Posts Tagged ‘SCOUT BANANA’

Tuesday Talks: water is life & the key to health

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Malnutrition and water are HUGE issues when it comes to health. Listen to the interview with Jim Hocking of ICDI. The video covers some potentially disturbing, but everyday health problems associated with malnutrition and water. In 2007 SCOUT BANANA organized a Year of Water Project in Michigan with twelve different universities and colleges participating to raise almost $8000 while educating over 50,000 students in Michigan. The work of Charity:Water benefited from the project and they continue to take incredible actions! Learn more about why good food and clean water are essential to good health.

Hunger in Africa – Poverty, Drought, Corruption – Give a Hungry Man a Fish and He Lives for a Day

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Hunger is a monstrous crisis. And like many current crises, it is unnecessary. “World agriculture produces 17% more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70% population increase. This is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories per person per day” (FAO 2002 p.9). Regardless, there are over 1.02 billion malnourished people worldwide. This represents a 17% increase in the number of malnourished from 2006. Things are not getting better. They have gotten worse. The recent global financial slump has contributed to the increase in malnourished populations; however, it is only a recent contribution and the more enduring issues of systemic poverty, conflict, and climate change have played a crucial role in perpetuating global hunger. Though there is sufficient food to feed the world over, solving global hunger is more than a matter of redistribution. The social and economic systems that sustain global hunger must be curbed and local solutions carried out. There is hope and a lighthouse guiding the world to the alleviation of hunger. We know from our past actions what has failed and we know from foresight what will prevail. The state of world hunger seems to be deteriorating, but I have hope and faith that, with the smart aid, hunger (specifically in Africa) can be curtailed, diminished, and eradicated.


In Africa alone, 307 million people are malnourished. Forty-two nations receive aid from the World Food Programme and other Western powers pour billions, into ending global hunger. Just this past July, Obama pooled $20 billion from the world’s richest nations to be used for the reduction hunger in Africa. Yet, Ethiopia (one of the world’s largest recipients of aid) still has 6.2 million malnourished people in it’s country. Sudan, Somalia, Niger, and Chad, too receive plush amounts of aid, yet have devastating numbers of malnourished. Kenya, one of the most developed nations on the continent as well as a large receiver of aid, has 3.6 million malnourished people and that number is expected to rise. The problem is obviously not lack of money. The problem is misdirected use of money and an perpetuating intersection of poverty, drought, and corruption.

Poverty is the principle cause of  hunger – as well as a direct effect of hunger. Poverty and hunger are so entwined that neither can be solved individually. Without money, farmers lack the buying power to purchase seed, farming tools, and fertilizer. Without these necessities, they are unable to produce a sufficient food to turn a profit. The effect of this is two fold. The farmer’s poverty and hunger grows and the reduced supply of food to urban markets increases the prices, pulling urban poor who are unable to purchase the higher-priced food into malnourishment and hunger. Furthermore, drought exacerbates the problem.

The drought and subsequent famine of 1984 in Ethiopia claimed over a million lives. While some say that the drought never left, it is evident that the drought has returned with a full-fledged famine. There are currently 6.2 million people in Ethiopia who are malnourished and the famine is expected to raise that number to 14 million – in Ethiopia alone. In Kenya, the famine has severely threatened the lives of 3.6 million people. And Somalia has another 3.8 million people affected. In total, there are 23 million people in the Horn of Africa and Eastern Africa who have been affected. There is simply not enough water to produce a good harvest. And when rain does arrive, the sun-baked earth does not immediately absorb the water, rather causes flash floods and outbreaks of cholera. Farmers can’t grow enough food to even feed their family. They are forced to cultivate cash crops in hope of turning a minimum profit with which they can buy fertilizer that will hopefully provide a better harvest next season. “They are essentially going hungry so that they can feed the country.” But even those in urban settings do not walk away unscathed. They must compete for jobs in slums so that they can pay the inflated food prices. Furthermore, the hungry in cities are often overlooked while food aid and donors flock to the rural communities. Children in slums like Kibera, a shanty-slum of 600,000-1.2 million outside of Nairobi, Kenya, drop out of school to work or beg so that they to pay the 130% inflated price of maize (over one year’s time) and the ever-increasing prices of water. Regardless, there is hope.

