre como movernos mejor, ser punto de encuentro para aquellos que utilizan sus bicicletas para trasladarse todos los días a centros de estudio o trabajo en la ciudad, o usen las bicis para recreación o deporte.

En Ciclovida queremos que la gente recupere la sensación de libertad, que establezca una relación directa y vívida con el paisaje cotidiano…es decir, reconquistar la “escala humana” de la ciudad.

(Material de Gustavo Izús, por Ciclovida)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

South to North aid / Ayuda del sur al norte

En 5 minutos entérate cómo está distribuida la riqueza mundial y en qué dirección circula el dinero:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Maputo African Films Week / Semana de Cinema Africano em Maputo

A 2ª Semana de Cinema Africano terá lugar em Maputo de 10 a 16 de Abril de 2014.

Os filmes?
Madagascar - “Lendas de Madagáscar” de Haminaina Ratovoarivony
Kénia - “Nairobi Half Time” de Tosh Gitonga
Gabão - “O Colar de Makoko” de Henri Koumba-Badidi
Camarões - “O Presidente” de Jean-Pierre Békolo, realizador convidado
Moçambique - “Impunidades Criminosas” de Sol de Carvalho, realizador convidado e Burkina Faso - “O Cargo” de Missa Hébié

Sessão de gala - 10 de Abril de 2014 -  18h30 - Cinema Scala - com a estrea do filme  “Republica di Mininus”, de Flora Gomes, um filme rodado em Moçambique com a participação de Danny Glover e  música de Yussuf N`Dour.

-Cinema Scala
-Teatro Avenida
-Centro Cultural Franco-Moçambicano
-Instituto Nacional de Audiovisual e Cinema
-Auditorio da TIM
-Mafalala- ACAM
-Xipamanine- Espaço Sigaúque

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Made in Africa, for Africa

With statements such as “The easiest, most reliable way to connect to the internet” and “If it works in Africa, it’ll work anywhere” find out the new way to stay connected: BRCK.

“Made in Africa, for Africa.”