Whose story is it anyway?

 

LoveInBinauna

Female community health volunteers (FCHVs) from Binauna VDC having a laugh – at my expense if I remember correctly.

Please indulge me as I navel-gaze briefly.

I last worked full-time as a journalist in 2007, but I’m proud to tell people that I think I’ll always be a journalist at heart. One implication is that when I visit a place like Binauna VDC*, in Banke district in south western Nepal, I am automatically sniffing for stories. Continue reading

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Interview with Nepal’s health minister

Gagan ThapaMy interview with Nepal’s health minister, Gagan Thapa, is in this week’s Nepali Times. Video is also available on that page.

Thapa was a rising star when I last lived here and has become Nepal’s youngest cabinet minister. Continue reading

Nepal: the road to …

raptibridgesm

I’ve been back in Nepal for nearly two months now, eager to write about what I’m seeing and hearing but reluctant to come to any premature conclusions.

So instead, I’ll present some impressions, like this photo (above) of a bridge over the Rapti River in Dang district, which I took last weekend. Continue reading

Frustration and despair in Nepal

During my recent trip to Nepal I couldn’t resist the invitation to write an article for my former employer, Nepali Times, about my impressions on returning to the country after nearly 5 years.

As yet another deadline (Jan. 22) approaches to write a new constitution, my feelings weren’t positive.

Nepal’s journalists still targets of political parties

Two dozen journalists in Far West Nepal were forced to flee their towns and villages last week after threats from individuals linked to the Maoist party that rules from the capital Kathmandu.

Read this summary from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

This sort of political interference in Nepal’s media has been going on for years – practised by all political parties – and, sadly, shows little signs of improving. When I lived in Kathmandu (2005-10) I participated in a few of the numerous meetings between the international community and media organizations to try and find solutions to the problem but none of them seems to have had much impact.

Nepal was ranked 118th among the world’s countries in the World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders on Wednesday, a drop of 12 places from 2011.

“The ability of journalists to work freely in Pakistan and Nepal continued to worsen in the absence of any government policy to protect media workers.”

– World Press Freedom Index, 2012.

Why are Nepal’s political players able to target the country’s journalists with such impunity? Is it because the tiny country is such a minor player in the world that the international community doesn’t really care? Or the inverse: that because Nepal is situated so strategically – between China and India – and is used to playing the Asian giants off of one another, that it has no fear of threats from the rest of the international community?

Whatever the cause(s), it is beyond time that Nepal’s journalists were able to practise their trade without fearing for their lives.

Health study of aboriginal town near Canada’s oil/ tar sands announced

Fort McKay

A number of the speakers at the Parliament Hill rally against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline on Sept. 26 were aboriginal people from Alberta, the province that contains the oil/tar sands (O/TS).

They spoke of degraded environments, health and ultimately, of their way of life.

Coincidentally, that week the Alberta provincial government said it will review the health of two aboriginal communities near the O/TS – Fort McKay First Nation and Fort McKay Metis Nation. The government says the scope and mandate of the community health assessment will be worked out by the two communities.

In my last post I noted that a 2010 study by the Royal Society of Canada found no evidence of elevated levels of cancer in Fort Chipewyan, another aboriginal community further downstream from the oil sands, but concluded that further study was needed.

“We are incredibly encouraged by this show of commitment from the Government of Alberta,” said Raymond Powder, Deputy Chief of the Fort McKay First Nation, in a press release on Sept. 29.

“We need to better understand the state of our people’s health, and how the environment around us is impacting our health, not just physically, but also emotionally and spiritually,” added Powder.

Nigerian State provides cash to girls’ families

Nigeria’s Kano State has announced a 3-year pilot programme to pay families to keep girls in primary and junior secondary schools.

The girls will have to attain grades of at least 80 percent, according to The Nation newspaper.

Read more here.