Elizabeth Dickinson is a journalist. She has served as assistant managing editor at Foreign Policy magazine in Washington D.C. and Nigeria correspondent for The Economist, reporting from five continents. In addition, her writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, the New York Times, The New Republic, IRIN News, AllAfrica.com, the International Herald Tribune, Newsweek International, The National, and the Mail and Guardian. She is regularly a guest on NPR affiliate stations, the BBC, ABC News, France24, Sirius XM radio, and Washington's WTOP.
Dickinson previously held internships with the Wall Street Journal in Brussels and the New York Times' West Africa bureau in Dakar. She speaks French, Spanish, Krio, and enough Yoruba for party tricks. An avid runner, Elizabeth holds a B.A. in African and International Studies from Yale University. She is based out of her suitcase.
Twenty years after Brazil hosted the first international summit on sustainable development, the rising-star South American nation is playing host to the United Nation's conference once again. The so-called Rio+20 summit, which began on June 20, is the culmination of literally decades of environmental policy, projects, and new thinking about the way that humans exist on the planet. "It is...in everyone's interest that all countries, not just some or even most of them, advance towards sustainable development," summit Secretary General Sha Zukang reminded audiences in his opening remarks on Wednesday. "This is one planet—with one common future."
The first-ever African Human Development Report, released today in Nairobi, begins with a paradox: Sub-Saharan Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies and most lush agricultural land, but it is also home to the largest group of hungry, undernourished and malnourished people on Earth. One in four people living in the region is undernourished. In each of two regions - the Sahel of Western Africa and the Horn of East Africa - 15 million people don’t have enough to eat. As UN Development Program Administrator Helen Clark said at the report’s launch, “Impressive GDP growth rates in Africa have not translated into the elimination of hunger and malnutrition.”
“Towards a Food Secure Future,” a report of nearly 200 pages, attempts to explain how hunger has persisted in an otherwise up-and-coming region. Historical legacies, bad policies, decades of inattention to agriculture, and massive inequality are just a few of the factors holding back access to nutrition across the continent. In other words, the problems are structural - built into the very food systems that are now broken. Fixing them, the report argues, will take a combination of technological, political and social interventions.
Early last week, the government of Bhutan hosted a high-level UN summit on a topic that isn’t often discussed in the usually serious halls of Turtle Bay: well-being and happiness. The South Asian country, nestled between India, China, and Bangladesh, has never been keen on measuring itself the way most countries do: the size of their economies. They prefer a different measure: Gross National Happiness.
Almost as soon as the global financial crisis struck in 2008, policymakers began raising concerns that recession could start to undo the gains in poverty reduction of the last decade. The World Bank warned that some 100 million people could fall below the poverty line as a result of the crisis. By 2009, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) worried that extreme poverty, malnutrition and poor health could set back the development of millions of children. Meanwhile, advocates worldwide knew that international aid budgets would likely be among the first items cut when governments implemented austerity measures.
In the sandy Sahel desert of WestAfrica, a perfect storm of humanitarian crises threatens to destabilize afragile region. The pressures start locally: A drier-than-normal year squeezedharvests, and food supplies are dwindling. Meanwhile, guns and people thatexited Libya's revolution are now slipping back into Mali, Niger, Mauritania,Chad, and parts of Nigeria and Burkina Faso. Fighters who once stood by Libyanleader Muammar Al-Qadhafi have turned to causes closer to home, bringing theirweapons with them. Civilians are returning from Libya too, ending years ofremittances that had been vital to struggling families back home.
A decade ago, countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America leapfrogged over the West in telecommunications. After years of struggling to install the elaborate infrastructure for landline telephones and cable Internet, the global south is now home to the world's most enthusiastic cellular phone users. Today, many countries in these regions far outstrip the West in mobile technology.
The two-year anniversary of an earthquake that devastated Haiti passed solemnly on the island nation this weekend. Haiti has seen incredible progress in the last two years, under trying conditions. But the challenges ahead are equally daunting. In a state of the Union address on January 9, Michel Martelly, beseeched Haitians to come together and change. “The Haiti that was the sum of internal strife, murder, kidnapping, embargo, anarchy, chaos, environmental destruction, selfishness, greed: This is Haiti, it is necessary that it changes!” he told parliamentarians. “It is this quest for a better Haiti for her children, that today we must mold.”