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Overfishing in Mauritania

Grace Russell

Overfishing has grown to become a threat to the global industry and well being. The World Wildlife Fund stated last year that the amount of fish in the oceans has halved since 1970 in a plunge to the “brink of collapse” caused by overfishing and other ocean threats. Damage to coral reefs and mangroves, which are nurseries for many fish, add to problems led by overfishing. This issue specifically affects the future and livelihood of fishermen and their families around the world.

Mauritania, located in the North-West of Africa, has some of the world’s richest fishing grounds along its 720km Atlantic coast. The strongest driver of the economy for purposes of local consumption and exports is fish. But overfishing, and other climate challenges seek to destroy its gains. The Mauritanian coast possesses high levels of biodiversity, promoting a rapidly growing fishing trade, most of which is required by law to be sold through the state managed Société Mauritanienne de la Commercialisation de Poissons (SMCP). The country’s coasts are among the richest fishing areas in the world, and fishing accounts for 25% of budget revenues and GNP, 50% of foreign currency earnings, with 70% of the 100,000 tons of annual production exported yearly. Fishing, in turn, generates 45,000 jobs accounting for 36% of all employment. However, due to policy failures on the part of the Mauritanian government, overfishing is threatening the Mauritanian coastal biodiversity and the fishing livelihood of the people who depend upon it.

The president himself stated, “Our African continent suffers an abnormal situation characterised by the existence of numerous resources yet the citizens are often suffering from poverty. The only way to improve this situation is with good governance.” Overfishing is destroying traditional livelihoods along the coast of Senegal, which borders Mauritania. Fish catches are collapsing there after years of overfishing, mainly by foreign trawlers, some of whom are fishing illegally. Meanwhile, Senegal’s traditional fishermen have been evicted from the rich waters of neighbouring Mauritania, leading to a vicious circle of rapidly falling catches, economic desperation and yet even more overfishing. Some have continued crossing the border, provoking an armed response from Mauritania’s coastguard. Foreign journalists in Mauritania discovered an insatiable onshore fish processing industry now being encouraged across the region, and consuming catches on a vast scale. Much of the industry is fed by big foreign trawlers, and the end product, known as fishmeal, is exported to wealthier countries to feed livestock and aquaculture. Mauritania has a fisheries and transparency initiative which is an attempt to end secretive contracts that aid overfishing. It has sought to enlist the support of businesses and civil society in embracing responsible fishery management. Such an initiative has been hailed by the industry as a major milestone in taming overfishing, which costs west African countries up to €1.1bn in depleted stocks every year.

Experts say closing fishing grounds and cracking down on illegal fishing gives stocks a chance to recover. Safeguarding the oceans can help economic growth, curb poverty and raise food security.

The EU has renewed a four-year fishing agreement with Mauritania that will allow more than 100 EU vessels into Mauritania’s waters in return for funding of local fishing communities. But the deal has its critics. Since 2009, EU fish imports have risen by 6% each year. The agreement, which dates back to 1987, is considered crucial because it is the most comprehensive agreement the EU has had with any African country. It forms part of a series of partnership agreements that give EU vessels access to a third country’s fishing waters. The new deal will come under the EU’s common fisheries policy, which has committed to work on more sustainable fishing, in stark contrast to the overfishing of the African coast that was undertaken in the past. The agreement now allows EU vessels to catch shrimp, tuna, demersal fish and pelagic fish totalling up to about 280,000 tonnes each year. The EU will pay for the catches and commit €59m every year to the partnership, with €4m supporting the fishing communities in the west African country including environmental sustainability, job creation, and tackling illegal and unregulated fishing. The EU vessels covered under this arrangement come from Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Germany, Ireland, France and Latvia. But the fishing deal has received growing criticism from researchers and environmentalists who have accused the EU of exporting its problem of overexploitation to African waters. The argument is that although Mauritania has received more than €1bn in return for EU fishing rights for the past 25 years, there is little to show how the money is benefiting local fishing communities or improving the country’s fishing sector. Trawlers are almost obsolete and even the marked growth in traditional fishing techniques has been without government participation. The EU’s presence is unsustainable and a hindrance to Africa developing its own robust fishing sector.

