Our Perspective

      • Protecting people with disabilities in times of disaster | Jo Scheuer

        11 Oct 2013

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        Lahore resident Jamila Hasan and her disabled daughter negotiate their way across a flooded street. Photo: Tariq Saeed, IRIN

        Approximately 10 percent of the world's population lives with a disability. Often ignored, forgotten or stigmatized, people with disabilities not only struggle for daily recognition, but face life-threatening challenges in times of disaster. Those whose mobility is impaired cannot access evacuation routes; those with visual or hearing impairment don’t receive early warnings; and those dependant on health and other community infrastructure suffer disproportionately from disaster. During the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, the death rate amongst people with disabilities was twice that of the general population, and when Hurricane Katrina hit the US in 2006, the immobile poor were disproportionately left behind in New Orleans. Fourteen percent of those who remained were living with a disability that made them physically unable to evacuate, while 23 percent were caring for a disabled person. October 13 is the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction. The theme this year is ‘disability and disasters,’ a welcome move to draw awareness to the difficulties those with disabilities face in times of disaster. 157 countries have now signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities pledging, among other things, to protect persons with disabilities during conflict, humanitarian emergencies and disasters. In planning and preparing Read More

      • Energy and development: Did you cook your coffee with wood or with charcoal today? | Mina Weydahl

        09 Oct 2013

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        Christine Kyomugasho, 67, cooks using bio gas at her home in Uganda. (Photo: Matthias Mugisha/UNDP Uganda)

        With few exceptions, all of us engage in some sort of cooking every day, in various ways, and sometimes with varying success. Some of us cook with an electric stove, some with gas stoves, some cook outside, some inside. 2.7 billion people across the world cook with traditional stoves and with wood, charcoal and other so-called “traditional fuels.” Cooking with wood or charcoal is a bit more challenging than cooking with gas or electricity. First of all, it’s trickier to get – whether I buy wood or charcoal at the market or I actually go to the forest and get the wood myself, it takes a lot longer than turning on a gas flame or an electric stove. In the state of Himachal Pradesh in India, for example, rural women typically spend 40 hours collecting fuel every month, many of them walking more than 6 kilometers round trip. Secondly, traditional fuel is a lot heavier – a family cooking with wood will use, on average, 2400 kilograms per year. This can contribute to deforestation in areas where wood is the only affordable and available option. Thirdly, wood and charcoal produce more smoke than a gas or electric stove, depending on what Read More

      • Bosnia and Herzegovina: The war in people's minds | Amir Kulaglic

        04 Oct 2013

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        Kulaglic shows his escape route from Srebrenica, which involved walking through the woods for seven days and nights. (Photo: Sigrid Lupieri/UNDP)

        I was born in Srebrenica, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and have lived there all my life. There were always tensions between Serbs and the Bosnian Muslim minority, but I couldn't quite believe there would ever be a war. I was mistaken. In 1992, [when the conflict started] many members of the Bosnian community fled into the woods. But I had a frail, elderly grandfather, an aging father, and my mother and step-father refused to leave their homes — so I stayed with my family. In May, they shot my father. He was a fragile man with a walking stick and not a threat to anyone. As the conflict intensified, tens of thousands of displaced people from around Srebrenica came to the city seeking shelter. In 1993, the UN Security Council declared the city a weapon-free haven. Despite this, after the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995, men and boys fled from the city, which was surrounded by the military. Through a systematic effort by Serb forces in Bosnia, more than 8,000 boys and men between the ages of 14 and 75 were murdered. I managed to escape into the woods and reach a safe area in Tuzla, after walking for seven Read More

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