Inter Press ServiceSlideshow – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Tue, 22 Aug 2017 10:07:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.1 New Effort to Assist People Displaced by Conflict in the Borno Region in Nigeriahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/12/new-effort-to-assist-people-displaced-by-conflict-in-the-borno-region-in-nigeria/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-effort-to-assist-people-displaced-by-conflict-in-the-borno-region-in-nigeria http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/12/new-effort-to-assist-people-displaced-by-conflict-in-the-borno-region-in-nigeria/#respond Fri, 02 Dec 2016 14:55:07 +0000 IKEA Foundation http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=148055 Médecins Sans Frontières and IKEA Foundation call on other funders to step up and save lives - JOINT PRESS RELEASE

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Nigeria Ngala: The humanitarian situation in Borno is catastrophic and more assistance is needed, both in remote and accessible areas in Borno. MSF teams have done a cross-border assessment in Ngala and Gambaru in Nigeria where over 200.000 people are living in disastrous conditions and are in desperate need of food and aid. The situation there is similar to what has already been seen in enclaves like Bama, Banki and Gwoza and shows the devastating impact on the population of the conflict between Boko Haram and the Nigerian military forces. Disastrous living conditions and lack of food are killing more people than violence. MSF teams provided food and medical care and are scaling up assistance. September 2016, copyright : Silas Adamou Moussa/MSF

Nigeria Ngala: The humanitarian situation in Borno is catastrophic and more assistance is needed, both in remote and accessible areas in Borno. MSF teams have done a cross-border assessment in Ngala and Gambaru in Nigeria where over 200.000 people are living in disastrous conditions and are in desperate need of food and aid. The situation there is similar to what has already been seen in enclaves like Bama, Banki and Gwoza and shows the devastating impact on the population of the conflict between Boko Haram and the Nigerian military forces. Disastrous living conditions and lack of food are killing more people than violence. MSF teams provided food and medical care and are scaling up assistance. September 2016, copyright : Silas Adamou Moussa/MSF

By IKEA Foundation
LEIDEN, The Netherlands, Dec 2 2016 (IPS)

As hundreds of thousands flee their homes in northeastern Nigeria to seek safety from intensifying conflict between Boko Haram and the Nigerian military, the IKEA Foundation has given Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) €1 million to provide lifesaving medical assistance.

The conflict in Northeastern Nigeria started in 2009, as a result of the fighting, countless families have been force to flee their homes and sought safety in overcrowded cities or camps for displaced people Tragically, many are losing their lives and their loved ones to illness, hunger and violence.

MSF is working tirelessly to help displaced survive the biggest killers inside the camps: measles, diarrhoea, malaria and malnutrition.

The IKEA Foundation is leading the way with a €1 million grant and hopes that other funders will step forward to help MSF save even more lives.

MSF is using the funding to implement a range of health activities for the most vulnerable.

More than 7,500 children under five have been vaccinated against measles and have been provided with emergency food rations. Fourteen per cent of children screened for malnutrition were suffering from the deadliest form of malnutrition and received therapeutic food and treatment. MSF is also providing antenatal care for pregnant women, referring critical patients for hospital care and is delivering large quantities of clean water.

Shining a light on unseen emergencies
Around the world, MSF gives medical care to thousands of people suffering from emergencies that receive little or no international assistance.

Thanks to a special agreement with the IKEA Foundation signed only a couple of weeks ago, MSF can quickly access grants to help children and their families survive these emergencies.

“Through this grant, the IKEA Foundation is giving a financial boost for our emergency action on the ground and is also working with us to shine a light on this crisis,” says Bruno Jochum, General Director of MSF.

“When our teams first arrived in Banki in July, we discovered some 25,000 people living in catastrophic conditions in a camp without access to food, water and medical care. The health and humanitarian situation was beyond critical with mortality rates three times above the emergency threshold. Fourteen per cent of the children screened by MSF were suffering from severe acute malnutrition, and nearly one in three children was malnourished. Since then, we have been providing regular assistance in Banki, and we now see an improvement in the health situation. This shows the positive impact of humanitarian aid, although much more remains to be done.” Said Hugues Robert, MSF Programme Manager for Nigeria.

“This emergency has not received the kind of international attention it deserves considering the scale of suffering going on,” he continues. “The IKEA Foundation’s support of our lifesaving medical action is a recognition that more needs to be done, and fast.”

Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation, agrees. “Children and their families have the right to health and protection, which is why the IKEA Foundation is proud to support MSF’s lifesaving services during unseen emergencies and calls on other funders to do the same.”

Ngala, Nigeria: Emergency aid to victims of violence and displacement, On 13 November, MSF teams from Cameroon managed to access Ngala in Nigeria for the second time. Some 78,000 internally displaced people live there in a camp and receive little external assistance. MSF provided food, relief items and medical care, and screened over 7,000 of children for malnutrition and vaccinated them against measles. Over twenty per cent of the children were found to suffer from malnutrition. MSF teams also started to improve the water supply. In the town of Gambaru, a few kilometers from Ngala, MSF teams vaccinated over 8,000 children under the age of five against measles and also screened them for malnutrition. Ten per cent were malnourished and received food aid and medical care. The town’s estimated 70,000 residents lack basic food supplies and have no access to healthcare. The only health centre was burnt down, and the road is too dangerous for people to leave to seek care elsewhere. October 2016, copyright : Sylvain Cherkaoui/COSMOS

Ngala, Nigeria: Emergency aid to victims of violence and displacement, On 13 November, MSF teams from Cameroon managed to access Ngala in Nigeria for the second time.
Some 78,000 internally displaced people live there in a camp and receive little external assistance. MSF provided food, relief items and medical care, and screened over 7,000 of children for malnutrition and vaccinated them against measles.
Over twenty per cent of the children were found to suffer from malnutrition. MSF teams also started to improve the water supply.
In the town of Gambaru, a few kilometers from Ngala, MSF teams vaccinated over 8,000 children under the age of five against measles and also screened them for malnutrition. Ten per cent were malnourished and received food aid and medical care. The town’s estimated 70,000 residents lack basic food supplies and have no access to healthcare.
The only health centre was burnt down, and the road is too dangerous for people to leave to seek care elsewhere.
October 2016, copyright : Sylvain Cherkaoui/COSMOS

Nigeria Ngala, MSF teams provided food and medical care and are scaling up assistance. September 2016, copyright : Silas Adamou Moussa/MSF

Nigeria Ngala, MSF teams provided food and medical care and are scaling up assistance.
September 2016, copyright : Silas Adamou Moussa/MSF

Nigeria Ngala ,People in the camp reported having less than half a litre of water per person per day. September 2016, copyright : Silas Adamou Moussa/MSF

Nigeria Ngala ,People in the camp reported having less than half a litre of water per person per day.
September 2016, copyright : Silas Adamou Moussa/MSF

Nigeria Ngala ,People in the camp reported having less than half a litre of water per person per day. September 2016, copyright : Silas Adamou Moussa/MSF

Nigeria Ngala ,People in the camp reported having less than half a litre of water per person per day.
September 2016, copyright : Silas Adamou Moussa/MSF

Ngala: Teams have been able to offer medical consultations to the population in Gambaru inside a tent that was put up in health center that has been burnt down. September 2016, copyright : Silas Adamou Moussa/MSF

Ngala: Teams have been able to offer medical consultations to the population in Gambaru inside a tent that was put up in health center that has been burnt down.
September 2016, copyright : Silas Adamou Moussa/MSF

