4. International

It aims to offer outlooks on international affairs – tell us more about your own country!

  • Aquaponics – eFISHient food production in Palestine

    Aquaponics in the West Bank During our stay at Bustan Qaraaqa in Palestine, we have been lucky enough to volunteer one day a week with Phil and Lorena from Byspokes on aquaponic systems (their website is where the following information comes from). Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture, which is growing fish in water, with hydroponics, which is growing plants in a liquid. Since they arrived in the West Bank in July 2010 they have been researching, developing and trialing the FIRST EVER aquaponic system constructed behind the Wall! They have been developing integrated aquaculture/irrigation systems and aquaponic systems to enhance food security in rural areas of Palestine, where as much as 44% of the population are…

  • The politics of olive harvesting in Palestine

    We are currently staying at Bustan Qaraaqa in Palestine and just happen to be here during olive harvest season… we are also here during an interesting time because of the Shalit Deal, where Israel swaps one Israeli soldier for 1027 imprisoned Palestinians… so, how do we link olives with the Shalit Deal?? Well, ironically, the olive leaf is a symbol of abundance, glory, wisdom, fertility, pureness and peace… but here people are oppressed, getting their olive groves and rain water cisterns destroyed by Israel as the natural water resources are monopolised (on average Israelis have access to 4 times as much water as Palestinians). People’s ability to sustain themselves is being taken away from them. In the past…

  • Growing forests in deserts…

    It has been a long time without posting… we do apologise for such a long silence but the truth is we’ve been extremely busy! We spent most of August hiking in the Swiss Alps and we do hope to be able to share with you our experience with the makers of the über-famous Gruyere cheese… Anyway, after this great holiday, we then went to Jordan to study permaculture. We ended up doing a Permaculture Design Course for two weeks in Amman (it’s now Carly’s second PDC!), followed by a week of conferences/discussions/experience sharing in the Wadi Rum desert, exchanging about agriculture and water harvesting in arid climates; cross-fertilisation of the aid and…

  • “Faced with inhumanity, we must be more human” – A witness account of the Oslo tragedy

    Erik Abild, a Norwegian friend of mine whom I met while working in Gaza, yesterday shared his thoughts about the horrendous and absurd killings which just occurred in Oslo. We particularly appreciate his call for greater humanity. As he puts it perfectly: “Today, here in Norway, many politicians and people state that “today we are all AUF” (the name of the youth party). And we are. Just as we all were Japanese when the earthquake struck, or as we all are Somalis when we read about famine. This feeling of community is a part of being human. And this communality, the shared experience of humanity, is essential to hold onto.…

  • Insecurity in Central America, a little heard story

    I just come back from Central America where I was doing a consultancy for a humanitarian organisation and, given that we don’t hear much about the region in the news, I thought you might be interested to know a bit about it. The organisation has been operating there for decades but has recently questioned its presence given the drastic deterioration of the security there in the last three years. Indeed, statistically, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador (now known as the “Northern Triangle of Death!”) are amongst the most dangerous countries on earth. While in each of these countries, the levels of insecurity vary from one area to another, this means…

  • Living well in the West Bank?

    If you follow this blog regularly (which we are grateful for! :-)), you know that I’ve recently come back from the Middle-East and already expressed some reflections about my stay in Israel in a previous post. Today I would like to share some thoughts about my stay in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As you know, ‘Palestine’ does not exist as a legal entity (although around a hundred countries recognise it as a country and it is likely more will later this year) and is rather referred to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, composed of two disconnected and fragmented territories, namely the West Bank and the Gaza strip. While the former is…

  • Reflective impressions of Jerusalem

    I am pretty lucky as my job frequently brings me to diverse places of the world. This time, I just come back from Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) composed of the West Bank and of Gaza where I spent the last three weeks. Although I was based for most of my stay in the recluse/closed down Gaza strip (indeed inaccessible to most), I nevertheless also had the chance to stay few days in Jerusalem. This post then relates my impressions of Israel, while I’ll write two other posts about the West Bank and Gaza. I’ve been wanting to visit Jerusalem for a looooong time, and indeed, my expectations were…

  • What ‘Peak Oil’ means, and how you can benefit

    We don’t know how you feel about it, but personally, we struggle with the concept of Peak Oil. The concept itself is easy to understand – basically, Peak Oil refers to the maximum extraction rate of oil after which, oil being a finite resource, the rate of extraction declines. What we struggle with then, is not the concept itself, but the consequences it implies for me, for you, for us all. As we’ll see below, our industrialised societies are oil-junkies. But try preventing an addict to get his drug by dramatically decreasing his supply in a short amount of time and you’ll rapidly see the effect: tensions at best, hostility…

  • Big businesses own the US Congress

    Today, I was going to write a post related to ecological matters, but I just stumbled upon an article from the magazine Mother Jones which I thought was very much worth sharing. Indeed, the journalist Dave Gilson has recently wondered what if members of the US Congress were seated not by party but according to the industries which gave them the most money over their entire careers? Interesting question indeed. He gave it a try and presented the following charts, representing lobbies “seating” at the Senate and at the House. I copied both charts below, as well as a selection of interesting Congressmen’s profile based on their top donors. There…

  • Muslim women in Western Society – to veil or not to veil

    On Friday night, over dinner, a group of friends started debating the topic of the French Senate recently passing a bill banning women wearing the Islamic veil (Niqab – full body covering) on public streets and other places.  I (CJG) spent some time listening to everyone’s views and soon realised that generally people are either… really confused what to think because they don’t think women should be forced to cover up but don’t feel quite right about a ban on a piece of clothing either.. or… they simply outright agree that the ban is a good thing. People who think that the veil should definitely be banned generally argue these…

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