Female Genital Mutilation: A Serious Violation of Girls’ and Women’s Rights

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Here is a post by fellow blogger and educator Wayne Campbell. You can find the link to this article here: http://wayaine.blogspot.com/2016/02/female-genital-mutilation.html 

As the World Health Organization states: “Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.” (See: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/) Here’s something I found out today: An estimated 137,000 women and girls are affected by FGM in the UK alone, largely among immigrant populations in London.

Photo: UNFPA/Senegal

Photo: UNFPA/Senegal

Today, February 6, is the International Day for Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.

Female Genital Mutilation is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. This procedure differs according to the ethnic group. The practice is most prevalent between ages 0-14, however, this is usually done up to age 49. This procedure is typically carried out by a traditional circumciser using a blade, with or without anesthesia.

At least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation, with half of them living in Indonesia, Egypt and Ethiopia. The latest figures, provided by UNICEF, show nearly 70 million more girls than previously thought have been subjected to ritual cutting.

Female Genital Mutilation is a creation by males to keep women subjugated and powerless. Men have no right to tell women what they should do to their bodies. While I understand that female genital mutilation is steeped in cultural norms and practices grounded in patriarchy there are sometimes serious health issues associated with female genital mutilation. There are social, physiological and physical consequences for girls and women who are often forced to have this procedure.

The risk to girls who have had this procedure is severe and many face long term health problems such as infections, infertility, complications in child birth, urinary problems (painful urination, urinary tract infections); scar tissue and keloid. Disturbingly, only 18 per cent of female genital mutilations are conducted by health workers.

Female Genital Mutilation has no health benefits and violates the human rights of girls. Other countries practicing female genital mutilation include Nigeria, Somalia, Senegal, Sudan, Chad, Yemen, Mali, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Djibouti and Mauritania. Female Genital Mutilation is also practiced among migrant groups in developed countries.

We need to engage the men and women in those societies where this practice still exists. The time to empower our women and girls is now.

This map shows the global prevalence of FGM. (dofeve.org/The Woman Stats Project)

This map shows the global prevalence of FGM. (dofeve.org/The Woman Stats Project)

Here also is today’s message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. He pays tribute to some individuals and organizations who are demanding an end to this incredibly cruel and dangerous practice. You can find more at http://www.un.org/en/events/femalegenitalmutilationday/index.shtml

Never before has it been more urgent – or more possible – to end the practice of female genital mutilation, preventing immeasurable human suffering and boosting the power of women and girls to have a positive impact on our world.

The urgency can be seen in the numbers. New estimates reveal that in 2016 at least 200 million girls and women alive now have undergone some form of FGM. The numbers keep growing both because more countries are paying attention to FGM and collecting data – which represents good progress– and because progress in ending the practice is not keeping pace with population growth – which is not at all good. If current trends continue, more girls will be cut every year by 2030 than today owing to high fertility rates and youthful populations found in most communities where FGM is prevalent. And since the practice increases risks in childbirth, it causes harm to today’s girls as well as the next generation.

The potential for faster progress for success in eliminating FGM is also clear. This International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation is the first since the visionary 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all countries with a pledge to leave no one behind. The Sustainable Development Goals contain a specific target calling for an end to FGM. When this practice is fully abandoned, positive effects will reverberate across societies as girls and women reclaim their health, human rights and vast potential.

Today I raise my voice and call on others to join me in empowering communities which themselves are eager for change. I count on governments to honour their pledges with support from civil society, health providers, the media and young people. My Every Woman Every Child movement offers a partnership platform for action.

Sonyanga Ole Ngais is captain of the Maasai Warriors cricket team and an outspoken human rights and environmental advocate. He and his team travel across Kenya raising awareness on sexual health and gender equality.  (Photo: DW/A. Wasike)

Sonyanga Ole Ngais is captain of the Maasai Warriors cricket team and an outspoken human rights and environmental advocate. He and his team travel across Kenya raising awareness on sexual health and gender equality. (Photo: DW/A. Wasike)

I am encouraged by the rising chorus of young voices demanding an end to the practice – and I echo their principled insistence on upholding and defending human rights for all. I am inspired by the brave Maasai warriors and cricket stars, such as Sonyanga Ole Ngais, who use their position and influence to demand protection for their sisters. I am heartened by the work of health providers, such as Edna Adan, founder of the Maternity Hospital in Somaliland that bears her name, who insists that every single health worker under her be well-prepared to tackle FGM. And I am grateful for the engagement of The Guardian, which is expanding its work on ending FGM to Nigeria, and to so many other media outlets and reporters shining a spotlight this issue.

Edna Adan is a tireless women’s health advocate. She fought to build a maternity hospital (now named after her) in her native Somaliland. A midwife by training, she continuously fights against the practice of FGM.

Edna Adan is a tireless women’s health advocate. She fought to build a maternity hospital (now named after her) in her native Somaliland. A midwife by training, she continuously fights against the practice of FGM.

We can end FGM within a generation, bringing us closer to a world where the human rights of all every woman, child and adolescent are fully respected, their health is protected, and they can contribute more to our common future.

The Enigma of the Zika Virus: A Pandora’s Box, A Smokescreen, Or What?

In Greek mythology, Pandora opened a box (or rather, a jar) out of which flew many evils - including disease.
In Greek mythology, Pandora opened a box (or rather, a jar) out of which flew many evils - including disease.

Nothing is quite what it seems.

Since the World Health Organization’s declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on February 1, I have been wading through online articles about the Zika Virus. I am baffled, confused, alarmed and apprehensive, all at the same time. I suspect many Jamaicans are. In fact, I was even wondering if there was any point in writing this blog post, as I am struggling to sort out the facts from the rumors and theories – including the conspiracy theories that are inevitably rising to the surface. Where exactly are we – where is Jamaica – with the Zika Virus today, Wednesday February 3, 2016?

