Archive for October 20, 2011


October 20, 2011


Erle Frayne D. Argonza

In case people think that Haiti has already recovered from the catastrophe it encountered just over a year ago, think again. There are still too many tent relief centers in the country, most of which are run by the IOM or International Organization for Migration.

Tent centers are deteriorating as update reports have revealed. Worst, girls normally get raped right inside their own tents. Sex trade might just rise across the coming weeks as a way to daily survival.

What happened to the global enthusiasm that was demonstrated in support of Haiti at the height of the catastrophe there? Is this a sign of the ‘bushfire reflex’ or ningas kugon, where peoples’ interest in helping out calamity victims soon wane, revealing a subtly superficial show of compassion?

Below is an update report on pro-active response in aid of rape victims in Haiti.

[Philippines, 21 October 2011]
Haitian group offers safe house for rape survivors
News Stories, 6 October 2011
© UNHCR/Andres Martinez Casares
The KOFAVIV safe house offers business training to survivors of rape and forced prostitution in Haiti.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, October 6 (UNHCR) – Shirley* seems like a typical young woman – energetic, excited and hopeful. Her smile is contagious and her voice clear and strong. However, when she begins to share the horrors she has experienced, her voice drops and her gaze turns downward.
The 20-year-old lost her mother and aunt in the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti. With no place to go, she moved into one of the sprawling tent camps in the capital, Port-au-Prince. One night she came back to her tent to escape the rain. A man approached her and asked to go inside. She said he hit her and pushed her into the tent: “He threw me to the ground and raped me. After that I was haemorrhaging for a month.”
Explaining further, she said, “The tents are not secure. Anyone with a razor or knife can cut the tent and come inside. There are no walls and no protection and before you know it someone is there in your tent.”
Her ordeal is not unique. Twenty months after the catastrophic earthquake, conditions in Haiti continue to deteriorate. Today, there are nearly 1,000 makeshift camps across Haiti and approximately 600,000 internally displaced people.
The International Organization for Migration manages most of the camps, but fading international interest has affected the humanitarian community’s ability to provide assistance. Women are particularly vulnerable in the camps, where there is little to no privacy, security or lighting. UN reports indicate sexual violence against women is occurring at alarming rates.
“Sixty-five per cent of the victims are minors,” said Jocie Philistin, a director of a local non-governmental organization known as KOFAVIV (Commission of Women Victims for Victims). “Since the earthquake we have been seeing more children, minors and babies aged one to 17 months who have been raped.” The NGO’s findings reflect a recent Amnesty International study that showed 50 per cent of rape victims were young girls.
In addition to having to live in unsafe conditions, Shirley had no way to pay for her basic expenses. She said her only way to make money was to become involved in survival sex. “After the earthquake there was a system where you could get food but you had to sleep with the guys who were in charge of the food, even though it had been given out by the government. So a lot of young women were forced into prostitution to survive,” she said.
As one of several organizations supporting the humanitarian efforts in Haiti, UNHCR interviewed women from 15 camps. They all reported that survival sex was a serious but invisible problem in their camps. With no gainful employment opportunities and widespread despair, Haitian women often feel there is no other option to access the food and water they and their children desperately need.
One woman living in a camp near the airport noted, “There was a girl who lived near me. She was raped. She had no parents and no one to defend her. That girl had no place to stay because she came from the provinces. She begged for money, but no one gave her what she needed. She had to turn to selling herself, and that was a form of sexual violence.”
To help combat widespread sexual violence in the camps, KOFAVIV has trained dozens of community outreach workers to locate victims and provide them with much needed services.
UNHCR is working with KOFAVIV to run one of the few safe house projects in Haiti for survivors of rape and forced prostitution in Port-au-Prince. Over the course of three months, the women receive shelter, health training, psychological support and business training. After they start to earn their own money, they will be moved to longer-term housing and supported as they continue to get back on their feet. This month (September) UNHCR chief António Guterres visited the safe house project and encouraged the local staff to continue their efforts.
Shirley is one of 15 women chosen to take part the project. Her nightmare ended in June when she finally moved out of the camp into the safe house. For the first time in over a year and a half, she has a bedroom door with a lock.
“Now I have a safe and secure place and a new family,” she said, smiling at the thought of returning to school and starting a small shoe business. Grateful for the help she’s received, she is also working with KOFAVIV to provide support to other rape survivors.
* Name changed for protection reasons
By Charity Tooze in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
With field reporting by Sarah Ahmed

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October 20, 2011


Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Is development ‘take off’ of poor nations compatible with the green economy goal?

