Cocoa honey is probably the sweetest and most intensely flavored fruit juice I have ever tasted. It is extracted from the white flesh around the fresh cocoa beans, which are wrapped in a banana leaf until all of the juice has dripped out. This is only one of the tropical delicacies I had the privilege to try during a recent trip to the state of Bahia in Brazil’s Northeast. There was also acai, jackfruit, cupuaçú, cajá (the latter two tropical fruit usually consumed as juice), licuri (a palm nut used to produce oil but also excellent toasted and salted), bananas - and of course: chocolate.
Globally, over one billion people – 15% of the population – live with some form of disability, according to the World Health Organization’s World Report on Disabilities. Beyond their physical, mental or sensory impairments, people with disabilities face barriers for inclusion in different aspects of life. They tend to have fewer socioeconomic opportunities, more limited access to education and higher poverty rates. Stigma and discrimination are sometimes the main barrier to their full, equal participation. How can this situation be addressed?
Aracelis owns a hair salon in Santo Domingo. Like all the other owners of the nearly 20,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Dominican Republic, she dreams about making her business thrive. SMEs in this Caribbean country employ more than 500,000 people, representing a key driver of economic growth. To make their businesses grow and achieve their goals, all business owners need one crucial ingredient: money.
At present, more than 70 countries in the world criminalize homosexuality and condemn with imprisonment sexual acts between people of the same sex. What solutions can be provided to solve these problems?
In 2017-18 we visited the Meta department in Colombia on multiple occasions. Located right where Colombia’s Llanos Orientales (Eastern Plains) disappear south into the vastness of the Amazon rainforest, this area of the size of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg combined is a magical spot in the world’s second most biodiverse country.
Meta is not a poor region - it boasts some of the nation’s largest oil reserves. Highly fertile soil and multiple thermal floors have created a boom in agribusiness in recent years, while its geographic proximity to Colombia’s capital has more recently led to a thriving tourism industry.
Despite having made significant progress on many fronts, this region still faces critical challenges. On our last visit, we had the opportunity to chat for hours with several small-scale farmers from south-western Meta – a sub-region where economic development has been seriously damaged by the cultivation of coca leaf, the raw material used to produce cocaine.
“When the company let us down, we only imposed a fine. We must be firm with companies and with vendors, otherwise they fail to fulfill their end. This is how to move the project forward”. This testimony impressed me a lot when I heard it from an indigenous woman in Bolivia, who was proud to be part of the steering committee and defend the interests of the community in the project.
Bolivia has a terrific success story to tell about encouraging rural women to take the lead in their communities and organizations and lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
Disaster risk management is a priority for many countries in the Latin America and the Caribbean region.
Landing in Port-au-Prince awakens your senses. Exiting the airplane, you are re-energized by the explosion of colors, the welcoming smiles, and the warm weather – particularly when coming from a cold January in Washington, D.C. Loud honking, a high density of houses and buildings, and streets bustling with pedestrians and small informal businesses are all evidence of the rapid urbanization process in Haiti.
As soon as you land, the challenges of the city are evident; Port-au-Prince expands to the ocean on flat plains exposed to flooding and quickly rises on steep hills with challenging access and risks of landslides and flash floods. The reconstruction efforts after the earthquake in 2010 are still ongoing, and many of the houses seem to be hanging from the sky, perched on steep slopes. If you look at the houses from afar they appear as a single skyscraper, as distance makes the houses seem as if they are built on top of the one another. These false skyscrapers are highly exposed to landslides, flooding and earthquakes.
Imagine you live in a city that floods, sometime for weeks, after extreme rainfalls.
Imagine you live in that flooded city, where you and thousands of your neighbors must find a place to stay till the water has receded, and you finally can get back home, with the fear of finding it devastated.
The city of Trinidad is a place like this, located in Bolivia’s Amazonian low-lands, and with heavy prolonged precipitation, rivers, lagoons and lakes rise, affecting thousands of families.
Overall in Bolivia, 43% of the population lives in areas of high flood risk. Trinidad and other cities in the low-lands experience inundations, while in La Paz, Bolivia’s political center, frequent landslides lead to fatalities and damage to housing and infrastructure.