The Human Impact

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.

But even with the defeat of the Tigers and the end of the war in May 2009, disaffection over the treatment of Tamil survivors and their lack of rehabilitation remains a highly emotive issue amongst Indian Tamils, an issue which turned into violence this week.

Around 180 Sri Lankan pilgrims visiting Tamil Nadu were attacked by a mob of angry Indian Tamils on Monday, and were forced to hide inside a church until police could rescue them.

Architects seek funding for Namibia sandbag igloos

Are sandbag igloos the key to solving housing problems in dry regions?

Architects Nicola Du Pisanie of Stonewood Design and Ross McDonald of Alison Brooks Architects discuss a proposed project to build sandbag, or super adobe, igloo homes in the Namibian desert during a London Festival of Architecture talk at the Building Centre in London.

The geometrical domes are made with sandbags and barbed wire and then plastered for protection. They are not difficult to construct and they are wind and earthquake resistant, according to Du Pisanie and McDonald.

Du Pisanie and McDonald formerly worked with FCBStudios where the “Igloos for the Namib” project was initiated.

Man’s world: poll highlights best and worst G20 countries for women

When heads of state from the Group of 20 most industrialised nations gather for their annual summit in Mexico next week, there’ll be four women in the family photograph.

Take a look at national parliaments and corporate boardrooms across much of the G20 and the male-to-female ratio doesn’t get much better – and in some cases it’s a lot worse.

Yes, women’s rights have come far in past decades but the statistics show we still live in a man’s world.

SMS could speed repair of faulty hand pumps in Africa

Hand pumps are a lifeline providing drinking water for many communities in remote, rural parts of Africa, but it is thought that around one third are broken at any given time, putting the health of many at risk.

In an effort to reduce the problem, a group of University of Oxford researchers have turned to mobile phone technology, developing data transmitters to automatically send a text message (SMS) alerting local water officials and engineers when the pumps break down.

Fitted inside the pumps, data transmitters measure the movement of the handle, which in turn give an indication of water usage.

Solutions for a hungry world

By 2050, experts say, the planet will need at least 70 percent more food than it does today as its population soars, cities sprawl and climate change takes its toll. Will it be possible?

That’s a question AlertNet put to hunger fighters worldwide for a special multimedia report out today probing the future of food. Their answer: The planet can feed itself – but only if two “revolutions” happen, and happen soon.

The first would involve sweeping changes to entrenched policies and practices that are, in the end, unsustainable. Policies such as spending trillions on agriculture and fuel subsidies. And practices such as eating so much meat and dairy.

Introducing ‘The Human Impact’

Two Congolese boys comfort each other in a hospital in Goma, Feb. 10, 2009. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

Welcome to “The Human Impact”, a new blog by journalists of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters.

Based in far-flung corners of the world, these reporters work for the Foundation’s free global news services: the AlertNet humanitarian website and TrustLaw, an online hub for news and information on good governance, women’s rights and pro bono legal assistance.

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