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People Fixing the World

People Fixing the World

Brilliant solutions to the world?s problems. We meet people with ideas to make the world a better place and investigate whether they work.

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Residents turn detective to fight crime

Neighbours in the US are using cameras that read car number plates to record vehicles driving down their streets. When there?s a crime they check through the footage and pass any leads on to the police. But critics say the Flock Safety system, run by a private company, is open to abuse and warn of privacy concerns. Is it too risky to encourage residents to do police work, or a realistic response to under-resourced law enforcement? Presenter: Tom Colls Producer: Claire Bates (Photo Credit: BBC)
2019-07-02
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Life-saving surgery, but not by a doctor

More than five billion people around the world don?t have access to safe, affordable surgical care. It has been a big problem in Ethiopia where most specialist doctors are concentrated in the cities, contributing to high rates of maternal mortality. In 2009 the Ethiopian government began training Integrated Emergency Surgical Officers. Health workers, such as nurses and midwives, are taught to perform emergency operations in remote, rural clinics where there are no surgeons. It was the first programme of its kind and is seen as a model for other developing countries. More than 800 surgical officers have now completed the three-year Masters programme and are performing hundreds of caesareans and other emergency procedures each year. People Fixing The World follows one of them, Seida Guadu, as she operates to try to save the lives of a mother and her unborn child. Reporter: Ruth Evans Producers: Lily Freeston and Hadra Ahmed (Picture credit: BBC)
2019-06-25
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Portugal, drugs and decriminalisation

In the 1990s Portugal had a major heroin problem, and when it came to people injecting drugs it had one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the EU. It took a radical approach and decriminalised all personal drug use. The law introduced in 2001 means people carrying drugs for personal consumption aren?t prosecuted - instead they are referred to health and social services to receive treatment, and the focus is on harm reduction. And the strategy worked. The number of people using drugs fell dramatically, new HIV and Hepatitis C infections dropped and drug-related crime became much less of a problem. So why haven?t more countries followed their lead and adopted this model? Produced by Hannah McNeish for BBC World Service (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
2019-06-18
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Can capturing carbon buy us time to tackle climate change?

To prevent the worst effects of climate change, we need to massively cut how much carbon we pump into the atmosphere. But those carbon cuts might not happen in time, so another approach may be needed. Around the world, scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are working on ways to give us more time to change our way of life. They?re developing technologies and techniques that effectively do climate change in reverse. Instead of pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, they suck it in and store it. These projects range from using rock dust for ?enhanced weathering? to trap carbon in farmers? fields, to the power station attempting to capture it on its way up the chimney. We go on a tour of these projects to see if they offer hope for the future. Producer and reporter: Tom Colls Photo Caption: Carbon dioxide illustration / Photo Credit: Getty Images
2019-06-11
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Can sleep deprivation help treat bipolar disorder?

People diagnosed with bipolar disorder are commonly treated with a variety of drugs. They aren?t always effective and can come with a range of side effects. For several decades, an Italian psychiatrist has been pioneering a different approach. By asking his patients to stay awake for 36 hours three times over the course of a week ? and combining the counterintuitive idea with bright light therapy and lithium ? he has found that some of them demonstrate a remarkable improvement in mood, which can last indefinitely. The therapy has caught the attention of researchers across the world, and new trials are being carried out, but the idea is not without its critics. Sam Judah spends a week with a cohort of patients as they undergo sleep deprivation treatment at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan, and tries to find out if it is effective. Producer: Sam Judah (Photo caption: Francesco Benedetti / Photo credit: BBC)
2019-06-04
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Audience takeover: Your plastic solutions

We hear what you, our listeners, are doing to tackle the problem of plastic waste. The idea came about when you started getting in touch after a previous episode asking why we don?t reuse and refill the plastic containers we?ve already got. (The Reuse and Refill Revolution: Tuesday 23 April.) Since then you?ve sent lots of alternative ideas and suggestions. Nick Holland and Kat Hawkins hear from shoppers cutting down on packaging by buying in bulk, people organising litter-picking trips to clean up plastic from the desert and an idea to create giant floating plastic pontoons as platforms for new housing. There are some surprising tips too, like from the woman who reuses empty pet food sachets to store her pre-cooked meals in the freezer and the man who melts down his own plastic waste and turns it into fence posts. Presenters Kat Hawkins / Nick Holland Producer Nick Holland (Photo credit: Getty Images)
2019-05-28
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Reinventing the ranch