Poor nations refer to economies with per capita income of below US $1,000 per year. At least 30% of their families subsist in incomes of less than US$2 per day. Can its policy makers and market players even think of greening—energy sources, manufacturing, services—when their scarce resources must be used for providing jobs to the poor folks?

China, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam have ceased to be poor nations, as they have all graduated to middle income economy status. They are the ‘emerging markets’ of today, the growth drivers and saviors of the global economy. They are tops with regards to crafting enabling policies for green economy, investments in green energy and greening other sectors of their respective economy. Will poor nations be able to follow their paths?

Below is a discussion on the subject matter, culled from the

[Philippines, 21 October 2011]


Poor nations ‘need to find own path to green economy’
T.V. Padma
6 October 2011
[NEW DELHI] Developing countries should be given ‘policy space’ to tailor policies on the transition to a green economy that match their development priorities, an international meeting has heard.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution and national priorities should define each country’s strategy for environmentally friendly growth, environment ministers and senior officials of more than 40 countries told a meeting organised by the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) and India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests in New Delhi this week (3–4 October).
The Delhi ministerial dialogue — one of several events feeding into a major UNCSD conference on sustainable development, Rio+20, to be held in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — focused on the issue of creating green economies in the context of poverty eradication, sustainable development and inclusive growth in developing countries.
Delegates from developing countries expressed several concerns, such as the varying interpretations of what ‘green economy’ means for different stakeholders. For developed countries it implies a low-carbon growth model, even if it involves high-end, costly technologies, whereas developing countries view green economies as sustainable, natural-resource based livelihoods.
“There is a fuzzy concept of green economy and the near- to medium-term implications for developing countries and least-developed countries to transition to a green economy,” Tariq Ahmad Karim, Bangladesh’s high commissioner in India, told the meeting.
A second concern centred on integrating food and energy security with green economy strategies, especially against the backdrop of climate change. Moving to greener models of agriculture depends on the transfer of, and financial support for, green technologies to enhance productivity, improve resilience and diversify production systems, delegates said.
Similarly, moves to a green economy should address the issue of increasing access to clean energy for the poor and achieving universal electricity access by 2030, they said.
A third concern was that developed countries should not resort to ‘green protectionism’ or impose trade barriers such as high tariffs on goods whose production is based on technologies with high carbon emissions.
Another area of concern was the transfer of affordable, sustainable technologies from developed countries when developing countries do not benefit from technologies for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Sha Zukang, UN’s under-secretary-general for economic and social affairs and secretary-general for Rio+20, said afterwards that delegates had “not resolved all issues” or achieved consensus on the costs and benefits of moves to green economies.
One unresolved issue is a proposal by delegates from Colombia and Guatemala that the Rio+20 conference should develop ‘sustainable development goals’ along the lines of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

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October 20, 2011


Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Cambodia is no longer Khmer Rouge country, though there are indeed old habits that die out so slowly in the minds of other peoples such as the thought that Cambodia is so fearsome a place to live in.

Economic development is pursuing at a normal rate in the war-torn country. Thanks to the high presence of international aid groups and agencies, the decimation of the country’s intellectuals by the Khmer Rogue—who were Manchurian Candidates of evil operators of Elites based in Washington, DC—was filled up with noble substitution.

Below is an update report about a new bridge in operation in the hinterlands of the once miserable land. As a fellow from ASEAN, I watch with sympathy and commiserate with Cambodians over their willful efforts to build a modern, prosperous nation.

[Philippines, 20 October 2011]
New bridge improves links, livelihoods for Cambodian villages
When 26-year-old So Phorn gave birth to her first child three years ago it took her two strenuous hours on a motorbike, a ferry and a rickshaw to get to the nearest health centre in the neighbouring commune of Beoung Preav, in south-western Cambodia.
Following completion six months ago of a joint international project that built a concrete bridge crossing the 40-metre wide Kampong Sdam River, So Phorn now has a 30-minute trip to deliver her second child at the same hospital.
The new bridge—a partnership between the two local governments, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union—is directly improving the lives of 10,000 residents of the Chroy Svay and Boeung Preav communes, separated by the river.
• The Inter-Commune Cooperation project is working to strengthen local governance in Cambodia and better serve rural communities.
• The ICC grants US$1.8 million each year to fund projects that cross commune boundaries and has implemented over 260 projects since 2006.
• ICC projects have built roads, bridges and schools in remote communities and respond to women’s needs and environmental issues.
“It used to be very difficult without a bridge,” said Neng Chhun, a 31-year-old father of six who runs a home-based grocery store in Chroy Svay and regularly crosses the river to the neighbouring village where he replenishes his stock.
Chhun and other residents recalled that a preceding bridge had fallen into a state of disrepair and was so unstable that few locals would take the risk of mounting the rickety structure even when it was urgent that they reach the other side.
Two boats joined together by a wooden platform acted as the quickest alternative for motorcyclists and pedestrians. The ferry charged a one-way fee equivalent to US$0.12, a price out of reach of many in a country where the poverty line is just about US$0.60 a day.
“A new bridge was the highest demand,” said Hay Sin, Chroy Svay’s commune chief, who initially said there was nothing he could do about the problem due to the limited budget available through his office.
In 2010, Hay Sin invited his counterpart in the neighbouring commune to pool resources and draw up a joint proposal to win funds from the UNDP/EU Inter-Commune Cooperation, an agency functioning in 12 provinces to ensure development projects of highest benefit to residents.
“We can work together to bring benefits for all the people,” said Sin after the communes received US$40,000 to build the bridge. “As commune council leaders, we should not think only about our own communities.”
Related Links
• Project: Strengthening Democratic and Decentralized Local Governance in Cambodia
• UNDP results in Cambodia
• Human Development Report: Cambodia Country profile
UNDP in Cambodia
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• Fast Facts: Democratic Governance
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October 20, 2011



