REBTEL: The power of the Sun

  
In the last few years, the rise of Nigeria’s economy to become the largest in Africa has often been heralded for overcoming numerous systemic obstacles but there remains one obstacle which many believe holds the country back: a chronic shortage of power supply.

With about 90 million Nigerians living without power, citizens are forced to live on expensively maintained generator sets. The effect of the lack of electricity is significant as it continues to hamper economic growth and hurts investor confidence. However a partnership between the World Bank, International Financial Corporation as well as local banks and energy firms in Nigeria could help assuage the pressing issue.

The Lighting Africa Project, as it has been tagged, will focus on helping to develop a private sector that will provide electricity, using solar power, to up to a million households in Nigeria. The project will target households without access to the national grid in rural communities over the next five years.

To make this happen, the World Bank will play a key role as it will provide low-interest financing for investors and energy firms involved in the partnership. One of the major goals of the project is to reduce the heavy dependence on kerosene lamps and gasoline-powered generators which pose various health and environmental risks.

A better bet

Exploring solar energy could be a more realistic option to fix some of Nigeria’s power issues since building new national grids could cost billions of dollars. In the long-term, alternative clean energy will also help the country meet its ambitious plan to down emissions by as much as 45% by 2030 as part of the landmark climate change deal reached in Paris last week.
In line with this, Nigeria recently announced a ban on low-cost generators citing health risks caused by emissions and fire hazards. It also stepped up its national renewable energy program through an agreement with the United Kingdom in October.

A similar trend is visible across most of the continent as the African Union recently announced a $20 billion investment in renewable energy over the next decade. One example of a viable private sector solar model is M-Kopa in Kenya where the pay-as-you-go solution already reaches 275,000 households with plan to reach serve one million homes in East Africa by 2017.

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Brazil’s Doce River: The Dead River 


​Samarco Mineiracoes, a 50-50 joint venture between Australia’s BHP Billiton and Brazil’s Vale, operates an iron ore mine in Mariana, in the Brazilian south-eastern state of Minas Gerais where three dams used to hold millions of cubic metres of tailings, or mining waste. One of the dams, its second largest, burst on November 5, unleashing 62 million cubic metres of sludge into the Doce River at about 70km/h. It destroyed the town of Bento Rodrigues, killing at least 13 people (12 are still missing), displaced thousands of others, affected water supplies to an estimated 250,000 people and killed fish stocks along 600 kilometres of river in two states.
Last week, the mud arrived at the river mouth in Espirito Santo state on Brazil’s Atlantic coast, endangering protected marine species and polluting beaches at important tourist destinations. Indigenous people from the Krenac​ ethnic group have also been affected, with 126 families of the riverside Atora tribe accusing the company of destroying their sacred river. “A lot of people think the river is just water and fish. For us the river is a source of survival and culture. Now the river is dead,” Atora chief Leomir Cecílio de Souza told media outlet UOL.

LifeStraw personal water filter

  

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Eaten Alive: What’s in Your Belly?

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You’ve probably heard horror stories of 3 foot tapeworms that cause serious problems for some people, but did you know that most parasites are very tiny and some can only be seen by microscope? Did you know that there is actually a very good chance that you could have a yeast or parasite infestation?

The human body is literally crawling with hundreds of strains of yeasts and bacteria. The digestive track alone holds more than three pounds of bacteria. In the right balance, these bacteria are necessary for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. Probiotics, the beneficial bacteria in the gut, are a form of bacteria, though they have a tremendous positive impact on our health. When these beneficial bacteria in the digestive track get out of balance, problems begin. A large number of factors can facilitate the disruption of this balance of bacteria, including diet, certain medications, stress, contact with infected sources, and others.

The body is also host to yeast, which is naturally occurring and not specifically dangerous in proper amounts. Yeast overgrowth, on the other hand, which is rampant in today’s world, can have a tremendous negative impact on overall health and fertility. Many people are (unfortunately) familiar with vaginal yeast infections, but these infections are often symptomatic of a much larger body-wide infection.