Drought does not need to mean hunger and destitution. If communities have irrigation for crops, grain stores, and wells to harvest rains then they can survive, despite what the elements throw at them.” Irrigation, grain stores, and wells require money, however,  and, once again, poverty stands in the way. Yet the same poverty that is preventing these people from building famine preventative infrastructure, was caused  by the previous poor harvest and famine. The cycle seems interminable – until someone steps in to provide the infrastructure these communities need. That someone is government.

The urban crisis [and famine] is not just about poverty – it is about governance,” Oxfam reportedly said. Governments have the responsibility of providing fundamental social services to it’s citizens. In a country susceptible to drought, this includes irrigation infrastructure, grain stores, and rain water wells. However, very few governments have provided any of these resources to their people. In Somalia, there is no functional central government to provide these resources. In Kenya, the government is “paralyzed by infighting and political maneuvering.” And in Ethiopia, the government is, both, trying to maintain its good image from its successes in health care, education, and counter terrorism, and trying to undermine its citizens through corrupt, profit-driven deals. It’s desire for a positive image has led it to gloss over the famine by reporting (relatively) low numbers of people affected and making the definition of people at risk more exclusive. It has also tried to hide the severity of the famine through banning aid from reaching specific severely-affected regions. Backroom politics has highlighted the government’s lack of interest in curtailing the famine. Hundreds of bags of maize disappeared from the Ethiopian reserve and then reappeared in Sudan a month later, leading a lot of people to suspect that deals were made behind closed doors. Furthermore, the government has marketed Ethiopia in the new business of land-leasing, where large, rich foreign investors can rent vast plots of lands on 44-99 year contracts. The contracts have nearly no safeguards and foreign investors buy them purely for profit. The effectively take land away from local farmers, employ local residents under extremely brutal conditions, sell their crops to foreign nations for profit, and deplete the soil of nutrients. These are not the kinds of contracts a government interested in its people should be offering.

If it were not for corruption, the drought and the poverty could be (more-easily) resolved. But without the necessary functions of the state happening, the impact of both is increased and perpetuated. “Ethiopia’s famine today is a famine of food scarcity as much as it is a famine of democracy and good governance.” African governments must take responsibility and ownership for their states. I they want to become a respected global voice, they must end corruption and end their dependency on aid .

As outsiders from the West, we must be cautious in our critique and support of African nations. Too often aid has been given in ways that only increase dependency, circumvent governments, and enable corruption. The West is not culpable for the existing corruption, but it has not given support that leads towards independent, sustainable nations. “Continued food and agricultural support, coupled with falling [crop] production, have led some to believe that aid might actually be the root of the problem.” Food handouts increase dependency through creating disincentives to produce and providing short-term fixes to problems that need long-term solutions. Africa does not need more food, it needs more ways to consistently cultivate its own food.

It’s extremely challenging and a great moral conundrum to critique food handouts when lives are at stake. And I, in no way, believe that food handouts should be stopped, rather they should be accompanied by long-term solutions. It is easy to ideologically critique these different forms of aid, but when the reality that this aid saves a person’s mother, father, son, or daughter from dying is realized the disadvantages of any aid seem inconsequential. So it is with great respect and appreciation that I say, there is a better way.

Handouts cannot be expected to prepare these countries for the next famine. The international community must begin to fund projects which build irrigation infrastructure, wells for rain water, teach efficient methods of cultivation, and inspire autonomy of communities . The calamities of hunger and drought in Africa are not our burden and we should not carry the weight. The international aid community acts out of compassion for Africa, not obligation. It would be immoral to cease all aid merely because we are not obligated. Aid and exchange should always be occurring. We should always be in a flux of giving and receiving (even in times of prosperity) – giving the skills and lessons we have learned from our culture and experience and receiving the skills and lessons of another. We should be working to create autonomy and sustainability in African nations, which is why funding needs to be given to projects that pursue these goals.

