Saturday, January 10, 2015
NEW YORK, Jan 10 (IPS) - Since 1971, Maldives is one of only three countries that have graduated from the ranks of the world's "least developed countries" (LDCs) – the other two being Botswana and Cape Verde.
Thursday, January 08, 2015
SUNDARBANS, India, Jan 08 (IPS) - When the gentle clucking grows louder, 50-year-old Sukomal Mandal calls out to his wife, who is busy grinding ingredients for a fish curry. She gets up to thrust leafy green stalks through the netting of a coop and two-dozen shiny hens rush forward for lunch.
Wednesday, January 07, 2015
NAGAPATNAM, India, Jan 07 (IPS) - Standing amidst his lush green paddy fields in Nagapatnam, a coastal district in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, a farmer named Ramajayam remembers how a single wave changed his entire life.
Saturday, January 03, 2015
MITHI, Pakistan, Jan 03 (IPS) - The main entrance to the Civil Hospital in Mithi, headquarters of the Tharparkar district in Pakistan's southern Sindh Province, is blocked by a couple of men clad in traditional dress and turbans. They are trying to console a woman who is sobbing so heavily she has to gasp for breath.
Friday, January 02, 2015
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 02 (IPS) - In a satirical piece titled 'An Unserious Look at the Year Ahead' in the Wall Street Journal last week, Hugo Rifkind predicts the price of a barrel of oil will fall so low that people across the world would start buying oil for the barrel - and throw the oil out.
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
KALMUNAI, Sri Lanka, Dec 31 (IPS) - About six months after a massive tsunami slammed the island nation of Sri Lanka on Dec. 26, 2004, large plumes of smoke could be frequently seen snaking skywards from the beach near the village of Sainathimaruthu, just east of Kalmunai town, about 300 km from the capital, Colombo.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
AHMEDABAD, India, Dec 30 (IPS) - Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) brings together concerns about the environment, economic development and social aspects. Since 1972, when the first U.N. Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm, Sweden, there has been increasing awareness of the intricate link between conserving the environment and human development.
Friday, December 26, 2014
BONPLAND, Argentina, Dec 26 (IPS) - Summers in northeast Argentina are hot and humid. At siesta time, the people of this rural municipality like to drink "tereré" (cold yerba mate), which until now they had problems preparing because of lack of clean water or electricity. But sometimes small donations can make a big dent in inequality.
Andrés Ortigoza, who lives in one of the villages in Bonpland, proudly shows off his simple new solar panel, which heats up an electric shower. In wintertime, tereré is replaced by hot yerba mate - a caffeinated herbal brew popular in Argentina and neighbouring countries - and taking a cold shower is not easy even for toughened gauchos (the cowboys of the Southern Cone countries) like him.
"We used to wash up with cold water, it was tough in winter….or we'd heat the water with firewood," he told IPS.
Picada Norte, where Ortigoza lives, was not connected to the power grid until 2010. But service is still patchy and is expensive for local families.
With its non-repayable grants of up to 50,000 dollars, the SGP has shown how small community initiatives have a positive impact on global environmental problems.
The expansion of forestry activity – mainly aimed at providing raw material for the pulp and paper industry – and the use of firewood as a source of energy are driving deforestation in the jungle in the province of Misiones, which accounts for fully half of Argentina's biodiversity.
The area forms part of the eco-region of the Parana basin tropical moist forest, which takes a different name in each country that shares it: Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.
"At an international level, talking about these three countries, there were 80 million hectares around 1950, of which only four million hectares of forest are still standing today, and of them, 1.5 million are in Misiones," Juan Manuel Díaz, the provincial sub-secretary of ecology, told IPS.
"Our province covers three million hectares and practically half of that is Parana jungle," he said.
According to Ricardo Hunghanns, president of the Tabá Isiriri-Pueblos del Arroyo Association, 45 percent of productive land in Misiones is currently used by the forestry industry, which since the 1990s has changed the traditional distribution of land and modified the provincial economy.
"This has radically transformed the structure of agriculture in the province, where the paper industry rather than agriculture now represents 80 percent of GDP," the head of the organisation, which is involved in two SGP projects, told IPS.
The main aim of his association, he said, "is to strengthen the social economy, from the perspective of the inclusion and productive development of our communities."
For Hunghanns "it is essential to develop projects that diversify agricultural activity, above all to make it possible for those who have been expelled from their own land because their farms are too small, to return, as part of associations."
In Bonpland, the association is trying to do that through the projects financed by the SGP. But it first has to work out basic questions of subsistence.
Sara Keller suffered from not having water for 45 years. Every day she went to the nearest stream, one km from her village, to haul back 20-litre buckets of water, whether she was pregnant or carrying one of her six children. Calculating the total, she walked over 20,000 km in her life, to fetch water.
But now the 52-year-old married mother of six and grandmother of five, who lives in the village of Campiñas, has running water in her home, thanks to a simple five-km pipe financed by another SGP initiative.
"I really suffered not having water, carrying it from far away in the dry season," Keller, who now has free time to care for her vegetable garden, sew and even rest, told IPS.
One of the goals of all SGP projects is to include a gender perspective.
Women are often reluctant to take part in meetings because, due to cultural questions, they don't like to express opinions in front of their husbands, said Hunghanns. But, he pointed out, it is women who establish the priorities for the projects.
That was the case of the project that replaced latrines with toilets. Soledad Olivera, 18, whose husband is a rural worker employed in the extraction of sap or resin, and who has a two-year-old son and is expecting her second child, is happy with the new bathroom in her house in Picada Norte, which replaced a "dirty, smelly latrine".
"It's so nice," she says with a big smile on her face as she looks at the bathroom, complete with a toilet, electric shower, and, especially, running water.
The SGP, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is financing 20 projects in Misiones, which also include the care of water sources, sustainable agricultural development, ecotourism activities with Guaraní indigenous communities, waste management and the production of medicinal herbs.
"The term ‘small donations' isn't the best. Because it's a commitment between two sides. We contribute something, and so do the community and the grassroots organisations," said René Mauricio Valdés, the UNDP representative in Argentina.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
UNITED NATIONS, Dic 23 (IPS) - The sharp decline in world petroleum prices - hailed as a bonanza to millions of motorists in the United States - is threatening to undermine the fragile economies of several African countries dependent on oil for their sustained growth.
Saturday, December 20, 2014
NEMMELI, India, Dic 20 (IPS) - Ten years have now passed, but Raghu Raja, a 27-year-old fisherman from the coastal village of Nemmeli in southern India's Kachipuram district, still clearly remembers the day he escaped the tsunami.
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