Erle Frayne D. Argonza


Mad bombings in Abuja won’t stop social development work by the UN agencies notably the United Nations Development Programme o UNDP. This is surely a most welcome move, as UN workers involved in social development have brought home results based on our experiences in PH and Asia.


I still recall the blog I published earlier about the Abuja bombing. After posting it,  so-called ‘liberal’ in a blog site retorted that “the UN is an evil agency.” Liberalism and conservatism are two sides of the same coin, and the dividing line between the liberal-conservative domain and fascism is a thin one. Political partisans are of the Herd mind or morons who are in fact being orchestrated from Above by the ideological operators of global Elites to continuously foment global anarchy or ‘synarchy’ and polarization.


True, the United Nations is being maneuvered by the Rockefeller section of the global elites, the same Rockefellers who donated the UN estate in New York. But to say that the UN is an instrument to make morons out of the non-Western participants (the global Elites are centered in the West) is to reveal the partisans’ ridiculously substandard to subhuman minds.


Killing social development personnel of the UN agency isn’t justified at all by the maneuverings being done by the Elites within the UN. Only Demoniacs or sociopaths would feel glorified by the deaths of true professionals and community servants in the hands of terrorists.


[Philippines, 20 October 2011]




Nigeria: UN work continues after bombing, says UNDP chief

05 October 2011

UNDP chief Helen Clark lays a wreath at the damaged UN headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria Tuesday on the first day of her three day official visit to Nigeria. The August 26 bomb blast killed 23 people, including 11 UN staff, and injured more than 100. (Credit: UNDP)

Abuja UNDP Chief Helen Clark met with UN staff and toured the damaged UN headquarters in Abuja yesterday on the first day of her three day official visit to Nigeria.

“These were unarmed civilians who had dedicated their lives to helping the people of Nigeria,” said Clark after she laid a wreath at the site of the bombing.  “This senseless attack will not stop our critical development work here.”

The August 26 bomb blast killed 23 people, including 11 UN staff, and injured more than 100.

“I have been very shocked, and to see the scale here today is very sobering indeed.”

Later in the day, Clark met with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan who expressed condolences to the UN and lauded UNDP’s work globally.  Speaking after the meeting, Helen Clark thanked the President for his support and pledged continued support to Nigeria’s development priorities, including the President’s job creation scheme.

“Nigeria has a tremendous role to play in the continent, and overcoming its challenges can be a lesson for other countries,” she said.  “With the threat of global recession, times are tough, and we will also focus our efforts on the imperative of employment, so as to fulfil the aspirations of young people.”

The President acknowledged that youth unemployment remained a challenge in Nigeria, and that by November of this year, 56% of the 166 million Nigerians will be under the age of 35.

“These young people have to acquire skills, find work, proper housing, and a place in society,” said President Jonathan. “We want every young person to create employment for 5 other young people, and thus develop a multiplier effect.  We are launching a major youth entrepreneurship program this month, and we welcome our partners’ assistance in this initiative.”

Helen Clark also met with the Minister of the National Planning Commission Dr. Shamsudeen Usman, Minister of Foreign Affairs Olugbenga Ashiru, and Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo Iweala. She is accompanied by Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP Africa Bureau, Mr. Tegegnework Gettu.

Contact Information

In Abuja:
Anthony Dioka
UNDP Nigeria Communication Associate
Tel: +234 803 291 3085

In Dakar:
Maimouna Mills
UNDP Regional Communication Adviser
Tel: +234 706 860 2318 // +221 77 529 1298



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