Big problems demand small solutions

Big business, with its pursuit of profit at all costs, creates some huge problems in society. Such as poisoned environments, factories run with slave labour… and the process of globalisation is spreading them everywhere.

So what can the little person do? Just this: make a conscious choice not to participate – and actively search out better alternatives. Because while the world is awash with stuff we don't need, we definitely do need more ethical entrepreneurs. And, at the same time, conscious consumers.

A nice example is Sanchi Bags, recently started up in India with the vision to promote the use of eco-friendly products and empower women. The idea is that the fashionable bags – including ones for laptops and tablets – will attract youth into the “go green” movement and become trendsetters across generations. The bags are made from locally-sourced biodegradable material and, most importantly, manufactured in their own households by suburban and rural woman homemakers.

You can connect with Sanchi via their facebook page


Jargon – necessary or nonsense?

New titles for familiar issues is a problem for me. I have to learn the new titles and abbreviations – and often it feels as if someone thought them up to be on the inside and make me feel an outsider. But it is important to keep up and take part in the debate. We must not be overawed by jargon. And we can let each other know when a new term becomes important. I saw "mHealth" in several places and googled it. It means health care and public health programmes supported by mobile electronic gear such as mobile phones. ~ MM

Ebola in Liberia

There is currently a lot of attention in the global news for the Ebola virus. Yet the people most at risk often lack the essential knowledge, and the means, to protect themselves adequately.

Our colleague Shine writes from Monrovia, Liberia: "I am sure you have heard about the Ebola outbreak in some parts of West Africa, affecting Guinea, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Liberia in particular. It’s the worst outbreak ever recorded. Over 1,100 people have died and the World Health Organization has declared it a global health emergency.

Read more ...

A city livable for children

We have been contacted by a colleague who works in Nagpur, India. She told us about the work her NGO is doing with urban spaces. The needs (rights) for children to play can be partly met by making parks safe, pleasant and used. The NGO has worked with the community to upgrade eight parks. Some of the parks have also had further work to make them accessible for disabled kids. This sounds like a great development field which is new to us.

More info: and

A colleague making progress: the Samburu Challenge

We have had some good news here at Networklearning. Our Kenyan colleague Abdikadir Ismail (Abdi) has just been made Headmaster of a day school in the North, near Maralal. And, he has volunteered to write up the challenges for publishing on our blog.

Read more ...

Early Childhood Development

Are you working in the field of Early Childhood Development? Or in a related field – health, education, nutrition? Child Development is important for us all because the future of every country is bound up with the quality of its future adults. We need them to be as healthy as possible, as bright and hard-working and productive as possible.

Read more ...

Teenage-friendly Spaces

Recently we talked in a blog about women-friendly spaces. In UNICEF's report State of the World's Children (2012) there are examples of NGOs providing teenage-friendly spaces. The report focuses on the fact that more and more children and teenagers are growing up in cities. Think of the difficulties of being poor, female, (males another time) living in an urban slum.

Read more ...

Combating Gender-based Violence In Mombasa

Chris Laming is in the Networklearning support committee. He has run courses in Australia for men who use domestic violence. The course is available to download from the Networklearning Library. Last summer he had the good chance to visit an NGO working in a programme against Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Mombasa, Kenya. The NGO is Coast Women in Development. He emailed us:

Read more ...

Female condoms

This piece is about female condoms. I bring them up for discussion because they are currently out of the limelight. When they first appeared, they seemed full of promise – a method of protection against pregnancy and HIV which could be used and controlled by women. In practice they pose problems – including the fact that they are a bit of a joke. So this is a reminder of the key facts and issues.

Read more ...

HIV/AIDS – ARVs used for Prevention

You may have noticed that here at Networklearning we are very keen on newsletters. A recent HATIP Newsletter for health workers has a really positive message:

Read more ...

Life-saving app

Many of you now have smart mobile phones with apps. For health workers, these technologies are very promising; faced with a client with a problem they can send and get important information. Hesperian (brilliant organisation) is developing this area and now offer a Safe Pregnancy and Childbirth mobile app for iPhones.

Read more ...

Emergencies, Gender-Based Violence and "Women-Friendly Spaces"

Fifteen years ago I read an evaluation of programmes to help victims of sexual violence in the wars in Bosnia Herzegovina. I was struck by the number of responses from refugees  who said that the intervention that helped them most was this –  a designated tent in the camp which was physically safe and where they could meet other women, relax, talk and help each other.

Read more ...

The end of their lives

How many of you are involved in the care of people at the end of their lives?

They may be 80 or 18. They may have cancer or AIDS or pneumonia. You want to help them, and their carers, to make the last months easier. You want them to have a good standard of physical, mental and spiritual care, with pain relief and medication. The name for all of this is Palliative Care. There is a World Association for Palliative Care ( Now they are making their resources more available in more languages.

Read more ...