Sunday, September 29, 2013

2013 Slavery in our time. Families in Mali splintered by slavery

The Guardian

Families in Mali splintered by slavery as culture and conflict converge

Tuareg rebels are capitalising on fighting in Mali to reacquire former captives whom they regard as their property from birth
• Mali's lax laws make an anti-slavery activism tough
MDG : Slavery : A child (slave) washes dishes in a crowded a slum in Bamako, Mali
A child in Bamako. The collapse of the state in Mali makes slavery hard to combat. Photograph: Jake Lyell/Alamy
"I haven't heard anything about my brother for more than a year," says Raichatou Walet Touka. She's been living at a safehouse in Bamako, Mali's capital, after fleeing the northern town of Gao following an attack by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), a Tuareg rebel group that briefly took over northern Mali in early 2012.
Thousands were displaced by the fighting, and the subsequent battle for control of northern Mali between Islamist rebels and the MNLA. But the situation facing Raichatou has been particularly perilous, for she comes from a family considered by many in the MNLA leadership as slaves.
"I can't sleep at night," she says, wiping away tears. "I wake up feeling bad and thinking about my family who are still there."
In 2008, Raichatou escaped slavery in the northern desert town of Menaka, heading for the relative safety of Gao. But when the MNLA took control, she fled, fearing her old Tuareg slave masters might try to recapture her.
Anti-slavery groups say the conflict and ensuing political chaos in Mali has worsened the situation facing the 250,000 people who live in conditions of slavery in the west African state. The MNLA leadership and parts of the Ansar Dine Islamist group, which fought for control of the north last year, come from Tuareg noble families, some of whom are responsible for continuing the practice of slavery in Mali.
Malian anti-slavery organisation Temedt has reported cases of slave masters profiting from the chaos of the past year to recapture former slaves, including at least 18 children seized from one village last September. Raichatou believes this is the fate that may have befallen her brother, Ismagir Ag Touka.
Although slavery is a crime against humanity in Mali's constitution, it remains deeply ingrained in the culture. For centuries, descent-based slavery – where slavery is passed down through the bloodline – has resulted in "black Tamasheq" (the Tuareg's language) families in Mali's north being used as slaves by nomadic Tuareg communities. Generations of children have been considered the property of the Tuaregs from birth.
Despite the constitution, slavery is still not illegal in Mali, making it difficult for anti-slavery groups to launch criminal prosecutions.
Raichatou became a slave at the age of seven when her mother, also a slave, died. "My father could only watch on helplessly as my mother's master came to claim me and my brothers," she says. She worked as a servant for the family without pay for nearly 20 years, and was forced into a marriage with another slave whom she didn't know.
"My master only wanted me to have children so that he would have more slaves in the future. My opinion did not count. I had to live with a man I had not chosen for three years. They told me that the only way I would get to heaven was to obey my master."
In 2008, she heard about Temedt and made her bid for freedom; finally, she was reunited with her father.
"My instinct for liberty was telling me to grab every opportunity to be free, but my slave mentality was telling me the opposite" she says.
Now, Temedt's work helping liberate people has been severely restricted. Its activists cannot travel safely and security is volatile.
Efforts to bring civil compensation cases to court on behalf of escaped slaves have stalled with the collapse of Malian state institutions across the north. At least 17 slavery compensation cases that were going through the courts remain unresolved. There has been no progress on Raichatou's case. "I feel like everything we achieved has come to nothing. I have no hope," she says.
"The absence of the state has left people without recourse or protection," says Sarah Mathewson, Africa programme co-ordinator at Anti-Slavery International.
Funding for Temedt has been drying up, as donors pulled out of Mali following the coup in March 2012. A microcredit scheme for women of slave descent and a legal clinic offering advice to escapees have closed.
"Our work has ground to a halt," says Intamat Ag Inkadewane, a community organiser for Temedt, who also fled Gao. "I'm just sitting here in Bamako; I'm not working, I'm not getting paid. There are things I want to do in the north, but we have no way of knowing when we can get back there."
The recent French intervention in Mali does seem to be paying some security dividends with most of the Islamist fighters driven out of the main urban areas. But many slaves and ex-slaves say they still do not feel safe, since a new Tuareg group, the Islamic Movement for Azawad, is in control of the remote town of Kidal.
Temedt's president, Ibrahim Ag Idbaltanat, says he hopes its work can soon resume. Elections due in July could provide a rare window of opportunity, according to Mathewson: "People of slave descent should be consulted and represented in national and international efforts to address the crisis so this issue is not forgotten."

