Tag Archives: Soft power

Army help reduce shortage of schools in southern Zimbabwe, 108 to go

Summarized from a story by Thupeyo Muleya

Zimbabwe has to build 2,000 schools to meet current demand.

Out of which, 20 primary, 75 satellite and 13 secondary schools are lacking in Matabeleland South.

The province also has to cope with a dropout trend at secondary level, where children had to walk for 5-10 km to the nearest school. Most of the dropouts come from communities living along the borders with Botswana and South Africa.

Major General Trust Mugoba, Zimbabwean army’s Chief of Staff responsible for operations and training says Beitbridge had the least number of army-initiated infrastructure development projectsand the army works to address this issue.

Beitbridge is a Zimbabwean  border town located just north of the Limpopo River, 321 km north-west to Bulawayo and 585 km north-east to Harare via Masvingo. The Beitbridge border post is the busiest road border post in southern Africa.


This is how you care for stray pets as your city is shelled by internationally banned cluster missiles. A testimony by animal welfare charity in Kramatorsk, Ukraine

From December 2014 till end of March 2015, working in the climate of increasing geopolitical tensions and worsening economic conditions Droog, an animal welfare charity in Kramatorsk, Eastern Ukraine, provided with shelter and returned to their families 200 dogs and 234 cats. On February 10, 2015 Kramatorsk was shelled by internationally banned cluster missiles. Droog persisted undeterred with their mission.

The charitable fund was created in January 2008, with the active phase of operations staring in 2011. The first sterilization took place on April 19, 2012. That same year the total number of sterilized animals reached 115. From April 2013 till April 2014 the number grew to 181. Starting from end of April 2014 till now — a period when Eastern Ukraine saw the intensification of pro-Russian warfare — a total of 360 animals were sterilized.

Alexey Holub, a lawyer with the Droog (БФ “Друг”) charity explains:

Research conducted by scientists in Russia and Western Europe proves that sterilization is the only effective way to decrease — and eventually bring to zero — the number of homeless animals on our streets. All other methods like poisoning and shooting are inhumane, illegal and ineffective. The effect delivered by such ‘solutions’ is illusionary and short-term.

Droog’s volunteers found families for 900 cats and 750 dogs from January 2013 till December 2014.

Emergency rescue operations are not rare in their day-to-day work. They pick up the animals that became road traffic casualties, extract those animals that happened into the carelessly open manholes, got themselves on the roofs, high trees.

A Russian-language billboard by Droog invokes Kramatorsk, Ukraine residents to sterilize animals to curb the number of stray pets in their city (Photo by Andy Kozlov)
A Russian-language billboard by Droog invokes Kramatorsk, Ukraine residents to sterilize animals to curb the number of stray pets in their city (Photo by Andy Kozlov)
As part of Droog’s awareness raising and behaviour change campaign, the charity is making its presence felt on the locally popular social media like Vkontakte (almost 5,000 members) and Odnoklassniki (almost 3,000 members).

Alexey Holub adds:

Our volunteers organized a number of public events to raise awareness about sterilization, adopting animals and thus taking them off the streets. Parallel to talking to the residents and distributing fliers, we held a number of charity auctions. The lots for those were hand-made by our volunteers.

Droog is no stranger to the local mass media either. Publications in such local newspapers as Vostochnyy Proekt, Tekhnopolis and Novosti Kramatorska are accompanied by billboard ads throughout the city. Numerous times, Droog reached out to school-age kids with goodwill classes for the 22nd school students; at New Year’s Eve galas in downtown Kramatorsk and in the city suburbs, to name just a few events.

Supported by active residents and institutional partners we held several larger events. On May 30, 2013 the Donbass State Engineering Academy (“ДГМА”) hosted our charitable event to raise awareness among college students about cruelty against animals in Kramatorsk. The students and faculty of the Academy signed an appeal to the mayor advocating for the creation of a centralized animal shelter in Kramatorsk. Our volunteers used the occasion to distribute fliers and solicit donations.

Eastern Ukrainian animal welfare charity Droog lists its activities and solicits help in this Russian-language billboard on one of the thoroughfares of Kramatorsk, Ukraine (Photo by Andy Kozlov)
Eastern Ukrainian animal welfare charity Droog lists its activities and solicits help in this Russian-language billboard on one of the thoroughfares of Kramatorsk, Ukraine (Photo by Andy Kozlov)
Surely much more needs to be done to reach significant results in decreasing the number of homeless animals while practicing humane methods. It’s doable once we join our efforts. With support from overseas donors we are readying a facility for the Kramatorsk Sterilization Centre.

