Archive for September 2011

MONITORING TSUNAMI UPDATES

September 19, 2011

MONITORING TSUNAMI UPDATES
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Tsunami monitoring on a global scale is now a possibility. This isn’t aimed to mitigate a tsunami that is in progress, an act that is next to impossible. Efficacious monitoring can rather make forecasts and rapid precautionary mobilizations become more effective and prudent.
Take the case of the previous Japan tsunami. A scientist based in Brazil was able to observe the phenomenon way before the tsunami hit the shores of Japan. It was just a matter of making tighter the coordination and information sharing by the observers and the forecast affected parties to effect a quicker response and avoidance of casualties and damages.
Below is an update report about global tsunami monitoring.
[Philippines, 19 September 2011]
Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/global-tsunami-monitoring-could-follow-from-discovery.html
Global tsunami monitoring could follow from discovery
Henrique Kugler
18 August 2011
[CURITIBA, BRAZIL] A scientist’s chance glimpse of a reflection in the atmosphere of the tsunami that devastated Japan earlier this year could lead to the first global tsunami monitoring system — which could also be faster and more efficient than the current systems.
Researchers from Brazil, France and the United States, using a highly sensitive, wide-angle camera at the top of Haleakala volcano in Hawaii, detected the ‘airglow’ signature in the atmosphere of the 11 March tsunami that devastated Japan, demonstrating that the genesis of a tsunami leaves a fingerprint in the ionosphere — an ionised zone of the atmosphere more than 80 kilometres up.
Tsunamis usually cause the sea level to rise rapidly by a few centimetres, which displaces the air immediately above it. This creates waves in the air that move quickly upward, eventually reaching and disturbing the ionosphere. Interaction with the charged ionosphere creates a faint red glow, the signature airglow that can be detected.
This effect was predicted in the 1970s, but little progress has been made since then on using these observation methods. The researchers presented their observations in a paper in Geophysical Research Letters last month (7 July).
“We have been studying the ionosphere since 1999, but we didn’t expect to end up with a new method for tsunami detection,” Jonathan Makela, an electrical engineer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States, and the lead author of the paper, told SciDev.Net.
Currently tsunamis are detected by monitoring the sea surface level or the pressure of the water near the seabed. While this is efficient, it is limited to areas where adequate equipment is installed — the new finding could now lead to a global remote sensing system that would not need equipment on the ground.
“A new global system could be set up,” said co-author Philippe Lognonné, from the Institute of Earth Physics of Paris, at Paris Diderot University in France. “We could detect tsunamis in zones deprived of geophysical monitoring, as well as tsunamis generated by effects other than quakes [such as volcanic eruptions and underwater landslides].”
Lognonné said that the new system would allow us to detect tsunamis well before what is possible with the current system.
With just three satellites, a world-wide tsunami forecast system would be in place. Such a system would need “about 50 kilograms of equipment onboard future telecommunications satellites,” he said.
The European Space Agency is evaluating the idea of taking a recording instrument on board one of its satellites for a demonstration mission — the instrument would cost €10 million (around US$14 million), according to Lognonné.
Makela said this system would not replace the current ones, but complement them to give a much wider monitoring capacity.
Victor Gallardo, a professor of oceanography at the University of Concepción, Chile, told SciDev.Net: “If it really works, I see advantages for a long country like Chile, where a repetitive, expensive tsunami alert system would be necessary.
“The installation of this technology in satellites should be a priority for the existing dedicated international organisations. Our scientific and engineering communities should examine this option very carefully and urgently”.
John Largier, professor of coastal oceanography at the University of California, Davis, United States, who has been working on the use of radar for tsunami detection, said that airglow was “quite an amazing phenomenon … that may have value in providing some low-cost global coverage”.
But he added: “I don’t see how it will give the detail on wave amplitude and currents that can be obtained from data on the ocean itself”.
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EQUITABLE DATA ACCESS BY GLOBAL GEOSPATIAL GROUP

September 19, 2011

EQUITABLE DATA ACCESS BY GLOBAL GEOSPATIAL GROUP

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Geospatial information can empower decision-making. Access to information, however, is as unequal as it could get across the globe.

To address the problem of inequitable access to information, diverse geospatial groups across the continents have been holding consultative talks. Incidentally, a UN agency, the Economic and Social Council or ECOSOC, had taken the role to spearhead the global talks to promote greater equitable data access.

Such an access was once the monopoly of developed countries or DCs notably the OECD countries. From climatological mapping to mineneralogy assessments, the exclusivity of access by the Northern countries was very marked. The information was then used by multinational companies and business stakeholders to corner contracts and investments in the developing countries to the dis-advantage of the latter.

Below is a summary report about the ongoing geospatial initiatives.

[Philippines, 19 September 2011]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/global-geospatial-group-to-promote-equitable-data-access.html
Global geospatial group to promote equitable data access
Gozde Zorlu
18 August 2011
A high-level global group promoting geospatial information could help developing countries gain better access to data to help tackle issues such as climate change, conservation and disaster management.
The UN has set up an expert committee and a programme on global geospatial information management under its Economic and Social Council to encourage international cooperation and establish best practice on the use of geographic data, collected by technologies such as remote sensing and the global positioning system (GPS).
The decision, announced last month (27 July), was triggered by a report earlier this year by the UN secretary-general that concluded that many developing countries have a “serious lack of institutional capacity to harness the enormous potential of geospatial information technologies and to build a sustainable national infrastructure”.
There have been several efforts to manage such information, including the Permanent Committee for Geospatial Data Infrastructure of the Americas (PC-IDEA) and the Permanent Committee on GIS Infrastructure for Asia and the Pacific (PCGIAP).
“But these discussions have been regional in focus,” said Paul Cheung, director of the new initiative and head of the UN’s statistics division in New York.
“There is a need for a global platform, for all countries to come together and focus on all of the issues. That is why we have created this committee,” he told SciDev.Net.
A key task will be to standardise geospatial information and applications to enable the sharing of data and services across borders.
According to Cheung, geospatial data is increasingly owned by multinational corporations, which sell software and platforms to developing countries that may not have the capacity to know what the best products are or how best to use them. The new committee could help represent developing countries and advise them on building up their national institutions.
“Spatial information and analysis lie at the heart of nearly all major international peace, global health and economic development problems,” Mark Becker, a geospatial applications expert at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, United States, told SciDev.Net.
“Having a central committee focused on setting standards for accuracy of data and guidelines for the fair redistribution of data is essential,” he said.
Becker added that the new committee could increase the efficient use of spatial information in projects for developing countries, such as managing refugee centres and immunisation programmes.
“If you can easily discover and download data that is critical for your operations and not have to create it yourself you have increased your efficiency,” he said.
Geospatial information can empower decision-making on “extremely important” concerns in developing countries, such as development and environmental conservation, said Susan Wolfinbarger, from the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
“Given the rapid development of technologies such as remote sensing, mapping and GPS, a group of experts on geographic technology is essential to help develop standards for data quality, cooperation and use of geospatial information,” Wolfinbarger added.
The first UN high-level forum on geospatial information management is scheduled to take place in Seoul, Korea, in October to bring together countries, international organisations and the private sector.
“But at the end of the day, it is governments that will have to decide on issues,” said Cheung.
Link to UN secretary-general’s ‘Global geospatial information management’ report [217kB]
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ISLAM ANAYSIS ON SCIENCE

