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East Africa: Trials of GM maize set to begin soon in East Africa-page 18-19 AFRICAN SCIENCE

micronutrients: Analysis of Kenyan wild African fruit tree -page 32-33 www.africasciencenews.org

Volume 020110 Number 2

Cancer cases in Africa on the rise yet capacity to manage it lacks 2009 output figures may increase Poultry Nigeria’s as new broiler processing plants are built page 21


CONTENTS features

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AFRICAN SCIENCE July 2010

PAGE 8: FAO vows to wipe out Rinderpest An ambitious global effort that has brought rinderpest, a deadly cattle plague, to the brink of extinction is ending all field activities, paving the way for official eradication of the disease. PAGE 10-11 Global war against malaria now intensifies Malaria Vaccines Conference opens, showcases scientific push for “next generation” products. Malaria experts from around the world gathered in Washington recently to discuss a new generation of malaria vaccines that includes efforts to construct a genetically engineered “DNA vaccine,” to uncover new vaccine targets that appear early in malaria infections

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page 15: Reinvent agriculture World renowned scientists recently called for a radical transformation in the agriculture sector to cope with climate change, food security and to transition towards sustainability. PAGE 26-27: Scientists plead for Serengeti 290 Scientists from 32 countries have signed a petition asking the government of Tanzania choose an alternate route around the Serengeti National Park, rather than building one through it.

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PAGE 30-31: No national cancer control programme while people die of tumor annually Cancer cases are on the rise in Kenya but the country neither has a national cancer policy, nor a cancer control law. The fact that close to 18, 000 people are dying due to cancer annually, the government has no national cancer control programme in place.

ON THE COVER

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FROM the editor

AFRICAN SCIENCE

Editorial

reflect a passage from commitment to implementation. The combined African and global commitments will ensure that faster progress is made towards meeting the Health MDGs.

The developed countries of the world and Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) have time and again been called upon to provide more resources for health, especially to African countries, so as to enable Africa achieve the health Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Rotimi Sankore, the Secretary of the Africa Public Health Parliamentary Network and Coordinator of the Africa Public Health Alliance and 15% Plus Campaign, told a forum of African Parliamentarians for Health that although there have been reductions in maternal and child mortality, an annual loss of over 4 million African children under 5 years of age, and roughly 200,000 women to maternal mortality indicates that there is still a lot to be done.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Luis Gomes Sambo once lamented that although health is a human right, this is not yet the case for many women and children in Africa. In Africa, maternal and child morbidity and mortality rates, which reflect the country’s level of development and state of health system performance, are unacceptably high in Africa. In developing countries, pregnancy and childbirth are one of the leading causes of death for women of reproductive age, and one child in 12 does not reach his or her fifth birthday. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia account for about 99% of more than half a million mothers who die in childbirth and 10.6 million children under the age of five years who die from a handful of preventable and treatable conditions. More than half of the 600,000 women who die every year from pregnancyrelated causes were in the African region which constitutes only 12% of the world’s population and 17% of its births. Maternal mortality ratio in Africa remains the highest in the world with the average actually increasing from 870 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 1,000 per 100,000 live births in 2001. In Nigeria for example, the neonatal mortality rate is 48 per 1000 births, infant mortality rate is 100 per 1000 births, under-five mortality rate is 210 per 1000 live births while maternal mortality rate is 800 per 100,000 live births. In Ghana, neonatal morbidity and mortality rates is currently estimated at 45 deaths per 1,000 live births and contribute about 50% of the infant mortality rate in the sub-Sahara Africa. Only 42% of births in the African region are attended by skilled personnel and unsafe abortions are also high among adolescents. 70% of deliveries take place in the community where maternal and newborn births are usually not recorded. African governments’ health budgets have time and again been identified as inadequate to address the health

challenges. Ministers of health round the continent all know that the well being of African societies is directly linked to the health and survival of mothers and children, as “when both mothers and children survive and thrive, the society in which they live prospers”. This means that all households, communities, government and international bodies operating in Africa need to give health of women and children a higher priority. The Pan African Parliament (PAP) for example may begin by moving away from perpetual resolving to mobilize budgetary allocations from African governments to finance the implementation of African Union Declaration on Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa, and commitments by African governments at the conclusion of major Summits. They should be doing this and telling the world what they have doing before these conferences. Various studies have shown that the percentage of GDP (gross domestic product) devoted to health in subSaharan Africa remains at between one percent and 3,7% compared to the large percentage spent on arms. African countries at the July 2010 AU Summit committed to taking numerous policy, program and financial measures to improve the health of their women and children. The $9 billion dollar commitment and the resolution of parliamentarians

If nothing is done to arrest the trend (of high and growing maternal and child deaths), it is estimated that there will be 2.5 million maternal deaths, 2.5 million child deaths and 49 million maternal disabilities in the region over the next 10 years. What has been consistent in Africa is that governments have often failed to seize on opportunities exist at country level (through health sector reforms), at regional level (through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development) and global level (through the Millennium Development Goals) to reverse the negative trend. African governments have failed to drive on the road map they charted together with partners to accelerate the attainment of MDGs related to maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality in Africa yet its implementation, would in a few years, change the current indicators of maternal and child morbidity and mortality in the continent. Yet increased health investment in terms of percentage allocation to the health sector, and more importantly actual per capita investment is crucial for the sustainable improvement of health outcomes. Regardless steps governments take, there must also be improved investment in social determinants of health such as nutrition, clean water and sanitation, and pillars of health such as health workforce

Henry Neondo, Editor info@africasciencenews.org


YOUR letters

AFRICAN SCIENCE July 2010

magazine

Services in Scientific Work in Africa

ON LINE

www.africasciencenews.org

Publisher Pamela Munene Editor Henry Neondo

Testing for diabetes.

Sub-Editor Naftali Mwaura

Diabetes Diabetes, cancers and a host of other diseases so classified as non-communicable diseases in Africa are simply getting out of hand. The sad thing about them is that no governments in Africa consider them important. As a result, the diseases are having a field day…either maiming or simply killing innocent victims leaving governments telling stories on statistics. When will our African governments wake up, pay equal attention to all diseases and save Africans from extinction? Okpu Abon’g Ghana

Researchers and funders At a recent meeting of the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostic Innovations (ANDI) initiative it was a shocking revelation that few governments in the continent pledge for USD600 million endowment fund to support research activities. Worse is that fewer still are those that do actually pay up. Among pretenders are Egypt, Kenya, South Africa and Tunisia who have made verbal commitments to the fund, which is supposed to provide regular funding for ANDI’s R&D projects. But none has actually taken their hands into their pockets to meet redeem pledges. What a shame!! Davies M. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

New treaty for GMO At least scientists still see a future with hopes. The new international treaty, “the Nagoya Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on

Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety”, adopted recently is a testimony to this. The adoption of the new treaty came at the end of the five-day meeting of the governing body of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (known as the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol or COP-MOP 5) and concluded six years of negotiations. The new supplementary Protocol provides international rules and procedure on liability and redress for damage to biodiversity resulting from living modified organisms (LMO). Setting the stage for its adoption, small group of government negotiators had resolved contentious issues and agreed on the text of the supplementary Protocol Bill Sachs--US

Food and climate change In October the story was about food insecurity and how Africa cannot meet its food need when technology is available to do so. Now that we are headed to December, we are bound to be told yet again about our inabilities given the climate change talks about to take place. Then there is the water insecurity which can arise from physical scarcity, resulting either from climatic or geographical factors, or from unsustainable consumption or overexploitation. It can also have economic origins, with poor infrastructure or capacity preventing access to the water resources available, or occur where pollution or natural contamination renders water resources inaccessible. With all these talks, sometimes I wonder if there is any policy maker in any of our African countries who ever pays attention and goes about taking steps to reverse the situation? Ali Mbaraka Arusha, Tanzania

Revise Editor Waweru Mugo Angela Mutiso design Shimron Sakwa Contributors Suleiman Mbatiah, Oluyinka Alawode, Adeleke Adeyemi, Adu Domfeh, Benedict Tembo, Sanday Kabange, Venter Mwongera, Alex Ndirangu, Micheal Omondi, Shadrack Kavilu, Gitonga Njeru, David Njagi, Geoffrey Kamadi, Kevin Wafula, Neway Tsegaye, Aimable Twahirwa, Pius Sawa, Bobby Ramakant, Hilde Gudvangen Marketing Manager Humphrey Muhongo Esther Wangare Administrator Brian Opondo Published by: Services in Scientific Work in Africa, P.O. Box 2141, 00100, Nairobi, Kenya TEL: +254-020-2051330 Fax: +254-020-240104 Email: info@africasciencenews.org or ans_editor@yahoo.com Contact us for subscriptions, submissions, Reprints & Advertising

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AFRICAN SCIENCE July 2010

NEWS SCAN Research & Discovery

FAO vows to wipe out Rinderpest An ambitious global effort that has brought rinderpest, a deadly cattle plague, to the brink of extinction is ending all field activities, paving the way for official eradication of the disease. It would be the first time in history that humankind has succeeded in wiping out an animal disease in the wild, and only the second time, after smallpox in 1980, that a disease has been eliminated thanks to human efforts. Rinderpest does not affect humans directly, but its ability to cause swift, massive losses of cattle and other hoofed animals has led to devastating effects on agriculture for millennia, leaving famine and economic devastation in its wake. “The control and elimination of rinderpest has always been a priority for the Organization since its early days in its mission to defeat hunger and strengthen global food security,” FAO DirectorGeneral Jacques Diouf said as ministers, animal health experts and partners gathered in Rome (13-14 October) for a Global Rinderpest Eradication Symposium. The meeting got underway as representatives from many of FAO’s member countries prepared to take part in the 15 October World Food Day 2010 observance, whose theme is “United Against Hunger.” “The disease has affected Europe, Asia and Africa for centuries and has caused widespread famine and decimated millions of animals, both domestic and wild. In the 1880s, rinderpest caused losses of up to one million head of cattle in Russia and central Europe,” said Diouf. When it entered Africa in the nineteenth century, it decimated millions of heads of livestock and wildlife and triggered widespread famine. It is estimated that in that pandemic alone, up to one-third of the human population of Ethiopia died of starvation as a result. The last known outbreak of rinderpest occurred in 2001 in Kenya. A joint FAO/OIE announcement of global rinderpest eradication is expected in mid-2011, pending a review of final official disease status reports from a handful of countries to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). “We are confident that the World Assembly of Delegates of the OIE will officially recognize all remaining countries as free from the disease in May 2011 and thus close on that day OIE Pathway activities for rinderpest eradication. The OIE programme was launched back in 1989 and has been extremely reliable in assessing the presence or absence of the virus in all countries worldwide. It should serve future ventures in eradicating other animal diseases,” Dr Bernard Vallat, OIE Director General declared. Participants of the symposium discussed lessons learned from international efforts to stamp out the disease, how to apply lessons learned to eradicate other diseases, and reviewed what remains to be

A local vet administers Rinderpest drug to a clalf done before and after a final declaration of eradication. FAO has spearheaded a coordinated, global effort to study the pattern and nature of rinderpest, help farmers and veterinary services recognize and control the disease, develop and implement vaccination campaigns and, ultimately eradicate the disease within the framework of the OIE pathway. That effort has involved a broad alliance of international partners such as the OIE, IAEA and donors, most recently under the Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme (GREP). GREP was launched in 1994 as a global coordination mechanism that would allow the international community to jointly undertake rinderpest control in a systematic and comprehensive way. It was the decisive, final push in a decades-long campaign of scientific research, field surveillance and vaccination of animals in the field. “The extraordinary success of this programme would not have been possible without the united efforts and determined commitment of the governments of all affected and exposed countries, without the African Union’s Inter-African Bureau on Animal Resources and the responsible regional organizations in Asia and Europe, without the donor agencies committed to this endeavor,” said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf. Special gratitude was expressed to the European Union and other major donors as well as dedicated professionals in research institutions and bilateral and multilateral development agencies.

