Archive for January 2012

HIMALAYAS’ GREEN TECH BOOMS, WHO OWNS IT?

January 26, 2012

HIMALAYAS’ GREEN TECH BOOMS, WHO OWNS IT?

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

We have a gladdening news about the Himalayan region regarding the potentialities of renewable energy or RE as impetus for economic prosperity. Eight (8) countries in the Hindu-Kush Himalayan region particularly manifest high potentials for RE-driven growth.

 

The question that is now rising from the emerging green tech boom there is: who owns the said RE boom altogether? Who is in control, who pays up the greatest for the boom, what yields will there be for the peoples of the 8-country region?

 

Without such a control over the boom’s compass and yields, there is always the danger of financial predators using the RE boom to  extract the greatest profits out of their greedy pursuits, which will cancel out the people-prospering side of development.

 

Below is a report on the subject from the SciDev.net.

 

[Philippines, 27 December 2011]

 

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/himalayan-countries-urged-to-own-their-green-tech-boom.html

Himalayan countries urged to own their green tech boom

Smriti Mallapaty

21 November 2011

[KATHMANDU] Himalayan countries should support and invest in green technologies if such initiatives are to succeed and bring benefits to the economy in the long term, a meeting has heard.

Eight countries in the Hindu-Kush Himalayan region are making progress in development and uptake of renewable energy technologies, which can maintain sustainable economic growth for mountain communities, a workshop in Kathmandu heard earlier this month (2–4 November).

Further investments could provide environmental, social and economic benefits to mountain communities, experts told the meeting, which was organised by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

But it is uncertain whether poorer countries could sustain investment in green technology development without external support and this dependency on donor funding could hamper the progress made so far, experts warned.

Suresh Kumar Dhungel, senior scientist at Nepal National Academy of Science and Technology, told SciDev.Net: “The sad part is that Nepal’s efforts are not solely ours, it is all guided by funds from international donor agencies. Policymakers need to realise the importance of a green society.”

Golam Rasul, head of ICIMOD’s economic analysis division said: “The initial cost of renewable energy is high compared with fossil fuel based energy. The technology we are using now is not very cost-effective. Technologically advanced countries should support research in this field.”

Rasul said regional cooperation and transboundary energy trade could offer a way out.

“Bhutan and Nepal have huge hydropower potential but lack technical capacity and large markets, whereas India and Bangladesh are power hungry,” Rasul said.

Ghulam Mohammad Malikyar, deputy director-general of the National Environmental Protection Agency, of the Afghanistan, told SciDev.Net climatic environments may need different green technologies, appropriate for local circumstances.

Prem Pokhrel, climate and energy programme officer at the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre, Nepal, said that almost a million households in Nepal are benefiting from micro-hydro power plants, improved cooking stoves, domestic biogas plants, and solar home systems. This saves an estimated 12 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

Pokhrel described an ‘energy ladder’ of rising income, where households transition from wood and animal-based fuels to electricity and other clean energy, as they get richer. This also translated into better health for women and children, said Pokhrel. He added that uptake of clean energy can also help generate better income.

ICIMOD organised a conference on Green Economy and Sustainable Mountain Development: Opportunities and Challenges in View of Rio+20 in September, which produced a concept paper ‘Green Economy for Sustainable Mountain Development’.

One of the key recommendations to the national governments from the concept paper was to “adopt alternative forms of energy such as hydropower, wind power, biogas, and solar energy to reduce negative impacts from the use of fossil fuels and fuel wood”.

Link to ‘Green Economy for Sustainable Mountain Development: a concept paper for Rio+20 and beyond’

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HUNGER STOKES AFGHANS, CRUEL WINTER COMES!

January 23, 2012

HUNGER STOKES AFGHANS, CRUEL WINTER COMES!

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Severe drought just struck northern Afghanistan, inducing shortfalls in crop yields. Over 2 millions of Afghans up north have begun to feel the severity of the shortfall.

The news is surely alarming, as it comes amid the eco-catastrophes of similar types in the Horn of Africa, parts of Pakistan, and other regions of the planet. The seeming coincidence of too many droughts is indicative of the dire consequences of ecological changes brought forth by both human intervention and natural phenomena.