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I don’t know where to start. Perhaps first and foremost I should refer you to my fellow blogger Susan Goffe, who has been following the issue very closely (as she did when we were in the throes of chikungunya – an experience I will never forget). Her tweets from press briefings and other fora are much appreciated and I know she is trying her best to untangle the web of information that is coming in from all angles. I would direct you also to her important blog, and in particular to this post, which she wrote a few days ago: https://rightstepsandpouitrees.wordpress.com/2016/01/31/for-jamaica-beawarezikaisnear-becomes-beawarezikaishere/

Here, Susan asks a number of burning questions that she would have liked to have posed at Monday’s press briefing at Jamaica House, if she had been present. The meeting was attended by a veritable phalanx of Ministers. It was the day after the People’s National Party’s election date announcement rally, and the administration wanted to impress us with their seriousness. I must add that I think our relatively new Minister of Health Horace Dalley is doing a far better job than his predecessor at keeping us informed. He has a very pleasant and open personality. He is more accessible, and I think this helps. Nevertheless, the press briefing did not tell us much that was new, except that approximately 27 suspected samples have been sent to the Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) laboratory for testing. One assumes this is the total amount that has been sent so far. When were they sent, and when will we be getting the results? The Ministry is urging more people who are feeling ill to go to the doctor and get tested. You can watch the entire briefing here:  http://opm.gov.jm/videos/jamaica-house-press-briefing-february-2-2016-zikv/  and the Prime Minister’s television address on the topic at the same link.

Minister of Health, Hon. Horace Dalley (right), addressing yesterday's press briefing on Jamaica's zika virus preparedness and response at the Office of the Prime Minister. Others (from left) are: Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott and Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer. (Photo: Jamaica Information Service)

Minister of Health, Hon. Horace Dalley (right), addressing yesterday’s press briefing on Jamaica’s zika virus preparedness and response at the Office of the Prime Minister. Others (from left) are: Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott and Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer. (Photo: Jamaica Information Service)

Now, as we know, the first case of the Zika Virus in Jamaica was reported last week: a four-year-old boy living in Portmore, who has since recovered – and who had recently traveled to Texas. So is this to be viewed as an “imported” case (although U.S. authorities said all their Zika Virus cases were imported from elsewhere in the Americas? The U.S. now has over 30 Zika Virus cases). The Ministry is saying they are still investigating “where the infection occurred.” Portmore is well-known (notorious!) for its thriving mosquito population, having been built, misguidedly, on a swamp. So I set up a little red flag there, although only a tiny one, since I have learned that the Aedes aegypti mosquito does not live in the ground or in swamps, but in buckets of water, old tires etc. Oddly also, the child in Portmore reported symptoms on January 17 but a sample was not sent for testing until January 26. Considering that the infection only lasts for a week at most, what does this mean?

Speaking of Texas, the infection of a Texan by a partner back from Venezuela was only the second reported case of sexual transmission since the Zika virus was discovered in 1947. So – although this news brought another shudder through the Jamaican population – this may just be an oddity that we should not need to worry about. Or should we? (“No sex, no babies,” joked a friend online). And I haven’t mentioned a possible connection with the rare but serious progressive neurological disorder, the Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Cassiana Severino holds her daughter Melisa Vitoria, born with microcephaly at the IMIP hospital in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil, on February 3. (Photo: AP)

Cassiana Severino holds her daughter Melisa Vitoria, born with microcephaly at the IMIP hospital in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil, on February 3. (Photo: AP)

On January 18, before our first case was announced, the Health Ministry put out a statement advising women to delay pregnancy for the next six to twelve months. Although the connection between the Zika Virus and the incidence of microcephaly in newborn babies has not been proved, the Ministry was being cautious. Understood. Globally, though, the picture looks murkier. It appears that despite 20,000 cases in Colombia there has not been a single case of microcephaly there. If it is only in one area of Brazil, what other factors may be at play? (see below for a couple of theories).

I have some questions (as does Susan Goffe) about the procedures and protocols for testing and for tracking those living in particular areas (the Minister was cagey yesterday about which particular section of the Portmore area the lone case occurred in) – as well as the tracking of pregnant women. Is testing being conducted rigorously by doctors for every case of fever, for example?

The impact on tourism is yet to be seen. Both Canada and the United States have issued travel advisories for the Caribbean. You can find the latest from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) here: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/alert/zika-virus-caribbean It’s pretty certain that many will be canceling their vacations, in the middle of the tourist season.

A tiny fraction of one area of the garbage that fringes almost every corner of Kingston Harbour, brought down from the gullies. (My photo)

A tiny fraction of one area of the garbage that fringes almost every corner of Kingston Harbour, brought down from the gullies. And just take a look at some of our gullies! (My photo)

Well, one positive spinoff of the whole thing is that there seems to be an increasing awareness of the awful condition of our environment – certainly in urban areas – and the Government has declared February 5 as a “national clean-up day.” That sounds familiar, because we had something similar when Chikungunya began to spread. Our street has never looked so neat and tidy; hardly a discarded lunch box anywhere (yes, we are a messy people). Yet, there are still gullies full of refuse and standing, stinking water that continues to breed mosquitoes (has anyone visited Seaview Gardens lately?) There are still tires lying around that will collect rainwater – and we have had some rain. Can’t old tires be stored inside a building?

Ahem! I have a confession to make. For the past four or five days I have been under the weather. My symptoms have been as follows: awful headaches; a slight fever at nights, when I have vivid dreams that try to extend themselves into my waking hours; aches and pains – but then, Chikungunya pains have never completely left me since October 2014; and fatigue. Nothing more, but I should probably have gone to the doctor and did not. This is a case of “do as I say, not as I do.” Who knows what it was? It was probably one of those vague nameless bugs that seem to hang around every corner these days. But please, if you are feeling unwell go to the doctor.

Deforestation in Malaysian Borneo is believed to be a driver of malaria transmission in humans, according to new research. (Image credit: Kimberly Fornace)

Deforestation in Malaysian Borneo is believed to be a driver of malaria transmission in humans, according to new research. (Image credit: Kimberly Fornace/Washington Post)

A particular phrase keeps coming to mind when I reflect on the anxiety and nerves that the Zika Virus has sparked in the Americas: Pandora’s Box. Is this a new box of duppies and unknown horrors that we have opened? How did we find the lock and the key? Was the key that of humans’ ongoing and increasing interference with the once perfect balance of our environment? Has this interference (and specifically, the destruction of our rain forests) exposed us and created a “heated-up” atmosphere that encourages the proliferation of mosquitoes and other creatures that transmit diseases to humans? With El Niño set to wane by the end of the summer,

Or perhaps the Aedes aegypti is a product of urbanization. A new Washington Post article also reports that major dam projects in Africa have resulted in huge increases in insect-borne diseases, as well as irrigation and river training projects. You can read the article here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/02/03/the-hidden-environmental-factors-behind-the-spread-of-zika-and-other-deadly-diseases/

That said – is this all a “smokescreen” as some conspiracy theorists are murmuring? Is the Zika Virus panic some kind of cover-up for the allegedly sinister activities of Oxitec, a British company that is creating genetically modified mosquitoes? Or are Brazilian authorities trying to cover up a vaccination program that went badly wrong?