Mobile lab for Ivory Coast The Agence de Médecine Préventive (AMP), the National Institute of Public Hygiene (INHP), and the Institut Pasteur in Côte d’Ivoire (IPCI) announced Thursday the launch of a mobile microbiology laboratory to strengthen epidemic disease surveillance and health monitoring in Côte d’Ivoire.

Africa for green economy

Delegates attending an AMCEN meeting

A major Africa-wide conference highlighting on how the more than 50 nations on the Continent can transit to a low-carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy will take place next year in response to the call by the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN). The African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) is a permanent forum where African ministers of the environment discuss mainly matters of relevance to the environment of the continent. AMCEN was established in 1985 when African ministers met in Egypt and adopted the Cairo Programme for African cooperation. The Conference is convened every second year.


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NEWS SCAN Research & Discovery

AFRICAN SCIENCE

NEWS SCAN Research & Discovery

AFRICAN SCIENCE

Global war against malaria now intensifies Malaria Vaccines Conference opens, showcases scientific push for “next generation” products Malaria experts from around the world gathered in Washington recently to discuss a new generation of malaria vaccines that includes efforts to construct a genetically engineered “DNA vaccine,” to uncover new vaccine targets that appear early in malaria infections, and to develop immunizations that could block malaria transmission between mosquitoes and humans. “We are eager to build on the progress we have made in the last 10 years and are challenging the malaria vaccine community and others to produce innovations that will enable us to eliminate this disease once and for all,” said Dr. Christian Loucq, director of Malaria Vaccine Initiative, MVI. MVI is currently partnering with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Biologicals with the Gates Foundation and various other partners in combination with research centers across Africa to conduct Phase 3 testing of GSK’s RTS,S malaria vaccine, the world’s most clinically advanced malaria vaccine candidate.

malaria patients in Siaya District

Scientists are invited to bring us their ideas and innovations If successful in Phase 3 testing and licensure, RTS,S could satisfy the intermediate goal set forth in the international community’s Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap of a “firstgeneration” malaria vaccine that is at least 50 percent effective against severe disease and death and lasts more than one year. It is not a perfect vaccine and only gives partial protection to young kids. This still could be an enormous breakthrough if it weakens the disease enough so kids get milder forms and don’t die. Roughly 12,500 people have been enrolled in giant African trials so far, and Witty said that results from the final trial could come by the end of 2011. Some 12,000 children have already been enrolled in the Phase III trials in Burkina Faso,

Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania, which have an enrollment target of 16,000 children. The vaccine generates an immune response to the parasite’s circumsporozoite protein, a concept that was pioneered by NYU researchers Victor and Ruth Nussensweig way back in the 1960s. It was eventually picked up by Army researchers and Glaxo. Advanced trials of the RTS,S vaccine against falciparum malaria, the deadliest strain of the disease, are under way in seven African countries and going “very well,” said GlaxoSmithKline researcher Joe Cohen, who has been working on developing the vaccine for over 20 years. “We believe we’ll have the first data coming out of the trials in 2012, and, to make a long story short, we could have the first implementation in Africa between 2015 and 2016,” he told AFP. The trial protocol varies from country to country -- even from village to village -- to take into account cultural sensitivities, but the basics are the same, said Ghana clinical epidemiologist Kwaku Poku Asante and Ally Olutu, a clinician

Malaria vaccine

We are moving quickly to provide vaccine developers with specific antigens that could improve the effectiveness of immunizations ---Patrick Duffy

a nurse immunises a child against malaria

from Kenya. The pair are working on the vaccine trials. Children have to be in good health to join the trial, and will be followed up for 32 months, Asante said. The results of smaller-scale phase II trials, which were announced in 2008, showed RTS,S was 53 percent effective against clinical falciparum malaria in young children and up to 65 percent effective in infants, the two groups most at-risk from the parasitic disease. If RTS,S passes muster in the phase III trials and is licensed, it “will save many, many hundreds of thousands of lives in Africa,” even if it is only partially effective against malaria, said Cohen. But completing the vast trial in Africa and rolling out the vaccine will not signal an end to the process to develop malaria vaccines, he and other researchers warned. RTS,S is only a stepping stone to wiping out the disease that threatens more than a third of the world’s population and kills some 900,000 people a year, most of them in Africa. According to organizers of the Washington conference, some 200 people die of malaria every hour of every day every year, most of them children

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in Africa. Malaria is one of the main obstacles to socioeconomic development in Africa, and developing effective vaccines against the disease would have an enormous effect on reducing its negative impact, they said. “We must look ahead to an even better second generation vaccine, one that is maybe 80 percent effective,” said Cohen. MVI is already laying the foundation for a next-generation vaccine that is at least 80 percent effective against clinical disease and lasts longer than four years. Even more ambitiously, MVI is supporting the development of vaccine approaches that fight malaria by interrupting its transmission from mosquitoes to humans. Rhoel Dinglasan of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH) offered an update, including preclinical results, on the partnership involving JHSPH, MVI, and the Sabin Vaccine Institute to develop a transmission-blocking vaccine. The project is focused on an antigen found in malarial mosquitoes called AnAPN1, which appears to play a major role in malaria parasite establishment within the mosquito.


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NEWS SCAN yam vault

AFRICAN SCIENCE July 2010

bisexual rightist

Yam protection

Another rectal microbicide trial launched

Gay men who have sex with men in Africa, have reasons to smile with the launch of the world’s third rectal microbicide trial launched in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania US last week. This is a follow of good news for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rightist coming soon after a Kenyan minister was reported rooting for LGBT practitioners and calling for an end to stigma and discrimination people with differing sexual orientation. “It is very encouraging to see the rectal microbicide field moving forward,” said IRMA Community Vice-Chair Kadiri Audu, who also heads up the IRMA Nigeria chapter, “and I look forward to trials taking place in Africa as well.” He continued, “Gay men and other men who have sex with men in Africa have high rates of HIV infection, and we know unprotected heterosexual anal sex is relatively common on the continent and contributes a sizable number of HIV infections. As much as we need vaginal microbicides to give women an extra prevention tool, rectal microbicides for the women, men, and transgender individuals who engage in anal intercourse are absolutely essential as well.” The launch of the trial will be followed by sites being preparing to open in Boston, Massachusetts, and Birmingham, Alabama soon. Scientists will test the rectal safety and acceptability of tenofovir gel, a microbicide developed for vaginal use that has shown promise for preventing HIV through vaginal intercourse. Depending on the outcome of this new study, tenofovir gel could be further evaluated to determine if it can reduce the risk of HIV among both men and women who engage in receptive anal intercourse.

Nigeria women examine record data on yam seed packages Yam varieties from West and Central African countries are being sent to the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria, where tissue samples of the crop are to be frozen at ultra-low temperatures in liquid nitrogen for onward transmission to the international genebanks. The ambitious project aims to make use of the technique known as cryoconservation—which offers the most secure form of long-term storage currently available in saving a diversity of a crop that is consumed by 60 million people on a daily basis in Africa alone. According to an announcement recently from the Global Crop Diversity Trust, farmers in West Africa’s “yam belt,” which includes the countries of Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Benin and Togo, produce more than 90 percent of the world’s yams. The project, however, will also include yam varieties collected in the Philippines, Vietnam, Costa Rica, the Caribbean and several Pacific nations. It is the first worldwide effort to conserve yam species and cultivars. The project is funded with support from the UN Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “This opportunity to protect an incredibly wide variety of yams allows us to feel more reassured that the unique diversity of yam will be safely secured and available to future generations,” said Alexandre Dansi, a yam expert at the University of Abomey-Calavi in Benin. For Benin, which sits squarely in the buckle of the yam belt, yam is an integral part of the culture and community life. The large tubers weighing up to 70 kilos are a common sight on roadside markets. Dansi has worked with producers to catalogue about 250 discrete types of yams and more than 1,000 named yam varieties. He is collaborating with farmers to document additional varieties. According to farmers’ reports, many traditional varieties are disappearing in their

production zones because of high susceptibility to pests and diseases, poor soil, soil moisture content, weeds and drought, which make them less productive or more costly to grow compared to other crops such as cassava. Through Dansi’s work, Benin already has sent 847 yam samples to the IITA. At IITA, the tubers will be grown out in fields, and cuttings taken for conservation in the lab as part of an international collection that already contains about 3,200 yam samples from West Africa. Thousands of years of cultivation have resulted in a wide diversity of yam varieties existing in farmers’ fields, particularly in West Africa. In some parts of Africa (mainly Benin and Nigeria), yams are still being domesticated from wild tubers found in the forest. The popularity of the crop remains high with consumers, and sellers get a high price in urban markets. However, yams remain relatively underresearched despite their potential to bring farmers out of poverty in one of the world’s poorest regions. Using the collection now being assembled to find valuable traits that provide disease-resistance and higher yields is key to improving farmer’s fortunes. “It’s really akin to putting money in the bank,” said Cary Fowler, executive director of the Trust. “All crops routinely face threats from plant pests, disease, or shifting weather patterns, and a country’s ability to breed new varieties to overcome these challenges is directly tied to what they have in the bank, not just in terms of financial resources but in terms of the diversity in their crop collections.” The yam project is part of a broader effort involving major crop species worldwide in which the Trust is helping partners in 68 countries—including 38 in Africa alone—rescue and regenerate more than 80,000 endangered accessions in crop collections and send duplicates to international genebanks and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Arctic Circle.


