The Human Consciousness Now...Our World in the Midst of Becoming...to What? Observe, contemplate Now.

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By Phil Harris

ROME, Sep 17 2014 (IPS) - The number of hungry people in the world has declined by over 100 million in the last decade and over 200 million since 1990-92, but 805 million people around the world still go hungry every day, according to the latest UN estimates.

Presenting their annual joint report on the State of Food Insecurity in the World, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), international Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and World Food Programme (WFP) said that while the latest hunger figures indicate that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of undernourished people by 2015 is within reach, this will only be possible “if appropriate and immediate efforts are stepped up.”

These efforts include the necessary “political commitment … well informed by sound understanding of national challenges, relevant policy options, broad participation and lessons from other experiences.”

"We cannot celebrate yet because we must still reach 805 million people without enough food for a healthy and productive life" – WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin

Introducing this year’s report, FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said that the figures indicate that a “world without hunger is possible in our lifetime.”

The three Rome-based UN agencies noted that while there has been significant progress overall, some regions are still lagging behind: sub-Saharan Africa, where more than one in four people remain chronically undernourished, and Asia, where the majority of the world’s hungry – 520 million people – live.

In Oceania there has been a modest improvement in percentage terms (down 1.7 percent from 14 percent two years ago) but an increase in the number of hungry people. Latin America and the Caribbean have made most progress in increasing food security.

However, WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin warned that “we cannot celebrate yet because we must still reach 805 million people without enough food for a healthy and productive life.”

Calling for what they called an ‘enabling environment’, the agencies stressed that “food insecurity and malnutrition are complex problems that cannot be solved by one sector or stakeholder alone, but need to be tackled in a coordinated way.” In this regard, they called on governments to work closely with the private sector and civil society.

According to the report, the ‘enabling environment’ should be based on an integrated approach that includes public and private investments to increase agricultural productivity; access to land, services, technologies and markets; and measures to promote rural development and social protection for the most vulnerable, including strengthening their resilience to conflicts and natural disasters.

Speaking at the presentation of the report, the WFP Executive Director referred in particular to the current outbreak of Ebola in the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea which, she said, “is an unprecedented health emergency which is rapidly becoming a major food crisis.”

“You cannot isolate people without addressing the food and nutrition challenges of those who need assistance,” she added, noting that the populations in these countries are not harvesting or planting according to their regular seasonal requirements while the crisis rages.

“This is rapidly becoming a food crisis that is potentially affecting 1.3 million people today, with an unknown number of how many will be affected in the future.”

“We cannot let the unprecedented level of humanitarian crisis undermine our efforts to progress even further, to reach our planet’s most vulnerable people and to end hunger in our lifetimes.”

The State of Food Insecurity report will be part of discussions at the Second International Conference on Nutrition to be held in Rome from 19-21 November, jointly organised by FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO).

This high-level intergovernmental meeting will seek a renewed political commitment at global level to combat malnutrition with the overall goal of improving diets and raising nutrition levels.

(Read)NEWS BROUGHT TO YOU BY: INTER PRESS SERVICE
September 15,2014 11:22 AM
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The much-ballyhooed one-day Climate Summit next week is being hyped as one of the major political-environmental events at the United Nations this year. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged over 120 of the world’s political and business leaders, who are expected to participate in the talk-fest, to announce significant and substantial initiatives, including funding commitments, “to […]
September 14,2014 6:04 AM
The Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave opened many people’s eyes to the barbarity of slavery and fuelled some discussion about that period in world history. But the film is just one of the many initiatives to “break the silence” around the 400 years of the transatlantic slave trade and to “shed light” on its […]
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As the United Nations prepares to hold a Special Session of the General Assembly (UNGASS) on the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), on Sept. 22, the President of the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS, Hinda Deby, First Lady of the Republic of Chad and UNFPA’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Dr. Julitta Onabanjo, call for renewed commitment to adolescent girls in Africa, saying, “It is critical that we act now.”
September 13,2014 9:25 AM
Russia’s aggressive actions toward Ukraine are vexing Central Asian states. First, officials in Kazakhstan were chagrined to hear comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who, during a recent town-hall-style meeting with university students, appeared to denigrate Kazakhstani statehood. Now, Uzbek leaders are showing signs of displeasure with Moscow. Insular Uzbekistan has long viewed Russia with […]
September 12,2014 3:37 PM
The U.N. Security Council (UNSC), the only international body empowered to declare war and peace, continues to remain a silent witness to the widespread devastation and killings worldwide, including in Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine. A sharply divided UNSC has watched the slaughter of Palestinians by Israel, the genocide and war crimes in […]
September 12,2014 2:04 PM
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September 12,2014 11:54 AM
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By Karlos Zurutuza
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says Afghanistan is “one of the riskiest places to be a pregnant woman or a young child”. Credit: DVIDSHUB/CC-BY-2.0
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says Afghanistan is “one of the riskiest places to be a pregnant woman or a young child”. Credit: DVIDSHUB/CC-BY-2.0

