IPS learns how 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. An example is 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.
Beekeeping and silkworm farming have long been critical cogs of Ethiopian life, providing food, jobs and income. But a new scheme will open the growing sectors up to Ethiopian youth. IPS learns how funding from the MasterCard Foundation is encouraging more young people to launch and grow sustainable their own 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.
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.