September 18, 2011

ISLAM ANAYSIS ON SCIENCE

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

“Give science a social contract,” succinctly contends Islam as an analytical frame for science.

The contention stresses, among other things, the full import of science benefiting sectors of society and/or the population. I could hardly disagree with such an analytical frame, which finds parallelism in the ‘Asian way’ to understanding science.

A science must generate technologies—the ‘know how’—which can then be disseminated to end-users. In the developing world, end-users refer particularly to the middle and marginal sectors, thus rendering science & technology as performing a ‘social responsibility’.

Any science program that fails to generate technologies should be scrapped in case they are proposed in a university or think-tank. In my own field, the social sciences, I hold the position that any new social science program or even subject must be able to generate ‘social technologies’ or ‘best practices’ to be meaningful at all.

Below is the update discourse on Islam analysis of science.

[Philippines, 18 September 2011]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/science-and-innovation-policy/science-in-the-islamic-world/opinions/islam-analysis-give-science-a-social-contract-1.html
Islam Analysis: Give science a social contract
Athar Osama
11 August 2011
Ambitious plans for a ‘desert development corridor’ in Egypt could provide a concrete example of the social value of science, says Athar Osama.
Last month, the journal Science published a supplement called ‘Revolutionizing Egypt’s Science’ that hailed the prospects for Egyptian science after the 25 January revolution. Its optimism reflected a spate of initiatives and increased science budgets announced by the new government to demonstrate its commitment to science and innovation.
But some have rightly warned against reading too much into recent announcements, saying there are still significant obstacles to lifting the scientific profession from its low point during the pre-revolution regime to a place where it can play a constructive role in socio-economic development.
Egypt’s leaders and scientists, like those in much of the rest of the Islamic world, need to work with both intellectuals and ordinary citizens to achieve a vast cultural change before science can really be expected to deliver the goods. Progress for Egyptian science must come by putting people first, rather than high-profile ‘bricks and mortar’ mega-projects.
Highway to prosperity
One example of how this might be achieved is a proposal for a massive ‘desert development corridor’, which is the brainchild of Boston University geologist Farouk El-Baz, who has been using satellite imagery to study Egypt’s deserts for decades.
Initially conceived in the early 1980s, when El-Baz served as president Anwar Sadat’s science advisor, the project was shelved for two decades after Sadat’s death. But interest was reignited in the mid-2000s and has escalated since.
This US$24–billion initiative — even larger than the US$2-billion ‘science city’ proposed by Nobel laureate Ahmed Zewail — would use scientific knowledge of satellite imagery, desert geology and hydrology to provide socio-economic benefits to society.
It seeks to build a major superhighway to the west of the Nile from the country’s north to the south, with arteries connecting it with towns in the east and west. The corridor will also provide a freshwater pipeline and an electricity line to support these areas during the development and afterwards.
According to El-Baz, the corridor “would bring much-needed relief to overpopulated Egyptian cities and reduce urban encroachment of agricultural land, enhance the habitable land mass, improve continental trade linkages from the Mediterranean in the north all the way to South Africa, and create, literally, a ‘breathing space’ for Egyptian society that is so critical to creativity”.
A key aspect of the idea is the creation of a special funding vehicle — essentially, a bond open to the public — that would allow Egyptian people to invest in the initiative. They would become its ‘owners’ and so, according to El-Baz, control their own destiny.
A social contract
The initiative is most unusual in the Islamic world in making an explicit link between a scientist’s idea and its direct beneficiaries.
It could also address a serious weakness in the science policy discourse within the Islamic world.
One of the most fundamental reasons for the lack of science-based development in the Islamic world is the absence of a ‘social contract’ between scientists and citizens. Under a social contract, citizens pay their taxes to fund scientists in the expectation that they will benefit from the knowledge created and the subsequent socio-economic improvement.
The absence of any such social contract in Islamic countries is exacerbated by the fact that science is not seen as having contributed much towards socio-economic development.
With some notable exceptions — such as agricultural research, development and extension in Egypt and Pakistan during the 1960s and 1970s — much of the science carried out in laboratories across the Islamic world is limited in its scope for commercial application. It is often theoretical, rather than practical, and is sometimes not of sufficient quality to solve real-life problems.
Making science relevant
Furthermore, the entrepreneurial infrastructure needed to commercialise the benefits of scientific research is extremely underdeveloped in the Islamic world. In the absence of strong private sector participation, innovation often ends up as an unwanted baby, with nobody prepared to pay the bills or take responsibility for it.
The crucial link between science and its impact is therefore broken and society suffers as a result. This limits the possibilities, popular enthusiasm and political support for science in the Islamic world.
Two things must happen if science is to win the popular and political support it needs to develop some form of a social contract — a task for which the scientific community must share responsibility.
First, scientists and science policymakers must make science more relevant to their respective societies. Scientists have an important role to play in this; they must come down from their ivory towers and use science to address the urgent needs of their societies.
Without a visible link between investment in science and its returns to the society that funds it, a social contract will be hard to achieve, and science will continue to be seen as a burdensome tax on the present, rather than an investment in the future.
Role of communication
Second, scientists and science policymakers must communicate science more effectively. This is a global challenge but is particularly acute in the Islamic world.
El-Baz learned this the hard way when he started exploring the Egyptian deserts. “We had to tell desert nomads what we were doing, and initially it was hard to do, but we gradually became better at it,” he says.
Science journalists can play an important role here. But the much-needed enthusiasm for using science for public benefit must come from scientists themselves.
The growing grass-roots political support for Egypt’s Desert Development Corridor is the kind of movement that can help establish a genuine social contract for science. In doing so, it will help put the Islamic world on course towards embracing a culture of science-based development.
[Athar Osama is a London-based science and innovation policy researcher and consultant, and director of Middle East and Asia for a technology policy consulting firm. He is the founder of Muslim-Science.com.]
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COWPEAS UPSCALE POST-HARVEST TECHNIQUES

