India is in the midst of its worst drought in 50 years

A quarter of the country’s population is affected by the drought. “India is suffering. In the midst of the worst drought it has seen in half a century, some 330 million people are currently affected, reports the government. The scarcity is so severe that schools, farms, and even hospitals cannot function — doctors don’t have enough water to wash their hands — and many people are leaving their homes in search of water. To combat shortages, the government has started shipping water across the country via trains, but it’s not enough. In one of the most devastated states, 9 million farmers have little or no water for irrigation and at least 216 have committed suicide, reports the Guardian.” (Grist

A warning from the UN: North Korea food production slumps...North Korea’s total food production – including cereals, soybeans and potatoes in cereal equivalent – is estimated to have fallen in 2015, the first drop since 2010, and is expected to worsen food security in the country, according to a FAO update issued today. Last year, total food production in North Korea (officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) is estimated to have been about 5.4 million tonnes compared to 5.9 million tonnes in 2014, marking a 9 percent decrease, the update said.” (FAO )

A two day workweek…In a desperate attempt to save electricity, drought-stricken Venezuela has introduced a new concept to the workplace calendar: the five-day weekend. President Nicolás Maduro will furlough the country’s public employees — who account for a third of the labor force — for the bulk of the week, so they can sit through rolling blackouts at home rather than in the office.” (WaPo

Quote of the century… Thomas Friedman, everyone! “You can learn everything you need to know about the main challenges facing Africa today by talking to just two people in Senegal: the rapper and the weatherman.”  (View from the Cave


Eleven men were shot dead in Cape Verde, including eight soldiers, a local civilian and two Spanish citizens, the minister of Internal Administration for the archipelago off the African coast said in a statement. (Reuters

Pirate attacks on the high seas continue to fall but a global watchdog warned Wednesday of “unacceptable violence” by seaborne bandits off West Africa. (AFP

The United Nations Security Council is set to lift a 12-year-old arms embargo on Ivory Coast on Thursday and renew the U.N. peacekeeping mission for a final year, France’s U.N. envoy said. (Reuters

Mozambique said most of $1.4 billion in previously hidden loans had been used to fund maritime security and shipyards, a week after the IMF suspended the country over the undisclosed sum. (AFP

Musicians in Kenya are using their art to champion LGBT rights. (Inter Press Service


The U.N. peacekeeping mission in the disputed territory of Western Sahara should be given an added mandate to monitor human rights, rights groups said, days before a U.N. vote on the mission’s renewal. (Reuters

A Syrian opposition official said on Wednesday it was up to the United Nations to say when peace talks would resume, after a Russian official said they would restart on May 10, adding that the opposition would not take part until its demands were met. (Reuters

Israeli police shot dead two Palestinians at a checkpoint between east Jerusalem and the West Bank on Wednesday after one of them threw a knife at them, a spokeswoman said. (AFP


Thai election authorities on Wednesday filed their first charge under a law banning campaigning and debate before a referendum on a controversial new constitution, as the junta tightens its grip on free speech. (AFP

A Pakistani judge has accepted a case against an Islamic charity, widely seen as a front organization for a banned anti-India militant group, that has been accused of running unauthorized sharia courts in the eastern city of Lahore. (Reuters

Thousands of Nepali women are being trafficked every year as sex workers and bonded laborers, and China and South Korea are emerging as new destinations, a member of the National Human Rights Commission said. (Reuters

The Indonesian government’s decision to investigate anti-communist massacres in 1965 is being met with wariness by rights groups, some of which are reluctant to share information about mass graves until the government shows how it will conduct the probe. (AP

Malaysia is proposing to amend an act to allow the government to seize control of land where big fires are discovered, as part of its long-term efforts to curb haze from slash-and-burn forest clearing techniques usually linked to palm oil plantations. (Reuters

China’s top anti-graft authority has found irregularities at the country’s second-largest lender, China Construction Bank Corp., it said on Wednesday, as the country works to weed out corruption in state-owned enterprises. (Reuters

Two German travellers and their local guide were wounded by shrapnel from a landmine in north Myanmar, close to an area of recent heavy fighting between ethnic minority rebel groups, officials said on Wednesday. (AFP

April in Thailand is typically hot and sweaty, but this year’s scorching weather has set a record for the longest heat wave in at least 65 years. (AP

The Americas

Amnesty International said Wednesday that inhabitants of Olympic host Rio de Janeiro’s slum favelas are “living in terror” after 11 people were killed in police shootings in the past month. (AFP

The foreign experts came to Mexico in March 2015 with the daunting task of helping investigators solve the mysterious disappearance of 43 students. A year later, the five experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights are going home without an answer for the desperate parents of the young men missing since September 2014. (AFP

The office of the UN human rights chief voiced concern over claims by foreign experts that Mexico’s government stonewalled its investigation of the disappearance of 43 students. (AFP

Power outages are nothing new for Venezuelans, but with the government’s recent announcement of a formal rolling blackout program set to last at least 40 days, things have only gotten worse, he said. (CNN

A Republican political donor said on Wednesday he would spend “seven figures” on a targeted digital campaign backing two senators who support clean energy policies, which could help tip the balance in their tight November re-election races. (Reuters

…and the rest

Greece on Wednesday returned 12 Syrians, including a woman and her four children, to Turkey as part of a European Union-Turkey agreement aiming to stop the flow of refugees and migrants across the Aegean to Europe’s more prosperous heartland. (AP

UN chief Ban Ki-moon called Wednesday for the US, China and other nuclear-armed states to end the “madness” of atomic testing by finally ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which turns 20 this year. (AFP

Four civilians including a pregnant woman were killed and eight others wounded early Wednesday when their cars came under mortar fire in war-torn eastern Ukraine, rebel officials said. (AFP

Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline says higher sales of vaccines and consumer healthcare products pushed up its earnings from core business by 19 percent in the first quarter. (AP


Why Do These Hacking Deaths Keep Happening in Bangladesh? (UN Dispatch

Why are millions of children still dying from preventable diseases? (Guardian

Will Brazil’s mega-crisis hurt the Olympics? (AFP

Why Individual Nigerians Carry the Heaviest Malaria Cost Burden in Africa (The Conversation

This is the dumbest paragraph by Thomas Friedman you’ll ever read in your life (Africanist Perspective

Liberia needs to muster the courage to ban FGM (Guardian

Tikamgarh revisited, what’s happened to the amazing fishing communities I visited in 2006? (From Poverty to Power

Idealising and preserving “traditional” culture (WhyDev

Diabetes and development: the numbers, the costs and the response (DevPolicy

A constitution Papua New Guinea can be proud of (The Interpreter

Childbirth in Benin – in pictures (Guardian