The desperate living conditions in Borno state show the devastating impact of the ongoing conflict between Boko Haram and the Nigerian military. In several locations, people have sought refuge in towns or camps controlled by the military, and are entirely reliant on outside aid that does not reach them. “Although a nutrition emergency was declared three months ago, there has been a serious failure to help the people of Borno,” said Hugues Robert, head of MSF’s emergency response. “And we are again calling for a massive relief effort to be deployed now.” October 2016, copyright: Stéphane Reynier de Montlaux/MSF

The desperate living conditions in Borno state show the devastating impact of the ongoing conflict between Boko Haram and the Nigerian military. In several locations, people have sought refuge in towns or camps controlled by the military, and are entirely reliant on outside aid that does not reach them. “Although a nutrition emergency was declared three months ago, there has been a serious failure to help the people of Borno,” said Hugues Robert, head of MSF’s emergency response. “And we are again calling for a massive relief effort to be deployed now.”
October 2016, copyright: Stéphane Reynier de Montlaux/MSF

Conflict-affected populations in Banki October 2016, copyright: Stéphane Reynier de Montlaux/MSF

Conflict-affected populations in Banki
October 2016, copyright: Stéphane Reynier de Montlaux/MSF

During the second week of July 2016, MSF organised an exploratory mission and an emergency distribution for more than 15,000 displaced people leaving in dire conditions in the city of Banki, in Borno State – Nigeria. July 2016, copyright: Naoufel Dridi/MSF

During the second week of July 2016, MSF organised an exploratory mission and an emergency distribution for more than 15,000 displaced people leaving in dire conditions in the city of Banki, in Borno State – Nigeria.
July 2016, copyright: Naoufel Dridi/MSF

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Notes to editors
For more information about the IKEA Foundation’s emergency-grant agreement with MSF: https://www.ikeafoundation.org/stories/helping-save-children-msf-save-thousands-childrens-lives-catastrophic-disasters/

The IKEA Foundation and MSF have partnered since 2013 to bring lifesaving medical care to people suffering in conflicts and disasters. The IKEA Foundation has donated more than EIUR 20 million to MSF since 2013. In 2014, IKEA Foundation provided EUR 5 million to fight the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.

About the IKEA Foundation
The IKEA Foundation (Stichting IKEA Foundation) is the philanthropic arm of INGKA Foundation, the owner of the IKEA Group of companies. We aim to improve opportunities for children and youth in some of the world’s poorest communities by funding holistic, long-term programmes that can create substantial, lasting change. The IKEA Foundation works with strong strategic partners applying innovative approaches to achieve large-scale results in four fundamental areas of a child’s life: a place to call home; a healthy start in life; a quality education; and a sustainable family income, while helping these communities fight and cope with climate change.

Learn more at www.ikeafoundation.org and www.facebook.com/IKEAfoundation.

About MSF
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare. MSF offers assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation.
Learn more at www.msf.org/en/about-msf

For further information, please contact:
Radu Dumitrascu: Tel +31 6 5569 8570, Radu.Dumitrascu@IKEAfoundation.org
Emma Amadò : Tel +41 79 240 08 71, emma.amado@geneva.msf.org

This article has been provided by IKEA Foundation as part of an agreement with IPS

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Stories of Hope from a Cameroon Refugee Camphttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/09/stories-of-hope-from-a-cameroon-refugee-camp/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=stories-of-hope-from-a-cameroon-refugee-camp http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/09/stories-of-hope-from-a-cameroon-refugee-camp/#respond Wed, 21 Sep 2016 14:50:22 +0000 UN Women http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=147030 To the world they are known as “refugees”. Nameless, faceless, all the same. But each of them have a different story to tell, of their lives, who they lost, and how they got here. Fleeing from the devastating conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR), today they are rebuilding their lives, one day at a […]

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By UN Women
Sep 21 2016 (UN Women)

To the world they are known as “refugees”. Nameless, faceless, all the same. But each of them have a different story to tell, of their lives, who they lost, and how they got here. Fleeing from the devastating conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR), today they are rebuilding their lives, one day at a time, in a camp in Cameroon. UN Women supports economic and social rehabilitation to some 6,250 vulnerable women and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence there. These are some of their stories.

Hawa, 23, was eight months pregnant when her husband was killed in the fighting in CAR. Her father and brother were also killed and her mother disappeared, leaving her completely alone. She fled and crossed into Cameroon, becoming a refugee at the Gado camp, where she gave birth to a son, Haphisi Ibrahim.

Hawa, 23, was eight months pregnant when her husband was killed in the fighting in CAR. Her father and brother were also killed and her mother disappeared, leaving her completely alone. She fled and crossed into Cameroon, becoming a refugee at the Gado camp, where she gave birth to a son, Haphisi Ibrahim.

 

Hawa carries her son as a neighbour pushes a cart with bags of cassava flour, dried fish and nuts for Hawa to sell at the camp’s marketplace. “When I arrived I didn’t have anyone,” she said. She received counselling from UN Women staff.  “They sensitized and trained me on how to do a business plan at the camp.”

Hawa carries her son as a neighbour pushes a cart with bags of cassava flour, dried fish and nuts for Hawa to sell at the camp’s marketplace. “When I arrived I didn’t have anyone,” she said. She received counselling from UN Women staff.  “They sensitized and trained me on how to do a business plan at the camp.”

Hawa carries her son as a neighbour pushes a cart with bags of cassava flour, dried fish and nuts for Hawa to sell at the camp’s marketplace. “When I arrived I didn’t have anyone,” she said. She received counselling from UN Women staff. “They sensitized and trained me on how to do a business plan at the camp.”

 

Ardo Djibo Fadimatou (centre, in blue and yellow), 64, lost eight of her 15 children during the conflict in CAR. She does not know the where her husband is. She speaks for the over 12,000 women in the Gado refugee camp as their elected President and leads meetings in UN Women’s Social Cohesion Space. “The major problem I face as a female leader is to convince parents to send their children to regular schools. Most parents prefer their children to stay at home and learn the Koran. Women need to be educated, to have income-generating activities and be able to contribute to social cohesion here at the camp.”

Ardo Djibo Fadimatou (centre, in blue and yellow), 64, lost eight of her 15 children during the conflict in CAR. She does not know the where her husband is. She speaks for the over 12,000 women in the Gado refugee camp as their elected President and leads meetings in UN Women’s Social Cohesion Space. “The major problem I face as a female leader is to convince parents to send their children to regular schools. Most parents prefer their children to stay at home and learn the Koran. Women need to be educated, to have income-generating activities and be able to contribute to social cohesion here at the camp.”

 

Yaya Dia Adama escaped CAR and came to the Gado refugee camp with her five children. She is a seamstress by trade and is able to make a living using the sewing machines at the UN Women multipurpose centre. She is currently training three other women to use them to make clothes, and together the women produce dresses to sell in the market. “Each day I am able to earn 1000 to 2000 [CFA] francs a day [USD 1.75-3.50]. This has helped me to provide for my children.”

Yaya Dia Adama escaped CAR and came to the Gado refugee camp with her five children. She is a seamstress by trade and is able to make a living using the sewing machines at the UN Women multipurpose centre. She is currently training three other women to use them to make clothes, and together the women produce dresses to sell in the market. “Each day I am able to earn 1000 to 2000 [CFA] francs a day [USD 1.75-3.50]. This has helped me to provide for my children.”

Ouseina Hamadou, 22, lives in the Ngam refugees host community and works as a food vendor. “UN Women trained me on a business plan, provided me with financial assistance, which I reinvested in my restaurant at the roadside. I started saving 5,000 francs [USD 8.50] a day and when I had 200,000 francs (USD 350), I decided to start building my own house.”

