Christmas Day Fire Guts Voinjama Administrative Building

first_imgChristmas Day in Voinjama City witnessed the destruction by fire of four offices of the Voinjama Administrative Building which hosts the Liberian government’s line ministries and agencies in Lofa County.The four offices reportedly burnt included those of the Land Commissioner (Ministry of Internal Affairs); County Education Office (Ministry of Education); County Attorney’s Office (Ministry of Justice); and the Center for National Documents and Records Agency (CNDRA) Lofa Office.According to an eye-witness who spoke to the Daily Observer via mobile phone, the fire originated from the backyard of the Voinjama Administrative Building. Lofa County Joint Security sources told the Daily Observer that gardener Blama Fofana, who allegedly started the fire, is being held for investigation.When the fire broke out, hundreds of Christmas celebrants stormed the untouched left wing of the Administrative Building and made away with computers, typewriters, and other office equipment and supplies.Additional information reaching the Daily Observer alleged that some of the suspected looters were arrested by officers of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). Reports say suspected looters had originally gone to help put out the fire. “Joint security does not want all kinds of persons going to Fofana’s house to obtain information on what actually transpired as a result of the fire incident,” a security source said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

South Africa is getting plenty right

first_imgMinister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said that South Africa has made strides in fighting crime, providing housing, water and sanitation, and treating Aids. (Image: Yvonne Fontyn) MEDIA CONTACTS • Mac Maharaj  Spokesperson, the Presidency  +27 12 300 5312 or +27 79 879 3203• Kelebogile Thulare  Chief information officer  Dept of Performance Monitoring  and Evaluation  +27 12 312 0500 RELATED ARTICLES • We look up to you: Ibrahim • Plan to boost local industry • Smart cities need innovative citizens • Unpacking the National Development PlanYvonne FontynThe government appears to be on the right path, taking cognisance of the Development Indicators 2012 Report, released by Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane on 20 August.The report found that two-million people were being treated for Aids and that life expectancy had risen from 56.4 in 2009 to 60 years. The crime battle continued, but Chabane indicated that the government was winning the war, with crime statistics down. There had been a reduction in unemployment, poverty and inequality, he said; three-million homes had been built, there had been a significant improvement in water and sanitation services and the various government programmes were showing positive results. Regarding land reform, 59 000 claims had been finalised.Education was not performing at the same level as other countries that dedicated the same resources and this needed to be improved. Regarding health, the maternal mortality rate was still high.The Mail & Guardian newspaper and the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation held the Mail & Guardian Meeting of Great Minds Business Breakfast on 23 August, at which Chabane and a panel of experts reflected on the report.Dr Sean Phillips, the director-general in the department, said that in 2009, South Africa had introduced the outcomes system in monitoring and evaluation as well as a system of continuous improvement in an effort to avoid simply repeating what had been done in the past. It was essential to continuously collect evidence and assess impacts and outcomes, to analyse the data and work more smartly and efficiently, he said.As a result, government departments were providing quarterly reports to the cabinet and there was a renewed focus on management practices. “We are looking at [the] government from the perspective of citizens. For example, the response rate to the presidential hotline is improving and 60% of callers say they are satisfied with the service.”Quantitative measuresChabane, who serves in the Presidency’s Department for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, said that with the sixth edition of the Development Indicators, as with the previous reports, quantitative measures were employed to track progress in implementing the government’s policies based on data sourced from research institutions in South Africa and abroad, government databases and official statistics. Results such as an increased number of matriculants indicated the tide was turning in South Africa.First up in the panel was Dr Miriam Altman, a commissioner of the National Planning Commission and the head of strategy at Telkom, who said serious issues facing the government were:The cost of living was out of step with what people were earning and as a result, poverty was rising. The purpose of the National Development Plan was to align earnings with cost of living. “You can only have social stability when people have adequate access to food, health services and transport.”Economic growth was being held back by fundamentals such as labour unrest, a lack of faith in the rule of law, problems with energy supply, regulatory security and the skills shortage.Labour absorption was falling in that the number of people of working age was falling and the majority of these were female, rural and black.South Africa, like many other