International: GABON. Wildlife Crimes. Illegal Poaching and arrests of Chinese Nationals

Agence Nationale des parcs nationaux

For the five Chinese wood buyers recently arrived in Gabon it must have seemed like an exotic treat when workers of the EBS (Emirates Bois Sarl) logging company operating east of Makokou in NE Gabon invited them to sit down for a meal of freshly butchered roasted elephant trunk. But acting on a tip off from a Gabonese citizen who was shocked to see this behavior, a team from Gabon’s National Parks Service arrived before they could savour their meal. The five visitors and a further nine resident Chinese workers are in custody and a criminal investigation is underway.

Senior Conservator, Dr. Joseph Okouyi, described how his team found fresh and smoked meat from several elephants in the kitchen, as well as ivory trinkets and chop sticks carved by the forestry workers in their spare time from ivory purchased from local poachers. They also had a stash of giant pangolin scales, used in traditional Chinese medicine, a pair of horns from the rare Bongo antelope, and a Winchester rifle.

National parks staff subsequently arrested one of the hunters who had provided elephant meat and ivory to the Chinese buyers, confiscating an illegal elephant gun and a large tusk. A fresh carcass was subsequently discovered in the forest. The investigation is ongoing and Dr. Okouyi expects to prosecute on Monday morning.

Professor Lee White CBE, head of Gabon’s National Parks Agency was in New York to attend a special event at the Clinton Global Initiative hosted by Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea when he received news of the arrest. “This incident is not an isolated one” he stated. “Unfortunately these guests in our country have abused our hospitality and rather than contributing to the sustainable development of Gabon through their forestry operations they are driving the destruction of our natural heritage”. Professor White went on to stress the fact that elephant and rhino poaching are out of control across most of Africa and that 75% of all forest elephants have been slaughtered in the last decade by poachers who are more and more aggressive and who have developed links to organized crime”.

Speaking at the United Nations President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon stressed that: “The magnitude of illicit gains from rhino horn, ivory and other wildlife products, has made organized criminal networks more and more aggressive. Today, many of our wildlife rangers are involved in combat situations similar to that seen by Special Forces in armed conflicts. Illicit wildlife trade is destabilizing entire countries, and is negatively impacting the growth of national economies”. He stressed the need for “concerted action from the international community as a whole to tackle this issue”, saying that “source, transit and market countries all need to work together”, calling for the UN Secretary General “to appoint a Special Envoy for Wildlife Crime, who should be charged with spearheading a global response to this pressing issue”.

The Gabonese Ambassador to the United States, Michael Moussa-Adamo, who was present at the Clinton Global Initiative ceremony, stated that “for many years, our country has taken seriously the responsibility to preserve and protect the natural environment.  Gabon's people recognize the threats that put our flora and fauna in danger – whether it is the threat of poaching or the threat of climate change, which alters the precarious balance among plants, animals, and people.  We welcome this opportunity to cooperate with the Clinton Global Initiative on this significant new effort to conserve the lives and habitat of the African forest elephant.”