Ouseina Hamadou, 22, lives in the Ngam refugees host community and works as a food vendor. “UN Women trained me on a business plan, provided me with financial assistance, which I reinvested in my restaurant at the roadside. I started saving 5,000 francs [USD 8.50] a day and when I had 200,000 francs (USD 350), I decided to start building my own house.”

Nene Daouda is a 38-year-old widow who lost her husband in CAR during the war. She escaped to the Ngam refugee site in the Adamawa region of Cameroon with her five children, one of whom recently passed away from illness.

Nene Daouda is a 38-year-old widow who lost her husband in CAR during the war. She escaped to the Ngam refugee site in the Adamawa region of Cameroon with her five children, one of whom recently passed away from illness.

 

Nene (centre) and one of her daughters, Salamatou Abubakar (left), 12, have been providing food to many refugees at a makeshift restaurant in a small market at the camp. “I witnessed a complete transformation in my business and income following the training I attended, organized by UN Women. At the end of the training, they gave us 50,000 [CFA] francs as capital (USD 85). I reinvested this money in my business and started weekly savings.” Today, she is able to provide education and other basic needs to her children. In the image on the right, Nene passes out bites of dough to tide visitors over while she finishes cooking.

Nene (centre) and one of her daughters, Salamatou Abubakar (left), 12, have been providing food to many refugees at a makeshift restaurant in a small market at the camp. “I witnessed a complete transformation in my business and income following the training I attended, organized by UN Women. At the end of the training, they gave us 50,000 [CFA] francs as capital (USD 85). I reinvested this money in my business and started weekly savings.” Today, she is able to provide education and other basic needs to her children. In the image on the right, Nene passes out bites of dough to tide visitors over while she finishes cooking.

Nene (centre) and one of her daughters, Salamatou Abubakar (left), 12, have been providing food to many refugees at a makeshift restaurant in a small market at the camp. “I witnessed a complete transformation in my business and income following the training I attended, organized by UN Women. At the end of the training, they gave us 50,000 [CFA] francs as capital (USD 85). I reinvested this money in my business and started weekly savings.” Today, she is able to provide education and other basic needs to her children. In the image on the right, Nene passes out bites of dough to tide visitors over while she finishes cooking.

Salamatou steps outside to cut herself slices of mango as a snack. She sees a group of boys nearby playing football and immediately runs to join them, forgetting, at first, to put down her mango-slicing knife.

Salamatou steps outside to cut herself slices of mango as a snack. She sees a group of boys nearby playing football and immediately runs to join them, forgetting, at first, to put down her mango-slicing knife.

 

Displacement is devastating. Every day brings news challenges. But for these women, and many others in Cameroon, life at the refugee camp has also empowered them in ways they never imagined.

Credit for all photos: UN Women/Ryan Brown

This story, part of the “Where I am” editorial series, was replicated from the UN Women website http://www.unwomen.org/ IPS is an official partner of UN Women’s Step It Up! Media Compact.

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Asia, Looking Beyond the Green Revolutionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/08/asia-looking-beyond-the-green-revolution/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=asia-looking-beyond-the-green-revolution http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/08/asia-looking-beyond-the-green-revolution/#respond Wed, 24 Aug 2016 13:23:58 +0000 IPS Correspondents http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=146661 More than 2.2 billion people in Asia rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, but the Asian Development Bank warns that stagnant and declining yields of major crops such as rice and wheat can be ultimately linked to declining investments in agriculture. Public investments in agriculture in India, for instance, have been roughly the same since […]

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About 296 million acres of Indian farmland are degraded, while some 200 million people are dependent on this land for their sustenance. In recent years, FAO support for rural livelihoods and sustainable management of water, soil and other natural resources have occupied centre stage in India, followed by crops and livestock, food security information systems and fisheries. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

About 296 million acres of Indian farmland are degraded, while some 200 million people are dependent on this land for their sustenance. In recent years, FAO support for rural livelihoods and sustainable management of water, soil and other natural resources have occupied centre stage in India, followed by crops and livestock, food security information systems and fisheries. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

By IPS Correspondents
Aug 24 2016 (IPS)

More than 2.2 billion people in Asia rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, but the Asian Development Bank warns that stagnant and declining yields of major crops such as rice and wheat can be ultimately linked to declining investments in agriculture. Public investments in agriculture in India, for instance, have been roughly the same since 2004.

In most Asian countries, agriculture is the biggest user of water and can reach up to 90 percent of total water consumption – a fact that must be addressed as this critical resource comes under increasing strain from climate change, development and population growth.

The vision of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) office in Bangkok is a food-secure Asia and the Pacific region, helping to halve the number of undernourished people in the region by raising agricultural productivity and alleviating poverty while protecting the region’s natural resources base.

About 296 million acres of Indian farmland are degraded, while some 200 million people are dependent on this land for their sustenance. In recent years, FAO support for rural livelihoods and sustainable management of water, soil and other natural resources have occupied centre stage in India, followed by crops and livestock, food security information systems and fisheries. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

About 296 million acres of Indian farmland are degraded, while some 200 million people are dependent on this land for their sustenance. In recent years, FAO support for rural livelihoods and sustainable management of water, soil and other natural resources have occupied centre stage in India, followed by crops and livestock, food security information systems and fisheries. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

Zainab Samo, along with her son and daughter, planting a lemon seedling on her farm in Oan village in Pakistan’s southern desert district of Tharparkar, to fight the desert’s advance and for a windbreak. In the drylands of India and Pakistan, farmers still maintain many of their traditions of nurturing biodiversity of wild and cultivated food crops and medicinal plants, despite introduction of monocropping by the Green Revolution. Credit: Saleem Shaikh/IPS

Zainab Samo, along with her son and daughter, planting a lemon seedling on her farm in Oan village in Pakistan’s southern desert district of Tharparkar, to fight the desert’s advance and for a windbreak. In the drylands of India and Pakistan, farmers still maintain many of their traditions of nurturing biodiversity of wild and cultivated food crops and medicinal plants, despite introduction of monocropping by the Green Revolution. Credit: Saleem Shaikh/IPS

Farmers in Indonesia’s West Java province follow instructions on the government’s “integrated planting calendar”. National food security based on self-sufficiency of rice production remains a major concern of the government. Credit: Kanis Dursin/IPS

Farmers in Indonesia’s West Java province follow instructions on the government’s “integrated planting calendar”. National food security based on self-sufficiency of rice production remains a major concern of the government. Credit: Kanis Dursin/IPS

Women farmers in Nepal, which has one of the world's highest malnutrition rates. According to FAO, the low consumption of fruit and fresh vegetables, which is highly dependent on local seasonal availability, contributes to nutritional disorders such as deficiencies in iron and vitamin A. Over the last 64 years, almost 300 projects have been implemented in Nepal by FAO, embracing a broad range of programmes related to crop, vegetables, forestry, livestock, fishery, food safety, nutrition, planning, policy, rural development and environmental conservation. Credit: Naresh Newar/IPS

Women farmers in Nepal, which has one of the world’s highest malnutrition rates. According to FAO, the low consumption of fruit and fresh vegetables, which is highly dependent on local seasonal availability, contributes to nutritional disorders such as deficiencies in iron and vitamin A. Over the last 64 years, almost 300 projects have been implemented in Nepal by FAO, embracing a broad range of programmes related to crop, vegetables, forestry, livestock, fishery, food safety, nutrition, planning, policy, rural development and environmental conservation. Credit: Naresh Newar/IPS