middle-income countries, needed to change its focus to compete on product excellence rather than on cost.South Africa should manage its macroeconomic framework better so as to counteract global low growth levels and stagnation.Education investmentProviding an education perspective, Godwin Khosa, the chief executive of JET Education Services, said it was commendable that the government invested an annual 5% of gross domestic product in education. More teachers had been absorbed into the system and the matric pass rate for 2012 was the highest in 20 years. He said it was insufficient to speak about inputs and outputs, however; there needed to be more focus on process and involving the parents. The report showed a clear improvement in teacher-student ratios, he added, from 1:33 to 1:30, though urban schools had benefited more than rural ones. The findings showed there were more girls in high school and efforts needed to be made to ensure more boys stayed the course to matric.While it was useful to compare ourselves to other countries, he said, it was crucial to come up with our own working strategies to push education in South Africa forward.Kalyani Pillay, the chief executive of the South African Banking Risk Information Centre, giving a safety and security perspective, said the average civilian still did not feel safe at home or in the streets and there was “lots of work to be done”. Business’s partnership with the government had ensured that cash-in-transit heists had come down, she said, and closer collaboration with the South African Police Service had ensured that more arrests had been made.Cyber crime was increasing, she said, and everyone who used technology was vulnerable as the nature of white-collar crime was constantly changing. Collaborating with Home Affairs had also helped to reduce identity theft.Health perspectiveDr Khangelani Zuma, the executive director of the Human Sciences Research Council, spoke on health. He made the point that analysts should not just look at figures but at what lay behind them. The incidence of HIV had risen, according to the Development Indicators, but this could be because, with treatment, people were living longer. More women were accessing antiretroviral treatment than men and this was perhaps the result of prevention of mother-to-child transmission services.Whereas some districts were showing a decline others had shown an increase, which should also be explored in more depth, he said. Maternity mortality figures were still worrying but immunisation rates were about 95%.A worrying factor was the role of non-communicable or lifestyle diseases, said Zuma, with high levels of blood pressure being recorded among the over-60 population, for example. Regardless of anti-smoking legislation, about 20% of South Africans smoked and many people were being exposed to cigarette smoke. The government needed to act on this, he said, or the gains we had made in health would be reversed. The increase in people becoming overweight was more difficult to deal with as the government could not make rules about every aspect of citizens’ lives. But moves could be made to regulate the advertising of harmful food products.Professor Urmilla Bob of the University of KwaZulu-Natal geography department said declining health and increasing poverty in the rural areas was a concern. “The inability to address rural development has an impact on urban development, as people move from where they believe there is a lack of opportunity.” The loss of jobs in the agricultural sector was a concern and further mechanisation would exacerbate this.Crime and violenceIssues of crime needed to be studied, she added, as some types of crime – such as domestic violence – were increasing in rural areas. Another factor that could destabilise communities was climate change, as South Africa was bound to be affected adversely and this would threaten food security.Prosper Ladislas Agbesi, the chairman of the Pan African Business Forum, celebrated the fact that after 1994, South Africa had achieved a democracy with a vibrant opposition governed by the rule of law. He acknowledged what the ANC had achieved in building schools, clinics and homes and providing social grants to some 16 million people. South Africans who had emigrated were returning because “there is greatness happening in South Africa”, he said.Foreign policy had enabled more foreign direct investment and South Africa was contributing to peace and security in the rest of Africa, as well as growth. However, he said 85% of the land was still owned by 55 000 white farmers and it was important that the government help to create jobs and a better environment for people to live in. To this effect, the National Development Plan should become an emblem and a goal, said Agbesi. In conclusion, he said the government should take a firm stand against xenophobia.During the question and answer session, regarding government accountability, Chabane said that it was the first time in South African history that public servants had had to sign a service agreement with the president, and that there were now contracts for deliverables. “The president will do face-to-face evaluations and assess the management progress in 158 departments,” said Chabane. He added there would be a report back in two years’ time as systems were still being put in place.For more on the Development Indicators 2012 Report, go to the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation.last_img read more