September 18, 2011

COWPEAS UPSCALE POST-HARVEST TECHNIQUES

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Gracious day from the suburban boondocks west of Manila!

Cowpeas has been among the most important sources of nutrients for the poor peoples of semi-arid Africa. Understandably, the production and post-harvest phases for the crop must optimize the gains accrued from it by the small planters.

In the concerned areas where the quality of sunlight is good, solar technology applications for the cowpeas is very promising. Solar heat can control pests that may feast on the product, while solar panels can energize the farms. Estimates put it that benefits to the farmers of central and west Africa can go as much as nearly US$300 millions in 2020, using related post-harvest technologies.

Below is an update report about the promising post-harvest techniques.

[Philippines, 18 September 2011]
Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/post-harvest-technologies-pay-off-for-cowpeas.html
Post-harvest technologies pay off for cowpeas
Bernard Appiah
17 August 2011
Tricks that prevent the rotting of cowpeas, an African staple, after they have been harvested, will have yielded US$295 million of benefits in west and central Africa by 2020, according to new research.
Solar powered heaters to kill pests, simple, airtight containers and other storage technologies developed between 1982 and 2007 through the Bean/Cowpea Collaborative Research Support Program (CRSP), are having a dramatic impact on production of the bean (Vigna unguiculata), an important source of protein in semi-arid regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, the study has shown.
The programme — now known as Pulse CRSP — works with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to support research and extension links among West and Central African cowpea researchers and their US counterparts.
The collaboration has led to improved storage technologies that are now used for nearly a third of grain in the region, the study says.
The researchers measured the economic impact of the non-chemical technologies in seven countries — Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal — which account for more than 96 per cent of the region’s production.
They surveyed about 800 randomly selected village cowpea farmers and added price data from several sources. The results, were published in the July issue of Journal of Stored Products Research.
“If the cowpeas are stored in airtight containers, such as a triple bag or metal drums, the [pest] insects quickly use up the oxygen, the oxygen level drops, and the insects either die or leave the cowpeas so they don’t cause any more damage,” said James Lowenberg-DeBoer, a co-author of the research and a professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University, in the United States.
He added that the technologies mean that millions of poor farmers can improve their income from selling produce especially during the seasons when cowpeas is scarce. The improved technologies also reduce the application of pesticides during cowpea storage, which can lead to poisoning.
Several reports have recently outlined the importance of using existing and new technologies to cut post-harvest food loss and waste, which is as high as 30 per cent of all produced food globally.
Ousmane Coulibaly, an agricultural economist with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Benin said the study probably underestimated the total economic benefits.
“Cowpea provides protein and thus prevents nutritional diseases particularly in poor people, which can also lead to economic gains.”
And Adeola Olufemi Oyebanji, the officer-in-charge of the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute said that the study considered improved technologies only at the rural level and therefore did not reflect the overall regional economic benefit.
“There are huge economic gains for large industries that use improved technologies for cowpea storage too,” Oyebanji said.
Link to article abstract in Journal of Stored Products Research
References
Journal of Stored Products Research doi:10.1016/j.jspr.2011.02.001 (2011)
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SOUTHERN AFRICA RESEARCH COORDINATING CENTER UP

September 17, 2011

SOUTHERN AFRICA RESEARCH COORDINATING CENTER UP

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

From southern Africa comes a truly gladdening news about the recent launching of a research center that will coordinate R&D in the region.

Dubbed the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa, the research institute will most importantly see to it that agricultural research will directly benefit the farmers.

Such an effort is most welcome. It is a departure from research undertakings that are well funded but which later end up sleeping in library shelves. This Jurassic practice is very lamentable, even as it reduces scientists to showbiz persons who do science to gain fame and fortune, thus leaving the potential end-users in the marshes of existence.

Below is the brightening report about the said research think tank.

[Philippines, 17 September 2011]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/centre-to-coordinate-southern-africa-s-agricultural-r-d.html
Justice Kavahematui
16 August 2011
[GABORONE] Southern Africa’s agricultural research could become better coordinated and funded, following the launch of a regional research centre in Botswana.
The Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa, which will become operational next week (23 August), will promote the creation and dissemination of new research and technology for improved food security in the region.
It was launched during a meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) ministers in Gaborone last month (11–14 July).
“This will be a coordinating system facilitating research,” said Keoagile Molapong, the SADC’s senior programme officer for agricultural research and development.
Specifically, the centre — which is housed at the Ministry of Agriculture’s headquarters — will coordinate implementation of the SADC Multi-country Agricultural Productivity Programme (SADC MAPP) themes. One of the SADC MAPP’s main goals is to strengthen links among agricultural institutions in the region.
The centre will provide competitive funds for research, identify research programmes, and help coordinate and share projects to avoid duplication, Molapong told SciDev.Net.
Mompati Merafhe, Botswana’s vice president, said at the launch: “[The centre] must generate useful technologies to drive both smallholders’ and commercial farming interests”.
The centre will work under SADC, but will have autonomy on the management of its finances. Some US$40 million will be provided to it over the next five years by cooperating partners including the UK Department for International Development and the World Bank.
Said Silim, Eastern and Southern Africa director for the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, said the centre was a good opportunity to allow SADC countries, which do not have the same strengths, to complement one another.
“This will also reduce duplication of efforts as well as lead to faster release of varieties as the technologies will be shared,” he said, adding that this will help technologies to reach farmers across the region.
But he warned that policymakers and governments should be brought on board so that funding does not only depend on external donors.
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SCIENCE MAPPING IN EGYPT

September 17, 2011

SCIENCE MAPPING IN EGYPT

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

A science mapping is being undertaken in Egypt today, which aims to know and concur benefits from the thousands of PhD theses done by Egyptians inside and outside the country.