A Crisis Under Water

Much like global warming, ocean acidification is a serious result of rising carbon dioxide emissions. Putting at jeopardy millions of peoples health around the world who are depend on ocean life, whether it be their livelihood or their nutrition. Compared to pre-industrial levels, there has been a 26% increase of ocean acidification, a resultant of a rapid increase in CO2 in the atmosphere. Sulogna Mehta in Times of India states that, now the current rate of acidification has shown to be over ten times faster than any other period within the past 55 million years. Both the ocean and atmosphere maintain a ratio of CO2, the ocean hold approximately 30% more CO2 than the atmosphere. This notion is a good one, when thinking about the atmosphere and how it potentially could be even worse. However CO2 reacts with water, forming carbonic acid. Carbonic acid can be considered a “weak” acid, none-the- less is an acid, which produces hydrogen ions in the ocean, lowering the waters PH and making it more acidic. The oceans acidity has increased 250%, making the ocean the most acidic it’s been within the past 25 million years. This issue has made a major impact worldwide, however it has become an extremely prevalent problem in places such as India.

The people of India witness the cruel result of ocean acidification in their day to day lives, due to its negative impact on the sea food they rely on and in many cases their livelihood.

“The rate of acidification of oceanic water with subsequent decrease in the pH value in northern

Bay of Bengal (Vizag-Bengal region) is faster than elsewhere in the world, making this region a highly acidifying zone.”, states The Times of India. Researchers have found that many pollutants from the Indo-Gangetic plains as well as China and Bangladesh have been mixing with seawater in Indian waters because of the regions elevation compared to that of flat land, in return causing the oceans acidification. Ocean acidification has an immense impact on the food chain, due to it’s acidification reducing the growth of planktons, fish feed and shelled marine creatures. Globally, the rate of decrease in PH is .0019 unit / year, however in the Bay of Bengal it’s rate is at a high of .006 unites/year. During winter months, pollutants carried via the air blowing from the land to the sea, include acidic chemicals such as sulphates, nitrates and ammonia. Also, Nitrate and sulphate aerosols eventually deposit in the ocean decreasing its PH. Many metals in the water that are needed for phytoplankton or basic fish feed to grow, also change due to ocean acidification, decreasing plankton growth. Low PH causes a negative effect on the entire food chain.

India firmly believes that, being inclusive of ocean acidification mitigation and adaptation plans must be included in any future international climate change agreement. India also feels that putting money towards strengthening it’s now weak powergrid, in order to improve green energy sources effectiveness. Such advancements are currently out of India’s reach due to its limited funds. India believes that legal advancements towards improvements in ocean acidification are essential to Indian ocean life’s well being but as well as the potential benefits Indian coastal communities which have been heavily impacted by the effects of such issues, leading such communities into a smooth adoption period of changing social, economic, biophical, and ecological circumstances. In return any advancements would aid not one prevalent issue but two. Finally, after lengthy research, India believes the cure to ocean acidification is the same as for climate change. As previously mentioned, 30% of CO2 dissolves into the ocean, and efforts to stop the excess production of CO2 is deemed to help prevent further ocean acidification. If human efforts were made to complete the goals established in the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions not only India, but globally the world would alleviate itself from some of the negative climate change and ocean acidification have caused human kind.

