• United Nations

    The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has conducted the first-ever analysis of Albania's environment. The analysis shows that five sites in Albania are serious environmental threats. One

  • Another opportunity lost

    Another opportunity lost

    This year’s UN Commission on Sustainable Development meet provided no roadmap to attain Millennium Development Goals on water, sanitation and human settlements


    Hailed till recently as a model of efficiency and productivity, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is reeling under a barrage of criticism today. A UN-commissioned review of its operations

  • Caviar emptor

    Caviar emptor

    Aun body recently extended a ban on the export of caviar for all Caspian Sea countries except Iran. The un Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (cites) said it extended the

  • Nuclear buzz

    Nuclear buzz

    UN s latest malaria combatant

  • Corporation for Sustainable Development

    Under the Millennium Development Goals MDG of the United Nations UN , it has been agreed to halve the number of people without access to safe drinking water by 2015. The Johannesburg Plan of

  • U.N. warns of climatic disasters

    The recent snowstorms in China have signalled that "freak weather' is becoming increasingly more common, a United Nations body that seeks to mitigate the impact of natural disasters has warned. The unprecedented scale, cost, and human impacts of China's snowstorms, its worst in 50 years, herald a need for the world to get ready for "new kinds of disasters,' said the Geneva-based International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR).

  • U.N. warns of climatic disasters

    The recent snowstorms in China have signalled that "freak weather' is becoming increasingly more common, a United Nations body that seeks to mitigate the impact of natural disasters has warned. The unprecedented scale, cost, and human impacts of China's snowstorms, its worst in 50 years, herald a need for the world to get ready for "new kinds of disasters,' said the Geneva-based International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR).

  • MP lags in millennium development goals

    Madhya Pradesh is far away from achieving the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, if one takes into account a mid-term evaluation report prepared by a voluntary group, Triple 7 Report. The report --- christened as 'Mid-term status of Millennium Development Goals in Madhya Pradesh - A Peoples' report' makes a telling commentary as to what extent the state lags behind on eight development goals as set by the United Nations over seven years back. The UN on September 8, 2000 made a declaration for the millennium which stated that by 2015, eight goals of development vis-a-vas removing extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, empower of women and increasing gender equality, reducing infant mortality, improving health of mothers, fighting against diseases and protection of environment and its development would be achieved. A mid-term evaluation report on these goals in Madhya Pradesh, said that 44.77 lakh families in the state lived below poverty line, while 15.81 lakh families came in the circle of extreme poverty (quoting M P Economic Survey report 2006-07. The report quoting the National Sample Survey organization report, said that poverty in Madhya Pradesh declined from 37.43% to 21.4 per cent, which is far more than decline in poverty at national level from 26.1% to 21.8%. As per the latest report of the union government till July 2007, works towards strengthening livelihood of 1.15 lakh families in Bihar, 2.93 lakh families in Rajasthan, 95000 families in Andhra Pradesh had been undertaken but not families in Madhya Pradesh was getting this benefit. As per the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, which provides guarantee for employment of 100 days per year to labourers, the state government as against issuing job cards to 43 lakh families, provided employment to merely 25.48 lakh families. The UN under its second millennium development goals had envisaged to increase enrollment of children in primary schools to 100 per cent by 2015. However, going by the present status of enrollment in Madhya Pradesh, it seemed unlikely that the state will achieve its goal by the given time period. A survey undertaken in 10 districts of the state under M P Shiksha Abhiyan in 2006-07, revealed that that the net enrollment ration of children in primary schools was at 84.5%. The report also said that 32% primary schools in the state had one primary teacher, while in 33.75% primary schools, there was no female teacher at all. The MDGs envisaged to reverse the trend of child mortality under five year by -3rd by 2015 but on this front also, the situation in Madhya Pradesh is far from satisfactory. The infant mortality in state stood at 76/1000 live births. Similarly, 2.4% of the children aged 12-24 years were not immunized against all prevalent diseases. The report also revealed a substantial drop on state government's expenditure on health which declined from 5.1% of the total budget in 2000-01 to 3.4% in 2004-05. The target to bring the infant mortality rate down to 53.14% hardly seems to be achievable. The report quoting National Family Health Survey III, said that the status of malnuitrion in Madhya Pradesh increased by 6.3%, going up to 60.3% the highest in the country. Similarly, the maternal mortality rate in the state stood at 379/1000, one of the highest in the country. As per the millennium development goals, the MMR and IMR in the state are essentially to be reduced to 220/1000 and 62/1000 respectively by 2011. By Krishna K Jha

