Archive for August 2011

ELECTORAL VIOLENCE PERSISTS, URGENT REFORMS NEEDED

August 16, 2011

ELECTORAL VIOLENCE PERSISTS, URGENT REFORMS NEEDED
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Clientelism—the politics of patronage and spoils—persists in many developing countries. My own region, the ASEAN, hasn’t clearly built stronger institutions and modern political culture that can undercut and eliminate clientelism once and for all.
With clientelism goes the nightmares of electoral violence. My country the Philippines is among those emerging markets where electoral violence persists, and post-electoral violence still significantly high. Building a modern political culture has been a truly daunting task for many stakeholders, and I could say this as I was active in civil society for the longest part of my life and electoral reforms were ceaseless interventions by us civil society advocates for decades now.
Incidentally, international organizations such as the United Nations attached agencies are very highly engaged in cross-country electoral reforms. Below is a report on the reform recommendations of the United Nations Development Program or UNDP.
[Philippines, 10 July 2011]
Source: http://www.beta.undp.org/undp/en/home/presscenter/pressreleases/2011/06/29/new-undp-study-recommends-electoral-reforms-to-prevent-asia-electoral-violence-.html
New UNDP study recommends reforms to prevent Asia electoral violence
29 June 2011
Bangkok — Countries in Asia are still at risk of electoral violence which can be driven by real and perceived fraud, corruption, or patronage, according to a new study by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“The mere suspicion or allegation of fraud is often enough, in democracies where there is a lack of confidence in authorities, for people to react violently,” says the study, a 20-page investigation of electoral processes in seven countries of South and South East Asia.
Understanding Electoral Violence in Asia studies electoral processes in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and Thailand, drawing lessons and making policy-, legislative- and institutional-level recommendations to reduce the risk of electoral violence.
In a number of cases political parties and political party supporters were the main instigators of physical violence, says the report, citing several types of groups and organizations that play key roles in either preventing or perpetuating electoral violence.
The study points to the design of political systems, the mandate and powers of electoral laws and election monitoring as key preventive measures. The role of civic education, media and civil society in informing voters also helps to reduce the likelihood of election-related violence.
Another “contributing factor in election order or disorder is the state itself,” says the report. “In instances where security forces are seen to be partisan or corrupt there is a higher chance that they will be purveyors of violence rather than protectors of peace.”
In addition, when media is controlled by special interests it can have a “destructive role in promoting narrow interests, inflammatory political rhetoric and retarding democratic processes,” says the report.
Key to prevention of electoral violence is the strengthening of election credibility, the report concludes. “Political parties have a crucial role to play in countries where electoral fraud and violence have become institutionalized.”
Among the measures recommended to strengthen election credibility are strong oversight and enforcement powers for election commissions in, for example, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, and wide-reaching dispute resolution mechanisms in, for example, Indonesia and Thailand.
Systems to track party political spending, for example in Nepal, should also be put in place, as well as ensuring perpetrators of electoral violence in, for example, the Philippines, are brought to justice.
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UPDATE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, PH AT MEDIUM SCORE

August 16, 2011

UPDATE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, PH AT MEDIUM SCORE
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

