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  • South Asia News in brief: 12–25 November 2009

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Below is a roundup of news from or about South Asia for the period 12–25 November 2009.

Manmade ponds behind Bangladesh arsenic contamination
The contamination of Bangladesh's drinking water with arsenic may have occurred because of human activities such as building village ponds and adopting irrigated agriculture, say US researchers. For example, the former creates chemical conditions for the arsenic to "dissolve off the sediments and soil and into the groundwater". The problem was first identified in the early 1980s and has confused researchers until now. More>>

UK support for Nepalese forestry programme
The United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) will fund a major Nepalese forestry programme that will hand over thousands of hectares of forest to Nepal's rural communities to help them earn an income from sustainable management techniques. DFID has also announced a US$16.6 million grant for the next five years to help the country tackle climate change. More>>

First technology park for Bhutan
Bhutan has announced that it will set up the country's first "Techpark" to facilitate technological innovation and attract foreign investments. Thimphu TechPark is expected to be operational in June 2011 and will move toward becoming a major regional IT centre. The park will be built on a five-acre plot in Wangchutaba. More>>x

Bangladesh to dredge rivers to combat climate change
Bangladesh government will soon dredge its major rivers — excavate its bottom sediments — to prevent climate change-related saline intrusion and increase navigability, says Ramesh Chandra Sen, the country's water resources minister. Studies by the Institute of Water Modelling predict a 60-centimetre rise in sea level by 2050 that would submerge 18 per cent of the country's landmass. More>>

Neem seeds could cure sheep infection
Extracts from the seeds of neem trees can help cure sheep of worm infections — a major cause of stunted growth and sometimes death in sheep — new research from Pakistan has confirmed. The seeds, used by traditional animal healers, could provide a low-cost alternative for poor farmers who cannot afford medicine to treat the disease. More>>

Sri Lanka reports first swine flu death
Sri Lankan medical authorities have confirmed the country's first death from influenza A(H1N1). Meanwhile, the country has placed an order to import WHO-approved A(H1N1) vaccine. The vaccine will be given on a "high-priority basis" with pregnant mothers, infants under six months, adults aged over 60 and chronic disease sufferers receiving first in the receiving line. The country currently has more than 250 confirmed cases of swine flu infection. More>>

Nepal climate adaptation making progress
Practical Action Nepal have been working on a number of climate change adaptation projects in the country's Chitwan District that have helped raise local community awareness on community forest management, disaster preparedness, climate change and its adverse impacts, and alternative opportunities for income generation. The initiative also installed a weather station in the village to record data and monitor climatic conditions, and provided training and workshops for community members. More>>

ICMR to fund leprosy research
The Indian Council of Medical Research has announced that it will fund a number of leprosy research projects. The studies will focus on epidemiology, clinical research, operational research, basic research and drug resistance studies. More>>

Maldives at high HIV risk
The risk factors for HIV in the Maldives are very high, a survey by the Maldives government, UNDP and the Society for Health Education, shows. The disease is not currently spreading in the islands but risky behaviour such as sharing infected needles, frequently changing sexual partners and a failure among men to use protection during encounters with commercial sex workers was common, the survey says. More>>

Banana peels mop up toxic metals
Banana peels could potentially adsorb toxic metals such as lead and cadmium from water. According to a Pakistani study, one gram of banana peel can adsorb over 5.70 milligrams of cadmium and 2.70 milligrams of lead from water, a study in Pakistan shows. More>>

Scientists produce activated carbon from tamarind wood
A team of scientists from India, Malaysia and South Africa has developed a method to produce activated carbon — an absorbent that mops up toxic chemicals from contaminated waters — from tamarind wood. They have also created models to estimate the optimum operating conditions for activated carbon production. More>>

Compiled by T. V. Padma. Additional reporting by Papri Sri Raman.

If you would like to suggest a story for this news in brief, please contact the South Asia Regional Coordinator T. V. Padma ([email protected]).

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