Merci, FIFA

This is a French-language FIFA billboard about Ebola:

It has 11 anti-Ebola messages from famous footballers, which happen to be printed small enough to be unreadable from the street or sidewalk.

Not that it would matter anyway: it's on a major road in Monrovia, Liberia, where no one speaks French.

Uganda is beautiful

I've been in Uganda the last few weeks helping with the implementation of a large scale survey: a representative national household survey and survey of drug retailers and healthcare providers, all focused on the availability and usage of essential medicines for childhood illness. The system we've set up is pretty cool, with data collection on Android tablets via ODK meta and real time checks for data quality (by teams, individual interviewers, and individual interviews) and feedback to the survey group, which I hope to write up at a later date. In the meantime, I wanted to share some photos of Uganda, which is really, really beautiful. There's a whole album here, and below are some highlights:

 

Friday photo: Upanga, Dar es Salaam

The view from my (temporary) window, click for the zoomed in view:

This is at low tide -- most of the sand in the distance is covered when it comes in. On the horizon on the right side you can see the line of ships heading into the Dar harbor

Also, Wednesday I was taking a Skype call with a colleague looking out this window and saw a whale in the distance. Having never really lived on the ocean before, that's pretty cool.

Friday photos: Gelada baboons

The Simien Mountains in Ethiopia's north are swarming with Gelada baboons (which aren't actually baboons). Below are some photos I took of them over Thanksgiving break:

And an interesting fact about the mountains, from Wikipedia:

Although the word Semien means "north" in Amharic, according to Richard Pankhurst the ancestral form of the word actually meant "south" in Ge'ez, because the mountains lay to the south of Aksum, which was at the time the center of Ethiopian civilization. But as over the following centuries the center of Ethiopian civilization itself moved to the south, these mountains came to be thought of as lying to the north, and the meaning of the word likewise changed.

Friday photos: Somaliland

I have lots of thoughts on my trip about one month ago to Somaliland, as it's a fascinating place -- highly recommended in particular for students of public policy or development. But those will have to wait for future posts as I'm swamped for now with work, my Masters thesis, and some other projects. In the meantime, this is Hargeisa:

Above, a major mosque. Below, the street scene downtown:

The animal market:

And here's me with a moneychanger and stacks of Somaliland shillings:

Friday photo: Wenchi Crater Lake

Wenchi Crater Lake is a long-ish day trip from Addis Ababa. The former volcanic cone is filled with a lake and hiking trails, and there's even a monastery on an island in the middle of the lake. Here's a panorama shot from near the top of the trail, made from five photos stitched together (click for higher resolution):

Friday photos: Meskel

Last week Ethiopia celebrated Meskel, a major holiday that commemorates the discovery of the "one true cross" on which Jesus was crucified. Meskel Square in Addis is the place to be -- "meskel" means cross in Amharic. Orthodox priests and actors surround the cross (yes, the thing that looks like a Christmas tree to American eyes):

Everyone brings candles, and at dusk they're lit in a slow wave moving across the square:

The roar of the crowd grows until the cross is lit:

Documentation:

As the fire dies down the crowd scattered -- but this drumming and singing circle stuck around for quite a while:

Best billboard ever?

I have no idea whether this is an effective ad... but:

(Also note the address at the bottom: there's no commonly-used system for designating addresses in Addis -- or most road names for that matter -- so directions often simply describe a general area close to some landmark.)

Friday photos

These photos are of the construction site next to my office in Addis -- the quality isn't that great, but I still think they're interesting. Some observations on this site:

  1. progress is slow
  2. manual labor is substituted for capital-intensive technology wherever possible
  3. the scaffolding is made by hand on site
  4. there's absolutely no protective gear (no hard hats, no harnesses while hanging off the flimsy handmade scaffolding), and
  5. women are surprisingly well-represented (at least at this site).

Friday photos

Friday photos may be a new recurring feature on this blog -- while I won't post reviews of every place I go on weekends (or during the week for work), it's hard to resist sharing some highlights of Ethiopia. A beautiful and fascinating country: Medhane Alem, the largest monolithic church in the world, is just one of a dozen churches at Lalibela carved from solid rock in the 14th century AD:

Medhane Alem at Lalibela

Swimming at the "Queen of Sheba's Bath", in Aksum, northern Ethiopia:

Queen of Sheba's Bath, Aksum

More photos of travel around Ethiopia can be found here.