Millions are at Risk

The education system in Morocco faces major faults that many believe are irreparable. While more than 95% of children within the appropriate age are enrolled in primary school, less than 15% graduate from high school. The dropout rate among young students is so high that only 53% of students in middle school continue on to high school. Children are subject to a poorly structured curriculum, in which the attempt at a multi- lingual teaching is embedded; this method not only has been poorly executed, but has caused a drop in literacy. Morocco has shown recent improvements and a desire to better the lives of its people, however it’s limited resources and economics means prevent rapid improvement. Economic and influential assistance from the U.S would help Morocco by saving the lives of many and giving people an opportunity to live a comfortable life of the streets of Morocco.
Illiteracy is one of the primary contributors to Morocco’s poor education system. In response to the immensity of the problems in education, the Moroccan government has made efforts within the past ten years to stop illiteracy, because of these efforts a gradual increase in literacy was made. However illiteracy remains to be problematic. In the year 2012, The National Agency For Illiteracy Diminishing stated, “10 million Moroccan men and women are illiterate”. Although more common in adults over the age of fifty (61.1%), the illiteracy rate in Morocco has for many years been high in comparison to developed countries. Morocco World News demonstrates the immensity of the issue Moroccans are facing through statistics gathered from The Moroccan High Commissioner for Planning Ahmed Lahlimi. Rural areas in October of 2015 had an illiteracy rate of 41.7%, more urban areas had an average of 22.2% illiteracy. Finally statistics gathered from the total population concluded that 41.9 % of women are illiterate while 22.2% of men are illiterate. Illiteracy in Morocco has also proven to be dependent upon the given region. More Southern areas such as Laâyoune (located in the Sakia el Hamra region) which has a rate of 20.3 percent and Dakhla-Oued Ed Dahab has 23.9 percent. Béni Mellal-Khénifra, however, has the highest rate of illiteracy at 38.7 percent illiteracy.
Given the recent decrease in illiteracy compared to Morocco’s statistics from previous years, the government has established a system focused around points. Their aim is to earn a total of ten points within a span of five years. Morocco’s Ministry of Culture and Communication writes, two points amounts to teaching literacy skills to 1.1 million people, costing the Moroccan government tremendous efforts in collaborating with different partners to better its peoples education. After the National Education and Training Charter’s (CNEF) goal to reduce Moroccan illiteracy to less than 20% by 2010 failed, it’s new goal to eradicate illiteracy by 2024 was made. Lahlimi states that rates have dropped 10% within ten years. Such advancements have proven to be critical to the country’s overall well being and chances of opportunity. The Global Education Monitoring Report writes, “educated mothers are less likely to die in childbirth by two-thirds and that child mortality would be reduced by a sixth. Literacy plays an important role in mortality rates through the ability to read.”. The author suggests that Morocco not only lacks the ability to deliver traditional education, but health education such as sexual health is lacking, causing unwanted pregnancies and lack of health awareness as well. By establishing a stable education system in which more kids are kept in school and off the streets, and one in which people are educated in all aspects of life, not only would kids have more potential opportunities in the workplace, but Morocco would benefit form a more prosperous and stable country in which equal opportunity and overall health is established. However, Morocco can’t reach such a goal on it’s own.
It’s in the United States best interest to involve itself in Morocco’s educational crisis. By supporting a reconstruction of the curriculum and providing aid, Morocco’s goal of significantly diminishing its iliteracy rate by the year of 2024 wouldn’t be so unattainable. Ultimately saving the lives of many, the U.S should not only feel that they must be involved in what some would refer to as an unjust fate for Moroccan citizens and is purely good, but feel proud to involve itself in something that for the past decade has demonstrated small success. Undertaking a reform alongside Morocco has the potential to save and improve the lives of many people who have earned the right to learn through struggle and hardship.

