Daily Current Affairs – 1st Fabruary, 2017

Daily Current Affairs – 1st Fabruary, 2017

Child Suffering in Conflict Zone

Introduction

Newspapers all over the world in the last couple of years have been featuring heart wrenching pictures of children who have been victims of the brutalities of war zones and crisis plagued areas of the world.

Media reporting of Syria crisis, refugee crisis in the Mediterranean region have consisted of images of dead, injured and distressed children. This has probably been the worst year for children casualties and sufferings since the World War 2.

The Spread of the Problem

It is however beyond imagination what these children go through in reality. The pictures can never state the actual level of suffering. They cannot capture the magnitude of actual suffering.

  • Approximately 240 million children are living in countries such as Syria, Yemen and Iraq which are highly critical conflict zones and constantly under the impact of violence.
  • The children are also subject to horrible treatment in terror struck and poverty struck African nations. The kidnapping of female children by Boko Haram in Nigeria is a case in point. Children in Somalia, South Sudan and Afghanistan face similar fate due to the presence of Taliban and its affiliate organisations.
  • Other than violence, sexual assault, kidnappings a huge number of children also have to deal with problems and challenges with respect to livelihood security and internal displacement.
  • Due to constant crisis children remain undernourished and out of school.
  • Schools and hospitals are bombed during attacks by rebel groups and counter attacks by the government. This leads to reduced access to education and health facilities.

Global Response Strategy

Political and Institutional Strategy

  • The United Nations and other humanitarian institutions such as UNICEF along with nations such as Sweden are making best efforts in alleviation of child suffering.
  • Political solutions to crisis in nations such as Syria and the refugee crisis in Europe is the most important and reliable solution to this constant pain that children have to go through.
  • There is also a need to strengthen the current humanitarian system’s capacity to reach the children at greatest risk.
  • Improved coordination between governments and relief organizations is essential for efficient and effective relief activities. They also need to ensure that development and relief initiatives are in sync with each other

Reformation and Innovation

  • The institutions formed in the post World War 2 era worked on the principles of cooperation, dialogue and results. In these testing times of conflict and disaster, these institutions need to reform their way of functioning. The reformed approach has to be based on creativity and solidarity.
  • Highly innovative solutions need to be introduced to fight emerging challenges. Children in extremist controlled areas which are cut off from the community need to be reached out to in the least time.
  • Drones could be used to airdrop food and medical supplies. Mobile applications for monitoring the needs of children and tracking supplies could be highly instrumental.

Funding

  • Funding methods need to be innovative and long term. Also the funding has to be reliable and consistent. It cannot be reduced on the excuse of austerity.
  • Core funding should be promoted as it allows the UN and non-governmental organizations to act in a more flexible manner in case of emergencies and plan more strategically. This promotes quick relief.
  • Sweden has recently doubled its contribution to the UN core fund for better results.

Conclusion

The challenge of this problem is at its toughest and only going upwards. New challenges need to be tackled with new methods. The world needs to come together and towards a new development agenda which makes relief and humanitarian assistance an integral part of policy making.  Governments, NGOs, citizens need to be inspired to work together and in a reformed manner. Special care should be taken of aid and relief providing teams.

Connecting the dots

  • The recent years have seen a number of conflicts, crisis and war zones emerging especially in West Asia and Europe. Highlight the ethical role and responsibility of various stakeholders which is essential to safeguard vulnerable sections of the society.
  • Child population in conflict zones is one of the most vulnerable sections of the society. Highlight the problems faced by them and a suitable strategy to protect children and ensure their safety and rehabilitation.

Land use and climate change

Introduction

  • Land use and land use changes can significantly contribute to overall climate change. Vegetation and soils typically act as a carbon sink as they store carbon dioxide absorbed during photosynthesis, loss of them disturbs the land.
  • In such a case, the stored carbon dioxide—along with methane and nitrous oxide—is emitted, re-entering the atmosphere. These GHGs further contribute to global warming.
  • There are two types of land use change- direct anthropogenic (human-caused) changes such as deforestation, reforestation, agriculture, and urbanization and indirect changes include changes in precipitation, extreme weather evets or increased carbon dioxide concentrations that force changes in vegetation.
  • These land use changes trigger climatic changes which may be harmful for the global health. However, among these, urbanisation today holds the greatest challenge by drastically changing the land use patterns.