The most disturbing invaders to our bodies, are parasites, though sadly, most people carry these guys around too. Studies have found that most people, especially those with chronic diseases and cancer, are host to at least one kind or parasite. Parasites can range from tiny organisms, visible only by microscope to long tapeworms (several feet long). They can enter the body through food, drink, contact with animals or infected person, or even just skin contact, and parasite infections can last for years.

How Do We Get Yeast and Parasites?

Yeast and parasites can enter the body a variety of ways, depending on the type. Candida Albicanis, the most common and difficult to remove type of yeast, occurs naturally in the body in small amounts. When a person eats lots of glucose and fructose (remember the body turns all sugars, starches, grains, and even fruit into glucose for digestion), it feeds the normally occurring yeasts and parasites and allows them to multiply abundantly. Some pharmaceuticals, and especially hormonal birth control and antibiotics, can deplete the digestive track of the beneficial bacteria needed to keep yeast and parasites in check, and lead to an overgrowth or infestation.

Yeast especially, can multiply rapidly in the presence of any high carbon substances like sugar. Yeasts are also able to convert sugar into alcohol in the body, just as it does in the beer and wine fermentation process. This is one reason that people with severe yeast overgrowth experience symptoms like brain fog, lightheadedness, and nausea.

Treating yeasts, parasites, and other fungi in the body is a three step process. First, the invaders themselves must be killed, then they (and the toxins they created) must be flushed from the body, and finally, the body must be supported in healing and regenerating itself.

How to Tell If You Have Yeast or Parasites

There are many symptoms directly or indirectly associated with yeast and parasite overgrowth. If you have several of these symptoms, there is a really good chance that you have an infestation or overgrowth.

Symptoms of Yeast and Parasite Overgrowth:

Lowered immune system and constant illness
Rectal itching, especially at night
More than one vaginal yeast infection
Sores on the mouth or lips or white spots inside mouth
Constant tiredness
Difficulty sleeping and waking up
Toe fungus or athletes foot
Bloating and gas
Allergies
Sensitivity to food or chemicals
Sensitivity to the smell of strong perfumes or cigarette smoke
Rashes or itching around genitals in men or women
Recurrent bladder infections
Food cravings, especially for sweet or starchy foods
Intestinal cramps
Endometriosis
Psoriasis or eczema
History of antibiotic use
History of steroid use including inhalant or asthma medication
History of contraceptive use
Brain fog or mental fuzziness
Menstrual irregularities including irregular periods, heavy bleeding, cramps, PMS, or anovulation
Anxiety or depression
Floaters or spots in the eyes
Muscle or joint aches
Constipation or diarrhea
Previous or current cigarette smoking
Use of fluoride or consumption of fluoridated water
History of high sugar/carbohydrate consumption
If left untreated, Candida, yeast, and parasite overgrowth have been linked to a plethora of chronic conditions. Yeast and Parasites are often found in people with the following conditions:

Infertility or permanent fertility damage
Cancer
Multiple Sclerosis
Arthritis
Osteoporosis
Malnutrition
Vitamin Deficiencies
Chronic Fatigue
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Kidney Stones
Chron’s Disease
Skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis
Insomnia and sleep disturbances
Digestive problems of all kinds
Natural Remedies for Yeast and Parasite Infestation

The good news is that there are some natural treatments that are effective at helping the body kill and remove yeast and parasites. If you suspect that you have an overgrowth, you might consider some of the treatments below:

Dietary Adjustments- If you do have yeast or parasites, any sugars at all can feed an infestation and make removal very uncomfortable. If you are embarking on a natural treatment for Candida, fungi or parasites, remove all sources of natural sugar from you diet, including sources like honey and fruits. Some Stevia is ok once in a while, but avoid anything that gives the body a sugar source and feeds yeast or parasites. Consider also avoiding dairy for 1-2 weeks to give you body a boost.

