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.
In Samburu County, a region in Kenya ravaged by recurrent drought where most of the population lives below the poverty line, climate change has made raising livestock an increasingly unsustainable livelihood. Many households in Samburu don’t even have a daily meal, let alone a balanced diet, as a result. But now locals are planting hardy and edible trees and shrubs around their manyattas (or homesteads), and are reaping the benefits. IPS reports.
An international rights group has highlighted the plight of China’s minority Uyghur population and their continuing struggle to find a safe haven elsewhere in the region. Human Rights Watch says the Uyghurs have struggled against the control of the Chinese central government for decades. There are over 15 million Uyghurs in the Western China. Uyghurs are traditionally Muslims. Activists claim they face open discrimination because of their faith. The Chinese deny any form of oppression of the Uyghurs.
The first six months of 2015 were the hottest on record since 1880, states new data released by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Land and sea temperatures both hit record levels while the current expanse of Arctic sea ice has reduced. Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and intense, and pose greater health risks. Heatwaves in both India and Pakistan killed thousands of people this summer. IPS reports.
Councilwomen in India say they are losing precious work time due to poor sanitation that still plagues the country’s rural areas. Many women who hoped becoming council members would lead to a life of dignity, tell IPS they now find their dream crushed. Many do not have access to toilets either in their offices or even their homes. Lack of toilets is a common problem across India, a country of 1.2 billion people that has the dubious distinction of denying adequate sanitation to nearly 60 percent of its citizens. Rural women politicians say the indignity of having to relieve themselves in public is prohibiting them from carrying out their duties.
Small-scale fishing communities were among the first forgotten victims of mega construction projects like the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on the Xingú River in the Brazilian Amazon. Whole villages, where fishing was a primary source of income and survival, were removed to make way for the dam’s construction. Having lost their homes and livelihoods, many are struggling to receive adequate compensation and adjust to a new way of life away from the river. “Three years ago it looked like my life was over; but I still dream of a new river,” says a local former fisherman-turned-farm labourer. IPS reports.
In a conflict that has claimed over 220,000 lives, it is sometimes hard to see beyond the death toll. But a recent report from leading children’s charity has highlighted one of the hidden impacts of the Syrian crisis – a rise in child labour throughout the region. With over 60% of the current Syrian population living in extreme poverty, an estimated 2.7million Syrian children have dropped out of school to work and help their families survive. IPS reports.
As Nepal’s monsoon rains approach, some humanitarian aid remains tied up in the capital Kathmandu and there are concerns that a rush to build shelters could lead to the same shoddy construction that collapsed during the April 25 earthquake, in which 2.2 million lost their homes. Poor and minority communities are reportedly not receiving aid, which some say confirms the deeply rooted caste system in Nepal which results in human rights abuses towards lower castes.
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict has decimated Gaza’s fishing industry, with thousands of Gazans deprived of a living and unable to support their families as a result. The Israeli navy limits Gaza’s fishermen to a three nautical-mile zone off Gaza’s coast, but even fishermen within that zone have come under fire and been shot, injured and killed or had their boats destroyed or confiscated. Agricultural produce and manufactured goods used to underpin the coastal territory’s economy before Israel and Egypt enforced the Gaza blockade. Analysts and political commentators have repeatedly warned that Israel’s continued siege and restrictions on Gaza could destabilise the region further, leading to more violence and possibly a new war.
Besides providing jobs and incomes for people in the countryside of northern Brazil, cacao producers who choose to go organic are actually helping to accelerate reforestation. Two-thirds of the population of the municipality of Medicilândia is still rural, and a view from the air shows that it has conserved the native forests. Experts praise Organic cacao farmers, saying they are more aware of the need to preserve the environment, and more focused on sustainability. IPS reports.
The death of two Bolivian boys in a fire and the mistreatment and sexual abuse of a young Bolivian woman put the problem of slave-like labour conditions in clandestine sweatshops back in the headlines in Argentina. According to the Alameda Foundation, there are some 3,000 sweatshops in and around Buenos Aires alone, with an average of 10 employees each. In 10 years, the Foundation received some 5,000 complaints of slave and child labour, mistreatment and sexual abuse. The state, the textile and fashion industries, and consumers mutually blame each other for the problem, reports IPS.