It has been lamented that Egyptians generated around 50,000 PhD theses and spent millions of dollars on the research undertakings, yet only the shelves benefit from the findings. Sad indeed, as researches must go beyond filing them in shelves and finding practical benefits as much as possible.

The lament is legitimate, as I find a parallelism in the Philippines where I taught in the University of the Philippines for almost two (2) decades. I was among those who advocated for a practical side to the sciences, so that research findings won’t just sleep in the library shelves. Same should hold true for Masteral and Doctoral theses.

Below is an update report on the current mapping undertakings in Egypt. Hopefully, other developing countries would follow suit from Egypt’s experience.

[Philippines, 17 September 2011]
Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/egypt-completes-stocktake-of-last-20-years-of-phds.html
Egypt completes stocktake of last 20 years of PhDs
16 August 2011
[CAIRO] Egypt has compiled a database of almost 50,000 PhD theses that Egyptians have published in the past 20 years, in an effort to understand how much home-grown science is languishing unused on library shelves.
The Science Age Society (SAS) launched the database earlier this month (4 August) and will soon make it available on its website. It lists all the work done by Egyptians, inside or outside the country, as part of their PhD degrees from 1990 to 2009.
The database is the first stage of a project to map Egyptian research that is seen as essential for reinvigorating the science sector in the country.
“Our target for the Science Map Project is to contribute to building a scientific base in Egypt built on the statistical evidence,” Kadria Said, executive manager of the project, told SciDev.Net.
The project is a collective effort started in August 2010 between the SAS and the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics.
“We weren’t able to find any computerised database archives of academic researchers in Egypt so we began thinking of building a database that could be considered a reference for every researcher to help him both to be aware of the historical effort done in his speciality and not to repeat it again,” said Hassan Abol-Enein, SAS head and director of Urology and Nephrology Center in Mansoura.
The project found 49,853 PhD theses written by Egyptians, including 2,898 theses from outside Egypt.
“All this research cost our country millions of dollars and yet Egypt gained no real benefits from them,” Abol-Enein told SciDev.Net.
The next phase, which depends on winning government funding, will be to assess any benefits derived from these theses against their cost.
In the third phase, the group hopes to map all of Egypt’s science research centres, categorising them and documenting their facilities.
Ali Hebeish, president of the Egyptian Syndicate of Scientific Professions, said the project is “a good start towards developing science research in Egypt, if we hope to regain Egyptian academic prestige”.
He said that up to three-quarters of Egyptian researchers do their work in an academic context, for example to obtain a PhD, compared with 15 per cent of US researchers.
Mohamed Abdel-Mottaleb, director of the nanotechnology department at Nile University, said: “There is no networking or coordinating between Egyptian researchers. So having such a database, which would coordinate and ease the communication between research teams, is a very helpful effort.”
But the database should be only the start, he said: “We don’t need abstract statistics; we need to form networking and final recommendations after the end of this project”.
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REFORMING CHINA’S CHEMISTRY

September 16, 2011

REFORMING CHINA’S CHEMISTRY

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Chemistry reward system as it is done in China is one that has met criticisms from the scientific community itself. The impact of chemistry journal publications has become the greatest factor in rewarding a chemist, a fact that has caused chagrin on many quarters.

As a member of the scientific community in the Philippines, I am truly appalled by such a situation. Pure science must be rewarded on the basis of the merits of the research methodology and findings, a standard that has been in place in all sciences—biological, physical, medical, social. Eyebrows can raise and tempers risen if journal impact would be the basis of rewarding a research, as this reduces scientists to showbiz persons which they are not.

Below is the intriguing report on the chemistry situation in China and the need to reform the sector.

[Philippines, 16 September 2011]
Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/opinions/china-must-reform-how-it-evaluates-chemistry-research-1.html
China must reform how it evaluates chemistry research
Source: Nature
17 August 2011
China must quickly reform how it evaluates chemistry research, to encourage high-quality work — not heaps of published papers, argues Nai-Xing Wang, professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.
The country’s administrators tend to judge the quality of scientific research solely by journal impact factors, Wang says. Articles published in journals with a high impact factor are considered excellent. Research proposals — and the referees who evaluate them — are judged based on the impact factor of previous publications, and salaries are calculated using information on the impact factor of published work.
This is a “very crude approach” to evaluating scientific research, says Wang. One problem is that impact factors measure how frequently the average paper is cited in a particular period, so the more popular the research area the easier it is to achieve a high impact factor.
“If a high impact factor is the only goal of chemistry research, then chemistry is no longer science. It is changed to a field of fame and game,” he writes.
Having this narrow view of chemistry is damaging in other ways too. It encourages chemists to choose easy research topics that can be written up quickly, or to split a project into smaller parts for publications.
These practices are not unique to China, but are particularly serious there, says Wang. And halfway through the International Year of Chemistry, it is time for the country to move forward.
One solution could be to judge researchers on the number of citations a paper receives two years after publication, “to see whether their work stands the test of time”. Pushing chemists to publish in international journals is another option, but the work must be substantial, not just well presented. And pure chemistry should not be overlooked in light of applied research.
Link to full article in Nature
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AGRI-INSURANCE BENEFITS DROUGHT VICTIMS IN KENYA

September 16, 2011

AGRI-INSURANCE BENEFITS DROUGHT VICTIMS IN KENYA

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Drought does pay, as proved by the innovative experience of Kenyan farmers. The way out of the drought cul de sac is food production insurance.

The idea of calamity insurance is something new to developing countries. Crops and livestock insurance were already born in the Philippines in the 70s yet, but payouts for typhoon-struck and earthquake-hit farms hasn’t gone beyond the old fogey concept.

I’m all too glad that Kenya is experimenting on satellite-based monitoring of farms as a support system for drought payouts. Hopefully other developing countries will follow the lead.

