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Video: Amazon Indigenous Tribe Protests Hydroelectric Dam Construction

Indigenous people from the Munduruku ethnic group are fighting against the construction of the São Luiz do Tapajós dam in the state of Pará, Brazil. The dam will mean the flooding of 700,000 km2 in their homeland.

The Brazilian Federal Government plans to build up to five dams in the Tapajós River, where dozens of indigenous communities live. Together with São Luiz do Tapajós, the Jatobá dam was due to begin construction in 2015, but socio-environmental difficulties may have postponed that deadline to at least 2020. The two dams will cost together US$7 billion.

The Munduruku claim they have not been consulted about the project. For years, the Munduruku people from the Sawré Maybu community, which will be directly affected by the construction of São Luiz do Tapajós dam, have pressured the federal government to demarcate their lands. The demarcation would create a legal obstacle for the continuation of the dam's project.

A documentary about the issue was produced by videomaker Nayana Fernandez.

UPDATE 09/12/2014: Together with other organizations, Nayana Fernandez has launched a crowfunding campaign to help the Munduruku pressure the government to demarcate their territory, officialize two associations, build a website and translate and dub the documentary into their native language (most Mundurku people do not speak Portuguese). Supporters can contribute with a minimum of US$10. 

The Internet of Things and Smart Crops

Today, it's not enough to just talk about the Internet. This concept has broadened and it's a good challenge for those who want to become electronic engineers. César Viloria Núñez, a professor at the Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla, Colombia, explains what the Internet of things is:

Consiste en que las cosas en general estén conectadas y que no solo las personas ingresemos información a la red, sino que las cosas mismas generen información, la compartan entre ellas y tomen decisiones con el fin de automatizar distintos procesos.

It's about things in general being connected, and it's not only people feeding data to the web, but the things themselves generate information that they share it amongst themselves and make decisions with the aim of automating different processes.

Viloria Núñez tries to explain the concept with the example of a ‘smart refrigerator', but he also mentions smart crops. He wonders:

¿Qué tal una red de sensores en el terreno cultivado que identifique qué tan húmedo o seco está el suelo para activar automáticamente el sistema de riego? Tal vez dependiendo de qué tan maduro esté el producto cultivado se requiera más o menos agua, o más o menos fertilizantes, o los sensores pueden identificar si el cultivo está siendo atacado por alguna plaga para activar el suministro automático de insecticida.

What about a network of sensors in a cultivated piece of land that identifies how irrigated or dry the soil is to automatically activate the irrigation system? Maybe relying on how mature the cultivated product is, it will need more or less water, or more or less fertilizer, or the sensors might be able to identify if the crop has been attacked by some plague to activate an automatic supply of insecticide.

Welcome to the Internet of things.

If you are interested in science, don't forget to follow César Viloria Núñez on his accounts on LinkedIn or Twitter.

This post was part of the 28th #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 10, 2014.

Blogger Argues Corporate Sponsorship Cheapening Bangaldeshi Folk Culture

Devotees of Fakir Lalon Shah, also known as Lalon Shah (c.1774–1890), a Bengali philosopher poet, come to pay their respects on the anniversary of his death. Kustia, Bangladesh, 18/10/2009. Image by Suvra Kanti Das. Copyright Demotix

Devotees of Fakir Lalon Shah, a Bengali philosopher poet, come to pay their respects on the anniversary of his death. Cheuria, Kustia, Bangladesh, 18/10/2009. Image by Suvra Kanti Das. Copyright Demotix

If we look back the history of Bangladesh, we see examples of ancient kings and land lords who sponsored cultural activities, making literature, music and art flourish in the region. In the present era, we see affluent corporations, mostly telecom companies in Bangladesh, taking their place.

They have been going the extra mile to sponsor a wide variety of cultural pursuits, including a rural festival celebrating Fakir Lalon Shah (c. 1774–1890), a popular Bengali baul saint, mystic, songwriter, social reformer and thinker, but not always with positive reception.

Zahid Islam at the blog Alal O Dulal explains how corporations are selling the Lalon culture:

In 2007 for the first time in history, Lalon Phokir’s Dol Uthshob (Lalon's Dol Festival) was held under sponsorship, with promotion campaigns so aggressive and ill designed it disgusts me to even remember it. Since then Grameenphone and Banglalink (telecom brands) took turns in sponsoring the festivals.

He also mentions that Lalon festival is getting a modern shape under corporate banner:

The first time around, those of us who had been visiting Cheuria for many years, were shocked to find the sponsorship junks.

And the need to protect their sanctity:

There are many people and organisations, home and abroad, that feel we need to “protect” the baul way of life. I do not necessarily agree with this notion. Rather I feel our intervention is what creates most of the “problems.”

