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Archive for the ‘Socio-Political’ Category

Urbanization in Asia

Image by United Nations Photo via Flickr

Globalisation:  Dominance and Resistance

The conventional objection to globalisation has been that global trading rules favour rich countries and disadvantage poor ones.  Sure the WTO provided a framework of global trading rules, but these rules block African countries from developing domestic industries.  For example, African agriculture is blocked from Western markets by rules designed to preserve the livelihoods of Western farmers.  Another example is the lack of an African manufacturing sector owing to the massive importation of second-hand clothes from developed countries.  The belief that global trade regimes favoured developed countries led to a North-South divide in WTO negotiations.  How could the ‘South’ ever dislodge northern dominance?

But conventional wisdom has changed.  Cracks have appeared in the dominance of global trade by ‘Northern’ countries.  The challenge has come from a bloc known as BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China).  BRIC represents the future of global trade, with economies of scale that cannot be matched by the shrinking populations of North America and Europe.

Globalisation has led to changes in the way the humans live.  One change has been the urbanisation of the world’s population.  Rural populations have gradually been moving into cities.  Cities have been expanding into what was once good farmland.  Growing urban populations have put pressure on the supply of adequate housing, employment, education and sanitation.  In the Afar I am moving to a town of 20 000 called Asaita (alternately spelled Asayita).  Asaita is in an area that has traditionally been inhabited by the pastoralist Afar people.  It will be interesting to see how the people are dealing with the pressures of urbanisation.

A potential downside of urbanisation is the spread of disease.  Running a city requires good organisational capacity.  How will clean water be supplied to the people?  How will rubbish be removed?  Alongside these sanitation issues there is the spread of HIV/AIDS.  The movement of people and urbanisation have produced good conditions for the spread of disease.   Movement of people has also led countries like Canada and Australia to restrict the movement of people from less-developed countries.

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An Afar home

Image by Terri O'Sullivan via Flickr

This video is an interesting glimpse into the Afar region.  The first 5-10 minutes introduce the British star and her issues, but village life looks interesting.  Those girls sure work hard.  I bear in mind that I am going to a regional centre of about 20 000, so I doubt if this is very indicative of what life will be like for me.  Eye-opening glimpse into the lives of people who come to the market though.

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UNFPA – Abandoning Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation in the Afar Region of Ethiopia.

One of the more daunting social issues in the region is a tradition of Female Genital Cutting.  Not the most pleasant topic.

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BBC NEWS | In Pictures | In pictures: Ethiopia’s Afar region.

These pictures show the region…and one of its potential dangers.

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Lower Valley of the Awash – UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Lower Valley of the Awash - UNESCO World Heritage Centre

The Lower Valley of the Awash has an important claim to fame in the field of paleontology:  the skeleton known as ‘Lucy’ was discovered there.  This distinction has earned the area recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Asaita

Asaita is in the lower valley of the Awash River.  It is very near the border with Djibouti and Lake Abbe.  The map below gives a good idea of where the city lies, though Asaita is not explicitly marked on the map:

Asaita is near Lake Abbe

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Afar Region

The Afar region is in the Ethiopian lowlands and runs north into the Danakil Depression.  The Danakil Depression is reportedly the hottest place on Earth.

Afar Region - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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