Below is a summary report on the brightening development.

[Philippines, 16 September 2011]
Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/kenyan-farmers-may-soon-receive-first-drought-payout-1.html
Kenyan farmers may soon receive first drought payout
Maina Waruru
15 August 2011
[NAIROBI] Insurers will assess in October whether Kenyan farmers signed up to the Index-Based Livestock Insurance scheme will receive their first payment, after the worst drought in the region for 60 years.
The scheme, which has been piloted in northern Kenya since early 2010, uses freely-available satellite data to assess the state of pastures. When the images show that pastures have dried up, farmers can claim compensation for animals that have died as a result — without insurers having to verify the deaths in person.
In Kenya about 2,500 farmers have purchased the product since its inception, paying a yearly premium of up to US$100 for 6–8 animals. No payouts have been made yet, but farmers who lost more than 15 per cent of their cattle may receive around US$180 per animal.
“So far, the predicted mortality [rate is] high — but we have to wait for the final tally at the end of October in order to determine whether or not there will be a payout,” said Brenda Wandera, project development manager at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Kenya, which implemented the scheme.
The scheme will be extended to southern Ethiopia in February 2012 to help mitigate the effects of drought. It will initially target 2,700 pastoralists. The aim is to find a viable insurance tool that could cushion pastoralists from heavy losses experienced during droughts, according to Wandera.
But Mathew Kibaara, former deputy director of veterinary services in Kenya, said that, while this is an innovative scheme, tailoring it to all livestock keepers will be a challenge.
“[For example] the motivation to purchase premiums for animals for herders may not be as high as that of dairy cattle keepers, since the value of individual cows kept by pastoralists is not as high as that of dairy herds,” he said.
Kibaara added that pastoralists’ lack of experience with buying insurance will make this task very difficult.
However, Wandera said the Ethiopian pilot will benefit from lessons learned in Kenya, such as the need for improving communication methods and educating and training farmers on insurance.
“We have used ‘village insurance promoters’ who are recruited from different towns within the district to carry out extension functions. We are also developing radio and video extension tools that will be in the vernacular so that the pastoralists can understand the concept better.”
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VIETNAM SCIENCE UNIVERSITY LEADS TERTIARY EDUCATION REFORMS

September 15, 2011

VIETNAM SCIENCE UNIVERSITY LEADS TERTIARY EDUCATION REFORMS

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

The legacy of tertiary level education left by the French empire to Vietnam may not have been auspicious enough. Universities in the country tended to be over-centralized and filled with politics.

The coming to power of the socialists reinforced the clientelist politics within universities. Such a politics and over-centralization retarded the growth of universities as a whole, disabling them from responding to the professional and expertise needs of a growing economy.

To address the problem, a science and technology university is now being installed in Hanoi. France and the Asian Development Bank have collaborated to partly fund the ambitious project university which will open in six (6) years’ time.

The update report on education reforms is shown below.

[Philippines, 15 September 2011]
Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/vietnam-s-new-science-university-marks-start-of-reforms-.html
Vietnam’s new science university ‘marks start of reforms’
Mike Ives
19 August 2011
[HANOI] A science and technology university under construction in Vietnam will promote a new model of higher education in the country, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The 5,000-student University of Science and Technology of Hanoi — to be completed within five or six years at a cost of US$213 million — will encourage stronger links between teaching and research, and promote collaborations with the private sector, said Norman LaRocque, senior education specialist at the ADB, which has lent US$190 million for construction.
France has donated about US$140 million to the university for development and operating costs over the next ten years.
Although smaller than other public universities in Asia, the university represents “a new model in the sense of having a much more autonomous and rigorous governance structure than virtually all of the other universities in Vietnam,” LaRocque told SciDev.Net. The curricula of Vietnamese universities are heavily influenced by central government planning, he said.
The university, which opened at a temporary location last October and is enrolling students, is part of a “bottom-up process of reform”, said LaRocque, adding that Vietnam’s higher education system is “overly centralised and highly politicised”.
Vietnamese universities typically cannot produce useful or timely research for industry, he said, and Vietnamese professors lag behind their counterparts from more developed South-East Asian countries in terms of academic productivity. In 2005, Vietnamese researchers produced about 2.5 peer-reviewed science and engineering articles per million people — roughly half that produced by researchers in Thailand, for example.
Phan Hong Son, executive director of Vietnam’s National Foundation for Science and Technology Development, acknowledged shortcomings in Vietnam’s university system but said the country is “pushing very hard” to improve educational standards.
The new university will “enhance the quality of higher education in Vietnam”, Son said, adding that it will help to ease mounting enrolment pressures associated with Vietnam’s largely young population.
A new generation of Vietnamese students is earning PhDs abroad and will eventually return to teach at the university, he said, but in the meantime, French professors will provide teaching and training.
Son welcomed the French involvement but said the new university may have trouble recruiting enough Vietnamese students who can follow technical lectures in English and French.
Son and LaRocque agreed that the university’s biggest challenge will be maintaining long-term support from the Vietnamese authorities.
“Ribbon cutting is really sexy, but it’s not so sexy to make sure you have enough money to keep the lights on, fix equipment and pay staff,” said LaRocque.
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DEVELOPING COUNTRIES LEAD CLEAN ENERGY INVESTMENTS

September 15, 2011

DEVELOPING COUNTRIES LEAD CLEAN ENERGY INVESTMENTS

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Developing countries are leading the planet in clean energy investments. The investments include Research & Development or R&D up through the installation of power generation facilities and marketing of downstream products.

The total global investments for 2010 was US$211 billions. China is the global leader as it invested a total of US$48.9. MENA (Middle East & North Africa), India, other Asian countries, Brazil, Mexico & Latin American countries, among others, also saw significant levels of investments worth billions of US$.

Another exciting development was the pattern that governments spent more than the private sector in investments. This is true for my country the Philippines, where state spending for R&D in, and production of ocean power, wind power, biomass (biofuels), geothermal, solar power, and hydro were consistently above private sector investments.

Below is the gladdening news from the SciDev.net.

