Inter Press ServiceLatin America & the Caribbean – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Mon, 15 Oct 2018 16:40:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 Latin America Backslides in Struggle to Reach Zero Hunger Goalhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/latin-america-backslides-struggle-reach-zero-hunger-goal/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=latin-america-backslides-struggle-reach-zero-hunger-goal http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/latin-america-backslides-struggle-reach-zero-hunger-goal/#respond Sun, 14 Oct 2018 13:48:03 +0000 Orlando Milesi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158148 This article forms part of the IPS coverage for World Food Day, celebrated on October 16.

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A girl helps her family peeling cassava in Acará, in the northeast of Brazil's Amazon jungle. More than five million children are chronically malnourished in Latin America, a region sliding backwards with respect to the goal of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty, while obesity, which affects seven million children, is on the rise. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

A girl helps her family peeling cassava in Acará, in the northeast of Brazil's Amazon jungle. More than five million children are chronically malnourished in Latin America, a region sliding backwards with respect to the goal of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty, while obesity, which affects seven million children, is on the rise. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

By Orlando Milesi
SANTIAGO, Oct 14 2018 (IPS)

For the third consecutive year, South America slid backwards in the global struggle to achieve zero hunger by 2030, with 39 million people living with hunger and five million children suffering from malnutrition.

“It’s very distressing because we’re not making progress. We’re not doing well, we’re going in reverse. You can accept this in a year of great drought or a crisis somewhere, but when it’s happened three years in a row, that’s a trend,” reflected Julio Berdegué, FAO’s highest authority in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The regional representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations said it is cause for concern that it is not Central America, the poorest subregion, that is failing in its efforts, but the South American countries that have stagnated."More than five million children in Latin America are permanently malnourished. In a continent of abundant food, a continent of upper-middle- and high-income countries, five million children ... It's unacceptable." -- Julio Berdegué

“More than five million children in Latin America are permanently malnourished. In a continent of abundant food, a continent of upper-middle- and high-income countries, five million children … It’s unacceptable,” he said in an interview with IPS at the agency’s regional headquarters in Santiago.

“They are children who already have scars in their lives. Children whose lives have already been marked, even though countries, governments, civil society, NGOs, churches, and communities are working against this. The development potential of a child whose first months and years of life are marked by malnutrition is already radically limited for his entire life,” he said.

What can the region do to move forward again? In line with this year’s theme of World Food Day, celebrated Oct. 16, “Our actions are our future. A zero hunger world by 2030 is possible”, Berdegué underlined the responsibility of governments and society as a whole.

Governments, he said, must “call us all together, facilitate, support, promote job creation and income generation, especially for people from the weakest socioeconomic strata.”

In addition, he stressed that policies for social protection, peace and the absence of conflict and addressing climate change are also required.

New foods to improve nutrition

In the small town of Los Muermos, near Puerto Montt, 1,100 kilometers south of Santiago, nine women and two male algae collectors are working to create new foods, with the aim of helping to curb both under- and over-nutrition, in Chile and in neighboring countries. Their star product is jam made with cochayuyo (Durvillaea antarctica), a large bull kelp species that is the dominant seaweed in southern Chile.

“I grew up on the water. I’ve been working along the sea for more than 30 years, as a shore gatherer,” said Ximena Cárcamo, 48, president of the Flor del Mar fishing cooperative.

Julio Berdegué, FAO regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, in his office at the agency's headquarters in Santiago, Chile, during an interview with IPS to discuss the setback with regard to reaching the zero hunger target in the region. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

Julio Berdegué, FAO regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, in his office at the agency’s headquarters in Santiago, Chile, during an interview with IPS to discuss the setback with regard to reaching the zero hunger target in the region. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

The seaweed gatherer told IPS from Los Muermos about the great potential of cochayuyo and other algae “that boost health and nutrition because they have many benefits for people,” in a region with high levels of poverty and social vulnerability, which translate into under-nutrition.

“We are adding value to products that we have in our locality. We want people to consume them and that’s why we made jam because children don’t eat seaweed and in Chile we have so many things that people don’t consume and that could help improve their diet,” she explained.

In the first stage, the women, with the support of the Aquaculture and Fishing Centre for Applied Research, identified which seaweed have a high nutritional value, are rich in minerals, proteins, fiber and vitamins, and have low levels of sugar.

The seaweed gatherers created a recipe book, “cooking with seaweed from the sea garden”, including sweet and salty recipes such as cochayuyo ice cream, rice pudding and luche and reineta ceviche with sea chicory.

Now the project aims to create high value-added food such as energy bars.

“We want to reach schools, where seaweed is not consumed. That’s why we want to mix them with dried fruit from our sector,” said Cárcamo, insisting that a healthy and varied diet introduced since childhood is the way to combat malnutrition, as well as the “appalling” levels of overweight and obesity that affects Chile, as well as the rest of Latin America.

The paradox of obesity

“Obesity is killing us…it kills more people than organised crime,” Berdegué warned, pointing out that in terms of nutrition the region is plagued by under-nutrition on the one hand and over-nutrition on the other.

“Nearly 60 percent of the region’s population is overweight. There are 250 million candidates for diabetes, colon cancer or stroke,” he said.

He explained that “there are 105 million obese people, who are key candidates for these diseases. More than seven million children are obese with problems of self-esteem and problems of emotional and physical development. They are children who are candidates to die young,” he said.

According to Berdegué, this problem “is growing wildly…there are four million more obese people in the region each year.”

A seaweed gatherer carries cochayuyo harvested from rocks along Chile's Pacific coast. The cultivation and commercialisation of cochayuyo and other kinds of seaweed is being promoted in different coastal areas of the country, to provide new foods to improve nutrition in the country. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

A seaweed gatherer carries cochayuyo harvested from rocks along Chile’s Pacific coast. The cultivation and commercialisation of cochayuyo and other kinds of seaweed is being promoted in different coastal areas of the country, to provide new foods to improve nutrition in the country. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

The latest statistic for 2016 reported 105 million obese people in Latin America and the Caribbean, up from 88 million only four years earlier.

In view of this situation, the FAO regional representative stressed the need for a profound transformation of the food system.

“How do we produce, what do we produce, what do we import, how is it distributed, what is access like in your neighborhood? What do you do if you live in a neighborhood where the only store, that is 500 meters away, only sells ultra-processed food and does not sell vegetables or fruits?” he asked.

Berdegué harshly criticised “advertising, which tells us every day that good eating is to go sit in a fast food restaurant and eat 2,000 calories of junk as if that were entirely normal.”

Change of policies as well as habits

“You have to change habits, yes, but you have to change policies as well. There are countries, such as the small Caribbean island nations, that depend fundamentally on imported food. And the vast majority of these foods are ultra-processed, many of which are food only in name because they’re actually just chemicals, fats and junk,” he said.

He insisted that “we lack production of fruits, vegetables and dairy products in many countries or trade policies that encourage imports of these foods and not so much junk food.”

And to move toward the goal of zero hunger in just 12 years, Berdegué also called for generating jobs and improving incomes, because that “is the best policy against hunger.”

The second of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which make up the 2030 Development Agenda, is achieving zero hunger through eight specific targets.

Poverty making a comeback

“In Latin America we don’t lack food. People just can’t afford to buy it,” Berdegué said.

He also called for countries to strengthen policies to protect people living in poverty and extreme poverty.

According to the latest figures from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), poverty in the region grew between 2014 and 2017, when it affected 186 million people, 30.7 percent of the population. Extreme poverty affects 10 percent of the total: 61 million people.

Moreover, in this region where 82 percent of the population is urban, 48.6 percent of the rural population is poor, compared to 26.8 percent of the urban population, and this inequality drives the rural exodus to the cities.

“FAO urges countries to rethink social protection policies, particularly for children. We cannot allow ourselves to slow down in eradicating malnutrition and hunger among children,” Berdegué said.

He also advocated for the need for peace and the cessation of conflicts because “we have all the evidence in the world that when you lose peace, hunger soars. It is automatic. The great hunger hotspots and problems in the world today are in places where we are faced with conflict situations.”

“We have countries in the region where there is upheaval and governments have to know that this social and political turmoil causes hunger,” he concluded.

The post Latin America Backslides in Struggle to Reach Zero Hunger Goal appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article forms part of the IPS coverage for World Food Day, celebrated on October 16.

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Latin American Rural Women Call for Recognition and Policieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/latin-american-rural-women-call-recognition-policies/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=latin-american-rural-women-call-recognition-policies http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/latin-american-rural-women-call-recognition-policies/#respond Fri, 12 Oct 2018 13:39:07 +0000 Mariela Jara http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158128 This article forms part of IPS coverage of International Rural Women's Day, celebrated Oct. 15.

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Yolanda Flores, an Aymara indigenous woman, speaks to other women engaged in small-scale agriculture, gathered in her village square in the highlands of Peru's southern Andes. She is convinced that participating in local decision-making spaces is fundamental for rural women to stop being invisible and to gain recognition of their rights. Credit: Courtesy of Yolanda Flores

Yolanda Flores, an Aymara indigenous woman, speaks to other women engaged in small-scale agriculture, gathered in her village square in the highlands of Peru's southern Andes. She is convinced that participating in local decision-making spaces is fundamental for rural women to stop being invisible and to gain recognition of their rights. Credit: Courtesy of Yolanda Flores

By Mariela Jara
LIMA, Oct 12 2018 (IPS)

Rural women in Latin America play a key role with respect to attaining goals such as sustainable development in the countryside, food security and the reduction of hunger in the region. But they remain invisible and vulnerable and require recognition and public policies to overcome this neglect.

There are around 65 million rural women in this region, and they are very diverse in terms of ethnic origin, the kind of land they occupy, and the activities and roles they play. What they have in common though is that governments largely ignore them, as activists pointed out ahead of the International Day of Rural Women, celebrated Oct. 15."They play key roles and produce and work much more than men. In the orchards, in the fields, during planting time, they raise the crops, take care of the farm animals, and disproportionately carry the workload of the house, the children, etc., but they don't see a cent." -- JulioBerdegué

“The state, whether local or national authorities, neglect us,” Yolanda Flores, an Aymara woman, told IPS. “They only think about planting steel and cement. They don’t understand that we live off agriculture and that we women are the most affected because we are in charge of the food and health of our families.”

Flores, who lives in Iniciati, a village of about 400 indigenous peasant families in the department of Puno in Peru’s southern Andes, located more than 3,800 metres above sea level, has always been dedicated to growing food for her family.

On the land she inherited from her parents she grows potatoes, beans and grains like quinoa and barley, which she washes, grinds in a traditional mortar and pestle, and uses to feed her family. The surplus is sold in the community.

“When we garden we talk to the plants, we hug each potato, we tell them what has happened, why they have become loose, why they have worms. And when they grow big we congratulate them, one by one, so our food has a lot of energy when we eat. But people don’t understand our way of life and they forget about small farmers,” she said.

Like Flores, millions of rural women in Latin America face a lack of recognition for their work on the land, as well as the work they do maintaining a household, caring for the family, raising children, or caring for the sick and elderly.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) urges governments in the region to assume a commitment to reverse the historical disadvantages faced by this population group which prevent their access to productive resources, the enjoyment of benefits and the achievement of economic autonomy.

“Depending on the country, between two-thirds and 85 percent of the hours worked by rural women is unpaid work,” Julio Berdegué, FAO regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, told IPS.

Women engage in subsistence agriculture at more than 3,300 metres above sea level in the highlands of the southern department of Cuzco, in the Andes of Peru, in the municipality of Cusipata. With the support of nongovernmental organisations, they have built greenhouses that allow them to produce a range of vegetables despite the inclement weather. Credit: Janet Nina/IPS

Women engage in subsistence agriculture at more than 3,300 metres above sea level in the highlands of the southern department of Cuzco, in the Andes of Peru, in the municipality of Cusipata. With the support of nongovernmental organisations, they have built greenhouses that allow them to produce a range of vegetables despite the inclement weather. Credit: Janet Nina/IPS

Berdeguè, who is also deputy director general of FAO, deplored the fact that they do not receive payment for their hard work in agriculture – a workload that is especially heavy in the case of heads of families who run their farms, and during growing season.