Sweat- As your body kills off parasites and yeast, their by-products must be removed from the body, along with the toxins that they might have bound to. Some of these are best removed through the sweat glands, so let your body sweat by exercising, taking cayenne supplements and getting in hot tubs or saunas during the healing process.

Diatomaceous Earth (Organic Food Grade) – This is a naturally occurring substance that has amazing ability to kill parasites, yeast and parasite eggs. It is naturally high in silica, which is necessary for hair, nail and skin growth, and has other trace minerals as well. It can also help restore body tissue and improve digestion. If you decide to take this supplementally, start with 1 tsp per day in 8 ounces of water and work up to 1-2 TBSP a day until yeast symptoms disappear.

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar- Another easy and effective remedy for Candida and parasites. Apple Cider Vinegar is high in B-vitamins and very nourishing to the body. It help the body’s pH neutralize and improves digestion. It is well known for killing yeast and improving skin condition. Some people are leery of vinegar, as a fermented product, when they have a yeast infection. While some fermented products like beer and wine can feed yeast, Apple Cider Vinegar undergoes a much different fermentation process and produces a completely different reaction in the body. It tastes awful, but after taking it for a while, you will become more tolerant of the taste, and your body will start to crave it. Start with 1 tsp up to 3 times a day about 30 minutes before each meal (some people can’t handle it before breakfast!). If you handle this well, this dosage can be increased to a tablespoon.

Probiotics- Probiotics restore the helpful gut bacteria that is wiped out by yeast or parasites (or antibiotic or oral contraceptive use). Probiotics are necessary to restore proper intestinal flora, even after yeast and parasites have been removed. A high quality probiotic supplement should be included, taken according to product instruction. Do not take probiotics within an hour of Apple Cider Vinegar or Diatomaceous Earth! You might also consider drinks like Kombucha and Water Kefir to help build up probiotic levels, or whole plain full-fat yogurt.

Cinnamon- Cinnamon is a natural remedy for parasites and fungus. Take ½ tsp of a high quality cinnamon powder in water up to three times a day.

Vitamin C- Besides being an excellent antioxidant and immune support, Vitamin C is helpful in yeast/parasite removal. If you have symptoms of yeast and parasites, take 5,000 mg (5 grams) per day spread out in 2-3 doses. Do not take vitamin C at the same time as calcium/magnesium as they will neutralize each other. High consumption of Vitamin C may cause loose bowel movements, especially when yeast and parasites are being removed. This is not necessarily worrisome, but if it bothers you, adjust the dose down until symptoms go away.

Coconut Oil- Coconut Oil is naturally anti fungal and very nourishing to the body. Hopefully, you are using it in your cooking by now, but consider taking several tablespoons a day additional as an antifungal support. This will also help support the hormones and reproductive system. To make it easier to take, dissolve a couple tablespoons in a hot tea of choice and drink. The first couple sips will be coconut oil, and then you will just taste the tea.

Garlic- To help remove yeast and parasites, finely mince 1-2 cloves and drink in a cup of water before meals.

Olive Oil- Also an antifungal that supports removal of parasite and yeast waste. Add 1-2 TBSP or more to salads or veggies, or take supplementally.

Other Herbs known to help with yeast and parasites: Black Walnut, Wormwood, Clove, Oregano Oil, Thyme, Peppermint, Rosemary, Olive Leaf Extract and Grapefruit Seed Extract. If you have a severe case of yeast or parasites, consider using on of these potent herbs, but do your research first!

Other Important Notes

Removing yeast and parasites is a difficult job for your body. During this process, it is highly important that you support your body as much as possible with regular exercise, good diet, adequate sleep, and limiting exposure to toxins.

Soaking in an Epsom salt bath (1/2 cup Epsom salts in hot bath water) will also help remove toxins through the skin. Drinking enough water will help flush die off toxins out faster, and adequate sleep will give the body enough time to regenerate.