[Philippines, 15 September 2011]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/climate-change-and-energy/renewable-energy/news/developing-world-leading-new-investments-in-green-energy.html
Developing world leading new investments in green energy
Daniela Hirschfeld
15 August 2011
[MONTEVIDEO] The developing world has, for the first time, outstripped richer economies in providing new investment in the renewable energy sector, according to a report.
And research and development (R&D) funding from government sources, at US$5 billion in 2010, for the first time overtook corporate R&D investment, according to ‘Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2011’, published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) last month (7 July).
“The increase in government R&D funding is a global phenomenon and reflects, partly, the spending of money from the ‘green stimulus’ packages that were introduced [by some countries] in 2008–9 after the financial crisis,” said Angus McCrone, chief editor of the research and analysis provider Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which prepared the report.
“Several governments are keen to nurture renewable energy technology in their own countries, as a way of creating jobs in the future,” McCrone told SciDev.Net.
Total global investment in renewable energy grew by 32 per cent, from US$160 billion in 2009 to US$211 billion in 2010.
The 2010 increase owed much to China, the world leader, which invested US$48.9 billion in renewables.
But the strong push in favour of renewables is noticeable in much smaller economies such as Ecuador, El Salvador and Nicaragua, according to Arnaldo Vieira de Carvalho, senior energy specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank, United States. The findings show a “very important” modification of energy policy trends in developing countries, which is helping to create a business climate for investment into renewables.
The Middle East and Africa invested US$5 billion, more than double their 2009 investment; India invested US$3.8 billion; and Asian developing countries — excluding China and India — invested US$4 billion.
South and Central America made the second highest investment with US$13.1 billion, 39 per cent more than in 2009.
“Latin America has emerged in the last year or two as one of the sharpest growing markets for renewable power worldwide,” McCrone said.
Excluding Brazil, Mexico took the lead in Latin America, with an almost 350 per cent increase in 2010.
Argentina saw investment grow nearly seven-fold to US$740 million; in Peru investment more than doubled to US$480 million; and Chile and Venezuela have also seen important investment increase.
“The huge potential for expansion of this type of energy [in Latin America] has had a direct impact on investment in the sector, as well as on R&D in public universities and other research centres that also work with government funds,” Victorio Oxilia, executive secretary of the Latin American Energy Organization, told SciDev.Net.
Sven Teske, director of the Renewable Energy Campaign for Greenpeace International, said: “Investing in renewable energy research and building up a local renewable energy industry means investing in education and jobs — so in people — rather than in fuel. I think this is a smart move from developing countries.”
Link to full report [*free registration required]
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LOCAL LEADERSHIP IN AIDS MITIGATION IN THE PHILIPPINES & ASEAN

September 15, 2011

LOCAL LEADERSHIP IN AIDS MITIGATION IN THE PHILIPPINES & ASEAN

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

From the Philippines comes a brightening news about AIDS prevention and mitigation.

The strategy being advanced by the Philippines-United Nations partnership is mitigation through involvement of local leaders. ‘Local’ refers to the leadership of local government units or HIV.

So far, a three-year programme called “Promoting Leadership and Mitigating the Negative Impacts of HIV and AIDS on Human Development” is now under implementation. The programme is aimed to benefit the Philippines and the ASEAN countries that will look up to the Philippines as exemplar for local participation in mitigation.
The update development is reflected in the report below by the United Nations Development Program.
[Philippines, 14 September 2011]
Source: http://www.beta.undp.org/undp/en/home/presscenter/articles/2011/08/23/undp-philippines-take-aim-at-hiv-through-local-leaders.html
UNDP, Philippines take aim at HIV through local leaders
23 August 2011

Manila — The U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) and the Philippine government are working together to address the Southeast Asian country’s rising number of new HIV cases, scaling up outreach and intervention based on local leadership.
The United Nations alerted the government in 2008 that Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6—halting or reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS—was least likely to be achieved by 2015.
The following year, the United Nations and the government launched a three-year programme called “Promoting Leadership and Mitigating the Negative Impacts of HIV and AIDS on Human Development.”
This partnership has so far aided more than 200 local government units, provided HIV and AIDS orientation to more than 1,000 local government officials, and engaged more than 250 local HIV/AIDS activists across 17 regions in the Philippines. Some 100 local AIDS coordinating bodies, such as local AIDS councils, have been established and strengthened and 44 local HIV policies developed.
“UNDP wanted to be a little bit different and look at HIV in a holistic way, from a governance perspective, which is a real UNDP niche, and to look at leadership issues especially at the local level,” UNDP Philippines Country Director Renaud Myer said. “We also try to identify governors or mayors who take a stand on HIV publicly and then we go and provide them with direct assistance.”
The programme supports and strengthens sustainable local AIDS responses by developing leadership capacities of local governments and establishing Regional AIDS Assistance Teams. These comprise representatives from the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Health, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
“Local governments are in a better position to craft a more effective strategy because they know their area, they know how communities would handle this problem, and the kinds of vulnerabilities in their areas,” said Austere Panadero, Under Secretary for Local Government at the Department of Interior and Local Government and Vice-Chair of the Philippine National AIDS Council.
According to a 2010 UNAIDS report, the Philippines is one of only seven countries worldwide reporting an increase of more than 25 percent in new infections since 2001.
“There has been great improvement in the last two years with regards to localizing the response to HIV and AIDS,” Dr. Ferchito Avelino, executive director of the Philippine National AIDS Council Secretariat, said.
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ZAMBIA’S FREE AIDS TREATMENT

September 15, 2011

ZAMBIA’S FREE AIDS TREATMENT

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Gracious day from the Pearl of the Orient!

A very gladdening news has been released recently concerning free treatment for Zambia’s AIDS patients. An expensive treatment regime, eradicating AIDS is a tough task for Zambia and other developing countries.

AIDS has become a general epidemic in the country. An average of 14.3% of Zambian population have been infected with the virus, with a higher percentage for women (16.1%) then men (12%). The United Nations Development Program already joined the fray in AIDS treatment, with US$141.8 million worth of grants donated to fund the huge treatment program in all regions of the country.

Below is the update report on Zambian AIDS treatment from the UNDP.

