It is imperative that post-Millennium Development Goals, currently being negotiated, do not overlook the plight of the disabled people and children. It is time for concrete action to ensure that particularly children with disabilities have access to education, protection from violence and abuse; and opportunity to have their voices heard. This is not just a development agenda it is also a human rights issue.
Mali, along with several of its neighbouring countries in the Sahel region of West Africa, remains in a state of crisis. The rebel threat has not gone away, despite their withdrawal from strategic towns, and the recent fighting has increased tensions between different ethnic groups, some of whom have been associated with the rebels' cause.
No one knows how many street children there are in the world. Finding out is one of the first recommendations of the recent UN study on street children to all its member states.
In the space of 10 months, Niger has been hit by a food crisis brought on by high market prices and poor harvests, a refugee crisis triggered by conflict in neighbouring Mali, followed by a cholera outbreak and now devastating floods. It has left many in this West African state wondering when the next disaster is and what could it possibly be?
There are no proper words to describe the heartbreaking sight of a malnourished child. No image on TV can prepare you for the sheer lightness of their bodies, their minuscule wrists, their over-sized, slightly bulging heads; the breathtaking shock of realising that the cute baby who looks newborn is actually nearly two years old. Malnourishment is not something that enters our world very often. Ours is a place where 60 stone teenagers must be hoisted out of their homes by the local fire service because they no longer fit through their front doors. It's a place where five-year-old girls worry themselves silly about being thinner, aspiring to a 'body ideal' that's estimated to be not physically achievable by 95% of the population.