It?s not a good time to be a meat eater. Pressure is growing to tackle climate change ? and the livestock sector produces 15% of global greenhouse emissions, with cattle farming accounting for two thirds of that. Not only do cows produce damaging methane gas, but creating pasture for the animals has led to widespread deforestation. Nowhere is this more evident than in Colombia: 34 million hectares of land there is devoted to cattle ranching. The land that?s been cleared to graze cattle is often left without trees, meaning the soil quickly becomes arid and useless. Now an ambitious project aims to demonstrate that cattle ranching can be ecologically sound. An expert team is helping more than 4,000 farmers dramatically remodel their land. Instead of open fields, they are planting trees and shrubs, and allowing small plants to grow among the grass. This more intensive planting helps to store carbon and provides a healthier diet for cows, meaning they produce less methane and more milk and meat. But are other cattle farmers likely to follow suit and adopt this ?silvopastoral? approach? Presenter: Kat Hawkins Reporter: William Kremer (Photo credit: BBC)
2019-05-21
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Working Less For The Same Pay

Matsuri Takahashi was 24 when she died. She took her own life after doing more than 100 hours overtime a month at a large advertising company in Japan. She was a victim of karoshi - dying as a result of overwork. It?s a phenomenon that?s well known in Japan where stories of employees working ridiculously long hours ? sometimes until four or five in the morning - are common. The government has introduced a new law to limit overtime, although critics say it doesn?t go far enough and the whole working culture needs to change. Working long hours doesn?t necessarily mean more work gets done, so elsewhere, a company in New Zealand has reduced hours without cutting pay. Staff are given a day off each week if they can get five days? work done in four. Should we all be doing this? Presenter: Nick Holland Reporters: Jamie Ryan and Mariko Oi (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
2019-05-14
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Could a device invented in the 1930s help end period poverty?

Period poverty affects girls and women across the world who can?t afford to buy sanitary pads or tampons each month. So what are the alternatives? We look at two very different solutions. In a refugee camp in Jordan, we follow one woman as she tries to get a sanitary pad micro-factory off the ground. While in Malawi, they?re handing out menstrual cups to teenagers - which last for 10 years and don?t produce any waste. Presenter: Vibeke Venema Producer: Tom Colls (Photo Caption: A menstrual cup / Photo Credit: Getty Images)
2019-05-07
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The tree detectives tackling illegal logging

If you examine the atoms in a piece of wood, you can tell to the nearest 10km where it has come from. Environmental factors, such as the climate, affect trees as they grow and that signature remains in the wood after it is processed. An international group of scientists is hoping to use this information to tackle illegal logging, which contributes to a loss of biodiversity and costs governments billions of dollars in lost revenues each year. It?s thought that up to 30% of timber on the global market comes from illegally-sourced wood, and ends up as all sorts of items in shops around the world. Now, stable isotope analysis is being used to identify the unique profile of these products. And when scientists find items don?t come from the place specified on the label, the information can be used to hold shops accountable. We visit the wood archive at Kew Gardens and speak to experts using this technology to help stem the flow of illegally-smuggled timber and protect the planet?s endangered forests. Presenter: Tom Colls Reporter and Producer: Nicola Kelly (Photo Caption: Logging in the Amazon / Photo Credit: Getty Images)
2019-04-30
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The reuse and refill revolution

Should we reuse and refill plastic packaging to limit the amount being thrown away? Nick Holland looks at different ways people are trying to make this happen. One idea is to take used containers back to the supermarkets where, in the future, giant vending machines could refill them. But the scale of the challenge is huge and getting consumers to change their shopping habits will be hard. Presenter: Tom Colls Producer and Reporter: Nick Holland (Photo Credit: BBC)
2019-04-23
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DNA tests for dogs to tackle problem poo

The average dog produces about 124kg of poo every year, but not all of that gets picked up and disposed of properly. So people living in many residential blocks in the US have had their dogs? DNA registered on a database, in an attempt to tackle problem poo. If they don?t pick up after their dog, a sample of what?s left behind is sent off to a lab so the perpetrator can be identified. The company behind the tests says it works well in private, gated communities but what about public parks and pavements? Could other solutions, such as offering rewards for picking up poo, or posting dog mess backs to the owners, work in the long term? And we hear how Ontario in Canada is collecting dog poo to turn it into energy. Presenter: Kat Hawkins Reporters: Ros Tamblyn and Claire Bates (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
2019-04-16
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The great mosquito swap

