Stories written by Kristin Palitza
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Years of war forced Passion, 13, to live on the street.  Credit: Einberger/argum/EED/IPS

DR CONGO: Lasting Effects of War Destroy Children’s Future

Five years into democracy, with the elections just a few weeks away, the majority of Congolese children continue to face a bleak future.

Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu will lead the COP17 negotiations on behalf of the African Group of Negotiators.  Credit: Leila Mead/IISD

Q&A: “We Expect the Polluters to Pay”

Africa will have to present a strong position at the United Nations climate change conference later this year to ensure the continent will receive the financing to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

A lot of water is wasted through unmonitored irrigation. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

SOUTH AFRICA: While Politicians Deliberate Climate Change, Others Adapt

While many scientists, academics and politicians still theorise about ways to adapt to climate change, a South African civil society organisation has launched a hands-on project that mobilises communities to take easy steps to reduce carbon emissions.

 Scientists have developed an environmentally friendly method to clean highly toxic water and convert it into drinkable water.  Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

SOUTH AFRICA: Scientists Find Green Method to Purify Toxic Water

South African scientists have developed an environmentally friendly method to clean highly toxic water and convert it into drinkable water. Once available commercially, the method could drastically reduce the negative impact industry has on water pollution worldwide.

Some aid agencies use microfinance to "kickstart new markets" for renewable energy products among poor people. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

“Microfinance Can Help Rural Communities Adapt to Climate Change”

Projects to fight climate change are being designed all around the world. But only five percent of them can be financed with the current international funds available, which means resources have to be used more wisely. Microfinance could be one solution.

"Rural women don

Gender Indicators for Global Climate Funds Still an Afterthought

Of the millions of dollars spent on climate change projects in developing countries, little has been allocated in a way that will benefit women. Yet, in Africa, it is women who will be most affected by climate change.

Prices for DR-TB drugs remain too high worldwide.  Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

HEALTH: High Drug Prices Hamper Drug-Resistant TB Treatment

Access to treatment for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) remains compromised, especially in developing countries, because too few pharmaceutical companies manufacture quality-assured drugs. Lack of competition has led to skyrocketing prices and this means that public health budgets are quickly spent.

To raise awareness about gay rights, especially in South Africa

Q&A: “When They Find Out You’re a Lesbian They Refuse to Help”

With homophobia on the rise, large numbers of South African lesbians are being subjected to discrimination and violent assaults. There has also been an increase in "corrective rape" by men trying to "cure" them of their sexual orientation. More than 30 lesbians have been killed since 2006. But most of these crimes go unrecognised by the state and unpunished by the legal system.

Seven to ten cases of gender-based violence are reported in Dzaleka camp every month; few perpetrators are brought to justice. Credit:  Kristin Palitza/IPS

Gender-Based Violence Wracks Malawi Refugee Camp

At the age of 13, Chantal Kifungo* is mother to a ten-month-old baby girl. It wasn’t her choice. Almost two years ago, she was raped by her stepfather – and fell pregnant with his child.

SOUTH AFRICA: CSOs Urge Binding Commitment on Socio-Economic Rights

A grouping of six civil society organisations (CSOs) has called on the South African government to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

Philippi residents are growing organic produce for sale to upmarket restaurants in Cape Town as well as for their own table. Credit:  Kristin Palitza/IPS

SOUTH AFRICA: Greening Project Creates Income and Food Security

Frances Mandla is visibly filled with pride. Together with her colleague, Nouniform Nqevu, she stands tall and smiling in front of a wide bed of lush spinach. The harvest will be their ticket to a better life. A life where there is enough money to buy food, clothes and pay school fees.

Hartman: 'Because of the level of exploitation, it is key that we give more support to vulnerable workers, especially women.' Credit:  Kristin Palitza/IPS


South African farm workers – especially female labourers – continue to be exploited, despite the existence of national labour laws and regulations designed to protect them. But in the absence of information and education about their rights, workers have a hard time claiming them.

The government's plans for adaptation offer little to smallholder farmers, who are among those most vulnerable to climate change. Credit:  Kristin Palitza/IPS

SOUTH AFRICA: Climate Change Policy Ignores Women Farmers

When asked if they have already felt the effects of climate change, Mary-Anne Zimri and Katrina Scheepers eagerly nod their heads. The two small-scale farmers say lack of rain this winter has foiled their planting season, ruined their harvest – and drastically slashed their income.

Tracey Derrick: 'My images aim to offer a balance to the images of women we see in the media. I bring in reality and take away blame and judgement.' Credit:  Tracey Derrick

AFRICA: Bearing Witness and Celebrating the Everyday

"I had a lump in my breast for a few years that I ignored [mainly because] it didn’t hurt. It’s so easy to try to deny illness," says Tracey Derrick. When she finally went to see a doctor for a biopsy, she got a big shock. The result came back positive: breast cancer.

The health of South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA: “Children are Dying Needlessly”

By the time Thandi Khumalo* brought her seven-month-old daughter to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, help came too late. The infant had developed acute diarrhoea and kwashiorkor, a condition caused by severe protein and calorie deficiency, and died a few days after being admitted.

TB patient in a Kenyan hospital: community-based care and treatment is extending the reach of limited facilities and personnel. Credit:  Siegfried/IRIN

HEALTH-SOUTHERN AFRICA: Community Mobilisation Key to Fight TB

African medical experts have realised they need to make a much bigger effort to educate rural communities if they want to effectively contain the continent’s tuberculosis (TB) epidemic.

TB goes undiagnosed in many South African children. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

SOUTH AFRICA: Tuberculosis in Children Neglected

Even though tuberculosis (TB) is a major cause for illness and mortality in children, South Africa lacks the political will to tackle the disease, health experts say.

The number of orphans in South Africa has risen by 4.9 percent since 2005.  Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

SOUTH AFRICA: Lack of Quality Health Care Causes Rise in Orphans

Two small boys play quietly on a jungle gym, some distance away from other children. The six-year-old twins, who live at the Masigcine children's centre in Mfuleni township, 35 kilometres out of Cape Town, are severely traumatised from being orphaned at the age of one and have difficulty relating to their peers.

Urban Renewal Reduces Crime in South African Township

Neatly paved walkways, regularly spaced streetlamps, well-designed public squares and multi-functional, modern public buildings: this kind of thoughtful town planning is rarely found in South African townships and informal settlements.

Many South African teenagers are exposed to behaviour detrimental to their health.  Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

SOUTH AFRICA: Teenagers’ Health at Tremendous Risk

"I sometimes drink alcohol because it makes things funny," 15-year-old Senelo* giggles shyly. "I go to unlicensed taverns. They sell alcohol without asking questions."

Grade 7 pupils at the Rondevlei Nature Reserve: children can be a key part in community river health monitoring. Credit:  Kristin Palitza/IPS

SOUTH AFRICA: Children Help to Assess Water Health

Miss, Miss, there are tiny creatures here in the water!" a Grade 7 pupil shouts excitedly, trying to draw attention to his water sample. At first, the liquid looks clear, but upon closer examination, one can make out a tiny aquatic invertebrate.

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