A sneak peek at what Thomson Reuters Foundation correspondents are reporting on this week…
How many slaves are there in the world today? To know that, you’d need to count every woman, man and child trafficked into the sex industry. You’d need to know every victim of debt bondage and indentured servitude. Every child born as chattel or press-ganged into bearing arms. Every forced labourer on farms, in hotels, restaurants or on building sites.
Because slavery is an organised crime – some would say an organised crime against humanity – exact statistics are impossible to come by. But a new global slavery index released later this week will seek to give a pretty accurate estimate, based on the latest data available and some sensible-sounding extrapolations. We’ll be covering the report in full, which comes out just before EU Anti-Trafficking Day on Friday.
Misha Hussain will also have the story of an 18-year-old Mauritanian girl who was a slave from the age of four. She is now seeking justice for torture, rape and restriction on freedom of movement by her former masters, though Mauritanian police and judges have been dismissive of her claims. Her case has brought human rights activists onto the streets for peaceful sit-ins, which have been violently dispersed by authorities.
In the meantime, we’ll continue our comprehensive coverage of India’s most ferocious storm in 14 years. Our South Asia correspondent, Nita Bhalla, has been on top of the story since Cyclone Phailin started churning across the Bay of Bengal late last week, packing winds of more than 200 km per hour and 3 metre-high tidal waves. Mercifully few people died, thanks largely to mass evacuations, but millions now need aid. Don’t miss her analysis of what India got right, in stark contrast to the last time a storm this big hit, in 1998, killing 10,000 people.
On Thursday, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies releases its annual World Disasters Report. This year’s report explores the profound impact of technological innovations on humanitarian action and how humanitarians are employing technology in new and creative ways. It argues that the responsible use of technology offers concrete ways to make aid more effective, efficient and accountable, and can directly reduce vulnerability and strengthen resilience. Megan Rowling will bring it to life.
Speaking of disasters, a new report from Britain’s Overseas Development Institute estimates the number of poor people who will be living in countries highly exposed to natural hazards in coming decades. I won’t spoil the surprise, but you can bet it’s a big number. Megan’s on this one too, looking into the relationship between efforts to cut global poverty and the funding – or lack of funding – for reducing disaster risks.
Our correspondents on the front lines of climate change are hard at work this week. In Pakistan, Aamir Daeed has been looking into water-efficient crops such as “dry seeded” rice grown in half the usual amount of water. Such innovations could help the country cope with increasing water scarcity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Pakistani scientists say.
In Nepal, Saleem Shaikh promises a story on the mountain of food waste produced in Kathmandu each day. Most of it rots, giving off climate-changing methane. But a new effort to collect the waste and turn it into biogas and fertiliser is paying big benefits.
And Erin Berger will report that almost half the timber Chinese companies exported from Mozambique last year wasn’t supposed to leave the southeast African country, nor even the forest in some cases. Now both countries are stepping up efforts to crack down on the illegal logging that costs Mozambique millions of dollars a year and puts its forests at risk.
That’s but a taster. Stay tuned for all this and much more.