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Bangladesh gets its first biomass plant

First of its kind in Bangladesh, DreamsPower is a 250 KW biomass gasification facility. Using the rice husk, this will generate renewable electricity and is part of a rural electrification project that will benefit hundreds of thousands of people living in villages.

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Amnesty demands impartial enquiry into Nandigram atrocities

In a recent report, Amnesty International India and Human Rights Watch have demanded an impartial enquiry into all acts of human rights violations that took place in the eastern India’s Nandigram area. Local farmers protesting state acquisition of land had clashed with ruling party supporters, leading to a spurt of violence since early 2007.

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UK to double aid to Myanmar

In wake of Myanmar’s humanitarian crisis and demands by various activist groups, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has announced doubling its humanitarian aid to £18 million over the next three years. Around one-third of the country's poor survive on less than US$ 1 a day.

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Visual chat facility for Afghan prisoners

A new video-telecommunications system jointly set up by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the US government in Afghanistan's capital Kabul has enabled over 600 prisoners currently held by US forces to be in regular contact with their relatives.

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India fears bird flu spread

Veterinary workers are killing thousands of chickens in two infected districts in West Bengal. As fears of bird flu mount in the eastern Indian state, officials are working hard to cull 400,000 birds in order to contain the spread of the avian virus.

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ADB meet faces boycott

Several organisations from South Asia are opposing the Asian Development Bank’s revision of safeguard policies on environment and resettlement of indigenous people. The Peoples Forum Against the ADB has called for a boycott of the ongoing consultation and held a demonstration outside the venue in New Delhi.

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Sri Lanka ceasefire end could hit aid delivery

As the truce between Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger (LTTE) rebels ends on January 16, humanitarian agencies have raised concern over its possible impact on aid delivery. Fresh violence could affect over a hundred thousand displaced people and put at risk the safety of its workers, say agencies.

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Selective consultation irks Indian fishermen

The Indian fishing communities are upset with the Ministry of Environment and Forests on being left out of the consultation process over an Integrated Coastal Zone Management scheme under World Bank guidelines. They say the government is trying to bring in Special Economic Zones, tourist resorts and ports all along India's coastline.

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Human rights group renews boycott call on Burma's gems

Human rights advocates are urging consumers and merchants to shun Burmese gems at the military government's latest auction of precious stones. Human Rights Watch has attacked the gem trade for propping up the military dictatorship and it is felt that western boycotts could significantly hamper the junta’s profits.

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A ‘wasted’ childhood

A study conducted in Pune, a city in western Indian state of Maharashtra, shows that most of the waste-picking is carried out by children. Those who should be spending their time playing and attending schools are forced by circumstances to take up a hazardous profession at a tender age.

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Bangladesh local filter to combat arsenic tainted water

The Sono filter, a local innovation, offers hope to millions in Bangladesh who lack access to safe drinking water. Arsenic contaminated groundwater exists in all but one of the country’s 64 districts, and adversely impacts the health of those who ingest it over long periods.

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Coke verdict: Not safe…safe…not safe

In a rebuttal to the clean chit given by a prestigious body to Coca-Cola, the Centre for Science and Environment has said that in the absence of standards for pesticide residues in colas, soft drinks are still not safe for drinking in India.

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Afghan government seeks to mainstream madrassas

Critical of its existing policies, the Afghan government is now trying to transform its religious schools by widening their syllabus. The move is seen as an attempt to regain its past historic glory as students will be taught history, geography, science, languages - and computer studies, apart the teachings of Islam.

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Pakistan faces severe food crisis

As a result of food shortage, prices of essential commodities in Pakistan are skyrocketing. Amidst accusations that the government is hoarding and smuggling food items, no one seems to be enthusiastic about upcoming elections. People can be seen standing for hours in long queues to secure a bagful of wheat flour at subsidised prices.

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A rally on wheels to build Dalit awareness

A people’s cycle rally over 60 days, will build public opinion on issues of concern affecting Dalits and other marginalised sections of society in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Organised by the National Conference of Dalit Organisations, the rally was recently flagged off from Rewa district on January 10.

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Enhancing capabilities through micro-credit

Concept of micro-credit is bringing about a silent revolution in more than 60 districts of rural Nepal by helping people in augmenting their income. Hundreds and thousands of poor families have access to different micro-finance institutions and they indeed are trying to take the maximum benefit out of this facility.

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Afghanistan asks WFP help to ward off food shortage fears

The Afghan government has asked the World Food Programme to increase its food aid in 2008 following soaring food prices and concerns about food shortages, and distribute it in the inaccessible areas. However the government also claims it has multiple strategies in place to avert food shortages in the winter months.

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More microfinance initiatives key to financial inclusion

The recent Annual Micro Finance Colloquium 2008 at Jaipur underlined the need for more initiatives for the financial inclusion of the poor in India’s western state of Rajasthan. A report released at the meeting highlights future opportunities and challenges for scaling up the sector.

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Bangladesh to adopt urea fertiliser technique

The use of urea deep placement (UDP) increases rice yields by 25 per cent while using up less quantities of urea. The Bangladesh government now plans to extend this technique to various sub-districts for effective fertiliser usage and increased food production.

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The search continues for cyclone missing

While the Bangladesh cyclone claimed thousands of lives and left millions homeless, there remain large parts of the population who have gone missing. Bangladesh Red Crescent is now working on a database of those missing, mostly women and children, to help link them up with their loved ones.

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