NEWS SCAN Research & Discovery

AFRICAN SCIENCE

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Reinvent agriculture

World renowned scientists recently called for a radical transformation in the agriculture sector to cope with climate change, food security and to transition towards sustainability. Dr Dennis Garrity, Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre and Prof M. S. Swaminathan, 1987 World Food Prize Laureate and founder of the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, have teamed up to promote what they call a ‘fresh out of the box solution’ which is already dramatically improving crop yields while storing significant carbon. “Doubling food production by mid-century when so many of the world’s soils are depleted and we are faced with a changing climate cannot be achieved with business-as-usual conventional agriculture,” Garrity said. “We need to reinvent agriculture in a sustainable and affordable way so that it can adapt to climate change and reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases.” Swaminathan added that “novel solutions and technological advances must be married with ecological thinking to drive a truly sustainable agricultural revolution”. The concept of Evergreen Agriculture, where fertilizer trees are integrated into annual food crop and livestock systems, sustains a green cover on the land throughout the year. It bolsters nutrient supply through nitrogen fixation and nutrient cycling, increases direct production of food, fodder, fuel, and fibre, and provides additional income to farmers from tree products. Former UN Secretary-General and Chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) Kofi A. Annan underlined the urgent need for a uniquely African green revolution to bring food security and overcome hunger

Farmers tend to their farms. Poor soils, inadequate use of fertiliser and other inputs have hampered food production in Africa. throughout the continent. He warned that food supplies will come under increasing pressure with growing populations and Africa set to be hit hardest by climate change. Applauding the increasing focus on food security for development from African governments, international donors, civil society and the private sector, Annan however set out the steps needed to achieve a uniquely African Green Revolution. He said “Africa is the only continent which does not grow enough food to feed itself and productivity does not keep pace with its growing population.”

Kit for livestock farming At least one African country has received the BOS Livestock System, which provides a smooth process for livestock management comprised of hardware and software, including mobile handheld devices managed by the BOS ID software, RFID tags and readers, the BOS RFID server and BOS Livestock -- the database for the livestock records. According to an announcement by the company, Better Online Solutions (BOS) Ltd, the first stage of the system is expected to be delivered in the fourth quarter of this year and the company expects it to yield revenues in the range of a few hundreds of thousands of dollars. Following a successful implementation of the first stage, the project may be significantly extended. “This represents an important RFID project outside of Israel, and points to BOS’ growing reputation as an RFID supplier internationally,” said Yuval Viner, BOS CEO.

But there are pockets of successess. In a recent article in the Journal of Food Security, Garrity and co-authors highlight how evergreen agriculture has already provided benefits to hundreds of thousands of farmers in Zambia, Malawi, Niger and Burkina Faso. These farmers are seeing the results of fertilizer trees that draw nitrogen from the air and transfer it to the soil through their roots and leaf litter. Farmers in Malawi have increased their maize yields by up to 280% when the crop is grown under a canopy of one particular fertilizer tree, Faidherbia albida.

Ministers prefers funding science, technology In a move that is increasingly becoming popular across East Africa, the Uganda government has released Shs8.5 billion to schools so that they may procure science equipment. Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary Francis Lubanga said the funds will be used to buy science chemicals and reagents. A total of 1,482 government and private schools are to benefit from the grants. The move by the Uganda government follows a similar move in Kenya where the Minister for Higher Education William Ruto, declared in the recent past that the government will begin giving preferential funding to science-related courses. In making the announcement, Ruto said the science and not the art-based courses will help the country meet the attainment of the Vision 2030, the date by which Kenya hopes to be industrialised. “Kenya plans to review courses offered by the public universities, putting emphasis on science and technology”, the minister was reported saying.


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AFRICAN SCIENCE July 2010

supplement African Center for Technology Studies

supplement African Center for Technology Studies

policy-oriented research AND analysis

agro-climatic and environmental zoning and suitable biofuel

The year 2010 is nearing to end and we at the African Center for Technology Studies (ACTS), an intergovernmental organisation (IGO) engaged in policyoriented research, analysis and advocacy leading to formulation and practice of sound policies that protect the environment, promote sustainable development, and contribute to better living standards for all in Sub-Saharan Africa, have had an exciting year. Several activities we either held or participated in this year once again placed ACTS firmly among organizations pushing the science, technology and innovation-led development agenda for Africa. The founders of ACTS had the vision of an organization that would steer Africa from the depths of poverty and dependence on the West to ideas-based development, focusing mainly on development and influencing of policies that would help Africa assert itself in the various fora that discussed emerging new technologies and issues to do with Biotechnology, Biosafety, Climate Change and the Environment. Throughout ACTS’ existence, it has been important for ACTS to have flexibility to adapt and respond to emerging scientific, technological and environmental developments crucial to Africa’s development.

Besides this, ACTS together with the Open University with funding from the British Council organized a two day workshop on technology policy and innovation research in Nairobi, Kenya. The Executive Director also attended the World Bioenergy Symposium 2010, held in Suzhou China on September 15-17. The Symposium was hosted by Tsinghua University, China and US Minnesota Department of Agriculture and concentrated on biofuels and other bio-product. This was a culmination of many activities on alternative energy held by ACTS this year. For example in June this year, ACTS together with UNEP launched a report on environmental suitability and agro-environmental zoning of biofuel production in Kenya. The report was a result of a study ACTS carried out through the DFID-funded Policy Innovation Systems for Clean Energy Security, PISCES programme. The report of the study carried out between January and April 2010 through funding by the UN Environment Programme gives an agro-climatic and environmental zoning of Kenya showing the country’s biodiversity, variety of land uses and protected areas and sites suitable for growing biofuel feedstock. ACTS is noted for being the first African independent think-tank on the application of science and technology to development. Together with partners, African Centre for Technology Studies put up an Institute of Science and Technology Policy Analysis and Training which has involved itself in building capacity every year and this year was no exception. The training design is akin to the Short Course or Executive Programs format with a post-graduate curriculum accredited by internationally acclaimed Universities, and coordinated and hosted by ACTS.

climate change Large parts of Africa are already affected by extreme climatic events such as droughts and floods resulting from the highly variable climate. This process is expected to become worse as a consequence of longterm changes in the climatic system. Whenever they occur, these extreme events negatively impact livelihoods, especially those of the poor. Local economies also get negatively affected due to the population’s high and direct dependence on natural resources. For instance, over ninety percent of agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa is rain fed. Indeed, Africa has been identified as one of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. It is now widely accepted that climate change is a development and environmental challenge. Climate change poses additional problems to degraded environments, high levels of poverty, food insecurity and HIV/AIDS that are already affecting large parts of Africa. Unless this situation is addressed, many vulnerable populations could find their situations worsening, and many countries may not make any progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There is also a risk that the gains made in development thus far may be lost, as climate-related disasters cause damage and result in myriad losses.

Kenya’s food security challenge relative to climate conditions In fulfilling our mandate in line with our strategic plan 2009-2013, among our various activities, we at ACTS early this year engaged stakeholders to discuss on pressing issues facing Kenya’s food security challenge, relating them to how the country will respond to climate change and how we will meet our food and livelihood requirements through maize and other crops. As Kenya’s primary staple crop and a fundamental part of many poor people’s livelihood systems, maize is culturally and politically significant and thus already the focus of major research and development efforts. For these reasons, crop development efforts involving maize and other important crops (e.g., horticulture, alternative dryland staples) will provide the starting point for our discussion, which will examine different types of innovation pathways identified through our field studies and advanced by various actors interviewed.

AFRICAN SCIENCE July 2010

Vision and Mission ACTS’ vision is knowledge for better livelihoods and the mission is to strengthen the capacity and policies of African countries and institutions to harness science and technology for sustainable development. The research activities of the Centre rotate around the core issues of Biodiversity and Environmental Governance, Energy and Water Security; Agriculture and Food Security and Science and Technology Literacy. Human Health is a cross cutting issue.

Outreach The ACTS, because it is Nairobi-based, has built up strong links with Kenya and neighbouring, East African and some other countries.With a wide contact network base, experience and reputation developed over 20 years as solid points of departure, it is natural and appropriate that ACTS now attempts to carefully expand its outreach.ACTS is either carrying out or has conducted projects in Kenya,Malawi, Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

http://acts.or.k/

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NEWS SCAN GM maize field trials

AFRICAN SCIENCE

Farmers examine harvested maize

Trials of GM maize set to begin soon in East Africa Scientists keenly observe performance of maize in a greenhouse.

If successful, Water Efficient Maize for Africa would be available royaltyfree to the region where over 300 million people depend on a crop routinely crippled by droughts Crop specialists in Kenya and Uganda have laid the groundwork for confined field trials to commence later this year for new varieties of maize genetically modified to survive recurrent droughts that threaten over 300 million Africans for whom maize is life, according to a speech given Thursday by the head of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) at the World Food Prize Symposium. Scientists working with AATF believe it’s important to explore the potential of biotechnology to maintain and increase food production in Africa, given the large number of families dependent on maize, and warnings that maize yields could drop dramatically as climate change increases drought frequency and severity across the continent. There is preliminary evidence that the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) varieties, which were developed through a public-private partnership, could provide yields 24–35 percent higher than what farmers are now growing. The process for testing the WEMA varieties has been informed by a series of “mock trials”

conducted in 2009 in Kenya and Tanzania. The mock trials carefully simulated field conditions, procedures, and regulatory oversight that will occur in the actual trials. “The mock trials have provided an opportunity for researchers working on the WEMA project to fine-tune the procedures of carrying out the actual transgenic trial in 2010,” according to Daniel

News scan GM maize field trials

AFRICAN SCIENCE

Mataruka, executive director of AATF. The mock trials were supervised by national biosafety committees in both countries and adhered to all requirements that will apply to transgenic plants. “Everything we have seen in the simulated trials shows that we can safely test transgenic maize varieties in carefully controlled and confined field trials in Africa and evaluate their potential to produce high yields in drought conditions,” said Dr. James Gethi, the WEMA-Kenya country coordinator. Drought is the most important Maize grower in a plantation. constraint to African agricultural production, and its effects are particularly severe and expertise, and drought-tolerant transgenes on maize, which is the most widely-grown staple developed in collaboration with BASF. According to AATF, experience has shown that on the continent. For millions of small-scale farmers who rely on rainfall to water their crops, the gains possible through advanced breeding and risk of crop failure from drought is a major barrier biotechnology are greater and faster than those that can be achieved through breeding alone. to the adoption of improved farming practices. “There have already been positive gains made A more reliable harvest could give farmers the confidence to invest in improved techniques that in drought tolerance using traditional breeding methods by our partners,” said Mataruka. could further boost their yields and incomes. The push to develop drought-tolerant varieties “WEMA is working to further increase those gains has been given added urgency by threats likely to in drought tolerance in hybrids adapted to eastern and southern Africa through both advanced come from climate change. A study by scientists at the Consultative Group breeding techniques and biotechnology.” If the transgenic corn is found to be safe and on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) warns that by 2050, climate change could make successful, the new varieties will be made available droughts more frequent and intense, potentially to smallholder farmers royalty-free. Under its agreement with its partners, any causing maize yields to drop by 20 percent or more in parts of East Africa, including northern approved varieties would be licensed to AATF, Uganda and southern Sudan, and semi-arid areas which would then distribute to farmers through local seed supplies at a price competitive with of Kenya and Tanzania. The Food and Agriculture Organization of other types of maize seed. The project partners expect that pricing will not the United Nations (FAO) has acknowledged biotechnology as a powerful tool in the effort to be influenced by the requirement to pay royalties, as none of the partners will receive any royalty develop drought-tolerant crops. The drought-tolerant WEMA varieties are payment from seed companies for the drought being developed under a partnership involving tolerant lines/transgenic trait incorporating their AATF, the International Maize and Wheat intellectual property protected technology. Pending regulatory approval, at least 12 WEMA Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Monsanto, and the national agriculture research systems varieties will be tested in confined field trials in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa (CFTs) in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa and Uganda. CIMMYT has provided high-yield and Mozambique. After the trials, the transgenic corn produced in maize varieties adapted to African conditions, while Monsanto has provided proprietary genetic the CFTs will be destroyed in compliance with the resources (germplasm), advanced breeding tools regulations in the respective countries. Maize growing under trial conditions. Move is on to begin trials of GM maize that would be resistant to drought.