Meantime, as winter now knocks at the doors of northern hemispheric communities, over 2 millions of Afghans face coupling disasters of hunger, diseases, and gargantuan mortalities due to the drought there. Is the world ready to respond to the new eco-challenge and help out the said small tillers and workers?

[Philippines, 26 December 2011]

Source: http://www.devex.com/en/articles/in-afghanistan-millions-face-hunger-as-winter-approaches?source=ArticleHomepage_Center_6
In Afghanistan, Millions Face Hunger as Winter Approaches
By Ivy Mungcal on 21 November 2011
More than 2 million people in northern Afghanistan are facing hunger following a severe drought that has caused crop shortfall in the region. The situation is expected to worsen with the upcoming winter, according to several aid groups.
Nine aid groups, including Oxfam, have released a joint statement to highlight the situation and urge the international community and Afghan government to ensure people receive the food assistance they require quickly.
“Donors and relief agencies must remain vigilant and responsive as more resources will be required if the situation deteriorates because of a harsh winter,” said Manohar Shenoy, Oxfam’s country director in Afghanistan, according to The Associated Press.
Some aid agencies have also raised questions on why the situation in northern Afghanistan persists despite the billions of dollars in foreign aid received by the country.
One theory is that donors focus their aid programs in Helmand, Kandahar and other conflict-torn cities in southern Afghanistan, BBC notes, adding that aid agencies have slammed this policy, which they describe as “militarized aid.”
“They are aiming on winning hearts and minds by implementing quick fix, quick impact projects,” said Louise Hancock, Oxfam’s policy and advocacy director in Afghanistan. “These result in schools being built in areas where there are no roads going to them, where needs are not at their greatest or where there are not enough teachers to staff that school.
Read more development aid news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.
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TOKEN AID FOR THAILAND’S FLOOD VICTIMS FROM ADB

January 22, 2012

TOKEN AID FOR THAILAND’S FLOOD VICTIMS FROM ADB

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Whether this news is gladdening or not, the Asian Development Bank had extended emergency funds worth US $3 million to Thailand to shore up the country’s relief and rehabilitation operations in light of the massive flooding there.

The amount is surely token, as it is worth some couples of toothpick cases for the millions of affected persons. Thailand surely deserves larger relief assistance, most specially from the global corporations that have been operating in the Bangkok region as their central hub in the whole of Asia. The oligarchic companies surely remember Thailand only when their cash registers inflow from their profitable operations, but shirk from the responsibility of helping out during calamities and catastrophies.

Better indeed that the ADB provides some aid for toothpick packs than none at all. Hopefully the same continental bank would allocate billions of dollars for new investments in the country as a way of compensating its toothpick mentality during worst calamities.

[Philippines, 25 December 2011]

Source: http://beta.adb.org/news/adb-gives-emergency-support-thailand-after-worst-floods-over-50-years
ADB Gives Emergency Support to Thailand after Worst Floods in over 50 Years
21 November 2011
MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing emergency assistance of $3 million to help Thailand get back on its feet in the wake of the country’s worst flooding in more than half a century.
“The scale and magnitude of the floods are immense and this grant will help Thailand address some of the most immediate, pressing needs,” said Craig Steffensen, ADB’s Country Director in Thailand.
The floods, sparked by heavy rains in August and September, have over 600 people dead and inundated homes, farmland and businesses, including parts of the capital Bangkok and surrounding districts. All affected provinces have been declared disaster areas and the country’s gross domestic product could decline by up to 2% as a result of the devastation.
ADB’s grant will support the provision of food, water, and other essential services to people who have been forced to flee their homes and others affected by the floods. It will be coordinated with assistance being provided by other development partners, including the United Nations, World Bank, European Union, Japan and the United States.
The grant is being provided from ADB’s Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund, which was established in 2009 to provide quick disbursing grants to help countries affected by natural calamities meet their immediate needs. It also helps bridge the gap ahead of longer term post-disaster reconstruction assistance and disaster risk reduction initiatives.
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UGANDA’S ELECTRIC CAR, AFRICA’S PRIDE!

