Can a ramp for people with disabilities make a difference in a big city? The answer may seem obvious to many, but I encourage you to read on to find out the complexities and nuances surrounding the issue of mobility in a large Latin American metropolis. This is a true story. I was attending the launch of a project “Mainstreaming Inclusive Design and Universal Mobility in Lima ”project - financed by the Japan Policy and Human Resources Development (PHRD) program and I was surprised to see people in wheelchairs asked to move away from the table where coffee, pastries and fruit were being served during the break.
At the same time blind, deaf and people with cognitive impairments, among other disabilities, were being actively welcomed.
As porteñas as tango, yellow bicycles from the Buenos Aires’ bike-sharing system have undoubtedly become a part of the urban landmark. In a city dominated by buses and taxis, bicycles have recently made a comeback and are slowly reclaiming the road through the bike sharing system –or bicing as we all call it. Known as Ecobici, this system has celebrated the millionth trip last December and is here to stay.
What makes Ecobici different from other bike sharing systems around the world? We think it’s about two simple answers: it is operated manually and doesn’t cost an Argentinian peso.
What do the former South African president and Nobel Prize winner Nelson Mandela and Uruguayan soccer star Diego Forlán have in common? Both of their families have experienced tragedies caused by unsafe roads and have turned their pain into a commitment to do something about it.
Three years ago, Zenani Mandela was hit by a drunk driver as she was returning home from the World Cup opening ceremony in South Africa. Zenani was just 13 years old. Forlán’s sister ended up in a wheelchair after a serious car accident 20 years ago.
Tiny homes made of non-reinforced concrete blocks, without columns in the corners or ties where the walls and roof and the walls and foundation meet. These are dwellings that can collapse like a deck of cards in the event of an earthquake. Photo: World Bank.
I have lived in Panama City for nearly two years and there are two things that still capture my attention: the traffic that gets worse by the day due to the more than 36,000 new vehicles on the road every year and the pace of construction.
The number of new buildings popping up in the city daily is amazing.
Huge, luxurious, expensive buildings in fashionable areas, but also housing projects promoted by the national government and a large supply of houses for the Panamanian middle class responsible for the private sector.
The tree provides shade but scant respite from the heat. Chantal, four months pregnant, has just returned from washing her family’s clothes in the nearby river.
Her small village, just twenty houses and a single dirt road located about 60 kilometers north of the capital Port-au-Prince, has no health facilities of any kind. The nearest health post (staffed for two hours a day by a high school graduate) is an hour’s walk away while the nearest health center is two.
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Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods or droughts are the same worldwide. Whether in Mexico, Colombia, Haiti or Pakistan, these are natural events or "disasters" of varying intensity.
What changes are the effects and consequences. Water and land become the mortal enemies of populations who pay the highest price with their lives and property.
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'Made in Latin America'. Wouldn't that be a great label? --one that would slowly work its way out of the realm of some imaginary Latin American products to become a real seal of approval for many endeavors and accomplishments by the region.
I'm in Miami for the Seventh Annual Latin America Conference to talk about the region's prospects to decision makers, and I can't think of a better place to come up with such label --'My-ami', I muse, the Latin American economic and social melting pot that has been called many times the region's business capital.
From now until 2020, 10 million people – the population of a small Latin American country – are expected to die in traffic accidents around the world. Latin America itself is a prime victim of this trend: sadly, the region endures the highest number of fatalities caused by automobile accidents in the world.
However, this number could be halved if every single one of us commit to improving road safety. The international community has already moved this issue at the top of its agenda by joining the United Nations in declaring 2011-2020 as the "Decade of Action for Road Safety", which kicks off this week.