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Mapping Vietnam's Socio-Economic Indicators

vietnam_world_bankThe World Bank has launched mapVIETNAM, an interactive map that shows various socio-economic indicators in Vietnam such as poverty rates, employment, and electricity connectivity. The photo above shows the number of households living on $2 dollars a day. Using the map, we can see that poverty rates are high in the northern and central parts of the country.

The Collapse of Civilisation Is Already a Reality for the Children of Ambovombe, Madagascar

Children in Ambovombe, Madagascar. Photo by John Strauss Kotovaoarivelo, posted on Facebook.

Children in Ambovombe, Madagascar. Photo by John Strauss Kotovaoarivelo, posted on Facebook.

A scientific publication in the Journal of Ecological Economics argues that “over-exploitation of either Labor or Nature will result in a societal collapse” if nothing is done to prevent it.

Based on a mathematical model, the study explains (via The Guardian) that the convergence of ” the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity” and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or “Commoners”) [poor]” will increase the likelihood of the fall of society as it was observed for previous human civilizations.

That collapse is already a reality in the south of Madagascar, a region that has suffered recurrent bout of famine over the past decade. 300,000 people are at risk of famine in the region because of a severe and prolonged drought since November 2014. 90% of the Malagasy population live with less than 2 USD/day, a stark reminder of the growing inequity on the African continent. John Strauss Kotovaoarivelo is an accountant manager from the region. He visited the city of Ambovombe and could not hold back his tears from what he saw. He hesitated but felt compelled to share the urgency of the situation by posting photos of children fighting for their lives because of lack of food. Kotovaoarivelo writes :

Je ne peux pas me taire et faire comme si de rien n’était devant la gravité de la situation vécue au quotidien par nos compatriotes dans le sud. Ces photos parlent d’elles même. Je ne vais pas vous prendre la tête pour ces photos, mais quand même en vous bousculant juste un peu pour réfléchir avec moi sur les pourquoi et les comment de toutes ces choses qui font chaque jour le calvaire de ces pauvres gens. Je vais vous révéler là des photos pour ne pas dire des informations qui passent presque inaperçues [..]  Nos dirigeants sont occupés ou aveuglés par d’autres choses qu’ils ne pourront jamais déchiffrer le message sur les regards de ces pauvres enfants

I cannot keep quiet any longer and pretend as if nothing is happening in the face of  the grave situation that our countrymen in the south face on daily basis. These photos speak for themselves. I will not bludgeon your head with these photos, but I hope they will jost your awareness a little and help you reflect with me about the plight of these people. I am merely sharing my pictures so that their suffering will not go unnoticed [..] Our political leaders are so busy or so blinded by other things that they cannot feel the message in the eyes of these children, seeking help. 

Why Students in Chad are Protesting and It's not Just About the Helmet Law

Bus on fire during student protests in Chad via Makaila blog

Bus on fire during student protests in Chad via Makaila blog

Police are violently repressing student protests in Chad since March 10. The official reason for the protest is the new safety regulation that require bikers to wear a helmet. Motorbikes are often used as taxis in the capital city, Ndjamena. However, the reason for protests are more profound than the new law. One student explains why they are protesting:

Croyez-vous que c’est une question de port de casque ? Personne ne s’oppose à l’utilisation de casque. Il y a une sorte d’impréparation de la mesure par les autorités et d’exploitation de la vente par les commerçants. Jusque quand allons-nous accepter d’être sauvagement exploités ? Le ciment, le sucre, le pétrole…savez-vous que le marché de casque a permis à certains responsables de s’enrichir ? 

Do you really think that the protests are about just helmet law ? No one is opposed to the use of helmet. The authorities are not prepared to properly implement the measures and the law is quite beneficial to all retailers. When will we say enough to this brutal exploitation ? It is the same thing for cement, sugar, oil … do you know that the helmet has allowed some officials to get rich quite rapidly ?

  During the repression of the protests by the police, one student, Hassan B. Daoud was killed. Here is a video of police brutality against some students posted by ABDELKERIM YACOUB KOUNDOUGOUMI on facebook: 

 

Fast-Growing City of El Alto Turns Thirty

El Alto graphic by Tonny Lopez (@tonnylp)

El Alto graphic by Tonny Lopez (@tonnylp)

Relatively young by Bolivian city standards, the city of El Alto celebrates its 30th anniversary on March 6th, 2015. What initially started as a small suburb of the city of La Paz, the seat of government located 4,070 meters above sea level, it became its own municipality in 1985. It is now Bolivia's second largest city according to the 2012 Census.