One thing I do know. We can’t mess around with our environment on a major scale, as we have been doing for at least a hundred years, and expect no consequences. Now it’s coming back to haunt us, in a thousand different ways. This is just one of them.

I hear a buzzing in my ear.

You can keep up to date on the Zika Virus at the WHO website here: http://www.who.int/entity/emergencies/zika-virus/en/index.html and follow all the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) edicts, which pretty much replicate them. You can also share their infographics – here’s one below.

A useful info graphic to share.

A useful info graphic to share.

 

The Jamaican Political “Party”

The Orange Party in Half Way Tree. (Photo: PNP/Twitter)
The Orange Party in Half Way Tree. (Photo: PNP/Twitter)

Warning: This page contains an excessive amount of the color Orange. But it could just as easily be the color Green. Interchangeably. The colors of the Two Tribes. Tweets are in purple.

Here's an orange "bag juice" to kick off with.

Here’s an orange “bag juice” for starters.

On Sunday, January 31, the center of our country’s capital city was closed off for seventeen hours. The area was bristling with police and security guards. Kingston residents who wanted to visit their aged aunt, go to church or (heaven forbid) go to work, were severely inconvenienced.

Why? Because…party time. We Jamaicans take parties seriously. Especially our political parties. Nothing must get in the way of a good time. We were about to be invaded by a horde of flag-waving, vuvuzela-tooting, ganja-smoking, gyrating, window-hanging, high-on-life-and-other things political supporters of the Orange variety, hanging out of Coaster buses that swayed all over the roads at high speed. I heard reports of supporters coming from Montego Bay terrorizing other drivers. Why don’t the police have any control over these buses from hell? Before every big rally they talk about “no protruding body parts” (which sounds slightly rude) but hey – the body parts protrude all over the place, as usual.

The occasion was a People’s National Party (PNP) rally, during which the Prime Minister was expected to announce (with expected fanfare)…wait for it…the election date!! I decided not to watch this awe-inspiring, historic moment on television, but resorted to my old friend Twitter. Now, as some people know, I spend far too much time on Twitter – and when big occasions are afoot, it is especially amusing/fascinating/annoying. I was not disappointed.

Heading for Half Way Tree on a beautiful Sunday evening. (Photo: Marcia Forbes/Twitter)

Heading for Half Way Tree on a beautiful Sunday evening. At least they were on foot and not a threat to other drivers. (Photo: Marcia Forbes/Twitter)

The usual clichés were trotted out as the Orange Tribe filled up Half Way Tree. Wow, what a crowd. Half Way Tree RAM. This is the biggest crowd EVER. They all say the same thing, every time, knowing full well that the parties bus their supporters in from every corner of Jamaica for the party. The supporters (many of whom may not even be registered to vote) are promised a meal: two small pieces of chicken or spoonful of curry goat and a huge serving of rice in a polystyrene box, plus a Red Stripe. And, of course, a fun time rubbing shoulders with fellow supporters.

The ritual begins. (Photo: Irie FM/Twitter)

The ritual begins. (Photo: Irie FM/Twitter)

They might even see themselves on the big screen – or on TV. As a friend put it, the true enjoyment of these rallies is “not for the folks in TV-land.”  This struck me as profound. So. The middle class (who may or may not still exist), uptowners and people with little energy for parties (like me) sat home and watched the less privileged among us partying, with those who would control them standing proudly above them on the stage.

By the way, this is the typical response of a “die hearted” (in Jamaican parlance) party supporter of either Tribal persuasion: “A reporter asked a PNP supporter earlier “why do u support the PNP” his response “CUZ MY MOTHER WAS A DIE HEARTED PNP N ME NAH SWITCH.” End of conversation. Substitute “JLP” on another occasion.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller proves her fitness for office by running onto the stage.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller proves her fitness for office by running onto the stage. Two of her less agile Ministers look on, rather glumly.

So much for the supporters. As for the performers (because party rallies are as much dramatic performances as parties) they had fun too – at least, for a while. By the time the Prime Minister came on stage (running) some of them looked a little frazzled. It was a long day and a long night. But parties are marathon affairs in Jamaica – not for the faint-hearted, at all. We take them seriously.

By the time the Prime Minister made her announcement (after 10 p.m. and after a one-hour speech aimed at “hyping up” supporters) the speeches had been dragging on for two or three hours at least. The crowd was looking ragged and some of the dignitaries on stage could barely stand up straight. The witty Dr. Michael Abrahams quipped: “I would not be surprised if the election date is announced to be February 31.” Another tweep commented that at this time of night the Prime Minister should be preparing for bed (in an extremely funny Jamaican way). Instead the organizers “have har inna cold air at late hours.” Jamaican humor is amazing, and best enjoyed in patois. 

Happy orange partygoers. (Photo: Gleaner/Twitter)

Happy orange partygoers. (Photo: Gleaner/Twitter)

Some of us at home were suffering. Dr. Abrahams said he felt he was losing brain cells rapidly. It’s the same kind of experience you have when watching awards shows, except the participants weren’t half as glamorous and didn’t wear pretty frocks. How long could they spin it out? The speeches got worse and worse. Dr. Peter Phillips expounded on “which party could people trust.” Dr. Phillips, I hate to say this – but the words “trust” and “politics” really don’t sit comfortably together, do they? Perhaps he wasn’t listening to what he was saying, but one junior minister reportedly said: “More people get raped under the JLP than under PNP.” Perhaps he was inspired by his senior minister, who controversially spoke about rape a few months ago? Ugh.