Public policies against discrimination

María Elena Rojas, head of the FAO office in Peru, told IPS that if rural women in Latin American countries had access to land tenure, financial services and technical assistance like men, they would increase the yield of their plots by 20 to 30 percent, and agricultural production would improve by 2.5 to 4 percent.


That increase would help reduce hunger by 12 to 15 percent. "This demonstrates the role and contribution of rural women and the need for assertive public policies to achieve it and for them to have opportunities to exercise their rights. None of them should go without schooling, healthy food and quality healthcare. These are rights, and not something impossible to achieve," she said.

“They play key roles and produce and work much more than men,” the official said from FAO’s regional headquarters in Santiago. “In the orchards, in the fields, during planting time, they raise the crops, take care of the farm animals, and disproportionately carry the workload of the house, the children, etc., but they don’t see a cent.”

“We say: we want women to stay in the countryside. But for God’s sake, why would they stay? They work for their fathers, then they work for their husbands or partners. That’s just not right, it’s not right!” exclaimed Berdegué, before stressing the need to stop justifying that rural women go unpaid, because it stands in the way of their economic autonomy.

He explained that not having their own income, or the fact that the income they generate with the fruit of their work is then managed by men, places rural women in a position of less power in their families, their communities, the market and society as a whole.

“Imagine if it was the other way around, that they would tell men: you work, but you will not receive a cent. We would have staged a revolution by now. But we’ve gotten used to the fact that for rural women that’s fine because it’s the home, it’s the family,” Berdegué said.

The FAO regional representative called on countries to become aware of this reality and to fine-tune policies to combat the discrimination.

A global workload greater than that of men, economic insecurity, reduced access to resources such as land, water, seeds, credit, training and technical assistance are some of the common problems faced by rural women in Latin America, whether they are farmers, gatherers or wage-earners, according to the Atlas of Rural Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, published in 2017 by FAO.

But even in these circumstances, they are protagonists of change, as in the growth of rural women’s trade unions in the agro-export sector.

Afro-descendant Adela Torres (white t-shirt, front), secretary general of the National Union of Agricultural Industry Workers (Sintraingro) in the banana region of Urabá, in the Colombian department of Antioquia, sits on the floor during a meeting of women members of the union. Credit: Courtesy of Sintrainagro

Afro-descendant Adela Torres (white t-shirt, L-C, front), secretary general of the National Union of Agricultural Industry Workers (Sintrainagro) in the banana region of Urabá, in the Colombian department of Antioquia, sits on the floor during a meeting of women members of the union. Credit: Courtesy of Sintrainagro

With the increased sale of non-traditional products to international markets, such as flowers, fruit and vegetables, women have swelled this sector, says another regional study, although often in precarious conditions and with standards that do not ensure decent work.

Trade unions fight exploitative conditions

But trade unions are fighting exploitative labour conditions. A black woman from Colombia, Adela Torres, is an example of this struggle.

Since childhood and following the family tradition, she worked on a banana farm in the municipality of Apartadó, in Urabá, a region that produces bananas for export in the Caribbean department of Antioquia.

Now, the 54-year-old Torres, who has two daughters and two granddaughters, is the secretary general of the National Union of Agricultural Industry Workers (Sintrainagro), which groups workers from 268 farms, and works for the insertion of rural women in a sector traditionally dominated by men.

“When women earn and manage their own money, they can improve their quality of life,” she told IPS in a telephone conversation from Apartadó.

Torres believes that women’s participation in banana production should be equitable and that their performance deserves equal recognition.

“We have managed to get each farm to hire at least two more women and among the achievements gained are employment contracts, equal pay, social security and incentives for education and housing for these women,” she explained.

She said rural women face many difficulties, many have not completed primary school, are mothers too early and are heads of households, have no technical training and receive no state support.

In spite of this, they work hard and manage to raise their children and get ahead while contributing to food security.

Making the leap to positions of visibility is also a challenge that Flores has assumed in the Andes highlands of Puno, to fight for their proposals and needs to be heard.

“We have to win space in decision-making and come in as authorities; that is the struggle now, to speak for ourselves. I am determined and I am encouraging other women to take this path,” Flores said.

Faced with the indifference of the authorities, more action and a stronger presence is the philosophy of Flores, as her grandmother taught her, always repeating: “Don’t be lazy and work hard.” “That is the message and I carry it in my mind, but I would like to do it with more support and more rights,” she said.

With reporting by Orlando Milesi in Santiago.

The post Latin American Rural Women Call for Recognition and Policies appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article forms part of IPS coverage of International Rural Women's Day, celebrated Oct. 15.

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The Caribbean Reiterates “1.5 Degrees Celsius to Stay Alive”http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/caribbean-reiterates-1-5-degrees-celsius-stay-alive/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=caribbean-reiterates-1-5-degrees-celsius-stay-alive http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/caribbean-reiterates-1-5-degrees-celsius-stay-alive/#respond Fri, 12 Oct 2018 08:58:20 +0000 Kenton X. Chance http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158120 If there is one lesson that Dominican Reginald Austrie has learnt from the devastation Hurricane Maria brought to his country last September, it is the need for “resilience, resilience, resilience”. And it is not just because he is his country’s minister of agriculture. When the category 5 hurricane made landfall in Dominica, Austrie, then the […]

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In many parts of Dominica, Hurricane Maria razed the greenery, including agricultural cultivation, from the hillside of the mountainous island. Credit: Kenton X. Chance/IPS

By Kenton X. Chance
BRIDGETOWN, Oct 12 2018 (IPS)

If there is one lesson that Dominican Reginald Austrie has learnt from the devastation Hurricane Maria brought to his country last September, it is the need for “resilience, resilience, resilience”.

And it is not just because he is his country’s minister of agriculture.

When the category 5 hurricane made landfall in Dominica, Austrie, then the country’s minister of housing, was weeks away from harvest time at his two-acre farm where he had 800 plantain trees, in addition to yams.

“So, personally, I suffered some loss. But to me, my agriculture, while it is commercial, it’s not really my livelihood,” he told IPS on the sidelines of the 15th Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA), the premier agriculture event in the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which is taking place in Barbados from Oct. 8 to 12.“For us, our own scientists warned us of the ravages with respect to drought, with respect to the destruction of our reefs, and by extension, our marine life." -- prime minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley.

“I experienced it, I saw it and I know how much it cost me; that I can never recover the cost of production and so I understand what the regular and ordinary farmer is going through, fully dependent on agriculture,” Austrie, who became minister of agriculture three months ago, said of the monster hurricane.

In addition to the destruction of his plantain trees, Hurricane Maria left several landslides on Austrie’s farm when it tore across Dominica, leaving an estimated USD 157 million in damage to the agriculture and fisheries sectors, and total loss and damage amounting to 225 percent of the nation’s GDP.

Austrie is taking steps to reduce the impact of future cyclones, which forecasters say will become more frequent and intense as a result of climate change.

“So now I had to look at terracing, I had to look at the plants I can grow between the terraces to hold up the soil and I have to really look at whether I want to continue doing plantains, whether I want to expand,” he told IPS.

Climate resilience in agriculture and fisheries was a feature at CWA.

The event opened on the day that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said, in its latest report, that limiting global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrialisation levels would require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.

As part of their advocacy for a legally-binding global climate accord, small island developing states (SIDS) like those in the Caribbean, have been using the mantra “1.5 to stay alive”.

SIDS say capping global temperature rise at 2°C above pre-industrialisation levels — as some developed countries have suggested — would have a catastrophic impact on SIDS.

The IPCC’s latest report says limiting global warming to 1.5°C, compared to 2°C, could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society.

“One of the key messages that come out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, co-chair of IPCC Working Group I.

In an address to delegates at CWA, secretary-general of CARICOM, Irwin LaRocque said the IPCC report supports the findings of Caribbean climate scientists “which showed that we will attain the 1.5°C warmer world much sooner than anticipated — by 2030”.

LaRocque said such as situation will result in much harsher climatic conditions for the Caribbean.

“Worse, the current trend of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, would lead to warming in the range of three degrees centigrade by the end of the century.”

CARICOM continues to advocate for greater ambition in the reduction of greenhouse gases, but must prepare for the worst, he said.

“We, therefore, need to upscale our planning for adapting to that reality,” LaRocque said, even as he noted that the IPCC report corroborates Caribbean scientists’ projections that even a 1.5 degree rise would result in significant impacts on fresh water and agricultural yields.

Further, such a level of warming would cause extreme temperatures, increases in frequency, intensity, and/or amount of heavy precipitation, and an increase in intensity or frequency of droughts.

“To counter that threat, we have been working on a programme along with our international development partners, to improve the resilience of the agriculture sector,” he said.

LaRocque pointed out that CARICOM’s agricultural research agency has been developing climate smart agriculture technologies suitable for agriculture in the region.

“CARDI has recommended identification, storage, sharing and utilisation of climate-ready germplasm of important food crops as one of the best mechanisms for building climate resilience that safeguards food and nutrition security.”

Meanwhile, CARICOM’s newest head of government, prime minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, reminded delegates at the event that in September she told the United Nations General Assembly that the CARICOM region understands that it has been made dispensable “by those who believe that a 2-degree change in temperature is acceptable to the world”.

She told CWA that she did not know then that the IPCC report that came after her speech would paint such a scenario.

Mottley, who was elected to office in May, said, however, that Caribbean nationals should not have been taken by surprise.

“For us, our own scientists warned us of the ravages with respect to drought, with respect to the destruction of our reefs, and by extension, our marine life.

“They warned us, more than 10 years ago. And we have allowed others to determine our advocacy and our voice without, perhaps remembering that phrase from one of the other countries, Jamaica, that ‘We small but we tallawah (feisty)’.”

And while those calls were not headed a decade ago, Hurricane Maria and the other cyclones, including Hurricane Irma, which affected the Caribbean in 2017, have brought them home forcefully.

“One of the things we have learnt is resilience, resilience, resilience…

“Dominica is a mountainous country. We farm on the hillsides. But there are technologies that can now be used to protect your lands from moving. We have to begin using new and innovative technologies,” Austrie told IPS as he reflected on the impact of Hurricane Maria on Dominica.

“And so we believe that while Maria dealt us a blow and nobody wishes for another Maria, it taught us some lessons, which had it was not for Maria, we would have taken for granted. We had adopted a kind of complacent attitude but I believe that Maria really struck us and sent it home that we have to begin to do things differently,” Austrie said.

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New Agreement with Canada and U.S. Is Win-Lose for Mexicohttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/new-agreement-canada-u-s-win-lose-mexico/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-agreement-canada-u-s-win-lose-mexico http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/new-agreement-canada-u-s-win-lose-mexico/#respond Tue, 09 Oct 2018 23:14:21 +0000 Emilio Godoy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158082 Following the fanfare of the countries’ leaders and the relief of the export and investment sectors, experts are analysing the renewed trilateral agreement with Canada and the United States, where Mexico made concessions in sectors such as e-commerce, biotechnology, automotive and agriculture. Karen Hansen-Kuhn, director of Trade and Global Governance at the U.S.-based Institute for […]

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As Amazon Warms, Tropical Butterflies and Lizards Seek the Shadehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/amazon-warms-tropical-butterflies-lizards-seek-shade/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=amazon-warms-tropical-butterflies-lizards-seek-shade http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/amazon-warms-tropical-butterflies-lizards-seek-shade/#respond Tue, 09 Oct 2018 10:48:00 +0000 Jewel Fraser http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158062 Recent research at a centre in Guyana shows that some types of butterflies and lizards in the Amazon have been seeking shelter from the heat as Amazonian temperatures rise. The CEIBA Biological Centre (CEIBA), in Madewini, Guyana, under its executive director Dr. Godfrey Bourne, is investigating the impact of global warming on tropical ectotherms, namely, […]

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A new CEIBA Biological Centre (CEIBA) study investigates the impact of global warming on tropical ectotherms, namely, butterflies and lizards, whose body temperatures are determined by the environment. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Jewel Fraser
PORT OF SPAIN, Oct 9 2018 (IPS)

Recent research at a centre in Guyana shows that some types of butterflies and lizards in the Amazon have been seeking shelter from the heat as Amazonian temperatures rise.