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says Afghanistan is “one of the riskiest places to be a pregnant woman or a young child”. Credit: DVIDSHUB/CC-BY-2.0

KABUL, Sep 16 2014 (IPS) - Nasrin Mohamadi, a mother of four, has promised herself never to set foot in an Afghan public hospital again. After her first experience in a maternity ward, she has lost all faith in the state’s healthcare system.

“The doctors said that I had not fully dilated yet so they told me to wait in the corridor. I had to sit on the floor with some others as there wasn’t a single chair,” Mohamadi tells IPS, recalling her experience at Mazar-e Sharif hospital, 425 km northwest of Kabul.

“They finally took me into the room where three other women were waiting with their legs wide open while people came in and out. They kept me like that for an hour until I delivered without [an] anaesthetic, and not even a single towel to clean my baby or myself,” adds the 32-year-old.

“Immediately afterwards the doctors told me to leave as there were more women queuing in the corridor.”

“Many rural health clinics are dysfunctional, as qualified health staff have left the insecure areas, and the supply of reliable drugs and medical materials is irregular or non-existent." -- Doctors Without Borders (MSF)
Even after she left the hospital, Mohamadi’s ordeal was far from over. The doctors told her not to wash herself for ten days after the delivery, and as a result her stitches got infected.

“I paid between 600 and 800 dollars to give birth to my other three children after that; it was money well invested,” she says.

This is a steep price to pay in a country where the average daily income is under three dollars, and 75 percent of the population live in rural areas without easy access to health facilities.

Many women have no other option than to rely on public services, and the result speaks volumes about Afghanistan’s commitment to maternal health: some 460 deaths per 100,000 live births give the country one of the four worst maternal mortality ratios (MMR) in the world outside of sub-Saharan Africa.

While this represents a significant decline from a peak of 1,600 deaths per 100,000 births in 2002, far too many women are still dying during pregnancy and childbirth, according to the United Nations.

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By Phil Harris
The blue and white Saltire flag of Scotland flutters next to the Union Jack during the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Credit: Vicky Brock/cc by 2.0
The blue and white Saltire flag of Scotland flutters next to the Union Jack during the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Credit: Vicky Brock/cc by 2.0

The blue and white Saltire flag of Scotland flutters next to the Union Jack during the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Credit: Vicky Brock/cc by 2.0

ROME, Sep 16 2014 (IPS) - After a two-year referendum campaign, Scots are finally voting Thursday on whether their country will regain its independence after more than 300 years of “marriage” with England.

It is still uncertain whether those in favour will win the day, but whichever way the wind blows, things are unlikely to be the same – and not just in terms of political relations between London and Edinburgh.

If an independent Scotland were actually to abolish nuclear weapons from its territory, the government of what remains of today’s United Kingdom would be forced to look elsewhere for places in which to host its sea-based nuclear warheads – and this will be no easy task.

One bone of contention between Scots and their “cousins” to the south of Hadrian’s Wall – built by the Romans to protect their conquests in what is now England and, according to Emperor Hadrian’s biographer, “to separate the Romans from the barbarians” to the north – is the presence on Scottish territory of part of the United Kingdom’s nuclear arsenal.

The Scottish National Party (SNP), which supports an independent and non-nuclear Scotland, wants Scotland to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union, but rejects nuclear weapons.

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By Desmond Brown
Gerald Price sees a bleak future for Barbuda's fishermen under the Blue Halo initiative. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS
Gerald Price sees a bleak future for Barbuda's fishermen under the Blue Halo initiative. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Gerald Price sees a bleak future for Barbuda's fishermen under the Blue Halo initiative. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

CODRINGTON, Barbuda, Sep 16 2014 (IPS) - Local fishermen are singing the blues over a sweeping set of new ocean management regulations, signed into law by the Barbuda Council, to zone their coastal waters, strengthen fisheries management, and establish a network of marine sanctuaries.

Director of the Barbuda Research Complex John Mussington has criticised the Blue Halo initiative, not for its laudable goals, but because he believes it needs a more inclusive approach that takes into account climate change and offers fishermen an alternative.