Android App Digitises Motorcycle Deliveries in Kenya

Erik Hersmann shares his experience with a new Android app that is set to revolutionise motorcycle courier services in Kenya:

This year at Pivot East I had my first look at Sendy, which does for motorcycle courier deliveries and customers in Nairobi, what Uber did for taxis and passengers in San Francisco. At its heart, Sendy is about bringing the vast and growing motorcycle courier and delivery network in Africa into the digital and networked world.

This is a big deal, because those of us who live in large African cities know just how inefficient driving a car around the traffic-plagued metropolises can be. With the bad roads, traffic and high cost of fuel, motorcycle deliveries are a natural path.

Indeed, in almost every city, from primary to tertiary throughout the continent, you’ll find thousands of motorcycle guys sitting by the side of the road, ready to courier a package or serve as a taxi.

What If 75% of All Cities Were Deprived of Electricity by Design?

A Night in Madagascar when electricity is out  by Augustin- CC-BY-2.0

A Night in Madagascar without electricity by Augustin- CC-BY-2.0

There are about 105 cities listed in all of Madagascar. The Minister of Energy Fienena Richard recently announced that 80 cities of Madagascar are curently deprived of electricity because JIRAMA, the public company in charge of providing electricity across the territory is running short on fuel. As a result, JIRAMA has to pick and choose the cities that will receive electricity. That is close to 75% of all cities in the nation, a ratio that would be unfathomable in most countries of the world. The JIRAMA company is also plagued by the threat of a general strike from employees who demand more safety measures against angry customers.  One those unhappy customers was the Malagasy president himself who threatened to sue the company after an electrical malfunction at his home. Blogger Andriamihaja in Tulear (South East of Madagascar) wrote a humorous open letter to the company picturing life without power outage in his town. 

Updates on the 18th SAARC Summit On Social Media

The ongoing summit of the The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was covered by international media with different perspectives. However non-official initiatives such as 18th SAARC Summit blog, Facebook account, Twitter and Google+ account are aggregating updates on the summit for easy archiving.

Here are some examples:

Infographic: 5 Facts About Sri Lanka’s Tamil Community in the North

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), a civil society think tank in Sri Lanka, has recently conducted a top line survey on “Democracy in post-war Sri Lanka 2014“. The results show that difference of opinion on the reconciliation still exists between the Tamil and the Sinhalese people after the Sri Lankan civil war.

The findings from the survey with regard to the Tamil community is very significant. Their key issues are poverty and unemployment and they feel deprived having very little say about the affairs of the country. Here is an infographic depicting their plights:

Infographic courtesy of Centre For Policy Alternatives

Infographic courtesy of Centre For Policy Alternatives

One Vibe Africa Launches Africa From the Skies

One Vibe Africa uses music and art to inspire Kenyan youths to appreciate culture and tradition and to develop their own creative potential. Their latest initiative #Africafromtheskies needs your support. Africa From the Skies is an expedition to create empowering films and media, capture culture and facilitate workshops.

Sri Lanka's Slow LLRC Implementation

The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) was a commission of inquiry mandated to investigate the facts and circumstances which led to the bloody civil war in Sri Lanka. After an 18-month inquiry, the commission submitted its report to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa almost three years ago, on 15 November 2011. The Sri Lankan citizen journalism website Groundviews recently posted an infographic released by Center For Policy Alternatives, a think tank, showing the slow progress of implementing the LLRC's recommendations.

LLRC-implementation-JPG1

It is noteworthy how Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe in March 2013 claimed that 99% of the LLRC Action Plan had been implemented, with President Rajapaksa claiming in May 2014 that only 30% had been implemented. These discrepancies highlight the lack of clarity across the GoSL [Government of Sri Lanka] on reconciliation efforts.

How To Find Happiness In Democracy

From Bhutan, the land of Gross National Happiness, blogger Passang Tshering shares how people can achieve happiness in democracy. He compares democracy to love marriage and says that there are three groups of people, the lovers, the haters and the concern citizens.

The Lovers are the ones who swear by one party, and regardless of how good or bad the decision the party makes they will not move an inch into disagreement. They are like a obsessive husband who could go and hug his wife after she has thrown a hot pan on his face.

Contrary to that The Haters are the ones who turn blind eyes to all the good things a party does and suddenly becomes so loud when they see a flaw. They are like an angry husband who would slap his wife even when she gifts him a bouquet of flowers.

If we have more of these two groups of people then democracy is at risk. They could fail a country. Therefore we must strive to be and saw the seed of The Concerned Citizens in our youth. Educating and inspiring them to grow the heart that is courteous enough to acknowledge the good even if it's done by an enemy, and courageous enough to condemn even when the wrongdoer is a friend. That like a very human and loving husband.

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