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.
|Pongtip Puvacharoen works at the World Bank's East Asia and Pacific stand on the first day of Carbon Expo in Barcelona.|
The last year and a half has been an interesting time in Myanmar (the country formerly known as Burma). First, in September 2007 there were mass protests led by Buddhist monks. Then, in May of last year, cyclone Nargis devastated the Ayeyarwaddy Delta, the country’s most populous area and its agricultural heartland.
|The flooding has resulted in mass cancellation of tourist travel plans, which will flow through to job losses, business failures and ultimately affect families already suffering from the direct impact of the floods.|
So far, at least 11 people have been reported killed, from drowning and mudslides, though given the isolation of many villages, this number is probably much understated.
As would be expected the immediate impact is widespread damage to infrastructure. Homes, public buildings and businesses have been destroyed with around 10,000 people living in evacuation centres. Roads and bridges have been washed away effectively cutting off access for emergency workers and rescue teams. Electricity and water supplies have been cut and food supplies destroyed, washed away or still underwater.
|Image credit: simonpocock at Flickr under a Creative Commons license.|
I have been in China for the past few weeks supporting the country team to appraise a package of support to China for recovery efforts following the May 12, 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake. One colleague participated in the recent Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery Consultative Group meetings in Copenhagen, Denmark and is now in Jakarta, Indonesia working with field staff, the country’s government, and partners on mainstreaming risk reduction into development programs. Another colleague of mine just returned from the Philippines and Vietnam, where she was stranded by flooding in Hanoi. In fact, she had to wade through knee-deep water when leaving a meeting at the Ministry of Finance. Of course, this represents just part of the team, since we work with a broader network of staff based in country offices who manage country-level programs and projects.
In the wake of the massive and horrific natural disasters in Myanmar and China, it is important to examine how the provision of humanitarian relief relates to issues of voice and accountability. In a general sense, communication should be an absolutely vital element of any relief effort.
As the official estimate of fatal victims of cyclone Nargis raises to 22,000 --not counting the more than 40,000 missing--, World Bank President Bob Zoellick has just issued a statement:
With winds clocked at over 190 kilometers per hour Cyclone Nargis made landfall in Myanmar on Friday, May 2, about 250 kilometers southwest of the capital Yangon. On Monday United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said he was “very much alarmed” over estimates from Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry that over 10,000 people may have died. The New York Times is reporting on the devastation, which comes before a constitutional