Monday, November 27, 2006

World Aids Day

The message for World Aids Day this year stresses the need for all to play a part in addresing the HIV/Aids pandemic. The facts are horrorfying:

Around forty million people are living with HIV throughout the world - and that number increases in every region every day. In the UK alone, more than 60,000 people are living with HIV and more than 7,000 more are diagnosed every year. Ignorance and prejudice are fuelling the spread of a preventable disease.

World AIDS Day, 1 December is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

This year, it's up to you, me and us to stop the spread of HIV and end prejudice.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

World Aids Day - Red Ribbons

If you are intesrested in supporting the Thembinkosi Foundation's projects in Zambia then please visit our shop where you can buy excellent quality Enamel Red Ribbon badges to wear on Worlds Aids Day (or even everyday as I do myself.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

World Aids Day

World Aids Day is almost upon us.

For more information on this day of enormous importance follow the HIV/Aids links on this site and visit and for recent stats on the HIV/Aids pandemic.

For a more personal view of the affects of HIV/Aids visit my earlier posts - perhaps the most harrowing of which is Boipelo's Story.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Drinking and driving in Sub-Saharan Africa

Drinking and driving is part of the culture for many people (nearly always men) in the parts of Sub-Saharan Africa that I know best. Whilst living in Botswana my wife and I used to frequent Area L. Area L basically consists of a large car park surrounded on three sides by bars and butcheries. Every night of the week trade is brisk and at weekends the area is packed. Groups of people arrive by car, quite often 4x4's, buy their beer and braai (BBQ) their meat. There is a great atmosphere and it is a scene which can be found in its different guises all over the region. People will eventually move on from the area to other bars in the city - and virtually everyone will travel by car. The practice of taking one's car when going out drinking and then of driving from one bar to another is a cultural norm that few people challenge.

Furthermore, it is common, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, to see guys driving around town drinking a beer. Some of these guys will have driven into town from villages over 100km's away. They will have been drinking on route and they will be drinking on their journey home. The police, if truth be told, do little to respond to this situation. They will turn a blind eye because they do the same thing themselves when they are off duty, they know the guys driving around under the influence of alcohol (or they have mutual friends/aquantances) or they are bribed for a few Pula.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Animals on the roads in Africa

You can smell them a few miles off. The decomposing carcasses of cattle and donkeys littering the highway. I used to drive 40km's to work - from Francistown to Tonota - on the main carriageway that runs north to south across the east of Botswana. On many mornings I would encounter this hideous smell. The smell would last for days until the carcass had been picked clean by the vultures.

When one got the whiff of death in the nostrils one knew what had happened. An animal roaming on the road had been hit and killed by a vehicle. Often this would result in the death of the driver and passangers. Sometimes the driver may have been speeding - very unwise at night time in Bots but if the bloody animals weren't on the road then dozens of deaths could be avoided every year! The situation is ridiculous. Farmers, on the whole, do not take responsibilitiy for their livestock. Animals roam freely and often wander into the road. This is a problem all over the country but it is at its worst on the main carriageways. Government can easily address the situation by holding farmers to account for the movements of their animals and by errecting fences along the side of the road. One doesn't have to be a genius to realise that this would in itself reduce the number of fatalities on the roads but nothing is ever done about it!!!

Strangely the neighbouring countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe - which are nowhere near as wealth as Botswana do not have a problem with animals roaming on their roads. I wish Botswana would take the situation as seriously as her neighbours!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Road traffic accidents in Southern Africa

Road traffic accidents are a big killer across Sub-Saharan Africa. Amazingly Road Traffic Accidents is Africa's third biggest killer! It is amazing just how many people lose their lives or are seriously injured in accidents across the region. A look through any of Africa's newspapers will reveal that they happen with depressing regularity.
Despite public outrage at the time, little seems to happen to ensure safety on the roads.
Governments frequently lack the political will or the funds to improve the situation.

In Botswana, for example, accidents are caused by factors that affect most of the region. Poor roads, animals roaming on major carriageways, excessive speed, badly maintained vehicles and worst of all, drink driving, contribute to the situation. Botswana, as a relatively wealthy country has more scope to deal with the situation than her neighbours but whether its the lack of political will or the complacency of the people little is done to address the situation.

The road that connect Lobaste in the extreme south east to Kazungula in the north runs well over 1000km's, through the cities of Gaboronne and Francistown, as well as the heaviest populated villages in the country. The road is fairly well maintained. There are stretches which are in need of repair but on the whole the road is good. However, the road sees dozens of fatalities every year.