Every year, it?s estimated that nearly 400 million people around the world are infected with dengue fever, a potentially fatal illness that?s passed on by mosquitoes. No vaccine is effective at preventing people catching the disease, but what if the mosquitoes themselves were treated to stop them spreading it? In one city that is severely affected ? Medellin in Colombia ? an ambitious project is underway to swap wild mosquitoes for a variety that is identical in every way, but with one crucial difference. These mosquitoes have been bred from specimens injected with bacteria that make it impossible to transmit not just dengue, but also the Zika and chikungunya viruses, and Yellow Fever. Buoyed by successful projects in Australia, the World Mosquito Program is releasing millions of newly-minted mosquitoes across Medellin, in the hope that they will replace the wild population. And to reassure the public, schoolchildren are being taught to love mosquitoes, and even to breed them ? a message that contradicts what they?ve been brought up to believe. Presenter: Tom Colls Reporter / Producer: William Kremer (Photo Caption: The Aedes Aegyptii Mosquito / Photo Credit: Getty Images)
2019-04-09
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The mums saving each other from a taboo condition

"Get rid of the girl who smells" - this is the reaction thousands of traumatised new mothers face every year. A prolonged or obstructed childbirth can lead to a condition called obstetric fistula, where women are left incontinent, continually leaking urine and faeces. Without treatment they often become socially isolated. But in Madagascar, some women who have successfully been treated for fistula become patient ambassadors. They travel on foot to remote villages to find and help others with the same condition. They personally accompany them to clinics to get life-changing surgery and support. Afterwards, those women return to their villages and begin campaigning for other women to seek care. Many medical organisations around the world are waking up to the power of the patient's voice - patient ambassadors can resonate with vulnerable groups in a way that other kinds of outreach can't. Reporter/ Producer: Amelia Martyn-Hemphill (Photo Caption: Felicia - a patient ambassador in Madagascar / Photo Credit: BBC)
2019-04-02
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Can phages save us as antibiotics stop working?

Tens of thousands of people die every year because bacterial infections are becoming resistant to antibiotics. That number is expected to explode, as more antibiotics stop working, making antimicrobial resistance, or AMR, one of the gravest health threats facing humanity. But could viruses come to the rescue? Bacteriophages, or phages for short, are viruses that infect and kill bacteria. They were discovered 100 years ago and have been used to treat infections for decades in Georgia. But despite their abundance in nature and proven ability to kill infections, their potential has not yet been realised outside the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Steffanie Strathdee, who stumbled across phages as she tried to save her husband?s life, is now leading a campaign to put phages on the map. But can their use be scaled up from individual and costly treatments to a fully-operational weapon in the war against AMR? Reporter: Tom Colls (Photo Caption: A phage under an electron microscope / Photo Credit: University of Leicester)
2019-03-26
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The digital detectives tackling child sexual abuse

Europol, the EU's law enforcement agency, is taking an innovative approach to solving disturbing crimes. It holds more than 40 million images of child sexual abuse. In many cases the perpetrators remain at large, and their victims unidentified. By posting parts of those photos online - with the abusers and their victims removed - they are hoping members of the public can help them find out where the crimes took place, and so trace the perpetrators. Around the world, ordinary people are combing over the photos, using online tools and local knowledge to uncover fresh clues - and the results can be remarkable. Sam Judah meets the digital detectives trying to geolocate the places where the photos were taken, and asks Europol how their work can lead to the prosecution of criminals. Presenter: Kat Hawkins Reporter: Sam Judah (Photo Caption: Europol is asking for help identifying this location / Photo Credit: Via Europol)
2019-03-19
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Crossing divides in Cyprus

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, but a community centre is bringing Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots together in the buffer zone between the two sides. Cyprus has been a divided island since 1974, with Turkish Cypriots living in the north and Greek Cypriots in the south. The two communities have been able to cross the island at police checkpoints since 2003, but memories of past conflict have held many back. However, one unique community centre is bringing people together right in the buffer zone that divides the two sides. Staffed by both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, the Home for Co-operation encourages people to meet and form friendships through shared interests, from djembe drumming to salsa classes. It hosts projects and groups trying to stop old prejudices taking root in the younger generation. It also provides a base for businesses and social enterprises, all seeking to melt decades of distrust. But how big a difference can one centre make on an island of one million people, in the face of political problems and personal trauma? Presenter: Nick Holland Produced: Claire Bates (Photo Caption: Lefki Lambrou and Hayriye Rüzgar / Photo Credit: BBC)
2019-03-12
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Last video messages to help children grieve

Children who lose a parent may struggle to come to terms with this for the rest of their lives. In the UK about one in 20 children will lose a parent before the age of 16. In other countries, the figure is even higher. However, Gaby Eirew thinks she has a solution that can help. She works in counselling, often dealing with childhood trauma. Using that experience she has created a free app that has been downloaded in more than 30 countries around the world. It helps parents to create an archive of ?selfie-style? videos on their phone, for their children to watch in the future. The app prompts parents to address the questions she has consistently found bereaved children want answered. Not all are what you might expect. Presenter: Kathleen Hawkins Reporter: Dougal Shaw Producer: Alison Gee (Photo Caption: Gaby Eirew / Photo Credit: BBC) Contains extracts from the song ?Never Forget? by Sky, recorded by Indi B Productions
2019-03-05
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Turning old clothes into new ones