During this time, it is also vitally important that you do not consume sugar or carbs, as this will make the process much slower and much more uncomfortable. Consuming enough raw vegetables during this time will also help keep your energy levels up and clean the body faster. If you can stomach it, this is a veggie smoothie I drink daily. A grain-free and sugar-free diet is vital in removing yeast and parasites from the body. I

As always, thank you for reading!

The Hello Hub: Nigerian Free Solar Powered Education Kiosk

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Seven months after terrorists kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria, many local students are afraid to go to school. In other parts of the country, children don’t go to school because schools don’t exist; cities and villages can’t afford enough teachers. Across the nation, more than 10.5 million children aren’t in school, more than in any other part of the world.

One Nigerian city now has a prototype of a new type of education that doesn’t involve a school or teachers. The Hello Hub is an outdoor computer kiosk hooked up to free, solar-powered Internet and filled with hundreds of educational games. It’s rugged enough to handle dust storms, rain, and thousands of users. Built and owned by the community, it’s available for anyone–adults or children–to use anytime.

The project was inspired in part by Sugata Mitra, the 2013 TED Prize winner who argues that schools as we know them are obsolete. Mitra has shown in experiments that self-directed learning works; children in slums or remote locations who were given a computer, and zero instruction, were able to teach themselves things like English and even the basics of biotechnology. In those experiments, the computers were eventually lost or broken, so the Hello Hubs take a different approach.

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“We don’t show up in a community and build a Hello Hub for them,” says MacMillan. “If we were to do that, it would take a day to knock up a Hello Hub, put it on Facebook, and get out. But it wouldn’t last, and I don’t think people would value it or use it as much as they do. I think it would be likely to go unmaintained after a while–that’s what Mitra’s research shows.”

Instead of giving a donation, the project involves the entire community. “We take parts of the tech and the expertise, but we don’t have what we need to complete it,” MacMillan explains. The community has to help negotiate for the solar power, find the land, feed and transport the visitors from the organization–and help build the computer kiosk from scratch, sometimes building and taking apart the server several times so everyone who wants to can learn how it works.

Find out more at http://www.hellohubs.org, thanks for reading.

SunSprite: The First Wearable, Solar-Powered Light Tracker

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What is SunSprite?

SunSprite is the first solar-powered wearable device that measures and tracks the amount of sun and light that a person is receiving. In its most basic form, it reminds you to get outside and absorb bright light, which wakes up your brain and makes you healthier!

SunSprite also syncs with its mobile app via Bluetooth Smart to give you personalized tracking updates and coaching tips based on medical science.

What are the benefits of bright light?

Dozens of scientific studies prove that the right amount of bright light exposure increases energy and focus, improves mood, and helps you sleep better. People who get their bright light report that it’s not only easier to get out of bed in the morning, but also that they don’t feel groggy when waking up. In fact, bright light wakes up your brain as well as coffee does (but without the caffeine addiction!).

One study even found that adding morning bright light to a weight control program helps reduce body fat and appetite.

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How does SunSprite work?

SunSprite uses patent-pending technology to track and record the amount of bright light exposure you receive each day. It takes these measurements and breaks them down into units friendly to you, “GoodLux.” This allows you to effectively track your bright light exposure for the first time.

SunSprite uses Bluetooth Smart to transmit your light exposure data to your mobile phone, where its app helps you analyze your patterns and learn how to optimize your bright light exposure.

Find out more at http://www.sunsprite.com
Thank you for reading.

The Plight of The Amazonian’s Indigenous

The Brazilian government is building the world’s third largest hydroelectric dam on the Xingu River, a major Amazon tributary. Now over fifty percent complete, the Belo Monte Dam complex is designed to divert eighty percent of the Xingu River’s flow which will thus devastate an area of over 1,500 square kilometers of Brazilian rainforest and cause the forced displacement of up to 40,000 people. This project gravely impacts the land and livelihoods of thousands of riverine, urban families and communities, and indigenous peoples from several neighboring areas.

