WNPR

Jason Beaubien

Puerto Rico is in the midst of the worst electricity outage in U.S. history. Most of the island remains without power more than two months after Hurricane Maria hit the island.

Some Puerto Ricans are saying that the current crisis should be a wake-up call that the island needs to move to a less centralized power system — and that solar power might be part of the solution. In other words, they believe Puerto Rico should follow the lead of many developing nations where solar power production is expanding rapidly.

Kevin Canas Quitumbo was 13 years old when shrapnel from a land mine ripped through his left leg, up his torso and all the way to the back of his skull. That was five years ago. His doctors are still working to repair the damage.

"In January and February I have to go back to the hospital," he says. "The doctors are going to put additional metal rods into my foot."

Forty days after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, most of the U.S. territory remains without power.

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The world is incredibly close to wiping out polio. This year the number of polio cases has shrunk to fewer than a dozen. And those cases are in just two countries — Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Bacquerette woke up early. She made breakfast for her 2-year-old daughter, left the child with her neighbor and started the long walk to the village of Ambohitsara. Bacquerette wanted to make sure she was one of the first people in line for a one-day-only family planning clinic.

She walked almost two hours on footpaths that snake along the sandy bank of the Canal des Pangalanes in eastern Madagascar. And she managed to arrive at the event just after it started.

The 33-year-old single mother had come to get an IUD.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

When we wrote about Dr. Forster Amponsah in 2016, he was eager to perform surgery but faced many obstacles. "The general electricity is out and our generator is broken down," he told NPR. Has a year made a difference?

A few years ago in Zambia, hippos were dropping dead by the dozens. Soon after the hippos fell ill, people started getting sick, too.

Between August and September of 2011, at least 85 hippos died in a game management area along the South Luangwa River near the border with Malawi. It turns out the hippos were the victims of anthrax, the same bacteria used in a series of letter attacks that killed five people in the weeks after Sept. 11. The anthrax outbreaks in hippos and humans in Zambia however, weren't part of some sinister terrorist plot. Instead, they were driven by hunger.

All his life, 56-year-old Jeanpier Marolahy has been growing rice in eastern Madagascar, on the steep hills that slope down from the central highlands toward the Indian Ocean.

The thin, weather-beaten Marolahy knows that rice production is all about water and timing. The grain needs a lot of water at first, but if torrential rains fall at harvest time, they can destroy the crop.

Six years ago Sunday, South Sudan's flag was hoisted in Juba.

Amid an atmosphere of optimism and hope, South Sudan became the world's newest country, breaking away from its longtime rival, Sudan.

The moment marked the end of decades of fighting between rebels in the predominantly Christian south of Sudan and their northern Arab rivals in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, who was in Juba that day, reported that with the parades and children singing, there was a mood of excitement.

For the first time, the number of children paralyzed by mutant strains of the polio vaccine are greater than the number of children paralyzed by polio itself.

So far in 2017, there have been only six cases of "wild" polio reported anywhere in the world. By "wild," public health officials mean the disease caused by polio virus found naturally in the environment.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The number of people forcibly displaced from their homes is the highest since World War II.

According to a new report from the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, 65.6 million people are currently living as refugees or as displaced persons inside their own countries. This includes 10.3 million people who were uprooted from their homes in 2016.

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