It?s estimated that 400 billion square metres of fabric are made every year ? enough to cover Germany ? for the fashion industry. The sector produces a similar amount of greenhouse gases to the international airline and shipping industries combined. The two most-used materials are cotton and polyester. Growing cotton requires a vast amount of land and water, and often chemicals too. Polyester is a by-product of the oil industry which has a massive environmental impact. But after clothing has been used, just 1% of it is recycled in a way that means it can be turned into other clothes. Much of what?s left ends up in landfill or is burned. What if that were to change and new clothes could easily be made out of old ones? Companies across the world are trying to ?close the loop? in the fashion industry, developing chemical processes to turn used fabric back into materials that can be used again. Sweden?s Re:newcell is transforming old cotton into useable material, while the UK?s Worn Again has come up with a process to enable the re-use of blended textiles. But are these processes viable? Will turning old pants into new shirts save the planet ? or is the solution something much deeper? Presenter: Nick Holland Producer: Jamie Ryan (Photo Caption: Clothes at a textile sorting depot / Photo Credit: BBC)
2019-02-26
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Predicting suicide

About 800,000 people take their own lives every year, that?s one person every 40 seconds, according to the World Health Organization. For decades, doctors and researchers have tried to establish the key risk factors that identify someone as being at risk of suicide - depression, drug addiction and low social support have all been proposed - but research shows that no one variable gives doctors a useful steer. This makes it very difficult for mental health professionals to predict who might try to kill themselves. Now the psychologist Joseph Franklin is trying a new approach: to utilise machine learning to spot patterns in how hundreds of variables come together to put an individual at higher risk of suicide. He has developed a computer algorithm that is able to spot the subtle interplay of factors and make much more accurate suicide predictions. At the same time, researchers in the US are developing programmes that scan social media posts for signs that a town may be about to experience a higher rate of suicide than normal. But how should these tools be used by doctors and public health bodies? And is there a risk that even as machines begin to understand suicide, doctors will remain in the dark about how to help their patients, and when? Presenter: Nick Holland Reporter: William Kremer (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
2019-02-19
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?No Men Allowed? ? The Gym Getting Women Fit and into Work

In 2006, Turkish entrepreneur Bedriye Hülya set up her first women-only gym, b-fit. It?s cheap to join and is now a successful chain. Many women in Turkey don?t feel comfortable exercising alongside men and their male relatives may not allow them to use mixed gyms, so b-fit is a place where they can go. Women in Turkey are more likely to be overweight than men, according to government statistics, and the World Health Organization says nearly two thirds don?t get enough exercise. All the gyms are staffed and run by women so the company says it?s creating jobs in a country where just 34% of women work. But some feminists feel that separating men and women is not the way forward, and women should be made to feel welcome everywhere. We went to Istanbul to see how the business works. Presenter: Kat Hawkins Reporter: Neyran Elden Producer: Vibeke Venema (Image Credit: BBC)
2019-02-12
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How Nepal Doubled its Tiger Population

Over the past 10 years, Nepal has almost doubled its population of Bengal tigers ? it?s estimated the country now has 235 of the magnificent beasts. After years of decline, a combination of smart strategies has turned the tide. The army runs anti-poacher teams, using CCTV, data monitoring and elephant patrols. Income from tourism is channelled to communities bordering the park to build fences to protect them from wildlife and create business opportunities to make poaching less attractive. And the delicate forest ecosystem is managed and expanded, with jungle highways connecting the national parks. We go on a forest safari to see how it all works. Presenter: Amelia Martyn-Hemphill Reporter: Tom Colls (Image Caption: A tiger / Image Credit: Getty Images)
2019-02-05
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The shopping mall where everything is recycled

There are 14 specialist shops at the Retuna shopping mall in Eskilstuna, Sweden, but they all have one thing in common. Every item for sale in the shopping centre is second-hand. The clever thing about this mall is its location. It is right next to the city?s refuse and recycling centre. When people come to drop off mattresses and cardboard, they also pass by the mall?s basement to leave unwanted items that can be resold ? or indeed items that can be ?upcycled?, given a new lease of life as a different kind of object. Every shop is run as a money-making business, rather than a charity. The mall also hosts a college that offers a one-year certified course in upcycling, hoping to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs who believe in sustainability. Presiding over the whole enterprise is Anna Bergstrom. Her mission is to make second-hand shopping a mainstream experience ? even one that?s a little bit glamorous.
2019-01-29
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The Turkish App to Help Autistic Children Learn

