Philippines and South Africa Together Embrace Green Building Design

Although the media has portrayed the excellent bilateral relationship between the Philippines and its neighboring Asian countries such as Japan and, to a larger extent, the United States, the country has other allies in terms of economic and social progress. One of these is South Africa.

In fact, both countries have solidified such partnership more than 20 years ago not only by establishing embassies in each other’s countries but also in growing trade and employment. South Africa remains one of the reliable and long-standing trading partners of the Philippines while more than a thousand Filipinos have found jobs in South Africa, sending more than US$5 million to their families back home in 2011.

Granted, both are different in many ways, but we’re also similar in a variety of reasons. The poverty incidence between the Philippines and South Africa remains very high. According to the National Statistics Coordination Board, more than 27% of the Filipinos fell below the poverty line as of the first months of 2012. On the other hand, South Africa has an unemployment rate of about 25%.

And while both the Philippines and South Africa are immensely blessed by their rich culture and biodiversity, they are also two of the most at-risk countries in the world because of climate change. Aside from the increased temperatures over the last decade and the more unpredictable weather patterns, the residents of each suffer from poor housing structures, lack of preparedness, high poverty and inequality, and vulnerability to shortage of food and security, which further complicate their conditions.

Taking Steps

Progress of the Philippines and South Africa has been slow, but they are making steps. In terms of economy, the Philippines is preparing for a better entry during the ASEAN Integration in 2015 while South Africa is part of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) with a plan of creating their own bank and credit rating as a way of being less dependent on other superpowers such as the European Union and the United States.

In terms of sustainability, we’ve seen great efforts in adopting technologies and solutions that aim to significantly reduce waste of resources and energy, all as part of the growing green revolution.

Both have established councils to regulate, supervise, and promote sustainable building designs: Philippine Green Building Council and Green Building Council of South Africa.

The idea of green design, fortunately, has been receiving a positive response from various related industries such as architecture and engineering that we can already see “green buildings and homes” have become emerging trends.

As examples, in South Africa, the Vodacom Innovation Centre was one of the first buildings to receive a rating of 6-star Green Star SA, which means it’s already one of the most forward-thinking green buildings in the planet. With its main goal to reduce carbon footprint, it takes advantage of natural light to bring down heat loads and improve natural air circulation.

In the Philippines, Calyx Centre in Asiatown IT Park, Cebu City, takes pride of being the first green hybrid building that almost eliminates unnecessary use of energy and fuel by offering spaces for home, work, and leisure. It also features unenclosed corridors to bring in natural light and improve fresh air circulation, CFLs for major lighting systems, as well as gardens for meditation and jogging paths. If you are interested to learn more about Calyx Centre, visit this real estate website in Cebu.

Gates Foundation Grants $400,000 for Innovative Toilet Technology in Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa, which is considered to be one of the bastions of origin of life, continues to fall behind in terms of economic and health development. Massive population growth, extreme poverty, severe lack of employment, civil conflicts, and even corruption in the government have been blamed for the slow improvement in the areas of sanitation and water supply over the last 20 years.

Although the figures continue to climb–there’s more than 20% boost in water supply and around 3% for sanitation–it still doesn’t change the fact that millions still don’t have access to these basic necessities, especially latrines or toilets. Check for Best Toilets review here.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the world, aims to change all that by introducing a very innovative method of sanitation that will not only resolve the poor health facility issues but will also deal with the challenge of obtaining more water supply.

How Will It Work?

First the foundation is extending $400,000 grant to Pollution Research Group, an organization currently being headed by Professor Chris Buckley and is presently based in University of KwaZulu-Natal. The main goal is to harness the wastes that can be derived from several ablution blocks built in some of the impoverished communities in Durban.

One of the first testing grounds for this initiative will be eThekwini, which is home to close to a million people and with an increased population growth of over 6% each year. Most of its adults are also out of work, which can partly explain the lack of proper sanitation facilities in the area.

The project is multifold, though the general principle is consistent: make the most out of the wastes and convert them into something useful for the community. With the help of the technologies including a chlorination process that shall also be designed by the PRG, they will be able to transform solid wastes like diapers into a vital component of fertilizers and flush water and urine into a potential source of water. In the long run, the system will be more sustainable as the converted solid wastes can also be utilized to heat specific components that form part of the entire technology.

The Initiative’s Impact on a Larger Scale

This practical way of addressing the problems of health and sanitation in the community can already have a huge impact in Africa and, to a large extent, the rest of the world. One, the foundation and PRG can work closely with other African-based organizations such as AGRA (Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa), which concentrates on providing support for small-scale farmers who are always plagued with issues on lack of water supply and poor quality of soil. The converted waste products can then be offered to these farmers to augment their own supply.

Second, if this initiative becomes successful, it can be replicated by other African communities and may be modified to work in other impoverished countries where the same access is lacking. Moreover, this may facilitate the reduction of human waste pollution, which is one of the major contributors of water supply contaminations in the world.

Maize Drought-Tolerant Seeds for African Farmers

Hunger in Africa is really a big problem, nations are trying their best to end poverty and hunger in this country, farmers needs to learn a lot and should be supported a lot.

Water supply is another problem in Africa, its a very hot country, water is very necessary for daily home use, so to supply the farms will be another problem. Africa really needs quality seeds that can withstand summer, drought, and limited water.

Maize on the other hand is a drought-tolerant seed which could be one of the answer to Africa’s hunger.

Small farmers should be able to understand and use Maize to its full potential.

What can you do to help Farming in Africa?

Africa and its population needs a great supply of food and clean water. Access to both will make a big difference in the daily activities of Africans. There are talks and conferences that were held in the past to understand, gather ideas, and effectively implement the green revolution.

You can do a lot, with the advent of internet and other forms of communications, you can connect to people or make awareness for the revolution. Sending seeds, farming techniques, educating women, speaking to suppliers who can contribute directly and indirectly. You are much needed and you can do a more than what you think.