A PNP supporter scratches out the color of the opposing Tribe on her vuvuzela. (Photo: Gleaner/Twitter)

A PNP supporter scratches out the color of the opposing Tribe on her vuvuzela. (Photo: Gleaner/Twitter)

Some of my tweeps are even more cynical and embittered than me. One commented: Jamaica is still clearly 3rd in the priority of these people. 1. Party 2. Mek sure it’s not the other party 3. Jamaica (if it list at all).” There were many comments along these lines. Or perhaps it’s just that I follow some miserable people who don’t know how to have fun? The cynicism increased after the Gleaner tweeted a photograph of a supporter scratching out the green on his/her vuvuzela, which bore the colors of the Jamaican flag. Green is the Other Tribe’s color, you see. An inspiring moment, indeed. And by the way, those horrible things should be banned!

Last seen at the Total gas station in Half Way Tree… a black Octa drone belonging to MediaBlue Caribbean. Could the thieves kindly return it?

Last seen at the Total gas station in Half Way Tree… a black Octa drone belonging to MediaBlue Caribbean. Could the thieves kindly return it?

Meanwhile, three drones operated by MediaBlu Caribbean were given permission to zoom over the sea of Orange. The firm tweeted that several men approached them with the intent to rob them, but the police did not assist. They are still missing one of the three, which was stolen just after six in the evening, after it flew low over the crowd. This is disgraceful. Give it back!

Then there was the music, without which the party wouldn’t be a party. Many felt this was the best part. The “Selecta” did well, interspersing appropriate and relevant snatches of popular songs in between almost every phrase of the Prime Minister’s speech. He excelled himself. Or perhaps overdid it, whichever way you want to look at it.

Peter Bunting's meme. Note raised fist. I wish they would do away with this anachronistic fist waving, and with calling each other "Comrade" too. But it ain't going to happen!

Peter Bunting’s meme. Note raised fist. I wish the PNP would drop this anachronistic fist waving and calling each other “Comrade” too. But it ain’t going to happen!

So, on to February 25. As someone on Twitter put it, and I quote: “Portia will have a double celebration on the 25th, 40 years in politics and her third time as PM!! #boomshot.” Well, it might be a #boomshot for the Prime Minister. What about us Jamaicans (or “my Jamaican people” as Portia put it) – is it a #boomshot for us? Or is this whole thing an exercise in extreme self-aggrandizement?

So, as the Big Day approaches, I have a message for young Jamaicans (and the older ones, too), pinched from a tweet by Kendrick Lamar (which might be a quote from someone else, but it’s a good and relevant one): “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” 

One of my tweeps had the final word. Why all this fuss over the election date announcement? All the expense, the many hours spent making noise, when we could all have had a nice quiet Sunday evening at home?

“She could’ve just tweeted it.” 

Precisely. Roll on, fixed election dates.

World Wetlands Day 2016 – in Jamaica and on Planet Earth

World Wetlands Day from BirdsCaribbean.
World Wetlands Day from BirdsCaribbean.

Happy World Wetlands Day!

High school students engaged in some birdwatching activities sponsored by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) at the Port Royal Marine Laboratory today. (Photo: NEPA)

High school students engaged in some birdwatching activities sponsored by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) at the Port Royal Marine Laboratory today. (Photo: NEPA)

The National Environment and Planning Agency is busy today, with groups of eager schoolchildren (no doubt happy to have the day off) exploring what is left of the Port Royal mangroves (a Ramsar site) and learning all about the value of wetlands at the Port Royal Marine Laboratory. NEPA also sponsored a poster competition for all ages. Good for them – they always work hard on this day to spread some knowledge. Public education is vital!

The fact remains that our wetlands are in serious retreat. This is a worldwide phenomenon, sadly. Globally, half of all mangrove forests have been lost since the mid-twentieth century, with one-fifth since 1980 (Spalding et al. 2010). In Jamaica, our wetlands are shrinking rapidly, with disastrous results. The destruction of mangroves around Hellshire in St. Catherine is plain to see. It has contributed to the decline and now complete disappearance of what was once a beautiful white sand beach and has left this low-lying area exposed to storms in the future.  Truth be told, wetlands in Jamaica have been in steady decline since they were drained during the colonial era for agricultural production.  Our four Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance are under severe threat from development, pollution and agriculture. The Great Morass in Negril has even been drained, adding to the resort’s problems.

A young Amercian crocodile, Crocodylus acutus, among mangroves in a lagoon in Portland Bight Protected Area in Jamaica. (Photo: Robin Moore)

A young American Crocodile, Crocodylus acutus (a protected species) among mangroves in a lagoon in Portland Bight Protected Area in Jamaica. This area, rich in mangroves forests and including three fish sanctuaries, remains threatened by a planned transshipment port that would cause tremendous destruction on land and sea and leave the area exposed to storms. (Photo: Robin Moore)

By “wetlands” in general we are not talking about mangrove forests alone. Wetlands are rivers, swamps and marshes; springs that may come and go but provide vital water resources in arid areas; glacial lakes, wet grasslands and peat marshes at high altitudes; river deltas; and Arctic wetlands. There are all kinds of wetlands; those in the tropics are under extreme threat. 

Why are wetlands so important? For a start, they do provide livelihoods for around one billion people worldwide, according to the non-governmental organization Wetlands International. The theme for today is “Wetlands for our Future: Sustainable Livelihoods.” A question is often asked: What is the environment worth in actual dollar terms? Well, it’s been estimated that just one hectare of mangroves is US$12,392. If you add that up…

Secondly, with climate change well in the forefront of our concerns, coastal wetlands provide protection from floods, storms and tsunamis. Mangroves in particular are great storers of carbon (as are our rain forests).Thirdly, the loss of biodiversity is of growing concern worldwide – that is, the vast numbers and range of species of animals, birds, insects, plants and trees that thrive in these special habitats. For example: According to BirdLife International, at least 12 per cent of globally threatened bird species depend on wetlands for their survival. This includes several Caribbean species. Wetlands also have an important role to play in purifying our water and preventing the intrusion of saltwater into our water supplies (which is already happening in some parts of the south coast).

