Mar. 16th, 2011

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Cooperation Strategic To Protect Tigris and Euphrates

SULAIMANIYA, Iraq / BRUSSELS, March 15, 2011 (IPS) - On a dusty street in the north-eastern Iraqi city of Sulaimaniya one recent day, an elderly man sold heaps of tomatoes, fruits and other fresh produce from a makeshift trolley.

But the vendor lamented that the fruits and vegetables no longer come from the once-prolific valleys of Iraq's self-governing Kurdish region, nor fertile regions further south.

Most of his goods are trucked in from Turkey and Iran, Massoud explains, handing over a bag of oranges to a visitor. "We had wars, we had Saddam, and now we have no rain," said Massoud, who did not want to share his real name with the customer.

Although the brief wet season is just beginning, much of northern Iraq has endured several years of drought, compounding water problems that stem from climate change, migration, a growing population and declining water flows in the country's most important rivers -- the Tigris and Euphrates.

Faced with a potentially catastrophic shortage of fresh water, Iraq and the other nations that share the Tigris and Euphrates, emanating in eastern Turkey, must strengthen efforts to protect the waterways, according to a new report. Such cooperation, like the rains, has been in short supply.MORE

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Street battles continue in Abidjan

Heavy fighting continued on Monday in Abidjan amid an ongoing power struggle between forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, Cote d'Ivoire's incumbent president, and those backing his political rival Alassane Ouattara.

Pro-Ouattara fighters were reported to have moved into the Yopougon neighbourhood held by Gbagbo loyalists. Gun battles raged near the home of army chief of staff Phillipe Mangou who has remained loyal to Gbagbo since November's presidential elections. Ouattara is internationally recognised as the winner of that vote.

The state-run RTI television station denied local reports that Mangou's house had been attacked. A spokesman for the pro-Gbagbo army, Col. Hilaire Gohourou, confirmed that the battle in Yopougon was ongoing, but refused to give any further details.MORE

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Pondy transgender first to get unique identity

PUDUCHERRY: K Sheethal, the transgender from Puducherry who became the first person to be enrolled as a member of the third gender under the Unique Identification Number project, is elated that a government agency has finally recognised the community's gender status.

"The inclusion of third gender in census enumeration is the result of an untiring struggle. The members of the transgender community are not considered for any of the official documents like voters' identity cards and ration cards. We have been discriminated against by others. We had lost our identity and had no place to stay," 33-year-old Sheethal told TOI.

So far, members of the marginalized transgender community were being categorized as either male or female for administrative convenience' by all government agencies. Sheethal became the first transgender in the country to be enrolled as a member of the third gender when the Unique Identification Number project was launched in the Union territory on January 24 this year. Sheethal, formerly known as K Ganesh alias Rajesh, is also the president of Sahodaran', a community-based organization which has launched a male sexual health project in Puducherry. K Dharshini (26), another member of the organization, was enrolled next. MORE


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