January 2012

Rather than revise our previous post, we thought we’d give you a little list of links to today’s stories on Marketplace and PBS NewsHour, and to some of the extra elements that went live today.

Marketplace piece: Philippines: Too many Mouths? (there’s also a slideshow)

NewsHour piece: Turning the tide on population in the Philippines

Interactive World Food Map

Interactive World Food Timeline

“Food for 9 Billion” project page

Series page on Marketplace

Please let us know what you think!


Today is sort of a coming out for the “Food for 9 Billion” project, with features airing on American Public Media’s Marketplace and PBS NewsHour. Both stories look at the links between population growth and food security in the Philippines, and both were reported and produced by freelance journalist Sam Eaton. The TV piece was edited by Charlotte Buchen, a freelancer working with the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR).

We hope you can catch both stories—we think they complement each other nicely. In the Marketplace piece, Sam takes us to the slums of Manila, where migrants from the countryside pick through mountains of garbage and maternity wards are packed two to a bed. He also takes us outside the city, where rice farmers in the country’s agricultural heartland are being displaced by urban sprawl.

The NewsHour piece introduces us to an innovative program in a fishing village in Bohol, in the central Philippines, where poor fishing families are embracing birth control both to escape poverty and to ease the pressure on overfished reefs. It seems that access to family planning doesn’t just change people’s attitudes about their own futures, but also about the world they’ll be leaving to their children.

Population growth is an important part of the feeding-the-world equation, but it’s not always clear what to do about it. Growth tends to slow when people get wealthier. But some say the Philippines has lagged behind its southeast Asian neighbors largely because it hasn’t taken measures to slow its growth. The country, home to the International Rice Research Institute, is now the world’s biggest rice importer, and its natural systems—reefs, forests, rivers—are badly degraded. Philippine congressman Walden Bello, a Princeton-trained sociologist and former director of Food First, has been trying to make government funds available for family planning, but the powerful Catholic church has resisted.

On a purely journalistic note, our hats are off to Sam, a longtime radio reporter, for his own coming out into the world of television. We sent him to the Philippines to do a radio story, but he came back with video of everything he did, shot on a small SLR camera. When the folks at CIR and PBS NewsHour saw his footage they were floored, and helped him craft it into a very strong piece. Marketplace and NewsHour decided to broadcast the stories on the same day, and to make some noise about the collaboration. To which we say: Woo hoo!

On this day after the first presidential primary, we wanted to let you know about an exciting project we’re involved with called Groundwork, organized by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Through radio stories and web features, it examines “the current state of American democracy—how people solve problems, make decisions, get things done—in six diverse places across the United States.” Homelands’ Jon Miller is part of the team, covering the debate over hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in one small town in central New York. You can read about Jon’s assignment and see photos and video on the project blog.

Happy New Year! I’m just back from South Asia, where I looked at grassroots efforts to prepare for climate change in Bangladesh and avert a water crisis in India. These are for future stories in the “Food for 9 Billion” series. Some snaps below.

Above, villagers in Lapuria, in the Dudu District of Rajasthan, India, have raised the water table about 200 feet using rainwater harvesting and water conservation techniques.

Rajendra Singh (left) is known as "The Water Man" throughout India for his work restoring watersheds. In his home area he has helped bring seven dead rivers back to life.

Villagers in southern Bangladesh build an earthen dam to hold back tidal surges. When a recent surge destroyed a nearby dam, the community offered its labor to build another structure.

Protesters in Satkhira, in Bangladesh, demand that the government clear waterways and help drain flooded fields. Waterlogging and salinity are expected to increase as the climate changes.