Nobel laureate urges Modi to curb child slavery as India reels from drought

By Nita Bhalla

NEW DELHI, May 4 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi has appealed to the prime minister of India to prioritise children and ensure they are not trafficked, forced into marriage or put into bonded labour as the country reels from its worst drought in decades.

In a letter to Narendra Modi, the child rights activist urged him to declare the drought a national emergency, saying that the lives of more than 160 million children were at stake.

Hyenas attack hungry women as Somaliland's drought deepens - charity

By Emma Batha

LONDON, April 29 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Somaliland risks descending into famine amid a severe drought that has killed thousands of livestock, an international aid agency warned on Friday, adding there were reports of some women being set upon by hyenas after collapsing from hunger.

"Many people are saying it's the worst drought in memory," said Mary Griffin, spokeswoman for Islamic Relief, who visited the region this month.

In Kenya, portable toilets find a new role: protecting trees

By Geoffrey Kamadi

NAIVASHA, Kenya, April 29 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A new project is using solar energy to transform toilet waste into efficient cooking fuel, in an initiative to improve hygiene for people in communities without indoor sanitation and at the same time reduce the felling of trees for charcoal.

In the communities around Naivasha, about 90 km (56 miles) northwest of Nairobi, Sanivation, a Kenyan social enterprise - a for-profit company also focused on social good - has begun providing toilets to homes that lack proper sanitation.

Trafficking risk rises as villagers flee India's worst drought in decades

By Rina Chandran

MUMBAI, April 27 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The worst drought in decades across several states in India is forcing tens of thousands of people to migrate from rural areas in search of water, food and jobs, increasing the risk that they may be trafficked or exploited, activists said.

About 330 million people, almost a quarter of the country's population, are now affected by drought, the government estimates. Destitute women, children and older family members left behind in the villages are most at risk of exploitation.

Drones to help farmers in Philippines to prepare for disasters

LONDON, April 25 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The Philippines has started to deploy drones to find out where farmland is most at risk from natural disasters and quickly assess damage after they strike, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Monday.

Assessment of vulnerable farmland can minimise the negative impacts of climate change, floods and typhoons and avoid the need to build the agriculture sector back from scratch after a disaster, FAO said.

Floods cause deaths and block food aid in drought-hit Ethiopia

By Katy Migiro

NAIROBI, April 25 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Flash floods in drought-stricken parts of Ethiopia have killed people and livestock and are blocking food aid deliveries to hungry communities, a charity said.

Ethiopians have been waiting for the spring rains to replenish water sources and to plant crops after the most severe drought in decades pushed more than 10 million people into hunger.

FEATURE-Solar panels power business surge - not just lights - in Tanzania

By Kizito Makoye

UKARA, Tanzania, April 19 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - S amwel Nyakalege's life has recently become more of a grind - and that's a good thing.

The 33-year-old miller from Bwisya village, on Lake Victoria's Ukara Island, is one of the first to benefit from a project to bring solar power to residents and business-owners.

The entrepreneur, married with four children, has worked grinding millet, maize, rice and beans since 2007, but the high cost of fuel for his diesel generator made it hard to turn a profit.

Child malnutrition soars in northern Somalia due to severe drought

By Katy Migiro

NAIROBI, April 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Child malnutrition rates are soaring in northern Somalia, where the harshest drought in decades has ravaged crops and livestock, and aid workers fear hunger will worsen with further poor rains predicted.

Parts of the region are reeling from three years of failed rains which have left many families short of food, Save the Children's area representative, Mukhtar Mohumed Hassan, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Subsidised insurance bolsters Kenyan herders against drought

By Anthony Langat

MARSABIT, Kenya, April 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - At 7am, the Kubi-Qallo borehole near Goro Rukesa village in northern Kenya is already a hive of activity, as dozens of herders line up for their animals' turn to drink at the watering trough.

Five years ago, it didn't rain for a whole year in this part of Marsabit County. Scarcity of forage and water wiped out Ali Kula's stock of 50 cattle and around 100 goats.

Failed spring rains worsen Ethiopia drought, malnutrition spreading

By Katy Migiro

NAIROBI, April 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Poor spring rains have made Ethiopia's worst drought in 50 years even more severe, and the government estimates the number of districts suffering a humanitarian emergency has risen by nearly one-fifth in three months.

The new figures will feed into the current revision by the government and aid agencies of a joint appeal in December for $1.4 billion for more than 10 million people, some of them herders whose cattle are lying dead on the dry, dusty ground.