The CEIBA Biological Centre (CEIBA), in Madewini, Guyana, under its executive director Dr. Godfrey Bourne, is investigating the impact of global warming on tropical ectotherms, namely, butterflies and lizards, whose body temperatures are determined by the environment.

A study he supervised, conducted by students Chineze Obi and Noreen Heyari, revealed that “changes in wing positions [of Postman butterflies] were associated with regulating absorption of solar energy. Thus, thoracic temperatures were effectively regulated so that body temperatures were maintained between 28° and 34° C. Postman butterflies were fully active within this range of temperatures.” But when things got too hot for wing manoeuvres to help them, the butterflies simply retreated and rested, the researchers found.

They also found that the postman butterfly maintained “relatively stable temperatures during fluctuating” outside temperatures.

These findings suggest that some Amazonian ectotherms may be adjusting their behaviour to cope with the heat, but at the expense of the normal activities required for survival and breeding.

“Because postman butterflies and Neotropical collared lizards maintain lower temperatures than ambient for most of the [investigation periods], they may be shade seeking to stay cooler, instead of spending time foraging, mate seeking, and defending territories. Taken together these results suggest that rising global temperatures could already be having negative impacts on [them],” Bourne told IPS.

Accordingly, the journal, Animal Behaviour, in an article published in August explains, “Thermoregulatory behaviours are of great importance for ectotherms buffering against the impact of temperature extremes. Such behaviours bring not only benefits but also organism level costs such as decreased food availability and foraging efficiency and thus lead to energetic costs and metabolic consequences.”

Bourne said he chose to study butterflies and lizards native to the Amazon because even moderate increases in temperatures could have profound impacts on these creatures’ daily activities and metabolic function.

“Tropical terrestrial ectotherms, including butterflies and lizards, have a narrower thermal tolerance than higher-latitude species, and are currently living very close to their maximum temperature limits,” he told IPS.

He said the rate of temperature increase in the Amazon, which Guyana shares with its neighbours, was 0.25°C per decade during the late 20th century, with an expected increase in temperature of about 3.3°C during this century if greenhouse gas emissions are at moderate levels.

A Small blue Grecian Heliconius sara. Research shows that some Amazonian ectotherms may be adjusting their behaviour to cope with the heat, but at the expense of the normal activities required for survival and breeding.Courtesy: Dr. Godfrey Bourne

“Butterflies [invertebrates] and lizards [vertebrates]…both generate body temperatures primarily from temperatures of the environment; [this is in contrast to] endothermy, a high-cost physiological approach to life where body temperatures are generated from ingested foods…Butterflies and lizards are well-studied, conspicuous, and easily tractable taxa that provide some of the strongest evidence for the ecological effects of recent climate change,” he told IPS via e-mail.

His research builds on other, published, research. An article in the journal, Global Ecology and Conservation, notes that “decreasing local climate suitability (magnitude) may threaten species living close to their upper climatic tolerance limits, and high velocities of climate change may affect the ability of species to track suitable climatic conditions, particularly those with low dispersal.”

In addition, sex ratio also influences a species’ chances of survival. “If we see sexual dimorphism in behaviours with one sex being more active during hotter times of the day, then we may see changes in sex ratios, favouring the sex that is more active during higher temperatures. Under such a scenario, sex ratio imbalance will eventually contribute to population crashes,” he told IPS.

A 2016 study by Australian scientists, published in the journal Ecological Modelling, found that when the sex ratio was biased towards the female sex under warming climates, then the size of reptile populations increased greatly, but where the bias was towards the male sex under warmer temperatures, “population sizes declined dramatically.”

The cumulative impact may be “reduced breeding and low population growth for the sun-avoiding butterfly and lizard species, but longer persistence for their [sun-loving] relatives. But in 20 years, I suspect that all populations may become locally extinct,” Bourne said.

At the same time, humans will also feel the adverse consequences if these creatures lose out in the struggle against climate change. One estimate suggests a third of the foods eaten by human beings is pollinated. “In the long term…pollinator services will be minimised, leading to reduced fruit and seed production, and eventually to reduced new plant recruitment for forests,” Bourne said.

As lizards also play a role in plant recruitment, their demise will also adversely affect the food supply. The tropical lizards Bourne has studied eat small fallen fruit, and “when eating these fruit they move several metres from the parent tree where the seeds are discarded,” he explained. “Seeds discarded away from the parent tree have a higher probability of escaping insect, bird, and mammal seed predators, and so are likely to germinate. These have a higher likelihood of recruitment and becoming established into the forest matrix,” Bourne said. Hence, a reduction in lizards will ultimately mean less food from plants.

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Farmers Generate Their Own Electricity in El Salvadorhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/farmers-generate-electricity-el-salvador/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=farmers-generate-electricity-el-salvador http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/farmers-generate-electricity-el-salvador/#respond Mon, 08 Oct 2018 21:38:26 +0000 Edgardo Ayala http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158049 In Lilian Gómez’s house, nestled in the mountains of eastern El Salvador, the darkness of the night was barely relieved by the faint, trembling flames of a pair of candles, just like in the houses of her neighbours. Until now. Electricity arrived when they decided to build their own hydroelectric dam together, not only to […]

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Juan Benítez, president of the Nuevos Horizontes Association of Joya de Talchiga, rests on the edge of the dike built as part of the El Calambre mini-hydroelectric dam. The 40 plus families in the village have had electricity since 2012, thanks to the project they built themselves, in the mountains of eastern El Salvador. Credit: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Juan Benítez, president of the Nuevos Horizontes Association of Joya de Talchiga, rests on the edge of the dike built as part of the El Calambre mini-hydroelectric dam. The 40 plus families in the village have had electricity since 2012, thanks to the project they built themselves, in the mountains of eastern El Salvador. Credit: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

By Edgardo Ayala
Joya de Talchiga, EL SALVADOR, Oct 8 2018 (IPS)

In Lilian Gómez’s house, nestled in the mountains of eastern El Salvador, the darkness of the night was barely relieved by the faint, trembling flames of a pair of candles, just like in the houses of her neighbours. Until now.

Electricity arrived when they decided to build their own hydroelectric dam together, not only to light up the night, but also to take small steps towards undertakings that help improve living conditions in the village.

Now she uses a refrigerator to make “charamuscas” – ice cream made from natural beverages, which she sells to generate a small income.

“With the money from the charamuscas I pay for electricity, food and other things,” the 64-year-old Gómez, head of one of the 40 families benefiting from the El Calambre mini-hydroelectric plant project, told IPS.

This is a community initiative that supplies energy to La Joya de Talchiga, one of the 29 villages in the rural municipality of Perquín, with some 4,000 inhabitants, in the eastern department of Morazán, which borders to the north with Honduras.

During the 1980-1992 civil war, this region was the scene of fierce battles between the army and the then-guerrilla Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), now a political party, in power since 2009 after winning two consecutive presidential elections.

When the war ended, the largest towns in the area were revived thanks to ecotourism and historical tourism, where visitors learn about battles and massacres in the area. But the most remote villages lack basic services, which keeps them from doing the same.

The El Calambre mini-hydroelectric power plant takes its name from the river with cold turquoise water that emerges in Honduras and winds through the mountains until it crosses the area where La Joya is located, dedicated to subsistence agriculture, especially corn and beans.

A small dike dams the water in a segment of the river, and part of the flow is directed through underground pipes to the engine house, 900 metres below, inside which a turbine makes a 58-kW generator roar.

La Joya is an example of how local inhabitants, mostly poor peasant farmers, didn’t stand idly by waiting for the company that distributes electricity in the area to bring them electric power.

The distribution of energy in this Central American country of 6.5 million people has been in the hands of several private companies since it was privatised in the late 1990s.

During the days IPS spent in La Joya, locals said they own the land where they live, but they lack formal documents, and without them the company that operates in the region doesn’t supply electricity. It only brought power to a couple of families who do have all their paperwork in order.

In this Central American nation, households with electricity represent 92 percent of the total in urban areas, but only 77 percent in rural areas, according to official data released in May.

Without much hope that the company would supply power, the residents of La Joya set out to obtain it by their own means and resources, with the technical and financial support of national and international organisations.

One of these was the association Basic Sanitation, Health Education and Alternative Energies (SABES El Salvador), which played a key role in bringing the initiative to La Joya, where it was initially met with reservations.

“People still doubted when they came to talk to us about the project in 2005, and even I doubted, it was hard for us to believe that it could happen. We knew how a dam works, the water that moves a turbine, but we didn’t know that it could be done on a small river,” Juan Benítez, president of Nuevos Horizontes, the community development organisation of La Joya, told IPS.

Carolina Martínez and her children stand in front of their house, where a light bulb can be seen, in the village of Joya de Talchiga in the eastern Salvadoran department of Morazán. The 36-year-old teacher is one of the beneficiaries of the community hydroelectric project, which since 2012 has provided electricity to more than 40 local families. Credit: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Carolina Martínez and her children stand in front of their house, lit inside by a light bulb, in the village of Joya de Talchiga in the eastern Salvadoran department of Morazán. The 36-year-old teacher is one of the beneficiaries of the community hydroelectric project, which since 2012 has provided electricity to more than 40 local families. Credit: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

The small hydroelectric plant, in operation since 2012, was built by local residents in exchange for becoming beneficiaries of the service. Paid workers such as electricians and stonemasons were only hired for specialised work.

The total cost of the mini-dam was over 192,000 dollars, 34,000 of which were contributed by the community with the many hours of work that the local residents put in, which were assigned a monetary value.

The charge for the service is based on the number of light bulbs per family, at a cost of 50 cents a month each. Thus, if a family has four light bulbs, they pay two dollars a month, lower than what is charged commercially.

Local residents still remember how difficult life was when they had no hopes of getting electric power.

“When I was a girl, things were so hard without electricity, we had to buy candles or gas (kerosene) to light candles,” one of the beneficiaries, Leonila González, 45, told IPS as she rested on a chair in the hallway of her house, located in the middle of a pine forest, 30 metres from the river.

The small generator in the engine room built by the residents of Joya de Talchiga. Men from the village carried the heavy turbine that moves the 58-kW generator on their shoulders, since there is no access by vehicles where the mini-community dam was installed in the mountainous municipality of Parquín, in eastern El Salvador. Credit: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

The small generator in the engine room built by the residents of Joya de Talchiga. Men from the village carried the heavy turbine that moves the 58-kW generator on their shoulders, since there is no access by vehicles where the mini-community dam was installed in the mountainous municipality of Parquín, in eastern El Salvador. Credit: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Most residents, she recalled, used to use “ocotes,” the local name for pieces of pine wood, whose resin is flammable.

“We would put two splinters in a pot, and that’s how we lived, with very dim light, but that’s how it was for us,” she said.

Meanwhile, Carolina Martinez, the teacher who works at the village preschool, pointed out that in those days the children’s homework was stained with charcoal soot from the ocote.

She and her family used to buy car batteries to run some appliances, which implied significant costs for them, including payment for the appliances and the person who brought them from nearby towns.

Others who needed to work with more powerful devices, such as saws for carpentry, had to buy gasoline-powered generators, she said. And those who had a cell phone had to send it to Rancho Quemado, a nearby village, for recharging.

“Now we see everything differently, the streets are illuminated at night, it’s no longer dark,” Martínez said.

For the village carpenters or welders, working is much easier with a power socket at hand.