The international community would be equally flawed if it built the preventative infrastructure of irrigation, wells, and grain stores. Although we would be establishing preventative measures for the next drought, it would still be us establishing them. Africa needs to help Africa -and we need to help Africa help itself. Funding should be targeted towards local, African projects which are building sustainable preventative infrastructure. Only then, do we truly help establish an equal, autonomous, independent Africa.

Though the intertwinement of hunger with large socio-political problems exacerbates the issue and makes it appear hopeless, it is not. There is abounding hope that Africa will make it through this crisis and then through the next. It is hope that lies behind all forms of aid and it is hope that feeds the starving souls of those who can’t find enough to eat, providing them the determination to make it through another day and to another meal. I have hope that the international community, specifically the large aid donors, will recognize the cycle of dependence they are caught in and will begin to teach their recipients how to fish.

Global Health is Everyone’s Responsibility

Friday, September 11th, 2009

People young and old across the US have connected with seven different communities across the African continent to support locally initiated health projects. Using the vibrant color of bananas and the enthusiasm of youth, a new nonprofit has grown to support the coming revolution in African health care.

It all began with one individual, Fr. Joseph Birungi, who had the dream of providing access to basic health care in a remote area where he worked. His dream was transferred on to me through his stories of those who died because they did not have access to basic health care. At the time I was a 14 year-old who knew little of the world beyond Michigan’s borders, but I was inspired to do something. Just entering high school, I was full of naive optimism with a goal to figure out how I could make an impact in the world. Although I was youthful, naive, and optimistic I had an incredible mentor, my mother. She helped me form basic assumptions that laid the foundation for my understanding of "global health as everyone’s responsibility. "

One assumption that grew from my optimism was the belief that everyone had the potential to make a difference in the world. From Fr. Joseph to myself to my mother, the chain of individuals who embodied this grew to include hundreds of families, church congregations, school assemblies, and individuals from across the country working to fund an ambulance. These individuals, linked by a common cause, were able to raise over $67,000 in less than three months for the health center in Uganda.

It is easy for many people to take for granted the small things: clean water from a sink, medicine readily available in your cabinet, adequate food sources, etc. In the summer of 2002, I was able to traveled to Uganda. During my one-month stay I met and lived with the people who would benefit from the ambulance project. The people I met were so friendly and, even in their poverty, they wanted to share what little they had. I have seen that all people of the world share the same needs and wants. Everyone needs food, shelter, clean water, and necessary health care. We all want to know happiness, health and love. Parents everywhere want the best for their children and children want to learn and grow. But not everyone gets the same chance for success. And so keeping in mind the interdependent and similar nature of our world it is not so difficult to see "global health as everyone’s responsibility."

As I graduated from high school with my classmates so did SCOUT BANANA. My friends began expanding our work into Chapters at colleges and universities across the US and Canada. This allowed our outreach to grow along with our ability to support more local projects. We became seriously focused on community-based solutions and empowering young people in the US to take responsible action when "making a difference" in Africa. Just because you have the means to do something doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. With an expanding support base and the desire to empower young people and community leaders we decided to pursue 501c3 status in order to better serve as a resource. Utilizing privilege in the US to connect communities in Africa with inspired students, SCOUT BANANA has been able to raise almost $200,000 to date and engage over 50,000 young people in partnering with African projects to provide access to basic health care.

SCOUT BANANA believes that global health is everyone’s responsibility and that everyone has the potential to make a difference. We look at global health issues systematically and our solutions are focused on revolutionizing structures as well as shifting paradigms of development thinking in regards to education, power, and privilege. We seek to create lasting social change in African health care and believe that solutions come directly from communities in need. SCOUT BANANA is dedicated to empowering community solutions as well as young people who want to responsibly make a difference in Africa. By connecting communities in long-term cooperative partnerships, we will build a movement dedicated to fundamental social change in which global health is everyone’s responsibility and every individual’s human right.

SCOUT BANANA is a nonprofit organization that works to provide access to basic health care in Africa. Focusing on community-based solutions and empowering community leaders as well as young people who want to make a difference in Africa, SCOUT BANANA is supporting the innovation in African health care. The organization connects student Chapters with local health project in Africa.