Even with forages, the end of the year is the time to plan

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The month of December is a great time to plan. We still have the opportunity to make changes to the 2017 year and plan for 2018. When I think of 2017, especially as it relates to forages, two things come to mind for me. First, what worked and what went wrong? Next, is there anything that can be done to improve the operation for this and next year?What worked and what went wrong?For many of us, the growing season for the most part was good. Most were able to get hay up in a timely fashion, although I did get some rained on. Pastures grew well throughout the season until a dry period after Labor Day.Now is time to assess your stored feed supplies for the winter to determine if you will have enough. If you do not, what are your options? Are there any standing forages that can still be grazed without damaging the soil and ground cover? Is there any harvested forage residue such as corn stalks that can still be grazed? If feed supplies will still be short, what can you do? Are there some animals that are not as productive that can be culled? If feed needs to be purchased, compare feed on an equal footing. For example, a pound of corn has twice the energy as common hay and can replace a portion of a diet of a ruminant animal. At under $4.00 a bushel, corn is a viable option.For many of us without adequate ground water or public water, a long dry period can be a challenge. For many in the rolling Appalachian foothills where I live, springs have been the primary source of water. Over the past 50 years, these springs have been developed and many farms have no more to tap. With the potential for a dry summer in 2018, we need to be prepared to better utilize our potential water sources. What are your options? On my farm, the last option I have is to develop a pond and have a water tank available for livestock as all of my springs have been developed.Planning for weed control is critical. Spotted Knapweed continues to spread in Southeast Ohio and it is critical to scout and eradicate this weed. I have succeeded in keeping it off the farm for the past five years by controlling the weed along the road, but I had a couple areas in the pastures starting to become established, and I controlled by pulling and/or using a herbicide. I plan to monitor those areas more frequently in 2018. It is much easier to control when the area is small. If you miss a year, it can overtake the field in the next year.Is there anything we can still do for this year?This is where we need to check finances and our inventory. We still have time to affect our bottom line for 2017. Is there any equipment that needs to be purchased or replaced? Tax laws are favorable for depreciating equipment this year and there may be some great deals purchasing now versus next spring or summer. Can you prepay for some inputs this year such as fertilizer or seed? Are there some unproductive animals that may be sold to generate additional income if needed?Plan for 2018Now is the time to set goals for next year. Goals are set each year to provide a benchmark for measuring your success.  They are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, rewarding and timed. If you identified goals for 2017, now is a great time to see if they were achieved. I did achieve goals of putting up more hay, extending the grazing season, and helping my son with his 4-H feeder calf project. I did not achieve a goal of adding another paddock or fertilizing pasture and hay fields.  If goals were not achieved this year, why? Can they be modified and accomplished next year?If you have some time, consider what some the longer term objectives for your family and operation are. This will help identify some goals for 2018 to achieve those plans. For example, if you have been considering an estate plan for your farm, make it a goal for next year. Several years ago, this became a goal for me and my wife, and we identified what we had in mind, picked a time to see an attorney, and then followed through. Now it is complete (it still may need to be revised as conditions change).Some other goals could be reseeding a field, adding paddocks, improving genetics of the herd, developing new marketing strategies, or taking a trip with the family.If you set your goals now, you can have a more focused plan for what you want to achieve in the next year. Don’t forget to receive input from family members and employees so everyone is on the same page.Finally, when I set my goals, I try to divide them into no cost, low cost and high cost; and how much time they will take. This seems to help in the process of prioritizing goals.last_img read more