The following activities are to take place in the Centre:

  • The ongoing Catch, Sterilize, Release work. We are currently in talks with the veterinarians in Kramatorsk to increase the number of surgeries. We aim at  a minimum of 30 sterilization surgeries per month (360 per year). All of the animals that undergo surgery will be marked accordingly with bright clips on the ears. These animals will also be vaccinated (including vaccination against rabies) and treated against parasites, which will defuse the risks posed to the people.
  • We will partner with an international charity Four Pаws. This NGO engages in mass sterilizations if there is a city-wide centre for homeless animals and if they receive an official confirmation by the local authorities of the official ban on homeless animal extermination across the municipality. Back in 2012 Droog staff were trained by the Four Paws on the issues of mass sterilization and received a preliminary confirmation of their vets’ interest to come to Eastern Ukraine.
  • Droog will continue to seek partnerships with other animal welfare charities in Ukraine to join efforts to improve the existing legislation regarding homeless animal protection.
  • The Kramatorsk Sterilization Centre will be a great place to visualize Droog’s work for the welfare of the people and our four-pawed friends through monthly visits by groups of the youths, local and national media practitioners.
Our goal is to take homeless animals off the streets of Kramatorsk in a compassionate way while securing the residents from all the usual problems caused by homeless animals.

Our additional goal is to educate a new generation of people that are free from violence, a compassionate generation, empathetic with the weak, acting with responsibility towards animals. And certainly other human beings.

“We believe these are inalienable features of a developed society that Ukrainians aspire to be,” concludes Kramatorsk lawyer Alexey Holub.

He can be reached at patronat2009@yandex.ru

In the world of black swans, forget Russia’s guns vs. butter, it’s bricks, bricks and insulation in Ukraine

Why should you care about Ukraine‘ s manufacturers of building materials? In the world of unknown unknowns, they have the gut to create in a Eastern European nation that is disrupted by destruction.

There is nothing creative about the destruction that takes human lives. And in this region of rising geopolitical tensions, Ukrainians’ creative resilience is going to inspire you to build where the rival would rather have you stagnantly recover from the destruction he aimed at you.

With their north-eastern neighbours getting deeper into the harsh ‘it’s guns or butter’ dilemma, it’s bricks, bricks and insulation in Ukraine.

Oleksandr Pietushkov, Chief International Officer at Ukrainian Union of Building Materials’ Manufacturers, explains the human science behind the magic of minerals. We caught up with him in Munich, Germany during the BAU 2015, world’s leading trade fair for architecture, materials and systems.

Oleksandr Pietushkov, Chief International Officer at Ukrainian Union of Building Materials' Manufacturers
Oleksandr Pietushkov, Chief International Officer at Ukrainian Union of Building Materials’ Manufacturers
Why participate in the BAU? There are similar events throughout the year in places from Sao Paulo to Tokyo all the way to Almaty and Lagos.

The main idea here is: Ukraine has signed the Association Agreement with EU recently, we can see that the European markets become more open for Ukrainian goods. Why not use this? So we go to the fair and present ourselves, Ukrainian building materials and investment potential of our country. Another thing – it’s about heavy goods so you have to study carefully what kind of competitive products you can offer in regard to transportation costs.

Our next step is to pitch our exceptional offerings across local European fairs: think Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Sweden. And of course we should not overlook other big and promising markets – we plan to participate in fairs in UAE, Egypt and the MENA region as a whole.

Did the 2008 global recession boost the international competitiveness of Ukrainian producers of building materials?

Not in the first place. We can see that only after 2008 many industries started to flourish. And the reason for that was the weakness of the local currency and growing potential of the domestic market. For instance, thermal insulation (see pdf): until 2008 we imported almost 100% of it . Two new factories have been put up since those times and now Ukraine exports this quality product with a reasonable price-tag attached to it. We are seeing similar trends emerge in other sectors of construction industry in Ukraine.

So I’d rather say that the present crisis pushes Ukrainian manufacturers of building materials in the direction of foreign markets and makes them increase their competiveness. They have everything here to succeed: cheap and qualified labour, rich resources and weaker hryvna [Ukrainian currency] to boost our exports.

How much is the participation of Ukraine's delegation informed by Donbass reconstruction needs -- however bleak is the peace in Eastern Ukraine at the moment?

I have to say that our mission to BAU 2015 in regards to Donbass was more about informing our foreign partners: people needed information about what’s really happening there. Not from the news — they wanted to hear it directly from us Ukrainians, people who live and work here.

Regretfully, it is very hard to predict how the situation will develop given the current state that a significant part of Donbass is in. The fact remains pronouncing – we have 80% of infrastructural, housing and civil objects damaged and destroyed there. So we will have to deal with it afterwards. The only question for now is priorities – when exactly should we be rolling up our sleeves?

"More of Ukraine's working quarries need new technologies in processing," Oleksandr Pietushkov, Chief International Officer at Ukrainian Union of Building Materials' Manufacturers (left)
“More of Ukraine’s working quarries need new technologies in processing,” Oleksandr Pietushkov, Chief International Officer at Ukrainian Union of Building Materials’ Manufacturers (left)
Tells us more about the partnership with UFEMAT?

