Rivers of life

A note from the editor

Dinyar Godrej

One river, many stories

A river brims with tales. Take our cover star, barefoot and beaming, as she rows her boat on the Mekong in Vietnam’s delta region. Is her life still in sync with the river or is she now among the masses of people leaving the area?

The delta marks the end of the Mekong’s journey to the sea, and there is a worrying new normal here, with flow levels reaching all-time lows. Eleven dams in China, at the top of the river, have all but eliminated the wet season flood pulse – and there’s the impact of climate change as well. Rice yields have plummeted, as have fish catches. There is saltwater intrusion as the land dries up. Things are increasingly difficult.

More hydropower dams are being planned upstream in China, Laos and Cambodia. But what of the pesky matter of life within the river? Just one location in Cambodia is estimated to spawn 200 billion baby fish a year. Worth meddling with all that?

Not according to this year’s Goldman Environmental Prize winner, retired schoolteacher Niwat Roykaew, who organized a tireless campaign against plans to blast a 400-kilometre stretch in Thailand, just to deepen the Mekong for ships to come from China. With the support of multitudes of villagers, he got the Thai government to see sense. Today, almost every river needs such champions and our Big Story hears from a few of them.

We also report on the renewed arms race in Europe in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, how Haiti has driven out cholera, and the protest value of underwear.

Dinyar Godrej for the New Internationalist co-operative.
www.newint.org

The big story

At Chattogram, Bangladesh, kids take to the water in the Karnaphuli as if it were a part of them. Photo: Ihsaan Eesa/Alamy

At Chattogram, Bangladesh, kids take to the water in the Karnaphuli as if it were a part of them.

Photo: Ihsaan Eesa/Alamy

Holy waters

We need thriving rivers in order for life on Earth to flourish. But often how we treat them shows little understanding of this basic principle. Dinyar Godrej ventures into the maelstrom.

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The Big Story

Action & info

Action & info

Initiatives, action, and further reading on rivers.

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Rivers - The Facts

Vital statistics about the life support, biodiversity, pollution, and damming of rivers.

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A collage of drawings of river creatures by children from seven villages along the Marañón.Created by: Miguel Araoz Cartagena

The river as a living being

The Kukama people of the Peruvian Amazon say their river is alive and has rights; the authorities see it as a resource to be exploited. Stephanie Boyd tells the story of the women determined to protect it.

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Algae backs up in the reservoir behind the Iron Gate dam on the lower Klamath.Photo: Ecoflight via klamathrenewal.org

Take them down!

A persistent, inspiring campaign to remove dams choking the Klamath River is on the verge of success. From the United States, Bruce Shoemaker recounts what it took to get there.

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A herder crosses Orkhon River with his team of horses, Ovorkhangai province, Mongolia.Photo: Tuul & Bruno Morandi/Getty

To reclaim minegolia

Unregulated mining has wreaked havoc on Mongolia’s waterways. A civil society movement to protect them is determined to make headway, despite facing an obstacle course. Anand Tumurtogoo reports.

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Photo: ade.irwn21/Shutterstock

What’s that?!

The world’s rivers inspire wonder and poetry. But take a closer look at what’s lurking within… Words: Vanessa Baird.

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When it comes to sharing

When it comes to sharing

Rivers cross political borders without so much as a ‘by your leave’. Which can cause some sticky situations for the humans who depend on them, as Yali Banton-Heath explains.

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Illustration: Andy K/Shutterstock

Arming Europe

As European Union member states ramp up their military spending in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Juliet Ferguson and Paulo Pena of Investigate Europe explore who has the most to gain.

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Residents of the Cité Soleil area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, gather water from a well on 10 November 2010, two days after cases of cholera were confirmed in the area.Photo: Brian Blanco/Zuma Press/Alamy

Something in the water

When UN peacekeepers brought cholera to Haiti, it triggered the world’s worst outbreak. Sophie Cousins reports on how the country has rid itself of the disease, but the fight for justice goes on.

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A rally to mark Defender of Ukraine Day, in Kiev, on 14 October 2017. Activists and supporters of the Azov, Svoboda (Freedom), Ukrainian nationalist parties and Right Sector took part.Photo: Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Who are you calling a nazi?

Vladimir Putin used ‘de-nazification’ as a bogus justification for Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. Richard Swift and Conrad Landin examine the history of far-right currents in both countries.

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Illustration: Andy K

Pants of protest

Humorous yet shocking, mundane yet intimate – underpants have proved a useful tool for change. Katie Dancey-Downs examines the power of political undercrackers.