The Xingu River basin is a living symbol of Brazil’s cultural and biological diversity; it is home to 25,000 indigenous people from 40 ethnic groups. The Xingu flows north 2,271 kilometers from the central savanna region of Mato Grosso to the Amazon River. Nominally protected throughout most of its course by indigenous reserves and conservation units, the Xingu basin is severely impacted by cattle ranching and soy monocultures. Belo Monte is the first in a planned network of mega-dam projects which will pose additional devastation to an already threatened region.

A project hailing from Brazil’s military dictatorship, Belo Monte continues to exhibit the same alarming authoritarian tendencies associated with this brutal regime. To understand more about the history of this project, explore an interactive timeline, which chronicles thirty years of injustice surrounding the approval and construction of the mega-dam.

Since the initiation of construction in 2011, the city of Altamira has witnessed a massive influx of migrants, provoking a spike in criminal activities, as well as the collapse of health, education, and sanitation services. Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy set December 15th as the date to auction the construction of the massive São Luiz do Tapajós hydroelectric dam, the first in a series of large dams slated for construction on the Tapajós River, one of the Amazon’s largest tributaries. The announcement immediately provoked the condemnation of local indigenous peoples, who criticized the federal government’s failure to ensure respect for their rights, as guaranteed by the Brazilian Constitution and international human rights agreements.

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The move enflamed tensions in this precarious and remote region, while portending conflict with the region’s threatened indigenous peoples, particularly the Munduruku people, one of the largest surviving Amazonian tribes, whose territories and communities span much of the Tapajós basin.

In response to the announcement, the indigenous organization Movimento Munduruku Ipereg Ayuissued an open letter denouncing the Brazilian government’s “lies”, citing a recent meeting with high-level federal officials who promised that the dam would not proceed without a process of free, prior, and informed consultation with indigenous and traditional communities. Domestic law and international human rights agreements such as International Labor Organization Convention 169 (ILO169), to which Brazil is a signatory, require such consultations.

“We know that prior consultation should take place before any decision concerning the dam,” affirms the Munduruku statement, which demands the immediate cancellation of the auction. “Is the government throwing ILO169 in the garbage? Once again the government shows that it does not aim to dialogue with us.”

“This decision is another enormous blow to the indigenous right to consultation, just as we’ve seen with the Belo Monte dam,” said Maíra Irigaray of Amazon Watch. “President Rousseff’s administration’s disregard of Brazil’s traditional populations is shameful.”

The announcement of the São Luiz do Tapajós dam auction comes on the heels of an escalating controversy over the ambitious Amazon dam-building plans of the Rousseff government. Recent mega-dam projects – such as Belo Monte on the Xingu River, and Santo Antônio and Jirau on the Madeira river – have been plagued by major construction delays and massive cost overruns, in addition to serious socio-environmental impacts that have been left largely unmitigated by dam-builders. Suspicions of corruption within the dam industry have been heightened by a recent scandal involving Minister of Mines and Energy Edison Lobão, accused with grafting kickbacks from the state oil company Petrobras, which he oversees.

Find out more at http://www.amazonwatch.org

The BIQ: World’s first algae powered building

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Does it make sense to power buildings with algae? That’s the question that arises with the Bio Intelligent Quotient (BIQ) building, in Hamburg, Germany, which has now been operating for more than a year.

The panels are 0.78 inches thick and cover about 200 square meters in total. They’re filled with algae from the Elbe River and pumped full of carbon dioxide and nutrients. When sunlight hits the 129 “bioreactors,” photosynthesis causes the microorganisms to multiply and give off heat (the water goes to about 40 degrees C). The warmth is then captured for heating water or storing in saline tanks underground, while algae biomass is harvested and dried. It can either be converted to biogas, or used in secondary pharmaceutical and food products.