Prof. Lee White CBE, Executive Secretary, Gabonese National Parks Agency, Tel. +24107840063; Email:

Joseph Mayombo, Communications officer, ANPN. Tel. +24107840015; Email:

Ref. photo library on website

11 Chinese forestry workers arrested for ivory poaching in Makokou, NE Gabon, 25 September 2013

Chinese forestry workers had been working ivory provided by local poachers. Also in picture two horns from the rare Bongo antelope and an elephant gun seized by national parks staff

Monday, September 23, 2013

750 Free Online Courses from Top Universities

750 Free Online Courses from Top Universities

Get free online courses from the world’s leading universities. This collection includes over 750 free courses in the liberal arts and sciences. Download these audio & video courses straight to your computer or mp3 player. Note: you can find a new collection of certificate-bearing courses here

Get free online courses from the world’s leading universities. This collection includes over 750 free courses in the liberal arts and sciences. Download these audio & video courses straight to your computer or mp3 player. Note: you can find a new collection of certificate-bearing courses here

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cholera in Haiti By Deborah Sontag

Cholera in Haiti By Deborah Sontag

Posted by K T on September 16th, 2013
·         11
Jean Salgadeau Pelette, handsome when medicated and groomed, often roamed this central Haitian town in a disheveled state, wild-eyed and naked. He was a familiar figure here, the lanky scion of a prominent family who suffered from a mental illness.On Oct. 16, 2010, Pelette, 38, woke at dawn in his solitary room behind a bric-a-brac shop off the town square. As was his habit, he loped down the hill to the Latem River for his bath, passing the beauty shop, the pharmacy and the funeral home where his body would soon be prepared for burial.
The river would have been busy that morning, with bathers, laundresses and schoolchildren brushing their teeth. Nobody thought of its flowing waters, downstream from a U.N. peacekeeping base, as toxic. When Pelette was found lying by the bank a few hours later, he was so weak from a sudden, violent stomach illness that he had to be carried back to his room. It did not immediately occur to his relatives to rush him to the hospital.“At that time, the word ‘cholera’ didn’t  yet exist,” said one of his brothers, Malherbe Pelette. “We didn’t know he was in mortal danger. But by 4 that afternoon, my brother was dead. He was the first victim, or so they say.”
In the 17 months since Pelette was buried in the trash-strewn graveyard here, cholera has killed more than 7,050 Haitians and sickened more than 531,000, or 5 percent of the population. Lightning fast and virulent, it spread from here through every Haitian state, erupting into the world’s largest cholera epidemic despite a huge international mobilization still dealing with the effects of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake.The world rallied to confront cholera, too, but the mission was muddled by the United Nations’ apparent role in igniting the epidemic and its unwillingness to acknowledge it. Epidemiologic and microbiologic evidence strongly suggests that U.N. peacekeeping troops from Nepal imported cholera to Haiti.
“It was like throwing a lighted match into a gasoline-filled room,” said Dr. Paul S. Keim, a microbial geneticist whose laboratory determined that the Haitian and Nepalese cholera strains were virtually identical.“In the future, historians will look back and say, ‘Wow, that’s unfortunate,”’ said Dr. Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners in Health, a nongovernmental organization that provides health care for the poor.While the world has dedicated $230 million so far to combating the unexpected epidemic, the United Nations is now pleading for an additional $53.9 million just to get the vulnerable displaced population through the rainy months ahead.
“In telling the truth, the U.N. could have gained the trust of the population and facilitated the fight against cholera,” said Dr. Renaud Piarroux, who led an early investigation into the outbreak. “But that was bungled.”The United Nations maintains that an independent panel of experts determined the evidence implicating its troops to be inconclusive.Questioned for this article, though, those same experts said that Keim’s work, conducted after their own, provides “irrefutable molecular evidence” that Haiti’s cholera came from Nepal, in the words of G. Balakrish Nair, an Indian microbiologist.“When you take the circumstantial evidence in our report and all that has come out since, the story now I think is stronger: The most likely scenario is that the cholera began with someone at the MINUSTAH base,” said another expert, Daniele Lantagne, an American engineer, using the French acronym for the U.N. mission.Even so, Anthony Banbury, a U.N. assistant secretary-general, said last week, “We don’t think the cholera outbreak is attributable to any single factor.”And many health officials consider the cholera response “pretty remarkable,” as John Vertefeuille, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s director in Haiti,said.
