Gov’ts Fail to Invest in Hungriest, Poorest Regions Creating Crisis After Crisis

By Stephen Leahy

CHANGWON, South Korea, Oct 21, 2011 (IPS)

For millennia, people have coped with drought in the Horn of Africa, comprised mainly of drylands. Yet today, more than 13 million people there are starving because of political instability, poor government policies and failure to invest in the world’s poorest people, say experts here in Changwon.

2.5 billion dollars in humanitarian aid is needed to cope with a devastating hunger crisis in parts of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

Two billion people, half of whom are extremely impoverished, live in drylands around the world, according to Anne Juepner of the Drylands Development Centre at the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Nairobi.

“Drylands are not wastelands, as is often thought. More than half of the world’s cattle, sheep, goats and most of its grains are grown in drylands,” Juepner told IPS in an interview outside of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10) in Changwon.

Juepner is here to launch UNDP’s “The Forgotten Billion”, a report to call attention to the fact that despite its productivity, drylands that comprise one third of the world’s land mass are also home to world’s poorest and most at-risk people. Continue reading

“Do you want an economy, or a planet we can all live on? I don’t want my future compromised by inaction on climate” — 16 year old from India

Children begged world leaders to craft a new climate treaty and left Copenhagen empty-handed. Their story.

By Stephen Leahy

COPENHAGEN, Dec 5 2009 (IPS/TerraViva)

Young people from 44 countries are demanding that world leaders take decisive action on climate change. The time for talk is over, they declared at the end of a weeklong Children’s Climate Forum here.

“Our plates are empty due to drought. Our future is at risk, and we demand that something be done,” they wrote in a declaration titled “Our World, Our Future” signed by 164 participants aged 14 to 17 at the conclusion of the forum.

I don’t want my future compromised by inaction on climate,” said Bipra Biswambhara, 16, of India.

Biswambhara and many of her fellow delegates were “shocked to learn how many people and parts of the world are already affected by climate change”, she told TerraViva. “We youth are committed to taking action in our home communities,” she said.

“We must have pity for future generations to come,” said Mohamed Axam Maumoon, 15, of the Maldives, a low-lying chain of islands that will likely vanish under rising oceans if temperatures rise two degrees C.

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“We are not alone, everyone is being affected,” Maumoon said. As a result there was a strong feeling of cooperation and common cause throughout the week, he said. “If we all work together we can have a bright future.” Continue reading