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Kenya’s New ATMs Bring Clean, Affordable Water to Nairobi’s Slums

The easy-to-operate machines mean impoverished Kenyans will no longer be stuck buying water from price-gouging vendors.

Image via Grundfos.

The Kenyan government is installing water vending machines in the slums of Nairobi to address the city’s increasingly dire lack of clean water accessibility. In partnership with a Danish water engineering company, they’ve placed four of the water ATMs, which can be accessed with “smart cards,” around the impoverished neighborhood of Mathare. Users store “water credits” on their smart cards, which they can then use to purchase clean water. A simple swipe of the card sends water gushing out of a pipe into whatever container is positioned to collect it.

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A robot directs traffic in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Last month, a Guardian article on the value of “Afrofuturist” art started making the rounds on the web’s myriad African news and culture forums. Usually the term, coined in the 1990s, refers mainly to innovative or progressive material coming out of the African American creative community—works which often fall into the category of science-fiction or fantasy categories and are thus brushed off as genre art. But the Guardian pieces did two great services to the term, by using it to draw our attention to lesser-known and underappreciated works coming out of continental Africa, and sparking discussion about Afrofuturism’s merits as a social phenomenon.

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The Last Northern White Male Rhino Has Armed Bodyguards

He’s had his horns shaved down to keep away poachers as well.

Photo by Brent Stirton / Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

Sudan, one of three remaining northern white rhinos left in the world, has a 24-hour armed guard following him around the 90,000-acre Kenyan conservancy where he is currently staying. His personal bodyguards are equipped with night-vision goggles, GPS tracking, and a pack of support and tracking dogs in order to keep the 40-yearold rhino safe from poachers in quest of his sought-after horn. The conservancy is currently running a crowd-funding campaign on GoFundMe to raise money for the round-the-clock protection.

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We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

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Helping a Family Pay Tribute to their Daughter with Clean Water Projects in Africa

I remember where I was on July 22 two years ago, when reports of a massacre in Norway started to break.

I remember where I was on July 22 two years ago, when reports of a massacre in Norway started to break. Sitting at my desk, I couldn’t believe the news alerts. A single gunman calmly landed on Utøya island off the Norwegian coast and began shooting his way through a camp of teenagers, 69 of whom were killed. This after he killed eight people with a car bomb in in Oslo, where I had been just eight weeks prior.

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Can a Slumchella Music Fest Empower Kenya's Poor?

Kenyan activists are riffing off the popular music festival to protest Ethiopia’s largest infrastructure project to date.


Over the next two weekends, hundreds of thousands of music fans will flock to the palm tree-lined fields of the California desert for Coachella, one of the most popular music festivals in the world. Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in Kenya, a California-based nonprofit collective of artists-activists known as Village Beat is working to produce their own large-scale musical fest—one that borrows Coachella’s framework of unity through music—to protest Ethiopia’s largest infrastructure project to date, the Gilgel Gibe III dam. Dubbed Slumchella, the festival will debut in the next couple years—if its organizers can raise the funds.

Since 2009, filmmakers and VB founders Austin Peck and Anneliese Vandenberg have made several long trips to Kenya, volunteering with clinics and aid organizations and working under the credo of “art as action.” For three years, they’ve documented the story of Kenya’s forgotten street kids who spend their days wandering through town looking for enough food and money to survive with plastic bottles of glue attached to their lips to stave off hunger and numb their pain.

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