Learn more about the Chapter network & apply to launch a Chapter at your school HERE!

Cross posted from’s Global Health Blog: HERE Published September 09, 2009 @ 05:00PM

Articulate: Call for Papers (Fall 2009)

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Want to get published? Got an exciting term paper? Have some eye-opening stories about your work abroad? Looking to have your voice heard?

Articulate: Undergraduate Research Applied to International Development is now accepting submissions for its Fall 2009 issue! The journal will be published in November, and we encourage all undergraduates and young people (under 30) who are interested and experienced in the areas of development, African studies, and/or health care to consider making a contribution. See the Call for Papers below for more information.

The Social Enterprise: irony and alternative

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

(photo credit: WDI University of Michigan)

(photo credit: WDI University of Michigan)

Over the years SCOUT BANANA’s work has been termed “social entrepreneurship.” Unfortunately, the definition of the social enterprise has slowly become muddled and confused with other ideas. During a discussion last month a friend said that calling someone a social entrepreneur was like “cutting the balls off of a socialist.” He may not have been as far from the truth as I once thought. As the term becomes more prevalent within aid and development we must delve deeper into the history of social enterprise and decide what it really means for the work that we do.

Jeff Trexler wrote an excellent post on the history of social enterprise. He writes that a social enterprise is essentially “a venture with a social purpose.” As many wrongly believe the ideas of social enterprise did not come from capitalism or corporate business models at all.

“In socialist jurisprudence, social enterprise was a term designed to replace the capitalist notion of businesses dedicated to the pursuit of profit. The social enterprise generated revenue in excess of the costs of production, but profit-making was not the goal of socialist business–rather, its fundamental organizational purpose was to serve collective benefit. More over, in keeping with Marxist/Leninist ideology, the social enterprise was owned & controlled not by private shareholders–a hallmark of bourgeoise capitalism–but by workers themselves, from the workers immediately connected to the enterprise to society as a whole.”

Jeff continues to write that “social enterprise” migrated to Western minds and charities much the same way that “civil society” was reborn and co-opted. Meaning “citizen’s society,” the term was used to unite individuals against centralized government power. Now the term is best understood as a descriptor of anything “non-governmental.”

It seems that “social enterprise” has drifted just as far from its original conception. As a social venture that was meant to give power back to people and allow them ownership, much like a cooperative, “social enterprise” has best come to represent corporate philanthropy and cause marketing campaigns. Both of which are focused on turning profits and not helping people. Julia Moulden asks, “is making a difference only for the rich?” She easily gives examples that it is not, but is it? As far as the foreign aid/ international development arena it appears that social enterprise is geared towards engaging wealthy Western populations in feel good campaigns, like Product (RED), that are best defined as image marketing campaigns for corporations to try and look better as a way to bring in more customers. Lucy Bernholz has termed this business model “embedded giving” where “commerce is used to generate funds for a cause.” She writes:

“Embedded giving is just one more example of the blurring of sectors and roles between commerce, philanthropy, and public good. [...] Maybe today’s teens and kids who have seen so much embedded giving will grow up to expect that every product and every service comes with a charitable affiliation.”

SCOUT BANANA’s work was first called “social entrepreneurship” in 2004 when I was selected as one of Netaid’s Global Action Awardee and was asked to contribute to a discussion on SocialEdge about young people and making a difference. Then, I was not too sure what the term meant or why it might be significant. More recently Spotlight Michigan has highlighted our work and called us a “social enterprise.” They select “innovative” companies and organizations in Michigan to feature on their website. Their criteria breaks down into three categories: creativity, risk-taking and adaptability. In the true spirit of a social enterprise we are an organization built for adaptation because we operate by members involvement and input. We have always been called creative for our fundraising tactics, use of yellow and bananas, and our ability to connect people. The risk-taking is another story. We never faced any risk in our venture to make a difference. If we failed the only people who would potentially suffer were those relying on our support to access basic health care. Alanna Shaikh wrote an excellent piece on how “global health is not about altruism.” While our actions may have been seen as risk-taking, we really work to create accountable, long-term relationships with communities developing their own sustainable solutions.

