Maximpact Blog

Displaced Syrians Learn via Smartphone Intranet

Never too young to enjoy a smartphone, Hafjin, a three-year-old Syrian refugee, looks at family photos from Syria on her father's phone. 2016 (Photo © Sumaya Agha for Mercy Corps) Posted for media use

Distance learning has become routine for many students during the COVID-19 lockdown, but for thousands of young Syrians living in refugee camps distance learning has been an impossible luxury. Yet, an innovative project established in one camp allows internally displaced schoolchildren to communicate and pursue their education using smartphones – without the need for internet or computers.

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Africa Takes Action Against Plastic Pollution

UNEP's Clean Seas project dhow, Flip-Flopi, clad in plastic made entirely from flip flops found on Kenya's beaches. (Photo courtesy UN Environment Programme) Posted for media use

Kenya’s national government and the country’s 47 lower level county governments are jointly establishing a plastic waste management program – one that could be scaled and replicated across the East African community and beyond. It’s just the latest step in Kenya’s evolving journey from a plastic-strewn country to one of the cleanest in Africa.

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North Sea to Host World’s 1st Offshore Wind Power Hub

At Nysted offshore wind farm in Denmark, the 72 rotors are placed in a parallelogram with eight rows of nine wind turbines each and all spinning clockwise. (Photo by Orsted Energy Group) Posted for media use on Facebook

Denmark, the EU’s largest oil producer, is taking a giant step towards total reliance on green electricity. A coalition of Danish parties announced this week that they will create the world’s first wind energy hub on a custom-built artificial island in the North Sea. Owned by a public-private partnership, the energy hub will collect electricity from offshore windfarms and distribute it to Danish households and to customer countries on the grid.

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Teachers Discover Empathy Is the ‘Mother of Invention’

A mother shows her 32- month-old boy his first asthma inhaler. This inhaler was not designed by pupils in the Cambridge University study. May 31, 2007 (Photo by Thomas Widmann) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Teaching children in a way that encourages them to empathise with others improves their creativity and can deepen their general engagement with learning, finds new research from the University of Cambridge at two inner London schools with Design and Technology students, ages 13 to 14. Co-author Dr. Helen Demetriou said, “We clearly awakened something in these pupils by encouraging them to think about the thoughts and feelings of others.”

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President Biden Welcomes Refugees, Reversing Trump Policy

An internally displaced Yemeni woman and her daughter look over the capital city of Sana’a, Yemen. August 2017 (Photo by Giles Clarke courtesy UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) Posted for media use

“We face a crisis of more than 80 million displaced people suffering all around the world,” President Joe Biden told diplomats at the U.S. State Dept. Friday, setting the stage for an about-face on U.S. refugee policy. While the previous administration imposed travel bans, separated families and built border walls, Biden signed an executive order “to begin the hard work of restoring our refugee admissions program to help meet the unprecedented global need.”

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Indian Designer Turns PPE Plastic Scrap into Bedrolls

Designer Laksmi Menon, center, has put Kerala women to work making bedrolls out of plastic trimmings from PPE production, 2020 (Photo courtesy Shayya via Facebook)

Posted for media use

The 2021 World Economic Forum wrapped today in Davos after five days of discussions focused on the coronavirus pandemic, affordable medical care, net-zero emissions, digital technology and the future of work. Amid the big panels on vaccines, climate and finance, a small project from India shows how compassion has opened an innovative way to handle the tons of plastic waste the virus has left across the world.

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Communities Cope With a New Climate Reality, Naturally

A community group in Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo makes plans for a fish farming project that will help with water management. February 7, 2020 (Photo by Axel Fassio courtesy CIFOR) Creative Commons license via Flickr

A new climate reality is here, now. The year 2020 was one of the three warmest on record, and rivalled 2016 for the top spot, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) concludes after consolidating five international datasets. A naturally occurring climate phenomenon, La Niña, cooled things off only at the very end of the year.

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Sustainability – Save The Planet: Turn Off That Camera

Cyber security analysts at work crunching data, August 13, 2018 (Photo courtesy Western Governors University) Posted for media use

Leave the camera off during your next virtual meeting, not just to hide a messy home office, but to save the Earth, scientists from three U.S. universities advise after their new study, “The Overlooked Environmental Footprint of Increased Internet Use,” was published this week.

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2021: World Turns to Clean Energy as Prices Fall

Mecktilda and Stefano became local agents for Global Cycle Solutions, a solar energy provider, in their village near Mwanza, Tanzania.  A year later, they had sold over 200 solar kits and earned enough to cover their children's school fees. August 25, 2015 Tanzania (Photo by Russell Watkins courtesy UK Department for International Development) Creative Commons license via Flickr

The Rockefeller Foundation has announced the formation of a global coalition aimed at providing sustainable energy for one billion people within this decade. Announcing the global sustainable energy coalition, Dr. Rajiv Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation, said, “Our success will empower millions of people to participate in a modern economy, growing economic opportunity for us all.”

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In Fashion: Solar Powered Streetwear

The newly developed solar concentrator is irradiated with blue LED light. The polymer material is so flexible that it can be bent with tweezers. 2020 (Image courtesy Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA))

The once impossible dream of generating useable power by simply wearing clothes has become a reality. Power enough to charge phones, tablets, laptops on the go – this wearable energy supply is made possible by a new polymer applied on fabrics such as jackets and T-shirts, turning them into solar collectors.

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Sustainability: Megacity Mayors Map a ‘Future That Works for Everyone’

Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti speaks with the media at the Moving America Forward Forum hosted by United for Infrastructure, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. February 16, 2020 (Photo by Gage Skidmore) Creative Commons license via Flickr

The mayors of 97 of the world’s largest cities, members of the C40 global network of cities, have agreed to revitalize the post-pandemic world by creating green jobs, investing in public services, supporting essential workers, greening public spaces, and protecting struggling mass transit systems until the virus recedes and riders return.

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Life During Lockdown: Blessing or Curse?

Aisha, left, and her daughter Sundos, both resettled from Syria in Northern Ireland, at Warrenpoint Municipal Park, County Down, Northern Ireland, December 2020 (Photo by Brian McAlinden)

If anyone had told Aisha and her teenaged daughter a year ago that everybody would be locked down in his house, and the biggest cities in the world empty and looking like ghost towns, they would have said he is crazy!!! “However here we are,” she says, “all trying to adapt to our new situation.”

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New Nanomaterial Mines Wastewater for Valuable Metals

Clean, clear waterfall at McArthur-Burney Falls State Park, California, USA (Photo by Sathish J) Creative commons license via Flickr

A new nanomaterial called ZIOS can selectively target and trap copper ions from wastewater with unprecedented precision and speed. ZIOS offers the water industry and the research community the first blueprint for a water-remediation technology that scavenges specific heavy metal ions with a measure of control at the atomic level that far surpasses the current state of the art.

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Solar-Powered Mobile Desalination on the Horizon – Water

"I drink because I'm thirsty," says this boy who lives in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. March 20, 2016 (Photo by Nithi Anand) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Harnessing the sun to bring mobile desalination units that make fresh drinking water to remote and disaster-struck communities will be possible within five years, say researchers at the University of Bath. They have developed a revolutionary desalination process that can be operated in mobile, solar-powered units.

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