A boy from La Joya, a village in eastern El Salvador, takes a charamusca, a fruit-based ice cream, from the refrigerator of Lilian Gómez, who, thanks to the arrival of electricity, has set up a small business making charamuscas, which are already popular among her neighbors. Credit: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

A boy from La Joya, a village in eastern El Salvador, takes a charamusca, a fruit-based ice cream, from the refrigerator of Lilian Gómez, who, thanks to the arrival of electricity, has set up a small business making charamuscas, which are already popular among her neighbors. Credit: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

For María Isabel Benítez, 55, a homemaker, one of the advantages of having electricity is that you can watch the news and find out what’s going on in the country. “I like the 6:00 a.m. news programme, I see everything there,” she said, holding her little granddaughter Daniela in her arms.

Elena Gómez, a 29-year-old psychology student, said she can now do her homework on the computer at home. “I no longer have to go to the nearest cybercafé,” she said.

The project was considered binational from the outset, since the surplus energy generated in La Joya is distributed to the village of Cueva del Monte, four km away, in Honduras.

Additional power lines were installed so the plant can benefit another 45 families, 32 of whom are already connected.

“The Hondurans deceived us, they told us they were going to set into operation the energy project, but they didn’t, and we were only left with the blueprint,” Mauricio Gracia, the community leader of the Honduran village, told IPS.

The people of Cueva del Monte are Salvadorans who from one moment to the next found themselves living in Honduras, in September 1992, following a ruling by the International Court of Justice, which resolved a lingering border dispute that included the area north of Morazán.

Benitez, the president of the La Joya association, said the generator sometimes fails, especially when there are thunderstorms, so the organisation is looking for more support to purchase a second generator, which could operate when the first one turns off.

Also, as a community they hope to little by little generate development initiatives, with the electricity they already have, to give the local economy a boost.

For example, they have discussed the possibility of promoting rural tourism, taking advantage of the natural beauty of the area’s pine forest and the pools and waterfalls of the Calambre River.

The plan is to build mountain cabins, which would have electricity. But the idea has not come to fruition because it has not been possible to reach an agreement with the owners of the land, said Benítez.

Meanwhile, Lilian Gómez is happy that there is strong local demand for her charamuscas, which she could not make if electric power had not come to La Joya.

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G20 Women’s Summit Pushes for Rural Women’s Rightshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/g20-womens-summit-pushes-rural-womens-rights/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=g20-womens-summit-pushes-rural-womens-rights http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/g20-womens-summit-pushes-rural-womens-rights/#respond Fri, 05 Oct 2018 14:52:59 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158026 Rural women play a key role in food production, but face discrimination when it comes to access to land or are subjected to child marriage, the so-called affinity group on gender parity within the G20 concluded during a meeting in the Argentine capital. The situation of rural women was one of the four themes of […]

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Climate Change Response Must Be Accompanied By a Renewed Approach to Economic Developmenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/climate-change-response-must-accompanied-renewed-approach-economic-development/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-change-response-must-accompanied-renewed-approach-economic-development http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/climate-change-response-must-accompanied-renewed-approach-economic-development/#respond Fri, 05 Oct 2018 07:16:25 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157932 In the face of the many challenges posed by climate change, Panos Caribbean, a global network of institutes working to give a voice to poor and marginalised communities, says the Caribbean must raise its voice to demand and support the global temperature target of 1.5 °C. Ahead of the United Nations climate summit in December, […]

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In August Grenada expereinced heavy rainfall which resulted in “wide and extensive” flooding that once again highlighted the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to climate change. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
KINGSTON, Oct 5 2018 (IPS)

In the face of the many challenges posed by climate change, Panos Caribbean, a global network of institutes working to give a voice to poor and marginalised communities, says the Caribbean must raise its voice to demand and support the global temperature target of 1.5 °C.

Ahead of the United Nations climate summit in December, Yves Renard, interim coordinator of Panos Caribbean, said advocacy, diplomacy and commitments must be both firm and ambitious.

He said this is necessary to ensure that the transition to renewable energy and a sharp reduction in emissions are not only implemented but accelerated.

“This is a mission that should not be left only to climate change negotiators. Caribbean leaders and diplomats, the private sector and civil society must also be vocal on the international scene and at home,” Renard told IPS.

“The global response to climate change must not be reduced to a mechanical concept. It needs to be accompanied by a renewed approach to economic development and by a change in mentality, so that it is included in the broader context of people’s livelihoods, social values and development priorities.”

The Panos official said artists, civil society leaders and other actors in the Caribbean should emphasise the need to challenge the dominant approaches to development and to help shape new relationships between people, businesses, institutions and the natural world.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) said community-based and ecosystem-based approaches are critical to build resilience to climate change, especially in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

“Investing in conserving, sustainably managing and restoring ecosystems,” CANARI states, “provides multiple benefits in terms of building ecological, economic and social resilience, as well as mitigation co-benefits through carbon sequestration by forests and mangroves.”

Renard said as evidenced all over the Caribbean in recent years, it is the poorest, marginalised and most vulnerable who are the most affected by climate change.

These include small farmers suffering from severe drought, households without insurance unable to recover from devastating hurricanes, and people living with disabilities unable to cope with the impacts of disasters.

“Climate change exacerbates inequalities, and adaptation measures must provide the necessary buffers and support to poor and vulnerable groups,” Renard told IPS.

“All sectorial, national and international legal and policy frameworks must recognise the benefits that can be gained from participation and partnerships, including the empowerment of communities, businesses, trade unions and civil society organisations to enable them to play a direct role in the identification and implementation of solutions, particularly in reference to adaptation.”

Yves Renard, interim coordinator of Panos Caribbean, says artists, civil society leaders and other actors in the Caribbean should emphasise the need to challenge the dominant approaches to development and to help shape new relationships between people, businesses, institutions and the natural world. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Additionally, he said the architecture and operations of climate finance institutions must be improved to facilitate direct access by national and regional actors; and to consider the financing of adaptation actions on the basis of full cost, especially in small countries where there is limited potential to secure co-financing.

He said that climate finance institutions also needed to facilitate civil society and private sector involvement in project design and execution; and, increase SIDS representation in the governance of financing institutions.

Renard said that in light of the critical importance of decentralised and community-based approaches to adaptation and resilience building, financing institutions and mechanisms should design and implement facilities that make technical assistance and financing available to local actors, as is being done, with significant success, by the Small Grants Programme of the Global Environment Facility.

He said that even in some of the poorest countries in the region, local actors have been taking the initiative in responding to the impacts of climate change.

“For the Caribbean, a regional coalition of civil society actors is necessary so as to build solidarity, and to share experiences and expertise on climate action in local contexts. These civil society networks must reinforce and build on actions taken by regional governments, and more international support is required for this work to be undertaken,” he said.

“Increased resources and capacities in communications and advocacy are required in order to disseminate the scientific evidence on climate change, to deepen understanding within the region on climate change and its impacts, and to push for more ambitious action on climate change at the global level.”

In addressing the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly debate, Grenada’s foreign affairs minister Peter David called on other Caribbean nations and SIDS to serve as “test cases” for nationwide implementation of climate-related technologies and advances.

David said the Caribbean also represents some of the most globally compelling business cases for sustainable renewable energy investment.

“Being climate smart goes beyond policies,” he said. “It goes beyond resilient housing, resilient infrastructure and resilient agriculture. It means that the region can also serve as a global beacon for renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

“We aim to not only be resilient, but with our region’s tremendous potential in hydro-electricity and geothermal energy, we could also be climate smart.”

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Saving the Kindergarten of Sharkshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/saving-kindergarten-sharks/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=saving-kindergarten-sharks http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/saving-kindergarten-sharks/#respond Thu, 04 Oct 2018 04:38:04 +0000 Gordon Radley http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157970 Every winter dozens of bull sharks come to Mexico’s Mayan Riviera to breed. A single bull shark can give birth to up to 15 young. They are the only species of shark that can live in both fresh and salt water. Saving Our Sharks has called for a strict no fishing sanctuary along the Mexican […]

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Every winter dozens of bull sharks come to Mexico’s Mayan Riviera to breed. A single bull shark can give birth to up to 15 young. They are the only species of shark that can live in both fresh and salt water.

By Gordon Radley
MAYAN RIVIERA, Mexico, Oct 4 2018 (IPS)

Every winter dozens of bull sharks come to Mexico’s Mayan Riviera to breed.
A single bull shark can give birth to up to 15 young. They are the only species of shark that can live in both fresh and salt water.

Saving Our Sharks has called for a strict no fishing sanctuary along the Mexican Caribbean to help protect the fish at this very vulnerable time in their lives.

Ahead of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference being co-hosted by Canadian and Kenyan governments in Nairobi Nov. 26 to 28, the protection of marine life and oceans, seas, lakes and rivers is in the forefront of the development agenda.

The theme of the conference is Blue Economy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

 

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Local Communities in Mexico Show Ways to Fight Obesityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/local-communities-mexico-show-ways-fight-obesity/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=local-communities-mexico-show-ways-fight-obesity http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/local-communities-mexico-show-ways-fight-obesity/#respond Tue, 02 Oct 2018 00:09:22 +0000 Emilio Godoy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157913 Manuel Villegas is one of the peasant farmers who decided to start planting amaranth in Mexico, to complement their corn and bean crops and thus expand production for sale and self-consumption and, ultimately, contribute to improving the nutrition of their communities. “Amaranth arrived in this part of the country in 2009, and some farmers were […]

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A farmer harvests amaranth in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. This grain, of which two of the varieties originated in Mexico, is part of the country's traditional diet and can help boost nutrition among Mexicans, who have been affected by skyrocketing consumption of junk food. Credit: Courtesy of Bridge to Community Health

A farmer harvests amaranth in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. This grain, of which two of the varieties originated in Mexico, is part of the country's traditional diet and can help boost nutrition among Mexicans, who have been affected by skyrocketing consumption of junk food. Credit: Courtesy of Bridge to Community Health

By Emilio Godoy
MEXICO CITY, Oct 2 2018 (IPS)

Manuel Villegas is one of the peasant farmers who decided to start planting amaranth in Mexico, to complement their corn and bean crops and thus expand production for sale and self-consumption and, ultimately, contribute to improving the nutrition of their communities.

“Amaranth arrived in this part of the country in 2009, and some farmers were already growing it when I began to grow it in 2013. It’s growing, but slowly,” Villegas, who is coordinator of the non-governmental Amaranth Network in the Mixteca region, in the southern state of Oaxaca, told IPS.

This crop has produced benefits such as the organisation of farmers, processors and consumers, the obtaining of public funding, as well as improving the nutrition of both consumers and growers."There was an increase in availability and accessibility of overly-processed foods. The State failed to implement public prevention policies. Children live in an obesogenic environment (an environment that promotes gaining weight and is not conducive to weight loss). It's a vulnerable group and companies take advantage of that to increase their sales," -- Fiorella Espinosa

“We have made amaranth part of our daily diet. It improves the diet because of its nutritional qualities, combined with other high-protein seeds,” said Villegas, who lives in the rural area of the municipality of Tlaxiaco, with about 34,000 inhabitants.

The peasant farmers brought together by the network in their region plant some 40 hectares of amaranth, although the effects of climate change forced them to cut back production to 12 tons in 2017 and six this year, due to a drought affecting the area. To cover their self-consumption, they keep 10 percent of the annual harvest.

Native products such as amaranth, in addition to defending foods from the traditional Mexican diet, help to contain the advance of obesity, which has become an epidemic in this Latin American country of nearly 130 million people, with health, social and economic consequences.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) states in “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018,” published in August, that the prevalence of overweight among children under five fell from nine percent to 5.2 percent between 2012 and 2017. That means that the number of overweight children under that age fell from one million to 600,000.

On the other hand, the prevalence of obesity among the adult population (18 years and older) increased, from 26 percent to 28.4 percent. The number of obese adults went from 20.5 million to 24.3 million during the period.

The consequences of the phenomenon are also clear. One example is that mortality from diabetes type 2, the most common, climbed from 70.8 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in 2013 to 84.7 in 2016, according to an update of indicators published in May by several institutions, including the health ministry.