Personally I define social entrepreneurship within its original conception; a socialist structure (for social good) that is meant to give power and agency back to people as well as present an alternative to ineffective governments. Civil society still exists because honestly the government can’t do it all and often are not very good at meeting the needs of people. SCOUT BANANA sees the world’s problems as a simple equation of connecting communities; linking the necessary social capital (people and ideas) to social problems. We embrace the idea of “social enterprise” by focusing on presenting an alternative to government aid schemes and other big philanthropy and development programs that go for the quick-fix, band-aid solutions without being people-focused to produce long-term social change.

Is SCOUT BANANA a social enterprise? Yes and no, it depends how you define the term. If you are thinking of an organization cooperatively owned and operated by its members, focused on providing an alternative to what hasn’t worked, and supporting community-based solutions that do work – then, and only then are we definitely a “social enterprise.” In her Spotlight Michigan article I think Caitlin Blair put it best: “A society of entrepreneurs and innovators simply could not exist without social entrepreneurs because where business entrepreneurs typically work to enhance markets, social entrepreneurs completely transform the necessary infrastructure and attitudes of a society.”

See our features on Spotlight Michigan:
photo essay

Global Health is Everyone’s Responsibility and Human Right

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

(photo credit: WHO)

(photo credit: WHO)

From the UN Declaration to Amnesty International, between Paul Farmer and William Easterly it seems that everyone has a different understanding of what constitutes a basic human right and the cause of its absence. Michael Keizner has been building the discussion on health and human rights on’s Global Health blog while NYU Professor, William Easterly has recently entered the debate as a response to Amnesty International’s position on poverty related to human rights. This fueled a response from Amnesty International, which stated that Easterly was “pretty off base.” Easterly followed his Amnesty International response with an end to his “human rights trilogy” by asking Paul Farmer who should be held responsible for satisfying the right to health care?

The World Health Organization (WHO) states health as a human right as:

“the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being…”

It seems that Easterly’s human rights criteria is trapped in an old international law paradigm where there must be someone at fault or someone to blame. He also forgets that health is directly linked to food. You cannot have good health and not have food. Effective aid, not seen in today’s aid schemes, based in sustainable practices (not just buzzword reporting) that supports an individual’s right to develop themselves should look comprehensively towards the needs of a community of individuals. The ideas of human rights, foreign aid, and development should be less focused on international systems and more focused on building strong communities that meet their own human needs: health care, food, water, etc.

Within this debate of health and human rights, where does SCOUT BANANA fit. As an organization that makes and stands behind the statement that:

“global health is everyone’s responsibility and every individual’s human right”

Paul Farmer has the right idea, as Easterly quotes from his Tanner Lecture in 2005:

“only a social movement involving millions, most of us living far from these difficult settings, could allow us to change the course of history….troves of attention are required to reconfigure existing arrangements if we are to slow the steady movement of resources from poor to rich—transfers that have always been associated… with violence and epidemic disease… whether or not we can say “never again” with any conviction—will depend on our collective courage to examine and understand the roots of modern violence and the violation of a broad array of rights, including social and economic rights”

This is exactly similar to SCOUT BANANA’s understanding of health as a human right and a responsibility. It is a right where we do not attempt to place blame or hold the past accountable because those become frivolous exercises that produce no results. When we delve deeper into the root causes of issues, for example the driving forces of slavery, we must focus on a responsibility to not repeat the past and make ourselves accountable in the future.

There is no way that the entire European population and its descendants can be held accountable for the evils of the slave trade. While the same ideas of human rights did not exist in the time period of slavery, it is similarly difficult to place blame on systems (and populations) that drive the causes of poverty and lack of access to health care. Many people that I work with on development projects feel guilty that they are so privileged and wealthy compared to the communities that they work with that are so poor. SCOUT BANANA teaches its members to not feel guilty, but instead to feel responsible. Understanding personal privilege related to the oppression of certain populations within societal structures can assist in creating positive impacts. Human rights don’t necessarily have to be about placing blame, but rather developing an understanding of responsibility.