In the latest UNDP report on human development, 169 countries were evaluated and scored accordingly. Four general ranking scales were employed and countries properly fit based on their scores, to note: Very High Human Development, High Human Development, Medium Human Development, and Low Human Development.
My country the Philippines was ranked No. 99, and was classed among the Medium Human Development countries. After two (2) decades or so of UNDP, PH remains at the medium HD level, and so the message is clear here: work harder to graduate to High HD level.
The industrialized countries happen to comprise the core of the Very High HD. That is indicative enough of their greatest formula for achieving developed country status before the 2nd world war yet: their successes in capacity-building. A well-capacitated work force redounds to high productivity, high value-added indices, and high incomes.
The ranking is shown in the table below.
[Philippines, 10 July 2011]
Source: http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/
Human Development Index (HDI) – 2010 Rankings
Very High
Human Development
1. Norway
2. Australia
3. New Zealand
4. United States
5. Ireland
6. Liechtenstein
7. Netherlands
8. Canada
9. Sweden
10. Germany
11. Japan
12. Korea (Republic of)
13. Switzerland
14. France
15. Israel
16. Finland
17. Iceland
18. Belgium
19. Denmark
20. Spain
21. Hong Kong, China (SAR)
22. Greece
23. Italy
24. Luxembourg
25. Austria
26. United Kingdom
27. Singapore
28. Czech Republic
29. Slovenia
30. Andorra
31. Slovakia
32. United Arab Emirates
33. Malta
34. Estonia
35. Cyprus
36. Hungary
37. Brunei Darussalam
38. Qatar
39. Bahrain
40. Portugal
41. Poland
42. Barbados
High
Human Development
43. Bahamas
44. Lithuania
45. Chile
46. Argentina
47. Kuwait
48. Latvia
49. Montenegro
50. Romania
51. Croatia
52. Uruguay
53. Cuba*
54. Palau*
53. Libya
54. Panama
55. Saudi Arabia
56. Mexico
57. Malaysia
58. Bulgaria
59. Trinidad and Tobago
60. Serbia
61. Belarus
62. Costa Rica
63. Peru
64. Albania
65. Russian Federation
66. Kazakhstan
67. Azerbaijan
68. Bosnia and Herzegovina
69. Ukraine
70. Iran (Islamic Republic of)
71. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
72. Mauritius
73. Brazil
74. Georgia
75. Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)
76. Armenia
77. Ecuador
78. Belize
79. Colombia
80. Jamaica
81. Tunisia
82. Jordan
83. Turkey
84. Algeria
85. Tonga
Medium
Human Development
86. Fiji
87. Turkmenistan
88. Dominican Republic
89. China
90. El Salvador
91. Sri Lanka
92. Thailand
93. Gabon
94. Suriname
97. Occupied Palestinian Territory*
97. Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
98. Paraguay
99. Philippines
100. Botswana
101. Moldova (Republic of)
102. Mongolia
103. Egypt
104. Uzbekistan
105. Micronesia (Federated States of)
106. Guyana
107. Namibia
108. Honduras
109. Maldives
110. Indonesia
111. Kyrgyzstan
112. South Africa
113. Syrian Arab Republic
114. Tajikistan
115. Viet Nam
116. Morocco
117. Nicaragua
118. Guatemala
119. Equatorial Guinea
120. Cape Verde
121. India
122. Timor-Leste
123. Swaziland
124. Lao People’s Democratic Republic
125. Solomon Islands
126. Cambodia
127. Pakistan
128. Congo
129. São Tomé and Príncipe
Low
Human Development
128. Kenya
129. Bangladesh
130. Ghana
131. Cameroon
132. Myanmar
133. Yemen
134. Benin
135. Madagascar
136. Mauritania
137. Papua New Guinea
138. Nepal
139. Togo
140. Comoros
141. Lesotho
142. Nigeria
143. Uganda
144. Senegal
145. Haiti
146. Angola
147. Djibouti
148. Tanzania (United Republic of)
149. Côte d’Ivoire
150. Zambia
151. Gambia
152. Rwanda
153. Malawi
154. Sudan
155. Afghanistan
156. Guinea
157. Ethiopia
158. Sierra Leone
159. Central African Republic
160. Mali
161. Burkina Faso
162. Liberia
163. Chad
164. Guinea-Bissau
165. Mozambique
166. Burundi
167. Niger
168. Congo (Democratic Republic of the)
169. Zimbabwe

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HUMAN DEVELOPMENT WORLDWIDE ON UPSWING

