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ICT: Building the Information Resource Center for Water Resources in Africa Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Erick Ochieng Otieno, Kenya Jan 31, 2007
Technology , Human Rights , Environment   Opinions


It has been often discussed how genetically modified food, commonly referred to as GM food, will help alleviate poverty and hunger in Africa and other regions. It is true that GM food can help alleviate food crises facing Africa and the world. However, if there is no framework to guide us on how to safeguard the environment in the process, then even the GM food production will be of no consequence.

Every good thing has its other side of the coin, and GM food is no exception. Therefore what should we do to prevent this through ICT? First is to ensure that any changes brought about by this technology are tracked down to the last effect. This can not happen in a vacuum.

The African continent and indeed some parts of the world have not developed any databases where researchers can access information on environmental changes. This makes it difficult for many who would like to come up with models for their technologies to show the impact of these new technologies on the environment and future population survival.

With a database it would be possible to come up with valuable predications on the effects of the weather patterns on these new technologies without waiting until things get bad. For example, any fertilizer is good for the growth of the plants, but if the required conditions are not met, such as presence or lack of rain, then it becomes disastrous to the plant in question and in some extreme cases, those who consume the plants. The same fate can befell the GM technology especially taking into consideration that the result may be the mutation of the genetic components and who cannot imagine the consequences of that?

The weather pattern changes in Africa have been so unpredictable and according to my opinion, we should first come up with ways of returning Africa’s condition to its former glory where every type of crop could be found here. This, I believe, can be done if we base our scientific research towards enhancing environmental protection for better agricultural output through sustainable use of our natural resources, especially our forests. Proper legislation on the use of water resources be it forest utilization, irrigation, land use and many more so that we may not degrade our lands and at the same time get the water for our crops. If these are done, I am sure that even the GM technology will not be needed as a major source of food security but as a substitute.

It is therefore prudent for our senior African researchers and scholars in collaboration with other stakeholders to look for ways to have a database on water resources patterns, land use and their effects, and any other relevant issue.

Education of the local agriculturalists will also be a very paramount requirement if the ICT benefits are to be realiased. Many people, especially African farmers do not know a lot about proper agricultural prctice hence the food and crop failures. If we want to use geneticaly modified foods we must start by disseminating of the knowledge on the pros and cons is also very essential as this will alliviate any doubts in the African farmers minds.

This should be done in a better framework that provides protection of the farmers and at the same time ensures that the ICT knowledge is not hindered by many litigations that may arise in the process.



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Erick Ochieng Otieno

I was a student from Egerton University. I pursued a course leading to a BSc in Applied Aquatic Sciences. I believe that through writing, one can relieve a lot from the heart. Inspiration came from hearing and reading. Whoever said that you have to be an old one to communicate issues of policies, did not consider that even a newborn communicates through its own way, "crying". I would like to communicate to the world all my thoughts; However minor they are, I believe they will go a great length to straighten or strengthen a policy or two somewhere and I shall have contributed to the well being of the world. How noble that is, it is for my worthy readers to let me know. So what do you think? Tell me anytime. Bye and have a nice reading.
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