Europe’s UFEMAT is more of a merchants’ association rather than the producers’ union. In 2014 our Union became the full-bodied member of this organisation. Our agenda with UFEMAT is focused on the following aspects:

  • Ways of integration with Europe: energy-efficiency and sustainability in construction
  • Cooperation in science and technology
  • Information exchange on sales and distribution
  • and a pilot project to launch the Centre for European standards in Ukraine.

Our first big meeting with UFEMAT showed that we have what to offer to Europe: many of our products are certified for the EU and our price propositions are highly competitive. In March, we plan to continue developing relations through a visit of our delegation to Brussels. There we plan to meet several major builders’ merchants, visit Trade Fair Batibouw. And – last but not least – take part in a UFEMAT meeting where strategy for 2015 will be developed.

What are the key international markets as Ukrainian manufacturers of building materials see them? What are the prospects of getting a market share in those target markets?

For many years after Ukraine got its independence, the traditional markets for building materials were Russia, Kazakhstan and other ex-USSR countries. As Russia launched some restrictive measures aimed at Ukrainian imports — and has done it drastically since 2012 — our manufacturers started exploring Eastern European and Middle Eastern markets. Guess what: we have some success stories with Africa as well. And for the reasons I mentioned above these markets will remain our priorities for the near-term future.

Good quality, a sound raw materials base and cheap labour are the key factors for getting a share in these markets.

Oleksandr Pietushkov, Chief International Officer at Ukrainian Union of Building Materials' Manufacturers, takes to the mike: "Watch our bricks and insulation. We have about 30-40% of world reserves of white clay and kaolin"
Oleksandr Pietushkov, Chief International Officer at Ukrainian Union of Building Materials’ Manufacturers, takes to the mike: “Watch our bricks and insulation. We have about 30-40% of world reserves of white clay and kaolin”
What are the two low price/high quality materials by Ukraine's manufactures that you think we should definitely know about? How come it is Ukrainians who excel at manufacturing these?

I think it’s definitely bricks and insulation. Bricks – as we have about 30-40% of world reserves of white clay and kaolin and we mastered the production very well. For insulation, besides raw materials, we also have harnessed innovative technologies.

But there’s still a lot of work ahead. We need more ceramic tile and bathroom ceramics factories. There are more than 3,800 developed deposits for building materials production: high-melting clay, kaolin, limestone, gypsum, granite, gabbro, labradorite, basalt, resources for glass production etc. These deposits have huge export potential. For instance, only in Zhytomyr region (100-150 km away from Kyiv) there are 116 deposits of granite, gabbro and labradorite with proven reserves north of 150 million cubic metres. Regrettably, more than half of those deposits are not being processed and more of the working quarries need new technologies in processing.

Oleksandr, this is not your first time attending an international building fair. How is it different this time?

Before, we were mostly the visitors of different international exhibitions and now we are a full status participant of the fair. So it’s a drastic change, a big step for the industry and individual manufacturers alike. During the BAU 2015 we hosted a unique “Ukraine: invest in future!” business conference  presenting Ukraine’s construction industry and its potential for European and worldwide investors as well as trade partners.

Ukraine is a country of outstanding achievements, business opportunities and high potential. We need to construct, modernize, restore and repair nearly everything, and at a large scale: infrastructure and industrial facilities, housing and municipal buildings, social and cultural facilities. It is necessary to enhance the investment flows and increase the volume of trade turnover.

You can reach Oleksandr Pietushkov
via email on StartegLab@gmail.com or by phone at +380 67 245-02-90.

This Russian-English app by Igor Kalinin will uncover a seasoned, as well as inspiring, international traveller in You

To download this free Android app you are invited to пожалуйста click here.

Download our essential Words Do Wonders app
WordsDoWonders – Android App by Igor Kalinin in partnership with Steppes in Sync

The Words Do Wonders app created by Ukraine’s India-based IT master Igor Kalinin in partnership with Steppes in Sync targets a seasoned, as well as inspiring, international traveller.

We have scoured the papers and flipped international news channels for you. We bet you know lots of words in our collection. The philological pearls that we worked hard to put at your fingertips 365 days a year are those inspired, consumed and deployed daily by the readers and writers, movers and shakers of this world. We are talking Bloomberg TV, FT and Monocle. We are talking WORDS THAT DO WONDERS TODAY!

The value the Words Do Wonders app brings to you is building on the thesaurus that your brain has collected over the years. We enrich it, streamline it for that cocktail chat on the roof of a posh NYC hotel to generate new opportunities; for that negotiation in a breezy Dubai bar to result in the deal you just wanted.

You can pick your words from three levels:

Words Do Wonders Basic – words that you know but we will help you go deeper and wider. You’ll be equipped to frequently impress your interlocutor

Words Do Wonders Intermediate – words that you think you know but we challenge that certainty of yours, one word at a time

Words Do Wonders Advanced – words that you need to know to become a successful and inspiring jet-setter

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