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reproductive technology

Risks of assisted child birth

Couples considering undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment should be informed about the increased risk of congenital malformation posed by the use of ART, the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics was told. Dr. Géraldine Viot, a clinical geneticist at the Maternité Port Royal hospital, Paris, France, will say that she believed that most doctors working in ART clinics in France only told couples about such risks if they were asked specific questions. Dr. Viot and colleagues conducted a survey in 33 French centres registered for ART, around one third of the total number of clinics registered to perform ART procedures in France. All ART births from these clinics from 2003 to 2007 were included; 15 162 children in total. The study was the largest to date on this subject. Questionnaires were completed both by the parents and the paediatrician and the prevalence of malformations found compared with the data obtained from national registers and in published papers. “We found a major congenital malformation in 4.24% of the children”, said Dr. Viot, “compared with the 2-3% that we had expected from previous published studies. This higher rate was due in part to an excess of heart diseases and malformations of the uro-genital system. This was much more common in boys. Among the minor malformations, we found a five times higher rate of angioma, benign tumours made up of small blood vessels on or near the surface of the skin. These occurred more than twice as frequently in girls than boys.” However, the scientists say, their results are a long way from the 11% of major malformations that have been reported by some studies. “Given that our study is the largest to date, we think that our data are more likely to be statistically representative of the true picture”, said Dr. Viot. The average age of the parents of children born with malformations


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JOBS Events

AFRICAN SCIENCE July 2010

Volunteer pharmacist: hospital pharmacist: assistant manager: Location: UGANDA, St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor Organisation: Lacor Hospital Closing Date: 1 December 2010 The “Lacor Hospital” is a non-profit charitable institution belonging to the Gulu Catholic Diocese and is located 6 km west from Gulu town. The languages spoken are: English, Acholi, Lwo, Luganda and Swahili. The Pharmacy department at the Lacor Hospital is formed of one Head Pharmacist and 30 staff employees. The department relies heavily on:

* Good management practices * Well-trained personnel * Good procedures and protocols

Duration of term: 12 months, position available immediately Wages: CAN$4,500/month (depending on humanitarian experience) + living expenses (meals and housing) paid by the Lacor Hospital. Responsibilities To assist the local current Pharmacist Head of the Pharmacy department in the management of : * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Provisioning and inventory management General processes of drug distribution in the hospital Sterile preparation of medications and intravenous solutions To assist the hospital head pharmacist to: Select and train a pharmacy buyer within the pharmacy staff and establish the minimum and maximum drug and medical supplies on the wards and in the pharmacy. Prepare spending reports for the hospital administration. Select and train the pharmacy staff for additional responsibilities that will free the head pharmacist from administrative tasks to focus on clinical activities. Set-up of a process to limit access to the numerous pharmacy stores. Update the process of ward stock control system. Set-up a process of prescription refills in the outpatients clinic. Implement training programs in infection control and in sterile intravenous preparation. Perform a cost-analysis evaluation of the upgrade the sterile room vs. alternative solutions. T o replace the hospital pharmacist during one month to permit her participation to the Pharmabridge Project and come to Canada to enhance her hospital management and pharmaceu tical care skills. Experience Required

Education: Pharmacy Degree mandatory and Hospital Pharmacy degree or experience. Experience in medication management a must, humanitarian experience an asset, experience in human resources and project management an asset. Additional skills: good knowledge of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Essential Medicine List and of Good Pharmaceutical Practices; solid knowledge of software (Word and Excel). Language skills: Spoken and written English a must, English-French bilingualism an asset. Skills and qualifications: Attention to detail and organisational skills, openmindedness and flexibility, management skills. Application Procedure Please send your resume and motivation letter to admin@psfcanada.org. Only selected candidates will be contacted Contact Details Email: admin@psfcanada.org

The 6th Science Centre World Congress Location: Cape Town, South Africa Date: 4 - 8 September 2011 Organisation: The 6th Science Centre World Congress SCIENCE CENTRE GATHERING IN CAPE TOWN, SEPTEMBER 2011 The 6th Science Centre World Congress will be held in Cape Town, South Africa, 4-8 September 2011. With the theme “Science Across Cultures”, the 6th Science Centre World Congress will encourage reconciliation between different cultures and a greater appreciation of each culture’s unique contributions to science, technology and science education. Key objectives The conference will also explore unique developing world angles, including: * How should science centres reflect the contributions made by scholars and researchers in the developing world? * How should science centres show case indigenous knowledge systems? * How can science centres incorpo rate cultural differences and similarities when design ing and implementing science education programmes? Find out more at: www.6scwc.org 2. Final call for manuscripts for UNECAICSU ROA climate change science book project Organisation: United Nations Commission for Africa and ICSU Regional Office for Africa Closing Date: 30 July 2010 PROVISIONAL TITLE OF THE BOOK: * Climate Change Science and Sustain able Development: The African * Climate Change Science, Technology and Innova tions for Africa * Sustainable Development, or * The Science of Climate Change and * Socio-Economic Prosperity in Africa. * Ttitle of book will depend on content

“Science Across Cultures”

PROVISIONAL CONTENTS OF THE BOOK: INTRODUCTION (including history, science of climate and impacts on human society, well-being and development in Africa; position of Africa in the global climate change context, vulnerability of Africa, need for African issues to be addressed, etc).

NEWS scan

AFRICAN SCIENCE

21

Poultry

FAO predicts that Nigeria’s 2009 output figures may increase as new broiler processing plants are built. In South Africa, production is anticipated to remain largely unchanged

SCIENTIFIC BASIS (including scientific based evidence of climate change in Africa and other robust findings, baseline studies, scenarios, etc; network of climate change scientists in Africa, data/databases, paleoclimate). SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS (including case studies of the current status in Africa with regards to technology, infrastructure, skilled personnel, etc; the role of the economy, policies, political conflicts, demography; agricultural products/territorial products (value added products); and regional initiatives and country experiences). DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION OF MANUSCRIPTS: The deadline for submission is on Friday, 30 July 2010 SUBMISSIONS OF MANUSCRIPTS: Manuscripts should be submitted electronically to the following three contact persons: United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Thierry H. Amoussougbo: tamoussougbo@uneca.org ICSU Regional Office for Africa Dr Daniel Nyanganyura: d.nyanganyura@icsu-africa.org Dr Achuo A Enow: a.enow@icsu-africa.org PROJECT CO-ORDINATORS: Ms Aida Opoku-Mensah: aida.uneca@un.org Prof SM Muhongo: s.muhongo@icsu-africa.org

Africa turns to poultry A lady shows off her poultry birds.

There is a tremendous rise in chicken production in almost all African countries, with South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Nigeria leading the pack. According to the most recent FAO statistics, South Africa produced 974.150 t of chicken meat in 2008, which is more than28% of the African total of 3.43 million t. Egypt was the second largest producer in 2008 with 16% (55,500 t), followed by Morocco (440,000 t, or 12.8%), Algeria and Nigeria (approx. 250,000 t, or 7% each). Combined, these four countries represent over 70% of African poultry production. Since 2008, Egypt has been hit by several Avian Influenza outbreaks, which have resulted in a decline in production. The country is slowly beginning to stabilise, according to the FAO. Output in Morocco is also anticipated to have fallen over 2009. The FAO predicts that Nigeria’s 2009 output figures may increase as new broiler processing plants are being built. In South Africa, production is anticipated to remain largely unchanged. These four countries, together with the smaller producing African nations, have pushed output from 2.50 million t in 1998 up to 3.43 million in 2008. This proves once again that chicken meat is the primary source of meat protein consumed in Africa. However for the vast majority of almost a billion Africans, the definition of poultry still entails the ever popular village chicken – birds

raised in the backyard, home-slaughtered and cooked for dinner. “This means that statistically we have absolutely no way of knowing the amount of village chicken consumed,” says Kevin Lovell, Southern African Poultry Association (SAPA) CEO. South Africa, Africa’s biggest poultry producer is ranked 15th on the world ranking with a 1.3% market share. The main driver behind this growth is economical development. Simply put, more people are earning a formal income, enabling them to buy industrially slaughtered, processed poultry. However, with the recent global financial crisis, economical development has halted.

chicken production The definition of poultry still entails the ever popular village chicken – birds raised in the backyard, homeslaughtered and cooked for dinner

South Africa has experienced its first official recession in 15 years, and over the past 18 months nearly a million employees have been retrenched. This has had a detrimental effect on poultry consumption, according to Lovell. “Our continuous growth over the past seven years was very much related to the growth in employment. Job creation is therefore the biggest challenge for the industry at the moment. We must get roughly 900,000 jobs back in order to get back to where we were in 2008. In South Africa, about 17.7 million broilers are slaughtered each week. Including imports, spent hens and breeders, the per capita consumption of slaughtered poultry in the country is roughly 30 kg, which is substantial growth since the 21.7 kg of 1997. Poultry products, including eggs, make up more than 60%of all animal proteins consumed in South Africa. Most South Africans – with black people representing 79% of the population – would culturally prefer red meat (especially beef), but settle for chicken because of its affordability, says Lovell. “That’s the base of our marketing success. Poultry consumption is growing at a higher rate than beef, and has been outgrowing population growth.” SAPA believes that the increasing consumption South Africa is partly the result of the broiler industry’s response to consumer demand for value-added, brand name and convenience products.


