Many children out of school live in areas of conflict, others are girls living in societies that do not advocate educating women
By Sebastien Malo
NEW YORK, July 15 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Some 263 million children worldwide, nearly one in 10, do not go to school, posing a daunting hurdle to the United Nations’ efforts to educate all children by 2030, the U.N.’s cultural agency UNESCO reported on Friday.
The number is “staggering,” yet marks an improvement from 2000 when some 374 million children did not attend school, UNESCO said.
Many children out of school live in areas of conflict, others are girls living in societies that do not advocate educating females and others live in countries that do not make secondary school compulsory, the report said.
Children in their late teens are four times more likely to be out of school than younger children, it said.
“Our focus must be on inclusion from the earliest age and right through the learning cycle, on policies that address the barriers at every stage, with special attention to girls who still face the greatest disadvantage,” said UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova in a statement.
U.N. member nations last year adopted a set of global goals for 2030 that included a call for children around the world to complete primary and secondary school.
“These new findings show the hard work ahead if we are to reach this goal,” Bokova said.
Armed conflict poses a major barrier to education, UNESCO said.
Around the world, 22 million out-of-school children of primary education age live in conflict areas, it said.
Also, many children not in school live in sub-Saharan Africa, where three out of five children of secondary school age are not in classes, it said.
UNESCO said while primary and lower secondary education are compulsory in nearly every country, upper secondary school is not. Also, it said older children are often of legal working age.
It said globally 15 million girls of primary school age will never attend classes compared with about 10 million boys, and more than half those girls live in sub-Saharan Africa.
(Reporting by Sebastien Malo, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)
JAKARTA, July 19 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Rising temperatures caused by climate change may cost the world economy over $2 trillion in lost productivity by 2030 as hot weather makes it unbearable to work in some parts of the world, according to U.N. research published on Tuesday.
It showed that in Southeast Asia alone, up to 20 percent of annual work hours may already be lost in jobs with exposure to extreme heat with the figures set to double by 2050 as the effects of climate change deepen.
Across the globe, 43 countries will see a fall in their gross domestic product (GDP) due to reduced productivity, the majority of them in Asia including Indonesia, Malaysia, China, India and Bangladesh, researcher Tord Kjellstrom said.
Indonesia and Thailand could see their GDP reduced by 6 percent in 2030, while in China GDP could be reduced by 0.8 percent and in India by 3.2 percent.
“Current climate conditions in tropical and subtropical parts of the world are already so hot during the hot seasons that occupational health effects occur and work capacity for many people is affected,” said Kjellstrom, a director at the New Zealand-based Health and Environment International Trust.
He said the increasing need for rest “is likely to become a significant problem” as climate change makes the hottest days hotter and leads to longer periods of excessively hot days.
Kjellstrom authored one of six papers on the impact of climate change on health that were put together by the United Nations University’s International Institute for Global Health in Kuala Lumpur and published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health.
Kjellstrom warned that the lowest-paid workers – those in heavy labour, agricultural and manufacturing – were most at risk of exposure to extreme heat.
He urged countries to take “decisive action” to tackle global warming.
“Failure will cause the frequency and intensity of disasters to worsen dramatically beyond 2050, and the situation at the end of this century will be especially alarming for the world’s poorest people,” the researcher said.
The other papers in the series showed around 2.1 million people worldwide died between 1980 and 2012 due to nearly 21,000 natural catastrophes such as floods, mudslides, extreme heat, drought, high winds or fires.
In Asia Pacific, 1.2 billon people have been affected by 1,215 disasters – mostly flood, cyclones and landslides – since 2000.
In April, 175 countries signed a Paris climate deal to restrain the global rise in temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
The first three months of 2016 have broken temperature records and 2015 was the planet’s warmest year since records began in the 19th century.
(Reporting by Beh Lih Yi @behlihyi, Editing by Katie Nguyen.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)
Afghan refugees arrive to be repatriated to Afghanistan, at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office on the outskirts of Quetta, Pakistan, August 26, 2015. REUTERS/Naseer Ahmed
Reuters, Thursday, 30 June 2016
The number of Afghans voluntarily returning from Pakistan has plummeted this year
* Pakistan has world’s second largest refugee population
* Just 6,000 Afghans returned home this year, vs 58,211 in 2015
* Afghanistan says working with Pakistan to tackle refugee woes (Adds Afghanistan minister’s comment)
By Mehreen Zahra-Malik
ISLAMABAD, June 30 (Reuters) – Pakistan plans talks with Afghanistan and the United Nations refugee agency to move longtime Afghan refugees to camps at home, the foreign office said on Thursday, after the numbers of those returning plunged this year.
Pakistan has the world’s second largest refugee population, with more than 1.5 million registered, and about a million unregistered, refugees from neighbouring Afghanistan, most of whom fled the Soviet occupation of their country in the 1980s.