With floods, droughts and other calamities battering deltaic Bangladesh regularly, farmers need little prompting to switch to climate-resistant varieties of rice, wheat, pulses and other staples. An important opportunity in terms of technology advancement is offered by the genetic improvement of crops that can adapt to future climate conditions, also called "climate proofing" crops. Credit: Naimul Haq/IPS

With floods, droughts and other calamities battering deltaic Bangladesh regularly, farmers need little prompting to switch to climate-resistant varieties of rice, wheat, pulses and other staples. An important opportunity in terms of technology advancement is offered by the genetic improvement of crops that can adapt to future climate conditions, also called “climate proofing” crops. Credit: Naimul Haq/IPS

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Nurturing African Agriculturehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/08/nurturing-african-agriculture/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nurturing-african-agriculture http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/08/nurturing-african-agriculture/#respond Wed, 24 Aug 2016 13:18:35 +0000 IPS Correspondents http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=146655 While agriculture could be the driving force to lift millions of Africans out of poverty and alleviate hunger, its full potential remains untapped. For example, only between five and seven percent of the continent’s cultivated land is irrigated, leaving farmers vulnerable to climate shocks like the devastating El Nino-driven drought in southern Africa. That’s why […]

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Gadam sorghum was introduced to semi-arid regions of eastern Kenya as a way for farmers to improve their food security and earn some income from marginal land. The hardy, high-yielding sorghum variety has not only thrived in harsh conditions, it has won a place in the hearts - and plates - of local farmers. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

Gadam sorghum was introduced to semi-arid regions of eastern Kenya as a way for farmers to improve their food security and earn some income from marginal land. The hardy, high-yielding sorghum variety has not only thrived in harsh conditions, it has won a place in the hearts - and plates - of local farmers. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

By IPS Correspondents
Aug 24 2016 (IPS)

While agriculture could be the driving force to lift millions of Africans out of poverty and alleviate hunger, its full potential remains untapped. For example, only between five and seven percent of the continent’s cultivated land is irrigated, leaving farmers vulnerable to climate shocks like the devastating El Nino-driven drought in southern Africa. That’s why international agencies like the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are forging key partnerships to enhance agricultural production, sustainable natural resource management and increased market access.

From boosting the productivity of drylands to introducing innovative, time-saving technology, success stories abound in Africa. Here are some viewed through the lenses of IPS photojournalists in the field.

Philippi residents grow organic produce such as spinach, lettuce, spring onions and beetroot in netted food tunnels, for sale to upmarket restaurants in Cape Town as well as for their own table. The FAO Organic Agriculture Programme aims to enhance food security, rural development, sustainable livelihoods and environmental integrity by building capacities of member countries in organic production, processing, certification and marketing. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

Philippi residents grow organic produce such as spinach, lettuce, spring onions and beetroot in netted food tunnels, for sale to upmarket restaurants in Cape Town as well as for their own table. The FAO Organic Agriculture Programme aims to enhance food security, rural development, sustainable livelihoods and environmental integrity by building capacities of member countries in organic production, processing, certification and marketing. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

In Sierra Leone, Emmanuel Kargbo, a 26-year-old farmer, pushes a motorised soil tiller recently given to his farming cooperative. Before he was trained to use it, it would take him more than twice as long to do it by hand. Getting technology into the hands of farmers is critical since global food production needs to increase by 70 percent by 2050 in order to feed an additional 2.3 billion people, and food production in developing countries needs to almost double. Credit: Damon Van der Linde/IPS

In Sierra Leone, Emmanuel Kargbo, a 26-year-old farmer, pushes a motorised soil tiller recently given to his farming cooperative. Before he was trained to use it, it would take him more than twice as long to do it by hand. Getting technology into the hands of farmers is critical since global food production needs to increase by 70 percent by 2050 in order to feed an additional 2.3 billion people, and food production in developing countries needs to almost double. Credit: Damon Van der Linde/IPS

Gadam sorghum was introduced to semi-arid regions of eastern Kenya as a way for farmers to improve their food security and earn some income from marginal land. The hardy, high-yielding sorghum variety has not only thrived in harsh conditions, it has won a place in the hearts - and plates - of local farmers. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

Gadam sorghum was introduced to semi-arid regions of eastern Kenya as a way for farmers to improve their food security and earn some income from marginal land. The hardy, high-yielding sorghum variety has not only thrived in harsh conditions, it has won a place in the hearts – and plates – of local farmers. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

Small-scale farmer Ruth Chikweya working on her land near Harare, Zimbabwe. To counter the risk of poor yields, lost income and hunger, the Government of Zimbabwe turned to FAO for assistance in helping farmers in the country's marginal areas focus more on producing small grains such as sorghum and millet - both traditionally important crops that can be grown with relatively less water resources and which are more nutritious than maize. Credit: Tonderai Kwidini/IPS

Small-scale farmer Ruth Chikweya working on her land near Harare, Zimbabwe. To counter the risk of poor yields, lost income and hunger, the Government of Zimbabwe turned to FAO for assistance in helping farmers in the country’s marginal areas focus more on producing small grains such as sorghum and millet – both traditionally important crops that can be grown with relatively less water resources and which are more nutritious than maize. Credit: Tonderai Kwidini/IPS

Isaac Ochieng Okwanyi has had his most successful harvest ever after using lime to improve the quality of his soil. Okwanyi, a 29-year-old father of two, began farming after he was evicted from Nairobi’s Mathare slum in 2008 following the country’s post-election violence. According to FAO, soil management is an integral part of land management. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

Isaac Ochieng Okwanyi has had his most successful harvest ever after using lime to improve the quality of his soil. Okwanyi, a 29-year-old father of two, began farming after he was evicted from Nairobi’s Mathare slum in 2008 following the country’s post-election violence. According to FAO, soil management is an integral part of land management. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

 

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India’s Dwindling Tiger Population Face Water Shortageshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/indias-dwindling-tiger-population-face-water-shortages/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=indias-dwindling-tiger-population-face-water-shortages http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/indias-dwindling-tiger-population-face-water-shortages/#respond Thu, 09 Jun 2016 21:17:57 +0000 Aruna Dutt http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145559 At the beginning of the 19th century there were 40, 000 tigers in the world. Today, around 4,000 tigers are left in the wild globally, 2,226 of which are in India. United Nations former chief photographer John Isaac’s short film “India’s Tigers: A Threatened Species” was released at the UN Wednesday to highlight the importance […]

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Credit: John Isaac

By Aruna Dutt
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 9 2016 (IPS)

At the beginning of the 19th century there were 40, 000 tigers in the world. Today, around 4,000 tigers are left in the wild globally, 2,226 of which are in India.

United Nations former chief photographer John Isaac’s short film “India’s Tigers: A Threatened Species” was released at the UN Wednesday to highlight the importance of the endangered species threatened by environmental degradation, water shortages and poaching.

Credit: John Isaac

Credit: John Isaac

Climate change has been a serious challenge to keeping tigers’ habitat alive, nearly 17000 villages in Rajasthan have been facing a water crisis.

Tigers provide enormous economic benefits for the local communities, attracting tourists to parks like Ranthambore National Park, one of the largest national parks situated in Rajasthan, India, where most of Isaac’s pictures were taken.

Tigers also control the deer and sambar population, playing a major role in balancing the ecosystem.

Growing populations in the areas where tigers have historically lived are leading to increasing clashes between humans and tigers.

Credit: John Isaac

Credit: John Isaac

“Local farmers are more in tune with saving the tigers, but it is the higher authorities that need to do something,” said John Isaac, who has born in India and has been documenting the tigers there for 25 years.

