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The Science and Development Network aims to provide reliable and authoritative information about science and technology for the developing world. Their goal is to help both individuals and organizations in developing countries make informed decisions about how science and technology can improve economic and social development.

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How changing land use pattern in the Caribbean is impacting storm risks
August 5, 2015 07:22 AM - José Rodriguez-Llanes, Catholic University of Louvain, SciDevNet

Turning natural landscapes in the Caribbean into urban areas or farmland may increase the risk of people dying from floods and storms, scientists suggest.
In a study published by Scientific Reports last month (8 July), researchers from Anguilla’s health ministry and the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium investigate which factors make the region more prone to deaths related to these disasters. Out of 20 variables, they found that using a greater proportion of land for agriculture and having a higher percentage of people living in urban areas were consistently linked with deadlier floods and storms. 

Mapping mosquito data to track spread of disease
July 7, 2015 09:01 AM - Tania Rabesandratana, SciDevNet

Mosquitoes that carry the dengue and chikungunya viruses are more widespread than ever, believe scientists mapping the global spread of the insects. There are no treatments or vaccines for these diseases, so knowing where the mosquitoes that transmit them occur and thrive can help focus research and public health resources, the scientists say.

Nepal deals with climate change
June 25, 2015 02:33 PM - SciDevNet., SciDevNet

On 25 April, Nepal was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. But as well as quakes, the country is also vulnerable to climate change, a combination that makes it harder to build resilience and risk preparedness.
As mean temperatures rise in South Asia, the monsoon season has changed, leading to more-erratic rainfall and increasing the risk of floods and landslides that can claim lives and wreck food production.

How studying volcanos can improve aviation safety
June 10, 2015 08:36 AM - Paula Leighton, SciDevNet

A study on ash blasted from volcanoes is a first step towards accurately assessing where it is safe to fly during eruptions, according to the authors. The researchers found that the ash grains ejected into the atmosphere have diverse shapes and properties. They also learned that big grains can travel further than was previously estimated. All this could improve existing models of ash concentrations, which governments and airlines use to make flight decisions during eruptions, they say. Ash can cause aircraft engines to fail.

How can we improve plant growth?
April 10, 2015 08:36 AM - Edd Gent, SciDevNet

Supercomputers and genetic engineering could help boost crops’ ability to convert sunlight into energy and tackle looming food shortages, according to a team of researchers. Photosynthesis is far from its theoretical maximum efficiency, say the authors of a paper in Cell, published on 26 March. They say that supercomputing advances could allow scientists to model every stage in the process and identify bottlenecks in improving plant growth.

Road kill: Recommendations to protect biodiversity
March 20, 2015 08:43 AM - Michelle Kovacevic, SciDevNet

Governments and donors must pay more attention to the environmental impact of road networks to limit their “devastating” effect on ecosystems, a study on global infrastructure expansion has warned. Road construction opens a “Pandora’s box” of negative impact, according to the authors of the paper, published this month in Current Biology. These include deforestation, animals hunted to extinction, land grabs by speculators betting on development, and wildfires. 

Putting a value on forests
February 23, 2015 07:00 AM - Kaz Janowski, SciDevNet

The day I first set foot in a tropical rainforest, in Malaysia in the early 1980s, I experienced something profound. From the echoes of gibbons calling from the canopy in the early morning mist to the iridescent flash of a bird in a beam of sunlight, rainforests are a sensory delight as well as a marvel to anyone’s scientific curiosity. 

As I subsequently watched these forests dwindle and, in some cases, vanish, I have felt an equally profound sense of loss and a nagging guilt that I was somehow part of the story, because I had done little to remedy the situation. 

Hope for the Monarch Butterfly
November 24, 2014 03:59 PM - Imogen Mathers, SciDevNet

When millions of monarch butterflies take to the sky and fly thousands of kilometres from the United States and southern Canada to Mexico, the view is breathtaking. But over the last few decades, their numbers have plummeted, and last year hit an all-time low. Illegal logging in Mexican forests, where the monarchs hibernate during winter, has traditionally been to blame. But large-scale logging by companies appears to have been halted. And now small-scale logging by local people for firewood and timber — a “growing concern in 2013” — has also stopped, according to a study published last month (27 October) in Biological Conservation.

Water-saving Technology for Rice Farms Introduced
November 10, 2014 10:07 AM - Fatima Arkin, SciDevNet

Agriculture experts say application of alternate wetting and drying (AWD) technology in Vietnam’s rice farms, one of South-East Asia’s largest rice-producing countries, holds great promise in cutting water use and greenhouse gas emissions from rice cultivation without sacrificing yield output. Vietnam along with Bangladesh and Colombia recently partnered with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) to introduce the large-scale application of AWD, also known as controlled irrigation in which farmers periodically drain rice paddies rather than keeping them perpetually flooded.

First Hookworm Vaccine Passes Brazilian Safety Trial
October 8, 2014 09:33 AM - SciDevNet, SciDevNet

A vaccine for parasitic intestinal worms has been shown to be safe in Brazilian clinical trials, according to its US developer. Hookworm parasites infect more than 600 million people worldwide, attaching themselves to the intestines to feed on blood. Infection can lead to iron deficiency and capillary damage, and may retard children’s growth and mental development.

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