There are an estimated 350,000 autistic children in Turkey, but only 20,000 to 30,000 of those children are thought to be in education. And because of stigma around the condition, many parents are reluctant to get a diagnosis. Zafer Elcik?s younger brother is autistic and was unable to read or write. But Zafer noticed that while his brother?s attention span was usually very short, he would happily spend an hour playing on his smartphone. So Zafer created Otsimo, an app with a range of games, to help his brother read and write. Now Otsimo has 100,000 users in Turkey, the US and Canada. Otsimo says it?s ?democratising education? for people with special needs. But can an app really make much difference? Presenter: Nick Holland Reporter: Vibeke Venema Image Caption: Alper and Zafer Elcik Image Credit: BBC
2019-01-22
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The Talent Show for Honest People

In this talent show, it doesn?t matter if you can sing or dance, the winner just has to be honest and good at their job. It?s called Integrity Idol and the aim is to ?name and fame? honest government workers - people who reject corruption and refuse to take bribes. The idea is that this creates positive role models to change society for the better. The competition is being run in seven countries around the world. Hundreds of candidates are found from each country, a panel of judges choses the five best, and the public votes on the winner. World Hacks visits the final of the competition in Nepal and asks what difference this approach can make. Reporter: Tom Colls Image Caption: The winner of Integrity Idol Image Credit: BBC
2019-01-15
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Does the world need more babies?

People in many parts of the world are having fewer babies than they were 60 years ago, and that?s worrying some countries. So in order to maintain the proportion of people of working age, governments have come up with campaigns to try to get people to have more children. Polish couples have been encouraged to ?breed like bunnies? and speed dating events have been laid on for singles in Georgia. Nicola Kelly visits Norway, which has tackled the issue in a different way, ensuring gender equality, healthcare and education make it attractive to have more than one child. But as the global population grows, does the world really need more babies? We ask whether this just puts greater strain on the planet?s resources. Presenter: Nick Holland Reporter/producer: Nicola Kelly Image Credit: Getty Images
2019-01-08
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Checking in with the Problem Solvers

Do you ever wonder what happens to the people and projects we feature? This week we revisit innovators around the world to see how their schemes have developed. We catch up with the team catching junk in space, and the PODD disease detectives in Thailand tell us how they?ve successfully stopped the spread of infections. We also check in with the man who planned to give QR codes to homeless people so that passers-by can scan them with their mobile phones and donate money. Presenters: Nick Holland, Elizabeth Davies Producer: Daniel Gordon Image Caption: Satellite Image Credit: NASA
2019-01-01
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The Little Libraries Bringing Books into People?s Homes

In 2009, Todd Bol built a small box in the shape of a school, filled it with books and placed it on his front lawn in Wisconsin, in the US. The book exchange soon became a focal point for the community. Now there are more than 75,000 Little Free Libraries in 88 countries across the world, including Sudan, Russia and the UK. They are open to everyone, they never close and have no paperwork or overdue fines. With the motto ?Take a book, leave a book?, the aim is to bring people together and get more books into people?s homes. Reporter: Susila Silva Presenter: Tom Colls Photo Caption: Little Free Library in Brighton Photo Credit: BBC
2018-12-25
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Can US Entrepreneurs Help Fix Education in Africa?

Many African countries face huge challenges in education. Millions of children completing primary school still struggle to read and teachers that should be in classrooms are routinely absent. Two US entrepreneurs think they have a solution: a network of profit-driven low-cost private schools, called Bridge Academies, that can be created and staffed at lightning speed. Lessons are scripted by ?master educators?, and teachers read them aloud, word for word, from e-readers. Along with awards, the model has attracted a tidal wave of criticism from teaching unions, NGOs and governments too. World Hacks visits a Bridge Academy in Kenya to ask whether the controversial idea can work. Presenter: Kat Hawkins Reporter: Sam Judah Photo Credit: BBC
2018-12-18
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Can This Smart Street Stop Drinkers Getting Violent?

World Hacks visits a long, narrow street in the heart of the Dutch city of Eindhoven. A quarter of a mile long and lined with pubs and bars, Stratumseind is a drinking destination for the country?s young people and football fans. Unfortunately, the good times are frequently marred with violence. On any given Saturday night, police make about 20 arrests or detentions, many involving alcohol-related aggression. Now the city authorities are using sophisticated technology to monitor the activities of the street, including cameras that can count people and microphones that can tell the difference between someone squealing with laughter and screaming in fright. Stratumseind?s drinkers are also unwitting participants in a series of experiments to monitor whether subtle changes in their environment have an impact on their behaviour ? whether that?s changing the colour of the street lights to calm people down or introducing a scent to help de-escalate tensions. Producer: William Kremer Photo Credit: City of Eindhoven, Living Lab Stratumseind
2018-12-11
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How 'Buddy Benches' are Making Playtime Less Lonely

