Sun and snow

Whether you’re heading to the beach or the slopes, there are precautions you should take to avoid the effects of the weather

At the beach

Even if it’s cloudy, protect yourself from harmful UV rays by using a suncream with a high protection factor. Reapply it every couple of hours and don’t forget to protect your ears, lips, hair parting and the tip of your nose with sunblock.

Stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm when the rays are at their most damaging.


Sunburn leads to premature ageing and an increased risk of skin cancer. To avoid it, make sure you:

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and loose clothing
  • Choose sunglasses with UV filters to protect your eyes
  • Protect children and babies from direct sunlight – apply a suncream with SPF25 or higher, and make sure they wear hats and long sleeves
  • Keep babies under 12 months out of the sun



The water vendors of Nigeria

By Andrew Walker
BBC News, Abuja, Nigeria

Water vendors in Abuja's suburbs

The government has failed to provide water, so the private market steps in

Isa earns a hard living pushing a heavy water cart around the rutted streets of the suburbs of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.

He is one of tens of thousands of water vendors who deliver jerry cans full of water to houses built without any kind of sanitation.

“Kai! it is hard work, pushing my cart,” the 20-year-old says.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation, and according to analysts has made over $1.1 trillion in revenues from the oil industry over the last 30 years; but most Nigerians still rely on people like Isa for their water.

He and a dozen of his friends sleep in a makeshift shelter behind a small household goods shop.

They wake before dawn to queue up at a nearby borehole, where they fill 14 yellow 25-litre jerry cans on their handcarts before setting off around the streets looking for customers.

Heavy load

Fully loaded, the carts weigh at least 350kgs.

The roads they push them over are dirt tracks, rocky and pitted, with sewers running down the middle.

“In the future I want to get another job, but at least I make enough money to live doing this,” Isa says.


The urban poor pay more for water than the urban rich

Prices for water from private boreholes vary in the suburbs.

Isa pays around 10 naira ($0.07, £0.05) per jerry can at the borehole and sells for double that.

He makes around 700 naira a day ($4.70, £3.20), to cover food and living costs.

A large Nigerian family may need around 10 of these jerry-cans every day, customers say.

That adds up to about $486 (£339) every year, a massive pressure on a country where the average person lives on $2 a day.

This is a pattern repeated around the world, according to the UN Development Programme.

The urban poor in developing world cities including Abuja pay much more for their water than citizens of rich cities such as New York or Tokyo, precisely because the poor have to depend on private providers rather a piped municipal supply.



Computer chips may ‘repair’ nerve

Researchers have moved closer to making silicon chips which could one day be used to repair damaged tissue in the human body.

Edinburgh University has developed a technique, which allows neurons to grow in fine, detailed patterns on the surface of tiny computer chips.

Neurons are the basic cells of the human nervous system.

The scientists said the development may eventually enable chips to replace damaged nerve or muscle fibres.

They also said the development could possibly be used in the development of prosthetics in the future.

During the chip manufacturing process, the scientists printed patterns on the smooth silicon surface.

It is going towards the realms of science fiction – there is a definite Incredible Hulk feel about it

Prof Alan Murray
Edinburgh University

The chip was then dipped in a patented mixture of proteins, and neurons grew along the patterns on the surface.

The technique also works with stem cells.

It is hoped the method will eventually enable any type of tissue to be grown on a tailor-made pathway and implanted as prosthetic tissue in the body.

Professor Alan Murray, head of Edinburgh University’s School of Engineering and Electronics, who led the research, said: “This is a small but important step on the path towards the long-term goal of many scientists and medical experts – to develop surgical implants using silicon chips.

“We can now make silicon chips with circuitry as well as pathways where cells can grow in the body.

“One of the areas this could be used in is prosthetics – if we can cause cells from damaged tissues to grow where we want.

“It is going towards the realms of science fiction – there is a definite Incredible Hulk feel about it.”

He added: “We also hope that, rather sooner than this, the technique will allow better methods of drug discovery and reduce the need for animal testing, as new medicines could be tested on chips rather than in live creatures.”

The research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.


Gaza eyewitnesses

Gaza eyewitnesses

Israeli air raids have pounded the Gaza Strip for a third day, hitting key sites linked to militant group Hamas. Gaza’s interior ministry and Islamic University were the latest targets.

A Palestinian doctor and an NGO worker give their accounts from Gaza.


Injured Palestinian in Gaza
Palestinians carry an injured man into Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip

I have been working as physician in Gaza for 20 years. Shifa hospital has been turned into an emergency centre with several intensive care units to cope with the attacks.

But the emergency rooms do not have enough medical supplies or equipment to deal with the mass casualties.

The biggest problem is lack of blood, but we also lack medication and equipment because of one-and-a- half years of blockades by Israel. We lose so many patients simply because of shortages.