The Zapata Swamp National Park is home

The Zapata Swamp National Park in Cuba is rich in biodiversity. It has been a protected area since 1961.

While on the subject of birds, the International Waterbird Census (IWC) is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year; it covers over 25,000 sites in 100 countries. Take a look at their beautiful Facebook page. In this region, you can find more about BirdsCaribbean’s West Indian Whistling Duck and Wetlands Conservation Project here: http://www.birdscaribbean.org/west-indian-whistling-duck-and-wetlands-conservation/ It includes a fabulous teaching resource: a publication called “Wondrous West Indian Wetlands.”

The beautiful West Indian Whistling Duck is endemic to the Caribbean. It is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because of its shrinking habitat. It is entirely dependent on wetlands. (Photo: Anthony Levesque)

The beautiful West Indian Whistling Duck is endemic to the Caribbean. It is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because of its shrinking habitat. It is entirely dependent on wetlands. (Photo: Anthony Levesque)

In the Caribbean, mangrove restoration projects are under way – including along Kingston’s Palisadoes airport road, where construction by China Harbour Engineering Company destroyed a considerable area of mangroves; some replanting has now been done. One keeps one’s fingers crossed that these will grow into healthy forests again. The Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM) Wetlands Interpretation Centre in the Portland Bight Protected Area (in Clarendon) is built and seeking more funding to get going on important educational and training programs. The Grenada Fund for Conservation and partners in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are involved in a project called At The Water’s Edge, funded by The Nature Conservancy, looking at the conservation of coastal areas and the restoration of mangroves and reefs.

So, things are happening. If you or anyone you know wants to learn more – and to get actively involved in wetlands conservation projects – do get in touch with any of the organizations mentioned above.

Our wetlands need all the help they can get.

Black River Morass is one of four Wetlands of International Importance in Jamaica. The others are the Port RoyalMason River Protected Area, Bird Sanctuary and Ramsar Site in Clarendon and St Ann; the Palisadoes-Port Royal Protected Area in Kingston; and Portland Bight Wetlands and Cays in St Catherine and Clarendon. Together, they cover an area of 37, 847 hectares. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

Black River Morass is one of four Wetlands of International Importance in Jamaica. The others are the Mason River Protected Area, Bird Sanctuary and Ramsar Site in Clarendon and St Ann; the Palisadoes-Port Royal Protected Area in Kingston; and Portland Bight Wetlands and Cays in St Catherine and Clarendon. Together, they cover an area of 37, 847 hectares. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

C-CAM's Wetlands Interpretive Centre is seeking funds to expand its programs. (My photo)

C-CAM’s Wetlands Interpretation Centre is seeking funds to expand its programs. (My photo)

In Grenada, mangroves have been planted in PVC pipes. (Photo: Grenada Fund for Conservation Inc).

In Grenada, mangroves have been planted in PVC pipes. (Photo: Grenada Fund for Conservation Inc).

The Ice Princess Rules Our Hearts: Turandot at the Met

Turandot must be obeyed. (Photo: Metropolitan Opera of New York)
Turandot must be obeyed. (Photo: Metropolitan Opera of New York)

My father’s mother was an emotional woman. My most vivid memory of her was enthroned on the sofa, propped up by cushions and Pekinese dogs, with a delicate handkerchief in one hand – her lower lip trembling. My grandmother was a well built woman, and the fragile handkerchief was completely inadequate for her size as well as for the depth of her emotions.

The final scene of "Turandot," where the princess is actually smiling. This gives you a little taste of the lavish production.

The final scene of “Turandot,” where the princess is actually smiling. This gives you a little taste of the lavish production at the Metropolitan Opera.

What made her mouth tremble the most, and tears swell in her eyes? Puccini’s last opera, the magnificent “Turandot,” played on the 1960s “stereogram” (young people would not, of course, be familiar with this wondrous piece of technology, which took up a large portion of my grandmother’s sitting room). My brother and I would watch her with a mix of apprehension and amusement, as the familiar triggers in the opera arrived, inevitably, one by one. One of these was the faithful and pious slave girl Liu’s plaintive aria before she stabbed herself. The other was, naturally, Calàf’s aria “Nessun Dorma,” during the sleepy night scene at the beginning of the final act. Now if you don’t know this, look it up. Even non-opera fans know it – it’s almost a pop song. Luciano Pavarotti, that rockstar opera star, sang it at the 1990 FIFA World Cup. Aretha Franklin did a soulful version.

Liu (Anita Hartig) sings "Tu che di gel sei cinta" (You Who Are Enclosed by Ice) while Turandot watches unmoved.

Liu (Anita Hartig) sings “Tu che di gel sei cinta” (You Who Are Enclosed by Ice) while Turandot watches unmoved.

For me, “Nessun Dorma” (sung in a rather workmanlike way on this occasion) was not at all the highlight of the Metropolitan Opera of New York’s revival of a Franco Zefirelli production – aired live by the wonders of satellite technology in an (eighty per cent empty) Carib 5 cinema. Clutching a sickly sweet cup of Nestlé from the coffee machine, I was overwhelmed by the performance of the Swedish soprano Nina Stemme in the title role. “Powerful” is an overused word in this context – and inadequate. We were caught up in layer upon layer of sound. My husband threw his head back against the seat. I clutched my coffee, gulped it down and squeezed the arm rests and the cardboard cup, alternately. I spent the rest of the opera tilted over at an angle onto the next seat (empty), finding it easier to absorb the performance that way. What a voice.

Now, Turandot is a fairy tale about a Chinese princess, the Emperor’s daughter. She sends beautiful princes seeking her hand in marriage to their deaths, because they cannot solve the riddles she tells them. She is a vengeful figure, and we all know revenge is a dish best served cold. Twisting her long sleeves back and forth with sharp motions in In Questa Reggia” (“In This Palace”) she tells of the rape and murder of another princess, her ancestor. Everything revolves around Turandot. We are almost fearful of her appearance in Act 2, and when she does arrive we feel the psychological weight of her presence (and also her physicality – I never imagined her as a slight figure).

In Act 1, Turandot appears high above the crowd in her lighted palace. A beautiful scene.

In Act 1, Turandot appears, silently, above the crowd in her lighted palace.