The idea behind ?Buddy Benches?, also known as ?friendship benches?, is simple. If a child feels lonely at playtime at school, they can go to the bench as a signal that they need someone to play with. Another child will see them, go and talk to them and include them in their games. However, a social enterprise in Ireland wants to do something more with them. Buddy Bench Ireland builds a day of workshops around the introduction of the benches, led by a team of child psychiatrists. Pupils are taught about empathy, how to look after their emotions and spot when others need support. The benches are seen as an early intervention to remove the stigma around mental health in Irish society. Presenter: Tom Colls Reporter: Dougal Shaw Photo Caption: Buddy Bench Photo Credit: BBC
2018-12-04
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Smart Boats That Sail on a Bed of Bubbles

What?s being done to clean up the shipping industry and make it less polluting? Nick Holland looks at innovative ideas to make ships burn less fuel. The industry plays a critical role in the global economy. But it?s under pressure to decarbonise. Could giant rotating cylinders and millions of tiny bubbles be the answer? Presenter: Kat Hawkins Producer: Nick Holland Photo Credit: Getty Images
2018-11-27
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The Banks That Run on Time Instead of Money

Around the world, thousands of people are using a special kind of bank. Instead of using it to save and spend money, they?re using it to save and spend time. Based on the idea that everyone?s time is worth the same, time bankers exchange lawn mowing for childcare, and dog walking for graphic design. World Hacks reporter Tom Colls enters the time economy and looks at the projects trying to upgrade time banking for the digital age. Presenter: Nick Holland Reporter: Tom Colls Photo Caption: Clock and piggy bank. Photo Credit: Getty Images
2018-11-20
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How to Build a City for an Ageing Population

More than a quarter of Japan?s population is over 65 and the country has the highest rate of centenarians in the world. It?s a ticking demographic time bomb as the cost of caring for the elderly rises. But can the solution to this growing problem be found in Kashiwa City near Tokyo? A project there has been looking at how to redesign towns and cities to adapt to their residents as they reach old age. World Hacks asks whether the answers they have found could help ageing populations across the world. Producer: Harriet Noble (for BBC World Service)
2018-11-13
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The Country That Can Jail You For Using Plastic Bags

Just over a year ago, Kenya introduced the world?s most draconian rules on single-use plastic bags. People can be fined up to $40,000 or even thrown in jail for producing, selling or using them. World Hacks travels to Nairobi to find out what impact the ban has had, and asks why Kenya has taken such a seemingly progressive stance on plastic. We also speak to experts in the UK to find out why many governments prefer to ?nudge? their citizens into cutting back on plastic bags, instead of banning them. Presenter: Amelia Martyn-Hemphill Reporter: Sam Judah Photo Credit: Getty Images
2018-11-06
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Time to Update the Stranger Danger Message?

Child abduction by strangers is extremely rare, but the danger looms large in the minds of many parents. One reason is that for the past 50 years or so, governments have created public information campaigns around the message of ?Stranger Danger?. In the UK, the US, Canada and many other countries too, these videos were played in the media and in schools. The videos portrayed in stark terms the risk of talking to adults you did not know who appeared to be friendly. But a new generation of childcare experts believe this is not the most effective message to protect children. Most abductions are by people children already know. And there is a worry that a general fear of strangers is not good for a child?s social development - or for society in general. World Hacks meets the charity Action Against Abduction as they teach a new message: Clever Never Goes. Presenter: Harriet Noble Reporter and Producer: Dougal Shaw Photo Caption: Stranger Danger Photo Credit: BBC
2018-10-30
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Tech That Tricks the Brain

Our brains are the control centre of the human body. They allow us to think, to learn and to dream - but if you know how the brain works, it can also be fooled. Two start-up companies are making a business from these brain hacks, using wearable technology to trick the brain to improve people?s lives. The first is a wristband that uses a fake heartbeat to trick users? brains into feeling calmer in stressful situations. The Doppel device also allows users to increase the rate of the fake heartbeat to make them feel more focused. The second wearable device allows people to fit lasers to their shoes. They are designed to help Parkinson?s patients who suffer from freezing episodes. These episodes affect up to 70% of Parkinson?s patients and come on suddenly, halting a sufferer mid-stride as they walk. The laser shoes provide visual cues to trick the brain into moving again. Presenter: Sofia Bettiza Reporter: Ammar Ebrahim Photo Credit: Getty Images
2018-10-23
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?Rental sisters? for Japan?s Reclusive Young Men

