Archive for September 6, 2011

BANGLADESH & NETHERLANDS COOPERATION ON FLOOD RESEARCH

September 6, 2011

BANGLADESH & NETHERLANDS COOPERATION ON FLOOD RESEARCH

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

If there is any common denominator between Bangladesh and the Netherlands, it is this: floods! This is not to say that both countries are a-cursed by nature to be flood impounds of sorts, which is as ridiculous a hubris as it can get.

Both countries are prone to geo-hazards, and it remains as a gargantuan challenge for both to shift from flood mitigation to flood control. The Netherlands has been addressing the flood dilemma for centuries now, from the heydays of the Holland’s United Provinces (when Holland was Europe’s most powerful financial center) to the current post-industrial Netherlands.

There is great reason for both countries to share research findings, nay to collaborate on flood research as much as possible. Other countries, including my beloved Philippines, will be looking up to both countries for exemplars of flood mitigation, control, and rehabilitation of post-flood communities.

Below is an update report about the said collaborative effort of the flood-prone countries.

[Philippines, 06 September 2011]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/bangladesh-and-the-netherlands-to-share-flood-research-1.html
Bangladesh and the Netherlands to share flood research
Syful Islam
28 July 2011
[DHAKA] Flood-prone Bangladesh and the Netherlands are planning to exchange research findings and share experience on managing floods, which are projected to worsen because of climate change.
Floods wreak havoc in Bangladesh every year. Last week’s floods killed at least four people and stranded an estimated 20,000, according to the Associated Press.
A five-year research programme worth €700,000 (US$1 million) will aim to strengthen the capacity of institutions and communities to deal with moderate and extreme floods. The programme was announced last month (27 June) and will be hosted by the Wageningen University and the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.
It will allow the scientists to share experiences and come up with a framework that will link disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and flood management. Funds will go towards four PhD research projects that will analyse flood policies and strategies in the two countries, and one project aimed at putting research findings into practice though local workshops.
So far, both countries have had mixed experiences with building embankments on coastal deltas to reclaim low-lying land.
Bangladesh’s coast is a flat plain into which sediment-laden rivers drain. Engineers built embankments to keep seawater out of the deltas and to protect against storm surges, Shah Alam Khan, professor at the Institute of
Water and Flood Management and a co-leader of the new programme, told SciDev.Net.
But the embankments stopped rain water draining out, causing heavy waterlogging. Local communities eventually started breaking open the embankments to let the accumulated water out. This community-driven process was later adopted as government policy.
“The consequences of the polder [land protected by an embankment] system were not considered when the technology was adopted,” Khan said. “Tidal flooding is a natural process in Bangladesh which was barred through [setting up] polders, leaving the overall ecosystem of the area in a dire state.”
Large parts of the Netherlands are below the sea level and are also protected by embankments. But there, too, the embankments caused drainage problems as the land got silted up.
To solve the problem, the Netherlands adopted policies on river management by cutting embankments to allow tidal flooding for up to five years. This helped drain out excess water.
Khan said that engineers’ efforts on tidal management have not yielded uniform results in all areas, and exchanging knowledge with the Netherlands could help them improve river management.
The research project dubbed ‘Communities and institutions for flood resilience: enhancing knowledge and capacity to manage flood risk in the Bangladeshi and Dutch Deltas”, is funded by WOTRO, a Dutch funding organisation for research on global issues.
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GENOMICS & RACIAL-ETHNIC DIVERSITY

September 6, 2011

GENOMICS & RACIAL-ETHNIC DIVERSITY

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Genetic research & development (R&D) has gone a very long way since the time of theorizations of the same in the 19th century. Genetics applied to human health had benefited immensely from genomics, albeit the samples utilized for the studies were largely of European (White) descent.

Conclusions generated from largely fixed samples raise questions regarding the overall generalizability of the findings. This is where the wisdom of Weber and hermeneutics comes in: treat human subjects as unique, special cases of studies, science isn’t about generalizations but about idiographic peculiarities of communities or ethnicities studied.

Today, the issue of racial and ethnic differences in genomics is a reverberating one. Experts are beginning to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel regarding the matter, and are breaking down conventional positivist practices in R & D towards more idiographic-bent research. Hopefully genomics will catch up with the other sciences, notably cultural sciences, in showing the ramifications of ethnic-racial factors behind certain ailments.

Below is a relevant report from scientific circles about genomics.

[Philippines, 06 September 2011]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/opinions/genomics-must-reflect-racial-and-ethnic-diversity-1.html
Genomics must reflect racial and ethnic diversity
20 July 2011 | EN | ES
People with Native South American ancestry have a protein variant associated with type 2 diabetes — but genomics research overlooks ethnic groups
Geneticists must develop methods, resources and incentives for including a broader range of populations in medical genomics research to ensure that those most in need are not the last to benefit, say Carlos D. Bustamante, Esteban González Burchard and Francisco M. De La Vega.

Genome-wide association studies have dramatically improved our understanding of chronic diseases, yet 96 per cent of the people studied are of European descent. This trend is set to continue in future research, say the authors.

Early research suggests that results based on one population may not always apply to another — versions of a gene associated with a disease may occur with different frequency in different ethnic groups, for example, or may be missing entirely. So genome studies run the risk of excluding racial and ethnic minorities from the benefits that may result from such research, argue the authors.

But diversifying the study populations would reduce the likelihood of finding a statistical link between a genetic factor and a disease — making researchers reluctant to do it.

Empowering scientists in the developing world to conduct home-grown genomics research is one way of making sure that diverse populations are included, say the authors. Collaboration between countries will be key to funding and technology transfer, which will help boost genomics studies globally. This should involve providing local expertise, resources and insight into the population’s history.

New statistical methods will also help to tease apart the contribution of genetic, socio-cultural and environmental factors to chronic and infectious diseases. Peer reviewers and granting bodies also need “to stress the importance of racial and ethnic diversity in medical genetic studies”.
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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

Mixed Blends Blogs:
@MULTIPLY: http://efdargon.multiply.com
@SOULCAST: http://www.soulcast.com/efdargon

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