Another impact reported in the same study is that deaths from high blood pressure went up from 16 per 100,000 inhabitants to 18.5.

Members of the Alliance for Food Health, a collective of organisations and academics, called in Mexico for better regulation of advertising of junk food aimed at children and of food and beverage labelling, during the launch of the report "A childhood hooked on obesity" in Mexico City in August. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Members of the Alliance for Food Health, a collective of organisations and academics, called in Mexico for better regulation of advertising of junk food aimed at children and of food and beverage labelling, during the launch of the report “A childhood hooked on obesity” in Mexico City in August. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

But the most eloquent and worrying data is that one in three children is obese or overweight, according to a report published in August by the non-governmental Alliance for Food Health, a group of organisations and academics.

What lies behind

Specialists and activists agree that among the root causes of the phenomenon is the change in eating habits, where the traditional diet based on age-old products has gradually been replaced by junk food, high in sugar, salt, fats, artificial colorants and other ingredients, which is injected from childhood through exposure to poorly regulated advertising.

Government strategy

In 2013, the government established the National Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Overweight, Obesity and Diabetes.

Its measures include the promotion of healthy habits, the creation of the Mexican Observatory on Non-Communicable Diseases (OMENT), the timely identification of people with risk factors, taxes on sugary beverages and the establishment of a voluntary seal of nutritional quality.

But the only progress made so far has been the creation of the observatory and the tax on soft drinks, since neither the regulation of food labels or advertising has come about.

In 2014, the state-run Federal Commission for Protection against Sanitary Risks created guidelines for front labeling of food and beverages, but did so without the participation of experts and civil society organisations and without complying with international World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.

For this reason, the non-governmental The Power of Consumers took legal action in 2015, and the following year a federal judge ruled that the measures violated consumers' rights to health and information. The Supreme Court is now debating the future of labelling.

For Simón Barquera, an authority in nutrition research in the country, the solution is "complex" and requires "multiple actions.” "Society is responsible for attacking the causes of disease. The industry cannot interfere in public policy," he said.

The latest National Health and Nutrition Survey found low proportions of regular consumption of most recommended food groups, such as vegetables, fruits and legumes, in all population groups. For example, 40 percent of the calories children ages one to five eat come from over-processed foods.

For Fiorella Espinosa, a researcher on dietary health at the civil association The Power of Consumers, the liberalisation of trade in Mexico since the 1990s, the lack of regulation of advertising and nutritional labels of products, the displacement of native foods and the prioritisation of extensive farming over traditional farming are factors that led to the crisis.

“There was an increase in availability and accessibility of overly-processed foods. The State failed to implement public prevention policies. Children live in an obesogenic environment (an environment that promotes gaining weight and is not conducive to weight loss). It’s a vulnerable group and companies take advantage of that to increase their sales,” she told IPS.

The 2017 Food Sustainability Index, produced by the Italian non-governmental Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation (BCFN), showed that this country, the second-largest in terms of population and economy in Latin America, has indicators reflecting a prevalence of over-eating, low physical activity and inadequate dietary patterns.

The index, which ranks France first, followed by Japan and Germany, analyses 34 nations with respect to sustainable agriculture, nutritional challenges and food loss and waste.

Obesity “is an epidemic that cannot be solved by nutrition education alone. It has structural determinants, such as the political environment, international trade, the environment and culture. It has social and economic barriers,” Simón Barquera, director of the Nutrition and Health Research Centre at the state-run National Institute of Public Health, told IPS.

Therefore, the Alliance for Food Health proposes a comprehensive strategy against overweight and obesity, which includes a law that incorporates increased taxes on unhealthy products, adequate labelling, better regulation of advertising and promotion of breastfeeding, among other measures.

The contribution of lifesaver crops such as amaranth

The organisations dedicated to the issue also highlight the recovery underway in communities in several states of traditional crops such as amaranth, a plant present in local food for 5,000 years and highly appreciated in the past because its grain contains twice the protein of corn and rice in addition to being rich in vitamins.

“We are looking for ways to generate changes at the community level in agriculture, food and family economy, focused on the cultivation of amaranth. We have realised that there has been a devaluation of the countryside and its role in adequate nutrition,” said Mauricio Villar, director of Social Economy for the non-governmental organisation Bridge to Nutritional Health.

Villar, also the coordinator of the Liaison Group for the Promotion of Amaranth in Mexico ,explained to IPS that “we are increasing our appreciation of peasant life and production, with impacts at different levels on nutrition,” to correct bad eating habits.

But according to Yatziri Zepeda, founder of the non-governmental AliMente Project, these local experiences, no matter how valuable their contribution, are limited in scope.

“These initiatives may generate changes at the local level and address some of the problems, but they are not sufficient to protect the right to health, among others. Obesity is not a matter of individual decisions, but of public policy. It is a political issue, there are very important corporate interests. It is multicausal and systemic,” she told IPS.

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Venezuela’s Surname Is Diasporahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/venezuelas-surname-diaspora/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=venezuelas-surname-diaspora http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/venezuelas-surname-diaspora/#respond Fri, 28 Sep 2018 21:49:10 +0000 Humberto Marquez http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157885 They sell their houses, cars, motorcycles, household goods, clothes and ornaments – if they have any – even at derisory prices, save up a few dollars, take a bus and, in many cases, for the first time ever travel outside their country: they are the migrants who are fleeing Venezuela by the hundreds of thousands. […]

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In Argentina, Agriculture Ignores the Right to Foodhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/argentina-agriculture-ignores-right-food/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=argentina-agriculture-ignores-right-food http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/argentina-agriculture-ignores-right-food/#respond Mon, 24 Sep 2018 23:16:56 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157743 In front of one of the busiest railway stations in the capital of Argentina, there are long lines to buy vegetables, which farmers themselves offer directly to consumers, at prices several times lower than those seen in stores. This scene taking place in Plaza Once, across from the railway station that connects with western Greater […]

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Countries On the Frontline of Climate Change Impact Call for Stronger Mitigation Commitmentshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/countries-frontline-climate-change-impact-call-stronger-mitigation-commitments/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=countries-frontline-climate-change-impact-call-stronger-mitigation-commitments http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/countries-frontline-climate-change-impact-call-stronger-mitigation-commitments/#comments Mon, 24 Sep 2018 13:24:05 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157725 Caribbean leaders want larger countries to pick up the pace at which they are working to meet the climate change challenge and keep global warming from devastating whole countries, including the most vulnerable ones like those in the Caribbean. Diann Black-Layne, ambassador for Climate Change in Antigua and Barbuda’s ministry of agriculture, lands, housing and […]

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Damage caused by Hurricane Irma in Road Town, on the British Virgin Island of Tortola. Caribbean leaders want larger countries to pick up the pace at which they are working to meet the climate change challenge and keep global warming from devastating whole countries. Courtesy: Russell Watkins/DFID

By Desmond Brown
SAN FRANCISCO and ST. JOHN’S, Sep 24 2018 (IPS)

Caribbean leaders want larger countries to pick up the pace at which they are working to meet the climate change challenge and keep global warming from devastating whole countries, including the most vulnerable ones like those in the Caribbean.

Diann Black-Layne, ambassador for Climate Change in Antigua and Barbuda’s ministry of agriculture, lands, housing and the environment, said that at present, most studies show that globally we are on track for a 3-degree Celsius temperature rise before the end of this century.

She pointed to extreme impacts already being experienced, such as greater storms, melting ice caps, increased overall temperatures, species fragmentation, increased invasive species and many other impacts.

“Currently, we need to be below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably at 1.5 degrees, to see a drastic improvement in climate,” Black-Layne told IPS.

“To put this in context, globally we are already 1 degree Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels.”

Black-Layne added that governments must back words with action and step up to enhance their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by 2020 in line with the Paris Agreement and the ratchet up mechanism.

Although the contributions of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to greenhouse gases are negligible, every little action towards alleviating climate change counts.

“More importantly, a global agreement requires everyone to do their part, to build trust and encourage others to act,” Black-Layne said.

“SIDS can be some of the early movers to decarbonise our economies – that means growing an economy without growing emissions.”

At the recent Talanoa Dialogue held in September in San Francisco, newly-elected prime minister of Barbados Mia Mottley said while the Caribbean countries are not responsible for causing the greatest changes in the climate, they are the ones on the frontline. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Meanwhile, at the recent Talanoa Dialogue held this month in San Francisco, newly-elected prime minister of Barbados Mia Mottley said while the Caribbean countries are not responsible for causing the greatest changes in the climate, they are the ones on the frontline.

“Dominica was hit by [hurricanes] Irma and Maria, in fact devastated to the tune of 275 percent of its GDP last year. And that came on top of [tropical storm] Erica which devastated communities and led to loss of life,” said Mottley, whose Barbados Labour Party won all 30 seats in the May 24 election.

“This is our lived reality in the Caribbean. This is not an academic discussion. This is difficult for us. And therefore, when the discussions took place between whether it is 1.5 or 2 [° C ], others could wallow in the ease of an academic discussion. For us it will have implications for what communities can survive in the Caribbean, in the Pacific and different other parts of the world.”“This is our lived reality in the Caribbean. This is not an academic discussion. This is difficult for us. And therefore, when the discussions took place between whether it is 1.5 or 2 [° C ], others could wallow in the ease of an academic discussion. For us it will have implications for what communities can survive in the Caribbean, in the Pacific and different other parts of the world.” -- prime minister of Barbados Mia Mottley

In 2015, 196 parties came together under the Paris Agreement to transform their development trajectories and set the world on a course towards sustainable development, with an aim of limiting warming to 1.5 to 2° C above pre-industrial levels.

Through the Paris Agreement, parties also agreed to a long-term goal for adaptation – to increase the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that did not threaten food production. Additionally, they agreed to work towards making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.

In June 2017, United States president Donald Trump ceased all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord.

That includes contributions to the United Nations Green Climate Fund (to help poorer countries to adapt to climate change and expand clean energy) and reporting on carbon data (though that is required in the U.S. by domestic regulations anyway).

But the U.S. remains part of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Forty years ago, Barbados commenced the use of solar water heaters through tax incentives.

Today, Mottley says, no one in the country thinks about building a house without a solar water heater.

“That simple example showed us how the change of behaviour of citizens can make a fundamental difference in the output. We aim by 2030 to be a fossil fuel-free environment but we can’t do it just so,” she said.

Explaining that Barbados has recently entered a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund, she lamented that her new government inherited a situation where Barbados is the third-most indebted country in the world today.

“It means that our options for development and financing are seriously constrained but our reality to fight what is perhaps the gravest challenge of our time continues. We cannot borrow from the World Bank or other major entities because we’re told that our per capita income is too high,” Mottley said.

“But within 48 hours, like Dominica, we could lose 200 percent of our GDP. That is the very definition of vulnerability if ever there was one. And unless we change it we are going to see the obliteration or civilisations or we’re going to see problems morph into security and migration issues that the world does not want to deal with.”

