A bunch of software programmers get together, listen to a list of desired projects formulated by aid, emergency, and development experts that would help tackle issues related to disaster relief, work for two days and the result is eleven applications that will allow users to easily report their status in the event of a disaster, locate family, provide data needed by emergency responders, or that will automatically process aerial images taken by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), among others.
|David Manalo's organization wants to distribute unique floating generators to provide electricity to people in a remote part of the Philippines.|
As advanced by my colleague James a few days ago, here's a second slideshow on natural disasters in Vietnam, this time showing prevention and mitigation measures put in place across the country. Again, the photos are striking. And the actions, varied and ingenious.
Some of my colleagues in the Vietnam office of the World Bank, working with Sai Gon Tiep Thi newspapers, recently organized a photo contest and exhibition on the topic of natural disasters. I thought I’d share some of the finalist entries, which are remarkable in their composition and relevance. It’s important to note that these pictures are not related to the disasters that have hit several East Asian and Pacific countries in recent weeks. Nevertheless, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to click through the pictures below, which focus on the human toll of natural disasters in Vietnam. Check back in a couple days for more photos from the same contest.
|For 24 hours last Saturday, Typhoon Ondoy dumped 455 millimeters of rain on Luzon, causing massive floods and destroying lives and property in Metro Manila. (Photo courtesy of IRRI Images under a Creative Commons license)|
Muelmar Magallanes, an 18 year-old construction worker, had already saved 30 people from the raging floodwaters last Saturday. Shivering and exhausted, he dived back into the murky waters to save a mother and a baby girl who were bobbing up and down among the floating debris and brought them to safety. Then he was gone, swept away by the torrents. His body was found the following day.
Magallanes is one of the more than 240 casualties caused by Tropical Storm Ondoy (international name: Ketsana). For 24 hours last Saturday, Typhoon Ondoy dumped 455 millimeters of rain (double the volume brought to New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina) on Luzon, causing massive floods in Metro Manila and the adjoining regions, destroying lives and property, and creating anguish and devastation in the metropolis.
|The Xe Bang Fai river in Laos started to break its banks over the last two weeks in some areas, causing testing to stop for the Nam Theun 2 project.|
The rainy season in Laos is well advanced now, and the Province of Khammouane, where most of the Nam Theun 2 Hydroelectric Project (NT2) is located, has been hard hit over the last two weeks. Just over a week ago there was 225mm of rain over central Khammouane in one night, leading to floods in several places around the province – including the provincial capital of Thakek. Apparently there were places in Thakek up to a meter deep in water for a while: a combination of heavy rain and blocked drains, according to a local official. Those of us who were in Lao’s capital Vientiane during last year’s floods will vividly remember this.
As a result of this heavy rain, the Xe Bang Fai River, which drains a significant part of Khammouane, started to break its banks over the last week in some areas. The Xe Bang Fai is very significant to the NT2 as it is the river that will receive the water discharged from the hydropower facility when it is operating. The incremental impacts of NT2 water on the regular flood cycle of the Xe Bang Fai river has always been a concern for the project, and was studied extensively.
|This is my last week in the World Bank, after working at the institution for 20 years, the last five as country director for China and Mongolia.|
|A fireman showing the Bank's Global Disaster Management team around Onna.|
Here's a project that makes beauty out of tragedy in the hope of helping alleviate it: an American folk artist and a Chinese electronica producer teamed up to create a unique soundtrack using sounds by survivors of the Sichuan - Wenchuan earthquake. Focusing on children who are still living away from their families, the seven tracks in the EP mix traditional songs by the kids with the sounds their parents make while they are hard at work, rebuilding the homes where they will all live together again.
|We have heard stories of tragedy since the Sichuan - Wenchuan Earthquake, but we have also seen the signs of recovery and hope.|
Today is also a day of reflection for me. I am thinking about all of the people we have met in Sichuan over the last year who have been affected by the earthquake – the millions who have lost their homes, their land and their livelihood. I am also thinking about the many, many people who have lost loved ones – their children, parents, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers and friends. I have met and spoken with some of these survivors over the last year and they are in my mind today.
|The 2006 earthquake killed Tito Judi's adopted son and destroyed his house. He feels the cheerful colors of his new home help to lift his spirits.|
On an early morning in 2006, an earthquake struck Special Province of Yogyakarta and Central Java in Indonesia. The place, known for its heritage, culture, scenery and humble life of its people, was devastated. The 6.2 Ricther Scale quake killed about 5,700 people and left more than 150,000 families homeless and 50,000 injured. But given the many life hardships that most of people have had to face since losing their homes and loved ones from the disaster, beneficiaries of the Java Reconstruction Fund (JRF) – managed by the World Bank – seem to have beaten the odds and have since long moved on with their lives.
What I found most interesting during my visits to the locations is the sense of style and creativity of the house owners. Especially in the villages of Bantul, Yogyakarta – the hardest struck area – people can easily identify houses that were funded by JRF through the outstandingly colored, newly constructed houses, painted in cheerful tints of pink, yellow, green, blue, red, or somewhere in between. How it all started was never revealed, but it seems everyone wanted to get away from the conservative colors of white, crème and grey.
For most of us, when a disaster happens in a far away place, we only get brief glimpses of the immediate aftermath and subsequent recovery efforts – often only through news media or occasionally close-by bloggers. During four years of reconstruction after the devastating tsunami that hit the Indonesian province of Aceh in 2004, few have seen the rebuilding process like those who are part of the recovery efforts.
The Multi-Donor Fund (MDF), which is managed by the World Bank with contributions and guidance from 15 other international donor partners, continues to work on the ground in Aceh and Nias. The reconstruction has been extremely successful, with more than 100,000 new houses constructed, more than 90,000 hectares of agricultural land restored and 2,500 kilometers of road built. In late 2008, the MDF held a photo competition for people involved with projects or agencies related to reconstruction. The resulting pictures are not professionally created, but they give a beautifully close and comprehensive view of the rebuilding of Aceh.
(Hover your mouse over "Notes" to see information about each photo)