Along with overpopulation and climate change, illicit poaching is on the rise. Poachers will kill a tiger in India for $20, and by the time it gets to China it will be worth half a million dollars, said Isaac.

Credit: John Isaac

Credit: John Isaac

Their body parts are used in Asian medicines and tiger claws are used in jewellery. Tiger whiskers are considered a dreadful poison in Malaysia and a powerful aphrodisiac in Indonesia. According to UNODC, ancient trade routes are being used to smuggle tiger skins and bones to buyers based largely in northern India and are then smuggled out of the country through Nepal or directly to China.

In India, the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 is a legislation that covers wildlife crime. However, UNODC highlights the need for strengthening its implementation and enforcement in order to curb this transnational crime.

The tiger population in India which used to be tracked by footprints, is now tracked by cameras installed in forests detect them by their face, allowing for a much more accurate count, said Isaac.

All Photographs Courtesy and Copyright: John Isaac.

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Seeking a New Farming Revolutionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/seeking-a-new-farming-revolution-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=seeking-a-new-farming-revolution-2 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/seeking-a-new-farming-revolution-2/#respond Thu, 05 May 2016 17:05:06 +0000 Kitty Stapp http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=144994 As the World Farmers’ Organization meets for its annual conference in Zambia to promote policies that strengthen this critical sector, IPS looks at how farmers across the globe are tackling the interconnected challenges of climate change, market fluctuations, water and land management, and energy access.

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Processing baby vegetables at Sidemane Farm in Swaziland. An EU grant helped local farmers to buy equipment and get training in business management and marketing. Credit: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

Processing baby vegetables at Sidemane Farm in Swaziland. An EU grant helped local farmers to buy equipment and get training in business management and marketing. Credit: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

By Kitty Stapp
May 5 2016 (IPS)

As the World Farmers’ Organization meets for its annual conference in Zambia to promote policies that strengthen this critical sector, IPS looks at how farmers across the globe are tackling the interconnected challenges of climate change, market fluctuations, water and land management, and energy access.

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Response to Ethiopia’s Drought: A Story of Success or Anguish?http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/01/response-to-ethiopias-drought-a-story-of-success-or-anguish/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=response-to-ethiopias-drought-a-story-of-success-or-anguish http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/01/response-to-ethiopias-drought-a-story-of-success-or-anguish/#respond Fri, 29 Jan 2016 16:27:26 +0000 James Jeffrey http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143731 Inside a health clinic run by the Catholic Daughters of Saint Anne, a nurse wraps a special tape measure around the upper arm of 2-year-old Rodas cradled in her mother’s arms. The tape reads yellow, meaning “moderately” malnourished, according to the attending nurse. Close by 17-year-old Milite describes not having enough food at her grandmother’s […]

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Tourism and Natural Treasures to Pull Ethiopia Out of Poverty and Faminehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/01/tourism-and-natural-treasures-to-pull-ethiopia-out-of-poverty-and-famine/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tourism-and-natural-treasures-to-pull-ethiopia-out-of-poverty-and-famine http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/01/tourism-and-natural-treasures-to-pull-ethiopia-out-of-poverty-and-famine/#respond Tue, 05 Jan 2016 07:40:17 +0000 James Jeffrey http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143514 Ethiopia has announced ambitious plans to triple tourist numbers within five years as a means of boosting economic growth and helping eradicate poverty—but can it do so in a sustainable manner without degrading the very treasures it wants to promote?

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Climate Smart Coffee and Banana Set to Boost East African Farmers’ Incomehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/12/climate-smart-coffee-and-banana-set-to-boost-east-african-farmers-income/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-smart-coffee-and-banana-set-to-boost-east-african-farmers-income http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/12/climate-smart-coffee-and-banana-set-to-boost-east-african-farmers-income/#respond Wed, 23 Dec 2015 06:23:29 +0000 Wambi Michael http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143425 Ugandan farmers are increasingly inter-planting coffee, the country’s primary export, and banana, a staple food, as a way of coping with the effects of climate change. In densely populated Elgon and Rwenzori Mountains, the two crops have been planted together on smallholder farms despite recommendations under the colonial agricultural extension system to separate these in […]

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Ethiopia: The Biggest African Refugee Camp No One Talks Abouthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/ethiopia-the-biggest-african-refugee-camp-no-one-talks-about/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ethiopia-the-biggest-african-refugee-camp-no-one-talks-about http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/ethiopia-the-biggest-african-refugee-camp-no-one-talks-about/#comments Sun, 29 Nov 2015 21:51:31 +0000 James Jeffrey http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143146 On a sunny November day in Addis Ababa the courtyard of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) centre is packed with people—some attend a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reception clinic, others get essential supplies, while students attend classes, and many simply play volleyball, table football or dominoes to pass the time. Benyamin told IPS […]

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Where Technology and Medicine Meet in Rural Zambiahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/where-technology-and-medicine-meet-in-rural-zambia/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=where-technology-and-medicine-meet-in-rural-zambia http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/where-technology-and-medicine-meet-in-rural-zambia/#respond Fri, 20 Nov 2015 06:29:22 +0000 James Jeffrey http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143066 When health officer Kennedy Mulenga was faced with a male patient developing breasts at the remote Ngwerere Clinic 30km north of the Zambian capital, Lusaka, he logged onto Virtual Doctors to get help solving the medical mystery. After taking notes and creating a patient file he took a photo with the camera in his computer […]

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Preserving Mangroves Provides Protection and Food Securityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/preserving-mangroves-provides-protection-and-food-security/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=preserving-mangroves-provides-protection-and-food-security http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/preserving-mangroves-provides-protection-and-food-security/#respond Fri, 13 Nov 2015 18:40:54 +0000 Malini Shankar http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=142994 At the dawn of Indian Independence, Government of India’s commitment to food security – in addition to the impact of the Bengal Famine – was haunted by corruption, hoarding and mismanagement, resulting in ongoing food insecurity among the indigenous people in Tamilnadu and Orissa that lasted for more than five decades, When the Asian Tsunami […]

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By Malini Shankar
CHIDAMBARAM TALUQ, CUDDALORE DISTRICT, India, Nov 13 2015 (IPS)

At the dawn of Indian Independence, Government of India’s commitment to food security – in addition to the impact of the Bengal Famine – was haunted by corruption, hoarding and mismanagement, resulting in ongoing food insecurity among the indigenous people in Tamilnadu and Orissa that lasted for more than five decades,

When the Asian Tsunami struck the coast of Tamilnadu in December 2004, the Irulas, who were teetering on the verge of starvation with their hunter gatherer lifestyle, were stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea on the coastal forests of the Pichavaram mangrove forests in Chidambaram Taluq (11°25’45.55″N 79°47’0.23″E) of Cuddalore district. The mangroves themselves, with their aerial roots, had reduced the power of the killer waves, saving the lives of thousands of Irulas. Despite that, their exposure to starvation widened because the tsunami deluged their rice paddies with salt water and the Irulas’ hunting and gathering skills were unable to produce more than one or two days’ of food each week.

“The aerial roots of the mangroves regulate tides and nurture the silt in the coastal ecosystem thereby sustaining diverse varieties of fish and crops” says Dr. Gyanamurthy, a marine biologist at the Pichavaram field station of the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in Pichavaram, Cuddalore district. They fix nitrogen in the soil thus supporting cultivation of saline resistant crops like cereals, pulses, lentils and even spawn unparalleled fish diversity in the creeks offering the cleanest mechanism of sustainable eco-friendly food security to the marginalised outcastes. But such scientific documentation nevertheless needed administrative support and legal regimen to administer food security for the impoverished and marginalised indigenous people.