So Professor Easterly when you ask who is responsible for satisfying human rights: it is you, it is me, it is all those who dream of making a difference, and it is also those who lack the very human rights that we hold dear. Placing blame is not a concrete step forward, learning from history and recognizing where our privilege fits can be a first step towards effective actions. I too see Paul Farmer’s vision of a movement of millions, near and far, taking actions to shape a better future where human rights are everyone’s responsibility and every individual’s human right.

From the Article 25 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights:

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

The Week in African Health

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

“No weapons” MSF in Nasir, Upper Nile State, South Sudan

“No weapons” MSF in Nasir, Upper Nile State, South Sudan

A Tale of Two Refrigerators
Fighting has renewed in southern Sudan, but its not just between militant groups – aid groups fall victim to needless fighting as well. Diane Bennet writes on William Easterly’s Aid Watch blog about the 2001 peace in Sudan and how it was a ripe time to treat disease and build health infrastructure. Unfortunately internal bureaucracy and politics became the largest hurdle.

Sudan: Darfur – Thousands Flee to African Union Safety
More recently, South Darfur has become the seen of violent clashes between government forces and militants. It is important to never forget the impacts that conflict has on health services.

Africa: Public Health Care Must Lead

Oxfam International has released a report [access here] “challenging the myths about private health care in developing countries.” The report emphasizes the role that private health care can play in developing countries, but reminds us that there is no way a scale-up of private health services will reach poor people in need. Key recommendations are to increase funding for free universal health care infrastructure, rejecting ineffective practices of the past, and combining efforts to fuel effective initiatives – sounds a lot like SCOUT BANANA

Global Health: Mobile Phones to Boost Healthcare

Revolutionizing access to health knowledge, the efforts of the Mobile Health Alliance (mHealth), supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, the UN Foundation, and Vodafone Foundation are making a mark across the African continent boasting 51 existing or to-be-implemented programs in 26 countries around the world. Harnessing the potential of growing technology in ‘developing’ countries for the purpose of health can only signal a major shift in access to health care across Africa.

Getting the Continent on Obama’s Agenda

It appears that Obama’s administration is stacked in the favor of Africa and in favor of better international development practices all around. With Susan Rice serving as Ambassador to the UN action against genocide may be bolstered, Gayle Smith more likely than not will be tapped as USAID Director, she was a major proponent of the HELP Commission creating a cabinet level position for foreign aid, and a well known name among insiders and outsiders in African affairs, Johnnie Carson, is expected to be named head of the Bureau of African Affairs of the State Department. The future of US relations in Africa has incredible potential and hope to change.

Zimbabwe: Staff Return to Hospitals, But Not to Work

As a massive cholera outbreak tears across the country, medical staff have returned to their posts, but the nature of their strike, that began in 2008 over poor working conditions and wages, is now “more like a sit-in.” In a country so crippled by Western exploitation and resulting politics, a strike of the health workers in the face of a rampant disease outbreak does not bode well for a vulnerable population.
Too Much Cholera, Too Little Food
Over 80,000 Zimbabweans Infected with Cholera

Africa: U.S. Naval Engagement Offers Health Dividends

Imagine the potential of the US’ military might if it was dedicated to coordinating naval and health care workers from 13 countries to bring aid and health services to communities in need. This becomes a reality with the African Partnership Station Initiative and Project Handclasp. I can only dream of a day where initiatives like this are more a norm than a surprising gesture of good will.

Mali: Raising Money and Hygiene Standards

One of the most innovative programs that I have read most recently is the work the Dutch based Gender and Water Alliance which is employing women to make soap as well educate and use it to increase hygiene and combat preventable diseases. Health benefits, a source of income and empowering women!

Food Crisis Over, Say Experts

Supposedly the global food crisis of last year is over! Agricultural experts from Africa and Asia are saying that we are no longer in a food crisis and that there needs to be an increased production of rice in Africa in order to keep the food crisis at bay. In my opinion, as long as we continue our unsustainable and capitalist practices that commodify a basic human need, we will remain in a global food crisis affecting both the US and Africa.
Rwanda: Food Production Up, Thanks to Green Revolution
Thankfully the increase is not due to the ‘Green Revolution,’ but instead to increase in practices that are focused on protecting the environment.

