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Over 43 million people in Pakistan defecate in the open

December 2nd, 2013 | Add a Comment

Over 43 million people in Pakistan defecate in the open
See: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-6-215001-Over-43-million-people-in-Pakistan-defecate-in-the-open

Toilets are still out of reach for more than one-third of the global population. In Pakistan, more than 43 million people defecate in the open, with devastating consequences for the health and development of children, says the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) on World Toilet Day, which is being observed worldwide today (Tuesday).

“Access to toilets remains the unmentionable, often shameful secret in Pakistan,” said Miriam de Figueroa, Unicef’s deputy representative in Pakistan. “But it’s invisibility doesn’t make it less harmless; in fact, it is quite the reverse especially as poor sanitation conditions contribute to malnutrition and the high level of stunting in Pakistan and provide a fertile ground for spreading the polio virus. Lack of access to safe sanitation is quite literally killing Pakistani children – day after day after day.” “Every action which spurs people to change their way of dealing with defecation brings us closer towards the goal of sanitation for all. It is not easy, but it is certainly doable, and moreover, it is absolutely indispensable,” Figueroa said. Every 24 hours, 320 children in Pakistan die from diarrhoea – the result of a deadly combination of unsafe water and poor sanitation conditions. Water and sanitation related diseases are responsible for some 60 per cent of the total number of deaths of children under five years of age.

Diarrhoea contributes to and aggravates malnutrition, which is an underlying cause of more than half of all the deaths of children under five. Poor sanitation also has a serious impact on children’s right to education when children miss school due to water and sanitation related diseases. In addition, girls tend to drop out of school and female teachers may not work where there are no gender-segregated toilets. Women, as the primary caregivers of sick children, have less time to care for other children and to do other work, when they have to care for the ill. Water, sanitation and hygiene related diseases cost Pakistan’s economy an estimated Rs112 billion each year. This economic loss is due to labour hours lost or reduced productivity, with household and public resources being diverted to curative services.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-6-215001-Over-43-million-people-in-Pakistan-defecate-in-the-open

USGS: Land sinking rapidly in Central Valley

December 2nd, 2013 | Add a Comment

USGS: Land sinking rapidly in Central Valley
See: http://www.bakersfieldnow.com/news/local/USGS-Land-sinking-rapidly-in-Central-Valley-232897561.html

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Land in California’s San Joaquin Valley is sinking more rapidly than usual because of increased pumping from underground sources, a phenomenon that is damaging vital water infrastructure, the U.S. Geological Survey said Thursday.

The USGS study found that land sinking had been measured at nearly one-foot per year in one area, and that it is reducing the flow capacity of the Delta-Mendota Canal and the California Aqueduct, two key sources of water.

“We were surprised at the amount of land being affected,” said Michelle Sneed, a USGS hydrologist and the report’s lead author. “We were also surprised by the rapid rate of (sinking).”

Because canals were built with a small slope to propel the water, sinking land can change that slope in random areas and affect flows, Sneed said.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the canals, will use the USGS data to mitigate damage and factor into current and future construction projects.

“Nothing to date, to my knowledge, has affected our ability to deliver water to our customers,” said Richard Woodley, the bureau’s assistant regional director. “Our main point is to get ahead of that.”

The issue of sinking land in the San Joaquin Valley is not new, but had slowed in recent decades after the construction of the California Aqueduct and Delta-Mendota Canal.

Those canals helped meet water demand from farms and growing Southern California with waters flowing on the land surface, which reduced demand on aquifers.

But the sinking problem in the two years studied 2008-2010 was exacerbated by drought, the report found.

To read the full article, please click here:  http://www.bakersfieldnow.com/news/local/USGS-Land-sinking-rapidly-in-Central-Valley-232897561.html


India’s dangerous ‘food bubble’

December 2nd, 2013 | Add a Comment

India’s dangerous ‘food bubble’
Grain production is up, but wells are going dry from the unsustainable use of irrigation water.
See: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-brown-india-food-bubble-famine-20131129,0,4895563.story#axzz2m3Su6hnw

India is now the world’s third-largest grain producer after China and the United States. The adoption of higher-yielding crop varieties and the spread of irrigation have led to this remarkable tripling of output since the early 1960s. Unfortunately, a growing share of the water that irrigates three-fifths of India’s grain harvest is coming from wells that are starting to go dry. This sets the stage for a major disruption in food supplies for India’s growing population.

In recent years about 27 million wells have been drilled, chasing water tables downward in every Indian state. Even the typically conservative World Bank warned in 2005 that 15% of India’s food was being produced by overpumping groundwater. The situation has not improved, meaning that about 190 million Indians are being fed using water that cannot be sustained. This means that the dietary foundation for about 190 million people could disappear with little warning.

India’s grain is further threatened by global warming. Glaciers serve as reservoirs feeding Asia’s major rivers during the dry season. As Himalayan and Tibetan glaciers shrink, they provide more meltwater in the near term, but there will be far less in the future. To complicate matters, the monsoon patterns are changing too, making these annual deluges more difficult to predict.