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NEWS SCAN OpenVarsity

AFRICAN SCIENCE

NEWS SCAN OpenVarsity

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Global TB Vaccine

Continous education

The Open University of the UK is partnering up with the Nairobi-based African Center for Technology Studies to develop ideas and mechanisms for wider education and training in private and public sectors modeled according to Open University study module. The partnership comes at a time when there is growing public and private expenditure on research and development activities. This provides an opportunity for economic growth and targeted social benefits if R and D efforts are focused where they are most needed. However, in order for the best use of these funds to be made and to maximize resulting output, key skills are needed by staff working within both the private and public sectors which are in addition to the scientific and technical knowledge required. These skills relate to evaluating the capabilities and needs of research and industrial sectors, that is understand the innovation environment and the key drivers and obstacles to fostering innovation. They are need by those currently working in key fields such as health, agriculture and energy and they are needed by those seeking work in those areas.

Prof. Hazel Johnson of the OU said the initial projects (T890) were funded by the British Council with some charitable funds from within O.U and private contributions. ACTS on the other hand uses part of its capacity building funds to roll out the course. T890 module has now existed over the last 10 years. Its content is to provide understanding on innovation, define it, how to use research. It was not to any particular sector. It is a generic study using a number of case studies from various sectors. Dr. Rebecca Hanlin of Innogen, said that

These skills relate to evaluating the capabilities and needs of research and industrial sectors, that is understand the innovation environment and the key drivers and obstacles to fostering innovation

the main challenges facing the project are accessibility of the material the process of learning and contexualizing the course material as well as figuring out which institutions would use the materials in sub-Saharan African countries. She adds that apart from getting the information on-line students are to be sent hard copies to read which the trainees of the course find voluminous. Herbert Lwanga from Uganda who went through the course admits that for one to take the course he/she should be an avid reader. ‘’ This course is relevant in almost all Fields”, said Lwanga. But he was full of praise for what he learnt. He says the course helped him a lot since the company he is working for, Logel project limited customizes all the skills he obtained. ‘’I learnt how to structure research which I apply where I work in the research and development (R&D) arm of the company”, remarked Lwanga. ‘’ The wider project is focused around, health, agriculture and energy in the East African region,” said Dr. Hanlin.

Dr Kevit Desai, Director, Centurion Systems and Kenya’s representative to the Institute of Electrical Engineers gives a pep talk to young innovators at the Centurion offices.

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Efficacy of the TB vaccine in infants

iee card. About Open University The Open University is a world leader in modern distance learning, the pioneer of teaching and learning methods which enable people to achieve their career and life goals studying at times and in places to suit them. OU has had a special interest in Africa over the last two decades and it has partnered with governments, international agencies, training and education providers and local people to build capacity for the continent’s future. The University’s first partnerships were primarily for teaching courses. For further details visit: www.open.ac.uk About ACTS ACTS is noted for being the first African independent think-tank on the application of science and technology to development. ACTS

Some small innovators in rural Africa.

focuses mainly on development and influencing of policies that would help Africa find solutions to emerging new technologies and issues to do with Biotechnology, Biosafety, Climate Change and the Environment. The vision of the centre is knowledge for better livelihoods and the mission is to strengthen the capacity and policies of African countries and institutions to harness science and technology for sustainable development. The research activities of the Centre rotate around the core issues of Biodiversity and Environmental Governance, Energy and Water Security; Agriculture and Food Security and Science and Technology Literacy. Human Health is a cross cutting issue. For further details visit: www.acts.or.ke

Dutch biopharmaceutical company Crucell N.V. and the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation Wednesday announced the start of a Phase II clinical trial in infants of the jointly developed tuberculosis (TB) vaccine candidate, AERAS-402/Crucell Ad35. The main objective of the trial is to test the safety and efficacy of the TB vaccine candidate in infants previously vaccinated with the Bacille CalmetteGuérin (BCG) vaccine, which is currently the only vaccine licensed to help prevent TB.The first part of this clinical trial, which will be conducted in Kenya, will establish the optimal dosing regimen. The selected regimen will then be tested in the second part of the trial, which is planned to begin in 2011 in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa and Uganda. The Phase II study of AERAS-402/Crucell Ad35 is being led in Kenya by a joint research project of the Kenya Medical Research Institute and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the KEMRI/CDC Research and Public Health Collaboration. Participants from the Siaya District in Nyanza Province of Western Kenya will be enrolled. “Despite the availability of the BCG vaccine, 2 million men, women and children die from tuberculosis every year. We urgently need a new TB vaccine,” said Jim Connolly, President and CEO of the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation. “This clinical trial represents an important step in our collaboration among a global network of researchers and the people of Kenya, who continue to be at high-risk for TB infection.” “I am extremely pleased at the pace in which our work to develop a next generation vaccine against TB is progressing. Our successful collaboration with Aeras, enabling the initiation of yet another Phase II study, is an important step towards our ambition of reducing the global burden of this fatal disease,” said Jaap Goudsmit, Crucell’s Chief Scientific Officer. Kenya, ranked 13th on a list of 22 high-burden TB countries losses about 24,000 people annually. “The communities in which we work are hard hit by both TB and HIV/AIDS, two leading causes of mortality,” said Videlis Nduba, MD, MPH, Principal Investigator for the trial at KEMRI/ CDC Research and Public Health Collaboration. “We are pleased to apply our research expertise at this stage in the development of this vaccine—a vaccine which has undergone considerable early-stage safety testing.”


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AFRICAN SCIENCE

Kenya Agricultural Research Institute 12th KARI Biennial Scientific Conference

Theme: Transforming Agriculture for improved livelihoods through AgriculturalProduct Value Chains 1st Call for Papers About the Conference The Kenya Agricultural Research Institute announces the 12th KARI Biennial Scientific Conference. The conference has been organised in collaboration with other stakeholders in the agricultural industry and gives an opportunity to interested researchers to present their recent research findings. This brochure provides specifications of presentations for the conference. Date: 8th to 12th November 2010 Venue: KARI Headquarters Complex, Kaptagat Road, Loresho, Nairobi 1. Theme: “Transforming Agriculture for improved livelihoods through Agricultural Product Value Chains” Objectives 1. To share current agricultural research findings along agricultural product value chains with stakeholders 2. To enhance partnerships and strengthen linkages amongst stakeholders along agricultural product value chains 3. To share progress towards an integrated National Agricultural Research System (NARS) 4. To share current strategies and opportunities for coping with environmental degradation 5. To interactively create awareness of agricultural technologies, information, knowledge and products. Papers Those wishing to present papers should submit first drafts by 31st May 2010 which will be subjected to prescreening and peer review. Final copies of accepted papers should be submitted by 23rd July 2010. All papers should include: 1. 2.

Title and name(s), institutional affiliation(s) and complete mailing address(es) including e-mail of the author(s) with an indication of which author is responsible for correspondence. Abstract, Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusion, Recommendations, Acknowledgement and References.

Publication of Papers Papers presented at the conference will be published in a volume tentatively titled “Proceedings of the 12th KARI Biennial Scientific Conference”.

supplement Kenya Agricultural Research Institute

supplement Kenya Agricultural Research Institute

AFRICAN SCIENCE

Areas of Interest

Illustrations

Posters

The Conference will cover the following disciplines of scientific research relevant to the Conference theme: 1. Crops (Food, Horticultural and Industrial) 2. Livestock Health and Production 3. Biotechnology and genetic resources management 4. Sustainable and integrated management of natural resources 5. Socioeconomic and applied statistics; and Policy 6. Information, Documentation and Dissemination 7. Adaptive, outreach and partnerships methodologies and approaches 8. Other relevant areas. Authors are required to ensure that their presenta tions conform to the theme and in addition specify disciplines their papers covers.

No provisions shall be made for altering illustrations should be drawn on the same size as the page and be clearly labelled. Figure captions must be placed below it while all tables must have table headings. The tables should be done using the Microsoft Word table function. Both figures and tables must be placed where they are first referred in text.

There will be several poster sessions during the conference. Authors who prefer to make presentations in the poster sessions should specify this on submission of their papers. However, they should present their posters as papers for the initial submission. All posters should fit into a poster board measuring 33.11× 46.81 inches (A0). A good poster should:

References

1. Be simple, informative, visu ally appealing and attractive. 2. Be easy to read and under stand with relevant legend. 3. Contain text and illustrative matter harmoniously com bined to produce an effective presentation. 4. Tell the complete story.

Manuscript Requirements Manuscripts must be written in British English, typed on A4 size paper and not longer than 3,000 words double spaced pages typed in Times New Roman font size 12. Pages should be numbered consecutively. Numbers 1-10 should spelt out in text while 11 to infinity should be written out in numeral Where the numbers are at the of a sentence they should be spelt copies of all manuscripts should be in duplicate and soft (CD) copies in Windows 2003.

be form. beginning out. Hard submitted MS Word for

Cover, Title and Author The cover page should include the title of the paper, the names and complete mailing addresses of the authors with an indication of which author is responsible for correspondence. Include telephone, e-mail and fax numbers for ease of communication. The name of the author to present the paper should be underlined. The title of the paper should represent the content of the article and briefly identify the subject, indicate the purpose of the study and give important, high impact words early. Scientific and Common Names Scientific names must be given for each organism, followed by the authority, the first time the name is used. Names of the species and genera must be italicised. For other taxa, the first letter is capitalised but the names are not italicised. After the first mention, the generic name may be abbreviated provided it does not appear at the beginning of a sentence. The use of pesticide names should follow standard convention and the correct chemical name given the first time the pesticide is mentioned. Measurements should be in S.I. units. Equations should be done using Microsoft Equation Editor 3.1 or lower.

References in text should be by author and year e.g. authors with more than one publication per year should have a letter following their names after the second publication. If more than two authors are listed, the names of the first author should be given followed by “et al.” Names of journals should be spelled out in their entirety followed by the Volume Number (and Issue Number where available). Page numbers should be inclusive and follow a colon after the Volume Number. For books, give the title, the city of publication and the name of the publisher. Do not include number of pages unless you are referring to a section of the book. Three examples for a journal, book and website are given below. Mureithi J.G., Gachene C.K.K. and Ojiem J. (2003). The role of green manure legumes in smallholder farming systems in Kenya: The legume Research Network Project. Tropical and Subtropical Agroecosystems. 1, 57-70. Campbell C.N. and Madden L.V. (1990). Introduction to plant disease epidemiology. John Wiley and Sons, New York 532 pp. Koning R.E. (2004). Seeds and seed germination. Plant Physiology Information Website: http://koning.ecsu. ctstateu.edu/plants_human/seedgerm.html.