Turandot is no shrinking wallflower.

I have always felt uncomfortable about the point in the final act when Turandot just… gives in. She is “conquered” by love (although it seems more like lust, to me, and it appears that when she is still reluctant – she really doesn’t want a man – Calàf simply forces himself on her). There is a moment when Ms. Stemme suggests that Turandot is less than happy with this turn of events. But it’s a relief to all that no more heads on sticks are going to appear on the horizon – twenty-something beautiful princes beheaded, at the last count. Enough is enough.

So, as usual in opera, one doesn’t examine the niceties of the plot too closely; there are hints of stuff that are far from “politically correct” in our modern age. However, when swept up in Zefirelli’s sensuous production, it’s all too easy to forget. There are imperial guardsmen with red, grinning masks; silk-fringed parasols; graceful dancers with pink, slanting eyes; cold white masks and multi-colored, tasseled headdresses; swirling scarves and acrobats; fans snapping open and shut; magnificent, heavy robes with long sleeves and shoes with turned-up toes. There is a huge sword (for the execution); a gong (to summon the Princess); gilded columns and lanterns of scarlet and green. The production is so rich and complex I found myself watching different areas of the stage at different times, where little vignettes were played out.The choreographer, Chiang Ching, is seventy years old today and was interviewed during an intermission.The choreography – all the movement – of the chorus and other parts was almost hypnotic – especially the use of hand movements, gesturing, uplifting, folding.

The "stranger" who guesses the riddles (Marco Berti) is getting the better of Turandot (Nina Stemme) in this scene.

The “stranger” who guesses the riddles (Marco Berti) is getting the better of Turandot (Nina Stemme) in this scene.

When my grandmother was especially moved, she would reach out and grab my hand. Sitting in the Carib cinema on a cloudy tropical afternoon, I could almost feel her hand, with her heavy rings, trembling in mine.

She was loving every minute of it.

Postscript: Opera is the complete artistic package: music (orchestral and song), acting, choreography, design. I would like to suggest to the Jamaican cinema company Palace Amusement that it seriously considers in the future inviting students of drama, music, theater, dance and design (say from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts) to attend these remarkable live performances, which are of the  highest levels of quality and professionalism. They are not simply a film of a performance; in the intermissions you see the stage sets being moved, stage managers at work, interviews with producers, wardrobe people etc. – all the “behind the scenes” happenings. It is much more than just a show. Students could learn so much – and, importantly, become inspired. Rather than have a Carib 5 with say thirty members of the audience – as there were today – why not offer half-price or even free seats to students? I am sure they would benefit.

 

 

Negril Chamber of Commerce Is “Appalled”; NRCA Chairman Concedes “Bungling”; and Is Jamaica For Sale?

Residents claim that at least thirty truckloads of sand left Negril today. (Photo: Facebook)
Residents claim that at least thirty truckloads of sand left Negril today. (Photo: Facebook)

The Negril Chamber of Commerce (NCC) issued a short press release today, expressing its shock at Monday night’s withdrawal of the Minister of Environment’s stop order for the removal of sand from a property in Negril to a new hotel development in St. Ann. Executive Director of Jamaica Environment Trust Diana McCaulay observed that Minister Pickersgill actually (perhaps inadvertently) spoke the truth when he said that the economic value of the hotel development “outweighs all other considerations” – a line in his written statement which has upset many Negril residents and environmentalists.

Thanks to CVM Television's "Live at Seven" for keeping the focus on this issue - in particular, host Simon Crosskill and producer/reporter Yolande Gyles Levy.

Thanks to CVM Television’s “Live at Seven” for keeping the focus on this issue – in particular, host Simon Crosskill and producer/reporter Yolande Gyles Levy.

On CVM Television’s “Live at Seven” last night the Chair of the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) John Junor described these words in the Minister’s statement as “unfortunate,” saying the value of the investment was not the only consideration (on the same program, environmental lawyer Danielle Andrade pointed out that by law, the impact on the economy should not be a factor). But sometimes, the truth will out, and Minister Pickersgill’s words rang true.

On “Live at Seven” Mr. Junor actually conceded (more than once) that there was “some administrative bungling” by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).The developers did not know this, but they should have applied to NEPA for a “variation order,” allowing them to take a larger quantity of sand, he said. What a confusion! I almost feel sorry for the poor developers, having to deal with such incompetence. Almost!

Some of the sand waiting to be taken away. (Photo: Negril Chamber of Commerce)

Some of the sand waiting to be taken away. (Photo: Negril Chamber of Commerce)

On the same program, the NRCA Chairman (who did most of the talking on the show) appeared to be trying to make some legal points regarding the Jamaican Constitution, which he said indicates that landowners such as Karisma should not be told how to dispose of their property, without compensation being paid. Mr. Junor is, after all, an attorney by profession. He also said the material removed is “not coastal sand,” but was taken further away from the high water mark. I am no scientist, but the huge piles of sand photographed look like lovely white Negril beach sand, to me. 

A property on Negril beach, now shored up at great expense due to the erosion. (Photo: Gleaner)

A property on Negril beach, now shored up at great expense due to the erosion. (Photo: Gleaner)

Mr. Junor also asserted that carting away the sand would have “no long term impact on the environment.” How could such a large volume of sand being removed not have any impact – especially combined with all the other ills of the Negril environment, including the draining of the Great Morass, removal of seagrass by some hotels, etc.? But professional experts advised the hotel, said Mr. Junor, and did soil tests. So, no worries?

The point about climate change funding is a telling one. Ironically, the Government has been seeking funding for a controversial breakwater in Negril to combat beach erosion. I have written about this issue in previous blog posts. NCC spokeswoman Sophie Grizzle Roumel believes it’s “a bit unfair” to ask taxpayers in other countries to fund large adaptation projects in Jamaica, when the Government is doing its best to hasten the impact of climate change by removing sand from beaches that are already eroding (among other actions). Negril’s beach is reportedly eroding at close to ONE METER per year! And then, if a storm comes along in a few months’ time…

But I have to ask: What is the point of all these agencies supposedly protecting and regulating our environment? What is the point of environmental laws and the very recently produced Development Order for the area – which cost J$14 million to produce? What is the point of a Ministry of Environment that is not protecting the environment?

