A small fishing village on the Honduran coast is championing renewable energies, after replacing candles and dirty costly energy based on fossil fuels with hydropower from a mini-dam to have round-the-clock electric power. IPS reports.
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and world famous singer Shakira has urged world leaders to invest in early childhood development. The Hips Don’t Lie singer is supporting a campaign by UNICEF that stresses the importance of the first five years in the life of a child in terms of cognitive development. “It’s a matter of putting children at the centre of the social, economic and political debate,” she said.
The U.S. is the biggest exploiter of shale gas and oil at a commercial level. In Pennsylvania, the site of the first American oil boom, 9,200 wells have been drilled, and over 16,000 permits for fracking have been granted. But activists are rallying against fracking, saying the process is highly damaging to people’s health and the environment.
After decades of centralised agriculture, small-scale farmers in Cuba are looking to scientific research into ecology for ways to improve their output. This ‘agroecological’ method of working is spreading and is starting to provide sustainable growth in Cuban agriculture.
In the Villa Inflamable shantytown in Buenos Aires, more than 1,500 families are exposed to industrial pollution in precarious homes built on top of soil contaminated with toxic waste. The children are suffering from lead poisoning, which can cause learning disabilities and other chronic health problems. Authorities are trying to resettle families – but they are not always willing to move.
On 26 September 2014, 43 male students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College went missing in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico. According to official reports, they had commandeered several buses to travel to Iguala and hold a protest at a conference led by the mayor’s wife. During the journey local police intercepted them and a confrontation ensued. Nearly a year after the disappearance, details of what happened during and after the clash remain unclear. The government’s investigation is back to the drawing board, after a group of independent experts refuted all the official arguments.
The threat posed by ISIS has brought together former enemies in the disputed territories of Iraq. IPS visits the trenches on the frontline of this conflict and finds the region’s complex ethnic and ideological dynamics subsumed to the fight against ISIS, “an enemy of mankind as a whole”. Some say they would welcome the return of Western troops.
Alternative tourist attractions are springing up in unusual places around Cuba to tap into the tourism boom in this socialist island nation, which has become more popular with travellers since the thaw with the United States, reports IPS from the home of an artist the Viñales valley, who has turned his house into a quirky art museum and gallery.
Slums are a curse and blessing in fast urbanising Africa. They have challenged Africa’s progress towards better living and working spaces but also provide shelter for the swelling populations seeking a life in cities. Anew project aims strike a balance in the provision of housing, water sanitation, energy and transport while luring investments to create jobs. IPS reports.
To combat food waste, a British grassroots initiative aims is intercepting food destined for the rubbish tip and turning it into edible and nutritious meals. These are offered up in a network of over 100 ‘Pay As You Feel’ cafés run by The Real Junk Food Project. The cafes, manned by volunteers, serve the food in return for whatever customers can afford to offer, be it money, time or surplus food. IPS investigates.
"Poverty has become part of me,” says 13-year-old Aminata Kabangele from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, African children are still the number one victims of suffering and destitution across the continent, with poverty a key factor pushing them into forced labour, forced conscription and sex trafficking, reports IPS.
Women sand miners in the rural Indian state of Andhra Pradesh are staking their claim on the industry, but must contend with powerful ‘sand mafias’ that operate throughout the state, as well as the lurking threats of environmental degradation and poverty in this largely rural state. But the Undavalli Mutually Aided Cooperative Society, an all-women’s collective in charge of dredging, mining, loading and selling sand, is determined to make this enterprise work, as it provides a decent wage and a degree of decision-making power over their lives.
In Rabat, Morocco, Equipe Media, a news agency ran by a small group of Sahrawi volunteers, is struggling to break the media blackout over Western Sahara enforced by Rabat. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have repeatedly denounced human rights abuses suffered by the Sahrawi people at the hands of Morocco over the last decades. Yet “There are no news agencies based here and foreign journalists are denied access, and even deported if caught inside,” says Equipe Media’s leader.
The rising death toll of civilians, specifically women and children, in ongoing military conflicts is widely condemned by international institutions and human rights organisations – with the United Nations remaining helpless as killings keep multiplying. Addressing the Security Council during an open debate on children and armed conflict last month, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said 2014 was one of the worst years in recent memory for children in countries devastated by military conflicts. IPS looks at the troubling statics released by U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, which says its response remains grossly underfunded.
Meet the women turning cacao beans into hand-made organic chocolates in the town of Caluco, in western El Salvador. Their coca production project not only earns them enough money to support their families, it is also part of a wider national effort to both revive cacao production and boost economic and social development in Salvadoran communities.
Around 30 Palestinian women have conceived babies since 2013 with sperm smuggled out of the Israeli prisons in which their husbands are being held. Bushra Abu Saafi was only the second woman in Gaza to do this – she gave birth to twins one year ago using IVF. Her husband has been in prison for 11 years. She says fertility is being seen as a form of non-violent resistance. IPS speaks to the Palestinian women smuggling new life out of jail.
Widows in Papa New Guinea face an uncertain future – many who reside in rural areas have limited access to education and employment, and struggle to support and feed their children. Other women without sons are at risk of being driven off their own lands by greedy relative, while in extreme cases, some women are still accused of witchcraft - with horrific consequnses. IPS reports on the plight of Papa New Guinea widows, many of whom recently called through local media for the government to introduce legislation to better support recognition of their rights.
Joshua Konkankoh is a Cameroonian farmer with a vision – that the answer to food insecurity lies in sustainable and organic methods of farming. Though his project Better World Cameroon, Joshua now runs Cameroon’s first and only eco-village. “I call it ‘permaculture the African way’ because the concept was coined by scientists and we are adapting it to our old ways of farming and protecting the environment,” Joshua says. He believes such projects could make a huge difference to mitigating food crises and extreme poverty.
In the last 15 years, the number of women and girls at risk of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in the United States has more than doubled, advocacy groups warn, calling for stronger measures to prevent this human rights violation. Recent findings suggest a staggering 506,795 girls and women in the United States have undergone or are at risk of undergoing FGM/C. IPS speaks to the women and victims campaigning for change.
Although four in 10 adults have never heard the phrase “climate change,” many are aware that something is amiss with local weather patterns, a new survey covering 119 countries has found. It reports that awareness of the problem is very uneven. Two-thirds of people in Egypt, Bangladesh and Nigeria, for instance, had never heard of climate change, while in North America, Europe, and Japan, more than 90 percent of the public is aware of it.