In Japan, to become a 'hikikomori' means to withdraw from the world and social life. Many of those who suffer from the condition shut themselves in their bedrooms for years on end, refusing to work, study or interact with anyone around them. More than half a million people are thought to be hikikomori, most of them young men. One organisation, New Start, has come up with an unusual solution: rental sisters. The sisters-for-hire visit regularly, helping to coax the hikikomori out of their bedrooms and back into society. That could mean just talking through the door, going out for lunch or even moving into a hikikomori boarding house and starting some part time work. Reporter Amelia Martyn-Hemphill finds out about the increasingly popular rental sister phenomenon for BBC World Hacks in Tokyo. Presenter: Harriet Noble Reporter: Amelia Martyn-Hemphill Photo Caption: A Former Hikikomori Photo Credit: BBC
2018-10-16
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Fighting the ?Water Mafia? with Pipes in the Sky

In Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya?s capital Nairobi, access to water is a minefield. The marketplace is dominated by water cartels, or mafias - water is often syphoned off from the mains supply and pumped in through dirty hosepipes. But Kennedy Odede is trying to change that. Dubbed the ?president of the poor?, he set up a scheme to pump water up from a borehole deep underground, and deliver it through a new network of pipes with a difference. To avoid contamination, and keep them safe from the cartels, Kennedy?s pipes are suspended 15m in the air on a series of poles that carry them around the slum. In this episode of World Hacks we travel to Kibera to meet Kennedy, see the aerial waterways in action, and ask if his scheme can expand to help people living in slums across the globe. Presenter: Dougal Shaw Reporter: Sam Judah Producer: Sam Judah for the BBC World Service Photo Caption: Kennedy Odede Photo Credit: BBC
2018-10-09
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Mending Our Disposable Culture

Volunteers around the world regularly get together to fix other people?s broken stuff free of charge. Reporter Nick Holland visits an event called a Repair Café in the Netherlands and links up with a team running a similar workshop in India. He asks what difference this 'make do and mend? movement can make to our disposable culture Photo Caption: Repairing a radio with a soldering iron Photo Credit: BBC
2018-10-02
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Smart Stimulation for People with Dementia

Anyone who cares for someone with dementia knows the struggle to keep them stimulated and engaged as the condition progresses. This week World Hacks looks at three clever ideas that attempt to help. First up, a designer in the Netherlands has created a device that projects simple interactive games on to any table. Using lights, colours and sounds, the Tovertafel, or ?Magic Table?, allows users to push rustling leaves, pop bubbles and catch virtual fish. We visit a dementia club in north London where it?s the star attraction at their weekly meeting and visit the creator, Dr Hester Le Riche, at her head office in Utrecht to find out how it works. Another game features next, a simple board game called Call To Mind, which stimulates conversation through its gameplay. And finally we look at some brightly-coloured rehydration drops, which draw the attention of people living with dementia and so aim to keep them healthy as the condition worsens. Presenter: Nick Holland Reporters: Claire Bates, Susila Silva, Tom Colls Photo Caption: The Tovertafel in action Photo Credit: BBC
2018-09-25
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Running and Singing to Improve Maths and English

This week we go back to school, with two simple ideas that involve changing the day-to-day lives of pupils to improve their physical and mental wellbeing. The Daily Mile is an idea developed in a Scottish school by an enterprising teacher, which is now being adopted worldwide. It gets pupils to run a mile at a surprise moment during the school day, to break up their learning and burn some calories. Meanwhile, in Bradford, in the north of England, a previously failing school has found salvation through music. To improve its performance in core subjects including maths and English, it promoted music in the timetable and embraced a music-teaching philosophy pioneered in communist-era Hungary. Presenter: Dougal Shaw Reporters: Shabnam Grewal and Dougal Shaw Photo Caption: A pupil playing drums and singing Photo Credit: BBC
2018-09-18
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A Green Space Revolution in Paris

How do you create green spaces in the middle of a city, where there?s no space to create large-scale parks or gardens? Paris has come up with a clever solution ? they allow anyone to apply for a permit to start a garden anywhere at all. A rich assortment of small projects has sprung up, ranging from plant pots around lamp posts, to rejuvenated church squares, to walls covered with ivy. It?s a piecemeal approach to making the city greener, but it?s one that seems to be working. This week on World Hacks we visit this and two other projects that are trying to improve our experience of urban public spaces. As well as Paris? citizen gardeners, we?ll hear from joggers in India who are ridding their streets of litter and commuters in London who are making a small but crucial change to the way they get to work. Presenter: Harriet Noble Reporters: Sam Judah and Amelia Martyn-Hemphill Photo Credit: Getty Images
2018-09-11
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Scanning Homeless People To Make a Donation

