Plan for retirement? You talking to me? You've got to be joking...That was my response to the subject for decades. And then I caught a wake-up call and reached out to a professional for help. I allowed her to run my finances with an iron fist - including extracting monthly savings that hurt like hell. I'm glad I did, and just wish I'd started earlier. As Bomikazi Zeka explains, it's never too early to start. Her suggestions on four easy ways to get going are simple and sensible. So get to it. No more excuses.

Wastewater from abandoned gold mines and dumps is polluting urban farms in Johannesburg's Soweto township. The heavy metals in the wastewater are so toxic that even the most hardy organisms, bacteria, cannot live in it. Environmental scientist Lesego Khomo reveals the risk this poses to the area's 1.9 million residents, and says that a clean-up is urgently needed.

Since 2020, a bird flu virus has been spreading among other animal species – including dogs, cats and bears – in many countries across the world. Detection of the virus in US livestock earlier this year sparked fears about whether it would start spreading among humans. These fears are now growing. About a week ago, it was confirmed that the virus had passed from a cow to a dairy farmer in the US. And two new human bird flu infections have since emerged: one in the US, one in Australia. We’re sharing several articles which provide insights into what bird flu is and how to keep safe, as well as an article which sheds light on its spread in Africa and another on attempts to eradicate it in chicken populations.

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Caroline Southey

Founding Editor

How do I plan for my retirement? Step one – start right away

Bomikazi Zeka, University of Canberra

If you start to plan for your retirement now, your future self will thank you for it.

South Africa: Gold mine pollution is poisoning Soweto’s water and soil – study finds food gardens are at risk

Lesego Khomo, University of South Africa

Uncontrolled pollution from hundreds of disused mines has contaminated the water and soil used by Soweto’s urban farmers.

African Standby Force turns 20: has it helped keep the peace? The pros and cons

Cedric de Coning, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs; Andrew E. Yaw Tchie, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs

The concept of the African Standby Force needs to adapt to the modern realities of conflict.

In the news

Bird flu: what is it, how does it spread and how can we protect ourselves from it?

Daniel Oladimeji Oluwayelu, University of Ibadan

People should minimise contact with birds in areas affected by bird flu viruses, including farms and settings where live animals may be sold or slaughtered.

Bird flu could be eradicated by editing the genes of chickens - our study shows how

Alewo Idoko-Akoh, University of Bristol

The three flu pandemics of the 20th century originated from birds, making it critical to fight bird flu. Breakthroughs in gene-editing chickens show promise for eliminating the disease in the future.

Bird flu: Nigeria is on major migratory bird routes, new strains keep appearing

Clement Meseko, National Veterinary Research Institute, Vom, Jos

Bird flu has been recurring in Africa since 2006 and Nigeria is heavily affected. High-level biosecurity measures are required to keep people and animals safe.

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