A sky-high initial fatality rate of over 9 percent has declined to 1.3 percent (less than 1 percent is considered a well-managed epidemic). And the most recent statistics show new cases dropping to 120 daily.
One calamity after another
Here in the epicenter of the epidemic, all signage relates to life in the time of cholera. Surrounding the town square are heart-adorned posters that say, “Living with cholera: Always wash your hands with clean water and soap.” Banners slung across the streets, in contrast, bear skulls and crossbones: “Justice and reparations for all victims of the MINUSTAH cholera.”Inside City Hall, the deputy mayor, crisply dressed in a chambray shirt and slacks, described how he personally buried 27 bodies for fear that workers would not take precautions, how he nearly lost two of his own children to cholera and how he seethed every time Nepalese troops entered his offices.“They were in my face every day, and the feeling inside me got stronger and stronger,” said Ocxama Moise, the deputy mayor.
Haiti had escaped the cholera that raged through Latin America in the 1990s, and even the cholera that struck the Caribbean in the 19th century. It appeared “extremely unlikely” that cholera would present itself, a CDC post-earthquake brief said.But on Oct. 8, 2010, hundreds of Nepalese troops began arriving in Haiti after a cholera outbreak in their homeland, where cholera is endemic.Cholera affects individuals differently; many infected develop no symptoms or only mild or moderate diarrhea.
Falling violently ill in October 2010, Pelette was not one of the lucky ones. Severe cholera causes profuse watery diarrhea, often accompanied by vomiting. Treatment is straightforward: replacing lost fluids and electrolytes, orally or intravenously. But those like Pelette who get no treatment can become so dehydrated that they go into shock and swiftly die.Nobody knows for sure, but people here believe that Pelette was the first Haitian to die of cholera, and, though he was not named, he was presented as the “first case” in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in January.
Enter the epidemic A couple of hours after Pelette died from what the family priest proclaimed to be a poison of some sort, Rosemond Laurime, 21, a “small-business man” in his family’s description, got sick in nearby Meille. From Meille, the epidemic coursed through the Artibonite River valley, landing with a thump 46 miles northwest, and downstream, in the coastal St. Marc area. On Oct. 19, three children died in rapid succession in a classroom in the rice fields. On Oct. 20, the St. Nicholas Hospital was overrun.Patients sprawled on every surface, doubled and tripled up on beds, in the halls, in the courtyard and even on the sidewalk outside. By nightfall, there were 404. Forty-four died.“At that moment, I felt like I didn’t want to live any longer myself,” said Dr. Yfto Mayette, the hospital director. “It was so sudden and so brutal.”
On Oct. 21, as a brass band accompanied Pelette’s white coffin to the cemetery, the national laboratory completed its analysis of the bacteria.At 11 that night, Dr. Jordan W. Tappero of the CDC got a call in Atlanta from the laboratory’s director: “Jordan,” he said, “It’s positive.”Louise C. Ivers, Haiti mission chief for Partners in Health, had just arrived in Boston for a meeting. “My first thought was, ‘You can’t be serious.’ Everyone was exhausted.”
InPort-au-Prince, Jocelyne Pierre-Louis, a senior Haitian health official, had steeled herself. “We were in a way waiting for the other shoe to drop,” she said. “We had barely picked ourselves up after the earthquake when the cholera fell on us.”Pierre-Louis reported to the large tent that replaced her collapsed office after the earthquake. Ivers took the next plane back, and Tappero flew in, too, with the first of 119 CDC employees who would deploy toHaiti.There was much to do, from treating patients to treating water, from importing personnel to training Haitians, from distributing supplies to distributing basic disease and hygiene information.But there were also fundamental decisions to be made, and nobody was firmly in charge. International health officials deferred to the Haitians — “our partners” — but in reality held the purse strings and know-how. This led to an often awkward collaboration, colored by Haitians’ resentment that cholera had been imported in the first place.Gaetan Drossart, mission chief for Doctors Without Borders-Belgium, said the “health cluster,” a consortium of humanitarian groups, had good intentions, “but there’s a lot of meetings and a lot of blah blah blah.” He said other groups were limited by agreements with donors to working in the earthquake zone and could not redeploy quickly.
