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Iran considers ban on vasectomies in drive to boost birthrate

April 16th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Iran considers ban on vasectomies in drive to boost birthrate
Supreme leader sees family planning policy as an imitation of western lifestyle and aims to double Iran’s population

See: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/15/iran-ban-vasectomies-birthrate

Iran’s parliament is seeking a ban on vasectomies and a tightening of abortion rules as the country moves away from its progressive laws on family planning in an attempt to increase the birthrate.

Two decades after Iran initiated an effective birth control programme, including subsidised male sterilisation surgeries and free condom distribution, the country is to make a U-turn.

Last year the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, criticised existing policy on contraception, describing it as an imitation of western lifestyle.

The 74-year-old has urged the government to tackle what he believes to be an ageing population and to double the number of people in Iran from 77 million to at least 150 million.

This week Tehran’s conservative-dominated parliament, the Majlis, voted to discuss banning vasectomies and introducing punishments for those involved in encouraging contraceptive services and abortions, local agencies reported.

See: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/15/iran-ban-vasectomies-birthrate

The animated maps that reveal in 60 seconds how cities have exploded in size over the last 130 years

April 15th, 2014 | Add a Comment

The animated maps that reveal in 60 seconds how cities have exploded in size over the last 130 years
See: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2599301/Cities-60-seconds-Animated-maps-reveal-cities-expanded-just-130-years.html

They are an incredible reminder of just how quickly the world’s major cities are expanding.

These new animations show Paris, Los Angeles, São Paulo and Chicago expanding over 130 years – all condensed into a 60 second animation.

Researchers behind the project hope that making the expansion so visible they will force city planners to look ahead more.

The animations were created by the NYU Stern Urbanization Project.

The animations, created using information from The Atlas of Urban Expansion, clearly show the extremely rapid expansion in global cities in the 19th and 20th centuries.

‘Particularly striking is the growth in the latter half of the 20th century, in which many cities increased their built-up area by more than 10 times,’ said Patrick Lamson-Hall of the project.

See: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2599301/Cities-60-seconds-Animated-maps-reveal-cities-expanded-just-130-years.html

Namibian rural women negotiate for safer sex and family planning

April 15th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Namibian rural women negotiate for safer sex and family planning
See: http://www.coastweek.com/3715-culture-10.htm

By Ndalimpinga Iita WINDHOEK (Xinhua) — On a Sunday afternoon, in a far flung village in northern Namibia’s Omusati Region, Hileni Kampangu sees off her two children to Sunday school. There and then, she multi-tasks between breast-feeding a small baby and tinkling a three-year-old girl.

“They are a handful. Being a young mother of four is no child’s play,” Kampungu said as she juggles between giving attention to the children.

Kampungu’s greatest wish is not to have any more children. But this might just be a wish, as exclusion from negotiating safer sex and discussing family planning with her partner may shatter that, she said.

“This is my fourth child, and by the look of things, it will not be the last,” she told Xinhua on Sunday afternoon.

See: http://www.coastweek.com/3715-culture-10.htm

Drive to end child marriage stalls, but fightback begins

April 15th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Drive to end child marriage stalls, but fightback begins
See: http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2014/04/10/drive-to-end-child-marriage-stalls-but-fight-back-begins/?hpt=hp_t5

It is a descent into barbarism. This month’s plan by Iraqi parliamentarians to legalize girl marriage at nine follows the Pakistan Islamic Council’s demand last month that Pakistan abolish all legal restrictions on child marriage, the revelation that Syrian refugee girls are being sold into marriage against their will and the increased pressure in many African countries to ease the restrictions on selling child brides.

As one who has believed that worldwide disgust at child marriage would end it within our generation, I now find that progress has stalled. In the last few months Mauritania, at the center of allegations of girls’ genital mutilation to make possible the early marriage of eight and nine year olds, has resisted pressure to enforce a legal minimum age for marriage. Attempts in Yemen to do so have also failed. Even Nigeria has been considering reducing the age of marriage.

In India, the rape of girls has brought millions on to the streets in protest and it has now been exposed as the country with 40% of the world’s child brides.

The U.N. says one in nine girls is a bride by the age of 15 and that by 2020 142 million – or one in three girls in developing countries – will be married before they are 18. For example, in Afghanistan 60% are married before they turn 16 and in Niger 74% of girls are married by the age of 18.

See: http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2014/04/10/drive-to-end-child-marriage-stalls-but-fight-back-begins/?hpt=hp_t5

Will Increased Food Production Devour Tropical Forest Lands?