What India is experiencing is a “food bubble”: an increase in food production based on the unsustainable use of irrigation water. And this is happening in a country where 43% of children under age 5 are underweight. A survey for Save the Children found that children in 1 out of 4 families experience “foodless days” – days where they do not eat at all. Almost half subsist on just one staple food, thus missing vital nutrients that come in a diversified diet.

To read the full article, please click here:  http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-brown-india-food-bubble-famine-20131129,0,4895563.story#axzz2m3Su6hnw

A Force of 120 Million

December 2nd, 2013 | Add a Comment

A Force of 120 Million
See: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/28/opinion/a-force-of-120-million.html?_r=0

I met Sharmila Devi when the youngest of her four children, Babita, was 4 months old. After Babita was born, Sharmila made a brave decision that will give her children a good chance at a better future.

After talking to a community health worker, she decided to use an intrauterine contraceptive device to avoid getting pregnant again until she was ready – a bold step for a poor woman in northern India.

Sharmila’s husband and mother-in-law objected. They expected her to follow generations of tradition, to become pregnant numerous times in quick succession and then be sterilized.

Sharmila eventually convinced her husband to support her, but they couldn’t persuade his mother. Mothers-in-law have authority over child-rearing decisions in many Indian households, but Sharmila concluded that she couldn’t abide by that social norm. She went ahead and did what she believed was best for her and her family.

For women to fulfill their amazing potential, they tell me over and over again, they need the power to decide when to have children, so they can keep their families healthy, well-nourished and educated. In the year ahead, many women will for the first time begin to harness this power.

Just a few years ago, most women like Sharmila didn’t understand the dangers of having children one after the other; didn’t know about intrauterine devices and other long-lasting, reversible contraceptives; and couldn’t have received one at a local clinic even if they had known. Now, the Indian government is investing billions of dollars to make sure women have access to information about family planning and to excellent medical care.

The fact that Sharmila’s determination is matched by a commitment from the Indian government is a turning point for women in poor countries: In 2014, tens of millions of women who have never had access to contraceptives will start being able to plan their families. The result will be millions of children who are healthier, stay in school and together drive greater prosperity on a massive scale.

In July 2012, I co-hosted a summit meeting on family planning in London. The evidence was clear:

The world had been underinvesting in the field for years, with serious consequences for women, their families and their communities. We invited leaders from dozens of countries and key global health organizations and private industry, along with women’s health advocates, to put the needs of women back on the global agenda. It was deeply moving to see older advocates who’d given their lives to this issue pass their passion to a new generation. The participants signed onto a big goal: helping 120 million women who didn’t have access to family planning to get it by 2020.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/28/opinion/a-force-of-120-million.html?_r=0

World Population Mapping Helps Combat Poverty, Poor Health

December 2nd, 2013 | Add a Comment

World Population Mapping Helps Combat Poverty, Poor Health
See: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131127110347.htm

Nov. 27, 2013 – A team of researchers led by the University of Southampton has launched an online project to map detailed population information from countries around the world.

The WorldPop website aims to provide open access to global demographic data which can be used to help tackle challenges such as, poverty, public health, sustainable urban development and food security.

Geographer at Southampton Dr Andy Tatem, who is leading the project, says: “Our maps and data are helping charities, policy-makers, governments and researchers to make decisions which affect the quality of people’s lives. These could be as diverse as predicting the spread of infectious diseases, planning the development of transport systems or distributing vital aid to disaster zones.”

He continues: “For example, in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines with devastating effect, international organizations were able to download information about population density from our website to help with estimating impact and delivering aid efforts.”

With principal funding coming from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (USA), WorldPop combines country specific data from national statistics services, household surveys and other sources to construct detailed population distribution maps. Satellite imagery is also exploited to provide information on the density of urban areas, land cover and transport networks, all of which are used to improve the accuracy of the population maps.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131127110347.htm

Access to family planning alone won’t stop the population boom

December 2nd, 2013 | 1 Comment

Access to family planning alone won’t stop the population boom
See: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-145223/access-family-planning-alone-wont-stop-population-boom

Beatrice Khalayi Shibunga is a community health worker and family planning champion, working in the slums of Korogocho in Nairobi. She goes door-to-door to offer women in her community family planning information. In her work experience, she has met women who use contraceptives but without the knowledge or consent of their husbands.

“Because some men are unco-operative, some women are forced to use contraceptives without the knowledge of their husbands,” she says.

Elizabeth Lule, director of family planning, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, confirms this: “Injectables (contraceptives) are popular because it can be used covertly because men may not give consent to their wives to use contraceptives.”

During a forum organised recently to assess the progress that Kenya has made towards expanding contraceptive access and options to its citizens, experts spoke of the need to expand access to family planning options so as to improve the lives of women and infants.

That is an excellent idea. However, from Shibunga’s revelation, it seems that the population problem is more complex than simply providing more contraceptive options.

In a speech last year at the University of Nairobi, Bill Ryerson, president of Population Media Centre in the US, said changing the current situation where married couples are still not using family planning as a means of controlling their families will take more than provision of more family planning methods.