12

th

Biennial Scientific Conference

“Transforming Agriculture for improved livelihoods through Agricultural Product Value Chains” The Secretariat, KARI Biennial Scientific Conference, P O Box 57811- 00200 City Square, Nairobi, Kenya. Tel: (254 020) 4183302-20, Fax: (254 020) 4183344 E-mail:biennial.conference@kari.org biennial.conference@gmail.com

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NEWS SCAN wildlife conservation

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NEWS SCAN wildlife conservation

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27

Serengeti lodges

Wildbeest migration along Serengeti-Masai Mara national parks border. The decision by the government of Tanzania to build a highway through Serengeti has rattled scientists. (Inset: Migration camp)

Scientists plead for Serengeti 290 Scientists from 32 countries have signed a petition asking the government of Tanzania choose an alternate route around the Serengeti National Park, rather than building one through it. The petition is a reaction to the announced plans of the Tanzanian government to build a commercial route across the northern part of the Serengeti National Park. International and conservation organizations, the travel industry, and the public have protested the decision. Now scientists are speaking out. The petition, and accompanying survey, follows an article in the scientific journal, Nature, in which 27 leading scientists described the destruction the road would cause. The Petition of scientists states: “evidence from other parts of the world, combined with our deep understanding of the Serengeti ecosystem, makes it clear – the road will result in severe, negative, irreversible impacts, with

little mitigation possible.” The petition reiterates warnings by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in July of this year about specific negative impacts of the highway and adds, “the proposed road cuts through a critical wilderness area that is essential to the migration. The type of road surface matters little. The migration itself could easily collapse, with a devastating effect on all wildlife, the grasslands, and the entire ecosystem.” It instead asks that an alternative highway be found. “The government of Tanzania has to work for development and welfare in all areas of the country. But there is no need to sacrifice its most precious wilderness, or its income from tourism, or its heritage of conservation. An alternative can and must be found,” stated the petition. “Scientists, government officials, engineers, conservationists, economists, aid and lending

ten year study “The Serengeti is a unique and precious ecosystem - one of the very few large scale migratory systems of large animals remaining on the planet…A road across the migratory routes will devastate the system butalbital caffeine tb tablet.

institutions - all can study and work together to both protect the environment and help the people. This task is critical for both Tanzania and the world.” Included in the petition is a survey about likely negative impacts. Results clearly show that scientists believe these to be extremely serious. Many, in fact, concluded that the collapse of the wildebeest migration was likely or even inevitable. According to a survey conducted by stakeholders, 85% of respondents say the road will lead to disruption and obstruction of migration routes, 91% said the road will lead to introduction of invasive plants, animals, and disease. A further question on poaching show that 88% said there would be increased intensification of organized poaching, especially on the reintroduced rhino, while 87% said there would be loss of habitat from human settlement and agriculture. Dr. Anne Pusey, a professor at Duke University who studied lions in the Serengeti for ten years, wrote: “The Serengeti is a unique and precious ecosystem - one of the very few large scale migratory systems of large animals remaining on the planet…A road across the migratory routes will devastate the system for all the reasons listed in this [petition] letter and survey”. Traci Birge, a researcher from Finland echoed the thoughts of many in saying, “the proposed highway route would be devastating for the ecology of the Serengeti, and would have longterm negative effects on local residents, wildlife and ecology and would be a terrible blow for global biodiversity.” Scientists, including top experts in their field, are from more than fifty different universities, research, and conservation organizations. Scientific fields represented included: Wildlife

Biology, Conservation Biology, Zoology, Population Ecology, Reproductive Biology, Wildlife Epidemiology, and Biodiversity Management. Among the 32 countries represented are: UK, USA, Norway, Sweden, Hungary, Israel, Finland and Australia, and the African countries of South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Namibia, Kenya, and Tanzania. The petition and survey were conducted by Save the Serengeti, a nonprofit organization. Meanwhile, Kenya is known to be one of Africa’s home of the Safari. For over a hundred years Kenya has attracted adventurers and romantics from all over the globe. This has been the setting of some of history’s greatest adventure tales. This is the home of Out of Africa, a place where setting out on an adventure into the wilderness became an age old tradition. The desires of the Safari live on today. The romance of sundown drinks, of evenings around a campfire and nights under canvas with the distant roar of a lion in the African night can still be found in Kenya. The lure of Kenya has always been the same, the sheer variety of landscape, wildlife, human cultures and experience. No other African country can boast such diversity within its borders. The perturbing issue for the conservationist and the wildlife fanatics, is the raising numbers of poachers who kill the wild life with aims of getting ivory. The ivory is later sold to the middle east. This trend has left the world with a limited number of different species of animals in our game reserves. A project dubbed ‘Push to Talk on Cellular’ (PoC), has brought together Safaricom Ltd as the lead organization, Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association (GSMA)

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R& D

cassava

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Vitamin A Cassava to be Released

Tourists enjoy the scenic Serengeti

Scientists plea for Serengeti park Continue from Page 27

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Development Fund, Wireless Zeta Telecomunicaciones (Wireless ZT), Nokia, the Nokia Siemens Networks, and local conservation organizations. The early warning system combines the functionality of a walkie-talkie with a mobile phone. It enables communication between two individuals, or a group of people, and is particularly useful in connecting a user group. The communications manager at Kenya wildlife Service (KWS), Paul Udoto said, “the data collected helps to identify the season when wild animals migrate near human settlements”. Human-wildlife conflict has resulted in the deaths of more than 200 lions in the Amboseli and Tsavo ecosystems since 2001. Countrywide, the lion population dropped from an estimated 2,749 in 2002 to 2,280 in 2004 and 2000 animals by 2009, according to the KWS. A research and conservation group that is reaching unprotected areas to save the remaining lions and other predators, is working alongside KWS to address the conflict. Under its Lion Guardians project, the organisation is working with local communities to improve their livestock enclosures, change herding practices and educate them on lion movements, through an early warning system. Lions are often killed through poisoning, use of spears or guns in revenge for attacks on livestock.

Conservationists in Kenya say carbofuran is the most widely used pesticide to kill wildlife such as lions and leopards. Due to its high toxicity, carbofuran is not permitted for use in agriculture in the European Union and the US where it is manufactured. “The Amboseli National park lost 80 per cent of its herbivores to the drought as the worst in 26 years”, said KWS spokesperson Kentice Tikolo. The black rhino, Diceros bicornis, has declined across Africa in both numbers and range distribution. Its numbers plummeted from about 65,000 in 1970 to about 10,000 in the early 1980s. Although the rate of decline has reduced since late 1980s, the situation is still serious in all areas where the black rhino is still found naturally. Poaching for the horn has been, and continues to be, the major cause of the black rhino population decline. Currently, the total population of black rhino in Africa is estimated at 3100, according to African Rhino Specialist Group. The KWS has newly adopted a new management plan for rhino conservation in Kenya. The broad goals of the current strategy are to enhance rapid population growth of the black rhino population in Kenya through increased attention to biological management, in addition to law enforcement. Specifically, the goal is to increase the black rhino numbers by at least 5 per cent per annum and

Agriculture and health experts are holding talks in Ibadan to discuss the progress made in breeding new varieties of cassava that can provide Vitamin A through the diet. The nutritionally-improved cassava will give more Nigerians access to Vitamin A and help fight ‘hidden hunger.’ Pre-varietal release trials of the varieties across the country have proven that farmers find them irresistible. “Farmers love the varieties and the varieties have good culinary qualities. When you make lafun – cassava porridge—with it, it is very smooth,” says Chief Tola Adepomola, Vice President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, who is participating in the pre-release trials. “To us, the varieties save the cost of producing gari—a processed form of cassava. We do not need to buy palm oil to process yellow gari. We hope that these varieties will help solve the problem of Vitamin A deficiency and make farmers have more access to nutritious food,” he adds. Since cassava is eaten daily in most of Nigeria, these new varieties that have been bred to provide Vitamin A, could improve the nutrition for millions of Nigerians, says Harrie Hendrickx, HarvestPlus’ Head of Product Delivery. Currently, about thirty percent of children under 5 are at risk of Vitamin A deficiency and are at greater risk of childhood infections such as diarrhea diseases, measles, and eye damage (including blindness). Researchers are of the opinion that biofortification of key staples is an option to stem the trend especially among resource-poor farmers and children.

“We have seen fortication of Vitamin A in commodities such as sugar and flour but we feel the biofortification of staples such as cassava that is widely consumed will give the vulnerable groups more access to nutritious diet,” says Paul Ilona, HarvestPlus’ Country Crop Manager. Working with partners across the world, HarvestPlus, an international research organization, is leading the effort to improve the Vitamin A content of cassava using conventional plant breeding techniques. Partners including the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the International Institute for A chid sells cassava by a roadside in Nigeria. Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria (IITA), the Nigerian National improved varieties is ongoing. Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) and “The plan is to ensure that farmers have the private sector are part of the strategy to access to the varieties once officially released,” help ensure successful delivery, and adoption he says. The Oyo State Government backed the of Vitamin A cassava in Nigeria. “We are initiative to make the nutritionally-improved making good progress in reaching the target varieties available to its farmers, saying that levels we have set for Vitamin A in cassava, it would improve the nutritional status, food “Ilona adds. “Varieties with intermediate levels security and standard of living of its people. of Vitamin A will hopefully be released in 2011 “The government of Oyo State appreciates with varieties with even more Vitamin A in the your ingenuity and… We identify with breeding pipeline. This meeting will help make this programme. The promotion of cassava sure we are on track for that. The long-term with higher levels of pro-Vitamin A can goals are to ensure that millions of people have help to reduce Vitamin A deficiency among access to, and are using, Vitamin A cassava undernourished communities that rely on it varieties by 2018.” for sustenance,” says Kunle Ishola, Oyo State Dr Peter Kulakow, IITA Cassava Breeder, Commissioner for Agriculture in Nigeria. says the multiplication of the nutritionally-

biofortification We have seen fortication of Vitamin A in commodities such as sugar and flour but we feel the biofortification of staples such as cassava

Scientists in the field studying the performance of cassava.


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NEWS SCAN cancer

AFRICAN SCIENCE July 2010

NEWS SCAN cancer

AFRICAN SCIENCE July 2010

No national cancer control programme, over 18, 000 people die of tumor annually Dr Anselmy Opiyo, a consultant in clinical oncology and Chief Medical specialist, Cancer Treatment, Centre, Kenyatta, National Hospital.

cancer crisis in diffrent countries The world is facing a cancer crisis. Cancer kills more people than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. It is second only to heart disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 7.6 million people died of cancer in 2005. 84 million people, most of them in poor countries, will die in the next ten years if action is not taken now. More than one third of cancers can be prevented and another third are curable if detected early. But in many developing countries with over-burdened health systems, cancer is a low priority in terms of allocated resources, and there are few screening or prevention programmes. In low and middle income countries, about 70% of all cancer cases are diagnosed too late. At least $1 billion will be needed in the next decade if the developing world is to address this crisis. But the donor community and most bilateral development agencies do not, as yet, consider cancer control a high priority. Mammography unit which serves several purposes, not the least of which is getting out to rural areas and helping women get important mammograms and bone density screenings. This is the story in many countries in the developed nations. Not so in Africa.