The city's population is comprised primarily of Aymara migrants from the Altiplano that take part in informal and formal commerce and manufacturing. While it counts on a rich cultural tradition, El Alto is also known for its role in the 2003 “Gas War,” that ultimately led to the resignation of then-President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada in the wake of 80 people left dead. The slogan “El Alto on its feet, never on its knees,” has been used since the 1980s, and is still used today to reflect the resilient character of its residents.

To celebrate El Alto's anniversary, the hashtag #ElAlto30 has been making its rounds on social media.

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. 

Documenting the Systematic Decline of Women's Rights in Macedonia

Although southeast European countries are progressive in many other ways, the decline of women's reproductive rights in some Western Balkan countries has been a worrying trend. In Macedonia, several small protests have been held in recent years to demonstrate people's opposition to government involvement in determining public sentiment on issues like abortion and family planning, after the government implemented a national anti-abortion campaign that began in 2011.  

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“My body – my decision” sigh at a protest against new abortion law. Photo by Vanco Dzhambaski, CC BY-NC-SA.

Recently, Macedonian equal rights activist Ana Vasileva, known as @Amateuress on Twitter, provided a lengthy overview of the systematic decline of women's rights in Macedonia on her blog:

In recent years Macedonia has undergone a very subtle, yet dreadfully pervasive deterioration of the situation with women's rights. Mainly unnoticed or overlooked, the government latched on the popular, deeply misogynist sentiment of the suffering mother (a metaphor often used for the country itself) and after the initial surge of promise with the introduction of the gender quotas in 2006 and the adoption of the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, which paired with the history of equal treatment from the previous system led to even higher percentages in female representation in certain areas compared to the EU average[1], things started moving downwards steadily, without sufficient public resistance.

It can arguably be claimed that the ploy began with the anti-abortion posters and newspaper ads which started littering the public space out of nowhere circa 2006-2007 without anyone claiming responsibility for them…

Call for Urgent Climate Change Action After Cyclone Pam Devastates Vanuatu

Following the devastation of Pacific islands nation Vanuatu by Category 5 Cyclone Pam, John Englart (aka @Takvera) looks at links with climate change:

Vanuatu has suffered its worst disaster on record with the impact of Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam, with the President of Vanuatu blaming climate change for extreme weather (Guardian 16Mar2015).

…Cyclone Pam and the devastation of Vanuatu and other Pacific nations is one more step on the road to a climate agreement in Paris in December 2015.

John also speculates about Australia's contribution to foreign aid and its role at the UN Climate Change Conference COP21 in Paris later this year.

His post also has links to organisations where you can give donations for emergency relief for Vanuatu.

14 Open Source Products Based in Africa

Despite many problems facing the African continet, African open source innovators are not lagging behing. Here is a list of 14 open source projects coming out of the continent.

Malawian Student Makes His Own TV Station

Chisomo Daka, a student at the University of Malawi’s chancellor college, has created his own TV station, Paul Ndiho reports:

Innovation is happening across Africa, in all different sectors, from education to energy, banking to agriculture and in television broadcasting. In Malawi, a university student has created a community TV station called “analog TV project” one that he hopes will transmit all social events taking place on campus. Malawi TV Project
Chisomo Daka is a student at the University of Malawi’s chancellor college. He is pursuing a degree in education science and he is trying to make his mark in the television broadcasting industry. By his own admission, he says that he is not an engineer by training, nor does he claim to know much about engineering. But his love and passion for tale-communications has inspired him to build from scratch a community television station. Daka says he hopes to use this TV station to broadcast social events and student projects throughout the entire campus.
“We have been able to transmit a video signal and we have been able to capture that. But by the end of the day, we would want to finalize it and make it a full working television station for the campus.”
Before his first broadcasting test signal, he was just a normal student, and few students knew about his innovation. Today, Chisomo Daka has created a name for himself as the new kid on the block. His community TV station is a hit on campus and everybody is talking about him. He says operating out of the norm is what is drove him to be innovative.

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:

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