The Human Impact

Storm Isaac puts spotlight on Haiti’s homeless

BOGOTA (AlertNet) – Couples strolling through parks and squares now empty of makeshift tents, crowds enjoying football matches and voodoo and hip hop summer festivals, rubble-free streets.

These were signs of normality that I saw during a trip to Haiti last week, returning to the Caribbean nation two and a half years after a massive earthquake flattened the capital Port-au-Prince.

But as Tropical Storm Isaac tore through Haiti early last Saturday killing at least eight people and washing away food crops in muddy flood waters, the plight of hundreds of thousands of Haitians still living in tent camps is once more in the spotlight.

Around 390,000 Haitians who lost their homes in the earthquake still live in 575 makeshift camps and settlements dotted in and around Port-au-Prince, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a Geneva-based intergovernmental organisation.

Families live crammed together in flimsy tents and shacks made from bed sheets, tarpaulin and scrap metal, providing little protection from torrential rains and the threat of water-borne diseases like cholera.

Bringing life and hope to Zimbabwe through song

The purpose of song is to give hope to the people, Afro-jazz musician Oliver Mtukudzi says. Perhaps this is especially true of the music legend’s native Zimbabwe.

During Mtukudzi’s lifetime, Zimbabweans have struggled through a long war for independence from British and minority white rule, a vicious AIDS epidemic, explosive bouts of political violence, hyperinflation, hunger and a cholera crisis.

In a career spanning 30 years or so, Mtukudzi’s gift for addressing the most taboo of subjects through his music and lyrics has led him to being described as a moral guardian, a Shona prophet, a national hero.

Q+A: Pepsico water chief talks about Stockholm water prize

As people increasingly try to lessen their impact on the environment by conserving energy and water, many companies – including some of the large multinationals – are following suit.

This week in the Swedish capital, environmental sustainability was in focus for hundreds of delegates at the World Water Week conference where topics ranged from how best to achieve food security for almost 1 billion people who currently go hungry to corruption in the water sector and how to provide adequate sanitation for 2.5 billion people who lack it.

Among the water-sector achievements honoured with awards at the annual conference, PepsiCo, the maker of Diet Pepsi, Gatorade, Frito-Lay snacks and Tropicana orange juice, snatched up the prestigious Stockholm Industry Water Award for increasing water efficiency in its own production facilities and working to defeat water problems on a larger scale. PepsiCo has net revenues of more than $65 billion and 300,000 employees around the world.

Ex-NASA engineer designs mWater app to chart water quality

When environmental engineer John Feighery got an internship at NASA in the 1990s, he wanted to be an astronaut. Instead, he was given a job working with a team designing the U.S. bathroom for the International Space Station.

The small, closet-like space needed a toilet, a place for hand washing, a place for bathing and a place to keep toiletries. Feighery also worked on a project to fix equipment designed for monitoring crew health, which included testing water and air quality.

After the Columbia Space Shuttle accident in 2003 left seven crew members dead, the Space Shuttle programme was suspended and further work on the International Space Station was delayed.

Iraqi Kurdistan govt failing to enforce FGM law – HRW

By Maria Caspani

LONDON (TrustLaw) – Women and girls in Iraq’s Kurdistan region continue to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) because the local government is failing to enforce a law banning the practice, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

The provision against FGM was part of a 2011 landmark law the Family Violence Law - to tackle violence against women in the autonomous region in northern Iraq.

Kurdistan’s government has launched awareness campaigns and training courses for police and judges on the part of the law addressing domestic violence against women but has neglected to inform and enforce the articles banning FGM, the New York-based group said.

Corruption in water sector increases hunger risk – experts

Stamping out corruption in the water sector is crucial to boosting global food production as world population growth increases pressure on water supplies, according to experts meeting at World Water Weekin Stockholm.

Corruption in the water sector is already a major problem for farmers and it’s likely to get worse as competition for water increases, a joint statement released by the Water Integrity Network (WIN), Transparency International and the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) Water Governance Facility at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) said.

Governments, businesses and civil society must work together to improve transparency in the water sector, and introduce better checks and balances to counter corruption and nepotism, the statement said.

Abuzz over malaria on World Mosquito Day


Handout picture shows tea party held in British doctor Ronald Ross’s honour at the Ross Institute on Aug. 20, 1931. ALERTNET/Handout/LSHTM

Each year on Aug. 20 the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) celebrates Mosquito Day to honour the date in 1897 when British doctor Ronald Ross discovered that female mosquitoes transmit malaria between human beings. Ross was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1902 for his discovery.

http://youtu.be/V8j0vKwJF3E

Picture credit: Handout picture shows tea party held in British doctor Ronald Ross’s honour at the Ross Institute on Aug. 20, 1931. ALERTNET/Handout/LSHTM

Experts mull global system to monitor water resources

A global system to monitor management of water resources would help governments secure food and water supplies for the future, a U.N. expert due to attend the World Water Weekconference later this month has told AlertNet.

“There’s demand for a global reporting mechanism that will help us see what is the status of water security and how water is used around the world as a resource, whether in agriculture, industrial production or any other way,” said Joakim Harlin, senior water resources advisor for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The embryonic process – due to be discussed at the water gathering – would set indicators for water-resource management, and build capacity in developing countries so they can collect data, analyse and report on these indicators, he said.

Kenyan boy conceived through hate, lives without love

 

By Katy Migiro

“I wish he was dead,” said Grace Wanjiku referring to her four-year-old son, Charles. “I don’t feel any love for him.”

My heart went out to the innocent boy. While Grace said he didn’t deserve to be alive, he certainly didn’t deserve the miserable life he’d been born into.

Charles was not conceived out of love, but out of hate.

His mother was gang-raped by five men in Kenya’s Rift Valley province during the chaos that followed Kenya’s disputed 2007 election. Over 1,200 people were killed and some 600,000 displaced before order was restored with a power-sharing deal.

Prostitution: their bodies, their rights

It is seen as a job no woman would want to do. A job no woman would willingly do.

Yet, spending time in one of Asia’s largest red light districts gives a view of prostitution that jars with what many feminists, gender rights activists and, in fact, society in general believe.

The Sonagachi district – a labyrinth of narrow bustling lanes lined with tea and cigarette stalls, three-storey brothels, and beauty parlours – in the east Indian city of Kolkata raises eyebrows with many who know this place.

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