  • NWFP and Balochistan to get bulldozers: around 219,375 hectares cultivable wasteland to be reclaimed

    Federal government will provide 200 bulldozers for Balochistan and 100 for NWFP, which would be hired out to the farmers at no profit no loss basis to facilitate them in reclaiming the cultivable wasteland. According to the sources in Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (Minfal), around 219,375 hectares of cultivable wasteland (NWFP 73,125 and Balochistan 146,250 hectares) would be reclaimed through the use of 300 bulldozers. This will enhance agricultural production in the NWFP and Balochistan provinces, sources said. According to an update Minfal study, about 8.12 million hectares of land falls in the category of cultivable wasteland out of which 1.22 and 4.0 million hectares are in NWFP and Balochistan respectively. Provincial Agriculture Engineering Departments need additional machinery and 900 bulldozers to reclaim the cultivable wasteland. Minfal sources mentioned that agricultural growth is key to curtailing poverty since poor heavily rely on agricultural goods and services for their livelihood. In line with the objectives of PRSP, Minfal has approved a number of projects for crop maximisation to reduce poverty and food insecurity in Pakistan in PSDP 2006-07. A number of projects assisted by ADB, FAO and UN/WFP for crop maximisation, increasing food security and promoting poverty alleviation are also under implementation. Sources said that government has given top priority to the development of water resources to maximise crop production. This has been done through progressively increasing surface water supplies and conserving water using the latest technologies and protecting land and infrastructure from water logging, salinity, floods and soil erosion. The main objectives are overcoming the scarcity of water through augmentation and conservation means ie by construction of medium and large dams and by efficient utilisation of irrigation water and restoring the productivity of agricultural land through control of water logging, salinity and floods, sources added. They said that an integrated programme approach for water management has been adopted. On-farm Water Management (OFWM) projects have been implemented on community participation basis in the provinces, AJ&K and Federal Agencies. Water conservation is being ensured under the President's programme for the improvement and lining of watercourses. This programme envisaged lining improvement of 87,000 watercourses at a cost of Rs 66 billion within 3-4 years. This initiative will significantly improve water supply at the farm-gate through reduction in the seepage losses. During the year 2006-07, 18,390 watercourses have been lined and renovated against the target of 18,000 watercourses. Minfal sources stated that the government has fulfilled most of the commitments related to different WTO-specific agreements. Pakistan has already started improving quality and standards of agricultural export commodity markets. Imposition of strict Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) measures and adoption of other significant regulatory steps through the Department of Plant Protection helped increase agricultural exports to the developed countries. Different development projects for the strengthening of laboratories for quality control have been initiated. For grading of agriculture and livestock commodities, grade standards of about 50 commodities, under Grading and Marketing Act, were developed. According to the Minfal study agriculture sector in Pakistan is facing many serious challenges and constraints for future growth. These challenges are embedded in (i) the rising demand for agricultural products with the growth of population and incomes; (ii) the expanding role of free and competitive markets in agriculture trade at the national and international levels. Increased farm productivity, achieved by sustainable use of natural resources and other inputs, and diversification of production from the low value to high value products in response to market demand have to be the key ingredients of future agriculture strategy to make agriculture both productive and profitable; (iii) wide yield gaps in major and minor crops, inefficient use of water at farms, poor quality and availability of agricultural inputs, frequent insect and pest attacks and high incidence of crop and livestock diseases require effective resolution; and (iv) strengthening of agriculture research system is needed to focus more on emerging areas such as biotechnology, genetic engineering, hybrid seeds etc. Improving agricultural knowledge system for effective crop forecasting, and undertaking market reforms in preparation of expanding trade regimes of WTO and Safta are other areas in which Minfal is currently focusing on. Copyright Business Recorder, 2008

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