A sneak peek at what our correspondents are reporting on this week
Hardly a sun rises without ushering in some World Day for Something-or-Other, and this week’s calendar is marked with more than its fair share of issues. Thursday is simultaneously World Sight Day, World Day Against the Death Penalty and World Mental Health Day. Emma Batha has brought the latter into focus with a must-read report on Somalia, where mental illness affects one in three people but treatment is almost non-existent – unless you count being locked in rooms with hyenas or tied to trees. One brave psychiatric nurse is trying to dispel dangerous myths and practices.
Friday is International Day of the Girl Child. We’ll have a special multimedia package focusing on young girls, who bear the brunt of scourges as diverse as child marriage and female genital mutilation yet are oftentimes left out of aid and development programmes.
Lisa Anderson will be reporting on a powerful project to collect the thoughts of 500 adolescent girls in 14 countries. Emma Batha takes a close look at problems faced by Tanzanian teenage girls who have babies while still children themselves. And we have a photo blog on the story of a 15-year-old boy living in Gaza who married his 14-year-old girlfriend in a rarely documented case of arranged marriage among Palestinians.
Lisa Anderson will also be unravelling the economic cost of violence against women, which the World Health Organisation estimates affects around 35 percent of women worldwide. Aside from the emotional and physical toll, gender-based violence results in a serious drop in GDP. You may be surprised by how much.
Sunday is World Day for Disaster Reduction. The U.N.’s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction will be launching preliminary results of a global survey on disabilities and disasters. People with disabilities are especially vulnerable in crises – and often the last on the list when it comes to assistance. As we highlighted in a recent 5 facts: Disabilities and disasters, 80 percent of the world’s disabled live in developing countries. Megan Rowling will have more.
In India, Nita Bhalla has been looking into reports that communal riots between Hindus and Muslims that killed almost 50 people and displaced more than 40,000 a month ago also involved serious sexual violence against women, including sexual assault and gang rape.
Nita will also follow up her story last week on India’s surrogacy tourism industry with an interview with the head of the Indian Medical Research Council on the $400 million-a-year business. And she’ll be reporting on frustration among some international aid agencies in Pakistan who haven’t been allowed to work in the remote, insurgency-prone region of Baluchistan that has suffered twin quakes over the past two weeks, killing almost 350 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless.
Misha Hussain is exploring conditions in Mbera camp in Mauritania, which is home to people displaced by Mali’s conflict. Aid workers say a camp like Mbera is much harder to run than any refugee camp in the Syria conflict. Find out why.
He’s also turning his attention to Niger, where one medical NGO is saying aid workers need to change the way they think if they want to tackle malnutrition, which has increased in the country despite the fact that this is not an emergency year. What’s wrong with the current mindset and what needs to change?
Thin Lei Win will have a special report from Cambodia on what some analysts call the worst dam on the Mekong tributaries. The $800 million project promises to displace thousands and wreck havoc with fish stocks. Activists and environmentalists are scrambling to convince the powers that be that the dam could ruin the Lower Mekong for good.
Thin will also be attending a major meeting of economists, ecologists and senior policymakers from across Asia who are meeting in Bangkok to examine ways to improve upon methods of totting up national wealth that date back to the 1950s. These systems, which generate indicators such as gross domestic product, rarely value natural assets such as clean air, water or fertile soil. It’s time, say proponents of change, for new methods of “green accounting”.
This is a mere taste of what’s in store this week. Stay tuned for much more.