Asia-Pacific

Getting to Better than Normal in a Post-COVID-19 World

Girls in Asia don't want to go back to normal – they want to go "back to better than normal", says Zara Rapoport, a delegate during an online seminar on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on gender.

Conserving Tigers, Elephants and Bison, One LPG Stove at a Time

As the sun sets over the canopy of Albizia amara trees, a thin blanket of fog begins to descend over the forests of the Malai Mahadeshwara Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, which lies roughly 150 km south of the Indian city of Bangalore. Not so long ago, plumes of smoke would rise from the hamlets dotting the forests as women busily cooked dinner for their families over wood stoves. But tonight, dinner will be a smokeless affair in dozens of villages as communities have opted for the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), a clean burning fuel that has given a boost to the health and safety of both the forest and its people thanks to a unique conservation project.

Covid19 a Wake-up Call to Address Development Fault Lines in Asia and the Pacific

The world is emerging from the biggest social and economic shock in living memory, but it will be a long time before the deep scars of the COVID-19 pandemic on human well-being fully heal. In the Asia-Pacific region, where 60 per cent of the world lives, the pandemic revealed chronic development fault lines through its excessively harmful impact on the most vulnerable. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) estimates that 89 million more people in the region have been pushed back into extreme poverty at the $1.90 per day threshold, erasing years of development gains. The economic and educational shutdowns are likely to have severely harmed human capital formation and productivity, exacerbating poverty and inequality.

Why Rehabilitation is as Vital as Rescue for Child Trafficking Survivors

Twelve-year-old Babloo’s (Name changed) parents, who worked as daily wage agricultural labourers in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, were finding it difficult to feed their family of six. They had recently lost their eldest son to sudden illness, when a distant relative convinced them to send Babloo with him to work in a city. He promised to pay Rs 5000 ($70) a month, a significant amount for the impoverished family.

Arab Region Counts Cost of Devastating COVID-19 Pandemic

More than eight million people moved onto the poverty line in the Arab region, a conference of Arab and Asian parliamentarians heard. The hybrid conference, held simultaneously in Beirut, Lebanon, and via video conferencing to delegates in Asia and the Arab region, was a follow up on earlier discussions on the regions' ICPD25 Commitments.

Bangladesh Welcomes a New High Yielding Biofortified Zinc Rice

The Bangladesh National Seed Board has approved the release of the newest biofortified zinc rice variety in the country: the BRRI dhan100. This latest zinc rice variety was developed by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI). HarvestPlus assists BRRI in crop development and breeder seed production of biofortified zinc rice.

After the Fire: Rebuilding of Rohingya Camp a Race Against Time Ahead of Monsoon Season

The building that was once the largest health centre in the Kutupalong refugee camp, serving some 55,000 Rohingya refugees 24/7, is now a burnt, distorted shell after a massive fire spread through the Cox’s Bazar camp in Bangladesh this week. And as the tens of thousands of affected Rohingya return to the empty pieces of land that where once their homes, the need to rebuild — both the health facility and their homes — has added impetus because of the current COVID-19 pandemic and the coming monsoon season.

Human Rights Groups Demand an end to Myanmar Military’s Crackdown on Journalists

Two human rights groups have called on the military in Myanmar to release journalists arbitrarily jailed and allow them to work without harassment and prosecution. Amnesty International and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) told IPS that they will double down on those demands until all journalists are released and the operating licenses of newsgroups are restored.

Five Steps to Combat Gender-Based Violence Globally

The 410 Legal Aid Centers that I manage in Bangladesh for BRAC’s Human Rights and Legal Aid Services received approximately 35,900 requests for assistance in 2020. Almost all of them involve gender-based violence against women and girls.

Sustainable Development Goals Can Guide Asia-Pacific to Build Back Better

The COVID-19 crisis poses an unprecedented threat to development in the Asia-Pacific region that could reverse much of the hard-earned progress made in recent years. The good news is we know how to tackle this challenge. Recovery from the pandemic and our global efforts to deliver the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 must go hand-in-hand. The Goals provide a compass to navigate this crisis, faster and greener, everywhere and for everyone.

