Archive for October 12, 2011


October 12, 2011


Erle Frayne D. Argonza

274,000 families were so badly affected by the latest floods that hit Pakistan. They are so vulnerable to the ecological risks that now confront them in the Sindh province.

So far, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and its aid partners estimate that the most urgent task requires a funding of US $67 Million. A huge number of almost half a million affected ones are now living in makeshift shelters.

Tapping the South-South channels of mutual support seems to promise greater results for the expected aid expenditures. The narrative update is shown below. All parties that are willing to extend aid should better contact the IOM for the purpose.

[Philippines, 13 October 2011]


Emergency Shelter Agencies Appeal for US$ 67 Million for Families Displaced by Southern Pakistan Floods

Posted on Monday, 19-09-2011

Pakistan – As Pakistan’s southern Sindh province struggles to cope with some of the worst flooding in its history, IOM and its partners in the “cluster” of aid agencies providing emergency shelter have appealed to international donors for US$ 67 million to help at least 274,000 vulnerable families.
The appeal, which follows Pakistan’s urgent request for international assistance 10 days ago, is part of a broader consolidated UN appeal for US$ 357 for the next three months covering coordination, food security, health, logistics, shelter and non-food relief items, and water, sanitation and hygiene.
The Shelter Cluster, which is led by IOM, is appealing for funding for 26 projects submitted by six UN agencies, eight international NGOs and 11 local NGOs. The projects were selected from nearly 100 applications by the Cluster, in agreement with the UN and the government.
“These projects represent the minimum of international support that Pakistan needs to provide Sindh’s most desperate, flood-displaced families with the emergency shelter and other essential non-food relief items that they need to survive,” says IOM Emergency Advisor for Asia Brian Kelly.
“Nobody should underestimate the consequences for thousands of vulnerable communities, already weakened by last year’s floods, if the international community fails to respond adequately to this appeal,” he added.
The Shelter Cluster response, if funded, will complement the Pakistani government’s commitment to provide 150,000 tents for families displaced by the floods.
It will include tents, plastic sheets, ropes, tent poles, sleeping mats, blankets, kitchen utensils and other life-saving survival items for at least 274,000 impoverished, displaced farming families, many of whom have lost all of what little they had to the flood waters.
Shelter experts recommend a mix of tents and plastic sheet-based shelter kits in emergencies. While tents can be better in camps in the short term, plastic sheet is cheaper, more versatile and can be more useful in the longer term, when displaced families return home and use it for waterproofing new shelters and rebuilt homes.
According to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), some six million people in all 23 Sindh districts have now been affected by the floods. Some 1.39 houses have been damaged or destroyed, together with an estimated 2 million acres of crops, and at least 248 people have died.
An estimated 482,899 people are now living in some 2,737 makeshift temporary relief sites, including schools and public buildings, dotted across the province. Thousands of spontaneous sites where people are camped out on higher ground or on roadsides are yet to be counted. By some estimates the total could be close to 6,000.
For more information please contact:
Saleem Rehmat
IOM Islamabad
Tel: +92.300.856.0341
Chris Lom
Tel. +92.303.555.2058


October 12, 2011


Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Gracious day from the Pearl of the Orient!

Let’s continue with our own monitoring of the drought-famine-hunger triad of calamity that is now raging across the Horn of Africa, with the hope that the intervention measures are somehow working positively this early to ensure a low level of deaths due to starvation in the coming months.

UN agencies, notably the UN High Commission for Refugess and International Organization for Migration, have been monitoring the arrivals of Somalis, for instance, in neighboring Ethiopia. The FAO, World Bank, UNDP and other international organizations have their hands full on the monitoring and interventions as well.

The heart-warming news is that the health situation for Somalis in Ethiopia has been improving overall. Official Development Assistance (ODA) from the World Bank amounting to US $30 Millions had been focused on helping the said refugees, aside from those extended by other agencies.

Below is an update report about the said refugee Somalis.