A prototype building, BIQ is being monitored by the Colt Group, which hopes to market the system, created by Splitterwerk Architects and Arup. Wurm says they’re pleased so far. “It’s producing more heat than we thought,” he says. “We optimized the performance after introducing a new set of pumps at the beginning of the year.” Surveys show the people in the 15 apartments are also content, as well they might be. They have no heating bills and plenty to show off to visitors.

Algae power has the additional advantage of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere, though the amounts involved are not huge. Wurm says each square meter of panel reduces emissions by eight tons a year, which includes two tons sucked up in the green gunk and six tons left unproduced by generating energy using dirtier methods. The building currently reduces overall energy needs by 50%, and Wurm says 100% is achievable. Combined with solar panels to power the pumps and heat exchangers, the building could be completely self-sufficient.

Wurm says we’re likely to see the first full-blown commercial applications on data centers, which of course are particularly energy hungry, and require a lot of cooling. That’s another advantage of algae: it provides natural shading as it absorbs sunlight.

Thank you for reading

PitchAFRICA: Kenyan Rainwater Harvesting

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DEMONSTRATING A NEW FORM OF ARCHITECTURE, EVERY BUILDING ON CAMPUS, INCLUDING DORMS, CLASSROOMS, AND A SOCCER STADIUM, COLLECTS CLEAN RAINWATER IN AN AREA WHERE CLEAN WATER CAN BE HARD TO COME BY.

When it rains, most buildings shed the water away. But for the last 10 years, two designers have been working on perfecting a new form of architecture that does the opposite: Waterbank buildings harvest and store as much rainwater as possible.

A new school campus in Kenya based on the design will collect 1.5 million liters of water a year–more than enough to provide water for all of the students and support garden plots in a region where clean water can be hard to find. Every building on the campus, from dorms and classrooms to a soccer stadium, is designed to harvest water and channel it into underground storage.

Though Kenya’s climate is semi-arid, the architects say there is enough rainfall each year for the population. “Many people who don’t have access to clean water, and this is true in Africa, are living in regions where it’s raining at least 600 millimeters per year,” says Jane Harrison, co-founder of PITCHAfrica, the nonprofit that designed the new buildings. “And that’s a very strange fact. The issue, of course, is that the water evaporates and it’s erratic, so people don’t have it when they need it.”

The architects are taking a different approach than many water nonprofits. “A lot of focus tends to be on the problems of water being solved by technological solutions,” says Harrison. “But one of the big factors with water is social. The idea that there needed to be a social approach–a community approach to water–was important to us.”

When the project first began in 2004, the architects had the idea to combine water collection with soccer–since soccer brings communities together. “I think the more we began to look at Africa, the more we began to think about the incredible power that football has there,” Harrison explains. “It really does cross over many social differences and brings a large and diverse audience together. And we felt that if you could couple that kind of energy and attention with the huge need of water, it would be powerful.”

In 2010, the team built a prototype of a water-harvesting soccer stadium during the World Cup. For the last four years, they’ve been working on bringing the architecture to life in Africa, and experimenting with creating different types of community buildings, since they quickly realized that the design could work well with more than stadiums.

First to be built was a four-classroom school in Laikipia, Kenya, which was named the “Greenest School on Earth” last year. With careful planning, it was possible to build for the same cost as a typical rural school of the same size. The new campus built this year replicates that project at a much larger scale–and includes the team’s first actual soccer stadium as part of the design.

Next year, the nonprofit hopes to release Waterbanks OS, an open-source operating manual that explains how to design, build, and use a Waterbanks building–including how to manage water supply in the dry season so the water doesn’t run out.

The technology could work in many parts of the world, the designers say, including places that seem too dry and those that actually do get plenty of rainfall, but struggle with pollution. “This is surreal, but we’ve now been approached by organizations working in the rainforest in Peru,” says Harrison. “These are communities who do not have access to clean water because of what’s been going on in the rainforest. Our relationship to water is very skewed. I think part of our larger mission is to start to draw attention to that.”

Thank you for reading.