 

The enactment of the Forest Rights Act the Biodiversity Act Forest Rights Act, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Food Security Act and the National Disaster Management Act together have trickled down to provide food and livelihood security for the weakest sections of society. In an exclusive interview with IPS, Professor M.S. Swaminathan, a former parliamentarian who is a leader in India’s Green Revolution and founder of the MSSRF, said: “The Forest Rights Act provides an opportunity for combining conservation with livelihood security; the National Food Security Act 2013 which makes the usual access to food a fundamental right for nearly 70 – 80 per cent of our population; and the Biodiversity Act provides a method by which those who conserve biodiversity are given some kind of recognition. We have in the national plan priority protection, the Farmers’ Rights Act. For the first time in the world there is an Act which combines farmers and builders’ rights in the one Act. The National Food Security Act, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and various other Acts which have come (into force) in recent times, they all are reinforcing each other”.

India, as one of the stake holders in the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation’s CFS (Committee on Food Security), was obliged to promote policy coherence in line with the Voluntary Guidelines for the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security, and in that context, reaffirms the importance of nutrition as an essential element of food security. It followed the introduction of the Food Security Bill in the Indian Parliament in 2013 and enactment in September that year.

India is the only country to have taken up a slew of legislative measures to combat hunger. “The Food Security Act in India is perhaps the singular and greatest legislative contribution of India to humanity in terms of food security,” said Prof. M.S. Swaminathan. “The Biodiversity Act propagates plant and animal genetics thereby assuring the farmers’ livelihood security. The Forest Rights Act protects the right to life and livelihoods of forest dwelling tribes assuring the marginalised forest dwellers nutrition and food security along with biodiversity conservation. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act assures the rural populace of a minimum standard of wages and minimum period of employment.”,

“Further, the Disaster Management Act lends state support and allows officers to take expedient legal measures to combat hunger during exigencies, to reduce disaster risk in the aftermath of future calamities,” he said.

Two elements are fundamental in order to make substantial and rapid progress towards global food security: coherence and convergence among policies and programmes of countries, donors and other stakeholders when addressing the underlying causes of hunger, and the recognition of the human rights dimensions of food security.

The Right to Food Team supports government, parliamentarians, civil society organizations and other stakeholders with the implementation of the Right to Food Guidelines in their work. The Right to Food Team provides technical and capacity-building assistance in the areas of assessment, institutional analysis, policy dialogue and monitoring; all of which are relevant for the right to adequate food.

But the Asian Tsunami was quite literally a watershed in many areas of governance. The Collector of Cuddalore district, G.S. Bedi, an officer of the Indian Administrative Service of the Tamilnadu cadre, included these half starving and traumatised survivors of the Asian Tsunami in the Scheduled Tribe List. Once included the Irulas were mentored about the exercise of their rights by NGOs like the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation and BEDROC among others. MSSRF also took up livelihoods training programmes to offer alternate livelihood options to the Irulas. MSSRF imparted training in crab trapping, net fishing, sustainable eco-friendly aquaculture, net making, boat building and allied activities making the tribe self- reliant in livelihood security and offering and food security.

Text and pictures by Malini Shankar

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Time is up on the Millennium Development Goalshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/08/time-is-up-on-the-millennium-development-goals/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=time-is-up-on-the-millennium-development-goals http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/08/time-is-up-on-the-millennium-development-goals/#respond Thu, 13 Aug 2015 09:27:47 +0000 Roger Hamilton-Martin http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=141959 After 15 years of trying to meet the targets set out to address extreme poverty, the 193 member states of the United Nations have almost reached consensus on a more broad-reaching group of goals. The only thing left to do is to sign off on the Sustainable Development Goals this fall in New York, when the […]

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SDGs - Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. A man walks through agricultural land in the village of Mirusuvil, in the northern Jaffna District. Over 122,000 persons have been severely impacted by the drought according to the latest government data. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS

SDGs - Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. A man walks through agricultural land in the village of Mirusuvil, in the northern Jaffna District. Over 122,000 persons have been severely impacted by the drought according to the latest government data. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS

By Roger Hamilton-Martin
LONDON, Aug 13 2015 (IPS)

After 15 years of trying to meet the targets set out to address extreme poverty, the 193 member states of the United Nations have almost reached consensus on a more broad-reaching group of goals.

The only thing left to do is to sign off on the Sustainable Development Goals this fall in New York, when the countries get together for the annual General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters. Seven months of negotiations have produced a document: Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Despite uneven progress on the eight MDGs, the new SDGs comprise 17 goals, with 169 targets. World leaders will set out in New York their visions for achieving these targets, which are hoped to provide a framework to combat poverty, climate change, inequality and hunger.

 

 

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Mangroves Could Protect Coastlines from Storms, Sea Level Risehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/07/mangroves-could-protect-coastlines-from-storms-sea-level-rise/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mangroves-could-protect-coastlines-from-storms-sea-level-rise http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/07/mangroves-could-protect-coastlines-from-storms-sea-level-rise/#respond Fri, 31 Jul 2015 12:24:48 +0000 Roger Hamilton-Martin http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=141802 The importance of mangroves in protecting coastal areas under threat due to sea level rise caused by climate change may have been underestimated, according to new research. A joint study between researchers at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom and the Universities of Auckland and Waikato in New Zealand looked at how mangrove […]

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Cultivating mangroves could be critical in protecting coastlines from the impacts of climate change. These, in Cuba, have struggled due river damming. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

By Roger Hamilton-Martin
LONDON, Jul 31 2015 (IPS)

The importance of mangroves in protecting coastal areas under threat due to sea level rise caused by climate change may have been underestimated, according to new research.

A joint study between researchers at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom and the Universities of Auckland and Waikato in New Zealand looked at how mangrove forests respond to elevated sea levels.

 

Dr. Barend van Maanen of the University of Southampton said in a statement: “As a mangrove forest begins to develop, the creation of a network of channels is relatively fast. Tidal currents, sediment transport and mangroves significantly modify the estuarine environment, creating a dense channel network.

“Within the mangrove forest, these channels become shallower through organic matter from the trees, reduced sediment resuspensions (caused by the mangroves) and sediment trapping (also caused by the mangroves) and the sea bed begins to rise, with bed elevation increasing a few millimetres per year until the area is no longer inundated by the tide.”

The team predicted what happens to different types of estuaries and river deltas when sea levels rise.

Taking New Zealand mangrove data as the basis of a new modelling system and using cutting-edge mathematical simulations, they found areas without mangroves are likely to widen from erosion and more water will encroach inwards, whereas mangrove regions prevent this effect. This is likely due to soil building up around their mesh-like roots and acting to reduce energy from waves and tidal currents.

In modelling sea level rise in the study, the ability of mangrove forests to gradually create a buffer between sea and land occurs even when the area is subjected to potential sea level rise of up to 0.5 mm per year. Even after sea level rise, the mangroves showed an enhanced ability to maintain an elevation in the upper intertidal zone.

Associate Professor Karin Bryan of the University of Waikato said, “In New Zealand, mangroves have been traditionally viewed as undesirable as they take over areas where there were once sandy beaches. In other countries, this is not the case as they are seen as a buffer for climate change in low level areas.”

Other studies have shown mangroves have the ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere and protect people from hazards such as tsunamis.

Associate Professor Giovanni Coco of the University of Auckland said, “As we anticipate changes caused by climate change, it’s important to know the effect sea level rise might have, particularly around our coasts.

