Guardian highlights neglected development issues

The Guardian’s international development journalism competition, run in partnership with UK-based international NGOs such as Marie Stopes International, Save the Children, is part of an effort to raise awareness of critical issues facing the developing world that often go unnoticed by the media. The competition challenged journalists to write about a development issue that has slipped under the radar and deserves a greater amount of media attention. The goal of the competition is to increase public understanding of these issues so we encourage you to take a look!

The stories do an excellent job of highlighting topics that have lacked media coverage, such as contraceptive supplies shortages, the effect of climate change on insect-borne diseases, disability and development, and sanitation. Three compelling articles that focus on sanitation include:

‘The Curse’: The impact of sanitation on schoolgirls in the developing world

The embarrassment and surprise when it happens, that one explicit moment in reaching puberty, is a subject familiar to half the global population. In a project collated by the International Reference Centre, a young girl described how at 10 years old, like millions of adolescent girls worldwide, her period started at school. With just one toilet at school, like many her schoolmates, she went home “so no one would see me”. She relates that from then on, “when my time of month would come I would pretend to be sick so that I did not have to go to school”. More…

The stench of injustice

It is late afternoon and the Kenyan sun has begun to harden a toxic mixture of mud and faeces, mapping out makeshift roads and alleyways between corrugated iron shacks. Over one million people weave through Kibera, Africa’s largest slum that hugs the fringes of Nairobi’s elite suburbs – children play with plastic bags filled with human excrement, and men and women sell vegetables held in cardboard boxes that seep up the slime beneath. The overpowering stench of faeces is a constant reminder that sanitation is nearly non-existent in Kibera, a public disaster that Focusing Resources on Effective School Health states has lead to over 400 million school-aged children being infected with multiple worm species. More…

Sanitary care keeping girls in school

As the school bell rings, a sea of girls in cheesecloth dresses files out into the afternoon sun, their playful banter drowning out the clatter of the city. Most of the girls in this poverty stricken district of Nairobi won’t finish high school; a fact that 15 year old Grace is well aware of. Until recently she was on the verge of dropping out, but now a broad smile spreads across her face. She reaches deep into her school bag and pulls out a small cardboard box. The contents, she says, have kept her in school. It is filled with sanitary towels. More…

To see the full range of stories go to the professional and amateur longlists on the Guardian website.

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