January 18, 2012

UGANDA’S ELECTRIC CAR, AFRICA’S PRIDE!

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

In case you global citizens may be musing about what’s going on in Uganda, tons of positive news are being churned out there year by year. Such as the news about the Ugandan electric car that has just been successfully tested.

Traumatic experiences surely have a way of leaving behind bad tastes, such as the grotesque crimes of the past tyranny of the Idi Amin regime there. But that dictatorship is way past behind us now, buried deeply now in the global canvass of rapidly shaping events.

The Kiira EV that has been to a large degree designed with technical aid from university experts will be a thing to watch in the whole of Africa. It promises to be a low-cost clean energy vehicle, as shown in the report below.

[Philippines, 24 December 2011]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/uganda-test-drives-its-first-electric-car.html
Uganda test-drives its first electric car
Peter Wamboga-Mugirya
21 November 2011
[KAMPALA] Ugandan scientists and students at Makerere University have built an electric car.

The two-seater Kiira EV (‘Kiira’ means roaring in Lusoga, a local dialect), which is powered by a lithium-ion battery, was test-driven early this month (1 November) at the university. It can reach a maximum speed of 200 kilometres (km) an hour but needs recharging after an 80km run.

Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Togboa, principal investigator for the project and deputy vice-chancellor at the university, told SciDev.Net that the conceptualisation and design took place between April and August 2009.

“I assembled 25 engineers, electricians and designers. We used a large percentage of local materials to develop the Kiira EV.” He said that they imported only the steering wheel and minor accessories.

The inspiration for the project came from Makerere’s participation in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Vehicle Design Summit in Italy, in 2008. The inter-university event — in which Makerere was the only African team — led to the development of Vision 200, a prototype hybrid fuel-electric car.

Following the summit, the team decided to return home and build its own electric car.

In December 2009, President Yoweri Museveni expressed confidence in the product and instructed the Ministry of Finance to provide funding for the project of 25 billion Ugandan shillings (around US$10 million) for five years (2009–14).

Tickodri-Togboa added that a prominent Uganda businessman and member of the Private Sector Foundation, Habib Kagimu, has pledged to promote the group’s work.

With such entrepreneurs, he said, the group expects the Kiira EV to evolve into low-cost cars for Ugandans in the near future. The next step is to build an electric 28-seater bus, said Tickodri-Togboa.

Kiira EV project manager Paul Musasizi said the car was tested for road-drive performance including its ability to climb steep gradients and pick up speed.

“It picks speed very quickly, the motor is strong and its reversing [ability] is perfect. It also climbed a 55 degrees incline,” he said, after test-driving the car for 4km at a speed of 65km per hour. But he added: “More adjustments still need to be done when it is gaining speed to avoid jerking”.

But David Mulabi, a community development programme coordinator at the Uganda Czech Development Trust, said that Makerere should redirect its energies.

“Farmers are struggling with drought because irrigation is too expensive … We need [irrigation] technology … not luxury [cars],” he said.
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RETURNING MIGRANTS: HIGHLIGHTING COTE D’IVOIRE

January 16, 2012

RETURNING MIGRANTS: HIGHLIGHTING COTE D’IVOIRE

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

So many conflicts are happening across the globe at this moment, leading to mass migrations of affected non-combatants. Rebel groups bent on forming mini-states, such as those on the African continent, form a ceaseless phenomenal tapestry of violence and migrations.

Incidentally, many migrants have returned to the homeland, or as in the case of other migrants they get absorbed in the host countries. Let us take the case of Cote d’Ivoire that has been badly hit by the same rebel syndrome messianically forming mini-states in the most gruesome conflicts one can imagine.

Migrants that used to be sheltered in tent cities of sorts are back in the country. Let’s take a cursory visit to the life of these lucky migrants via the reportage of the IOM below.

