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East Asia and Pacific

Mastering the Conditions of Change

Antonio Lambino's picture

On a recent trip to Hong Kong and Macau, China’s two Special Administrative Regions (SARs), I was reminded repeatedly of people's tendency to search for heroes to make things better in public life.  The two SARs are engines of growth in the region -- the former due primarily to international trade and finance and the latter due to tourism and gambling -- and have highly developed infrastructure and efficient transportation services.  I was traveling with a large group of fellow Filipinos, all of us from a country struggling to improve governance in various sectors and the provision of public services.  Walking the streets of Hong Kong and Macau, many comments were made regarding the ease of public transport and modern facilities, from sidewalks and roads to air and sea ports.  Almost all of these conversations led to two persistent questions: “When will our own country catch up?” and “Who will stamp out corruption and lead the country to prosperity?”  I couldn’t help but notice that there wasn’t much discussion about how.

From Sumatra to Haiti, the importance of increasing government capacity in responding to disaster

Cut Dian's picture
In Indonesia, a national disaster management agency was set up in 2008 to serve as a guardian of disaster risk management. The agency's important role was clear in the aftermath of a West Sumatra earthquake in 2009.

DM Finalist Digital Divide Data Keeps on Winning

Tom Grubisich's picture

 

The good news for DM2003 winner Digital Divide Data keeps on coming.

DDD, which trains the disabled, orphans, migrants, and vulnerable women in Cambodia and Laos to become digital operators for overseas clients, has received a US$50,000 grant from the Boeing Co. to advance its socially attuned IT job training and placement in Southeast Asia.

In its most recent quarterly statement, non-profit DDD, whose 650 employees and trainees make it the largest technology company in Cambodia and Laos, reported:

"...we increased earned revenues from clients to US$2.2 million for the year ending June 30, 2009. This was up 50% from the previous year of US$1.5 million.

"For the fourth straight year DDD covered its business costs through earned revenue. We then used generous support from our donors to support our social mission related expenses, particularly the recruiting and training of disadvantaged young people and educational benefits."

Digital Divide Data was founded in 2001 by Jeremy Hockenstein, then a management consultant for McKinsey & Co.  Struck by the "mix of poverty and progress" in Cambodia on a trip to Angkor Wat, Hockenstein saw "the opportunity to make a difference."  He put together a team of friends from his college days (he graduated from Harvard), and they started an IT training program -- modeled after outsourcing operations in India -- whos graduates would do digital work for foreign institutions and companies. Their first contract was digitizing the Harvard Crimson at Hockenstein's alma mater.  The details of DDD's outsourcing work for academic institutions, libraries, and other clients are here

Climate Threats Hit Low-Income Countries Hardest

Tom Grubisich's picture

As the table shows, many low-income countries face the most climate threats, as identified by the World Bank.  A number of the most-threatened countries are also in the Least Developed Countries category, and six of them are in "fragile situations," also as identified by the World Bank.

Among the hundred finalists in the recent DM2009 competition, 26 of them came from most-threatened countries.  Bangladesh, which ranked first among most threatened, had five entries, but no competition winners.

Pledges of Adaptation Collaboration Need a Close Watch

Tom Grubisich's picture

Many developing countries are busy planning to adapt to climate change that is already heavily impacting their people, natural resources, and economies, especially agriculture.   But what actually works in particular countries, and at what cost, are often questions that National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPAs) and other strategies don't adequately answer.
 
To find answers that can be tailored to the conditions of individual developing countries -- there are 130 -- the World Bank is leading a pilot study of climate adaptation in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Samoa, and Vietnam.

The concept note says "overall oversight of study progress" will include, besides the six national governments, "civil society representation."  But some DM2009 finalists say they see little evidence, based on their own experiences, that governments in their countries are serious about collaboration with the private sector.

Successful climate adaptation depends on public-private collaboration, especially on the community level, where so much adaptation integrated with economic development has to take place.  NGOs with strong community roots -- like many of the DM finalists -- can also help close the capacity gap that hampers public programming in developing countries.

DM2009 Finalists and Other NGOs Must Tell Their Story

Tom Grubisich's picture

With global warming heating up, will non-governmental organizations be major players in forging and implementing climate adaptation as developing countries struggle to cope with the adverse effects of climate change on their people, resources, and economies?

The answer should be a no-brainer yes.  Many NGOs -- pre-eminently those that populate the DM2009 finalist roster -- have strong local roots.  Community connections are an essential ingredient of effective climate adaptation action.  But many DM2009 finalists express frustrations in their attempts to collaborate with governments in their countries.  Those frustrations have been detailed in this blog -- here, here, here, and here, among other places.

Largest ever World Bank loan to Vietnam signals country's swift path to middle-income status

James I Davison's picture

Last month, Vietnam and the World Bank signed the credit agreement for a loan that is historic for the rapidly developing country.

East Asia & Pacific: Risks to economic recovery from the return to business-as-usual in developed countries

Ivailo Izvorski's picture

The prediction season is in full swing, and prognosticators have, as usual, appended the warning that economic forecasts at this stage are subject to exceptional uncertainty.  Such exceptional uncertainty is always with us when looking ahead – there is always a fork in the road, no matter what the circumstances are. 

The nuance this year is that, while the recovery in East Asia will depend on prospects for the rest of the world, notably in the advanced economies, the outlook for those economies hinges on policies to address the causes of the financial crisis. Thus far, it’s clear that very little has been done to redress the regulatory issues that led to a near meltdown of the global financial system – while the rebound from the financial and economic crisis has been substantially stronger than anticipated only months earlier.  And these developments explain why opinions differ on the future path of regulatory reforms and their impacts.


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