May 6, 2010

UK Election 2010 - who's signed the Simultaneous Policy pledge?

The Simultaneous Policy (Simpol) campaign is on track to have a greater influence in the next Parliament.

Simpol Adopters around the country have been asking candidates to sign the pledge to implement the Simultaneous Policy alongside other governments. The policies are to address global problems where competition between nations makes progress difficult through conventional politics. Adopters are invited to propose, develop and approve the policies to be implemented. In the last annual vote, climate change was once again the top issue.

You can find a list of candidates who have signed the Simpol pledge at:

Candidates from all main parties have signed up.

In Cambridge Daniel Zeichner, the Labour candidate, has given his support and said:

“The world is changing rapidly and progressive politics must not be limited by out-dated national boundaries. With new ways to communicate easily, ideas rather than geography will be the key. I want to work with like-minded people to challenge inequality, prejudice and ignorance, wherever it occurs. We are all in this together and must work together to meet the challenges ahead.”

In Cambridgeshire South constituency, Tariq Sadiq, the Labour candidate, has given his support.

You may wish to consider this when voting today. If you are not in these constituencies, see the site, which will also have an update after the results are in to show how much closer we are to having the UK Parliament and Government back the Simultaneous Policy.

October 2, 2009

Mbewa Self-Help Project in the news

To help with fundraising for my Malawi project, I recently gave an interview to our local paper, The Warrington Guardian.

A scan of the article appears below. You can read it online at:

September 18, 2009

Campaigning for the Simultaneous Policy - film clips

Clips from the 2004 DVD Campaigning for the Simultaneous Policy are being posted on youtube.

September 1, 2009

Film of my Malawi visit

Here's a short (7 minute) film of my return to Malawi in 2009. Highlights for me were visiting the projects in Mbewa village I have been supporting with family and friends and being a guest of honour at the 13th Mulanje Mountain Porters' Race - I organised the first race in 1996, shortly before leaving after working in Malawi for 4 years.

Malawi is one of the world's poorest countries. Life expectancy is 39 years and under-5 mortality is 140 per 1000 live births (the UK rate is 6 per 1000 live births).

You can help development projects in Mbewa village by providing money for loans at:

Here's the film:

August 12, 2009

Listening to people in one of the world's poorest nations

In a world of inequality, suffering and early death, what can be done?

Supporting the Simultaneous Policy is something tangible and straightforward to achieve the structural change we need.

But we can also do something more immediate to help those whose lives are not so fortunate as the majority of those who have access to the internet to read this blog.

The most important thing is to first listen and to learn. For example, what is it that people in a village in Malawi want to improve their lives? A maize mill. See:

I have tried to listen while returning to Malawi, one of the world's poorest nations, where I worked for four years in the 1990s. Since leaving I have been doing what I can do support some of the friends I made at Mbewa Village at the foot of Mulanje Mountain, the highest in Central Africa.

I've kept contact since those days with Francis Atiya, a mountain guide, who organised the first Mulanje Mountain Porters' Race with me in 1996, just before I left. There were 33 participants, mainly porters and guides, but me and a friend from the Mountain Club of Malawi, which sponsored the event, also took part. The route I chose covers 25 kms up one side of the Likhabula valley and down the other. The winner, Hamilton Makhalila, completed the course in 2 hours 39 minutes. After the prize giving (first prize - walkman, second prize - hurricane lamp) we had a slap up meal to celebrate and as a thank you to the porters' service over the past year.

I billed it as the First Mulanje Mountain Race, in the hope there would be more. And some dedicated people have kept it going. Last month, I was able to attend the 13th event and gave a speech as the founder of the race.

Amazingly, there were about 300 participants, including from outside Malawi, and the winning time was 2 hours 5 minutes. The event is now being promoted by the Ministry of Tourism to try to draw more people to Mulanje Massif. (The mountain has gained some unwanted publicity since then as a tourist attempted to climb the highest peak without a guide and died after becoming lost.)

While some people gain employment as porters and guides or carving the unique Mulanje cedar, the majority are subsistence farmers. Priorities are producing enough food to live through the year and finding a way to earn a little cash.

With the help of donations from family and friends, we set up a chicken raising project, profits from which have been used to help pay school fees for some of the village's orphans.

These small donations have also enabled the village of about 3,000 people to employ an agricultural advisor. One of his own innovations has been to implement an irrigation system for growing maize in the dry season as a cash crop. Water is routed from nearby streams through channels to the maize fields as shown in the clip below:

This scheme started with 7 farmers and proved so successful that many more have joined this year. My friends and family have been making loans for the fertilizer needed for the maize. Members of the farmers' club will pay for this when they sell the maize and those lending money will receive their repayment by 30 November. A little extra is raised at the same time to build up a fund for fertilizer for the next time.

I discussed many ideas for other schemes with the Project Committee, which has been elected by the village and we have a list to develop over the next three years of so. Their priority is to set up a maize mill for grinding maize into flour.

