As a resident of Quezon City in Metro Manila, I grew up with typhoons and floods during the monsoon season that normally lasts from June to September. People in cities have learned to live with floods, and perhaps, not learned from the experience enough to change mindsets, lifestyles. Our drains continue to be clogged, motorists get stranded on the road, families still live in danger zones so much so that entire communities get evacuated, lives and livelihoods are lost, year in, year out.
Climate change is definitely upon us. You don’t need to have a scientific mind to realize this, as recent natural calamities have shown in the Philippines, which also swept through some parts of Southeast Asia causing hundreds of casualties and losses to the economy: Typhoons Ondoy (International name: Ketsana) and Pepeng (Parma) in 2009 that flooded Metro Manila; Sendong (Washi) in 2011 which was recognized as the world’s deadliest storm in 2011; and Pablo (Bopha) in 2012. Certainly, this is a little discomforting and makes us a little bit apprehensive about our future. To lessen our anxiety about this phenomenon, it helps to ask questions and get answers. It’s also good to know if something is being done to address the problem – and know that it is being done right.
The Aquino government has been very aggressive in its approach to address the problem of climate change. It staffed the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and made it functional. The CCC coordinates and provides oversight and policy advice on programs and projects on climate change. It is also tasked to craft the National Strategic Framework on Climate Change and the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP). The latter serves as the country’s roadmap to effectively deal with the problem. The CCC also takes a strong stand in international negotiations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
You can see it in the smiles on the faces of villagers in Ban Nam Jing, two hours outside of Vientiane the capital of Lao PDR. People's lives are improving. In this village of 158 households incomes have increased thanks in part to the 'Power to the People' (P2P) project supported by the World Bank. The program targets the poor, especially female heads of household, with subsidies to pay for electrical connections.
The villagers I met say initially only wealthier families could pay to be connected. Poorer families were left behind unable to afford the cost with their incomes from producing rice, cassava and rubber. Now with lights at night they are also producing handicrafts and textiles to boost their incomes. There are other benefits, with refrigeration people say they can keep food longer, before it used to rot and they would have to eat it quickly. In addition, their children can now study at night and they have TV for entertainment and to learn more about the rest of the world.
broadband internet being installed in downtown
Nukua'lofa, the capital of the Kingdom
Hoko (‘connect’ in Tongan) is the current buzzword on the streets of the Kingdom of Tonga.
With May 17th recognized around the world as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa is a hive of activity as telecommunications providers set up their activities to mark the day. The billboards have gone up, teenagers have been lining up at auditions to become the new public face of the marketing campaign for Tongan internet, and the Prime Minister, Lord Sialeʻataongo Tuʻivakanō is planning a public Skype session with Tongan soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan.
If there is any year the Kingdom of Tonga would be justifiably excited about its telecomms story, 2013 is it. As one of the most remote island nations on the planet, the impending arrival of high-speed, fiber-optic broadband internet – made possible through the World Bank-supported Pacific Regional Connectivity Project, an 830km-long cable being connected between Fiji and Tonga – means that everyone is talking of hoko.
I spoke to a number of people about the experience with internet in Tonga and how broadband internet would affect their lives.
has access to some form of modern
Recently my 10 year old son invited me to be friends with him on Facebook. “Hi mum I’m here too, can we be friends?” was the message I got. I was shocked and worried at the same time, and my initial reaction was fear of the perceived harm social media could do to a person as young as he.
We finally agreed that his father would have access to his Facebook account to monitor his online activities until he reaches 18. But the moment he gets or posts something inappropriate, the deal is off. That’s a fair deal, I told myself and interacting through social media could actually enrich my son’s life.
What I’m going through is also experienced by other families in the Solomon Islands. It started when mobile phone technology began revolutionizing the lives of ordinary Solomon Islanders in the last five years, when the telecommunications industry was opened for competition. Previously, only business executives and senior government officials owned or had access to mobile phones – a luxury only the rich and the influential would enjoy.
Last month, during a visit to the Philippines I had the opportunity to meet some of the 28,000 families* whose lives have been changed by the Manila Water Supply Pilot Project.
We visited Southville in Barangay San Isidro in the Rodriguez Municipality. This neighborhood was built from a government-financed housing project that resettled about 10,000 poor households. They used to be informal settlers, some living along the Manggahan floodway or Pasig River that were affected by the flood caused by typhoon Ondoy (International name: Ketsana).
|Photo by echo0101 through a Creative Commons license|
Most of the world celebrates New Year with fireworks. In Thailand we welcome the New Year, in April, with water. During “Songkran” (Thai New Year), we pour scented water on the hands of our elders as a show of respect and to receive their blessings. It’s also a very festive celebration that’s marked by entertainment, water fights that spill into the streets, and a huge amount of people travelling by road to spend the holidays with their families and friends.
When things get out of hand, the situation becomes a recipe for disaster. During the Songkran week of 2012 alone, according to the government’s Road Safety Directing Center (pdf in Thai), there were 320 deaths and 3,320 people injured by road traffic crashes, mostly from drunk driving. Every Songkran becomes a reminder that road traffic injuries and fatalities are still a major public health and development challenge in Thailand.
Available in English
ประเทศเกือบทั่วไปในโลกฉลองปีใหม่ด้วยการจุดพลุเล่นไฟ ในประเทศไทย เรารับปีใหม่ในเดือนเมษาด้วยชุ่มช่ำของน้ำ ในเทศกาลสงกรานต์ เรามีประเพณีรดน้ำดำหัวผู้ใหญ่เพื่อแสดงความกตัญญูและความเป็นสิริมงคล แล้วยังเป็นช่วงเวลาของความสนุกสนาน ได้เล่นน้ำกันบนท้องถนน ผู้คนต่างเดินทางไปกับเพื่อนผองและครอบครัวกันเป็นจำนวนมากในวันหยุดนี้
แต่เมื่อสังสรรค์กันจนเลยเถิดไป ความสนุกก็กลายเป็นความหายนะได้ จากสถิติของศูนย์อำนวยการความปลอดภัยทางถนน (pdf) สัปดาห์สงกรานต์ปี 2555 มีผู้เสียชีวิต 320 ราย และบาดเจ็บ 3,320 ราย จากอุบัติเหตุบนท้องถนน และส่วนมากมาจากการเมาแล้วขับ ทุกๆ สงกรานต์จึงเป็นเครื่องเตือนใจว่า ประเทศไทยกำลังประสบกับปัญหาหลักในเรื่องการสาธารณสุขและการพัฒนาประเทศจากการเสียชีวิตและบาดเจ็บที่เกิดจากอุบัติเหตุทางถนน
Cũng có ở Tiếng Việt
Doing something useful for my country, Vietnam, always makes me happy. And I’ve tried to get this feeling through my work in developing the transport infrastructure network in Vietnam for over 10 years. Vietnam has come a long way, but there are still many related challenges ahead to make such development sustainable.
I still recall a conversation with a Bank’s specialist on HIV/AIDS a few years ago. We were discussing about the people who have recently availed of the Voluntary Counseling and Testing centers in the Mekong Delta region for HIV tests. She pointed out that they were mostly wives of construction workers employed in infrastructure projects. Sometime later I visited the construction sites and talked to the workers and their managers about the subject. I felt so worried, as their understanding on HIV/ AIDS was quite limited and wondered what could be done to protect this group of people from such a deadly disease?