April 15th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Will Increased Food Production Devour Tropical Forest Lands?
See: http://e360.yale.edu/feature/will_increased_food_production_devour_tropical_forest_lands/2755/

As global population soars, efforts to boost food production will inevitably be focused on the world’s tropical regions. Can this agricultural transformation be achieved without destroying the remaining tropical forests of Africa, South America, and Asia?

I once stumbled out of a jungle in the Congo Basin and startled two Bantu farmers – both women – tending a small field. I spoke no Bantu and they no French, and so we just stared at each other, a little warily, until one of their toddlers wailed and we all shared a laugh.

For the Bantu, farming has changed little in 3,000 years. The women still work small farming plots made by slashing and burning the rainforest.

They plant crops like yams and bananas, while their men hunt or talk village politics. It’s a precarious existence, but the slash-and-burn farmers can eke out a living if their numbers are low enough and game abounds in the nearby forest.

Increasingly, though, this picture is changing. The Bantu are multiplying quickly, as are many other peoples across Africa. The United Nations’ mid-range population projections for the continent are staggering, with the number of Africans expected to nearly quadruple from 1.1 billion today to 4.2 billion in 2100. Feeding that populace will be an enormous challenge, requiring, among other things, a gigantic boom in agriculture.

See: http://e360.yale.edu/feature/will_increased_food_production_devour_tropical_forest_lands/2755/

Climate Change: The Least We Can Do

April 15th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Climate Change: The Least We Can Do
See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-walker/climate-change-the-least_b_5107476.html?utm_hp_ref=green

As the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report makes clear, we are long past the point of avoiding climate change. The best we can do now is to avoid the worst effects. The situation is more dire than previously projected and the consequences of inaction more starkly drawn than ever before:

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased….Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent (high confidence)…. Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

In a perfect world, the IPCC’s report would summon forth our best efforts at mitigating climate change and its effects. We would be doing whatever is necessary and prudent to avoid a human and environmental catastrophe. By now, however, it is evident that governments — and the people they represent — are shrinking from the challenge. Hope for concerted global action on any kind of meaningful scale has largely evaporated.

Instead of asking what is the most that can be done to mitigate climate change and alleviate its consequences, perhaps we should be asking, “What is the least that can be done?”

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-walker/climate-change-the-least_b_5107476.html?utm_hp_ref=green

Population Media Center Capacity Building with South-to-South Training

April 14th, 2014 | Add a Comment

SHELBURNE, VT – When Gabin Kifukiau accepted the job of Country Representative in the Democratic Republic of Congo for a United States nonprofit, he didn’t know that some of his training would come from Burundi and Rwanda. In March of 2014, Kifukiau and his DRC colleague traveled to Burundi, with a stop-over in Rwanda, to see how Burundians and Rwandans were operating country offices of US-based Population Media Center.

Population Media Center (PMC) works around the world to improve the health and well-being of people through storytelling. In order to tell real, authentic, and powerful stories, PMC knows that the writers and rest of the staff have to be from the country where the stories are being told. As PMC’s work has expanded, country offices have become so proficient that PMC has begun using local staffs to provide south-to-south training.

“Such meetings allow mutual enrichment and have many advantages,” says Kifukiau. “The most important is undoubtedly a valuable time saver in the approach used to solve potential operations management problems and implementation of program activities.”

Kifukiau and his team, like the Burundi and Rwandan teams, are working to produce long-running radio serial dramas that engage people and effect behavior change. South-to-south trainings allow the details of best practices to be transferred, supplementing the guidance from headquarters with on-the-ground recent experiences.

“We produce long-running dramas for radio and TV,” says PMC’s President Bill Ryerson, “which require our country teams to handle numerous tasks at once. Plus, they have to work within the framework of their country and establish partnerships for research, broadcast, distribution, and promotion. South-to-south training allows our country teams to help each other anticipate and overcome stumbling blocks.”

DRC is preparing to launch five radio serial dramas later this year, the most PMC has ever launched in one country simultaneously. The dramas will air in Lingala, Swahili, French, Tshiluba, and Kikongo. Kifukiau and his colleague hoped to learn from Burundi’s experience launching the 208-episode radio serial drama “Agashi,” (“Hey! Look Again!”) in January of 2014. The trip also allowed for a short visit in Rwanda, which produced and aired the 312-episode “Umurage Urukwiye” from 2007 to 2009 and is currently preparing for a new program that will launch in May of 2014.

“It’s the local experiences, the local understandings, that make the country offices efficient and effective and that result in real, colorful radio programs that connect with people,” says PMC’s Vice President for International Programs Kriss Barker. “We provide appropriate training and oversight, but they know their country. The south-to-south trainings are fabulous because we get to see the country teams’ excitement to share our framework and methodology with other country teams so that they can effect change within their community and create a real impact.”

ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):

Population Media Center is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world.

Philippine Supreme Court Upholds Most of Reproductive-Health Law

April 9th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Philippine Supreme Court Upholds Most of Reproductive-Health Law
Law Allows Greater Access to Birth Control; Some Provisions Struck Down
See: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304819004579488974266047850?4579488974266047850.html

The Philippine Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld most of a controversial reproductive-health law, handing the government a victory in its effort to provide greater public access to birth control and family-planning education in the heavily Catholic country.

The implementation of the law has been held up for more than a year by a legal challenge from the Roman Catholic Church and faith-based groups. Advocates of the law say it will help slow the country’s population growth of more than 2% annually by providing people more access to contraceptives. However, opponents say the law violates the Philippine Constitution by promoting contraceptives, imposing population control and violating religious beliefs.

“This monumental decision upholds the separation of church and state and affirms the supremacy of government in secular concerns like health and socio-economic development,” said Congressman Edcel Lagman, one of the authors of the law.

See: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304819004579488974266047850?4579488974266047850.html

Four Steps to Better Link Climate Adaptation and Reproductive Health Strategies

April 9th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Four Steps to Better Link Climate Adaptation and Reproductive Health Strategies
See: http://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2014/03/kathleen-mogelgaard-steps-linking-climate-adaptation-reproductive-health-strategies-2/#.U0Po5vldW8w

LINK TO PODCAST: http://ecsp-wwc.podomatic.com/entry/2014-03-27T14_53_31-07_00

Climate change vulnerability is closely tied to population dynamics, says Kathleen Mogelgaard in this week’s podcast. “We know that population size, composition and spatial distribution around the world is constantly changing, and that these changes do have implications for climate change exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity – the three elements of vulnerability.”

And yet, despite this knowledge, alternative population scenarios are rarely considered in climate assessments. “We do know that things like fertility and population growth can be responsive to policy and programmatic interventions,” she says, and more than 233 million women worldwide currently lack access to family planning but want to delay or prevent pregnancy. Addressing that unmet need could make a major difference in the growth rates of many regions of the world, reducing climate vulnerability along the way.

Mogelgaard outlines four ways the links between climate change adaptation and reproductive health strategies need to be strengthened: in adaptation planning frameworks, tools and training, program design, and the evidence base for these connections.

The creation of National Adaptation Programs of Action (NAPAs) was a major initiative by the UN Framework on Convention on Climate Change to create climate adaptation plans for the most vulnerable countries. Most of the plans, in fact, identified rapid population growth as something that exacerbates vulnerability. But when it came to the implementation phase, only a “handful of the NAPAs recognized that family planning and reproductive health services could be part of an adaptation strategy,” Mogelgaard says; fewer still made them a priority, and none were funded.

See: http://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2014/03/kathleen-mogelgaard-steps-linking-climate-adaptation-reproductive-health-strategies-2/#.U0Po5vldW8w

47th Session of the Commission on Population and Development

April 9th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Assessing progress for populations worldwide
See: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/newsletter/desanews/feature/2014/04/index.html#10580

When the Commission on Population and Development gathers on 7-11 April, it will be only a few months away from the 20-year anniversary of the largest intergovernmental conference on population and development ever held – the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994. Ahead of this event, John Wilmoth, Director of UN DESA’s Population Division, spoke with DESA News about some of the demographic trends during the past 20 years and some of the issues currently at stake.

“One of the most important areas of progress goes to the heart of what the Cairo conference was all about,” said Mr. Wilmoth, highlighting how this conference represented a shift in thinking. “Across the board, the emphasis went toward thinking about individuals and their rights and needs, and addressing those issues first and foremost,” he explained. He also pointed to positive changes that can be seen over the past 20 years including a substantial reduction of fertility around the world, increases in life expectancy as well as greater recognition of the contribution of international migration to development.

The conference in Cairo helped galvanize action that brought major improvements in the well-being of people around the world. When representatives and experts from a large number of UN Member States and NGOs gather in New York for the 47th session of the Commission on Population and Development, they will assess the status of implementation of the Programme of Action, adopted by 179 governments in 1994.

“There is still an unfinished agenda of the Cairo conference,” Mr. Wilmoth said, pointing to the need to continue to improve life expectancy, reduce fertility, enhance access to education, and achieve gender equality. “It means continuing to work on fulfilling the rights and needs of individuals across the life course,” Mr. Wilmoth added.

See: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/newsletter/desanews/feature/2014/04/index.html#10580