Indigenous People Face Health Issues From Climate Change, Study Says

VANCOUVER, CanadaIndigenous people around the world face health threats from more bacteria in drinking water following major weather events such as heavy rainfall or from rapidly melting snow, says Sherilee Harper, a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar in Aboriginal People’s Health at the University of Guelph.

Photo: Sherilee Harper, Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar in Aboriginal People’s Health at the University of Guelph.

A recently published study  co-authored by Harper explores links among weather patterns, water quality and gastrointestinal illness in two communities in Nunatsiavut in Canada’s North.

Weather events also affect the health of Uganda’s Batwa people. Harper is studying Batwa refugees driven from their forest homeland after the Ugandan government created a national park to protect silverback gorillas. More

Indigenous peoples at forefront of climate change offer lessons on plant biodiversity

28.02.2012
Paper Highlights 40 Years of Research on Plant Use by Indigenous Peoples In Peruvian Amazon and Tibet 

Humans are frequently blamed for deforestation and the destruction of environments, yet there are also examples of peoples and cultures around the world that have learned to manage and conserve the precious resources around them.

The Yanesha of the upper Peruvian Amazon and the Tibetans of the Himalayas are two groups of indigenous peoples carrying on traditional ways of life, even in the face of rapid environmental changes. Over the last 40 years, Dr. Jan Salick, senior curator and ethnobotanist with the William L. Brown Center of the Missouri Botanical Garden has worked with these two cultures.

She explains how their traditional knowledge and practices hold the key to conserving, managing and even creating new biodiversity in a paper released in the new text, “Biodiversity in Agriculture: Domestication, Evolution, and Sustainability,” published by Cambridge University Press. More

BANGLADESH: Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Land disputes hearing stalled

The Daily Star, Wednesday, February 29, 2012

CHT Land Commission

Hearing on land disputes stalled

Our Correspondent, Khagrachhari

A hearing of the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission in its Khagrachhari district town office yesterday was suspended due to a quorum crisis as the representatives of hill people in the commission were absent.

Only two members, commission chairman Justice (retd) Khademul Islam Chowdhury and Additional Divisional Commissioner Nurul Islam were present yesterday when 43 cases were set to be heard.

Representatives of the hill people in the committee, including CHT Regional Council Chairman Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma alias Santu Larma, Khagrachhari Hill District Council Chairman Kujendra Lal Tripura and Khagrachhari Circle Chief (Mong Raja) Saching Prue Chowdhury were absent at the first day’s hearing. The commission is set to sit again today. More

INDIA: Consent of local village councils must for mining – Tribal Affairs Minister

Kishore Chandra Deo | Consent of local village councils must for mining

Gram Sabhas should become more effective as this will ensure transparency, and corruption will be minimized

Liz Mathew 

New Delhi: The environment ministry will not clear any mining in forest areas unless local village councils give their consent, Kishore Chandra Deo, minister of tribal affairs and Panchayati Raj, said in an interview. A Congress leader from Andhra Pradesh, Deo took charge of the two ministries in July. He said the revival of village councils is the best way to ensure larger people’s participation in governance Edited excerpts: More

MALAYSIA: Indigenous Communities Demand Referendum on Mega-Dams

MIRI, Sarawak, Malaysia, February 19, 2012 (ENS) – Malaysian communities are asking the government to stop all 12 planned mega-dam projects in the state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo and to hold a referendum on dam construction.

A conference of some 150 representatives of indigenous communities and civil society groups concluded Saturday in the city of Miri with demands that the state government address the adverse impact of existing hydroelectric dam projects in Sarawak and stop planning for more to power industrial development of the rainforest.

Organized by the newly formed Save Rivers Network, the conference brought local civil society organizations together with indigenous peoples organizations and concerned individuals for three days. Discussions centered on the adverse impacts of dam construction on the environment and on the livelihoods of dam-affected communities. More

NEPAL: Anti-federalism will lead to confrontation

The way in which the states will be carved, the rights to be allocated to various levels of governance and groups, on the issue of state restructuring, have created heated debates among many sectors. After the State Restructuring Commission’s report failed to bring parties together on the issue, and rather intensify the polarisation, the debates—inside parliament and out—on federalism continue. As Chairman of the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities, Raj Kumar Lekhi has been at the forefront of the debate, speaking on behalf of marginalised communities. Also the Chairman of Tharu Kalyankarini Sabha, Lekhi spoke with Bidushi Dhungel and Gyanu Adhikari about the demands of the marginalised on state-restructuring, the Tharu perspective and the parties’ inability to explain adequately the need for federalism to the people. Excerpts: More

BANGLADESH: Open-pit coal mine project in Bangladesh threatens human rights – UN experts

Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

28 February 2012 –

The construction of an open-pit coal mine in Bangladeshcould displace hundreds of thousands of people and jeopardize their access to basic needs, a group of United Nations independent human rights experts warned today.“The Government of Bangladesh must ensure that any policy concerning open-pit coal mining includes robust safeguards to protect human rights. In the interim, the Phulbari coal mine should not be allowed to proceed because of the massive disruptions it is expected to cause,” the experts said in a statement.The group noted that if opened, the proposed mine would immediately displace an estimated 50,000 to 130,000 people, with up to 220,000 potentially being affected over time as irrigation channels and wells dry up.In addition, the project would reportedly extract 572 million tons of coal over the next 36 years from a site covering nearly 6,000 hectares, and destroy some 12,000 hectares of productive agricultural land. More

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