“I have been in places where there is no management, like Jamaica where I spent several years, and I can say from firsthand experience that the fishers there are extraordinarily poor and they are poor because fishing has been so badly managed that there is nothing left to catch.” -- Dr. Nancy Knowlton

“I don’t think you are going to get the cooperation of the Barbuda fishermen,” he cautioned.

“I have been involved directly in conservation efforts in Barbuda since 1983, even more so from 1991, where every single project related to conservation of the resources, particularly related to fishing, I have been involved in, so when I speak concerning this matter I am speaking on that basis,” Mussington told IPS.

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By Fabiola Ortiz
Vicente Castrellón proudly shows his biofortified rice crop. The 69-year-old farmer provides technical advice to other farmers participating in the Agro Nutre programme in the central Panamanian district of Olá. Credit: Fabíola Ortiz/IPS
Vicente Castrellón proudly shows his biofortified rice crop. The 69-year-old farmer provides technical advice to other farmers participating in the Agro Nutre programme in the central Panamanian district of Olá. Credit: Fabíola Ortiz/IPS

Vicente Castrellón proudly shows his biofortified rice crop. The 69-year-old farmer provides technical advice to other farmers participating in the Agro Nutre programme in the central Panamanian district of Olá. Credit: Fabíola Ortiz/IPS

PANAMA CITY, Sep 16 2014 (IPS) - Panama is the first Latin American country to have adopted a national strategy to combat what is known as hidden hunger, with a plan aimed at eliminating micronutrient deficiencies among the most vulnerable segments of the population by means of biofortification of food crops.

The project began to get underway in 2006 and took full shape in August 2013, when the government launched the Agro Nutre Panamá programme, which coordinates the improvement of food quality among the poor, who are concentrated in rural and indigenous areas, by adding iron, vitamin A and zinc to seeds.

(Read)NEWS BROUGHT TO YOU BY: IPS
By Karlos Zurutuza
Afghan migrants wait patiently for the smugglers who will take them to Iran. Credit: Karlos Zurutuza/IPS
Afghan migrants wait patiently for the smugglers who will take them to Iran. Credit: Karlos Zurutuza/IPS

Afghan migrants wait patiently for the smugglers who will take them to Iran. Credit: Karlos Zurutuza/IPS

ZARANJ, Afghanistan, Sep 16 2014 (IPS) - “Of course I’m scared, but what else can I possibly do?” asks Ahmed, a middle-aged man seated on the carpeted floor of a hotel located on the southern edge of Afghanistan. He is bound for Iran, but he still has no idea when or how he’ll cross the border.

In his early 40s, Ahmed looks 15 years older than his real age. He says he has no means of feeding his seven children back in his hometown of Bamiyan, 130 km northwest of Kabul. Being illiterate poses yet another major hurdle to earning money and supporting his family.

(Read)NEWS BROUGHT TO YOU BY: IPS
By Carey L. Biron

WASHINGTON, Sep 16 2014 (IPS) - A multilateral arbitration panel here began final hearings Monday in a contentious and long-running dispute between an international mining company and the government of El Salvador.

An Australian mining company, OceanaGold, is suing the Salvadoran government for refusing to grant it a gold-mining permit that has been pending for much of the past decade. El Salvador, meanwhile, cites national laws and policies aimed at safeguarding human and environmental health, and says the project would threaten the country’s water supply.

“This mining process would use some really poisonous substances – cyanide, arsenic – that would destroy the environment. Ultimately, the people suffer the consequences." -- Father Eric Lopez

The country also claims that OceanaGold has failed to comply with basic requirements for any gold-mining permitting. Further, in 2012, El Salvador announced that it would continue a moratorium on all mining projects in the country.

Yet using a controversial provision in a free trade agreement, OceanaGold has been able to sue El Salvador for profits – more than 300 million dollars – that the company says it would have made at the goldmine. The case is being heard before the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), an obscure tribunal housed in the Washington offices of the World Bank Group.

“The case threatens the sovereignty and self-determination” of El Salvador’s people, Hector Berrios, coordinator of MUFRAS-32, a member of the Salvadoran National Roundtable against Metallic Mining, said Monday in a statement. “The majority of the population has spoken out against this project and [has given its] priority to water.”

The OceanaGold project would involve a leaching process to recover small amounts of gold, using cyanide and, critics say, tremendous amounts of water. Those plans have made local communities anxious: the United Nations has already found that some 90 percent of El Salvador’s surface water is contaminated.

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