“Why am I not equal to the Jewish kids who are supposed to move here?” asks 12-year-old Tasneem, whose Bedouin tribe was relocated to their current village the Negev region of southern Israel by military order in 1956. Now, her village – home to 700 Bedouin – is slated for demolition as Israel continues to threaten forced closure of unrecognised Bedouin villages to make way for a Jewish settlements. To defend the villages, Bedouin rights NGOs are mounting an advocacy and media campaign pushing for a political solution. Tasneem and her neighbors are getting involved too - with a photography project to draw international attention to the proposed demolition.
The devastating earthquakes of April 2015 continue to wreak havoc in Nepal after causing major disturbances in the country’s ecosystem, especially in its mountains and forests. But remote farming communities are making the most of their natural resources to adapt and thrive. IPS reporter Stella Paul visited several villages in the Panchase protected forest mountain area of Kaski to discover how implementing sustainable and eco-friendly conservation and farming techniques is helping villagers survive.
Women make up more than 50 per cent of rice farmers in Africa but often lack access to seed, tools and effective market opportunities to help them compete with their male counterparts. But their fortunes are changing thanks to new technologies introduced by AfricaRice. A new type of stove created to help women parboil rice is helping them produce better quality, nutritious local product that earns them more money on the market. IPS investigates the simple initiative making big changes in West Africa.
India’s Smart Cities urban redevelopment project is intended to bring better quality and sustainable infrastructure, housing and amenities to 100 cities across the country. But as the project comes to the slums of Bhubaneswar, planning experts are concerned the project will create “Digital-age apartheid”. Less than five per cent Bhubaneswar’s one million population will truly benefit from the new development, reports IPS.
As temperatures intensify in Sri Lanka, supplies of power and safe drinking water are dwindling, leaving the country on the verge of its worst drought in five years. Scorching temperatures are puting a strain on power and agriculture sectors, but weather experts have been at a loss to give a clear reason for the sharp rise. With the island’s hydro-power generation capacity at a critical low, engineers suggest nationwide power cuts to be instated but it’s a politically controversial solution, finds IPS.
The U.S. has shown interest in buying organic produce from Cuba as soon as possible but farmers and others involved in the Cuban agroecological sector warn that when the day arrives, they might not be ready due to a lack of investment and infrastructure. In the past 25 years, agroecology farms growing their produce without using chemical products have found success in Cuba. Those at the forefront worry that a need to produce cops fast for export could threaten agroecology.
(B)energy, a social business in Africa, has devised an innovative way to help people save money while promoting clean, affordable and sustainable energy. Its (B)pack – a large, pillow-shaped inflatable blue bag filled with biogas (a mixture of different gases produced from raw materials) – makes this fuel easy to carry. It can also be hooked up to a biogas cooking stove. IPS meets the Ethiopian “(B)entrepreneurs” who are using the new method as a clean, cheap alternative to cooking on wood fires.
About 32% of the world’s population lack access to safe drinking water. A new report has revealed that 10 per cent of water sector investment is lost to corruption. The study from Water Integrity Network (WIN) also shows the degree to which poor water governance negatively affects the world’s most vulnerable populations – specifically women, children, and the landless, reports IPS.
In the arid lands across Sub-Saharan Africa, farmers are among those worse hit by climate change. In Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, crop production has plummeted but villagers are now reaping the benefits of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR), a model that encourages tree regrowth. This in turn has helped farmers more than triple their crop production, reports IPS.
In the drought-stricken region of Uttar Pradesh – India’s largest and most populated state, women living in “lower castes” are fighting to end the water crisis in their own villages. Dressed in blue that symbolises water, the groups have named themselves: ‘Jal Saheli’ (meaning ‘Water Friend’ in Hindi). In areas of India, those deemed lower in the caste system are last to access water and sanitation. But the women “Water Friends” are taking a stand up against this cycle of discrimination and claim their right to local water sources, reports IPS.
Families in rural Cost Rica are sowing the seeds for their own futures thanks to the Shade House programme that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is carrying out in the southeast of the country. Using an innovative canopy system, farmers can manage the quantity and quality of sunlight, the percentage of shade and the impact on the crops of rainfall so they can grow their produce all-year round. IPS investigates how this new style of farming could grow throughout the country.
In Argentina, there are now 20 brand names that guarantee that their garments are produced by workers in decent working conditions. IPS discovers how the Clean Clothes network is eradicating slave labour in the garment industry, which illegally employs some 30,000 people in sweatshops around the country.
The recent government takeover of the Feza media group – including Turkey’s largest newspaper, the Daily Zaman – has been seen as a political manoeuvre by the ruling AKP party, with the intention to silence one of the most vocal and influential newspapers in the country. The takeover is the latest in a series of crackdowns on press freedom in Turkey, which currently ranks 149 out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index, reports IPS.
Millions of children from poor backgrounds have benefitted from Kenya’s free education scheme. But it’s a different story for those growing up in marginalised pastoral communities, such as Maasai children, who must travel long distances just to get to class. With boys and girls from rural communities missing out on an education, could public boarding primary schools be the answer? IPS investigates.
Mexico’s Chinampas – wetlands located on a freshwater shoreline that are turned into gardens - have a long history but are under threat due to climate change, pesticides and the expanding city. The systems of growing plants on this marshy land dates back to the Aztecs, and the area is recognised as a UNESCO site. New initiatives and supporters are trying hard to keep the chinampas protected and preserved.
According to a 2014 UN report, one third of the world’s total child marriages (about 240 million) happen in India. Experts cite a lack of awareness and education at community level, as well as poverty, as the root cause. A new iniative is tackling the problem by getting the priest asked to conduct the marriages on their side. Priests like Virayya Shastri are now on a mission to end child marriages in their community, and educate people on the dangers of the illegal practice.
The recent surge in cases of microcephaly — a condition where a baby's head is smaller than a newborn’s – associated with the Zika virus, seems to have awoken a sense of urgency in Brazil to improve and expand basic sanitation. A lack of water storage alternative means those living in urban areas of Brazil habitually store water in pots and pans and other open containers. This can quickly become breeding for mosquitos, which spread the virus. But a new initiative seeks to tackle the problem, reports IPS.
Africa is eating more rice than other food staples, though it produces less than it needs. This is good news for the cereal’s potential to help Sub Saharan Africa out of poverty according to researchers. Rice is the second most important source of calories in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), a research organisation working to contribute to poverty alleviation and food security.
In Kasmir, a conflict-ridden territory in the Himalayas, many uneducated women are enthusiastically raising family incomes through micro ventures and reinvesting their earnings in their families and communities. These women also inspire other women in their localities to pursue their dreams through entrepreneurship at the grassroots level. IPS meets two women entrepreneurs successfully turning tragedy into opportunity in Kashmir.
Microfinance programmes are helping tribal women in rural Bangladesh to learn the skills they need to earn a better income and provide for their families. Young Power in Social Action (YPSA) has introduced microfinance programmes, which are proving to be a revolutionary tool in lending women in Bangladesh a voice. It has helped women like Minu gain economic freedom by going from a hard life as a farm labourer to running her own dressmaking business.