We've investigated the economics of this and put together a project to proceed in a phased way.

The Committee has identified suitable land, which the owner has donated. They were then to produce the bricks for the house for the mill, but another villager quickly donated a stock of bricks.

So they are ready to start as soon as I can raise the loans for the cement, roofing sheets and other materials.

While building proceeds, I will also be seeking funds for buying the milling equipment. Hopefully this money will be available to transfer to the manufacturer in Malawi once the house is ready, so the mill can immediately go into operation and generate income.

All the self-help projects aim to repay the investment and be self-sustaining. Income from the maize mill will be used to repay loans over the following 18 months. Additional income after running costs will contribute to a maintenance fund, other projects and for support for orphans and other vulnerable people in the village.

If you want to help by contributing a sum of money, be it large or small, then you can contact me or make a pledge via the website I've set up for the project. See:

This has information on other projects under way and some of those in development and lots of great photos.

Here's one of a mother working her irrigated field.

July 3, 2009

Climate change action in Malawi - building from the community level

This is not about global action for a change - it is about grassroots action.

I am presently in Malawi supporting a community project called the Beehive Centre for Social Enterprise.

One aspect of it is using hydraform bricks for construction. These are made without the need to cut down trees to fire them. Here's a clip I put together showing how they are made. You can support the project by purchasing bricks for buildings. See:

June 5, 2009

Simpol and elections: publicity and progress

Voting in the UK election for Members of the European Parliament has ended, though results will not be known until Sunday.

There were 16 candidates who supported Simpol, 6 of them lead candidates who are first on the list for taking up a seat if their party gains enough votes.

The UK campaign in the build up to the elections was regrettably low key, with the onus falling on local groups and individual campaigners and the indefatigable John Bunzl to contact candidates.

With a general election due within a year, and possible only months away, now is a time to be thinking about promoting Simpol to voters and politicians so we are ready. Personally, I would love to see at least one Simpol-UK training and preparing day, which we can start planning for now.

I have recently been invited to join the Simpol-UK Strategic Planning Group and would love to hear from anyone who is interested in being involved in helping to prepare for the general election, either in organising such a day, producing materials, contributing ideas or as a participant looking for support.

It can be immensely rewarding to take action - and taking action can be as simple as sending a message to candidates in your area: there is no need to commit to more than you are able.

As an example, I contacted candidates in the Eastern Region with the message I posted on my blog at:

I was pleased that the Green Party candidate, Rupert Read, gave Simpol his support, as a long-time Adopter himself. His comment was: "I have long been a signatory to Simpol, and hope that this election campaign will bring more power to your arm."

Rupert's support for Simpol will have benefited his campaign, with Adopters checking the website to see who had signed up or receiving updates I sent out. I even had someone telephone me directly just before election day to check who had made the Simpol pledge.

This benefits candidates and helps to put those supporting Simpol into power, so bringing us closer to the time when the policies developed through our democratic process can be implemented.

At the same time, Simpol gains publicity. Rupert posted news of his support on his blog as follows, available at:


Rupert Read Pledges Support For Simultaneous Policy

In the Eastern Region, Green Party candidate, Rupert Read, has become the first to give his support to the Simpol approach. Other candidates have also been invited to do so.

The Simultaneous Policy is a package of measures being developed democratically by people around the world to address global problems.

Simpol proposals include creating a World Transnational Corporation Regulatory Authority (WTCRA) and 'Contraction and Convergence' - a policy aimed at addressing climate change.

Supporting the Simpol campaign does not mean you have to support individual policies however! It is free to sign up as a Simpol Adopter and all Adopters can vote on policies or put forward their own proposals.

Simpol policies have been picked up widely - the WTCRA policy (developed in Cambridge by Mike Brady) has been published in the newsletter Jus Semper in English and Spanish, for example. See:

Click here to sign up or to learn more about Simpol.

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This shows Simpol synergy in action! In this case, not only does the candidate gain votes, people have been encouraged to sign up as Adopters. And proposals that have done well in past voting have been highlighted, demonstrating once again how putting proposals forward for inclusion in the policy package brings them to the attention of a wider audience.

Obviously I'm pleased that my own proposal comes in for special mention – though it remains to be seen if it survives future voting rounds to remain in the process.

Repeatedly I see how the strategy developed by John Bunzl proves itself time and again in all its facets. This should encourage us all. All that is missing is wider involvement - but that will surely come.

Even with a relatively low level of activity in these elections we will see MEPs elected who have pledged to implement the Simultaneous Policy alongside other governments.

With the general election on the horizon we can make a breakthrough in every constituency where there Adopters if we think ahead.

So if you are interested in helping to prepare, whether on the internet, at a future event or in your community, please contact me directly.

I'd welcome suggestions or requests and can take these forward to the Strategic Planning Group for approval.

The Group itself is open to new participants, so if you are interested, let me know and I'll pass it on.