In Zimbabwe’s Lupane District, rural women produce baskets and other crafts from local forest products to earn a living in an area is prone to droughts and has a harsh history of hunger. Selling to clients in the U.S., Germany, the Netherlands, Australia and Denmark, their craft skills earn them around 50 dollars a month – a small fortune in a place where women once counted it a blessing to earn even a few dollars in the course of several weeks. IPS reports.
Sri Lanka, a country of 20 million people has an impressive female adult literacy rate of 90 percent and girls outnumber their male counterparts at the secondary level, indicating a dedication to gender equality across the social spectrum. However this has not translated into equitable employment opportunities, or wage parity between men and women. The female unemployment rate in Sri Lanka is over two-and-a-half times that of the male rate, and almost twice the national figure. Economic experts say that women who seek higher education also have higher job aspirations, but the job market has not grown fast enough to cater to such needs. Many believe a higher portion of women in decision-making positions could right these imbalances.
In 2008, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally apologised for the tens of thousands of indigenous children who, between the 1890s and 1970s, were forcibly removed from their communities by government authorities and placed into care. But despite the apology, indigenous activists maintain that the ‘stolen generations’ is hardly an isolated chapter, let alone a closed one. Indigenous children in out-of-home-care numbered 14,991 in June 2014. Barely five percent of the population under 17 is indigenous yet 35 percent of all children removed are Aboriginal and Strait Islanders. “After the  apology, our community felt disempowered. We were suffering in silence,” said Auntie Hazel, of grassroots pressure group Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR).
A decision by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) to segregate buses in the occupied West Bank has backfired after causing an uproar in Israel’s Knesset, or parliament, and political damage on the international stage. Israeli settlers in the West Bank have been waging a campaign to prohibit Palestinians, particularly labourers who work in Israel, from using their buses in the occupied West Bank for over a year, saying that they represented a security threat, and refused to give up their seats for Israelis. Meanwhile, an Israeli rights group has accused the Israeli authorities of being indifferent to attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers and security forces.
In Argentina, a country that exports food to millions of people around the world, thousands of children in rural areas go hungry and millions of families have unmet dietary needs. The Huerta Niño project promotes organic gardens in rural primary schools, to teach children healthy eating habits and show them that they can grow their own food to fight hunger. The gardens benefit 20,000 children in 270 rural schools in low-income areas and the vegetables and fruit they grow are eaten in the school lunchroom. It also teaches them farming skills, under the slogan “it’s not about giving people food, but about teaching them to produce their own.”
In spite of strides in social progress, Latin America’s maternal mortality rates remain unacceptable. Approximately 16 women die every day in Latin America and the Caribbean from maternity-related complications. Many of the deaths are avoidable, occurring partly because of neglect of the prescriptions provided by experts, coupled with a lack of preventive action and health promotion. “When you look at the basic causes of maternal deaths you don’t have to be highly intelligent to see that they are related to lack of access (to the health system) and to abortions, which are the main cause of maternal deaths in Argentina and in Latin America,” adds one expert. IPS reports.
Thefts, murders and mutilation of Africa’s white rhinos for their prized horns are at an all-time high say conservationists who are keeping track of the poaching of species by fortune-seeking hunters. To save the animals from further decimation, the U.S.-based Exotic Wildlife Association (EWA) proposes moving about 1,000 of South Africa’s white rhinos to individual ranches in Texas, which have a comparable climate to South Africa. Most would be baby rhinos whose mothers are slaughtered by poachers who slice off their horns. IPS reports.
Just weeks after the 7.8 magnitude Nepal earthquake on April 25 that has killed over 8,000 people and devastated the country, displaced families are gradually – but cautiously – resuming their normal lives. But delivery of humanitarian aid and basic relief supplies remains slow, hindered by the scale of the tragedy. With the annual summer monsoon just around the corner – and heavy rains already lashing some parts of the country – experts say the clock is ticking for effective relief efforts. IPS speaks to victims and support workers in Nepal: “We have stopped crying out of fear because we need to move on now and be brave,” says 13-year-old Sunita.
“For babies born in the big city, it’s the survival of the richest,” concludes a report from Save the Children which ranks 179 countries based on their urban survival gap – the growing inequality between rich and poor in both developing and developed countries which literally determines whether millions of infants will live or die before their fifth birthday. The 10 developing Countries with the largest child survival divide include Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ghana, Kenya, India and Vietnam but wealthy capital cities that are the worst for child survival, include Washington D.C. (U.S.),Vienna (Austria), Bern (Switzerland), Warsaw (Poland), and Athens (Greece).