“Mangroves appear to be resilient to sea level rise and are likely to be able to sustain such climatic change. The implications for the New Zealand coastline are considerable and will require new thinking in terms of sediment budgets and response to climatic changes.”

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Views from the Caribbean ahead of COP21, the December 2015 Climate Change Summit in Paris – Building Resilience to Disaster: Biodiversityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/07/views-from-the-caribbean-ahead-of-cop21-the-december-2015-climate-change-summit-in-paris-building-resilience-to-disaster-biodiversity/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=views-from-the-caribbean-ahead-of-cop21-the-december-2015-climate-change-summit-in-paris-building-resilience-to-disaster-biodiversity http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/07/views-from-the-caribbean-ahead-of-cop21-the-december-2015-climate-change-summit-in-paris-building-resilience-to-disaster-biodiversity/#respond Wed, 08 Jul 2015 08:51:39 +0000 Kitty Stapp http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=141479 Thanks to its varied geography and climate, the Caribbean region is one of the world’s greatest centers of unique biodiversity. With most people living near the coast, marine ecosystems, including mangroves, beaches, lagoons and cays, are essential not only for biodiversity, but as protection from storms. Many are now threatened, along with the coral reefs […]

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CODRINGTON, Barbuda. The fisheries sector in the CARICOM Region is an important source of income. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

CODRINGTON, Barbuda. The fisheries sector in the CARICOM Region is an important source of income. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Kitty Stapp
NEW YORK, Jul 8 2015 (IPS)

Thanks to its varied geography and climate, the Caribbean region is one of the world’s greatest centers of unique biodiversity. With most people living near the coast, marine ecosystems, including mangroves, beaches, lagoons and cays, are essential not only for biodiversity, but as protection from storms. Many are now threatened, along with the coral reefs the region is famous for.

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Ghosts Of War Give Way to Development in Sri Lankahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/06/ghosts-of-war-give-way-to-development-in-sri-lanka-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ghosts-of-war-give-way-to-development-in-sri-lanka-2 http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/06/ghosts-of-war-give-way-to-development-in-sri-lanka-2/#respond Thu, 25 Jun 2015 16:47:51 +0000 Amantha Perera http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=141438 It is an oasis from the scorching heat outside. The three-storey, centrally air-conditioned Cargills Square, a major mall in Sri Lanka’s northern Jaffna town, is the latest hangout spot in the former warzone, where everyone from teenagers to families to off-duty military officers converge. Once a garrison town with army checkpoints at every street corner, […]

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A man fishes in the Elephant Pass lagoon, the narrow waterway that connects the Jaffna Peninsula with the rest of Sri Lanka and the site of many bloody battles during the civil conflict. Much of the population here still relies on farming and fisheries for survival. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS

A man fishes in the Elephant Pass lagoon, the narrow waterway that connects the Jaffna Peninsula with the rest of Sri Lanka and the site of many bloody battles during the civil conflict. Much of the population here still relies on farming and fisheries for survival. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS

By Amantha Perera
JAFFNA, Sri Lanka, Jun 25 2015 (IPS)

It is an oasis from the scorching heat outside. The three-storey, centrally air-conditioned Cargills Square, a major mall in Sri Lanka’s northern Jaffna town, is the latest hangout spot in the former warzone, where everyone from teenagers to families to off-duty military officers converge.

Once a garrison town with army checkpoints at every street corner, nervous soldiers armed to the teeth would patrol the streets around the clock tower. Claymore mine explosions were not unusual occurrences, and streets were deserted by dusk.

That was during Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war, which dragged on for nearly 30 years until the army declared victory over the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May 2009.

The country’s northern and eastern provinces, marked out by the LTTE as the site of an independent state for the country’s minority Tamil population, bore the brunt of the conflict. Whole towns and villages here suffered terrible losses, both in human life and in damages to lands, homes and infrastructure.

Both during the war years and immediately following, anyone traveling to this region could not but notice stark disparities between the war zone and the country’s southern provinces.

As you venture deeper into the north or further into the east, cars give way to bicycles and large buildings taper down into more modest dwellings.

Even six years after the fighting stopped, signs of devastation are everywhere: bus stops riddled with bullet holes and the remains of armored vehicles littering roadsides are not uncommon.

Internally displaced people and civilians and former combatants maimed during the conflict make up bulk of the population here, and post-war reconstruction is an unfinished task.

But in Jaffna, the cultural and political nerve centre for a majority of the island’s Tamil people, is slowly shedding its wartime scars.

The Cargills Square, a 3.7-million-dollar investment by Cargills (Ceylon) PLC – which operates the largest supermarket chain in Sri Lanka – opened in late 2013 and today, business is booming.

Its location, on a main road once infamous for skirmishes, assassinations and grenade attacks, now represents prime commercial real estate: the establishment is surrounded on all sides by clothing stores boasting the best of both eastern and western dress.

The smiling eyes and girlish laughter of young women trying on new dresses in street-side shops have replaced the sharp stares of soldiers, once visible through small windows in concrete bunkers surrounded by sandbags.

“Finally the city is thriving on its own potential, there is lot of talent and confidence here,” says Cargills Square Manager Samuel Nesakumar, referring to the district’s 600,000 residents.

Indeed the city, capital of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, has not looked this vibrant in decades. While poverty rates in other parts of the former war zone are thrice and sometimes close to five times greater than the national average of average 6.7 percent, Jaffna is slowly closing this gap, and is even outperforming some districts in the south.

While many developmental challenges remain, external investments, including in infrastructure and from the banking and telecom sectors, combined with increased trade and internal tourism, means that this former war-torn territory is gradually pulling itself out of decades of despondency and getting back on its feet.

It is a success story in the making, but wide wealth gaps in various other districts in the north and east, as well as gaping developmental holes throughout areas once controlled by the LTTE, point to the need for even growth and equal distribution of resources throughout this country of 20 million people.

Edited by Kanya D’Almeida

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Views from the Caribbean ahead of COP21, the December 2015 Climate Change Summit in Paris – Building Resilience to Disaster: Mitigationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/06/views-from-the-caribbean-ahead-of-cop21-the-december-2015-climate-change-summit-in-paris-building-resilience-to-disaster-mitigation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=views-from-the-caribbean-ahead-of-cop21-the-december-2015-climate-change-summit-in-paris-building-resilience-to-disaster-mitigation http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/06/views-from-the-caribbean-ahead-of-cop21-the-december-2015-climate-change-summit-in-paris-building-resilience-to-disaster-mitigation/#respond Wed, 24 Jun 2015 09:54:19 +0000 Kitty Stapp http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=141270 Despite being a relatively small source of greenhouse gas emissions, the Caribbean region has been taking steps to introduce renewable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal, which also reduce its dependence on expensive oil imports.

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Despite being a relatively small source of greenhouse gas emissions, the Caribbean region has been taking steps to introduce renewable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal, which also reduce its dependence on expensive oil imports.

Despite being a relatively small source of greenhouse gas emissions, the Caribbean region has been taking steps to introduce renewable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal, which also reduce its dependence on expensive oil imports.

By Kitty Stapp
NEW YORK, Jun 24 2015 (IPS)

Despite being a relatively small source of greenhouse gas emissions, the Caribbean region has been taking steps to introduce renewable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal, which also reduce its dependence on expensive oil imports.

