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More dams, less irrigation

After having spent 25 billion US dollars on building dams between 1990-2004, the actual area under irrigation in India has shrunk. Reasons vary from siltation to bad maintenance to diverting the water for urban and industrial use.

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NGO frees children from factories

Bachpan Bachao Andolan has rescued more than 80 children from factories located in old Delhi area of the capital city in two different raids. Despite laws banning child labour in India, it continues to thrive in sweatshops across the country.

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‘Growing inequality is a threat to democracy’

India has slipped to 128th position in the world human development index. An average expenditure of farmer household is less than half a dollar a month. About 82% of them suffer from indebtedness. Yet the government is withdrawing from sectors that matter most to the poor, says Magsaysay awardee P. Sainath.

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Nepal issues exit permits to Bhutan's refugees

Nepal’s recent decision to resettle refugees from Bhutan in third countries is good news for over 107,000 people who have lived in camps for the last 17 years. The first groups of refugees are expected to begin departing next month.

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A house that blends well with nature

In southern India, Dr Sreepathi has a house with eco-friendly features and that can be described as nearly autonomous as it does not require many public utilities. Not just equipped with water-harvesting facility, the house also boasts of solar power and much more.

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Love in the time of AIDS

A documentary filled with the message of hope and courage, follows a young South African HIV/AIDS activist as she crosses linguistic and cultural barriers to reach HIV positive women living in the city of Mumbai in India. The documentary is due to be shown on Indian television this year.

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Prioritise investment in girls, says report

When it comes to investing in girls, actions must speak louder than words. A new report Why Girls Count says governments and multilateral agencies in developing countries must invest in the welfare of girls for better social and economic outcomes; countries that do not do so risk perpetuating poverty.

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Four billion dollar post-cyclone plan for Bangladesh

The UN and USAID along with nine other donors have proposed a plan costing US$ 4 billion for post-cyclone reconstruction in Bangladesh. Cyclone Sidr had struck the country in November last year leaving thousands dead and causing huge economic losses.

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Bitter cold causing hardships in Afghanistan

Heavy snowfall and unprecedented cold waves in Afghanistan have claimed at least 500 lives and cut off many villages from urban centres, leading to serious disruption of essential supplies. Given the magnitude of the problem, the government has expressed helplessness while assistance from NGOs is proving insufficient.

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Girls sold as indentured labour in Nepal

There are over 20,000 indentured domestic workers in Nepal. Known in local parlance as Kamlari, the system originated half a century ago under which daughters were provided as domestic servants in exchange for cash. Some NGOs are now engaged in rescuing these girls from this appalling practice.

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Row over UNICEF high protein biscuits ends

Sri Lankan police has finally released UNICEF’s impounded consignment of high protein biscuits meant for undernourished children and mothers in the conflict zone. The UN agency’s aid material had been confiscated earlier also on the suspicion that they would land in the hands of Tamil rebels.

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Meeting MDGs through sport

The Olympic Committee has identified five Millennium Development Goals to support humanitarian and environmental issues through the use of sport. The international sports organisation believes its partnership with the UN will help reach the goals and its benefits to young people around the world.

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Investing faith in the differently-abled

Sharayu Precision is a Pune-based company in western India that believes in providing the first opportunity of employment to those who are physically or mentally challenged. Its founder Subhash Chuttar has been honoured with prestigious Hellen Keller Award for his contribution to the cause.

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Peace icon’s ashes scattered at sea

As India paid its homage to Mahatma Gandhi on January 30, the 60th anniversary of his assassination, his great-granddaughter poured his ashes into the Arabian Sea off Mumbai. Gandhi was shot dead on January 30, 1948 at a prayer meeting in New Delhi.

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Aghanistan's war widows face desperation

Over 1.5 million young women have been widowed in Afghanistan owing to armed conflicts over the last two decades. Food, shelter and social protection are the most pressing needs for these women and their children with most of them lacking the economic means to earn a decent living.

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Loan waivers in offing for Indian farmers

A massive debt relief package for farmers is being finalised by India’s agriculture ministry. The scheme will provide debt relief to small and marginal farmers who own land up to two hectares and large farmers. The total outgoings over four years are expected to be around INR 700 billion.

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Food getting beyond reach for Bangladeshi poor

Bangladesh’s poor are increasingly finding it difficult to buy food. Increase in wages across sectors over last year is disproportionate to the overall rise in food prices, which have increased by 27% in last four months alone. Recurring floods and cyclones destroying standing crops have only added to the woes.

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UN's global campaign for safe hospitals

Hundreds of hospitals and heath facilities get destroyed every year by disasters. The UN has recently launched a global campaign to ensure that the needy are not left without vital care in the midst of an emergency.

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Bangladesh dolphins are not breathing easy

River dolphins of Bangladesh are facing a serious risk of extinction due to over-fishing, shortage of prey, pollution, etc. Efforts are now being made to protect them by monitoring salinity levels of rivers and preventing accidental killings of dolphins by fishermen.

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Indian schools suffer from lack of infrastructure

About 30% of schools in India are without permanent structures, about 14% have no drinking water facility and about 60% have no separate toilets for girls, according to the latest official figures. It is obvious that lack of infrastructure has impact on quality of education.

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