The Opposition Spokesman on the Environment Daryl Vaz, meanwhile, has not said much apart from that this matter shows the Government’s incompetence and “dysfunction.” He has welcomed the Environment Minister’s plan to develop a beach sand policy (which he says he suggested), adding that it is “an unfortunate situation.” Oh, how Jamaicans love to use this word “unfortunate,” meaning that it’s a really bad thing, but nothing can be done about it! Mr. Vaz hedged his bets though, by talking about the balance between environment and development that must be respected, “at all times.” We know, don’t we, that there is no balance, Mr. Vaz? It’s development that wins, at all times. Isn’t that the norm?

So, will Negril get its sand back – the sand that belongs to an overseas developer, according to the Minister? The answer would be: “No chance.”

As the host of “Live at Seven” Simon Crosskill said last night, “It does seem that Jamaica is indeed for sale.”

Here is the NCC’s press release:

January 26, 2016

The Negril Chamber of Commerce (NCC) is appalled that the Minister responsible for the environment, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, has rescinded the stop order for the removal of sand from Karisma’s hotel in Negril to their property in Llandovery, St. Ann.

We have heard arguments that the sand is not sand and also that it was owned by the hotel. The Quarries Control Act of 1984 defines quarry material as follows: “quarry material means rock, stone, sand (including sea sand), marl, gravel, clay, fill and limestone where such material does not contain any minerals in economically workable quantities.” Sea sand is defined as “sand on the seabed, shoreline or foreshore.” So the excavated sand and soil on Karisma’s construction site IS quarry material as defined by the Act and requires a quarry license to excavate or remove it, which is why one was issued.

The recently enacted Development Order clearly states the risk of removing the sand from Negril to another location and it has been ignored to by the Environment Minister. This risks the integrity and stability of the entire beach at Long Bay, affecting those who have invested in Negril for decades.

To say that “the value of the project to the Jamaican economy outweighs all other considerations” as Minister Pickersgill has done, is essentially to say that once there is money to be made, the environment does not matter. This is a short term and incredibly ill- informed position to take, particularly in the context of the Government of Jamaica seeking donor funding to protect the environment and mitigate against climate change.

The NCC questions the logic of having environmental laws and an environmental regulatory body; it will lobby all international agencies to cease funding climate change adaptation and protection of the environment projects until our government stops sacrificing the environment on the altar of expediency.

National Integrity Action: It’s Time For Some Good News on Jamaica

(l-r) Martin Henry, Chair and Professor Trevor Munroe, Executive Director of National Integrity Action, with Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice Carol Palmer and Opposition Spokesman on Justice Delroy Chuck at today's press briefing on the Corruption Perceptions Index 2015. (My photo)
(l-r) Martin Henry, Chair and Professor Trevor Munroe, Executive Director of National Integrity Action, with Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice Carol Palmer and Opposition Spokesman on Justice Delroy Chuck at today's press briefing on the Corruption Perceptions Index 2015. (My photo)

“You could call this a ‘good news’ press conference,” said National Integrity Action (NIA) Chairman Martin Henry, welcoming the Jamaican media and others this morning for a briefing on the new Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2015 released today by Transparency International (TI) in Berlin. NIA is the Jamaica Chapter of TI. You can download the full report, which lays things out very clearly, from https://www.transparency.org/cpi2015/

A sign reads 'Corruption, laundering' during a protest in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on April 18, 2013. Transparency International's “Global Corruption Barometer 2013” report shows the impact of corruption on business around the world. (Daniel Garcia/AFP/Getty Images)

A sign reads ‘Corruption, laundering’ during a protest in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on April 18, 2013. (Daniel Garcia/AFP/Getty Images)

The global picture is far from cheerful, however. Two thirds of the 168 countries on the CPI 2015 scored below 50 on a scale of zero to 100 (zero is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean). Denmark remained at the top, Somalia and North Korea tied at the bottom. Corruption remains “public enemy number one” in developing countries, said NIA Executive Director Professor Trevor Munroe, quoting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on World Anti-Corruption Day last year.

Of the 26 countries of the Americas ranked in 2015, Haiti and Venezuela scored lowest – both at 158th on the CPI with a score of 17. Canada was the highest in 10th place. Brazil fell the furthest; it had a rough year with the Petrobras scandal, falling to 76th on the CPI last year. We will recall the widespread public anti-corruption protests in Brazil and Guatemala last year. These resulted in criminal investigations now ongoing in Brazil; and in Guatemala, the resignation and indictment of former President Otto Pérez Molina last September. Perhaps these grassroots anti-corruption movements bring hope for the future. Perhaps people are simply tired of “grand corruption.”

So, how did Jamaica do? Actually, rather well – hence the smiles. It was the only country in the Americas to have improved its score by three or more points, advancing from 38 to 41 points. In fact it is one of only 20 countries globally that improved by this margin. This pulls Jamaica out of the bottom half of the Americas’ ranking for the first time in nine years (during which it was “marking time” in Professor Munroe’s words), placing it at 69th out of 168 countries. Jamaica moved up 16 places, from 85th out of 175 countries on the CPI in 2014. Jamaica actually ranks seventh out of 26 countries in the Americas – after Canada, the United States, Uruguay, Chile, Costa Rica and Cuba. I notice that few Caribbean countries appear on the CPI, however – I am not sure why this is.

(l-r) Contractor General Dirk Harrison; Director of USAID Jamaica Dr. Denise Herbol; and NIA Chairman Martin Henry at today's press briefing. (My photo)

(l-r) Contractor General Dirk Harrison; Director of USAID Jamaica Dr. Denise Herbol; and NIA Chairman Martin Henry at today’s press briefing. (My photo)

NIA and its partners would like to take some credit for this positive development; and so, I believe, they should. The Ministry of Justice and successive Justice Ministers; civil society organizations, community-based organizations and community development committees, under the banner of the Social Development Commission (SDC); and faith-based organizations such as the Spanish Town Ministers Fraternal (who attended the briefing) – all played their part. Professor Munroe believes these important partnerships are beginning to show results, although there is still a long way to go. He particularly thanked the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) office in Jamaica for its “indispensable” support for NIA and for Jamaican civil society in general.