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Views from the Caribbean ahead of COP21, the December 2015 Climate Change Summit in Paris – Building Resilience to Disaster: Adaptationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/06/views-from-the-caribbean-ahead-of-cop21-the-december-2015-climate-change-summit-in-paris-building-resilience-to-disaster-adaptation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=views-from-the-caribbean-ahead-of-cop21-the-december-2015-climate-change-summit-in-paris-building-resilience-to-disaster-adaptation http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/06/views-from-the-caribbean-ahead-of-cop21-the-december-2015-climate-change-summit-in-paris-building-resilience-to-disaster-adaptation/#respond Thu, 18 Jun 2015 14:38:11 +0000 Kitty Stapp http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=141197 From constructing barriers against rising sea levels to rehabilitating mangroves and providing agrometeorology services, the Caribbean isn’t waiting for a new international agreement on climate change to start implementing adaptation measures. But funding to roll out such projects on the necessary scale remains a key issue, and many communities remain desperately vulnerable to storms and […]

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KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent. Rising sea levels haves resulted in the relocation of houses and erection of this sea defence in Layou, a town in southwestern St. Vincent. Credit: Kenton X. Chance/IPS

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent. Rising sea levels haves resulted in the relocation of houses and erection of this sea defence in Layou, a town in southwestern St. Vincent. Credit: Kenton X. Chance/IPS

By Kitty Stapp
NEW YORK, Jun 18 2015 (IPS)

From constructing barriers against rising sea levels to rehabilitating mangroves and providing agrometeorology services, the Caribbean isn’t waiting for a new international agreement on climate change to start implementing adaptation measures. But funding to roll out such projects on the necessary scale remains a key issue, and many communities remain desperately vulnerable to storms and flooding.

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From Residents to Rangers: Local Communities Take Lead on Mangrove Conservation in Sri Lankahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/06/from-residents-to-rangers-local-communities-take-lead-on-mangrove-conservation-in-sri-lanka-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=from-residents-to-rangers-local-communities-take-lead-on-mangrove-conservation-in-sri-lanka-2 http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/06/from-residents-to-rangers-local-communities-take-lead-on-mangrove-conservation-in-sri-lanka-2/#respond Tue, 16 Jun 2015 12:24:52 +0000 Amantha Perera http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=141195 Weekends and public holidays are deadly for one of Sri Lanka’s most delicate ecosystems – that is when the island’s 8,815 hectares of mangroves come under threat. With public officials, forest rangers and NGO workers on holiday, no one is around to enforce conservation laws designed to protect these endangered zones. Except the locals, that […]

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Young mangrove plants tended by women beneficiaries from the Small Fishers Federation of Lanka have helped the Puttalam Lagoon regain some of its lost natural glory. The success of the programme has prompted the government to support an island-wide project worth 3.4 million dollars. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS

Young mangrove plants tended by women beneficiaries from the Small Fishers Federation of Lanka have helped the Puttalam Lagoon regain some of its lost natural glory. The success of the programme has prompted the government to support an island-wide project worth 3.4 million dollars. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS

By Amantha Perera
KALPITIYA, Sri Lanka, Jun 16 2015 (IPS)

Weekends and public holidays are deadly for one of Sri Lanka’s most delicate ecosystems – that is when the island’s 8,815 hectares of mangroves come under threat.

With public officials, forest rangers and NGO workers on holiday, no one is around to enforce conservation laws designed to protect these endangered zones. Except the locals, that is.

Residents of Kalpitiya, a coastal area in the northwest Puttalam District, are no strangers to this phenomenon. Kalpitiya is home to the largest mangrove block in Sri Lanka, the Puttalam Lagoon, as well as smaller mangrove systems on the shores of the Chilaw Lagoon, 150 km north of the capital, Colombo.

For centuries these complex wetlands have protected fisher communities against storms and sea-surges, while the forests’ underwater root system has nurtured nurseries and feeding grounds for scores of aquatic species.

Perhaps more important, in a country still living with the ghosts of the 2004 Asian Tsunami, mangroves have been found to be a coastline’s best defense against similar natural disasters.

Many poor fisher families in western Sri Lanka also rely heavily on mangroves for sustenance, with generation after generation deriving protein sources from the rich waters or sustainably harvesting the forests’ many by-products.

But in Sri Lanka today, as elsewhere in the world, mangroves face a range of risks. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says that the unique ecosystems, capable of storing up to 1,000 tonnes of carbon per hectare in their biomass, are being felled at three to five times the rate of other forests.

Over a quarter of the world’s mangrove cover has already been irrevocably destroyed, driven by aquaculture, agriculture, unplanned and unsustainable coastal development and over-use of resources.

On the west coast of Sri Lanka, despite government’s pledges to protect the country’s remaining forests, the covert clearing of mangroves continues – albeit at a slower rate than in the past.

But a small army of land defenders, newly formed and highly dedicated, is promising to turn this tide.

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Rights Abuses Still Rampant in Bangladesh’s Garment Sectorhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/06/rights-abuses-still-rampant-in-bangladeshs-garment-sector/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rights-abuses-still-rampant-in-bangladeshs-garment-sector http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/06/rights-abuses-still-rampant-in-bangladeshs-garment-sector/#respond Wed, 10 Jun 2015 12:01:54 +0000 Naimul Haq and Kanya DAlmeida http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=141139 Some say they were beaten with iron bars. Others confess their families have been threatened with death. One pregnant woman was assaulted with metal curtain rods.  These are not scenes typically associated with a place of work, but thousands of people employed in garment factories in Bangladesh have come to expect such brutality as a […]

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Activists say only 40 percent of employers comply with minimum wage regulations. Credit: Obaidul Arif/IPS

Activists say only 40 percent of employers comply with minimum wage regulations. Credit: Obaidul Arif/IPS

By Naimul Haq and Kanya D'Almeida
DHAKA/NEW YORK, Jun 10 2015 (IPS)

Some say they were beaten with iron bars. Others confess their families have been threatened with death. One pregnant woman was assaulted with metal curtain rods.

 These are not scenes typically associated with a place of work, but thousands of people employed in garment factories in Bangladesh have come to expect such brutality as a part of their daily lives.

Even if they don’t suffer physical assault, workers at the roughly 4,500 factories that form the nucleus of Bangladesh’s enormous garments industry almost certainly confront other injustices: unpaid overtime, sexual or verbal abuse, and unsafe and unsanitary working conditions.

Two years ago, when all the world’s eyes were trained on this South Asian nation of 156 million people, workers had hoped that the end of systematic labour abuse was nigh.

The event that prompted the international outcry – the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory on the morning of Apr. 24, 2013, killing 1,100 people and injuring 2,500 more – was deemed one of the worst industrial accidents in modern history.

Government officials, powerful trade bodies and major foreign buyers of Bangladesh-made apparel promised to fix the gaping flaws in this sector that employs four million people and exports 24 billion dollars worth of merchandise every year.

Promises were made at every point along the supply chain that such a senseless tragedy would never again occur.

But a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released on the eve of the two-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster has found that, despite pledges made and some steps in the right direction, Bangladesh’s garments sector is still plagued with many ills that is making life for the 20 million people who depend directly or indirectly on the industry a waking nightmare.

Based on interviews with some 160 workers in 44 factories, predominantly dedicated to manufacturing garments sold by retailers in Australia, Europe and North America, the report found that safety standards are still low, workplace abuse is common, and union busting – as well as violence attacks and intimidation of union organisers – is the norm.

Still, there is a silver lining on the dark cloud: an international donor’s fund set up in 2013 under the aegis of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) recently reached its goal of raising 30 million dollars, which will be paid to victims and survivors of the 2013 tragedy.

In a statement on Jun. 9, 2015, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder stressed, “This is a milestone but we still have important business to deal with. We must now work together to ensure that accidents can be prevented in the future.”

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