[Philippines, 12 October 2011]
Health situation improves for Somalis in Ethiopia; World Bank grants US$30 million to help refugees
16 September 2011
© UNHCR/G. Puertas
DOLLO ADO, Ethiopia, September 16 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency said Friday that as Somali refugees continue to arrive daily in Ethiopia, the health and nutrition situation is improving in the camps they are heading for.
In a related development, the World Bank announced in Washington, DC, on Thursday that it was donating US$30 million to UNHCR to help the more than half-a-million refugees – mostly women and children – in targeted camps in Ethiopia and Kenya get access to nutrition, health and sanitation services.
The grant will be used over an 18-month period to combat malnutrition, provide basic health services (including paediatric and maternal care) and for an immunization programme. In addition, the money will be used to expand access to safe water and sanitation services, and to prevent and treat common illnesses such as diaorrhea, measles and malaria.
“The funds granted today will allow us to expand coverage of essential health, nutrition and sanitation services in the largest refugee camps in the Horn of Africa,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.
UNHCR is highly concerned about the health of the tens of thousands of Somali refugees fleeing drought, famine and fighting in their country this year, especially children. Malnutrition and measles have been blamed for many deaths in refugee camps in recent weeks.
But the refugee agency and its partners have been making progress in boosting health care and providing nutrition to vulnerable refugees in several camps, including those in the Dollo Ado region of eastern Ethiopia. Some of the World Bank funding will be used in these camps.
A UNHCR spokesman said that a measles vaccination campaign, completed two weeks ago, had resulted in a sharp decrease in the number of new cases and related fatalities in the Dollo Ado camps. “Mobile health teams are reaching many families who previously had no access to medical services,” Adrian Edwards said.
In the Kobe camp, there has been a steady decline in the crude mortality rate, which is now estimated to be 2.1 per 10,000 people per day, down from a rate of four to five people per 10,000 a few weeks ago.
“When Ethiopia’s newest camp, Hilaweyn, opened six weeks ago, the overall malnutrition rate among newly arrived refugee children under the age of 18 was 66 per cent. The rate has now dropped to 47 per cent,” Edwards said.
Across all camps in Dollo Ado, the overall rate is around 35 per cent as the nutritional feeding programmes for refugee children have been able to reach the most vulnerable. “We are continuing these feeding programmes as the rate of malnutrition is still high, particularly among children under the age of two,” Edwards added.
Meanwhile, an average of 300 Somalis continue to cross the border daily into Dollo Ado from the southern Somalia regions of Bay, Gedo and Bakool. New arrivals say conditions in Somalia are still precarious, with food hard to come by because of the drought. Some are also fleeing continuing conflict and violence.
In the capital, Mogadishu, the incidence of diaorrhea and measles among internally displaced Somalis (IDP) remains a concern and the estimated mortality rates among children under the age of five continue to be alarmingly high. Malnutrition rates have also worsened.
UNHCR has undertaken a number of fact-finding missions to some of the more than 180 makeshift camps in the Somali capital where distributions of emergency aid items have been carried out. More missions are planned.
With colder weather and rain expected in October, UNHCR is working with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on the distribution of some 60,000 blankets to mitigate the risk of hypothermia in Mogadishu and neighbouring regions.
UNHCR is also moving to implement transitional shelter solutions before the rainy season, and procurement of shelter material and plastic sheeting is under way.


October 12, 2011


Erle Frayne D. Argonza

To the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic goes my greetings of goodwill and best wishes for upgrading education!

Laos was among the countries totally devastated by the carnage of the US imperialist aggression. Previous to that war, there was the war of independence from France. Visualize the damages sustained by Laos after successive wars versus world powers, wars that the Indochinese eventually won at any rate, and you would be appalled at the living conditions of the post-war recovery period.

Lao PDR had since departed from those gory days of Western aggression cum genocide. Its neighbor Vietnam is among the Emerging Markets of Asia, while it is also a proud member of the ASEAN (which also counts Cambodia and Vietnam). Lao PDR has no better option to take than gear up the high road to global competitiveness and prosperity.

Such a developmental option requires upgrading the quality of education and the access to the upgrading quality of instruction. Gladly, Laos is facing the challenges of upgrading education squarely, Official Development Assistance or ODA from the Asian Development Bank.

The reportage about the subject is shown below.

[Philippines, 12 October 2011]

ADB to Help Lao PDR Raise Access, Quality of Secondary Education
20 Sep 2011
MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is to help the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) address key gaps in its secondary education system that impede its contributions to growth and the country’s transition to a market economy.
The ADB Board of Directors has approved loan and grant finance totaling $40 million for the Secondary Education Sector Development Program. The funds will support policy reforms and other measures to improve the quality and relevance of the curriculum, and to make access to secondary schooling more equitable. Much of the focus will be on ensuring that young people – particularly girls – from poor, remote ethnic group communities attend school.
“Education is an essential component of Lao PDR’s development strategy and modernization, and significant gains have been made at the primary level,” said Chris Spohr, an ADB senior education economist. “The transition to a seven-year secondary education subsector is an important milestone, but there remain gaps in access, quality and relevance, and management which need to be addressed.”
While total numbers attending secondary classes have grown substantially in recent years, enrolment rates remain problematic. National figures also mask significant disparities, with enrolment rates lowest and dropout rates highest in poor, rural and ethnic group areas. Rapid rises in the number of primary school graduates and limited resources have strained the ability of the government to provide high quality secondary education.
The Ministry of Education is putting in place new curricula and textbooks for secondary schools to improve learning, and the program will aid the government’s reform efforts. Assistance will be given for a range of policy including access to secondary education for disadvantaged students, and to improve teacher recruitment, training and performance.
The project grant will supplement the program loan with targeted, specific measures, including building new secondary classrooms in districts with the most need. It will also fund stipends for almost 3,000 poor students (prioritizing girls and ethnic group children), along with the construction of low-cost, sex-segregated dormitories. Support will be given for textbook development and distribution and for nationwide teacher training to help roll out the new curricula.
The program loan, equivalent to $10 million from ADB’s concessional Asian Development Fund, has a 24-year term and an 8-year grace period. Interest during the grace period is set at 1.0%, rising to 1.5% for the balance of the term. The project grant of $30 million also comes from the Asian Development Fund, with the Government of Lao PDR contributing $2.4 million for a total investment cost of $42.4 million.
The Ministry of Education will execute the program and associated project activities which are due for completion by December 2018.