Japan: Mercy Corps and Wal-Mart throw a lifeline to seaweed farmers in tsunami zone
MINAMISANRIKU, Japan -- The ocean shimmers pink in the sunrise as Kazunori Takahashi and his father, Kenji, winch up green fronds of seaweed, their boat sending ripples across a wide bay. The men wouldn't be here except for deft moves by Kazunori, 33, who steered the ship over last year's tsunami waves, and for an improbable partnership. Mercy Corps, the Portland-based humanitarian organization, has teamed with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, to help revive the economy of this devastated coastal city.
Mercy Corps, Startup Weekend partner to boost tech entrepreneurship in Middle East
A mobile prescription reminder app launched in the Gaza Strip landed a backer in Mercy Corps, which believes the tech startup and others like it could spark entrepreneurship in the Middle East. The Portland-based nonprofit has long supported economic development throughout the globe. But a partnership announced today with Seattle-based Startup Weekend will root its focus on the tech sphere, an arena it first entered about two years ago.
Libya: Building a new Libya from the ground up
There is a feeling of intensity and anticipation in the air in Benghazi, a city in the northeast corner of Libya. There is enormous pride that last year's revolution started here; they were the first to stand up to Gaddafi. But people realize that there is much more work to be done. As is the case in many countries I've visited in my travels with the aid organization Mercy Corps, many women and young people are taking the lead.
Indonesia: Do aid projects work? Tiny sensors will now let us know in real time
Failed aid projects are so common as to be routine. Yet projects where the impacts aren’t known are even more widespread. Did those new stoves really clean the air? Are the new toilets making the water safer to drink? Many times, these questions are left unanswered until a follow-up study years later, where the causal relationship can be hard to pinpoint. So researchers are now designing tiny sensors to monitor cookstoves, water filters, and other devices in the field, and sending back remote data so that these projects can be evaluated in real time.
North Korea: As North Korean rocket launch nears, the hungry get hungrier
David Austin is one of the few outsiders who has seen firsthand how people live in the North Korean countryside, and he describes a population "lethargic" from malnutrition. Just two weeks ago, he visited an orphanage as part of his work as the North Korea program director for the relief organization Mercy Corps. He said the last protein children had eaten was in January -- eggs. "That tells us not only are they not getting a balanced diet but in terms of the rations, they're getting only about 60% of what a child needs," he said.
Central African Republic: Weakened LRA still terrorizes villagers
Obo, Central African Republic — When Jeanne Boliza looks at her 3-year-old child, she remembers. He is the product of her ordeal as a sex slave for a soldier in the Lord’s Resistance Army, a brutal militia led by a self-proclaimed prophet, Joseph Kony. Boliza, who was a child when she was raped, named her son Dieu Donné, “God Given.” But her neighbors refer to him by a different name. “They call him ‘Son of Tonga Tonga,’ ” said Boliza, now 17. It means “Son of the LRA.”
Kenya: Kenyan wheelchair athletes find peace, reconciliation on basketball court
Many victims of the 2007 Kenyan post-election violence were deaf, blind, or unable to run, making it difficult for them to find safety. As a result, one group of athletes with disabilities decided to take the matter to court - the basketball court. With outside assistance, these players revived the Rift Valley Wheelchair Basketball group, helping to teach peace and reconciliation.
North Korea: Insight: Obama's North Korean leap of faith falls short
When U.S. diplomats filed into North Korea's grim embassy in Beijing last month they found an unlikely surprise: Starbucks. Their hosts, led by North Korean's chief nuclear negotiator Kim Kye-gwan, had ordered U.S.-style coffee for talks both sides hoped would lead to new negotiations on Pyongyang's nuclear program and to resumed U.S. food shipments to one of the most feared and secretive countries in the world. There were more surprises to come.
How the developing world is using cellphone technology to change lives
In Nigeria, a young girl can ask questions about sex discretely through SMS and get accurate information. After the earthquake in Haiti, survivors in remote towns could receive money for food straight to their cellphone. In Senegal, election monitors sent updates on polling stations through their mobile phones, revising an online map in real time with details about late openings or worse.
Japan: Revisiting the site of the tsunami, one year later - VIDEO
NBC’s Ian Williams reports on the long road to recovery in Japan and how some industries, like seaweed processing, are putting people back to work.