By Henry Neondo

C

ancer cases are on the rise in Kenya but the country neither has a national cancer policy, nor a cancer control law. Worse, despite the fact that close to 18, 000 people are dying due to cancer annually, the government has no national cancer control programme in place. “The only documents the government uses to offer intervention if any on cancer is through using other related legislations like Tobacco Control Act 2007 and Alcohol to control legislation (2010)”, Dr. Ochiba M. Lukandu, Division of Non-Communicable Diseases, Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation said. Due to lack of government’s interest in taking cancer head on, the country has poor diagnostic services laboratory

and radiological. Neither does the government have any clear picture of the real magnitude of the cancer problem in the country. The figures often quoted are estimates arrived at by the Nairobi cancer registry run by the Kenya Medical Research Institute. There is no national cancer registry.These services are available mainly in the Nairobi and large towns but are limited in capacity. Dr Lukandu says there is only one public health facility providing radiotherapy services in the country and other methods of treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy are available but limited. The available radiotherapy centres handle 3,800 patients in a year. This is

Without a radical change in thinking, low-income countries will see more and more people dying prematurely and needlessly from cancer, with devastating social and economic consequences. way below the needs for the country. Dr Alsemy Opiyo, a consultant in clinical oncology and Chief Medical speacialsist, Cancer Treatment, Centre, Kenyatta, National Hospital, one of three referral hospitals in Kenya said patients referred from provincial and district hospitals have to wait for months before they can access services. He said at KNH weekly attendance includes about 40 new patients, 120 confirmed cases on follow up, 150 cases on radiotherapy and 80 cases on chemotherapy.There are only three machines (Cobalt 60) to cover 40 million people against a background of inadequate specialized manpower. The country only has four radiation oncologists, six medical oncologists, four pediatric oncologists and no trained surgical oncologists.

The picture is even worse when one looks at the supportive staff. There are only five radiation therapy technologists, two oncology nurses and two medical physicists. There are no peripheral (provincial) cancer treatment centres. There are over 30 hospices and palliative care centres supported by the government, NGOs and faith based organizations. Because of physical limitations and lowlevel of awareness on cancer among the public in terms of signs and symptoms and treatment options, risk factors and prevention measures, most patients present at an advanced stage. Even where there is stated cancer treatment, “if the facility is government, most likely it does not have medicines and where the medicines are found, mostly in private hospitals, the cost is very prohibitive”, said Prof N.A.OthienoAbinya of AgaKhan University Hospital.

31

According to Dr. Gladwell G. Kiarie, Consultant Medical Oncologist and Lecturer, Dept of Medicine, University Of Nairobi , the few number of trained medical personnel; pathologists, radiologists, oncologists, radiotherapists, nurses, counsellors, nutritionists, palliative care specialists, do not provide an environment for research support. Prof. S.B.O. Ojwang, professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Nairobi says cancer is not just a Kenyan problem. He says annually, Africa loses 62,000 women due to cervical cancer which is caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) for example. About 91 per cent of HPV related cancer deaths in the world are due to cancer of the cervix, the majority of them in developing countries. In Nairobi, 46 per cent of women who die in gynaecological wards are due to cervical cancer. In Harare, Zimbabwe, 67 women out of every 100, 000 die from gynecological cancers. He said cervical cancer in developing countries like Kenya, present late when very little can be done in the form of definitive treatment by surgery or radiotherapy. The WHO estimates that seven of every ten cancer deaths now occur in the developing world, amounting to 5.5 million cancer deaths annually. Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General, WHO warned that if no action is taken, cancer deaths in the developing world will continue to grow rapidly, reaching nearly 9 million in 2030. In the same period, cancer deaths in wealthy countries are expected to remain fairly stable. The scale of the cancer crisis in the developing world is “so huge” Dr. Chan explained, that “it is difficult to find the right way to measure it.” The crisis cannot be adequately explained with statistics. “You also need to measure the problem in terms of needless suffering.” The disease impoverishes the stricken and their families. Most developing nations’ “health systems are designed to cope with episodes of infectious disease,” and now must bear costs for chronic cancer care that are “simply crippling.” Developing countries do not have the resources to support an effective response to the epidemic, lacking capacity “for prevention, public education, screening and early detection, diagnosis and treatment, whether involving surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy,” she said. Underscoring the extent of the problem, Dr. Chan stated that the “IAEA has brought to world attention some 30 developing countries, including 15 in Africa, that do not possess even a single radiation therapy machine.” This in Kenya means that only 46 per cent of provincial hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa have capacity to surgically operate on patients with cervical carcinoma in East/Central Africa. Only 21 per cent had gynecologists able to perform the operation. For example, in Kenya, there are only two gynaecological oncologists. World wide in the year 2005, it was estimated that, there were about 500,000 newly diagnosed cases, and about 260000 deaths occurred due to the disease. Over 80 per cent of these deaths were from developing countries. Primary prevention is by vaccination

Continue to Page 35


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AGRICULTURE fruit trees

AFRICAN SCIENCE

AGRICULTURE fruit trees

AFRICAN SCIENCE

33

Significance Of Fruit trees Trees represent one of the important components of each and every terrestrial ecosystem and are a part of nature’s precious gifts. Some are deciduous; others are evergreen. Some have beautiful flowers; others have beautiful fruits or foliage. Some are scented; others are ugly but economically very important. The welfare of humankind is affected not only by their density and diversity but also by their direct and indirect values, which are beyond estimation. In fact, each letter of the plural word “TREES” has a logical meaning. Timber, the first and the foremost use of trees. Restoration, reclamation and rejuvenation of denuded and disturbed soils by using trees to control soil erosion and desertification, protect watersheds, improve soil nutrient status (by growing nitrogenfixing trees) and retain moisture in the soil. Ecological, ecodevelopmental and environmental use of trees for effective and efficient purification of the environment because trees act as oxygen banks and eliminate air pollutants; for abating or moderating temperature, noise and wind by planting trees as environmental screens, thus affecting the microclimate; for harboring wildlife; for maintaining biodiversity; and for conserving energy Educational and recreational value in gardening, landscaping, bioesthetic planning, art, culture and religion. Source of sustenance; i.e., food, fuel, fodder, fertilizer, fiber, medicine, tannin, dyes, oils, etc. Food; The typical feeding of the native African populations, and in particular of the children, essentially consists of vegetables and flour, and is poor of milk, hypocaloric and hypoproteinic. This potentially lead to development of rickets and cause organic dysfunctions as diarrhea and/or dysentery. The Baobab fruit pulp is used in the African countries as an effective anti-diarrhea product. A study conducted on 160 children, of the medium age of eight months, demonstrated that an aqueous solution of the Baobab fruit pulp, is significantly more effective than the traditional “WHO solution” for rehydration of children affected with diarrhea. The main constituents responsible of this activity is believed to be tannins (astringent effect), mucilage’s (absorbents), cellulose, citric acid and other typical constituent of the fruit pulp. Tamarind tree fruits. The fruits are used both as a beverage and herbs in many rural communities.

Analysis of Kenyan wild African fruit tree

Kenya has over 400 marginalized indigenous fruit species. A majority found in natural habitats are allegedly high in micronutrients that could help mitigate the prevailing micronutrient nutrahealth deficiencies. Thus conservation-by-use could enlarge the nutrahealth security basket as well as mitigate loss of the vanishing fruit species. Amplifying their nutrahealth value more as nutraceutical than wild species, and coupled with local level community-centred promotion for use and conservation, could stimulate the uncommon opportunities for decentralized and locale-specific community use and conservation. A study we conducted showed that potassium and copper densities were several-fold high in fruit tissues than in the accompanying soil possibly due to their effective element uptakeability. It is, however, unlikely that the uptakeability is root-length dependent as the same tendency was apparent in sorghum accessions

By Akundabweni LSM, Munene RW, Maina DM and JM Mangala similarly analysed. Equally fruit copper density in Rhus WF-31 from Kanduyi in Bungoma had 1,639% more than that of the soil suggesting a high soil mining effect. Soil to fruit tissue correlations were, however, low and/or statistically not significant suggesting that the extent of uptake-ability is influenced by several factors rather than the total soil mineral content. Thus conservation-by-use could enlarge the nutrahealth security basket as well as mitigate loss of the vanishing fruit species. In retrospect, value-adding nutrahealth research is needed to change the un-informed mind. Thus, the objectives of the study were to: (1) tag Mineral-Referred sites (MRS) influencing

Fruit Mineral-Density variation (FMDVAR) among Grewa, Rhus, Boabab and Jackfruit accessions; and (2) apply a nutrametric value (grading) test to classifying FMD variation (FMDVAR) within the realm of nutraceutical food, nutrition and health promise. Fruit portions with their tree trunk adjoining soils were collected in 2003/04 from KanduyiChwele-Nalondo (Bungoma) transect; Maseno-Esivalu (Maseno); and KasemeMasongaleni (Kibwezi) and subjected to XRF analysis at the Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology in the University of Nairobi. A Clustered-Bar-Graphing test was used to obtain Ca, K, Fe, Zn, Cu, Mn as variationpicking elements which were turned into MRS X-variables upon which fruit species mineraldensity variation was determined. There was no accession with ‘all-winner’ elements. In density terms some minerals were top while others were variably low. High

uptakeability of elements in the tree species such as demonstrated by Rhus may be indicative of their soil-mining (a depletion effect) and/or fruit accumulation (a nutrahealth plus) tendency. On the overall, nutrametric valuation (NTV) confirmed that Rhus and Ficus had highest fruit micronutrient variation relative to Jackfruit and Boabab. NTV clusters did not show a one-to-one soil-to-plant element matching between plant and soil mineral content. Plant micronutrient patterns show the potential for exploiting the indigenous trees for development of nutrahealth cropping. In the context of micronutrient-based food security, XRF analysed differences across regions, species and crop types point to the robustness of XRF spectroscopy as a planning tool for mineral-rich micronutrient de-marginalization in the underutilized/ neglected or orphaned indigenous fruit genetic resources. Such tools have potential to contribute to the popularisation, exchange of seed and future commercialization of the mineral-rich variants. Furthermore, micronutrient work is required for awareness creation to promote the potential multi-purpose benefits especially in the arid and semi-arid areas where children and adults snack on natures’ phytodiversity or turn to the said resources during hunger periods. The multielemental aspect of this technique is novel in the sense that it generates data for several elements at once; an aspect difficult

Baobab drink Baobab fruit pulp, is significantly more effective than the traditional “WHO solution” for rehydration of children affected with diarrhea to achieve with conventional wet chemistry based techniques. The desired mineral macro and micronutrients can be targeted for nutraceutical phyto-diversity variation among unknown populations. Such phyto-diversity is of importance in plant domestication and/or commercial product development. The African Cereal-Vegetable-Fruit cultigroups constituting 7,100 species in Kenya are core to Kenya’s indigenous food habits nutrahealth and are folklore. The yet to be fully utilized 400 fruit species (Maundu- personal communication) cultigroup genetic resource is a potential source of wood fuel or timber, health remediation (medicinal), perennial yielding, eco-aesthetic, socio-economically aligned and as a source

The Baobab fruit pulp is used in the African countries as an effective anti-diarrhea product. of food and feed. Mitigation of HIV/AIDS severity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other adverse consequences of the nutrition transition have been cited in instances of the Cereal-Vegetable-Fruit potential. However, much of the potential, particularly the micronutrient density still remains unknown leading to an imbalance between non-food tree arable efforts and agroforestry. In effect, beneficial effects to vulnerable groups such as children, expectant mothers and the poor still remain wanting. The following is a brief on the tree species and fruit potentials. The study was funded by the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) and


NEWS SCAN cancer

AFRICAN SCIENCE July 2010

35

Cancer cases on the rise Continue from Page 31 either by Cervarix, genotypes 16 and 18 of Glaxo Smith Klins(GSK) or Gardasil, genotypes 6,11,16,18 of Mark and Co. Type 16 and 18 responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancer cases and subtypes 6 and 11 responsible for 90 percent of genital warts. Both vaccines do not have genetic material and therefore the virus cannot be transmitted to the recipients. Prof Ojwang says in resource restricted areas of the world like Kenya, cancer of the cervix is the leading cause of death in women dying from cancers. He suggests that life style change, especially in the area of reproductive health can lead to some reduction of cancer of the cervix. He says the vaccines are highly affective and can prevent up to 70 percent of cervical cancer in those women who are not infected with HPV and suggests that vaccination for HPV should be introduced in Kenya as a part of routine vaccination schedules. Pap screening of women costing about Ksh 150 (US$1.5) at the KNH should be expanded to complement vaccination when it is introduced.

