The Human Consciousness Now...Our World in the Midst of Becoming...to What? Observe, contemplate Now.
- In Argentina, where millions of families have unmet dietary needs despite the countryâs vast expanse of fertile land, the Huerta NiÃ±o project promotes organic gardens in rural primary schools, to teach children healthy eating habits and show them that they can grow their own food to fight hunger.
Of the 105 students who board Monday through Friday at the La Divina Pastora rural school in Mar del Sur in the municipality of General Alvarado, 80 percent come from poor families.
âTen percent have nutritional deficiencies, from their first year of life, even from the period of breastfeeding or even the pregnancy itself. We see calcium deficiency, which can lead to cavities and affects growth,â the school principal, Rita Darrechon, told TierramÃ©rica.
The privately run public school, located 500 km southwest of the capital, serves children between the ages of six and 14, and a few older children who have repeated grades.
The children live in rural or semi-urban areas in the eastern province of Buenos Aires. But most of them were raised without any farming culture or knowledge about or tools for agriculture.
âIn places that were historically farming areas, kids do not know what to do with the land,â the general coordinator of the Huerta NiÃ±o Foundation, BÃ¡rbara Kuss, told TierramÃ©rica. âThey donât know that if theyâre hungry, the seeds in their hand can feed them.â
The aim of the non-profit institution founded in 1999 by businessman Federico Lobert is to help reduce hunger among students in rural schools.
The initiative first began to take shape when Lobert, during a trip as a young man, heard a rural schoolteacher say âthe kids couldnât study because they hadnât eaten anything except orange tree leaves to calm their stomachaches.â
He described this as a âsad paradoxâ in a country âthat produces so much food for millions of people around the world.â
The gardens benefit 20,000 children in 270 rural schools in low-income areas, like La Divina Pastora. The vegetables and fruit they grow are eaten by the students in the school lunchroom.
Slums in a Kenyan shanty town. Africa has more than 570 million slum-dwellers, according to UN-Habitat, with over half of the urban population (61.7 percent) living in slums. Photo credit: Colin Crowley/CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
- Nompumelelo Tshabalala, 41, emerges from her dwarf âshackâ made up of rusty metal sheets and falls short of bumping into this reporter as she bends down to avoid knocking her head against the top part of her makeshift door frame.
âThis has been my home for the past 16 years and I have lived here with my husband until his death in 2008 and now with my four children still in this two-roomed shack,â she told IPS.
Tshabalala lives in Diepkloof township in Johannesburg, South Africa, in a densely populated informal settlement â a euphemism for slums, where an estimated 15 million of the countryâs approximately 52 million people live, according to UN-Habitat, the U.N. agency for human settlements.
Neighbouring Zimbabwe has an estimated 835,000 people living in informal settlements, according to Homeless International, a BritishÂ non-governmental organisationÂ focusing on urbanÂ povertyÂ issues.Â
âSlum-dwelling here in Africa has become normal, a trend to live with, which is difficult to combat owing to numerous factors ranging from political corruption to economic inequalities necessitated by the growing gap between the rich and the poor,â Gilbert Nyaningwe, an independent development expert from Zimbabwe, told IPS.
Overall, out of an estimated population of 1.1 billion people, Africa has more than 570 million slum-dwellers, reports UN-Habitat, with over half of the urban population (61.7 percent) living in slums. Worldwide, notes the U.N. agency, the number of slum-dwellers now stands at 863 million and is set to shoot up to 889 million by 2020.
Development agencies in Africa say slum-dwelling remains a continental trend despite the U.N. Millennium Development Goals targets compelling all countries globally to achieve a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.
According to the United Nations, that 100 million target “was met well in advance of the 2020 deadline”, and in African countries such as Egypt, Libya and Morocco the total number of urban slum dwellers has almost been halved, Tunisia has eradicated them completely, and Ghana, Senegal and Uganda have made steady progress, reducing their slum populations by up to 20 percent.
However, sub-Saharan Africa continues to have the highest rate of âslum incidenceâ of any major world region, with millions of people living in settlements characterised by some combination of overcrowding, tenuous dwelling structures, and poor or no access to adequate water and sanitation facilities.
Gutted mine machinery and infrastructure are scattered across the site of the Panguna mine in the mountains of Central Bougainville, an autonomous region in Papua New Guinea. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS
- From Arawa, once the capital city of Bougainville, an autonomous region in eastern Papua New Guinea in the southwest Pacific Ocean, a long, winding road leads high up into the Crown Prince Ranges in the centre of the island through impenetrable rainforest.
Over a ridge, the verdant canopy gives way to a landscape of gouged earth and, in the centre, a gaping crater, six kilometres long, is surrounded by the relics of gutted trucks and mine machinery rusting away into dust under the South Pacific sun.
Operated by Bougainville Copper Limited, a subsidiary of Conzinc Rio Tinto of Australia, the Panguna mine generated about two billion dollars in revenues from 1972-1989. But the majority owners, Rio Tinto (53.58 percent) and the Papua New Guinea government (19.06 percent), received the bulk of the profits, while indigenous landowners were denied any substantive rights under the mining agreement.
A boy, a sheep and a stunning mountain landscape â the three stars of 'Lamb', Ethiopiaâs first entry in Franceâs prestigious Cannes International Film Festival, a film which subtly highlights gender issues, the ravages of drought and the isolation that comes from the feeling of not belonging. Credit: Courtesy of Slum Kid Films
- A boy, a sheep and a stunning mountain landscape. These are the three stars of Lamb, a poignant film directed by 36-year-old Yared Zeleke and Ethiopiaâs first entry in Franceâs prestigious Cannes International Film Festival.
The film was warmly received at its premiere this week, with the director and cast receiving applause. It is slated for general French release later this year, Zeleke said.
Shot in the highlands and forests of northern and central Ethiopia, Lamb tells the story of nine-year-old Ephraim (Rediat Amare) and his beloved pet, a sheep named Chuni. The animal follows Ephraim around like a devoted dog, and plays the role of best friend, albeit one who can only say âba-ahâ.
When the film begins, we learn that Ephraim has lost his mother in an ongoing famine and, in order to survive, his father has decided to take him to stay with relatives in a remote but greener region of their homeland, an area of intense beauty but increasing poverty. Ephraim will have to stay there while his father seeks work in the city, not knowing when he can return.
Dan Bloom is a freelance writer from Boston based in Taiwan. A 1971 graduate of Tufts University where he majored in French literature, he has been working as a climate activist and a literary activist since 2006. He can be found on Twitter @polarcityman
Paolo Bacigalupi. Credit: JT Thomas Photography
- Item: In a recent blog post at the New Yorker magazine, staff writer Dana Goodyear surveys the current drought impacting California and writes: “Itâs hard to escape the feeling we are living a cli-fi novelâs Chapter One.”
Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says the Caribbean would be better positioned to respond to climate change if France rejoins the Caribbean Development Bank. Credit: Kenton X. Chance/IPS
- By the time leaders of the international community sit down in Paris later this year to discuss climate change, at least two Caribbean leaders are hoping that France can demonstrate its commitment to assisting their adaptation efforts by re-joining the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
The CDB is the premier regional financial institution, established in 1969. It contributes significantly to the harmonious economic growth and development of the Caribbean, promoting economic cooperation and integration among regional countries.
Esmee Russell is International Campaigns Coordinator, End Water Poverty
A young Sudanese boy carries water home for his family in a plastic container. Credit: UN Photo/Tim McKulka
- In September, the United Nations will agree on new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which will set development priorities for the next 15 years. The draft goals that have been developed are ambitious â they seek to end poverty and ensure no one is left behind.