Truth vs. ‘The Blame Game’
 Within a week of the outbreak, officials in Mirebalais were pointing fingers at the U.N. base, and U.N. officials were trying to stifle what they portrayed as rumors. The struggle began between those who thought that determining the epidemic’s origin was important and those who lamented “the blame game.”
 At first, the United Nations said the base’s handling of its waste met international standards — that it used sealed septic tanks, which were regularly emptied by a Haitian contractor, with the waste buried in a proper landfill.
 But on Oct. 27, Al-Jazeera filmed peacekeepers with shovels “working furiously to contain what looks like a sewage spill.” Latrines appeared to be emptying black liquid directly into the river, a reporter said, and the air smelled foul with excrement.
 Even four months later, the United Nations’ own experts, examining the base’s supposedly improved sanitation, discovered haphazard piping with “significant potential for cross-contamination” between toilets and showers.
 They also noted the “potential for feces to enter and flow from the drainage canal running through the camp directly” into the tributary. Contaminants would have been distributed throughout the river delta in two or three days — a timeline consistent with epidemiological evidence tracing the cholera trail, the experts said.
 Before long, hundreds of Haitians were marching on the base, with demonstrations spreading to Port-au-Prince and riots developing in Cap Haitien.
 Edmond Mulet, then head of the U.N. stabilization mission, complained that it was “really unfair to accuse the U.N. for bringing cholera into Haiti.” U.N. officials believed that agitators were taking advantage of the issue to sow unrest before November elections. But many Haitians were genuinely incensed — and fearful. Some wanted an explanation, others a scapegoat. Voodoo priests were being lynched for their supposed role in bringing the curse of cholera on Haiti, the government said.
 In early November, the CDC said that Haitian cholera samples matched strains commonly found in South Asia.
 Money and lives
 From the start, financial concerns colored the response to the epidemic, which had killed more than 3,600 Haitians by the first anniversary of the earthquake. It was partly a question of getting money flowing. Some donors hesitated, given the plodding pace of the earthquake reconstruction; others had to wait for a new budgetary year. Some institutions had time-consuming grant or contracting processes.
 It was also a question of philosophy.
 Some health officials wanted to use the least expensive prevention and treatment strategies and to marshal resources for the long battle ahead.
 Others wanted to employ every available weapon at once, from free drinking water and antibiotics to aggressive case-tracking, mass vaccination and water and sewer system building.
 If that meant spending more upfront, so be it, they said. A year after the earthquake, many organizations were sitting on donations that remained unspent. The American Red Cross, for one, still had nearly half of the $479 million it had raised; it would ultimately dedicate $18 million directly to cholera prevention and treatment. Doctors Without Borders would spend $45 million.
 Farmer of Partners in Health, who calls himself “a maximalist,” said he wanted “health equity” — for the developed world to respond to cholera in Haiti as it would at home.
 His organization initially requested potable water be trucked into the Haitian heartland so that a traumatized population would not have to filter and treat its water. Purification tablets were delivered instead because it was considered cheaper and simpler, he said.
 There was also a reluctance to use antibiotics, which can reduce diarrhea, spare suffering and potentially limit the disease’s spread.
 The Cubans alone dispensed antibiotics to all cholera patients and preventively to their relatives.
 World health authorities, concerned with cost and drug resistance, initially said antibiotics should be reserved for severe cases. Nearly three months later, the CDC recommended antibiotics for moderate cases, too.
 Delay and disbelief
 In February 2011, nearly four months after the outbreak, the United Nations’ independent experts arrived inHaiti.
 The secretary-general’s office wanted them to move quickly but not too quickly; it did not want the findings released until the Nepalese contingent had concluded its six-month rotation, Lantagne said.
 The panel said not only that the cholera had come fromSouth Asiabut that it originated in the tributary behind the Nepalese base.