Living With Point-Source Heat

first_imgWhen we yanked the oil boiler, we replaced it with a wall-mounted minisplit heat pump in the main level open area that includes kitchen, dining, living and our little office area. We closed off the first-floor bedroom and bathroom so those rooms are only heated by conduction and air leakage through the walls, and so they get cold — in the high 40°Fs at the lowest last winter.The second-floor bedrooms and bathroom are only heated by warm air from the main floor rising up as cooler air from upstairs drops. This is a natural convection cycle, and it works pretty good and for free! Dontcha love physics? Monitoring indoor temperaturesI’m data-logging temperatures in the basement, main level, upstairs, and outdoors with Hobo data loggers. The data for a week in December 2011 is shown in the graph below.The outdoor temperature dropped as low as about 16°F and climbed as high as 57°F. The upstairs ran 2 to 4 F° cooler than the main level, except when it was good and sunny and it heated up with more unshaded south glazing per square foot of floor area than the main level.December 26th was the only good sunny day in the six days shown in the graph, and you can see where the upstairs temperature climbs above the main floor temperature briefly.We set the heat pump thermostat to 70°F when we’re here and to 66°F when we are asleep or gone. This being Christmas week, we were here a good bit more than usual, since both of us have been off of work since the end of day on the 23rd, which is the first full day of this series shown above. BLOGS BY MARC ROSENBAUM Installing a Ductless Minisplit SystemAn Induction Cooktop for Our KitchenSeasonal Changes in Electrical LoadsGetting into Hot Water — Part 1Getting into Hot Water — Part 2Getting into Hot Water — Part 3Getting into Hot Water — Part 4Basement Insulation — Part 1Basement Insulation — Part 2 A year’s worth of monitoring dataWe just passed our first year using the Fujitsu 12RLS for heating, with the exception of a 7 1/2 day period in early February 2012 when I switched back to the oil boiler to get some data, which was equal to about 5% of the heating degree days (HDD) in this one-year period. The heat pump energy consumption at the meter was 1,366 kWh; adding the missing 5% brings the consumption up to about 1,441 kWh/year.I don’t know if that is the full number, as we have learned that electromechanical meters don’t always pick up the low wattage periods of consumption. The heat pump was off at the breaker for close to 6 months (May to October).This works out to about 0.28 kWh/HDD. We keep the first-floor bedroom and bath closed off and they only are heated by conduction through the walls. The remaining area (gross square feet) of the house is about 1,300. So space heating energy use is about 0.73 BTU/sf/HDD in terms of input energy.If the Fujitsu is operating at an overall COP of 3, then heating demand is about 2.2 BTU/sf/HDD, which is believable — a little lower than I’d expect, but we don’t keep it at 70°F unless we’re there and awake (70°F under those conditions, 66°F otherwise).I’ve got Hobo data loggers set up now, logging temperatures on the main floor where the heat pump is, the bedroom upstairs, the basement, and outdoors, so I’ll have a better idea of performance as we move through the winter. Overall, we’re very pleased with this gizmo. I think we’ve paid about 1/4 the cost of what we would have if we’d used the oil boiler instead. If one of us were to be working at home upstairs, we’d need some supplemental heat — probably an electric radiant panel, like the ones we put into the Eliakim’s Way homes that I wrote about here. A panel like this heats up quickly and can be located so that it heats a person in a fixed location, like a desk, directly. It’s a good supplemental heat source for a house with a point-source heat pump.center_img Marc Rosenbaum is director of engineering at South Mountain Company on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. He writes a blog called Thriving on Low Carbon. Marc teaches a 10-week online Zero Net Energy Home Design course as part of NESEA’s Building Energy Master Series. You can test drive his class for free. RELATED ARTICLES GBA Encyclopedia: Ductless Minisplit Heat PumpsJust Two Minisplits Heat and Cool the Whole House Will Minisplits Replace Forced-Air Heating and Cooling Systems?Heating a Tight, Well-Insulated House Does our ductless minisplit system need more indoor units?Of course, we could also install more heat pump cassettes. In the most extensive case, there would be four: the one we have and one in each of the three bedrooms.I think if we ever use the first-floor bedroom, we might install another Fujitsu single zone unit for that room — albeit the 9,000 BTU/hour model rather than the 12,000 BTU/hour unit we have now, because it’s a smaller space. Then we’d add the radiant panels in the upstairs bedrooms as well, which we may do at some point as I have two of them laying around in the basement!But for our present use of the house, the point-source system works well, and was inexpensive way to get off of fossil fuels and let the PV system supply the energy we use for heating (albeit on an annual basis…)last_img read more