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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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Tracking India’s progress on MDGs

Providing an overview on the achievements of the MDGs in India, a citizen’s report titled: Measuring India’s Progress on the Millennium Development Goals was released on January 7 in New Delhi by Wada Na Todo Abhiyan (WNTA).

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Indian state felicitated by Millennium Campaign

The Indian state of Madhya Pradesh was honoured by the Millennium Campaign for its key participation at last year’s Stand Up and Speak Out initiative on October 17. The state witnessed a record turnout of more than half a million people in support of the campaign’s cause.

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TB death cases reduce in Afghanistan

New figures from World Health Organisation claim there has been a 50% fall in deaths from tuberculosis in Afghanistan. While over 50,000 new cases occur each year, TB diagnosis and treatment, now part of the Basic Package Health Services, reach more people in the country.

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New initiatives on disaster management in India

A newly launched portal to educate children about disaster management issues aims to convey the message through photographs, videos and games related to disaster management. Also, a report presented by social activist Medha Patkar highlights the demand for a river basin authority to mitigate the damage caused by floods in the Krishna river basin.

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Midday meal scheme is showing success

Providing free midday meals to all primary school children is one of the most ambitious initiatives in India. Despite the complaints of gaps in delivery and shortfall in supply, the midday meal scheme in Rajasthan has succeeded in improving nutritional status of school going children and enhanced school attendance and enrolment.

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India’s Bastar artisans to get global identity

The artisans of Bastar in Chhattisgarh, known for their handicrafts of wood, terracotta, wrought-iron, etc., have remained unacknowledged due to lack of proper exposure and marketing. With the recent signing of MoUs between NGOs and local bodies, they will now get international recognition and a larger market to sell their products.

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Blossoms from the dust

Delhi based NGO Deepalaya recently celebrated the success of DRIP, a programme in partnership with Reach India and USAID, by releasing a book documenting its achievements. The programme helped six NGOs to bring over four thousand out-of-school children into its fold and mainstream them into formal schools.

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Puppets on a broken string

Pune based Hemant Kanitkar was known for using puppets to spread social awareness in his state Maharashtra and other parts of India. His death, due to prolonged illness at a rather young age, has left a void that will be difficult to fill up.

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Homecoming tough for Nepal’s child soldiers

Child soldiers returning to their homes in Nepal face difficulties in rehabilitating themselves, say local NGOs. Fears of torture and abductions by Maoist rebels and government forces continue to haunt these children, who are in dire need of psycho-social support from their communities.

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