After Ebola: Stories from West Africa

This summer, I had the privilege of working with several healthcare workers in Liberia and Sierra Leone to bring a more personal perspective to the situation on the ground in West Africa. The need to rebuild after the Ebola epidemic is something that will continue well after the soundbites are done; these heroes are in need of more training, actual salaries, and reinforcements.

For more on the situation, and their stories, you can read two opinion pieces I produced and placed:
http://qz.com/464084/the-unsung-heroes-of-the-ebola-fight-need-our-help/
http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/09/opinions/ireland-ebola-response/index.html

What Do Giant Armadillos and Bulldozers Have in Common?

The giant armadillo and the bulldozer both frequent the Gran Chaco in South America. Although both are armored, one only destroys termite mounds. The other destroys the forest itself–and the lives of those who live there.

The Gran Chaco is the starting point for a piece I produced and placed in Al Jazeera’s online Opinion portal that discusses the importance of forests in the context of the latest round of climate change negotiations.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/12/keep-forests-standing-people-p-2014121063013845949.html

Conserving Natural Areas Peacefully and Effectively

Yosemite National Park is my candidate for the most idyllic place in the world. Yet, at this point in time, the tragedy of its bloody history has been mostly lost.

In a piece I produced and placed in the Thomson Reuters Foundation blog, this history is a starting point for a discussion on how parks and protected areas should include, not exclude, the people who live in these places.

http://www.trust.org/item/20141114161223-e5wj2

A Bottom-Line Focus For Solving Mining Conflicts

Downstream from the suspended Pascua-Lama mine, in Chile’s Atacama Region (Credit: Alturas Oceanicas)

Downstream from the suspended Pascua-Lama mine, in Chile’s Atacama Region (Credit: Alturas Oceanicas)

The lure of precious metals and other natural resources has long been a source of conflict in Latin America, from the Andes to the Amazon and most everywhere else.  But new research has begun to put a price tag on this conflict, and investors have started to respond. When the lives and livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples are uprooted by large-scale mining developments, their opposition is driving up the cost of these developments, a point that is finally starting to get noticed in corporate financial statements.

This is the focus of my latest post for National Geographic; to read more please visit: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2014/05/27/a-bottom-line-focus/

Opinion Pieces on Land and Resource Rights

This is a catch-up post, cataloging a number of successful efforts to produce and place opinion pieces on securing the land and resource rights in the developing world.

Bloomberg View, September 19, 2013:
One Word May Save Indonesia’s Forests

Reuters AlertNet, September 16, 2013:
The land should feed the people first

Al Jazeera, September 19, 2013:
Is natural resource development a blessing, a ‘quick-fix,’ or a curse?

CNN’s Global Public Square, February 6, 2014:
Time to put people before land profits

‘Quick-fix’ development gives away more than it gets back

In April 2013, I produced and placed an opinion piece for Samuel Nguiffo, the Secretary General of the Centre for Environment and Development (CED) in Cameroon. Using his own country as an example, Samuel’s op-ed discussed how the “Land Grab” taking place in Africa was more of a “giveaway” where governments at all levels were providing multinational corporations with their country’s natural resources for very little compensation. Research from Rights and Resources Initiative showed that the communities that live on the land involved in these transactions lost out repeatedly. The opinion piece ran online at http://aje.me/17z1mpk.

Palm Oil, Land Grabs, and the Plight of Communities in Africa (and everywhere else)

Looking out over a new oil palm plantation in Liberia. Credit: Dan Klotz

Looking out over a new oil palm plantation in Liberia. Credit: Dan Klotz

In December, I spent a week in Liberia with an Agence France Presse (AFP) reporter exploring two large-scale land acquisitions in which the Liberian government turned over large swaths of land for oil palm and rubber plantations, ignoring the rights of the communities that live on the land. The trip was part of the outreach work I have been doing for Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI).

Underlining the dire problems confronting these communities, four people with whom we visited were arrested shortly after we left.

After the trip, the AFP reporter filed two feature-length stories detailing the difficulties inherent in these transactions (http://bit.ly/YaJ0G4 and http://f24.my/UhCU62). Last week, my photos from the trip were featured in a slide show on AllAfrica.com (http://j.mp/15CeiZC) that highlighted two new reports from RRI.