Since beginning

  • Interaction between people and land is as old as human evolution. The relation of people and land changed in a major way when early hunter-gatherers started to settle down in the Neolithic transition and practiced agriculture.
  • In Holocene (present epoch), which is approx. 11500 years ago, many plants were domesticated for agriculture. When agriculture was introduced, it also spearheaded many associated social and technological changes which led to dense human settlements, paving way for formation of early cities.
  • Land use change, often to expand agriculture, causes direct habitat loss, but also has other effects such as fragmentation of remaining habitat and increased agrochemical inputs into surrounding natural (or semi-natural) habitats.
  • Even today it is evident that the human interventions have transformed land, water and local ecologies. However, the human use of these ecologies have deeply affected the availability of resources.
  • It has become clear in last 50 years that such has been the impact of human use of the earth and its resources that a geological transformation to the Anthropocene has already begun.
  • The Anthropocene is a proposed epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems

Drastic changes in land use

  • Humans have used land in several ways. For example Forest areas are being cleared and replaced with oil palm plantations and agricultural fields are being cleared to set up industries. Thus, land use pattern has seen critical changes, especially due to growing population and distinct lifestyle.
  • Another example of land use change is of expanding cities all over the world including India. The cities are today growing well beyond their formal limits. Urbanisation has transformed land use from agriculture and forests into industry, residential and commercial buildings and associated infrastructure, and horticulture.
  • Urbanising areas grow and expand in different ways which includes some parts of the cities as planned whereas many portions are unplanned infrastructure, homes, slums and industries, waterbodies and marshlands.
  • The peri-urban areas (outside city limits but not quite part of the rural hinterland) host the new development of industrial zones, sites from where groundwater is being pumped and transported to city, dumping of urban waste and growing high value crops for nearby urban centres.
  • These land use changes are alarming for climate change because of their non-permanent nature, thereby proliferating and replacing changes at a rapid pace. For example, cars are replaced every decade or so due to new breakthrough technologies, phone technology is increasing leaps and bounds encouraging people to change phones in 2-3 years. This has led to growing e-waste dumping problems, especially in developing countries. Thus, resources are being used irresponsibly.

Effects of land-use on climate change

  • The pattern of urban growth story and its periphery have implications on poverty, food, water, health, jobs and access to services.
  • Interventions like converting agricultural land for housing or industry, filling up ponds and building housing complexes on lake beds, etc. impact ecosystem services and climate adaptation.
  • The people who are dependent on ecosystem for their livelihood suffer the most. This affects the community structures. The natural ecosystem gets affected which threatens their survival too.
  • As per scientists, land cover and land management generate drivers in climate systems that influence local and regional weather patterns. This is due to changes in aerosols, carbon, nitrogen and other gases along with the moisture in the air, heat and light. This is the reason why the urban heat island effect is understood easily.

What can be done?

  • Protecting waterbodies
  • Conserving groundwater
  • Reducing ecological footprint
  • Living in more compact communities
  • Converting non-forest areas to forest areas to increase flora and fauna diversity
  • Increasing agricultural productivity than expanding agricultural land

These are good ways to address both climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The IVC example

  • Climate change and its effects are concerning in the current era, which makes one curious to know how ancestors survived the climatic changes. Today, scientists are able to demystify the climatic patterns that occurred several thousand years ago through new research methodologies which gives insight into the same.
  • Indus Valley Civilisation underwent a period of climate change about 4,000 years ago and used different subsistence practices to cope with changing environments.
  • Water is considered to be the most critical factor in the survival of the civilisations. The availability, management and usage of water gave important insight into human adaptation and the resilience of subsistence practices in IVC.
  • The north west India was subject to climate change during the period when the Indus Civilisation was at its height (2500 BC—1900 BC). During early Holocene, IVC was situated close to a deep lake Kotla Dahar (in plains of north western part of India) which could have been primarily monsoonal. The water level in lake decreased due to the sporadic rainfall and disruptions in the monsoon cycle between 2200 -2000 BC.
  • This also led to one of the contributing parameter in the process of Indus de- urbanisation which shows that local Indus populations were already well adapted to living in varied and variable environmental conditions. That is why, there were variation in the subsistence practices used by Indus populations.

Connecting the dots:

  • Land use and climate change are interdependent on each other. Do you agree? Critically analyse.

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