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Opinion

View from Brazil

View from Brazil

Shooting the messenger by Leonardo Sakamoto.

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View from India

View from India

Tears for fears by Nilanjana Bhowmick.

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View from Africa

View from Africa

Free Alaa! by Nanjala Nyabola.

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Currents

RMT national secretary Darren Procter led an occupation of the London headquarters of DP World, P&O’s parent company.Photo: Alan Pottage/RMT

No white flag

UK ferries and the minimum wage.

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Illustration: Emma Peer

Introducing... Michelle O’Neill

Richard Swift reports on the 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly elections.

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Kharkiv’s musicians came together in a secret underground bunker for a fundraising gig, in aid of the city’s defence efforts.Photo: Jen Stout

Patchwork resistance

Jen Stout reports on the war in Ukraine.

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Killing dissent

Killing dissent

Report from Zimbabwe ahead of the 2024 elections by Busani Bafana.

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Lethal conservation

Lethal conservation

Report on the Kahuzi-Biega National Park by Amy Hall.

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A sand sculpture on a Gaza City beach remembers Shireen Abu Akleh, 11 May 2022.Photo: Mohammed Salem/Reuters

In cold blood

Amy Hall reports on the killing of veteran Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh.

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Fearful future

Fearful future

Lauren Crosby Medlicott reports on acute food shortages in Somalia.

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Illustration: Emma Peer

Reasons to be cheerful

Devil’s advocate; Period peace; Rising from the ashes.

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Regulars

Letters

Letters

Praise, blame and all points in between? Give us your feedback.

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Illustration: Sarah John

Cheers to us

Her first job as a penniless university student has a special place in Virginia Tognola’s memories.

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Borderlines

Borderlines

Absent parents, by Mubashir Naik.

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Illustration: Emma Peer

Seriously?

Husna Ara reports on Metaverse land grabs.

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Inequality Watch

Inequality Watch

Billionaires vs the pandemic.

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Photo: Ben Von Klemperer/Alamy

Sign of the Times

Vaginas brought you into this world!! Vaginas will vote you out!!

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Illustration: Keyvan Varesi

Open window

Inequality Kills by Keyvan Varesi (Iran)

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Country Profile: St Vincent and the Grenadines

The photos, facts, and politics of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

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Cartoon History: Amritsar massacre

Cartoon History: Amritsar massacre

ILYA recounts how hundreds of unarmed civilians were slaughtered by troops under British command in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

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Illustration: Marc Roberts

Only Planet

Readham & Wheape by Marc Roberts.

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Photo: Dipayan Bose

Southern Exposure: Dipayan Bose

Highlighting the work of artists and photographers from the Majority World.

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A Scientist Rebellion march makes its way through The Hague on 6 April 2022, stopping at the Dutch Finance Ministry, the Economy and Climate Ministry and the Foreign Affairs Ministry buildings on the way.Photo: Ana Fernandez/SIPA US/Alamy

Temperature Check

Applied science. Danny Chivers reports on A Scientist Rebellion in The Netherlands.

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Illustration: Kate Evans

Thoughts from a Broad

When they do it, when we do it. Illustration by Kate Evans.

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Photo: Ndongo Samba Sylla

The Interview: Ndongo Samba Sylla

The Senegalese development economist speaks to Hazel Healy about monetary sovereignty, debt – and the perils of Afro-liberalism.

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Photo: Zuma Press/Alamy

Hall of Infamy

President of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

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Illustration: P J Polyp

Big Bad World

Hope? Illustration by P J Polyp.

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The Puzzler

The Puzzler

Crossword Puzzle, Association Words and Wordsearch.

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Agony Uncle

Agony Uncle

Ethical and political dilemmas abound these days. This month: joint ownership.

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Illustration: Andy Carter

What if...

There was a World Tax Organization? Alex Cobham envisions a global body to clamp down on tax dodging.

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Film, Book & Music Reviews

Mixed Media: Hot Docs

Mixed Media: Hot Docs

Highlights from the 2022 Toronto Festival by Richard Swift.

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Mixed Media: Books

Mixed Media: Books

Boulder; Life Ceremony; Crossed off the Map: Travels in Bolivia; Citizens.

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Mixed Media: Music

Mixed Media: Music

Tresor; Canti di guerra, di lavoro e d’amore.

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Photo: Kaabi-Linke Studio

Spotlight: Nadia Kaabi-Linke

Creator of the acclaimed installation ‘Flying Carpets’.

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