The U.N. says the number of Afghans voluntarily returning from Pakistan has fallen to about 6,000, well below last year’s 58,211, as violence worsens in Afghanistan, where the government and its U.S. allies are battling a stubborn Taliban insurgency.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry said it would immediately approach Afghanistan on the political and diplomatic fronts, while the ministry for frontier regions would engage with the U.N. refugee agency and Afghanistan’s ministry of refugees.
The talks would seek ways to ease “early returns as well as the possibility of shifting Afghan refugees gradually from Pakistan to safer and peaceful areas of Afghanistan, where the Afghan government should establish settlements,” the foreign office said in a statement.
Hussain Alemi Balkhi, the Afghan minister for refugees and repatriation, said, “We know that the refugees face harassment and hardship, and we are working with Pakistani authorities to address these problems.”
He confirmed plans for a three-way meeting on July 19 with Pakistan and the U.N. refugee agency.
On Wednesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif allowed the 1.5 million registered refugees to stay on for six more months.
The registration deadline extension came soon after officials told Reuters at least 500 Afghan refugees had been arrested in the northwestern border province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and deported as a security risk.
Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper said more than 2,000 refugees were arrested in the last month, and 400 deported to Afghanistan. (Additional Reporting by Hamid Shalizi in Kabul; Writing by Mehreen Zahra-Malik)
The global water crisis is not driven by absolute water scarcity, but by a scarcity of governance: there’s enough water to go around, we just need to get better at managing it.
To meet the sixth sustainable development goal (SDG) we must learn from stagnation in the sector and make sure that water institutions – policies, laws, organisations and their financing frameworks – actually deliver the goods. If we don’t adopt fresh approaches to debug this institutional software, the global water goal – and the many SDG targets underpinned by better water management – will remain a mirage. Some of the priorities for change are:
In 2013, we led a systematic mapping of evidence on water institutions to find out what makes them work towards poverty reduction and sustainable growth. We examined around 30,000 journal articles and reports on the topic and found that only 38 (0.13%) showed clear evidence linking water management to these outcomes.
Inadequate knowledge about how and why water management delivers societal outcomes people would want means that efforts to improve performance in the sector lack direction, and will struggle to get financial support. It also leaves the sector vulnerable to politically or commercially driven fixes such as water markets, credits and offsets.
Radical improvements throughout the research-policy-action cycle are needed. For example, we need investment in new studies that track and compare performance on water management, as well as better standards and guidelines for commissioning, reviewing and reporting on research evidence.
2 | Accountability and system change, not sticking plasters
Development partners and INGOs often focus on place-based projects, extending the provision of services or managing water supply on behalf of beleaguered governments.
Although this can help to avert immediate humanitarian crises, it has long been recognised – not least by the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee – that the benefits of donor-led interventions which treat the symptoms rather than the root causes rarely endure. Instead, donors should prioritise approaches that hold water managers to account, help citizens get better services from their own governments and tackle things such as executive, legislative and judicial dysfunction, inadequate tax collection and mobilisation, overlapping ministerial mandates, power struggles, a vacuum of leadership and corruption.
As one example of a progressive response, we used social accountability monitoring, budget-tracking and evidence-based advocacy in our Fair Water Futures Programme. The initiative has helped more than 500,000 people in Tanzania and Zambia to obtain water rights, protect water resources and mitigate water-related disasters.
Early use of the standard by Olam International and Diageo has been shown to reduce the risks of pollution, interrupted supply and poor governance for production sites, supply chains, local communities and farmers. It’s now up to such progressive companies, responsible supermarkets and switched-on consumers to encourage other businesses to use the standard.
4 | Collaborative donor action, not competition
Despite the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and its principles of alignment and harmonisation, proper coordination in the water sector is rare. It’s still common to find multiple initiatives by multiple donors focusing on the same issues with the same people in the same places.
The Paris Declaration urgently needs to be lived and breathed. Improving the accountability of donors and how investments and impacts are tracked can help but this should be supported by shared progress indicators, such as one on good water governance (still strikingly absent from the SDGs).
Including targets on water resource management alongside taps and toilets under goal six of the SDGs is an important step towards recognising mutual dependencies, but these still need to come with a smarter, fit-for-purpose monitoring framework.
5 | Capacity building, not demolition
Building capacity through training workshops doesn’t work. Ad-hoc, one-off workshops rarely provide contextual relevance or inspire action. And consultant-led technical assistance is rarely effective in building long-term capacity; without the ownership needed for implementation, the plans and strategies created by consultants are often left to collect dust.
We urgently need new approaches to build professional capabilities. Contemporary theories of workplace motivationcould bear fruit here. Creating opportunities to learn by doing and receiving practitioner support from peers has been shown to yield the creativity and tenacity needed across the water sector. However, such models do not tally with the conditions of donor procurement processes, despite being stratospherically better value-for-money.
We also need to address the issues that cause so many skilled people to desert public sector water management roles in the global south, such as by improving civil service wages.
Global goals and targets might come and go but the pressing needs for improved water management in the real world don’t change. Let’s make sure that the ways we deliver it do.
