Climate change presents a serious challenge to the habitat of the world’s remaining tigers. In India, they face environmental degradation, water shortages and poaching. United Nations former chief photographer John Isaac’s short film India’s Tigers: A Threatened Species aims to raise awareness of this threatened population.
A coalition of more than 25 international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has launched a global campaign to end a longstanding health and environmental hazard: the use of mercury in dentistry. They claim that dental amalgam is “vastly inferior to today’s alternative materials” but they face resistance from the medical lobby.
An ancient, nutrient-rich and versatile crop could be the solution to poverty and hunger in Latin America, which affects 34 million people. Seaweed and other algae are proving popular and easy to farm in small, fishing communities in Chile, as they are as a valuable export and a healthy addition to diets. But the marine crop is so popular that it’s potentially at risk of over farming. The Chilean government is taking steps to ensure seaweed remains a bountiful pillar of food security in the Latin American country.
Radio Meghna, a community radio station in rural Bangladesh, isn’t your average radio station. Completely run by a team of about 20 adolescent girls, its programmes aim at preventing early marriages and encourages more girls and young women onto education through the spread of a powerful tool – knowledge. IPS discovers how Radio Meghna and other education and skills development programmes are helping girls take back their futures.
Despite their extreme vulnerability, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) refugees often do not seek the assistance they need, since revealing their sexual or gender identities can put them in grave danger. IPS learns how the UNHCR is taking steps to ensure the safety of LGBTI refugees, who face a double-edged sword: “Many in the host country discriminate against them for being a refugee, and many from their country discriminate against them for being LGBTI.”
A government crackdown on parents who don’t vaccinate their children will save thousands of lives in Uganda, which has the lowest rate of immunization in eastern Africa. A fear-mongering campaign led by the country’s triple six (666) religious cult has persuaded many parents that immunization medication will actually harm their children. But a new immunization law that threatens parents with fines and jail times is swaying public opinion, learns IPS.
While treatment for HIV and AIDS has increased, key populations including LGBT communities continue to be left behind and even excluded altogether. The persistent exclusion of LGBT communities – particular transgender groups – in HIV responses globally has also recently resurfaced at the United Nations. A number of LGBT organisations have been blocked from attending a UN on Ending AIDS in New York in June. They explain what must be done to impact change and end the disregarding of communities most affected by HIV worldwide.
Although mega dams can have devastating impacts on ecosystems and indigenous communities, many poor countries still see them as a way to fill holes in their energy supplies. IPS takes the Inga III dam in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as an example. It will be the biggest dam project in the world once completed but there are already concerns that it will not benefit 90% of the DRC population. Could developing wind and solar technologies be viable alternatives to mega dams?
While long-awaited new vaccines for malaria and dengue may finally be within reach, many of the world’s existing vaccines have remained unattainable for many of the people who need them most. With the vaccines market dominated by a handful of major pharmaceutical companies, many developing countries are concerned that high costs, particularly for newer vaccines, mean that their children will not be vaccinated. Children in conflict-affected areas are most at risk, IPS reports.
The prickly pear cactus used to be nothing more than an unusually shaped part of the semi-arid landscape in the northern Argentine province of Chaco. But a new women-led initiative from the U.N. has helped resourceful farmers harvest the common plant, which always thrives in the drought-prone region, is a sustainable way. Making use of its fruit and the leaves to make prickly pear fruit jam has changed the lives of local families – boosting incomes, food security and strengthening biodiversity in the region, reports IPS.
Young inventors and entrepreneurs in Kenya are coming up with sustainable and innovative solutions to make everyday tasks, such as cutting grass and cooking, easier and more cost-efficient. Leading by example are Emma Masibo and Lucy Bwire, two students in their early 20's. After their lessons were interrupted by a noisy, combustion engine-powered lawn mower, they designed a solar-powered, light-weight alternative to be used at night. Their product will now be rolled out to schools and hospitals across the country, and is inspiring a new generation of innovators.
Beekeeping and silkworm farming have a long history of providing food, jobs and income in Ethiopia. But a new scheme will open the growing sectors up to a new generation. IPS learns how funding from the MasterCard Foundation is encouraging more young people to launch and grow their own sustainable enterprises in beekeeping and silk farming, and how this will in turn benefit local communities.
In the West Bank, the rights of people with disabilities (which comprise 11 per cent of the population) are being ignored. IPS visits two support centres in Ramallah to discover how education and sport programmes – including wheelchair table tennis – aim to give people with disabilities independence and a sense of acceptance in a society where “people believe that if you are not walking, you are not normal.”
As fuel, firewood remains the dominant source of energy in Uganda. Yet it has a long history of being unsustainably harvested, leading to severe depletion of the country’s forest cover. But new technology harnessing biomass could help the country clean up its act. IPS speaks to scientists and energy advocates who have found ways of generating enough electricity to power homes and even large industrial operations by tapping into abundant local resources.
In a semiarid region in the northeast Argentina, farmers have adopted a simple technique to ensure a steady water supply during times of drought: they harvest the rain and store it in tanks. IPS discovers more about the simple yet effective climate change adaptation project being rolled out across the Argentine province of Chaco, where droughts are becoming more common.
In January a journalist with the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation was questioned by the country’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) for retweeting a Twitter message - from its own account. This was just one many journalist arrests in 2015 related to posts on social media that touched on corruption, land ownership and security – three controversial topics in Kenya, where freedom of information has “declined dramatically” since 2013. IPS discovers how the country is pursuing a social media shutdown as the country nears the 2017 general elections – with journalist the prime targets.
The systematic and brutal targeting of journalists continues to rise across Latin America without impunity. In 2015, 43 journalists were killed in the region, while every 22 hours, a journalist was attacked in Mexico. But the threat has not been enough to silence journalists in Mexico, Honduras and Brazil. IPS meets the people fighting for justice and democracy in countries where dying for the news is a horrifying reality.
A music video featuring a young gay and lesbian couple is causing controversy in Kenya, where homosexuality is punishable with prison sentences of up to 14 years. The song Same Love is based on the life of openly gay gospel artist, Joji Baro. Despite being banned by the Kenya film classification board, the video has attracted over 200,000 hits on YouTube. Art Attack, the musician behind the song, says he released it to awaken Kenyans and start a conversation on gay rights – and it’s working.
“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.