Power meet: The board of directors of South Asia Regional Energy Coalition (SAREC) recently held its first meeting. SAREC aims to coordinate the work of various governments and the private sector to develop South Asia's energy sector. "The meet marks the formalisation of a structure to carry forward the SAREC agenda of promoting regional energy and power sector reforms, attracting foreign direct investment and encouraging energy trade among the countries of South Asia," a SAREC press statement said after the meeting.
A social marketing programme was adopted at the meet to provide member organisations with limited financial support to develop and implement awareness campaigns on regional energy cooperation. Such campaigns would also address specific energy issues that concern specific members. Highlighting the importance of power trading in the region, SAREC said the principles of the South Asian Preferential Trade Act and the development of energy reform programmes in individual countries were crucial for this.
Cruel winter: The harshest winter in more than a decade has killed at least 1,000 children in Afghanistan. The problem of malnutrition in the war-torn country is believed to have compounded the crisis caused by the extreme weather. Afghanistan's western part has been hit the worst, with several areas continuing to remain out of reach of humanitarian aid, according to aid workers. "Several hundred to a thousand would be a low estimate of the number of children that could have died," Paul Hicks, programme director, western region's Afghanistan for Catholic Relief Services, an aid group, was quoted by media reports as saying.
But UN officials as well as officials of the Afghan government claim a lower number of deaths. They say at least 267 people died in the past month, including many children. Thousands others are believed to be stranded in remote areas. Hicks says when a team from his organisation visited villages in the Sharack district of Western Ghor province, they found that at least five children had died in each hamlet.
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