August 16, 2011

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT WORLDWIDE ON UPSWING
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Two (2) decades ago the United Nations Development Program or UNDP released a new ‘social technology’ for measuring development. The overall methodoly & tool has been known as the Human Development Index or HDI.
The HDI, from its very inception, looked at measures of development other than the stereotype economic growth indices: GNP, GDP, GDP per capita. Among the novel measures that it introduced are: (a) health, measured thru longevity; (b) education, measured thru literacy rates; and, (c) gender parity, thru the gender empowerment measurement or GEM.
After two (2) decades of consistent assessments and evaluations of nations using the HDI, we hear the gladdening news straight from the UNDP that human development has been improving. However, developing countries or DCs shouldn’t be complacent and leave everything to natural processes, just because their respective HDIs are improving.
The specific country HDIs should serve as yardsticks and alarm bells for country stakeholders—state, market, civil society—to act upon. The message is clear hence: that infrastructures and natural resources alone do not make a country developed.
77% of development requisites are in the nature of human & social capital, which requires heavy investments in human development as a whole. Institutional development and capacity-building are the keys to waging a successful campaign to accelerate human development.
Below is the latest capsule summary of the UNDP regarding HDI.
[Philippines, 10 July 2011]
Source: http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2010/summary/
Summary – The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development
“People are the real wealth of a nation.” With these words the 1990 Human Development Report began a forceful case for a new approach to thinking about development. That the objective of development should be to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives may appear self-evident today. But that has not always been the case. A central objective of the Report for the past 20 years has been to emphasize that development is primarily and fundamentally about people.
This year’s Report celebrates the contributions of the human development approach, which is as relevant as ever to making sense of our changing world and finding ways to improve people’s well-being. Indeed, human development is an evolving idea—not a fixed, static set of precepts—and as the world changes, analytical tools and concepts evolve. So this Report is also about how the human development approach can adjust to meet the challenges of the new millennium.
The past 20 years have seen substantial progress in many aspects of human development. Most people today are healthier, live longer, are more educated and have more access to goods and services. Even in countries facing adverse economic conditions, people’s health and education have greatly improved. And there has been progress not only in improving health and education and raising income, but also in expanding people’s power to select leaders, influence public decisions and share knowledge.
Yet not all sides of the story are positive. These years have also seen increasing inequality— both within and across countries— as well as production and consumption patterns that have increasingly been revealed as unsustainable. Progress has varied, and people in some regions—such as Southern Africa and the former Soviet Union—have experienced periods of regress, especially in health. New vulnerabilities require innovative public policies to confront risk and inequalities while harnessing dynamic market forces for the benefit of all.
Addressing these issues requires new tools. In this Report we introduce three measures to the Report family of indices—the Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index, the Gender Inequality Index and the Multidimensional Poverty Index. These state-of-the-art measures incorporate recent advances in theory and measurement and support the centrality of inequality and poverty in the human development framework. We introduce these experimental series with the intention of stimulating reasoned public debate beyond the traditional focus on aggregates.
Today’s challenges also require a new policy outlook. While there are no silver bullets or magic potions for human development, some policy implications are clear. First, we cannot assume that future development will mimic past advances: opportunities today and in the future are greater in many respects. Second, varied experiences and specific contexts preclude overarching policy prescriptions and point towards more general principles and guidelines. Third, major new challenges must be addressed—most prominently, climate change.
Many challenges lie ahead. Some are related to policy: development policies must be based on the local context and sound overarching principles; numerous problems go beyond the capacity of individual states and require democratically accountable global institutions. There are also implications for research: deeper analysis of the surprisingly weak relationship between economic growth and improvements in health and education and careful consideration of how the multidimensionality of development objectives affects development thinking are just two examples.
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Social Blogs:
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HEALTH & CLIMATE CHANGE

August 16, 2011

HEALTH & CLIMATE CHANGE
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

How does climate change dovetail into health, hygiene, and public policy concerns regarding healthcare?
The impact of climate change is surely very complex a matter, as it involves many intervening factors affecting epidemiology and ailments. Health perspectives must, first of all, be re-tooled to constitute emerging paradigms about the matter.
Below is an update report by the development group eldis.org. Country cases showing climate change impact on health are incorporated.
[Philippines, 08 July 2011]

ELDIS HEALTH REPORTER
5 July 2011
Source: http://www.eldis.org/go/topics/resource-guides/health
In this issue:
1. Predicting and mapping malaria under climate change scenarios: the potential redistribution of malaria vectors in Africa
2. A human health perspective on climate change
3. Impacts of climate change on public health in India: future research directions
4. The implications of climate change for health in Africa
________________________________________
Predicting and mapping malaria under climate change scenarios: the potential redistribution of malaria vectors in Africa

Authors: EZ Tonnang,Henri; YM Kangalawe,Richard; Z Yanda,Pius
Produced by: Malaria Journal, BioMed Central (2010)

This paper, published in the Malaria Journal, posits that malaria is rampant in Africa and causes untold mortality and morbidity. Since vector-borne diseases such as malaria are climate sensitive, the authors argue that this fact raises considerable concern over the implications of climate change on future disease risk, as malaria vectors (Anopheles mosquitoes) may shift from their traditional locations to invade new zones.

Exploiting the sets of information previously generated by entomologists, e.g. on geographical ranges of vectors and malaria distribution, the authors build models that will enable prediction and mapping the potential redistribution of Anopheles mosquitoes in Africa.