COP26 and India’s NDCs

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues that the world is collectively facing at the moment. It is contended that strengthening the global response is pertinent to combat the threat of climate change.

How to Achieve Peace in Afghanistan

There is much expectation about US President Joe Biden's Afghanistan strategy to end the United States' longest war effectively. So far, he continues to rely on Ambassador Zalmai Khalilzad, the Special Envoy for Afghanistan, appointed by Mr. Trump.

International Women’s Day, 2021
More Women Leaders Make Better Societies

This year it will be 128 years since the right of women to vote was first recognized, with New Zealand becoming the first nation to allow the participation of women in its general election in 1893. From the suffragettes - to today’s feminists, both men and women have fought to increase women’s political participation and representation. It has been a slow, sometimes bitter and occasionally even dangerous struggle. Yet global progress remains slow and uneven – as it does in Samoa. As we approach the 2021 General Election on 9 April, it is important to remember that women’s full and effective participation in all areas of life drives progress for everyone.

More ‘Can & Must be Done’ to Eradicate Caste-Based Discrimination, Says UN Rights Chief

There is hardly a better way to promote human rights in Nepal than celebrating Muskan Khatun for being one of the winners of the prestigious International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award, released on the International Women’s Day by the Government of the United States of America.

Extent of Violence Against Women During Pandemic Exposed

COVID-19 restrictions exposed women and girls to heightened abuse – revealing the conditions in which gender-based violence became the shadow pandemic on the continent, a recent webinar attended by parliamentarians from Africa and Asia heard.

Drug Users Often Do Not Seek Help Because They Fear Legal Repercussion

In the February 12th editorial on the issue of illicit drug use, the Samoa Observer stated that “… there is no data currently available to show that drug abuse including meth consumption levels in Samoa have reached crisis levels, which would warrant the government considering decriminalizing drug use and consumption.” The United Nation’s position on this is clear, we must not sit by and wait for a problem to blight our communities before acting. The evidence shows that it is cheaper and more effective to prevent drug use than to deal with the consequences. To be clear, my concerns are for the drug users and their families and not for the criminal dealers.

Protests by Indian Farmers Spread Panic in Image-Conscious Modi Government

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not really like attending parliament – except on special occasions. Budget session was one such occasion. Unsurprisingly, he tried to reach out to farmers still protesting at the border of the capital Delhi, against his government’s new farm laws.

A Technology-based Parasol of Protection for Victims of Domestic Abuse

During the COVID19 lockdown, there has been an approximate 25% increase in domestic abuse, dubbed by the United Nations as the ‘pandemic within a pandemic’. While the home is perceived as a secure place, for domestic abuse victims battling the pandemic is equally and increasingly unsafe. A parasol of protection is needed to rehabilitate victims of abuse starting from detection, reaching out, providing help and support.

How Marginalised Women in India Bore an Extra Burden of COVID-19 ‘Shadow Pandemic’

Women living in rural India and those belonging to marginalised communities faced an enormous burden during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, including domestic violence, loss of financial assistance and income, says Rehana Adeeb, a grassroots Muslim woman leader and activist.

International Women’s Day, 2021
To Lead is to Serve — A Pacific Woman’s Perspective

An often quoted indigenous reference in the Samoan language is, O le ala i le pule o le tautua, literally translated, “the pathway to leadership is through service” because to be able to lead is to be willing to serve.

Drug Use is a Health Issue – We Need to Decriminalize

Earlier this month, and in December 2020 the Government of Samoa conducted operations that resulted in the confiscation of a total of 1,400 grams of methamphetamine at the border, smuggled from the US. The law enforcement officials (from the Ministry of Customs and Revenue and the Ministry of Police and Prisons) that intercepted these drugs deserve congratulations for their professionalism and skill. Meth is destructive and harmful - and it is good to see this potential threat removed from the community.

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