The Human Consciousness Now...Our World in the Midst of Becoming...to What? Observe, contemplate Now.
David, 14, transports gallons of palm oil for his father in Penja, in Cameroonâs Littoral region. Experts say there is a strong need for a people-centred approach if growth in Cameroon is to be resilient. Credit: Monde Kingsley Nfor/IPS
- For the last 13 years, Michael Ndah, 37, has worked for three road construction companies in Cameroon, but it is only in the last two years that his current employer has managed to register him with the National Social Insurance Fund (CNPS).Â
The CNPS is a pension system for workers in the private sector but they can only joinÂ if they are signed upÂ by their employers. Benefits also include medical and surgical care and hospitalisation. But Ndahâs CNPS cover does not provide for his familyâs health.
âWhen my wife goes to the hospital I cannot use my insurance card for treatment and they say I must first pay in cash,â he tells IPS.
The labour code provides that seven percent of a workerâs salary is given to CNPS each month, with the highest salary calculated by the system being 300,000 CFA (about 640 dollars) â even if the person earns above this.
It is a contributive system where 2.8 percent of the paymentsÂ are covered by the employee, with the remaining contributions covered by the employer. But with 640 dollars beingÂ the maximum wage allowedÂ by CNPS, overall pensions are low.
And itâs a huge concern for Ndah.
âI donât know if, before my retirement, I would have contributed enough to be eligible for a monthly pension payment,â Ndah worries.
The number of working-age people who are members of the CNPS is also low. According to the United Nations, about 53.3 percent of the countryâs 21.7 million people are of working age (16 to 64 years). But only about 10 percent of them are insured byÂ the CNPS.
âAll workers in the formal sector are supposed to be registered with the social insurance [CNPS] eight days after signing an employment contract but many employers do not implement this law,â John Yewoh Forchu, a general inspector at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, tells IPS.
Women sleep on a crowded train in Myanmar. Globally, some 1.2 billion people live on less than 1.25 dollars a day. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS
- Millions still live in poverty and even those who have gained the security of the middle-income bracket could relapse into poverty due to sudden changes to their economic fortunes in South Asia, the latest annual Human Development Report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) revealed.
âIn South Asia 44.4 percent of the population, around 730 million people, live on 1.25â2.50 dollars a day,â said the report, released in Tokyo Thursday.
It went on to warn that despite the regionâs gains, the threat of more of its citizens being pushed back into poverty was very real and that there were large disparities in income and living standards within nations.
âMany who recently joined the middle class could easily fall back into poverty with a sudden change in circumstances,â the reportâs authors stressed.
The Department of Statistics said that poverty levels had dropped from 8.9 percent in 2009 to 6.7 percent by this April. In some of the richest districts, the fall was sharper. The capital Colombo saw levels drop from 3.6 percent to 1.4 percent. Similar drops were recorded in the adjoining two districts of Gampaha and Kalutara.
However the poorest seemed to getting poorer. Poverty headcount in the poorest area of the nation, the southeastern district of Moneralaga, increased from 14.5 percent to 20.8 percent in the same time period.
The disparity could be larger if stricter measurements arenât used, argued economist Muttukrishna Sarvananthan.
âThere is a very low threshold for the status of employment,â he told IPS, referring to the â10 years and aboveâ age threshold used by the government to assess employment rates.
- As successive Human Development Reports have shown, most people in most countries are doing better in human development. Globalisation, advances in technology and higher incomes all hold promise for longer, healthier, more secure lives.
But there is also a widespread sense of precariousness in the world today. Improvements in living standards can quickly be undermined by a natural disaster or economic slump. Political threats, community tensions, crime and environmental damage all contribute to individual and community vulnerability.
The 2014 Report, on vulnerability and resilience, shows that human development progress is slowing down and is increasingly precarious. Globalisation, for instance, which has brought benefits to many, has also created new risks. It appears that increased volatility has become the new normal.
Khalid Malik. Photo Courtesy of UNDP
As financial and food crises ripple around the world, there is a growing worry that people and nations are not in control over their own destinies and thus are vulnerable to decisions or events elsewhere.
Rape survivor Angeline Mwarusena. Reparations, both monetary and non-monetary, can provide emotional, psychological, physical, and economic relief for the pain, humiliation, trauma, and violence that sexual violence survivors have endured, according to Physicians for Human Rights. Credit: Einberger/argum/EED/IPS
- Before a sexual violence survivor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has her day in court, she must surmount many obstacles. Poor or nonexistent roads and costly transportation may prevent her from going to a police station to report the crime, or to a hospital to receive treatment for the injuries sustained during the violence.
Inadequate training of law enforcement, limited resources for thorough investigations, and lack of witness protection may also compromise her case.
In the DRC, another impediment is a heavy reliance on traditional forms of justice. Sexual violence survivors are compelled by their families and communities to seek redress through traditional mechanisms because the process often leads to the survivorâs family receiving some type of compensation, such as a goat.
However attractive traditional justice may be for the family of those victimised, the survivor is rarely at the centre of the process. Understanding the various hurdles that a survivor must overcome in accessing the formal legal system is the first step in a survivorâs pursuit of justice.
Fisherman in Kribi, Cameroon, say this is the last stretch of beach with enough space for them to anchor their canoes. Credit: Monde Kingsley Nfor/IPS
- Pierre Zambo is a hotel manager in Kribi, a sea resort town in Cameroonâs South Region. In the past his hotel would have âmore than 100 tourists each week. But today if I manage to have 50 people registered into my hotel weekly, then it’s good business.â
Located in the gulf of Guinea, Kribi is a town with an estimated population of about 50,000 whose livelihoods depend on farming, fishing and tourism.
Salvadorans Elsy Ãlvarez and MarÃa Menjivar â with her young daughter â planning plantain seedlings in a clearing in the forest. Credit: Claudia Ãvalos/IPS
- The international community is failing to take advantage of a potent opportunity to counter climate change by strengthening local land tenure rights and laws worldwide, new data suggests.
In what researchers say is the most detailed study on the issue to date, new analysis suggests that in areas formally overseen by local communities, deforestation rates are dozens to hundreds of times lower than in areas overseen by governments or private entities. Anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to deforestation each year.
The two-week long conflict has claimed the lives of more than 620 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including over 230 women and children, and over 3,700 wounded, while the Israeli death toll is 27 soldiers and two civilians. Credit: Syeda Amina Trust Charity/cc by 2.0
- The overwhelming Israeli firepower unleashed on the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the ongoing battle in Gaza is perhaps reminiscent of the Algerian war of independence (1954-1962) when France, the colonial power, used its vastly superior military strength to strike back at the insurgents with brutal ferocity.
While France was accused of using its air force to napalm civilians in the countryside, the Algerians were accused of using handmade bombs hidden in women’s handbags and left surreptitiously in cafes, restaurants and public places frequented by the French.