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Kosi basin to receive flood warnings

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New Delhi: Kosi Basin is a disaster prone area with recurring floods which on annual basis destroys the livelihood of millions of people inhabiting that area. But the data to anticipate the life taking floods is usually not available.

However, an information system to tackle the threat has now been set up by a Kathmandu-based international organisation dedicated to environmentally-sound mountain development strategies.

“We have created a platform known as the Kosi Basin Information System (KBIS) that integrates data on climate change, land use, sedimentation, and water-based livelihoods to help individuals understand the changes happening in the basin,” Shahriar Wahid, Project Coordinator for the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

The 48-hour flood warning will be provided by the platform using the data collected from satellite technology and national weather agencies, he added.

A warning for a regional flood was issued for the first time the last monsoon by the Nepal’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology.

India, China and Nepal together had been consistently working for past two years to be able to generate knowledge and information which will help communities in the basin prepare for disasters.

“The data and information are used by several institutions in India, Nepal and China for collaborative and development-oriented research on water, food, energy and environment in the basin,” Mr Wahid said.

He also added, the aim of KBIS focuses on facilitating data and information-sharing and promoting inter-disciplinary collaboration between different water stakeholders such as technical professional s,researchers and common people.

The Kosi River is commonly known as “Sorrow of Bihar” because of the annual floods affecting a large area of fertile agricultural lands. Due to the monsoon rains and glacial melting, water increases to as much as 18 times the average leading to a flood.

Floods have badly affected the livelihood of people in Bihar. They annually suffer loss of life, property, infrastructure and agriculture.

The 2008 flood was a disastrous one in the history of Bihar when the river changed the course and flooded the areas which remained unaffected since decades.

Nearly 3 million people were displaced from their homes while many were killed during the unfortunate disaster.

The 2013 Bihar flood was yet another miserable time when 3,768 villages in 20 districts were affected.

Kosi is one of the most sediment-laden rivers in the world, making it highly prone to flooding.(IANS)

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World’s Anti-Corruption Day

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges "to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide."

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Anti-Corruption
Bulgarian anti-corruption protesters march during a demonstration in downtown Sofia, VOA

Corruption costs the world economy $2.6 trillion each year, according to the United Nations, which is marking International Anti-Corruption Day on Sunday.

“Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune,” the United Nations said.

The cost of $2.6 trillion represents more than 5 percent of global GDP.

The world body said that $1 trillion of the money stolen annually through corruption is in the form of bribes.

Patricia Moreira, the managing director of Transparency International, told VOA that about a quarter of the world’s population has paid a bribe when trying to access a public service over the past year, according to data from the Global Corruption Barometer.

Moreira said it is important to have such a day as International Anti-Corruption Day because it provides “a really tremendous opportunity to focus attention precisely on the challenge that is posed by corruption around the world.”

Journalist, Anti-Corruption
An activist places candles and flowers on the Great Siege monument, after rebuilding a makeshift memorial to assassinated anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in Valletta, Malta. VOA

Anti-corruption commitments

To mark the day, the United States called on all countries to implement their international anti-corruption commitments including through the U.N. Convention against Corruption.

In a statement Friday, the U.S. State Department said that corruption facilitates crime and terrorism, as well as undermines economic growth, the rule of law and democracy.

“Ultimately, it endangers our national security. That is why, as we look ahead to International Anticorruption Day on Dec. 9, we pledge to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide,” the statement said.

Moreira said that data about worldwide corruption can make the phenomena understandable but still not necessarily “close to our lives.” For that, we need to hear everyday stories about people impacted by corruption and understand that it “is about our daily lives,” she added.

She said those most impacted by corruption are “the most vulnerable people — so it’s usually women, it’s usually poor people, the most marginalized people in the world.”

Anti-Corruption
Anna Hazare raised his voice against corruption and went ahead with his hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Wikimedia Commons

The United Nations Development Program notes that in developing countries, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

What can be done to fight corruption?

The United Nations designated Dec. 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day in 2003, coinciding with the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption by the U.N. General Assembly.

The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about corruption and put pressure on governments to take action against it.

Tackling the issue

Moreira said to fight corruption effectively it must be tackled from different angles. For example, she said that while it is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption, governments must also have mechanisms to enforce that legislation. She said those who engage in corruption must be held accountable.

“Fighting corruption is about providing people with a more sustainable world, with a world where social justice is something more of our reality than what it has been until today,” she said.

Anti-Corruption
It is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption

Moreira said change must come from a joint effort from governments, public institutions, the private sector and civil society.

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges “to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide.”

It noted that the United States, through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, helps partner nations “build transparent, accountable institutions and strengthen criminal justice systems that hold the corrupt accountable.”

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Moreira said that it is important for the world to see that there are results to the fight against corruption.

“Then we are showing the world with specific examples that we can fight against corruption, [that] yes there are results. And if we work together, then it is something not just that we would wish for, but actually something that can be translated into specific results and changes to the world,” she said. (VOA)