I started the year with Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 1. And promised Part 2. The winter gloom then stalled me (the nadir was reached on January 24). But I rallied, and here is Part 2:
1. Plumpy’nut is gaining ground. Famine and cheerfulness certainly don’t go together. But we should celebrate Plumpy’nut — a peanut paste containing vitamins, minerals and powdered milk. It did wonderful work during the 2005 Niger famine (go to MSF here). Created by André Briend, a French scientist, Plumpy’nut can be made locally, and eaten straight from individual foil packets, allowing most malnourished children to be treated at home, not in the (often unavailable) hospital.
2. The Davos Bubble finally burst. After years of pushing hot air above a small town in the Swiss mountains, folk now realize that nothing comes of these mega-events — except a great deal of posturing. Did Davos generate anything useful? We doubt it. But let us know if we’re wrong (in the meantime for some Davos substance read Simon Maxwell’s posts on the ODI blog).
3. The Mail & Guardian goes from strength to strength. But in a Monocle interview proprietor Trevor Ncube worries about press freedom in South Africa: “The test often comes during bad times. Bad times come when politicians feel under threat. With 20 million South Africans living below the poverty line there could be a revolution. But one gets comfort from our constitution and the vibrant, civil society”
4. Malaria vaccines now look feasible. Trials of a malaria vaccine in Mozambique cut the infection rate of infants under five months by 65%. And providing free bed nets (a passion of Jeff Sachs) really does work according to a new WHO study. Malaria can be beaten back.
So on to Part 3 soon (maybe by the Spring). Meanwhile, you can check out the Ian Dury version here.