Key findings of this study are:
• Shifts in the Anopheles mosquitoes species boundaries southward and eastward of Africa may occur rather than jump into quite different climatic environments.
• In the absence of adequate control, these predictions are crucial in understanding the possible future geographical range of the vectors and the disease, which could facilitate planning for various adaptation options.
The authors conclude that the outputs from this study will be helpful at various levels of decision making, for example, in setting up of an early warning and sustainable strategies for climate change and climate change adaptation for malaria vectors control programmes in Africa.

Available online at: http://www.eldis.org/cf/rdr/?doc=58482

A human health perspective on climate change

Produced by: Environmental Health Perspectives (2010)

This report, published by the the Interagency Working Group on Climate Change and Health, highlights 11 key categories of diseases and other health consequences that are occurring or will occur due to climate change.

The purpose of this paper is to identify research needs for all aspects of the research-to-decision making pathway that will help us understand and mitigate the health effects of climate change, as well as ensure that we choose the healthiest and most efficient approaches to climate change adaptation. This way, the authors provide a starting point for coordination of research to better understand climate’s impact on human health. The authors articulate, in a concrete way, that human beings are vulnerable in many ways to the health effects of climate change. They lay out both what we know and what we need to know about these effects in a way that will allow the health research community to bring its collective knowledge to bear on solving these problems.

The paper highlights the state-of-the-science on the human health consequences of climate change on:
• Asthma, respiratory allergies, and airway diseases.
• Cancer.
• Cardiovascular disease and stroke.
• Foodborne diseases and nutrition.
• Heat-related morbidity and mortality.
• Human developmental effects.
• Mental health and stress- related disorders.
• Neurological diseases and disorders.
• Waterborne diseases.
• Weather-related morbidity and mortality.
• Vectorborne and zoonotic diseases (like malaria, which can be transmitted from animals to humans).
The report also examines a number of cross-cutting issues for research in this area, including susceptible, vulnerable, and displaced populations; public health and health care infrastructure; capacities and skills needed; and communication and education efforts.

The authors conclude that the actions we take today will help to shape our environment in the decades to come. Some degree of climate change is unavoidable, and we must adapt to its associated health effects; however, aggressive mitigation actions can significantly blunt the worst of the expected exposures.

They recommend research to identify who will be most vulnerable, and what efforts will be most beneficial; and to focus on the following areas:
• Integrating climate science with health science.
• Integrating environmental, public health, and marine and wildlife surveillance.
• Applying climate and meteorological observations to real-time public health issues.
• Down-scaling long-term climate models to estimate human exposure risks and burden of disease.

Available online at: http://www.eldis.org/cf/rdr/?doc=58464

Impacts of climate change on public health in India: future research directions

Authors: F. Bush,Kathleen; Luber,George
Produced by: Environmental Health Perspectives (2011)

Building on the information presented at the 2009 Joint Indo–U.S. Workshop on Climate Change and Health in Goa, India, this paper reviews relevant literature and data, to address gaps in knowledge, and identify priorities and strategies for future research in India.

The authors argue that:
• Climate change and associated increases in climate variability willlikely further exacerbate global health disparities. As such, moreresearch is needed, particularly in developing countries, to accuratelypredict the anticipated impacts and inform effective interventions.
• The scope of the problem in India is enormous, based on the potential for climate change and variability to exacerbate endemic malaria, dengue, yellow fever, cholera, and chikungunya, as well as chronic diseases, particularly among the millions of people who already experience poor sanitation, pollution, malnutrition, and a shortage of drinking water.
• In light of this realisation, the authors highlight the importance of improving the surveillance, monitoring, and integration of meteorological, environmental, geospatial, and health data while working in parallel to implement adaptation strategies.
Key conclusions and recommendations:
• It is critical for India to invest in improvements in information infrastructure that are innovative and that promote interdisciplinary collaborations while embarking on adaptation strategies.
• This will require unprecedented levels of collaboration across diverse institutions in India and abroad.
• The ensuing data can be used in research on the likely impacts of climate change on health that reflect India’s diverse climates and populations.
• Finally, the authors recommend the enhancement of local human and technical capacities for risk communication and promoting adaptive behavior.

Available online at: http://www.eldis.org/cf/rdr/?doc=58462

The implications of climate change for health in Africa

Authors: Chimbari,M., J.
Produced by: Arid Lands Information Network (2010)

The interactions between health and climate change are clearly recognised; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change includes a chapter on health issues in all its publications. But we still need to better understand all the possible impacts of climate change on health.