South Africa: Treasury Blamed for Shortage in Aids Drugs

Years of controversy seem to have brought the blame down on the South African Treasury. With an extensive bureaucracy, it is no wonder that the ARV roll-out program has taken much longer than it should – as many die without the proper medications. While the numbers of people enrolled in the ARV program has increased significantly there still exists a problematic policy of access. Access hinges on wealth, CD4 count, and location. To access the government’s ARV program your CD4 count has to be less than 300, which is at a point where you are already very vulnerable. This creates an issue of sustained treatment because it forces an irregular regimen. If your CD4 count is above 300, you will have to pay. Many cannot pay and if you live far from a government hospital access is just that much more difficult because of taxi fare and time sacrificed for travel. It seems the health and wellbeing of its citizens is not a high budget priority of the South African government.
Rapid HIV evolution avoids attacks
Much like the flu virus, HIV mutates and evolves in response to treatments. This really exposes the South African ARV program as highly ineffective.
Duncan discusses HIV/AIDS in Morocco
Little known to the world, the HIV/AIDS crisis grows in Morocco.

Call for Papers (Spring 2009)

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

SCOUT BANANA, in conjunction with Michigan State University’s African Studies Center and Office of International Development, invites you to submit a manuscript to Articulate: Undergraduate Research Applied to International Development.

Articulate is an undergraduate journal that publishes academic papers and writings (research papers, field work, interviews, etc.) on issues in international development, focusing primarily on African studies and health care issues. Our journal focuses on relationships between development, health care, and the African continent. Articulate is a forum for students to contribute to, as well as make, the debates in international development. Undergraduate students remain a vital, untapped force that can bring new ideas, perspectives, and concepts into the development dialogue. Our goal is to spark, share, and spread knowledge to create innovative change now.

Articulate is peer-reviewed by fellow undergraduate students and an appointed editorial board. Publication is based on relevance, quality, and originality. We ask for submissions that are 10-15 pages long and formatted in the Chicago Manual of Style with 200-word abstracts. In addition, we ask that the author’s name, major, college, and university appear on a separate cover sheet, with no reference to the author within the manuscript.

Potential topics, include, but are not limited to:
The effectiveness of foreign aid, microfinance, and social enterprise in Africa
Intersections of gender, religion, ethnicity, and sexuality in African development
Ethics and development in African countries
Historical analyses and case studies of health care programs in Africa
Politics of water and medicine in Africa
The role of African youth in development programs and projects
Effects of conflict and forced migration on health care and development

In addition, Articulate is also seeking brief reflective essays on young peoples’ experiences in Africa. Ideally, these pieces are 2-3 single-spaced pages and can take a variety of creative forms. These essays should explore how development work is from the perspective of a young person from the Global North, entering the Global South. Is it how you thought it would be? What did you enjoy and hate about it? What do you wish you’d known when you were just ’studying’ as opposed to working in Africa on health-related issues? Other themes may be considered with consultation from the Editor-in-Chief.

Papers will be accepted until March 15th, 2009 with an intended publication date during Spring 2009. For submissions, please contact the Editor-in-Chief at  For more information on SCOUT BANANA, check out

Not an undergraduate student? Paper too long? Still want to get your ideas published as a volunteer or researcher in the field? Inquire at:

Are you an undergraduate looking to be a larger part of SCOUT BANANA? Can you peer review articles extremely well and motivate others to do the same? Apply for the Editor-in-Chief position, contact:

Announcing Official Nonprofit Status!

Friday, January 16th, 2009

16 January 2009


East Lansing – To suggest that college students armed with bananas could create anything wholesome and family-friendly may raise a few eyebrows.

But to suggest that college students and bananas are the backbone of a dynamic, progressive organization that has raised more than $150,000 to date and inspired countless people to improve basic health care in Africa? That may raise more eyebrows.

Eight years ago, Alex Hill was going door-to-door to raise funds for a health center in Uganda. Today, along with an army of colleagues sporting banana-yellow shirts, his organization, SCOUT BANANA, has become an official nonprofit that supports 10 health care projects in 10 countries within Africa.