[Philippines, 14 September 2011]
Source: http://www.beta.undp.org/undp/en/home/presscenter/pressreleases/2011/08/19/global-fund-and-undp-sign-grants-for-141-8-million-to-support-zambia.html
Free HIV/AIDS treatment for 400,000 people in Zambia
19 August 2011
Lusaka – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), on behalf of the Ministry of Health in Zambia, has signed two Global Fund grants totalling US$141.8 million that will allow some 400,000 people to access free HIV/AIDS treatment over the next two years.
The Zambian Ministry of Health will scale up access to treatment by creating 68 new antiretroviral therapy (ART) sites and supplying drugs to all 454 existing ART sites throughout the country. Global Fund support will provide ART drugs to some 214,339 patients in 2012 and more than 195,679 in 2013. HIV-positive pregnant women will also receive treatment to prevent transmitting the virus to their unborn babies. These grants will also support procurement of laboratory equipment to improve diagnosis and treatment for patients infected with both HIV and tuberculosis.
Zambia has a generalized HIV epidemic, with the 2007 Zambian Demographic Health survey (ZDHS) reporting the HIV prevalence among women and men aged 15-49 at 14.3 per cent. Women have a higher rate of infection (16.1%) than men (12%), while city-dwellers have a higher infection rate (20%) than those living in rural areas (10%).
Despite progress in the national response to HIV and AIDS, the number of People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHIV) continues to rise as a result of new infections and longer lives among those already infected and receiving ART drugs. According to national estimates, a total of 408,966 adults and 30,520 children will require ART in 2012, and these numbers are expected to rise to 435,619 and 30,644, respectively, in 2013.
With these grants, the Global Fund will support the Government of Zambia through the Ministry of Health to strengthen the health systems, preventing new HIV infections and increasing survival rates. UNDP agreed in December 2010 to act as Principal Recipient managing Global Fund grants in Zambia while the recipient institutions and Ministry strengthens its own capacity to administer the funds.
“Coming from 2009, this is the perfect outcome of our combined efforts as partners: It is now our responsibility to ensure that every kwacha is accounted for and every commodity is secure and reaches the intended people,” the Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Dr. Peter Mwaba said.
Since December 2010, the Ministry of Health has worked with UNDP in managing projects financed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, & Malaria. With this partnership, UNDP will help the Ministry of Health deepen its own institutional capacities, including its financial management and oversight systems so that it may resume the role of Principal Recipient of Global Fund grants as soon as possible.
“With these grants, Zambia can procure more medicines and pharmaceutical and other health products and equipment. The grants will work towards significantly reducing the number of new HIV infections across Zambia and also boost the capacity of health facilities to provide improved antiretroviral therapy, counselling and testing services,” UNDP Resident Representative Kanni Wignaraja said.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, & Malaria is the largest international channel of financial support for work on those three diseases, which disproportionately affect the world’s least developed countries. UNDP works with the Global Fund in 27 countries, handling some 12 percent of the Fund’s overall portfolio, to ensure that funding is invested in effective programmes for vulnerable populations. UNDP’s partnership with the Global Fund has already provided treatment to address more than 26 million cases of malaria and 700,000 cases of tuberculosis in Southern Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Belarus, Haiti, and Tajikistan. The experiences and learning across countries will benefit the efforts initiated in Zambia.
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WOMEN EMPOWERMENT GROWS IN SOUTH SUDAN

September 13, 2011

WOMEN EMPOWERMENT GROWS IN SOUTH SUDAN
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

The new sovereign nation-state of South Sudan seems to be starting right early enough in jump-starting gender empowerment as an important pillar of human development.
Proof of the stimulating engagements in women empowerment is the launching of the South Sudan Women Lawyers Association (SSWLA) just days after the declaration of independence. Starting with a core of about 60 lawyers, the group is already making its impact in various sectors of the new nation.
Luckily for South Sudan, international groups such as the UNDP have lent their hands in the jack-rabbit start of their empowering engagements. Remember that under the Islamic state of Sudan, women and other sectors were largely muffled and subordinated, so it took South Sudanese a secession from the north-based Islamic state to breath life to their empowering goals.
Below is an update report from the United Nations Development Program about women rights’ advocacy in the new nation.
[Philippines, 13 September 2011]
Source: http://www.beta.undp.org/undp/en/home/presscenter/articles/2011/08/17/women-stand-up-for-their-rights-in-the-new-republic.html
Women stand up for their rights in the new Republic of South Sudan
17 August 2011

Just a few days after independence was declared, the South Sudan Women Lawyers Association (SSWLA) issued a rallying call to supporters of women’s rights, demanding greater equality and human rights for the women of South Sudan. The association congratulated President Salva Kiir Mayardit and all the South Sudanese people on attaining independence, however they also called on the government to step up their efforts in promoting and protecting the rights of women and girls.
The association was formed in 2010 to represent women legal practitioners and to advocate for women and children’s rights. UNDP was instrumental in helping to set up the association, and provided training in areas such as psycho-social support for survivors of violence and English language skills. Following this, UNDP worked closely with the association to provide input on gender issues into the new South Sudan constitution, following a broad, state-wide consultation process.
Currently there are over 60 members, many of whom work in government roles. Some members also work in private practice and in the judiciary. “We envision a society free of all forms of discrimination against women and girls. We are using the law to help achieve this,”said Deputy Chairwoman Akur Ajuoi Magot.
The association acknowledges some of the big achievements made by the Government in the six years since the war ended. Ms Magot highlighted the Land Act, which recognizes women’s equal rights to property; the Child Act, giving rights to children; and especially the new Constitution. “It enshrines affirmative action provisions for women,” said Ms. Magot, “which opens up spaces for women’s participation.”
However, there is a long way to go for women in South Sudan. The new Republic suffers from some of the worst human development indicators in the world. Girls are often subjected to early and forced marriages and are usually unable to receive a proper education. Women experience shocking rates of maternal mortality and have an estimated 90 percent rate of illiteracy.
Looking ahead, the SSWLA suggest the government should ratify and implement some of the major international covenants on women’s rights, such as the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the African Women’s Protocol, both of which reinforce legal protections for women and girls.
The association also stresses the need for reform of the justice and rule of law sectors, to ensure effective prosecution of those who commit violence against women, and the need for an accountable police service and an independent judiciary. “Women have suffered enough in South Sudan,” said George Conway, UNDP’s Deputy Head of Office. “We are supporting organizations like the SSWLA at the same time as we work closely with the police and prisons services and the judiciary to build a more accountable, robust justice system that can deliver greater stability and accountability for women in the new nation.”
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CAMBODIA TV PROGRAM STIMULATES YOUTH CIVICS

September 13, 2011

CAMBODIA TV PROGRAM STIMULATES YOUTH CIVICS

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good Day to fellow global citizens!