Islamic State Strikes Again: Sex Slavery

Devastating humanitarian crises occur all over the world daily and often fly under the radar. Particularly in areas of the middle east where societies fall far beneath their dictatorial governments, citizens and minorities lack the help and support they need. It is important for the United States to know that in August of 2014, as ISIS conquered large parts of the Sinjar area of northern Iraq, it targeted hundreds of thousands of Yazidis for extermination, executing hundreds of the men and kidnapping them for forced labor. As they advanced through huge swathes of Syria and Iraq, Islamic State commanders ridded their territories of all religious minorities that would compromise their vision of a new Caliphate, ruled by Sharia law and untainted by the infidel. The Yazidis are neither Muslim nor Christian but worship a peacock god which, in the eyes of the Islamic State group (IS), make them satanists and a valid target for extermination. Among the mass killings, thousands of women and children were detained, prompting President Obama to warn of an unfolding genocide. After detaining the Yazidis, the Islamic State systematically separated young women and teenage girls from their families. It didn’t matter if the women were married, had kids or siblings. Nearly 7,000 Yazidi women and children were captured by ISIS fighters according to U.N. Investigators. Many of the women were turned into sex slaves for the militants. Woman who were later interviewed by the Human Rights Watch stated that many of the girls were are young as 12 or 13 years old. It remains the duty of the United States, alongside other developed countries, to send aid to the facilities that were put in place to help the victims of this horrendous disaster recover.
Many young woman and girls were able to escape and lived to tell their stories of this horrific humanitarian disaster. Three young Yazidi women escaped from sex slavery and travelled to London, where they told their personal stories. They wouldn’t show their faces to the camera because, they say, they still have friends and family being held by the fanatics, and they fear the repercussions that they might suffer if they reveal their identities. “We were raped up to five times a day,” says 20-year-old Bushra. “One girl went to the bathroom and slit her wrist. When she did not die she cut her throat. The guards wrapped her in a blanket and threw her out with the rubbish.”
Although the thick of this disaster was years ago, there are lasting effects that continue to go unsolved. Bushra admitted that out of her seven brothers, only one managed to escape, and the other six are still missing to this day. She describes the IS commanders as “Between 50 and 70 years old”, and she explains, “I was 15 when I was selected by a commander. He said younger girls are better than older ones. They usually select the most beautiful and youngest girls for themselves.” She admitted that “There was nothing they didn’t do to [her].” The women and young girls were raped, beaten, burnt with cigarettes, sold over and over again, and in many cases murdered.
Traumatised and exhausted from their daily beatings, they nonetheless seized any opportunity to escape captivity. Many people were eventually placed in internally displaced people camps in Iraq, but others were slowly redirected to the UK, and many to Germany where they are given counselling for trauma, rape and abuse. In January 2016, some woman were given the chance to heal and rebuild their lives thanks to the “Special Quotas Project.” The ambitious scheme, launched by the German state of Baden-Württemberg, brought 1,100 women and children — all former ISIS captives, and mostly Yazidis — to the country. The state of Baden-Württemberg set aside approximately $114 million for the pilot program. Psychologist Dr. Jan Kizilhan, a trauma specialist from Germany, interviewed the survivors to gather a sense for how they could be helped. “The youngest girl I examined was 8 years old. And she was about eight months in the hands of ISIS. She was sold 10 times,” Kizilhan said. “That means in the period of eight months she was raped hundreds of times, every day.” The women and girls in the program live in 23 shelters spread across this affluent region of southern Germany. The location of the shelters remains undisclosed in order to protect the survivors from the reaches of ISIS or their sympathizers. The survivors have two-year special visas, with the option to stay in Germany permanently.
According to Yazidi activists, there are still at least 2,400 women and children in the hands of ISIS. Kizilhan has already been planning for their care. He is training Yazidi and Kurdish psychologists who will be able to treat the survivors in Iraq. While the blunt of this crisis occured years ago, thousands of yazidi victims could still benefit from United States investments and aid at this time. As a developed democratic nation, it is both the responsibility and the interest of the United States to express our disapproval in the behaviors of the Islamic State and support the people of the Yazidi minority. Although the situation in Iraq was and still remains dire, Germany’s support has allowed for there to be hope of recovery for thousands of Yazidi woman. As allies to Germany, a nation that shares many social views as the United States, we should lend aid to organizations that they run, not only to support Germany but more importantly to save thousands of Yazidi woman from trauma, captivation, and abuse. With U.S. awareness and involvement, we could prevent similar future humanitarian tragedies from occurring.

Problems Facing Primary and Secondary Education in Egypt

Egypt has one of the most developed educational systems in the Middle East and North Africa region. However, the outcomes the system produces are far from ideal. Although education is compulsory between the ages of 12 and 17, less than 50 percent of 17-year-olds attend a secondary school. Nearly 13 million people aged 15 or older in Egypt are illiterate, and only about 69 percent of students attending primary school are in the appropriate grade for their age. The two factors primarily responsible for these outcomes are a lack of government spending on education and widespread gender-based discrimination. Several organizations, including USAID and UNICEF, are currently working to improve education in Egypt.

Although Egypt has a GDP of nearly $250 billion, the Egyptian government only spends $9.5 billion on education annually. Egypt is ranked 115th in the world for percentage of GDP spent on education. The lack of expenditure on education has led to a deterioration of school infrastructure and poor teaching quality. Around one in five school buildings in Egypt are unfit for use, lacking functioning water and sanitation facilities. Many primary and secondary school teachers in Egypt are poorly trained, and teachers often use corporal punishment in their classes. According to the 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), more than half of the students in Egypt do not meet the low benchmark in international learning assessments.