To date, much of the evidence of the health impacts of climate change has focused on malaria. But the impacts are much wider than this. Climate change projections for Africa indicate that temperatures will increase by 0.2–0.5°C per decade, and many African regions will experience more severe droughts. This will translate to a short growing season for food crops, thus leading to food shortages. These changes may affect human health directly, as the changing weather patterns encourage the production of disease vectors and parasites, such as those causing malaria. Indirect changes will result through impacts on water availability, air quality, food quality and quantity, ecosystems, agriculture and economies – all factors that affect people’s health.

This issue of Joto Afrika features articles from different countries, which highlight ongoing or completed research into climate change and health across Africa. These articles indicate:
• climate change may increase the prevalence of diseases transmitted between humans and animals
• children are most vulnerable to climate change; in times of food shortage, they must be well-fed to avoid malnutrition, as this can make them more vulnerable to other diseases
• communities living in areas prone to flooding are often displaced, forcing them to move to temporary accommodation with basic facilities. This makes them more vulnerable to waterborne diseases
• modelling is an important tool for early warning for climate-induced health disasters
• vulnerable people in communities, for example people living with HIV, can develop successful coping strategies.
Climate change is a significant and emerging threat to public health. There is need for capacity building and implementation of projects to strengthen the health system response to climate change and to ensure that health is appropriately considered in decisions made by other sectors such as energy and transport.

Available online at: http://www.eldis.org/cf/rdr/?doc=57204

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Come Visit E. Argonza’s blogs & website anytime!

Social Blogs:
IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com
UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com

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BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com

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ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com
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@SOULCAST: http://www.soulcast.com/efdargon

Website:
PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA: http://erleargonza.com

TIMOR LESTE WHAT’S UP?

August 16, 2011

TIMOR LESTE WHAT’S UP?
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

To our ASEAN neighbor east of Indonesia, we hope political turmoils have gone down considerably. Institution-building is a tough work to do, and I say this from experience being among those who helped build civil society groups, did capacity-building for marginal sectors, and sustain systems via social re-engineering efforts.
Just some couples of years back, Timor Leste experienced one turmoil after another, with certain fanatical mob groups brandishing machetes and hunting down perceived adversaries. Signs that East Timor has got a long way to go to building a culture of peace and respect for multi-ethnicity.
Rest assured, development stakeholders are making breakthroughs in Timor Leste during the ‘take-off’ stage of their macro-institution building efforts. Among the efforts being done are intervention projects funded by Official Development Assistance or ODA.
An update report on ADB engagements is shown below.
[Philippines, 06 July 2011]
Source: http://beta.adb.org/news/adb-president-visit-dili-discuss-support-timor-leste
ADB President to Visit Dili to Discuss Support for Timor-Leste
4 Jul 2011
DILI, TIMOR-LESTE – Asian Development Bank President (ADB) Haruhiko Kuroda will visit Dili next week to attend the launch of Timor-Leste’s Strategic Development Plan 2011-2030. The Director General of ADB’s Pacific Department, Robert Wihtol, will accompany the President on the visit.
During his visit on 11-12 July Mr. Kuroda will also make a special presentation to the 2011 Development Partners Meeting in Dili on his vision for Asia in 2030 and beyond, and suggest how Timor-Leste can best position itself to share in Asia’s success.
“President Kuroda’s visit highlights ADB’s good relationship with Timor-Leste and its long-standing commitment to helping the country reduce poverty,” said Craig Sugden, Resident Representative of ADB’s Special Office in Timor-Leste. “ADB is pleased to support the Government of Timor-Leste as it pursues closer ties with Southeast Asia.”
Regional cooperation is one of five core areas specified under ADB’s long-term strategic framework, Strategy 2020, which is helping ADB achieve its mission to reduce poverty in Asia and the Pacific. ADB is ensuring that regional cooperation and integration are a part of all operations to help developing member countries address regional challenges and opportunities through collective action.
ADB is helping boost economic opportunities, reconnect communities and reduce poverty in some of the most disadvantaged areas in Timor-Leste through a range of initiatives. These include infrastructure development, technical assistance for microfinance, support for private sector development, and building knowledge within government agencies.
Work will soon begin on the $46 million Road Network Sector Project, funded by an ADB grant which will help rehabilitate over 130 km of national roads and develop a road maintenance program. The $3 million ‘Our Roads, Our Future’ grant package is already funding rehabilitation of about 90 km of rural feeder roads and small-scale infrastructure in roadside villages through community-based works. The $6 million Dili Water Supply Project will start to refurbish parts of the capital’s water supply system later in 2011.
ADB assistance is also helping the Institute of Microfinance Timor-Leste (IMfTL) become the country’s first locally-owned commercial bank to provide loans to individuals and small businesses in urban and rural areas. It now has 10 branches across the country. IMfTL has boosted local entrepreneurship, jobs, and investment with 40% of IMfTL’s loans going to women.
Since Timor-Leste became an ADB member in 2002, it has received six grants from the Trust Fund for East Timor ($52.8 million), three Asian Development Fund (ADF) grants ($62.0 million), and 31 Technical Assistance (TA) projects ($29.11 million). Two ADF grants ($52.0 million) and six TA projects ($18.4 million) are active.
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Come Visit E. Argonza’s blogs & website anytime!

