|The number of Ironwood trees in Sumatra has greatly reduced because of heavy demand for the timber.
Editor’s note: Photo blogger Erdene-Ochir Badarch works on rural and environmental issues for the World Bank in Mongolia. Earlier this summer, he and a team of 17 people spent 160 hours traveling 2,300 kilometers through Mongolia’s forests, mountains and steppe to visit sites and people receiving support from the second Sustainable Livelihoods Project. The project is part of a three-phase 12-year program, which works to enhance secure and sustain livelihoods in communities throughout Mongolia by providing support in rural areas for improved health and education facilities, pasture management and access to financial services. Erdene took the pictures (seen below) at the Zavhan and Bayanhongor aimags (provinces). Read more about the Mongolian Sustainable Livelihoods Project II project here. (Hover your mouse over "Notes" for photo information.)
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|One of the most exciting conservation initiatives in Asia at the moment is the Harapan Rainforest Initiative in central Sumatra, where I have just stayed for a week.|
After five years in Indonesia, my family and I have left this wonderful country and moved to Kenya. The last five years have been excellent years for Indonesia. The economy stabilized, growth resumed and services started to improve, although modestly and not in all areas. Indonesia still remains an underrated country, but this may change.
The investment climate is the fundamental socio-economic framework in which firms operate – the macroeconomic and trade policies they face, the labor and financial markets in which they recruit and raise money, the available infrast
|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.
|The expense of operating outboard motor boats means that visits to each community are few and far between.|
In December, the project was just beginning to get going in the provinces. The agriculture workers were looking to the RDP to help restore agriculture extension services. Practically speaking, this means purchasing small boats, outboard motors, fuel, or rehabilitation of offices. At the Ag offices, I was told about the series of dead outboard boat motors lining one wall – including provenance and whatever series of incidents had rendered them inoperable.
A few weeks ago, the World Bank’s migration and remittances team released its latest forecast of global remittance flows, indicating that even fewer migrants from developing East Asian and Pacific countries may be sending home money this year than they predicted in an earlier report. Remittances flowing to countries in the region are now forecast to fall by 5.7-8.8 percent in 2009, according to the report (pdf). Revised 2008 data show China, the Philippines and Vietnam are in the top 10 recipients of remittances among developing countries.
Interestingly, despite indicating falling remittance flows to the East Asia and Pacific region, the outlook states that South and East Asian countries have been relatively strong. There is, of course, a risk of a further slowing down. For example, remittance money flowing to the Philippines appears to still be growing this year. But such positive flows went from 14 percent year-on-year growth in 2007-08 to just 3 percent growth so far in 2009, according to the report.
The report’s authors write that there may be key risks that further threatening global remittance flows to developing countries – including a longer-than-projected financial crisis threatening jobs and income for immigrants in developed countries. However, they write, recovery may come by next year: “We expect that remittance flows to developing countries could decline by 7-10 percent in 2009, with a possible recovery in 2010 and 2011.”
What’s the significance of remittances? One notable example came from blogger Eric Le Borgne last April. Eric pointed out that remittances are a key factor to the economic health of the Philippines, as well as the country’s resilience so far during the global financial crisis.