 Yet the U.N. experts noted that “the introduction of this cholera strain as a result of environmental contamination with feces could not have been the source of such an outbreak without simultaneous water and sanitation and health care system deficiencies.”
 And they diplomatically concluded that the epidemic was “not the fault of, or deliberate action of, a group or individual.”
 After the U.N. panel dispersed, Danish and American scientists collaborated to scrutinize the Haiti-Nepal connection using the most comprehensive type of bacterial genetic analysis — whole-genome sequence typing.
 Dr. Rene S. Hendriksen ofDenmarkpersuaded the Nepalese to provide samples from their outbreak. Keim’s Translational Genomics Research Institute inArizonasequenced the DNA, comparing it with Haitian samples already sequenced by the CDC.
 The Haitian and Nepalese strains were virtually identical.
 Citing this study and other evidence, a legal claim was submitted to the United Nations in November on behalf of Haiti’s cholera victims.
 The victims’ lawyers have asked the United Nations to establish a commission to hear the claim. Banbury of the United Nations says the claim is “under serious review by the legal affairs department.”
 “The U.N.’s choice is simple,” the lawyers wrote in a legal article. “It can rise to the occasion and demonstrate that the rule of law protects the rights of poor Haitians against one of the world’s most powerful institutions, or it can shrink from the challenge and demonstrate that once again in Haiti, ‘might makes right.”’
 A breather, and then disaster
 It is tempting now when reported cholera cases are at a low for Haitians to relax their guard and for health officials to take a breather.
 “We are no longer 24/7 cholera,” Pierre-Louis said. The same thing happened last year. Then the rains hit andPort-au-Prince, like other places, experienced more cases — 24,000 — during a 42-day period than at the epidemic’s start. It was a scramble to deal with the surge; many grants had expired, emergency workers had gone home and treatment centers were closed.
 “We had supplies and structures prepositioned but it wasn’t simple,” said Drossart of Doctors Without Borders. “We couldn’t keep mobilizing staff forHaiti. There are other things going on in the world.”
 Vertefeuille of the CDC said a key focus now was making the response sustainable without a large international presence. But the government health system, weak and underfinanced, will be hard-pressed to assume greater responsibility.
 Vertefeuille also said cholera was likely to persist inHaitiabsent the development of water and sanitation systems, the cost of which has been estimated at $800 million to $1.1 billion.
 A singular achievement was the opening of Haiti’s first wastewater treatment site last fall. But humanitarian groups fret that short-term water and sanitation solutions are not being pursued aggressively, and that tent camps have lost the free water and, in some cases, the latrine services that gave them a buffer against cholera.
 Many also express keen frustration that the dry season is not being used for aggressive case tracking — chasing the disease into pockets where it flares, investigating and chlorinating the water source and mobilizing the community.
 “You can’t wait with your arms crossed until the rain falls again,” Piarroux said. “You have to go after these areas like firemen trying to extinguish every last burning ember of a forest fire.”
 ‘Would have burned it down’
 In Meille, the walled gate at the U.N. base is freshly painted now with the insignia of Uruguayan peacekeepers. The Nepalese are gone.
 The mission itself is reducing its forces nationwide.Nepal’s troop strength is being cut by two-thirds, more than any other country’s. U.N. officials said that this was unrelated to tensions over cholera.
 But people here think otherwise: “If they hadn’t left, we would have burned it down,” Moise, the deputy mayor, said of the base.
 Behind the base, the stream where the epidemic began bustles with life now as it did before the outbreak; many who live and work beside it have no other access to free water.
 Recently, just behind the base’s barbed-wire periphery, Dieula Senechal scrubbed exuberantly colored clothes while a 6-year-old girl, Magalie Louis, splashed into the water to brush her teeth.
 Approaching with a machete on his way to hack some cane, her father, Legenord Louis, said Magalie had contracted cholera late last year but after four days of “special IVs” was restored to health. He knew the river water was probably not safe, he said, but, while they brushed their teeth in it, they did not swallow.
 For drinking water, Louis said, his family relies on a local well. But he lives from hand to mouth and cannot afford water purification tablets; the free supply he got in 2010 ran out long ago. So he gambles.
 “If you make it to the hospital,” he said, “you survive the cholera.”