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Journalism for Democracy, Caught Between Bullets and Censorship in Latin Americahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/journalism-democracy-caught-bullets-censorship-latin-america/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=journalism-democracy-caught-bullets-censorship-latin-america http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/journalism-democracy-caught-bullets-censorship-latin-america/#respond Sun, 23 Sep 2018 01:27:30 +0000 Humberto Marquez http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157723 The murder of journalists and changing forms of censorship show that freedom of expression and information are still under siege in Latin America, particularly in the countries with the greatest social upheaval and political polarisation. Journalism “maintains a central role in the work for democracy in the region, although it suffers persecution of the media, […]

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Crisis Drives Nicaragua to an Economic and Social Precipicehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/crisis-drives-nicaragua-economic-social-precipice/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=crisis-drives-nicaragua-economic-social-precipice http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/crisis-drives-nicaragua-economic-social-precipice/#respond Mon, 17 Sep 2018 18:07:02 +0000 Jose Adan Silva http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157649 Five months after the outbreak of mass protests in Nicaragua, in addition to the more than 300 deaths, the crisis has had visible consequences in terms of increased poverty and migration, as well as the international isolation of the government and a wave of repression that continues unabated. Álvaro Leiva, director of the non-governmental Nicaraguan […]

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Between Drought and Floods, Cuba Seeks to Improve Water Managementhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/drought-floods-cuba-seeks-improve-water-management/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=drought-floods-cuba-seeks-improve-water-management http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/drought-floods-cuba-seeks-improve-water-management/#respond Sat, 15 Sep 2018 15:48:23 +0000 Patricia Grogg http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157631 If you enjoy a good daily shower and water comes out every time you turn on the taps in your home, you should feel privileged. There are places in the world where this vital resource for life is becoming scarcer by the day and the forecasts for the future are grim. A study by the […]

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A medium-density polyethylene (MDPE) pipe is set to be installed on a centrally located avenue in the municipality of Centro Habana, which will be part of the new water supply grid for residents of the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

A medium-density polyethylene (MDPE) pipe is set to be installed on a centrally located avenue in the municipality of Centro Habana, which will be part of the new water supply grid for residents of the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

By Patricia Grogg
HAVANA, Sep 15 2018 (IPS)

If you enjoy a good daily shower and water comes out every time you turn on the taps in your home, you should feel privileged. There are places in the world where this vital resource for life is becoming scarcer by the day and the forecasts for the future are grim.

A study by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which covers the period 2003-2013, shows that the world’s largest underground aquifers are being depleted at an alarming rate as a result of more water being withdrawn than can be replenished.

“The situation is quite critical,” NASA scientist Jay Famiglietti has said, when discussing the subject in specialised publications in the U.S. In the opinion of this expert the problems with groundwater are aggravated by global warming due to the phenomenon of climate change.

Far from diminishing, the impact of climate variations is also felt in greater changes in rainfall patterns, with serious consequences for Caribbean nations that are dependent on rainfall. In Cuba and other Caribbean island countries, in particular, periods of drought have become more intense.

“There is a gradual decrease in water availability due to reduced rainfall, deteriorating water quality and greater evaporation due to rising temperatures,” Antonio Rodríguez, vice-president of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INRH), told IPS in an interview.

Hurricane Irma, which in September 2017 tore almost through the entire Cuban archipelago, contributed to the relief of a drought that kept the country’s people and fields thirsty for nearly four years. The current rainy season, which will last until November, began in May with Subtropical Storm Alberto with high levels of rainfall that will continue.

“We have been able to show that climate change is real. We lived through 38 months of intense drought and then we had rains well above average,” said Rodrìguez.

A team of workers from the Aguas de La Habana water company work on the replacement of the sewage system in the Vedado neighbourhood in the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

A team of workers from the Aguas de La Habana water company work on the replacement of the sewage system in the Vedado neighbourhood in the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

The intense rains associated with Alberto, which hit Cuba in the last week of May, caused eight deaths due to drowning and serious economic damage in several provinces, but at the same time considerably increased the reserves in the 242 reservoirs controlled by the INRH, the government agency in charge of Cuba’s water resources.

Tarea Vida, the official plan to deal with climate change in force since last year, warns that the average sea level has risen 6.77 cm to date, and could rise 27 cm by 2050 and 85 by 2100, which would cause the gradual loss of land in low-lying coastal areas.

In addition, there could be “a salinisation of underground aquifers opened up to the sea due to saline wedge intrusion.” For now, “of the 101 aquifers controlled by the INRH, 100 are in a very favourable state,” Rodríguez said.

These sources also suffered the impact of the drought, but recovered with the rains after Hurricane Irma.

In this context, the inefficient use of water, due to the technical condition and inadequate functioning of the water system, causes the annual loss of some 1.6 billion cubic metres of water in Cuba.

In 2011, a strategic plan outlining priorities to address this situation began to be implemented in 12 cities from Havana to Santiago de Cuba in the east.

Two workers from the Aguas de La Habana company replace water pipes and install water meters in homes to measure drinking water consumption in the Vedado neighbourhood in Havana. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Two workers from the Aguas de La Habana company replace water pipes and install water meters in homes to measure drinking water consumption in the Vedado neighbourhood in Havana. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

When the programme began, losses amounted to 58 percent, both in the water grid and inside homes and other establishments. So far, the loss has only been reduced to 48 percent.

Since 2013, however, work has been underway on a comprehensive supply and sanitation plan that covers more than a solution to losses in distribution.

From 2015 to 2017, sewerage coverage has improved by 0.6 per cent and an additional 1.6 million people have benefited from the water supply.

Currently, only 11 percent of the country’s population of 11.2 million receive piped water at home 24 hours a day, and 39 percent at certain times of the day. In the remaining 50 percent of households, water is available only sporadically, and sometimes they go more than a week without water.

“I live in downtown Santiago de Cuba and we have two large elevated tanks and a cistern. We get piped water from the grid more or less every seven days and it is enough for us, even for our daily shower,” a worker from the telephone company Etecsa told IPS from that city, asking to remain anonymous.

Part of the historical water deficit in Santiago and other cities in the eastern-most part of the country has been alleviated through the transfer of water from regions with a greater supply. But during times of drought the supply cycles slow down. “That’s why in my house we are careful with our water,” she said.

One study found that of the 58 percent of water lost, 20 percent is lost in homes.

Another priority is to increase wastewater treatment. “Although in the country sewage coverage is more than 96 percent, only 36 percent of the population receives the service through networks, the rest is through septic tanks and other types of treatment,” said INRH vice-president Rodrìguez.

Among these challenges, he also mentioned poor hydrometric coverage.

Alexander Concepción Molina, a worker at Aguas de La Habana, supervises the thermofusion process of a high-density polyethylene pipe, which is part of the installation of new water gridsin the Peñas Altas neighbourhood of Habana del Este, in the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Alexander Concepción Molina, a worker at Aguas de La Habana, supervises the thermofusion process of a high-density polyethylene pipe, which is part of the installation of new water gridsin the Peñas Altas neighbourhood of Habana del Este, in the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

“We were able to get 100 percent of the public sector and all major consumers to be controlled by water metres, although in the residential sector this coverage reaches just over 23 percent of the population. From 2015 to 2017, more than 227,000 water meters have been installed, but the plan is to reach total coverage,” Rodríguez said.

“Without a doubt, water meters reduce consumption and allow us to measure the efficiency of our system,” he added.

Like other services, residential water supply is subsidised by the state and has a very low cost. “There are four of us and we pay 5.20 pesos a month (less than 0.25 cents of a dollar),” said María Curbelo, a resident of the Havana neighbourhood of Vedado.

The national hydraulic programme extended until 2030 includes works for water supply, sanitation, storage, diversion and hydrometry, as well as the necessary equipment for investment and maintenance.

“We are also working on the construction of seawater desalination plants,” Rodriguez said.

These plans include not only works to supply the population, but also everything necessary for agriculture, hotel infrastructure and the housing programme.

Rodriguez explained that to carry out the programme there is both state and foreign funding, which has made possible a subsidised home supply.

“We have benefited by foreign loans from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Spain’s development aid agency and Chinese donations,” among others, he said.

These are soft loans with a five-year grace period, two or three percent interest and to be paid in 20 years, with the Cuban State as guarantor.

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Preservation of the Klamath River – a Life or Death Matter for the Yurok Peoplehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/preservation-klamath-river-life-death-matter-yurok-people/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=preservation-klamath-river-life-death-matter-yurok-people http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/preservation-klamath-river-life-death-matter-yurok-people/#respond Thu, 13 Sep 2018 16:48:29 +0000 Emilio Godoy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157602 Fishermen are scarce in the Klamath River delta, unlike other fishing season, because climate change has driven up water temperatures which kills off the salmon, the flagship species of this region in northern California. The increase in temperatures favours the proliferation of lethal fish diseases and the absence of fish has devastating effects on the […]

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Yurok lawyer Amy Cordalis (L) explains the impacts of climate change on the Klamath River, such as the drop in the number of salmon, a key species in the traditions and economy of this Native American tribe in the western U.S. state of California. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Yurok lawyer Amy Cordalis (L) explains the impacts of climate change on the Klamath River, such as the drop in the number of salmon, a key species in the traditions and economy of this Native American tribe in the western U.S. state of California. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

By Emilio Godoy
KLAMATH, California, USA , Sep 13 2018 (IPS)

Fishermen are scarce in the Klamath River delta, unlike other fishing season, because climate change has driven up water temperatures which kills off the salmon, the flagship species of this region in northern California.

The increase in temperatures favours the proliferation of lethal fish diseases and the absence of fish has devastating effects on the Yurok, the largest group of Native Americans in the state of California, who live in the Klamath River basin.

“The river level is dropping at a time when it shouldn’t. The water warms up in summer and causes diseases in the fish. This changes the rhythm of the community and has social effects,” lawyer Amy Cordalis, a member of the tribe, told IPS during a tour of the watershed.

Cordalis stressed that the community of Klamath, in Del Norte county in northwest California, depends on fishing, which is a fundamental part of their traditions, culture and diet.

The Yurok, a tribe which currently has about 6,000 members, use the river for subsistence, economic, legal, political, religious and commercial purposes.

This tribe, one of more than 560 surviving tribes in the United States, owns and manages 48,526 hectares of land, of which its reserve, established in 1855, covers less than half: 22,743 hectares.

Conserving the forest is vital to the regulation of the temperature and water cycle of the river and to moisture along the Pacific coast.

The Yurok – which means “downriver people” – recall with terror the year 2002, when the water level dropped and at least 50,000 salmon ended up dead from disease, the highest fish mortality in the United States.

The Yurok are working to conserve and restore the Klamath River basin, to which they are spiritually and economically linked. Part of the restoration involves placing logs in the river, such as these ones that have been prepared on its banks, to channel the water and retain sediment and thus recreate the habitat needed by salmon, the species that is key to the Yurok culture. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

The Yurok are working to conserve and restore the Klamath River basin, to which they are spiritually and economically connected. Part of the restoration involves placing logs in the river, such as these ones that have been prepared on its banks, to channel the water and retain sediment and thus recreate the habitat needed by salmon, the species that is key to the Yurok culture. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

And in 2015 no snow fell, which affects the flow of water that feeds the river and is fundamental for the fishery because in March of each year the salmon fry come down from the mountain, Cordalis said. This species needs cold water to breed.

The federal government granted the Yurok a fishing quota of 14,500 salmon for 2018, which is low and excludes commercial catch, but is much higher than the quota granted in 2017 – only 650 – due to the crisis of the river flow that significantly reduced the number of salmon.

The migration of fish downriver has also decreased in recent years due to sedimentation of the basins caused by large-scale timber extraction, road construction, loss of lake wood and loss of diversity in the habitat and fishery production potential.

As a result, the number of chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) and Pacific lamprey (Lampetra tridentata) have dropped in the Klamath River, while Coho or silver salmon (O. kisutch) are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The Klamath River in California, the natural and spiritual sustenance of the Yurok people, is facing threats due to climate change, such as reduced flow and increased temperatures, which kill salmon, a species that requires cold water for breeding. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

The Klamath River in California, the natural and spiritual sustenance of the Yurok people, is facing threats due to climate change, such as reduced flow and increased temperatures, which kill salmon, a species that requires cold water for breeding. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

A reflection of this crisis, in Cordalis’ words, is the ban on commercial fishing for the third consecutive year, with only subsistence fishing allowed.

Faced with this, the Yurok have undertaken efforts for the conservation of the ecosystem and the recovery of damaged areas to encourage the arrival of the salmon.

In 2006, they began placing wood structures in the Terwer Creek watershed as dikes to channel water flow and control sediment.

“We had to convince the lumber company that owned the land, as well as the state and federal authorities. But when they saw that it worked, they didn’t raise any objections. What we are doing is geomorphology, we are planting gardens,” Rocco Fiori, the engineering geologist who is in charge of the restoration, from Fiori Geo Sciences, a consulting firm specialising in this type of work, told IPS.