So what is the background to Jamaica’s upward movement? Well, certainly there have been louder and more effective demands from the Jamaican public for Government accountability and transparency. The Government has been forced to respond, albeit sometimes belatedly. For example, there were the changes in the National Solid Waste Management Agency (NSWMA) board after another disastrous fire at the Riverton garbage dump; and the resignation of the Chair of the National Housing Trust (NHT) in the wake of the “Outameni scandal.” Last year also there was the demand for greater transparency on the so-called “dead babies scandal,” resulting in the publication of the Ministry of Health audit. There have been other, smaller victories too. Performance audit and investigative reports by the Contractor General (OCG) and the Auditor General have made a difference; the OCG’s report uncovered corruption in the Hanover and St. Thomas Parish Councils, for example. The Major Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) has stepped up its game in the past year also, attacking police corruption and going after crime “kingpins” involved in corruption. After all, crime feeds on corruption in all its forms. MOCA’s conviction rate has also increased.

Executive Director of National Integrity Action Professor Trevor Munroe at today's press briefing. NIA  celebrated its fourth anniversary on World Anti-Corruption Day in December, 2015, and became a National Chapter of Transparency International on 15th March, 2015. (My photo)

Executive Director of National Integrity Action (NIA) Professor Trevor Munroe at today’s press briefing. NIA celebrated its fourth anniversary on World Anti-Corruption Day last December, and became a National Chapter of Transparency International on 15th March, 2015. (My photo)

Professor Munroe also pointed to work that has been done on “long-pending” anti-corruption legislation. Progress has been made with the “Lotto Scam Act” and the outlawing of Ponzi schemes, for example. Parish Councils will undergo more oversight. There is the political party registration and campaign finance reform legislation, too, seeking to improve the electoral process. The Integrity Commission Act and some other legislative measures are still dragging their feet. Importantly, however, Professor Munroe emphasized that while there are shortcomings, the NIA does not believe in “throwing out the baby with the bathwater.” It would prefer to work on “plugging the loopholes” (an expression used more than once), rather than rejecting legislation outright. This, the NIA believes, is a more constructive approach.

The NIA thinks Jamaica’s 2015 ranking bodes well for its socio-economic future. The Global Competitiveness Report 2015-16, for example, continues to identify corruption as high on the list of problems affecting Jamaica’s economic progress. One hopes that, going forward, the CPI ranking will encourage more investors and help create employment. It will not only help restore some public confidence that efforts are actually being made; it will also encourage NIA and its partners – at home and abroad, since corruption is a global problem – to persevere in their efforts to achieve a “culture change” among Jamaicans, especially the youth (by the way, most NIA members are indeed youthful!)

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice Carol Palmer spoke for Minister Mark Golding, who was unable to attend. She welcomed NIA’s “proactive, constructive role,” adding that the Ministry has “conversations to hold” with Professor Munroe on a number of issues. She said the Government is seeking to “bring together agencies that currently operate in silos” in the anti-corruption fight. There is much on the legislative agenda that needs to be focused on. The Representation of the Peoples Act, which was passed in the Senate earlier this month, has now gone back to committee for proposed amendments to be discussed. Section 52 BB of the Act (that campaign donations received by candidates should be used only for financing their election campaigns, and not for personal expenses) is a particularly thorny issue.

Opposition Spokesman on Justice Delroy Chuck cited vote-buying as a major concern. (My photo)

Opposition Spokesman on Justice Delroy Chuck cited vote-buying as a major concern. (My photo)

Opposition Spokesman on Justice Delroy Chuck noted that inefficient, slow bureaucracy helps corruption to flourish. In Jamaica, it is often said (and in fact the current Finance Minister famously said this) that “he who plays by the rules gets shafted.” He raised the issue of electoral practices too, asserting that vote-buying is “widespread” and that people threaten not to vote unless they get paid. Professor Munroe responded that NIA’s latest set of television ads, to be rolled out soon, will focus on this very issue. The ads will point out that getting paid $5,000 or so to vote is not going to help Jamaicans, their families or the community in which they live in any way – not even in the short term.

Professor Munroe pointed to NIA’s substantial public education work, which has helped to raise awareness in the past year. It has produced two documentaries that are available on its website, on YouTube and that have been aired on both local TV stations. The third documentary, to be aired for the first time on TVJ on Sunday, January 31, is titled “Building Integrity” and focuses on the electoral system. This would be very timely, as there is speculation that on that same day the Prime Minister will finally announce the long-awaited election date at a public rally in Half Way Tree – possibly for late February.

NIA also believes in “face to face” education. It has organized town hall meetings across the island and participated in street meetings in Spanish Town and Montego Bay. Through USAID’s Comet II program, it has intensified its youth outreach. It has also helped establish Integrity Clubs in schools through a pilot program, which it intends to expand. It has partnered with the Jamaican Bar Association. Another partnership with the Spanish Town Ministers Fraternal has been quite effective; Bishop Dr. Rowan Edwards of the Lighthouse Assembly Ministry, who is Chairman of Spanish Town Revival, told us that through its continuous outreach, partnering with other faith-based and community groups, his church has seen a turn around in citizens’ approach to crime and corruption – in a town that has had serious struggles with those challenges. By the way, the group’s next “10,000 Men and Their Families” rally in Spanish Town will take place on Sunday, March 13 at 3:00 p.m. It’s good to see this activist approach.

 

“There is still a long way to go” in the struggle, emphasized Professor Munroe. On the current legislation, “We will not let those loopholes slide,” he added. While current legislation has its flaws, the NIA intends to “keep on pushing.” NIA Chair Martin Henry observed in closing that a balanced and co-operative approach is key: “We are not going to run through the town with a sledgehammer.”

Meanwhile, we must all play our part. Let’s keep the pressure up, on our Government and private sector. Moreover, let us help our communities get engaged in the fight against corruption. The infamous “informer fi dead” culture needs to go.

An anti-corruption skit performed at a special event at the University of Technology on March 15, 2015, which marked the visit of Jose Ugaz

An anti-corruption skit performed at a special event at the University of Technology on March 15, 2015, which marked the visit of Chairman of Transparency International Jose Ugaz. (My photo)