Ebola, Bushmeat Prohibition, and Health Education

By Jing Jin and Caitlin Allmaier

According to a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report, Ebola has claimed nearly 2300 lives across West Africa, marking the worst outbreak on record. While providing emergency food and health aid is necessary for managing the ongoing crisis, it is important to look forward and consider strategies for rebuilding affected communities. One key point of breakdown in understanding occurs at the juncture of cultural tradition and health education.  Traditional burial practices, gender roles, and food consumption have all contributed to the severity of the current Ebola outbreak.  As health professionals work on education and target behavioral change to reduce the risk of future Ebola outbreaks, there must be an understanding of existing social and cultural norms.

One cultural norm that has been pegged as a potential line of transmission for the current Ebola outbreak is the consumption of wild game, colloquially known as “bushmeat.”  Bushmeat is a term that covers everything from caterpillars to elephant meat, and is a traditional and relatively abundant source of low-cost protein in many parts of Central and West Africa. Ebola is thought to originate with fruit bats, and can be spread to other animals via direct contact, including humans.  The hunting, butchering, or eating of infected animals can result in infection.

Assorted bushmeat on the side of the road in Ghana

Bushmeat can transmit Ebola, but is a crucial source of protein across much of Africa

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The Weekly Round Up

This week in development…

Women in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, preparing food for distribution to undernourished children and their mothers. Photo taken from DFATD|MAECD's flickr photostream used under a creative commons license.

Women in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, preparing food for distribution to undernourished children and their mothers. Photo taken from DFATD|MAECD’s flickr photostream used under a creative commons license.

  • The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation announced on Wednesday that it would donate $50 million to fight Ebola. The money will go to organizations already involved in the emergency response, including certain U.N. agencies, other international organizations, and various West African governments.
  • The pentagon announced it would construct a 25 bed field hospital in Liberia. The U.S. Agency for International Development requested the hospital, and will require a $22 million commitment. There are currently no plans for American personnel to staff the hospital after it is established; Army Colonel Steve Warren said that upon completion of the hospital the Department of Defense will “turn it over to the government of Liberia and then the DoD personnel will depart.”

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Ukrainian Activist and Pop-Star Ruslana Lyzhychko at CSIS

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Ruslana spoke at CSIS on September 10

Who is she?

Ruslana became a prominent figure in the Euromaidan movement through her nightly performances on the front lines of the protests. She currently leads efforts to support internally displaced persons from Crimea and the Donbas and performs for Ukrainian troops in Eastern Ukraine. In January 2014, Ruslana testified at the European Union’s European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), which contributed to a resolution in support of Ukrainian civil society. Ruslana has traveled throughout Europe to increase international support and awareness of events in Ukraine. She previously served as a Member of Parliament for the Our Ukraine party from 2006-2007 and was actively engaged in the 2004 Orange Revolution. Continue reading

Four Takeaways from the 2013 U.N. Procurement Report

By Charles Rice and Julia Marvin

The U.N. released its 2013 Annual Statistical Report on Procurement on July 10, and the report provides some useful insights into trends in U.N. procurement practice.  As defined by the CSIS Report, A New Development Agenda, procurement is the “purchasing of goods and services, including all government expenditures except staff costs and transfer payments, for the benefit of a government agency or other public authority.” In recent years, there has been a recognition of procurement’s potential development impact, particularly when sourced from emerging or transition economies.

  1. Total United Nations Procurement is growing

United Nations procurement rose again this year to $16.08 billion, and has risen a total of 16.6 percent since 2009.  UN and global procurement spending continues to grow, meaning there is a greater potential development impact from responsible and sustainably sourced procurement.  Sourcing procurement from developing and transition economies offers economic opportunity to local vendors, but also a window to increase transparency, efficiency, and fairness in the public procurement systems of developing economies.  As the U.N. begins to consider procurement in relation to its broader mandate, we can expect procurement to be a development focus for years to come.

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One Country, Two Systems: Democracy and Unrest in Hong Kong

By Charles Rice and Jing Jin

On August 31, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee announced that any candidate participating in the 2017 elections for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive position will require support from at least 50 percent of a “broadly representative” nominating committee. Presumably, the committee be composed of Pro-Beijing interests, and will wield de facto power to select Hong Kong’s new Chief Executive. The announcement has spurred a new round of civil unrest across Hong Kong, and comes at the end of a summer which saw hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy protesters take to the streets.

HK Skyline

Hong Kong faces stark questions regarding the place of Democracy in its future

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