People Fixing The World [world Service]

Episodes

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Broadcast
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20190416

An innovative new weekly programme looking at how we can solve the world's problems.

Brilliant solutions to the world\u2019s problems. The people making the world a better place.

20190423
2019043020190505 (WS)

An innovative new weekly programme looking at how we can solve the world's problems.

Brilliant solutions to the world\u2019s problems. The people making the world a better place.

20190514
2019051420190519 (WS)

An innovative new weekly programme looking at how we can solve the world's problems.

Brilliant solutions to the world\u2019s problems. The people making the world a better place.

Can phages save us as antibiotics stop working?20190326

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: A phage under an electron microscope. Credit: University of Leicester)

How phages \u2013 viruses that kill bacteria \u2013 are saving lives.

Brilliant solutions to the world\u2019s problems. The people making the world a better place.

Can phages save us as antibiotics stop working?2019032620190331 (WS)

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: A phage under an electron microscope. Credit: University of Leicester)

How phages \u2013 viruses that kill bacteria \u2013 are saving lives.

Brilliant solutions to the world\u2019s problems. The people making the world a better place.

Could a device invented in the 1930s help end period poverty?20190507

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)

The people hoping to use sanitary pad micro-factories and silicone cups to help women

Brilliant solutions to the world\u2019s problems. The people making the world a better place.

An innovative new weekly programme looking at how we can solve the world's problems.

Brilliant solutions to the world\u2019s problems. The people making the world a better place.

Could A Device Invented In The 1930s Help End Period Poverty?2019050720190512 (WS)

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)

The people hoping to use sanitary pad micro-factories and silicone cups to help women

Brilliant solutions to the world's problems. The people making the world a better place.

DNA tests for dogs to tackle problem poo20190416

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)

US residents fed up with dog mess are using a high-tech solution

Brilliant solutions to the world\u2019s problems. The people making the world a better place.

DNA tests for dogs to tackle problem poo2019041620190421 (WS)

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)

US residents fed up with dog mess are using a high-tech solution

Brilliant solutions to the world\u2019s problems. The people making the world a better place.

The great mosquito swap20190409

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)

Scientists are hoping to stop diseases spreading by changing the mosquito population

Brilliant solutions to the world\u2019s problems. The people making the world a better place.

The reuse and refill revolution20190423

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: Nick Holland

(Photo: A man refilling a plastic container. Credit: BBC)

Should we reuse and refill plastic packaging to limit the amount being thrown away?

Brilliant solutions to the world\u2019s problems. The people making the world a better place.

The reuse and refill revolution2019042320190428 (WS)

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: Nick Holland

(Photo: A man refilling a plastic container. Credit: BBC)

Should we reuse and refill plastic packaging to limit the amount being thrown away?

Brilliant solutions to the world\u2019s problems. The people making the world a better place.

The tree detectives tackling illegal logging20190430

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: Logging in the Amazon. Credit: Getty Images)

Scientists are building a database to help them tell exactly where wood has come from

Brilliant solutions to the world\u2019s problems. The people making the world a better place.

The tree detectives tackling illegal logging2019043020190505 (WS)

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: Logging in the Amazon. Credit: Getty Images)

Scientists are building a database to help them tell exactly where wood has come from

Brilliant solutions to the world\u2019s problems. The people making the world a better place.