Stories written by Stella Paul
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Inadequate Water & Sanitation Threatens Women’s & Girls’ Development in Senegal

With Tabaski (Eid al-Adha) around the corner, 11-year-old Fatoumata Binta from Terrou Mballing district in M'Bour, western Senegal, wakes up early and joins her brothers Iphrahima Tall and Ismaila to fetch water from a river several miles from home.

Are Women-led Startups Key to Sustainability in Senegal?

Growing up in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, Siny Samba (28) watched with fascination as her grandmother made snacks for her family, using the fresh fruit from their garden. She would often help her grandma make these snacks to feed the neighbourhood children.

Non-formal Education Helps Senegalese Women Combat FGM and Harmful Practices

Growing up in Senegal’s southern Casamence region — a conflict zone —  Fatou Ndiaye, now 43, often heard gunfire and watched fearfully as she saw people flee their villages. But what she dreaded more than a flying bullet was Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

The Goan Village Women Helping Mitigate Plastic Pollution by Making Eco-friendly Sanitary Pads

Jayashree Parwar has not traveled much outside of her village of Bicholim in the western coastal Indian state of Goa. But the homemaker-turned-social-entrepreneur has been reaching women in dozens of cities across the country with a hygiene product she makes at home along with women from her community. Called Sakhi (friend in Hindi), the plastic-free sanitary pad is Goa’s first menstrual hygiene product made with organic materials.


Philippines’ Senior Citizens Vulnerabilities Increase Because of COVID-19 Lockdown

In the Philippines, May has long been a month of joy when farmers harvest their rice crop and celebrate the Pahiyas harvest festival. But this year, the mood was somber. The food production and supply system also affected, thanks to the coronavirus lockdown, and the economy frozen. As a result, millions of Filipinos, especially senior citizens, are now looking at an uncertain future.

Cyclone Amphan – ‘We Didn’t Expect Devastation of Such a Scale’

Amid the social distancing measures posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, coastal communities in Bangladesh and India face a double threat as the record-breaking Cyclone Amphan made landfall yesterday (May 20).

Has COVID-19 Reversed Progress for India’s Small Tea Growers?

As the sun sets over the hills, Prafulla Debbarma, a small tea grower in Dhanbilash village in north eastern India, walks along the labyrinth path of his farm and past a thick blanket of well-grown tea plants. In the fading light, the farmer appears deeply worried. This tea farm, the sole source of his livelihood, remains unharvested thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Protect Journalists’ Rights so We can Stop the COVID-19 Disinfodemic

Andrew Sam Raja Pandian, a digital journalist and founder of a news portal in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, was arrested for running two news articles related to COVID-19.

India’s Liberal Abortion Law, Nullified by Social Stigma

Arti Zodpe is from the Tamasha (folk dance-drama) theatre in Sangli, in India’s Maharashtra state. After evening performances, some of the singers and dancers offer sex work services to the audience.

India’s Orange Farmers Search for Sustainable Agriculture

Hillol Datta, 26, travelled for two days from Kolkata to Jampui Hills – a picturesque hill station in the north eastern province of India – to see its fruit-laden orange orchards. However, after driving for several hours, all the young traveller saw were bald patches along the hill slopes and scattered rows of areca (nut) palm trees.

Inclusive Education Still Evades People with Disabilities

Neema Namdamu, 42, grew up in the village of Bukavu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where children with disabilities were considered a curse. As a child Namdamu contracted polio, leaving her paralysed from the waist down. Her neighbours advised her mother to do what they felt was the "right thing": to leave the child alone in a hut until she died of starvation.

**UPDATE** African Nations Caught in Conflict Re-commit to Inclusive Education

Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh knows that his country is in need of an education system that is, “innovative, based on universal principles and values and adaptive of the local realities”.

Leprosy Re-emerges as a Global Health Challenge

Fifteen years ago, Sattamma – a daily labourer in the Rangareddy district of southern India’s Telangana state – was abandoned by her husband after she was diagnosed with Hansen’s Disease.

Arab Region’s Largest Youth Gathering Focuses on New Tech

On late Monday morning, a motley group of more than a thousand youth gathered in a hall in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to listen to Sophia — a humanoid robot capable of displaying humanlike expressions and interacting with people. Yahya Elghobashy, a computer science engineering student from Cairo, sat excitedly in the audience. A few meters away from him, also in the audience, was Abdel Fattah el-Sisi — the President of Egypt.

AUDIO: If We Are to Achieve Zero-leprosy by 2030, This Is the Best Time and Opportunity

Dr Rahat Chawdhury is the Deputy Program Manager at the National Leprosy Program of Bangladesh. His is the umbrella organization of hundreds of doctors, technical experts, counsellors, strategists, health advocates, field workers and thousands of leprosy-affected people as the beneficiaries.

AUDIO: “We Cannot Achieve Zero-Leprosy by 2030 Without a Vaccine” – WHO Team Leader

Dr Erwin Cooreman is the Team Leader of WHO's Global Leprosy Programme. This week, he is in Dhaka to attend the National Conference on Leprosy, which was inaugurated by the prime minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina. In her speech, she reiterated her commitment to make the country Zero-Leprosy by 2030.

Taking Bangladesh to Zero-Leprosy, One New Case at a Time

Sandhya Mandal has never felt so vindicated. For the past four years, the 36-year-old community health worker from Meherpur – a rural district bordering India – has been traveling 50 km every day along dusty roads on an old motorbike, searching for leprosy patients who needed urgent treatment. But in her community, instead of compliments, neighbours and relatives raised questions about her work and her character. “They ask why I come home so late and what is this ‘work’ that I really do. Some even imply that I might be doing something like prostitution,” Mandal tells IPS.

“Window of Opportunity to Avoid Catastrophic Climate Change is Fast Shrinking”

“The window of opportunity to avoid catastrophic climate change is fast shrinking,” executive director of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Yannick Glemarec, tells IPS.

Global Climate Change Investment Heavily Tilted Towards Mitigation and Low on Adaptation

Good news: the graph depicting climate investments has been steadily increasing. Climbing from the 2012 figure of $360 billion in climate investments across the world to close to $600 billion currently.

How a Bangladesh Non Profit for Leprosy Made its Members Completely Self-Sufficient

The 20th International Leprosy Congress just wrapped up in Manila, Philippines last week. Alongside policy makers, diplomats, medical researchers, doctors, donors and academics, several Hansen's disease-affected people’s organisations also participated in the 3-day congress that was co-sponsored by The Nippon Foundation (TNF) and Sasakawa Health Foundation (SHF).

Calls for Reform, Research and Reorganisation in Leprosy Healthcare

Rachna Kumari of Munger in Eastern India’s Bihar state is not yet 30. But she's already been married at 18, abandoned by her husband after she was diagnosed with leprosy and become an award-winning advocate of the disease. She has traversed a long road. And this week she undertook another step in her journey to fly to Manila, Philippines, as a delegate at the 20th International Leprosy Congress (ILC).

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