With its new status, SCOUT BANANA has a new education program in the works that will create curriculum that increases knowledge and awareness about the African continent. The program includes an interactive education website, curriculum and resources for elementary and high school classrooms, and an internship program for university students to participate in on-the-ground health care projects.

Current programs of SCOUT BANANA are thriving and growing, including the new academic journal, Articulate: Undergraduate Scholarship Applied to International Development. SCOUT BANANA continues to serve as a hub that brings together communities, academics, activists, community leaders and young people to ensure that global health is everyone’s responsibility and every individual’s human right.

SCOUT BANANA started in 2001 as a project that delivered an ambulance to the St. Ambrose Health Center in Uganda by raising over $67,000 through the support of hundreds of families and over 60 community organizations. SCOUT BANANA, which stands for Serving Citizens of Uganda Today Because Africa Needs A New Ambulance, became the acronym of Hill’s Boy Scout project.

SCOUT BANANA will spend its next phase building a youth movement of individuals who will are compassionate, competent, and collaborative agents of change. “It’s not just about donations anymore,” states Monica Mukerjee, a staff member of the organization. “It’s about research, collaboration, and bringing Africa to the forefront. By inspiring others to be dedicated to Africa, SCOUT BANANA is fueling long-term change and growth in health care and development.”

The organization invites all supporters, interested public, and close friends to their Nonprofit Launch Party on 21 February 2009 at the Gone Wired Cafe (6pm) for music, food, fun, and to celebrate the launch of the nonprofit!

To learn more or make a donation, visit For additional information, contact the Executive Director, Alex Hill, at or (810) 516-6547.


Zimbabwe: The Conundrum (introduction)

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

The current condition of Zimbabwe is undeniably complicated and rapt with controversy. Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s only president since the country became independent of white rule in the early 1980s, was once hailed as a hero and held up as an example of excellent leadership to other newly-independent African nations. Now, as the rate of inflation in Zimbabwe continues to skyrocket and a cholera epidemic appears to be ravaging rural communities, many are calling Mugabe an inadequate dictator who’s unwillingness to accept new leadership may lead to his country’s demise.

Unfortunately, the current situation in Zimbabwe is anything but clean-cut. The country’s complicated colonial history continues to influence Mugabe’s political posturing and decision-making. Mugabe argues that the United States and the United Kingdom are executing a form of post-colonialism via sanctions levied against himself and companions in his political party, ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front). He argues that these sanctions are the primary cause of deteriorating social and economic conditions in Zimbabwe. He also boldly claims that the U.S. and U.K. regularly generate false data regarding the health of Zimbabwe’s citizens, most recently in the case of a cholera epidemic that Save the Children, a British NGO, claims has taken the lives of 1,111 among 20,581 cases since August 2008. Mugabe and his supporters have suggested that this data is an attempt by the West to usurp his democratically-appointed powers.

On the flip-side, the United States and the United Kingdom have issued repeated calls for Mugabe to relinquish his presidential powers in wake of Zimbabwe’s current social and economic crises. Many in both countries have accused Mugabe and ZANU-PF of influencing Zimbabwe’s most recent election through violence and intimidation. Supporters of the opposing MDC (Movement for Democratic Change), led by former presidential candidate and current prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, have narrated stories of abuse and “reeducation” in camps operated by ZANU-PF. Similarly, as the apparent cholera epidemic continues to spiral out of control and child malnutrition worsens, the U.S. and U.K. cite that Mugabe is killing his own people through stubbornness.

The situation in Zimbabwe is complicated. These brief descriptions barely scratch the surface of the country’s multi-layered complexities. Nonetheless, we at SCOUT BANANA believe that the current conditions of Zimbabwe offer an excellent opportunity for education on multiple topics, including international health, development, post-colonialism, and globalization.

To offer a further introduction to Zimbabwe, I’d like to direct you to the BBC’s Country Profile. As you move to this site, I’d encourage you to examine the information offered there with a critical eye. What might appear fair and balanced is often rife with bias.

Good luck and please continue to check for updates.

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