[Philippines, 23 December 2011]

Source: http://www.iom.int/jahia/Jahia/media/press-briefing-notes/pbnAF/cache/offonce/lang/en?entryId=30969

First Group of Internally Displaced Persons Return to Their Villages in Western Cote d’Ivoire

Posted on Friday, 18-11-2011

Cote d’Ivoire – Seven months after the end of the post electoral crisis in Cote d’Ivoire, hundreds of families who sought refuge in camps in the west of the country, are finally returning home with IOM assistance.
On 16 November 2011, IOM in coordination with government authorities and partner agencies carried out the first organized return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from a displaced centre in the western town of Duékoué to surrounding villages.
A first IOM convoy of 103 families (459 individuals) left the overcrowded Catholic Mission holding centre in Duékoué for various nearby communities. Other returns are planned over the next few days, with the remaining families scheduled for relocation in a nearby camp in Nahibly.
Up to 25,000 IDPs sought refuge in and around the Catholic Mission in Duékoué at the peak of the conflict. Currently, an estimated 17,000 displaced persons are still living in camps throughout Cote d’Ivoire, in addition to thousands of others who are staying with host communities.
Security improvements in the region have encouraged many displaced persons to consider returning to villages, with many families excited at the prospect of returning home.
“I think I will do better by returning to my village,” one of the returnees told IOM. “Life in the camp has been good because it has provided us with security. Now things are better, I need to go home and re-build my life for the sake of my children.”
Residents of other IDP camps in Western Cote d’Ivoire who are willing to return to their villages will be assisted by IOM and its partners to do so.
Over the past weeks, IOM has organized several “go-and-see visits” for IDPs who saw that living conditions in their home villages had steadily improved. On their return, they shared information with those who stayed back in the camps. This information helped them in their decision to return or not.
However, many families are still too frightened to return immediately, though they intend to do so at a later date. Some say they will have nowhere to stay because their houses were destroyed during the conflict. Others are afraid of gun-carrying traditional fighters and other armed men, while a good number fear those who they say illegally occupied their plantations after they had fled.
IOM is currently rehabilitating some 300 destroyed homes in some of the worst conflict-affected areas in the west of Cote d’Ivoire and is stocking up on non-food items, which include plastic sheeting, mattresses, mats, kitchen sets, buckets, etc. for distribution to families in need.
As the IDPs return, they will undoubtedly face the daunting task of putting their lives back together. IOM will continue to conduct follow-up missions in the areas of return, to ascertain the living conditions, with the aim of providing the assistance that is needed for sustainability.
In order to do this IOM will appeal to the donor community for financial aid. The current activities are being carried out thanks to donations from the Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF), the European Union Humanitarian Assistance (ECHO), the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Australian Assistance for International Development (AUSAID).
For further information, please contact:
David Coomber
IOM Cote d’Ivoire
Tel: +225 048 30 444
E-mail: dcoomber@iom.int
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AID TRANSPARENCY RANKING SHOWS BAD PERFORMANCES!

January 14, 2012

AID TRANSPARENCY RANKING SHOWS BAD PERFORMANCES!

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

How much transparency is involved in the aid phenomenon? Is the transparency coming from the donor or from the recipient, or from both sides of the aid coin?

Whatever agenda will be taken up concerning the aid problem in Busan, the transparency question would surely ring the strongest decibels. And may we stress DECIBELS, as we anticipate debates that could be so emotional as they can shoot up adrenalin to feverish levels. Discourses will be accompanied by high tenor rationalizations, with finger-pointing blaming in the menu of presentations.

“Busan Busan on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” could be a guide thought in the report on the subject below.

[Philippines, 22 December 2011]