Tree trunks are placed in the river bed, giving rise to the growth of new trees. They last about 15 years, as they are broken down and begin to rot as a result of contact with the moisture and wind.

But they generate more trees, giving rise to a small ecosystem. They also facilitate the emergence of vegetation on the river ford, explained Fiori, whose consulting firm is working with the Yurok on the restoration.

Salmon is basic to the diet of the Yurok people, who live in northern California. But the catch has fallen drastically due to a lower water flow in the Klamath River and the increase in water temperature. In the picture, a member of the Yurok tribe seasons fish for dinner on the riverbank. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Salmon is basic to the diet of the Yurok people, who live in northern California. But the catch has fallen drastically due to a lower water flow in the Klamath River and the increase in water temperature. In the picture, a member of the Yurok tribe seasons fish for dinner on the riverbank. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Starting in the fall, this strip is flooded every year, which favours the abundance of organic matter for the salmon to feed on, allowing them to grow and thrive in the new habitat.

In addition, four of the six dams along the Klamath River and its six tributaries, built after 1918 to generate electricity, will be dismantled.

The objective is to restore land that was flooded by the dams and to apply measures to mitigate any damage caused by the demolition of the dams, as required by law.

The Copco 1 and 2, Iron Gate and JC Boyle dams will be demolished in January 2021, at a cost of 397 million dollars. The owner of the dams, the PacifiCorp company, will cover at least 200 million of that cost, and the rest will come from the state government.

“The removal of the dams is vital. It’s a key solution for the survival of salmon,” biologist Michael Belchik, of the Yurok Tribe Fisheries Department, who has worked with the tribe for 23 years, told IPS.

The four reservoirs hold between five million and 20 million cubic metres of sediment, and their removal will provide 600 km of suitable habitat for salmon.

It is estimated that salmon production will increase by 80 percent, with benefits for business, recreational fishing and food security for the Yurok. In addition, the dismantling of dams will mitigate the toxic blue-green algae that proliferate in the reservoirs.

Water conservation projects exemplify the mixture of ancestral knowledge and modern science.

For Cordalis, salmon is irreplaceable. “Our job is not to let (a tragedy) happen again. The tribe does what it can to defend itself from problems and draw attention to the issue. We continue to fight for water and the right decisions. Our goal is to restore the river and get the fish to come back,” the lawyer said.

The Yurok shared their achievements and the challenges they face with indigenous delegates from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Mexico and Panama in the run-up to the Global Climate Action Summit, convened by the government of California to celebrate in advance the third anniversary of the Paris Agreement, reached in Paris in 2015. The meeting will take place on Sept. 13-14 in San Francisco, CA.

This article was produced with support from the Climate and Land Use Alliance .

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Salmon Farming, Questioned in Chile, Arrives to Argentinahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/salmon-farming-questioned-chile-arrives-argentina/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=salmon-farming-questioned-chile-arrives-argentina http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/salmon-farming-questioned-chile-arrives-argentina/#respond Mon, 10 Sep 2018 08:07:24 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157530 Questioned for its environmental and health impacts in Chile, where it is one of the country’s main economic activities, salmon farming is preparing to expand in Argentina from Norway, the world’s largest farmed salmon producer. The news has triggered a strong reaction from civil society organisations. “Argentina today has the advantage that it can refer […]

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A view of salmon cages in the Pacific Ocean in Chile. In recent decades, salmon farming has become an important industry in Chile, but the impact on the environment and people's health has been questioned. Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Casado

A view of salmon cages in the Pacific Ocean in Chile. In recent decades, salmon farming has become an important industry in Chile, but the impact on the environment and people's health has been questioned. Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Casado

By Daniel Gutman
BUENOS AIRES, Sep 10 2018 (IPS)

Questioned for its environmental and health impacts in Chile, where it is one of the country’s main economic activities, salmon farming is preparing to expand in Argentina from Norway, the world’s largest farmed salmon producer.
The news has triggered a strong reaction from civil society organisations.

“Argentina today has the advantage that it can refer to Chile’s experience, which has been extremely negative,” attorney Alex Muñoz, director for Latin America of National Geographic’s Pristine Seas programme, told IPS from Santiago, Chile.

“In Chile we have suffered the serious impacts of the activity carried out by both local and Norwegian companies. Salmon is native to the northern hemisphere and there is very clear scientific evidence that farming this species is not sustainable in the southern hemisphere,” added the environmental law specialist.

Muñoz is one of the authors of a highly critical report on the Argentine project presented by 23 Argentine and international organisations – such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Oceana and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) – grouped in the Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea and Areas of Influence."The effects of an industry that stretches 2,000 km along the Chilean coast have never been studied in-depth. Chemicals of all kinds are used to prevent disease and organic matter, food and fecal matter from salmon are dumped into the ecosystem.” -- Max Bello

The Forum is a network formed in 2004 to promote the care of the Atlantic Ocean in southern Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina and of the Pacific Ocean in Chile.

It was the visit to Argentina in March by King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway, who met with President Mauricio Macri, which gave impetus to the initiative.

It would imply the introduction for the first time of an exotic species in the Argentinean sea, since this South American country has only up to now introduced fish in lakes and rivers.

On that occasion, Innovation Norway, a state-owned company and a national development bank that promotes Norwegian investment around the world, signed a cooperation agreement with the Argentine Agribusiness Ministry to study the implementation of “sustainable aquaculture” programmes in this South American nation.

Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic animals or plants in all types of water environments in controlled conditions. In the case of salmon in Argentina, feasibility studies are being carried out in the extreme south of Patagonia, off the Argentine coasts of Tierra del Fuego, the southern territory shared with Chile.

IPS’s questions about the project were not answered by the agriculture authorities of Tierra del Fuego province or by the Agribusiness Ministry, which on Sept. 3 was demoted to a secretariat as part of austerity measures aimed at cutting public spending in the midst of the country’s economic collapse.

Salmon seen in the Chilean sea. Broken cages sometimes cause hundreds of thousands of fish to end up in open sea, generating negative impacts on native species. Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Casado

Salmon seen in the Chilean sea. Broken cages sometimes cause hundreds of thousands of fish to end up in open sea, generating negative impacts on native species. Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Casado

In March, the then minister Luis Etchevere stated that “our relations with Norway will allow us to benefit from that country’s more than 50 years of experience” in aquaculture, and added that “Tierra del Fuego can be a pioneer in development within Argentina.”

Norway, which has both wild and farmed salmon, is the world’s largest producer of this species that is consumed around the world for its taste and nutritional value.

In Chile, salmon farming in sea cages began more than 30 years ago on the island of Chiloé, about 1,100 south of Santiago, in the Los Lagos Region, and from there it grew and spread throughout Patagonia, to the Aysen and Magallanes Regions.

Today salmon is one of Chile’s main export products. Official figures indicate that the sector is expanding, since in 2017 exports amounted to 4.1 billion dollars, 20 percent up from the previous year.

Last year, salmon accounted for more than six percent of the country’s total exports.

According to Chile’s Salmon Industry Association, this year will be even better and sales to 75 international markets will generate more than five billion dollars.

According to the business chamber, the activity generates more than 70,000 direct and indirect jobs.

But “no amount of economic growth justifies the destruction of Patagonian ecosystems,” Max Bello, a Chilean natural resources specialist who has been working for 15 years in marine conservation organisations, told IPS from Santiago.

Starfish seen in the seabed of the Beagle Channel, in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, where the Argentine government is promoting the development of salmon farming. The so-called Patagonian Sea is considered one of the most productive oceanic areas in the southern hemisphere. Credit: Courtesy of Beagle Secrets of the Sea

Starfish seen in the seabed of the Beagle Channel, in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, where the Argentine government is promoting the development of salmon farming. The so-called Patagonian Sea is considered one of the most productive oceanic areas in the southern hemisphere. Credit: Courtesy of Beagle Secrets of the Sea

Bello added: “The effects of an industry that stretches 2,000 km along the Chilean coast have never been studied in-depth. Chemicals of all kinds are used to prevent disease and organic matter, food and fecal matter from salmon are dumped into the ecosystem.”

“Salmon farming has spread in a brutal manner in recent years, affecting not only natural resources but also culture, as it has displaced other activities,” Bello said.

In Argentina, a country whoses population of 44 million mostly eats beef, fish are mostly for export.

In 2017, according to official figures, 706,000 tons of seafood were sold abroad, worth 1.9 billion dollars. The main products are shrimp and squid, both native. In the domestic market, 341,000 tons of seafood was consumed last year.

The report presented by the Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea and Areas of Influence states that, besides the heavy use of antibiotics, the main problem posed by salmon farming is the frequent escape from the sea cages of fish that end up being an exotic species.

In fact, in July, during a storm, four of the five cages of a salmon farm owned by the Norwegian company Marine Harvest in Calbuco, near the city of Puerto Montt, broke and 650,000 salmon ended up in the sea.

“According to the law, the company has to recover at least 10 percent of the fish, because otherwise environmental damage is assumed,” biologist Flavia Liberona, executive director of the Chilean environmental foundation Terram, told IPS.

Regarding the use of chemical products, Liberona explained from Santiago that “because they are not in their environment, salmon in Chile are highly prone to diseases, which is why they use more antibiotics than in Norway.”

“In 2008 there was a major crisis in the industry due to the spread of a virus, which caused the loss of thousands of jobs,” she said.

Biologist Alexandra Sapoznikow, coordinator of the Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea and Areas of Influence, said “this activity has frequent crises and we are concerned that it is seen as a possibility for economic development. Tierra del Fuego receives tourists who are looking for nature, which is this province’s opportunity.”

Speaking to IPS from the Patagonian city of Puerto Madryn, Sapoznikow, who teaches Natural Resources Management at Argentina’s National University of Patagonia, added that the introduction of salmon farming would also come into conflict with the project that civil society organisations have been working on with the Argentine government to create marine protected areas in the South Atlantic.

In November 2017, the government sent to Congress a bill for the creation of two marine protected areas near Tierra del Fuego, which would extend the total conservation area from the current 28,000 square km to 155,000.

The initiative, however, has not yet begun to be discussed, while the Ministry of Environment – which drafted it jointly with the National Parks Administration – was demoted on Sept. 3 to a secretariat.

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Four-Year Drought Forces Cuba to Find Ways to Build Resiliencehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/four-year-drought-forces-cuba-find-ways-build-resilience/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=four-year-drought-forces-cuba-find-ways-build-resilience http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/four-year-drought-forces-cuba-find-ways-build-resilience/#respond Fri, 07 Sep 2018 14:08:20 +0000 Ivet Gonzalez http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157503 Eastern Cuba has suffered drought since time immemorial. But the western and central regions of the island used to be almost free of the phenomenon, until the latest drought that plagued this country between 2014 and 2017. “For the first time drought is seen as a major threat, due to the magnitude of the economic […]

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A man rests while his horse drinks water from an almost dry stream near the village of Palenque, in the municipality of Yateras in the eastern province of Guantánamo, one of the worst affected by the long drought that affected Cuba between 2014 and 2017. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

A man rests while his horse drinks water from an almost dry stream near the village of Palenque, in the municipality of Yateras in the eastern province of Guantánamo, one of the worst affected by the long drought that affected Cuba between 2014 and 2017. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

By Ivet González
HAVANA, Sep 7 2018 (IPS)

Eastern Cuba has suffered drought since time immemorial. But the western and central regions of the island used to be almost free of the phenomenon, until the latest drought that plagued this country between 2014 and 2017.

“For the first time drought is seen as a major threat, due to the magnitude of the economic impacts it caused,” agronomist Loexys Rodríguez, who in the eastern city of Guantánamo promotes and carries out research on resilience in the productive sector in the face of drought, told IPS.

Over the past four years, Cuba has faced the most extensive drought seen in 115 years, affecting 80 percent of the country.