Cambodia’s civic life has all but been stifled during the time of the Khmer Rogue. While that dark past is way behind the nation now, the culture of silence remains and is taking a hard time to break.

The creation of a vibrant, dynamic, robust civil society in Cambodia, parallel to the Philippines’ which is among the world’s strongest civil societies, seems to be years ahead yet before full galvanization. However, the seed of that civic culture is now being planted, or should be germinated at this time.

It is most appropriate a strategy to waken up the youth from lethargy, for the youth produces leaders for all other sectors of society. The preparations in Cambodia includes a tv program that hopefully can catalyze youth mobilization for the debates and participation in the forthcoming election.

Below is an update report coming from the United Nations Development Programme about the said tv program.

[Philippines, 13 September 2011]

Source: http://www.beta.undp.org/undp/en/home/presscenter/articles/2011/08/11/cambodia-tv-production-to-boost-youth-civic-participation.html
Cambodia: TV production to boost youth civic participation
12 August 2011

Phnom Penh – As the world celebrates International Youth Day on 12 August, Cambodians are producing a mass media campaign to empower young adults aged 15-24 and encourage them to get involved in community-level volunteerism and decision-making.
The campaign – to include a TV drama and discussion show, radio call-in programmes, public service announcements, and online and mobile phone messaging – will start in January 2012 and target five million youth, including three million of voting age, ahead of local elections next year and a national election in 2013.
“This campaign will feature young people making a difference in their communities and will help other youngsters realize their own potential,” said Gregory Lavender, Youth Advocacy Officer at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Cambodia.
“Youth are the key to strengthening democracy in Cambodia because two out of every three people in the country are under 25 years old.”
A small team of writers and researchers are scripting 32 TV drama episodes intended to increase basic civic awareness, promote participation in political and local decision-making processes and hold their elected leaders accountable.
Broadcasts, including by radio, will give young people information to take part in planning meetings at local commune councils and to become positive examples of citizens taking actions for wider public benefit.
In partnership with the BBC World Service Trust, UNDP is providing funding and coordinating the three-year campaign with government and non-governmental organizations that will also take part in outreach activities.
“Young people are gifted with open minds and a keen awareness of emerging trends, and are bringing their energy, ideas and courage to some of the most complex and important challenges facing the human family,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a message for International Youth Day.
International Youth Day was created by the UN in 1999 as an opportunity to draw attention to the needs of young men and women worldwide.
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ASIA BETTER BOOST QUALITY JOBS FOR GROWTH

September 13, 2011

ASIA BETTER BOOST QUALITY JOBS FOR GROWTH
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

From the ASEAN city-state of Singapore comes the challenge to Asia to boost quality jobs for growth.
Asia is indeed fortunate to have within it the most dynamic regions and emerging markets of the day, the same economies that are the growth drivers of the global economy. Yet paradoxically, Asia is also home to many countries where 40% of populations eke a living below the $2 poverty line yardstick for daily survival.
My country the Philippines, for instance, has seen rapid growth in the last decade that saw it graduate to middle income status. Its big investors have begun to scour for huge projects overseas, thus reinforcing overseas remittances that traditionally was fueled by overseas workers’ wages. Yet PH is manifesting a jobless growth, at the same time that its poverty incidence remains at a nauseatingly high rate of 33%.
Below is the update report from the Asian Development Bank about the need for quality jobs in Asia.
[Philippines, 12 September 2011]
Source: http://beta.adb.org/news/quality-jobs-essential-asias-growth-stability-report
Quality Jobs Essential to Asia’s Growth, Stability – Report
23 Aug 2011
SINGAPORE – Asia’s policymakers must take decisive steps to generate high quality, productive jobs if the region is to sustain and broaden the benefits of its economic expansion of the past two decades, says an Asian Development Bank (ADB) report published today.
In a special chapter of Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2011, its flagship annual statistical publication, ADB says Asia has outstripped other regions in growth and employment creation since 1990. This has led to substantial improvements in living standards, but progress has been uneven in this heterogeneous region. Asia still remains home to most of the world’s poor with more than 40% of most countries’ populations living below the $2-a-day poverty line.
Lower-income countries are having difficulty meeting some of the Millennium Development Goal targets and where progress has lagged, social tensions may arise. Despite recent turmoil in financial markets, policymakers must keep focused on structural improvements.
As Asia grapples with globalization and changing demographics, including an expanding middle class and aging societies, it will face even more pressure to generate quality jobs that can satisfy public aspirations and support inclusive growth. Many of the new jobs that have been created in Asia are low-cost, low-wage manufacturing positions.
“The percentage of workers in informal employment in Asia remains sharply higher than in most other regions. Quality jobs are important for reducing poverty and income inequality, and for promoting social cohesion and political stability,” said ADB’s Chief Economist Changyong Rhee.
The special chapter, titled “Toward Higher Quality Employment in Asia,” says the pattern and rate of job creation across the region have been sharply mixed, and growth is not enough on its own to guarantee quality jobs with decent wages and conditions. The report says creating higher value-added jobs and increasing labor productivity are key to quality employment, and higher quality employment is the critical link between growth and poverty reduction. But there is no one-size-fits-all solution for the region, with economies at different stages of development.
Middle-income countries will need to promote trade and foreign direct investment, and develop human capital in order to move up the value chain of production, while diversifying the types of social protection measures. Low-income countries can benefit from increasing trade and facilitating smoother rural-urban migration. Productivity in rural areas needs to be improved, and technical and vocational training broadened. For these countries, informal workers need to be provided with a basic level of social protection.
“With appropriate demand and supply side policies and some levels of social protection, countries can make substantial progress towards developing higher quality employment in Asia that will enable it to continue its achievements in poverty reduction and inclusive growth,” Mr. Rhee said.
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