Gender-based discrimination negatively impacts the educational attainment of Egyptian girls. While the literacy rate for boys is 86.5 percent, the literacy rate for girls is only 75 percent. The number of illiterate women in Egypt is almost twice the number of illiterate men. The disparity in educational attainment between boy and girls is largely brought about by local attitudes towards girls’ education. While 86 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 24 in urban areas can read, only about 72 percent of women in the same age group living in rural areas can read. Improved female educational attainment could help resolve some of Egypt’s socioeconomic issues. Infant mortality rates and population growth rates would likely decrease.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the agency of the United States government responsible for administering civilian foreign aid. USAID has several projects in Egypt aimed at improving educational attainment and literacy rates. The organization’s Literate Village project is a four-year activity that aims to eradicate illiteracy in about 2,000 rural villages. The project targets communities with large numbers of out of school children and has received about $17 million in funding. USAID is also conducting the Early Grade Learning and Remedial Reading project. Studies conducted in Egypt have shown that strong early childhood education greatly improves the odds that a child will complete primary and secondary school. The Early Grade Learning and Remedial Reading project targets early grade learning and seeks to ensure that Egyptian students can learn essential reading, writing, and mathematics skills. The project aims to reach over 150,000 teachers and 7.2 million children and has received about $15 million in funding.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is an intergovernmental organization that seeks to address the needs of women and children in developing countries. UNICEF provides support and funding to Egypt’s Ministry of Education, the government agency responsible for the provision of teacher salaries, textbooks, and school sanitation. UNICEF has many programs in Egypt, such as the Learning Improvement For Everyone (LIFE) program, that provide training for teachers, learning materials, and teacher evaluation systems. Many of UNICEF’s activities have a specific focus on ensuring equal educational access to girls.    

Egypt’s undesirable educational outcomes are primarily brought about by gender-based discrimination and a lack of government expenditure on education. There are twice as many illiterate women as illiterate men living in Egypt. As a result of a lack of funding, school infrastructure and teaching quality have deteriorated. Several international organizations have programs aimed at improving education in Egypt. USAID has programs that seek to enhance early grade education and eliminate illiteracy. UNICEF has programs that seek improve the overall quality of teaching and eliminate gender-based discrimination.

You say “Hezbollah,” I say “Nasrallah.”

Donning his black turban, a subtle reminder that he is a descendant of Muhammad, Hassan Nasrallah reassures the Lebanese people after political events through televised speeches. Upon first glance you would assume Nasrallah is the President or Prime Minister of Lebanon; in actuality however, he is the Secretary General of Hezbollah, a Shia terrorist organization bent on destroying Israel. Nasrallah holds official veto power in the government, as well as control of a powerful Shia militia, Hezbollah has substantial representation in Parliament, and he has an incredible 97% approval rating among Shiites. His ability, as a semi-authoritarian terrorist leader, to gain so much political leverage in the Lebanese government is partially attributed to his history of making military and political decisions that benefit Lebanon, as well as his social reforms and regular communication with the people, creating a extremely loyal following.
Nasrallah has a history of taking action, he was able to build a militia stronger than the Lebanese army by training grass-root fighters and inspiring them with religion. In 2000, he was credited with Israel leaving southern Lebanon and gained even more popularity after negotiating a prisoner exchange that released 400 Lebanese prisoners from Israel. In 2006, he was viewed as the leader of the war with Israel which became a matter of pride among the Lebanese, especially their refusal to surrender arms. Nasrallah’s popularity also increased as he personally oversaw to rebuilding of destroyed homes. In 2008, Nasrallah was even able to stage a takeover of rival party headquarters in Beirut further demonstrating his power.
Another aspect that has greatly contributed to his popularity is his welfare programs, many of which the Lebanese government has failed to provide. Nasrallah has set up successful schools, hospitals, and even sports groups. These facilitates are usually only open to Shiites or members of Hezbollah, which works to create strong bonds of loyalty. If people are not able to receive education or healthcare anywhere else they are unlikely to turn against Nasrallah.
Nasrallah also is known for regularly communicating with his people through televised speeches. The delivery of the speeches themselves are confident yet sincere sometimes even incorporating humor which is rare among religious figures but makes him more approachable. Nasrallah gives his speeches in Classical Arabic with a Lebanese dialect so he can reach more people. He has recently given a range of speeches including one after Saad Hariri’s resignation, where he in a very paternal nature promised to try to keep Lebanon safe and stable, skillfully trying to limit fear but alerting the people to the possibility of Saudi Arabian meddling. He also made a speech in October defending Hezbollah after US sanctions and criticism over their strong ties with Iran, and current fighting in Syria but he made sure to focus on the sacrifice especially parents are making allowing their children to go to war. Nasrallah himself lost a son to Israeli forces, and this personal sacrifice is viewed very favorably among Lebanese citizens, as is a rule he has set in place among his Shia militia that parents with only one child have a choice to send them to war. Through these speeches Nasrallah has created a possible illusion of transparency, but also of trust as he has a tendency to not make promises he cannot keep which has helped him in the long run.