Friday, September 13, 2013

EMFORUM: A Transportation Guide for All Hazards Emergency Evacuation

A Transportation Guide for All Hazards Emergency Evacuation

September 25, 2012 -- 12:00 Noon Eastern is pleased to host a one hour presentation and interactive discussion Wednesday, September 25, 2013, beginning at 12:00 Noon Eastern time (please convert to your local time). Our topic will be a new report from the Transportation Research Board's National Cooperative Highway Research Program, (NCHRP) Report 740: A Transportation Guide for All-Hazards Emergency Evacuation. The report focuses on the transportation aspects of evacuation, particularly large-scale, multi-jurisdictional evacuation, and follows the basic planning steps of FEMA's CPG 101.

Our guest will be Deborah Matherly, AICP, Principal Investigator for the NCHRP report and Principal Planner with The Louis Berger Group, Inc. Ms. Matherly has been active on the National Academies Transportation Research Board (TRB) Emergency Evacuation Subcommittee since 2003.

Please make plans to join us, and see the Background Page for links to related resources and participant Instructions. On the day of the program, use the Webinar Login link not more than 30 minutes before the scheduled time. As always, please feel free to extend this invitation to your colleagues

In partnership with Jacksonville State University, EIIP offers CEUs for attending Webinars.  See for details.

Seminar: October 2, 2013. The Future of US Water Supplies.

The Future of US Water SuppliesRFF First Wednesday Seminar
October 2, 2013
12:45 - 2:00 p.m. EST
A light lunch will be provided starting at 12:30 p.m.
First Floor Conference Center
1616 P St. NW
Washington, DC 20036
Registration for in-person attendance is required. To RSVP for this event, please visit RFF's event registration page.
This event will also be webcast live starting at 12:45 p.m. Join the webcast at

Tweet your questionHave a question for the panel while watching the live webcast? Simply tweet your question of 140 characters or less and include the hashtag #AskRFF. Watch the Q&A at the end of the event to see if it is selected.

About the Event

Two significant agency reports were released in the past year evaluating US water supplies moving forward and the potential of both growth patterns and climatic changes to increase the risk of water shortages. The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) released the Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study, and according to BOR Commissioner Michael Conner, “Findings indicate that in the absence of timely action to ensure sustainability, there exists a strong potential for significant imbalances between water supply and demand in coming decades.” The Vulnerability of US Water Supply to Shortage, released by The US Forest Service, focuses more broadly on the lower 48 states and their 98 sub-regional basins. According to that report, the US water supply will be more susceptible to shortages due to changes in supply rather than demand. Although these reports have some limitations (clearly identified in the reports themselves), they provide significant insights into water availability issues over the next 50 to 100 years. Additionally, a collaborative study was released by the American Meteorological Society—Understanding Uncertainties in Future Colorado River Streamflow—that examines and explains the wide range of projected reductions in Colorado River streamflows due to climate change.
Resources for the Future’s Center for the Management of Ecological Wealth is hosting a dialogue to discuss these findings and explore the potential for economic mechanisms (water pricing, trading, and ecosystem service valuation, for example) to help reduce future gaps between supply and demand.


Lynn Scarlett, Visiting Scholar and Co-Director, Center for the Management of Ecological Wealth, Resources for the Future


Thomas C. Brown, Economist, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Social and Environmental Values Group, US Forest Service
Yusuke Kuwayama, Fellow, Resources for the Future
Ken Nowak, Hydrologic Engineer, US Bureau of Reclamation
Len Shabman, Resident Scholar, Resources for the Future
Brad Udall, Director, Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and Environment, University of Colorado

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

GEMA Reservist Program

Check the GEMA website for requirements for this program.

Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA) Reservists: Please view the video link for your authorized position(s). After viewing, email the time/date of completion to .

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA) Reservist Program was developed “to build the state’s response capacity quickly” in the event of a catastrophic event. As a relatively small state agency with approximately 115 employees statewide, GEMA can quickly find itself needing back-up support when a significant incident requires state support for local governments.

Reservists possess the skills and experience needed to perform specialized tasks during an emergency response or recovery operation and are loaned to GEMA by local governments or state agencies not directly impacted or involved in the emergency. The arrangement works like mutual aid _ communities helping communities in time of need.

GEMA formalized the program in 2008 to include application forms, signed agreements and annual training or information sessions, either in the State Operations Centers or online. Reservists serve as public information officers, liaisons to local emergency operations centers, Disaster Recovery Center state managers, data input specialists, situation unit leaders, documentation unit leaders, volunteer/donation unit leaders, project reviewers, and preliminary damage assessment specialists.

To apply for the Reservist Program or for more information, please contact GEMA’s Public Affairs Office at 404-635-7020 or

Finance Division Reservists: Click Here

Operations Division Reservists: Click Here

Planning Division Reservists: Click Here

Public Affairs Division Reservists: Click Here

Public Assistance Reservists: Click Here

Monday, September 9, 2013

Alabama Emergency Management Agency. Certified Local Emergency Manager (CLEM) Process

In accordance with Act 2007-462, as passed by the Alabama legislature and signed into law by
Governor Bob Riley, the following procedures are to be used in certifying local emergency
management directors.

In order to expedite the certification process, materials for each requirement area should be
submitted in a white, three-ring binder without tabs or page protectors.

You will receive an email acknowledging receipt of your package. A review of your submission
will be conducted and the official results will be sent to you by U.S. mail. Please allow 30 days
for a reply.

The following list outlines the documentation required for validation. See Synopsis of Act 2007-
462 Local Emergency Management Assistance Fund and the Question & Answer for
additional helpful information.

1) Two years of college level education (64 semester or 96 quarter hours). These hours do
not have to be on a transcript, only applicable to a transcript at an accredited institution of
higher education. (Any person serving as a local emergency management director on the
date of passage of this act shall be deemed to satisfy the college requirement providing he
or she has a minimum of five years work experience as a local emergency management

Proof of compliance: Transcript or a degree path showing courses as requirements. A
letter concerning any foreign school credits is attached.

2) Three years of work experience in emergency response, emergency management, or
qualified military service

Proof of compliance: A letter on official letterhead from the agency acknowledging your
employment/involvement with the agency; or proper documentation from branch of the
military stating service and or deployment assignments and the length of service.

3) Two hundred hours of course work in emergency management, as established by the
Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director (See attachment A).

Proof of compliance: A copy of course certificates, transcript with course listed, or copy
of AAEM Advanced certification.

NOTE: IS-275 is no longer available from FEMA. IS-324, Community Hurricane Preparedness
is the accepted replacement.

4) If you are currently a Director of a County Emergency Management Agency, include a
letter, on letterhead, from your county’s emergency management g

Robert T. Stafford Act, as amended, and Related Authorities

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) provides the statutory authority for Federal disaster response activities and for FEMA’s disaster assistance programs for a community’s recovery.

Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000

DMA 2000 (Public Law 106-390) provides the legal basis for FEMA mitigation planning requirements for State, local and Indian Tribal governments as a condition of mitigation grant assistance. 

DMA 2000 amended the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act by repealing the previous mitigation planning provisions and replacing them with a new set of requirements that emphasize the need for State, local, and Indian Tribal entities to closely coordinate mitigation planning and implementation efforts. 

The requirement for a State mitigation plan is continued as a condition of disaster assistance, adding incentives for increased coordination and integration of mitigation activities at the State level through the establishment of requirements for two different levels of state plans.

DMA 2000 also established a new requirement for local mitigation plans and authorized up to 7 percent of HMGP funds available to a State for development of State, local, and Indian Tribal mitigation plans.

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