These patients, on an appointment for radiotherapy have to wait for up to six months before they could be assisted. At that time, confesses Dr Opiyo, what could have been a simple case could have multiplied to complications.

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36

NEWS SCAN appointment

AFRICAN SCIENCE July 2010

Opportunity beckons The Norman E. Borlaug Leadership Enhancement in Agriculture Program (Borlaug LEAP), a fellowship program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to enhance the quality of thesis research of graduate students from developing countries has called for applications for the sub-Saharan African students conducting research on hunger and food security initiative. The focus region is sub-Saharan Africa. All topics related to agriculture and food security are admissible. According to a statement released to announce the fellowship, the applicants must be people who show strong promise as leaders in the field of agriculture and related disciplines as defined by Title XII. LEAP is part of the overall Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellows Program sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Borlaug LEAP Fellowship supports engaging a mentor at a Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) system center to support and enhance the thesis research and mentoring experience. Awards are made on a competitive basis to students who show strong scientific and leadership potential, have a well coordinated proposal between their home university, a US university mentor, and the CGIAR mentor, and whose research is related to a strong research and support

project within the host country. Emphasis is placed on work that has relevance to the national development of the student’s home country. Currently there are two limited release Request for Applilcations (RFAs): * Applications are requested for subSaharan African students conducting research on topics related to USAID’s global hunger and food security initiative. * Applications are requested for developing country students conducting research in partnership with CRSPs (Collaborative Research Support Programs). The focus region is global. All topics related to agriculture (as defined by Title XII) and CRSP priorities are admissible. Due date for applications is November 1, 2010.

The late, Dr Borlaug.

Invest in research, innovations: Africa told

As majority of countries experience rapid economic growth, African governments should capitalize on the windfall to finance a range of innovations in healthcare. Experts gathered in Nairobi for the third stakeholders meeting of the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI), contend that strong legal and policy instruments accompanied by increased funding are key to propelling Africa’s nascent pharmaceutical industry. ANDI is an Africa-led initiative that aims at strengthening innovation for the development of essential medicines and other products to meet the health needs of the continent. The initiative is hosted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), while the African Development Bank (AFDB) provided seed money for its establishment. Participants, drawn from clinical researchers, policymakers and representatives of pharmaceutical industry attending the Nairobi meeting emphasized on the need to forge

strategic partnerships in order to achieve greater impact on research activities to the health sector in Africa. As such, there is need to identify promising research and innovations from individuals and institutions that would form the building block for a robust pharmaceutical industry in the continent. Kenya’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Local Government, Musalia Mudavadi, in his opening remarks underscored the need for an “Africa-owned initiative to promote innovation for development of pharmaceuticals and other products tailored for the needs of

the continent”. He decried limited access to essential drugs and other health products by majority of the population in Africa. At the same time, noted the Deputy Prime Minister, “research and development targeting diseases that predominantly affect poor countries is grossly inadequate”. It is widely acknowledged that there is huge untapped potential for health research and development in Africa. “This is despite earlier declarations that governments should allocate at least 2% of national health expenditures and at least 5%

AFRICAN SCIENCE

UNESCO World Heritage List

Heritage list: Millions could face water crisis By david njagi

Who is eligible to apply? An eligible candidate for a Borlaug LEAP grant must be a citizen of a USAID-assisted country, currently enrolled as an MS or PhD student at a U.S. or developing country university and fluent in reading, writing and speaking English (with a TOEFL score 500 or above) In addition, eligible candidates will have completed at least one year of graduate level course work in the graduate program the applicant is currently enrolled in with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

AGRICULTURE disease control

The push by Kenya in March this year to list lakes sitting along the Great Rift Valley in the UNESCO World Heritage List (WHL) has experts worried the move could put a drain on the region’s water needs. Although the move would elevate aquatic bodies to a level where they are protected through global conservation funds, Kenya’s Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) is expressing concern that this could constrain water supply for both individual and institutional use. In an earlier report, WRMA gave evidence of the alarming rate at which the water bodies are receding due to the effects of climate change, putting some six million people and billions of cash in investments at an unpredictable ladder. According to the report, lakes sitting along the Rift Valley belt are shrinking at a rate of 40 to 50 per cent due to climate change, although other reports indicate that human encroachment has already eaten up a big share of the ecosystem’s water reservoirs. Kimeu Musau, the WRMA sub regional manager said 37.5 per cent of the lakes in the region are fresh water bodies and have over the years

provided water for both domestic and industrial use, although other salt water lakes have also served residents after going through desalination. For instance, through the Catholic Diocese de-fluoridation units in Nakuru town, which is also the biggest urban center in Kenya’s Rift Valley Province, water obtained from Lake Baringo has over the years been purified to serve both domestic users and pastoralists. While this is the case, says Musau, Lake Naivasha, the largest of the fresh water lakes in the region and which also feeds a multi million dollar horticultural industry has over the years supported residents through provision of surface and borehole water. Kenya has already presented Lakes Nakuru, Bogoria and Elmentaita for inclusion in the UN agency heritage list, but the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources says other lakes sitting on the belt are slated to enter the prestigious inventory because of their rich biodiversity. According to Lawrence Lenayapa, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, the lakes are part of the 200 global eco regions in Africa being eyed by adoption by the World Wide Fund. “This means that once they join the global list, they cease to be the property of the host country,” Lenayapa said. Other water bodies that Musau names as being of economic importance in the region include Lake Magadi which is exploited for its soda ash and Lake Turkana, which is widely consumed for domestic use by the pastoralist communities, due to is fresh water taste. The Lakes in Kenya’s Rift Valley include; Turkana, Logipi, Baringo, Bogoria, Nakuru, Elmentaita, Naivasha and Magadi.

Fishing on Lake Naivasha

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USD290 needed to fight TB

Advocate against TB

USD290m strategy to combat TB

Kenya, ranked 13th among the most Tuberculosis-burdened nations of the world, has recently launched a USD292 million new strategic five years’ plan that would the country provide effective response to TB, leprosy and other lung diseases. Dr Joseph Sitienei, Head of the Division of Leprosy, Tuberculosis and Lung health said the plan builds upon all previous plans as implemented in the country over the last 20 years whose successes include attainment of the global targets of 70% TB case detection and 85% treatment success rates. He however said a major new focal area for Kenya will be streamlining the management and control of lung diseases like asthma, tobacco-related illnesses. According to Sitienei, the country has 110, 000 cases of TB notification per year and about 44% of these cases are con-infected with HIV. WHO estimates that there were at least 2000 cases of MDR-TB in Kenya in 2009 of whom only 150 cases have been identified and notified. Of these, 110 patients have been initiated on treatment , 19 of who have reportedly been cured with 20 either defaulting or dead. Last year, the country reported one XDRTB case who has since died. Meanwhile, Nigeria, fourth among the 22 high TB burden countries in the world, and first in Africa is in danger of a TB epidemic, a TB expert has warned. Dr. Suraj Abdulkarim of the TB and Leprosy unit of Gombe State Ministry of Health who doubles as Programme Manager of the Netherlands TBL Control in the state, warned that TB might just be another challenging issue for the country .


38

ITechnologyiHUB launch

AFRICAN SCIENCE July 2010

Students attend a ihub technology session

Ihub centre is a new milestone in regional economy status Ever thought that Nairobi could one day become a world-class hub for tech wizards similar to Silicon Valley or Bangalore? The probability rings in the affirmative as evidence from a newly launched innovation hub points. Modelled on the basic premise that creative genius is abundant in Kenya and there is need to harness it for posterity, the Ihub centre set a new milestone in the Country’s drive towards knowledge economy status. This is good news to aspiring young innovators who previously lacked a platform to experiment with robust ideas and come up with varied solutions to everyday challenges. Ihub centre situated in the northern suburbs of Nairobi is a point of call for software engineers, web designers, programmers and a wide array of tech geeks. They assemble at the premises to brainstorm on ideas and best practices that should be harnessed to develop solutions on varied human challenges using technological platforms. Ihub seeks to become a depository for budding talent in the information, communication and technology domain to

spur innovations that have competitive edge globally. This innovation hub was launched this year and is funded by different donors through USHAHIDI, a not for profit social activism site created by budding Kenyan innovators at the height of 2007 post election violence. The site enabled Kenyans to post incidents of violence, riots, arson and other forms of thuggery in their locality. Hamilton Juma, Community Manager at Ihub says that membership to this centre of innovation is growing as young Kenyans find

tech wizards Ihub will showcase world class innovation to attract venture capitalist

a platform to channel their creative ideas. Ihub has recruited approximately one thousand virtual members and hosts forty in house members every day. Membership is free on condition that visitors demonstrate genuine commitment to utilize available technological platforms to develop solutions beneficial to society. It is hoped that by creating a platform for an assorted calibre of tech wizards, Ihub will showcase world class innovation to attract venture capitalist to invest in start ups locally. At the same time, Juma tells AS, “Ihub will create opportunities in business process outsourcing (BPO) where foreign firms can tap abundant local skills in web design and development as well as programming”. Kenya has reached a threshold in becoming an information and communication technology hub. Juma says that “Kenya is competing at the same level with South Africa as a destination for software developers and programmers”. He adds that the laying of fibre optic, conducive policy and legislative environment will accelerate attainment of knowledge economy goals.



African science