Abraham Rugo from the Institute of Economic Affairs says up to now, many Kenyans don’t realise the connection between family size and development. He says this is so because it does not make a difference if you are poor. However, he says the government should come up with programmes that motivate people to have small families.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-145223/access-family-planning-alone-wont-stop-population-boom

Spending Time With Family This Holiday? Chat About Contraception!

December 2nd, 2013 | Add a Comment

Spending Time With Family This Holiday? Chat About Contraception!
Monday, November 25, 2013. By: Amy Phillips Bursch
See: http://www.populationconnection.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=10675&security=1101&news_iv_ctrl=0

You can only talk about the weather for so long before everyone dies of boredom. Why not talk about the benefits of international family planning? Here’s a good place to start.

If you’re like me, you’re visiting family this holiday season. And if you’re even more like me, the family you’re visiting might not share your views on some things – or anything, for that matter.

You know that between the turkey and the pie looms a gap that will need to be filled with conversation. And admit it, you can only talk about the weather, the NFL and Fido’s latest digestive issue so much before you’re scrounging around for something more substantial.

So why not talk about birth control?

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.populationconnection.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=10675&security=1101&news_iv_ctrl=0

Squeeze is on as Australia’s populations boom

December 2nd, 2013 | Add a Comment

Squeeze is on as Australia’s populations boom
NOTE: Click through for graphics and interactive animations
See: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/squeeze-is-on-as-australias-populations-boom-20131126-2y83k.html

Almost 10 million migrants over the next 50 years will swell Australia’s population to more than 40 million by 2060 and more than 50 million by 2100, under dramatically higher new projections by the Bureau of Statistics.

The projections, the first for five years, envisage tens of millions more people crowding into Australia’s capital cities over the next 50 years, overwhelmingly due to migration.

By 2060, the bureau estimates, Melbourne will have 8.5 million people, twice as many as now. Even by 2050, it would have 1.2 million more people than the state government assumed in its core planning strategy, Plan Melbourne, released last month.

By then Sydney would have 8.4 million, an increase of 80 per cent from now. Perth would more than double to 5.5 million people, and Brisbane to 4.8 million. Both cities would be bigger than Sydney is now. Melbourne would overtake Sydney in 2053.

Those four cities, the migrant magnets of Australia, would add 14 million of the 18.4 million extra people envisaged by 2060.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/squeeze-is-on-as-australias-populations-boom-20131126-2y83k.html

Ocean acidification will cut food and jobs in poor countries – scientists

December 2nd, 2013 | Add a Comment

Ocean acidification will cut food and jobs in poor countries – scientists
See: http://www.trust.org/item/20131122132751-159q2/?source=hpeditorial

WARSAW (Thomson Reuters Foundation) Soaring seawater acidity from rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will hit marine species used for food and livelihoods hard, and will have knock-on impacts on coastal communities, particularly in developing countries, experts said at the UN climate talks in Warsaw.

Poor coastal communities, especially those in small island states whose existence hinges on coral reefs and fishing, will bear the brunt of this change, warned Carol Turley, a senior scientist at Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the United States and a lead author of the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 4th Assessment Report.

“Poor communities are highly reliant on sea resources for their food and livelihood needs but have limited options to mitigate effects if their current lifestyles become not sustainable due to what is called ocean acidification,” she said at a side event at the climate negotiations, which end Friday.

Coral reefs and shellfish – both important sources of food – will be hit hard, with higher acidification levels predicted to halt all new growth of reefs by the end of the century.

“People who rely on the ocean’s ecosystem services – often in developing countries – are especially vulnerable. And coastal communities in Asia-Pacific and South Asian coastal communities are no exception,” said Jorge Luis Valdés, head of Ocean Sciences at the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.trust.org/item/20131122132751-159q2/?source=hpeditorial

Just how bad is overfishing? It’s really bad

December 2nd, 2013 | Add a Comment

Just how bad is overfishing? It’s really bad
See: http://www.sciencerecorder.com/news/just-how-bad-is-overfishing-its-really-bad/

12 facts on overfishing:

12. Since 1950, one in four of the world’s fisheries has collapsed due to overfishing.

11. 77 percent of the world’s marine fish stocks are fully exploited, over-exploited, depleted or slowly recovering.

10. The cod fishery off Newfoundland, Canada collapsed in 1992, leading to the loss of some 40,000 jobs in the industry. Twenty years later, the fishery has yet to recover.

9. Scientists estimate that 90% of the world’s large fish have been removed from our oceans, including many tuna, sharks, halibut, grouper, and other top level predators which help maintain an ecological balance.

8. Of the 3.5 million fishing vessels worldwide, only 1.7 percent are classified as large-scale, industrial vessels, yet these vessels take almost 60 percent of the global fish catch.

7. Tuna purse seine vessels using Fish Aggregating Devices entangle and kill a million sharks a year in the Indian Ocean alone.

6. Every year, the world’s fishing fleet receives roughly $30 billion in government subsidies. Most of the subsidies are given to the large-scale, industrial sector of the fishing industry.

To read the full article, please click here:  http://www.sciencerecorder.com/news/just-how-bad-is-overfishing-its-really-bad