Social Blogs:
IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com
UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com

Wisdom/Spiritual Blogs:
COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com
BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com

Poetry & Art Blogs:
ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com
ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com

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@SOULCAST: http://www.soulcast.com/efdargon

Website:
PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA: http://erleargonza.com

CAMBODIA’S RAILWAY RESETTLEMENT

August 16, 2011

CAMBODIA’S RAILWAY RESETTLEMENT
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Railway projects are now rising in Kampuchea. This is a most welcome news.
The days of Khmer Rouge pogrom on the Cambodian people is way behind us now, as a quarter of a century had elapsed since those gory days of Killing Fields. The intelligentsia, badly decimated by the genocide of the demonic regime, is now seeing new faces from among the younger generations, faces who comprise the emerging development stakeholders there.
Cambodia surely needs to catch up on building its infrastructures, more so the roads and railway networks. New Silk Roads are rising across the continent, and sooner or later the trade routes will traverse through the ASEAN.
Below is an update report on the railway projects, with resettlement issues as entry point to understanding the situation.
[Philippines, 06 July 2011]
Source: http://beta.adb.org/news/adb-partners-agree-plan-resolve-cambodia-rail-resettlement-concerns
ADB, Partners Agree on Plan to Resolve Cambodia Rail Resettlement Concerns
Date
4 Jul 2011
MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and its development partners, including the Government of Cambodia, have agreed to a detailed, time bound action plan to resolve resettlement problems on a railway rehabilitation project.
ADB and the Government of Australia are providing over $100 million to help rehabilitate the country’s national railroad stretching from Sihanoukville in the south, through the capital Phnom Penh and up to the northern border with Thailand. Hundreds of families are being asked to move to make way for the line upgrade and many complaints and requests have been made by affected households over compensation rates, compensation payment and assistance, the readiness and adequacy of relocation sites and other issues.
Officials from ADB, the Australian Agency for International Development and the Government reviewed the progress of resettlement and concerns raised by the affected households in early June. They have now drawn up an agreement that sets out specific, tangible measures to be taken to address each of the concerns.
The agreement provides a time-bound action plan for responding to grievances and confirms that no affected households will be relocated until their complaints or requests have been addressed and basic facilities are provided at the resettlement site. An external monitoring group has examined compensation concerns and ADB will consider the findings and decide on further action by the end of July. A timetable for the completion of electricity, water supply and other basic facilities at relocation sites has been drawn up.
The parties have also agreed to an expansion of the income restoration program to fund livelihood support for resettled families.
“ADB is fully committed to ensuring that its resettlement guidelines are complied with so that families who relocate receive the appropriate support and are not economically disadvantaged.” said Kunio Senga, Director General of ADB’s Southeast Asia Department. “We will continue our discussion and close cooperation with the Government to ensure that the resettlement process complies with the agreed Resettlement Plan and ADB’s resettlement policy.”
ADB will also provide additional resources to support the resettlement program, including a communications specialist based in Cambodia to strengthen the information flows between all stakeholders.
Decades of conflict have left the railway in serious disrepair and by upgrading it into an international standard line the project will help lower freight costs, including for staple foodstuffs for the poor, as well as providing new investment and business opportunities. It will also form an integral section of the Greater Mekong Subregion’s southern economic corridor linking Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam, and make up part of a broader Pan-Asian rail route.
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