Prolonged rationing in the residential sector, with the suspension of water supply for up to a month, caused serious social upheaval, while economic losses amounted to 1.5 billion dollars, according to official figures.

All regions, especially the central part of the country, were ravaged by the so-called “silent disaster,” because it advances slowly and almost imperceptibly.

Latin America has suffered the worst droughts in its history in this century and the subsequent loss of income was four times more than that caused by floods, warned the World Bank, which even called for thinking about a new economy in times of scarcity and variable water supplies.

Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru are among the countries in the region that have experienced the most severe dry spells so far this century, considered part of the effects of climate change.

According to the World Bank, in general terms, this phenomenon has a greater impact on Caribbean island nations such as Cuba.

“It has been demonstrated that these droughts are recurrent, that we are practically living with them,” Rodríguez warned. However, “not all elements of resilience are being given the same level of priority or national scope,” the expert warned.

Because they are the most frequent and dreaded phenomenon in the Caribbean, especially in the islands, hurricanes capture all the attention of the national disaster response systems. Associated with cyclones, the concept of resilience began to be used recently in Cuba’s disaster response system.

With respect to the environment, this term refers to the ability of a community, economic activity or ecosystem, among others, to absorb disturbances such as the onslaught of weather events without significantly altering their characteristics of structure and functionality, so as to facilitate the subsequent return to its original state.

A peasant farmer checks the water level in his backyard well, in the municipality of Horno de Guisa, Granma province, in eastern Cuba. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

A peasant farmer checks the water level in his backyard well, in the municipality of Horno de Guisa, Granma province, in eastern Cuba. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Rodríguez spoke with IPS after presenting a methodological tool that allows farmers and agricultural decision-makers to easily determine how drought-resilient a farm is, at the 10th International Congress on Disasters, held in Havana Jul. 2-6.

The tool is a result of the programme “Sustainable agricultural practices adapted to climate change in the province of Guantánamo, Cuba,” which was implemented in 2016 by local entities with the support of the international humanitarian organisation Oxfam and with aid from Belgium.

In addition to a self-assessment guide, the instrument included in the book “Resilience to drought based on agroecology” includes a perception survey of the phenomenon, possible solutions and a set of local agroecological capacities and services to which farmers can turn to in the face of drought.

The study, which covered the municipalities of Niceto Pérez and Manuel Tames in Guantánamo, establishes 10 features that farms must achieve to be resistant, proposes 64 agroecological practices for farm management and design, and listed more than 50 entities with innovations, services, or funds to be used.

Geologist Yusmira Savón, who also participated in the project, described the tool as “very flexible to achieve collective drought resilience, with a high level of organisation, agroecological bases and the use of local capacities.”

“Droughts are lasting longer and longer, and the duration of rainy and dry seasons is changing,” she told IPS. “It would be very interesting for the country to work harder on the concept of resilience, which allows for the elimination of deficiencies in a proactive way, that is, before disasters happen,” she said.

 A view of a sugar cane plantation after it was destroyed by a fire caused by high temperatures in the municipality of Palma Soriano, in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS


A view of a sugar cane plantation after it was destroyed by a fire caused by high temperatures in the municipality of Palma Soriano, in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Cuban authorities and scientific institutions are calling for more research and projects to prevent and adapt to drought.

“Living in a semi-arid zone greatly limits development, but it gives Guantánamo a potential that other provinces don’t have,” Ángel Almarales, director of the state-run Centre of Technology for Sustainable Development (Catedes), based in the provincial capital, 929 km east of Havana, told IPS by phone.

This province of 6,167 square km hosts a contrasting geography: in the north the climate is rainy and tropical, to the point that the municipality of Baracoa has the highest level of rainfall in Cuba; in the centre, the landscape is a tropical savannah; while the southern coastal strip is the only large semi-arid part of this Caribbean island nation.

Catedes is a scientific institution focused on finding development solutions for semi-desert area, which means it has know-how that is now needed by other Cuban regions.

Its formula, perfected over more than 10 years, includes the use of renewable energies in the fight against desertification and drought.

“Our big problem (as a province) is that we still don’t know how to manage water,” Almarales said of the key goal to be reached by the department of 511,093 people in its search for resilience to drought and improving quality of life.

Caimanera, a municipality known for adjoining the U.S. Guantánamo Naval Base, is in that semi-arid zone, where economic activities are basically limited to salt production, fishing and public services.
“Production of salt continues to be the main source of employment,” said Pedro Pupo, municipal director of labour and social security, during a June visit by international media to Caimanera, where the largest salt industry is located, which supplies just over 60 percent of national consumption.

Pupo cited as an example that in the municipal district of Hatibonico, “which is the most aridt area, mainly produces charcoal, because of the climatic conditions.” Also some opportunities were created in the local production of construction materials, he added in dialogue with IPS.

However, with the urban agriculture programme that promotes agroecological techniques in urban areas, and production adapted to the aridity of the climate and soil salinity, the local government reports that Caimanera produces 70 percent of the food it consumes.

With a rainy season that usually runs from May to November, Cuba has been implementing the National Water Policy since 2012, a programme that depends on rainfall and which uses 60 percent of the water for agriculture, 20 percent for human consumption, five percent for industrial use and the rest for other economic activities.

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Maya Farmers in South Belize Hold Strong to Their Climate Change Experimenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/maya-farmers-central-belize-hold-strong-climate-change-experiment/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=maya-farmers-central-belize-hold-strong-climate-change-experiment http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/maya-farmers-central-belize-hold-strong-climate-change-experiment/#respond Wed, 05 Sep 2018 14:14:45 +0000 Zadie Neufville http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157466 This is an op-ed contributed by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).

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In one of Belize’s forest reserves in the Maya Golden Landscape, a group of farmers is working with non-governmental organisations to mitigate and build resilience to climate change with a unique agroforestry project.

Magnus Tut a member of the Trio Cacao Farmers Association cuts open a white cacao pod from one of several bearing treen in his plot. The group is hoping to find more buyers for their organic white cacao and vegetables. Credit: Zadie Neufville/IPS

By Zadie Neufville
BELMOPAN, Sep 5 2018 (IPS)

In one of Belize’s forest reserves in the Maya Golden Landscape, a group of farmers is working with non-governmental organisations to mitigate and build resilience to climate change with a unique agroforestry project.

The Ya’axché Conservation Trust helps farmers to establish traditional tree crops, like the cacao, that would provide them with long-term income opportunities through restoring the forest, protecting the natural environment, while building their livelihoods and opportunities. Experts say the farmers are building resilience to climate change in the eight rural communities they represent.

The agroforestry concession is situated in the Maya Mountain Reserve and is one of two agroforestry projects undertaken by the 5Cs, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), in its efforts to implement adaptation and mitigation strategies in communities across the Caribbean.

Close to 6,000 people both directly and indirectly benefit from the project which Dr. Ulric Trotz, science advisor and deputy executive director of the 5Cs, noted was established with funding from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (UK DFID).

“It is easily one of our most successful and during my most recent visit this year, I’ve seen enough to believe that the concept can be successfully transferred to any community in Belize as well as to other parts of the Caribbean,” he told IPS.

The Trio Cacao Farmers Association and the Ya’axché Conservation Trust have been working together since 2015 to acquire and establish an agroforestry concession on 379 hectares of disturbed forest. The agroforestry project was given a much-need boost with USD250,000 in funding through the 5Cs.

According to Christina Garcia, Ya’axché’s executive director, the project provides extension services. It also provides training and public awareness to prepare the farmers on how to reduce deforestation, prevent degradation of their water supplies and reduce the occurrence of wildfires in the beneficiary communities and the concession area.

Since the start, more than 50,000 cacao trees have been planted on 67 hectares and many are already producing the white cacao, a traditional crop in this area. To supplement the farmers’ incomes approximately 41 hectares of ‘cash’ crops, including bananas, plantains, vegetable, corn and peppers, were also established along with grow-houses and composting heaps that would support the crops.

This unique project is on track to become one of the exemplary demonstrations of ecosystems-based adaptation in the region.

The 35 farming families here are native Maya. They live and work in an area that is part of what has been dubbed the Golden Stream Corridor Preserve, which connects the forests of the Maya Mountains to that of the coastal lowlands and is managed by Ya’axché.

Farmers here believe they are reclaiming their traditional ways of life on the four hectares which they each have been allocated. Many say they’ve improved their incomes while restoring the disturbed forests, and are doing this through using techniques that are protecting and preserving the remaining forests, the wildlife and water.

On tour of the Ya’axché Agroforestry Concession in the Maya Golden Landscape. From right: Dr Ulric Trotz, deputy executive director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC); Dr Mark Bynoe, head of project development at the 5Cs; Isabel Rash, chair of the Trios Cacao Farmers Association; Magnus Tut, farmer and ranger and behind him Christina Garcia, executive director Ya’axché Conservation Trust. Credit: Zadie Neufville/IPS

Other members of the communities, including school-age teenagers, were given the opportunity to start their own businesses through the provision of training and hives to start bee-keeping projects. Many of the women now involved in bee-keeping were given one box when they started their businesses.

The men and women who work the concession do not use chemicals and can, therefore, market their crops as chemical free, or organic products. They, however, say they need additional help to seek and establish those lucrative markets. In addition to the no-chemicals rule, the plots are cultivated by hand, using traditional tools. But farmer Magnus Tut said that this is used in conjunction with new techniques, adding that it has improved native farming methods.

“We are going back to the old ways, which my father told me about before chemicals were introduced to make things grow faster. The hardest part is maintaining the plot. It is challenging and hard work but it is good work, and there are health benefits,” Tut told IPS.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) supports the farmers’ beliefs, reporting that up to 11 percent of greenhouse gases are caused by deforestation and “between 24 and 30 percent of total mitigation potential” can be provided by halting and reversing deforestation in the tropics.

“The hardest part of the work is getting some people to understand how/what they do impacts the climate, but each has their own story and they are experiencing the changes which make it easier for them to make the transition,” said Julio Chun, a farmer and the community liaison for the concession. He told IPS that in the past, the farmers frequently used fires to clear the land.

Chun explained that farmers are already seeing the return of wildlife, such as the jaguar, and are excited by the possibilities.

“We would like to develop eco-tourism and the value-added products that can support the industry. Some visitors are already coming for the organic products and the honey,” he said.

Ya’axché co-manages the Bladen Nature Reserve and the Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve, a combined 311,607 hectares of public and privately owned forest. Its name, pronounced yash-cheh, is the Mopan Maya word for the Kapoc or Ceiba tree (scientific name: Ceiba pentandra), which is sacred to the Maya peoples.

Of the project’s future, Garcia said: “My wish is to see the project address the economic needs of the farmers, to get them to recognise the value of what they are doing in the concession and that the decision-makers can use the model as an example to make decisions on how forest reserves can be made available to communities across Belize and the region to balance nature and livelihoods.”

Scientists believe that well-managed ecosystems can help countries adapt to both current climate hazards and future climate change through the provision of ecosystem services, so the 5Cs has implemented a similar project in Saint Lucia under a 42-month project funded by the European Union Global Climate Change Alliance (EU-GCCA+) to promote sustainable farming practices.

The cacao-based agroforestry project in Saint Lucia uses a mix-plantation model where farmers are allowed to continue using chemicals, but were taught to protect the environment. Like the Ya’axché project, Saint Lucia’s was designed to improve environmental conditions in the beneficiary areas; enhance livelihoods and build the community’s resilience to climate change.

In the next chapter, the Ya’axché farmers project is hoping that, among other things, a good samaritan will help them to add facilities for value-added products; acquire eco-friendly all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to move produce to access points; and replace a wooden bridge that leads to the main access road.

Tut and Chun both support the views of the group’s chair Isabel Rash, that farmers are already living through climate change, but that the hard work in manually “clearing and maintaining their plots and in chemical-free food production, saves them money”, supports a healthy working and living environment and should protect them against the impacts of climate change.

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Excerpt:

This is an op-ed contributed by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).

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