The Human Impact

Who eats your rubbish?

After trekking down the mountainside of reeking garbage in gum boots, our bodyguards took us to the nearest kiosk to buy milk.

It helps to kill the acrid stench that sticks in the back of your throat.

But the experience of visiting Nairobi’s largest dumpsite – sited right in the midst of a sea of corrugated iron-roofed slum houses — stuck in my mind for days afterwards.

Every time I threw away small amounts of food, I wrapped them carefully in a plastic bag.

I could not ignore the horrible fact that my rubbish would be sorted through by many hands, scavenging for something to eat or sell.

DUMPSITE A SOURCE OF FOOD

Dandora’s 30-acre dumpsite is a source of survival for many people living in the surrounding slums.

UN 2015 development goals must tackle open defecation -expert

(Contains offensive language in paragraph 15)

Experts have crafted tentative development goals to improve sanitation for the 1.1 billion people who are forced to practise open defecation due to poor water supplies, a lack of toilets and absent sewage systems.

A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency, says at least 15 percent of the world’s population regularly defecates in fields, forests, bushes, bodies of water or other open spaces, putting health at risk.

The combined effects of improper sanitation, unsafe water supply and poor personal hygiene are responsible for 88 percent of childhood deaths from diarrhoea and are estimated to cause more than 3,000 child deaths per day, UNICEF says.

Potentially dangerous breed of malaria mosquito found in Kenya

Scientists have discovered a new malaria-transmitting breed of mosquito which may pose an unknown threat in Kenya, where malaria is the leading cause of death.

Malaria, a preventable and curable disease, is generally known to be caused by the Plasmodium parasite and transmitted to humans by the bite of the Anopheles mosquito, which rests indoors and feeds on humans at night.

However, the newly-discovered mosquito has different habits.  It is active outdoors and bites humans earlier in the evening, soon after sunset, according to researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

Activists urge states to strengthen global cluster bomb treaty

Some 30 countries taking part in a conference in Oslo this week, are being encouraged by activists and government officials to join a treaty banning the use of cluster munitions and help halt their harmful impact on civilians, the Cluster Munition Coalition(CMC) said.

More than 100 governments are at the summit in the Norwegian capital.

A total of 111 countries have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was adopted in 2008 and entered into force in 2010, but superpowers Russia, China and the United States are among those that have not, Laura Cheeseman, the director of disarmament group CMC said.

The convention prohibits the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions. It also requires destruction of stockpiles, clearance of the weapons and victim assistance. Among the convention’s signatories, 75 countries are legally bound by its provisions, and ratification is underway in most of the remaining 36 countries.

Poor Kenyan women robbed of choice to give birth

The saddest part of the stories told by 40 HIV-positive Kenyan women who are suing the government for forced or coercive sterilisation is not that they can no longer give birth.

Most already have children, often more than they can comfortably provide for.

“Getting food is a problem,” said Pamela Adeka, who was sterilised after giving birth to twins in 2004.

She later gave them up for adoption as she could not afford to raise them and now lives with her HIV-positive, 14-year-old son.

Q+A- Sierra Leone cholera outbreak spreading unusually quickly – ChildFund

Poor road networks and heavy rains are limiting the ability of aid workers to accelerate the fight against a severe cholera outbreak in Sierra Leone, which has claimed the lives of at least 250 people and infected more than 15,000, according to charity ChildFund International.

Insufficient resources, a lack of proper toilets and insecure access to safe drinking water are also complicating relief efforts, Billy Abimbilla, national director for ChildFund Sierra Leone, told AlertNet.

Cholera is also spreading throughout West Africa in Guinea, Liberia, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo and in western Niger, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency. The cholera emergency in the region has killed more than 1,100 people, and more than 55,000 cases have been reported in 15 countries — an increase of 34 percent compared to the same period in 2011, according to the U.N agencies.

Lack of funds threatens Syrian refugee medical care in Lebanon -MSF

Medical assistance is at risk for thousands of Syrians fleeing into Lebanon who are living in overcrowded conditions, suffering psychological distress and unable to afford medical care, according to a new survey from charity Medecins Sans Frontieres(MSF).

At least 60,000 Syrian refugees have fled to Lebanon to escape fighting in their country since conflict broke out almost 18 months ago, according to UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency.

“Most Syrian refugees in Lebanon are reliant on humanitarian assistance, but this is now coming under threat,” according to the report by MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders.

Rage in India a spotlight on Sri Lanka’s war victims

Almost four years since Sri Lanka’s war ended, rage over the lack of rehabilitation for thousands of survivors of the bloody 25-year-long civil conflict has surfaced – not on the war-torn Indian Ocean island itself, but in neighbouring India.

India’s Tamil Nadu state — where the majority Tamil ethnic group have a close association with Tamils living across the Palk Straits in Sri Lanka – have long felt their brothers have been discriminated against by the Sinhalese-ruled government.

The war, pitting separatist Tamil Tigers against President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Sri Lankan Armed Forces, saw tens of thousands of mainly Tamil civilians in the north and east of the island killed or injured, and hundreds of thousands were displaced.

UN agencies urge speed in fight against W.Africa cholera

More than 1,100 people have died from cholera infection this year in West Africa, and a total of 55,289 cases have been reported in 15 countries — an increase of 34 percent compared to the same period in 2011, according to a joint statement released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency.

The cholera emergency in West Africa is set to get much worse due to rain and flooding that is creating conditions for the disease to spread quicker and further, the statement said.

In some of the most affected countries the situation has been made worse by exceptionally heavy rains that have flooded shanty towns in some urban centres, it said. The disease is spreading in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo and in western Niger.

Policymakers agree global water monitoring initiative – expert

Policymakers have agreed an ambitious plan to create a global monitoring and reporting system to oversee water supply, sanitation and water resources management, a U.N. expert said.

Part of the initiative would be assisting developing countries to collect and analyse data on their water resources. The data would likely feed into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are expected to replace the U.N. anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, Joakim Harlin of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said.

Harlin said UN Water, a body coordinating work done by U.N. agencies, was working on defining a proposed SDG water target to replace the MDG of halving the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015.

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