Have you ever wanted to donate to a homeless person, but found yourself without any cash, or concerned about how they may spend the money? A potential solution is being proposed in Oxford, England, through a scheme issuing homeless people with barcodes which can be worn around the neck or printed on a sign. Members of the public can scan these barcodes on their smartphones and read the homeless person?s story, before deciding whether or not to donate. Any money pledged goes into a special bank account managed by a support worker, helping the homeless person save towards long-term goals. Some think the project solves a number of problems but others fear the act of scanning someone using a smartphone could be dehumanising. We visit Oxford to meet homeless people using the barcodes, and speak to the people behind the big idea. Presenter: Harriet Noble Reporter: Sam Judah Photo Caption: One of the homeless people helping trial the new system in Oxford Photo Credit: BBC
2018-09-04
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Rewarding Green Travel in Bologna

In the northern Italian town of Bologna, a new public transport system is rewarding citizens for taking sustainable modes of transport. Each time locals walk or use the bus, train, car pooling or car sharing, they receive ?mobility points?, which can be cashed in at cafes, cinemas, bars, bookshops and a number of other locations across the city. We explore the social and environmental benefits of taking Bologna?s residents out of their cars and onto the streets, moving about the city in a greener way. Presenter: Dougal Shaw Reporter: Nicola Kelly Picture caption: Bologna?s citizens are rewarded for using green transport like bikes Picture credit: GreenMe Italy
2018-08-28
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Cool Ways of Keeping Things Cool

A vast and expensive system with the sole purpose of keeping things cool exists across the developed world. This ?cold chain? includes fridges in kitchens, refrigerated lorries and cold store warehouses for supermarket produce and medicines. It costs billions to run and has a big environmental cost. But in poorer countries, this cold chain is just in its infancy. People are dying as health clinics lack the fridges to keep vaccines safe. New cold chain technology is needed and two inventors think they?ve figured it out. World Hacks looks at their innovative ways of keeping things chilled. Presenter: Harriet Noble Reporter: Tom Colls
2018-08-21
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Reviving Italy?s ?Ghost Towns?

Across the Italian countryside, villages are becoming deserted as people migrate to towns and cities. A sustainable tourism model known as the ?Albergo Diffuso? is attempting to reverse this trend. Tourist services, restaurants and hotels are spread around the village to encourage visitors to eat and stay with different families, boosting the local economy. We travel to the town of Santo Stefano di Sessanio in the Abruzzo region to meet the local business owners, restaurateurs and hoteliers profiting from the steady increase in tourism that this model has brought them. Presenter: Harriet Noble Reporter: Nicola Kelly Picture Caption: Santo Stefano di Sessanio, a hilltop village that was once abandoned, now a thriving tourist town Picture Credit: Sextantio Albergo Diffuso
2018-08-14
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Why Millions Listen to This Girl

A nine-year-old child announcer has been recruited on the London Underground. The idea is that her voice will surprise passengers, so they listen to her safety message. It?s an example of nudge theory in action, the art of subtly persuading large numbers of people to change their behaviour, by adjusting their environment. People Fixing the World also visits a university campus, which is nudging its students with a subtle price change, encouraging them to use fewer disposable coffee cups. Presenter: Harriet Noble Reporter: Dougal Shaw Photo Caption: Nine-year-old announcer Photo Credit: BBC
2018-08-07
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Training India?s Fake Doctors

It?s thought that more than half the people claiming to be doctors in India have no medical qualifications. They are known as ?quacks?, operating illegally, but often ignored by the authorities because of a shortage of qualified doctors. They regularly misdiagnose diseases and prescribe the wrong drugs, and some even perform surgeries in makeshift clinics. One prominent, qualified, doctor has started a controversial scheme, offering a quick crash course in medicine to thousands of his untrained counterparts. In return they have to stop calling themselves doctors, and rebrand themselves as ?healthcare workers?. At the very least, he says, they will do less harm to their patients, and the West Bengal government has agreed, rolling the project out across the state. But many in the medical establishment are appalled by the idea, arguing that a crash course isn?t enough, and the scheme legitimises criminals who have operated illegally for years. World Hacks visits two villages outside of Kolkata - one with a newly reformed ?healthcare worker?, and another with a self-confessed fake doctor - to ask if the controversial scheme can really work. Presenter: Harriet Noble Reporter: Sam Judah Photo Caption: Abhijit Choudhury Photo Credit: BBC
2018-07-31
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Stopping Wildfires in Their Tracks

Wildfires can have a devastating impact, destroying land, homes and lives. Scientists say that as the planet gets warmer, they are only going to start more often. World Hacks looks at three projects in Spain and North America that are trying to prevent forest fire destruction, by making the landscape itself more fire-resistant. Presenter: Harriet Noble Reporters: Ammar Ebrahim and Richard Kenny Photo Credit: Getty Images
2018-07-24
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En liten tjänst av I'm With Friends. Finns även på engelska.
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