Source: http://www.devex.com/en/articles/ahead-of-busan-how-countries-rank-on-aid-transparency?source=ArticleHomepage_Center_2
Ahead of Busan: How Countries Rank on Aid Transparency
By Claudia Elliot on 17 November 2011
The majority of international aid donors are not publishing enough information about the money they give, undermining the effectiveness of development spending and damaging public trust, according to the Aid Transparency Index 2011 released earlier this week by Publish What You Fund. The report comes just two weeks before the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Korea.
Aid is a scarce and precious resource, which, if spent well, can make a major difference to the lives and prospects of people and countries receiving it. However, a lack of comprehensive, timely and comparable aid information means that donor governments do not know enough about where their own money is being spent with what effect, nor can they can compare and coordinate what they are doing with other agencies around the world.
Without comparable data, aid-recipient countries cannot plan their own spending properly or measure impact. Equally, taxpayers in both donor and recipient countries are unable to hold their government to account for spending the money well.
Major donors including the United States, Japan, France, Germany, Spain, Norway, Canada, Italy and Australia perform poorly in Publish What You Fund’s pilot Aid Transparency Index, in spite of pledges to improve at the high-level meetings in 2005 and 2008. The five best-ranked donors are the World Bank, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the African Development Bank, The Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.K.’s Department for International Development.
The index – the first of its kind – ranks 58 donor agencies according to how much information they provide across 35 different indicators. The average score of 34 percent shows that although some donors have made good progress, the majority need to do much more. No donors ranked in the top category “good,” which requires a score of over 80 percent.
The fifteen worst-performers (Spain, Portugal, U.S. Department of Defense, U.K. Commonwealth Development Corp., Latvia, U.S. Treasury, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, China, Greece, Cyprus and Malta) all scored less than 19 percent, with the bottom two scoring zero percent.
The report calls on all donors to sign up to and implement the International Aid Transparency Initiative, which provides a common standard for publishing data and has the potential to transform the way aid is managed. It urges donors to use the upcoming High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan to commit to publish timely, comprehensive and comparable information on aid by 2015.
The Make Aid Transparent campaign was launched in June this year to urge governments to maintain commitments to publish to IATI at Busan. In the last 6 months the campaign has gained real ground. It is now supported by over 100 organisations and 8000 people internationally and has been presented around the world, including in London, Paris, Washington, Yemen, Honduras, and Berlin. The Make Aid Transparent campaign will be handing the petition signatures to country ministers at the meeting in Busan at the end of the month.
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IS SOMALIA’S FAMINE HOPELESSLY IRREVERSIBLE?

January 13, 2012

IS SOMALIA’S FAMINE HOPELESSLY IRREVERSIBLE?

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Is the Somalia famine hopelessly irreversible? If the catastrophe can be reversed, can the interventions be sustained without aid from external donors?

Those are pretty tough questions to answer. Admittedly, the famine in the Horn is too large a human & nature predicament, with over 11 millions of hungry people affected at its peak some couples of months ago. Somalia seems to be a classic basketcase of the catastrophe, as the problem there is complicated by peace & order challenges.

Below is a reportage on the subject by the UNDP. Note that the UNDP experts have taken the standpoint that the problem can be reversed but with substantial assistance from benevolent sources.

[Philippines, 21 December 2011]
Source: http://www.beta.undp.org/undp/en/home/presscenter/articles/2011/11/21/famine-in-somalia-can-only-be-reversed-with-continued-assistance.html
Famine in Somalia can only be reversed with continued assistance
21 November 2011

Water tanks have also been placed along the routes being used by displaced people. (Photo: OCHA/Buhaene)
Nairobi – Increased humanitarian assistance to Somalia has had a significant impact in the famine‐affected parts, bringing the three southern regions of Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle out of famine.
However, according to the latest data compiled by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit and Famine Early Warning System in southern Somalia, famine persists in parts of the Middle Shabelle region and in the areas hosting internally displaced persons in the capital Mogadishu and along the Afgooye corridor, northwest of the city.
Malnutrition and mortality rates in many parts of southern Somalia continue to be the highest in the world.
“Any improvements can only be sustained if the current level of humanitarian assistance continues,” said Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, who also serves as the UN Development Programme’s Resident Representative.
“If humanitarian activities are interrupted or reduced in southern Somalia, many areas will fall back into famine. It is only thanks to the generosity of donors that we have been able to save tens of thousands of lives in the past three months. We need this support to continue or the price we pay will be the loss of thousands of lives.”
The UN and other partners are working to increase access to food, markets and health services. UNDP has been working in Mogadishu and in some of the famine-affected districts building shallow wells, boreholes and water pumps, rehabilitating essential agricultural infrastructure, and helping to create short term jobs which allow households to improve access to food.
Somalia continues to face the largest humanitarian crisis in the world with over half of its population in urgent need of assistance.
Three million out of the four million people in crisis are in southern Somalia, where access to the population in need remains a major challenge.
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