Nick Hepworth is the director of Water Witness International. Follow @water_witness on Twitter.
On Saturday 11 June government ministers and campaigners attended the funeral of three female street vendors, laid to rest in sturdy white coffins laden with flowers, with more than 2,000 people in attendance. Their brutal murders had shocked a country.
Jesula Gelin, a mother of six, Vanessa Previl and Monique Vincent were all deaf and worked in Haiti’s capital. That is itself was notable – they were economically independent and lived away from their families in a deaf community in Leveque, a village about an hour from the city.
On 18 March they had spent the morning in Port-au-Prince buying business supplies and visiting their families. They set off home in the early afternoon, leaving plenty of time to get back before dark on a normal day. However, a bridge had collapsed on Route Nine, one of the main thoroughfares, bringing traffic to a standstill. “It was on the radio, TV, so everybody knew to avoid those areas,” says Nicole Phillips, a lawyer who is representing the women’s families. “But if you’re deaf, you’re not going to benefit from any of that. They had no idea that the bridge had collapsed.”
The women had been travelling on a tap tap – the privately run Jeeps that are the equivalent of buses in Haiti. But at some point, in the heavily congested traffic, they got off the tap tap to continue their journey on foot. “They got exhausted,” says Phillips. “And then late at night, we don’t know what time, they stopped off in one of the victim’s relative’s house.
The house was owned by a distant relative. “She had been there before, by car it’s just 20 minutes from where she lives,” says Phillips. “She and the two other ladies went there to spend the night.”
Reports of what happened next are from two women who have been arrested in connection with the triple murder. They lived at the house and say that when the three deaf women arrived they were frightened and thought that they were lougawou. In Haitian mythology, lougawou or lougarou are evil spirits who come out at night and cause mischief such as killing your goats or eating your dog. They are something to be feared. Disabled people are sometimes labelled bad spirits. “They think that they are a different creature of god,” says Phillips. “That helps them justify the stigma of disabled people. You can tell yourself this [that they are different] and feel more justified morally.”
The sequence of events is not entirely clear, but at some point between 8pm and midnight the women were tortured and brutally murdered. Phillips has seen photographs of the bodies with burn marks and machete cuts. The two women who were in the house and a male accomplice have been arrested in connection with the murder. But the police have not captured another main suspect, a distant relative of one of the victims.
“Violence against women with disabilities is believed to be two or three times higher than against non-disabled women,” says Lisa Adams, programme director of the US-based Disability Rights Fund, which works in Haiti. “Disability, gender and sexuality compound to present a lot of cultural myths and stereotypes about women with disabilities – ranging from infantilising them to making them hyper sexual. I think that has a lot to do with the violence experienced by women with disabilities in Haiti – these three women in particular.”
The murders have brought a furious response from disability rights, women’s rights and human rights campaigners. “This has brought Haiti’s disability rights activists together,” says Phillips. “It has galvanised the community.” On 1 April hundreds of people marched in Port-au-Prince to demand justice for the three murdered women, and several other demonstrations around the country followed, including a march on 9 June in Cabaret near where they were killed.
Disabled people in Haiti are discriminated against in multiple ways. For example, only 5% of children with disabilities are in school, according to a report by the Haitian state submitted in the report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. And people with disabilities complain that the police don’t take them seriously when they report crimes and that they are taunted in public as “cocobe” (useless).
“Haiti is a model for exclusion,” says Michel Pean, who was secretary of state for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in Haiti from 2007-11 and is blind himself. “But it’s also a good example of the fight for inclusion of people with disabilities within society.” Pean says that 1 million out of Haiti’s 10 million people have a disability. Since the earthquake in 2010, there are more people with disabilities and they have become more visible.
But strong civil society groups have driven successes for disability rights campaigners over the past 15 years, says Pean. “The idea to have a secretary of state dedicated to people with disabilities came from civil society. The same with the idea to have proper legislation came from civil society. Disability rights civil society is very active.”
And those activists are determined to seize this moment of tragedy and force the government to act. “We want to transform this very negative event into something positive,” says Pean. “Something which would ensure that people with disabilities are respected, and their rights are respected. Their right to education, their right to access to health, in other words, their right to live, with dignity.”
“For me, as a feminist activist,” says Nadine Anilus, a member of the Ministry of Women’s cabinet, “we condemn this criminal act and call the state authorities to take the necessary steps to make justice and reparation to the family of three women. Every Haitian citizen must play their part to improve the situation of people with disabilities. We are calling for a big national campaign.”
She adds that Haiti needs to ensure national accidents are communicated in a way that is accessible for people with disabilities and that more financial resources are needed for organisations working on these issues.
Pean is clear that it will take a long time before people with disabilities are treated equally in the country. “For things to actually change, mentalities as well, takes a long process,” he says. “One of the things that has to change is the economic situation in Haiti. Also, it’s essential that we have political stability. These are necessary conditions to enable us to reach true inclusion.”