It has been another inspiring and exciting weekend of 'hacking for humanity' at the 3rd bi-annual Random hacks of Kindness (RHoK). On 4-5 December, the Australia-Indonesia Facility for Disaster Reduction (AIFDR) alongside other partners including the Bank hosted the Jakarta-leg of Random Hacks of Kindness. This global event brought together disaster risk managers and over a thousand software engineers (the hackers) to 21 locations around the world for a 48-hour “hackathon”. During the event teams of hackers developed practical software solutions to reduce the impact of natural disasters and help save lives.
|A power substation in Yingxhou, Sichuan Province was almost totally destroyed in the magnitude 7.9 Sichuan-Wenchuan earthquake in 2008.|
The statistics are startling. 75% of global flood mortality risk is concentrated in only three Asian countries: Bangladesh, China and India. 85 % of deaths from tropical cyclones are in just two Asian countries: Bangladesh and India. Indeed, Bangladesh alone accounts for over three-quarters of people dying from tropical cyclones. 85% of global earthquake risk is concentrated in only 12% of the earth’s surface—a large part of it in Asia. In 2009, six of the ten countries with the highest mortality rates and GDP losses from natural disasters were in Asia. 82% of all lives lost in disasters since 1997, are in Asian countries.
It is part of World Bank tradition that, just before retiring, a staff member sends a short email to his/her colleagues to express how much they have enjoyed the challenges of working here, the partnerships they have had in their focus countries, and - most of all - the camaraderie of their committed, dedicated, hard-working co-workers. All this could be perceived as trite, but the feelings are absolutely genuine – as I am now finding.
Ok. We are back again @ Carbon Expo. This year in Cologne. The German weather cannot really keep up with Barcelona (were Carbon Expo was held in 2009) but we are keeping the spirits up and the opening event proved to be very interesting with a speech by the German Environment Minister, Norbert Roettgen.
On his round across the fairground the Minister then visited the China booth and the East Asia Pavilion, where Thailand, Mongolia, Lao, and Indonesia and China are exhibiting. Jiao Xiaoping, Deputy Director General, CDM Fund, China, welcomed the Minister and presented him with the latest report on "Clean Development Mechanism in China". We'll soon have it up here.
|Explaining the housing program admistered by the Multi-Donor Fund to a group of residents.|
(Geumala Yatim, who started working with communities in Aceh soon after the 2004 tsunami hit, is writing a book about her experiences there. This is adapted from one of its chapters).
At the time, I was at my friend Oscar’s house, getting ready to attend a Christmas party at another friend’s house. Oscar asked me to turn the TV on to CNN or BBC. “I heard there’s a big natural disaster somewhere on the tip of Sumatra. Aceh probably. Not sure,” he said. Up until we left the house, both channels were relaying non-stop reports on natural disasters in Thailand and Sri Lanka. No reports on what was happening on the tip of Sumatra thus far.
It surprised me a little bit when I was driving my family along the west coast of Aceh a couple of weeks ago. Not too far from Banda Aceh, the capital city of Aceh’s province, a 15 meters wide- fresh-paved asphalt road built by the US absolutely has framed Aceh into another window of opportunity. This strategic road will connect Banda Aceh and some other districts in the west coast, which was washed away by the tsunami.
A few days before the start of the U.N. climate conference this week in Copenhagen, the results of an interesting – and very relevant – poll were released by the World Bank. While world leaders and other high-level representatives from more than 190 countries negotiate during the two-week conference (Dec. 7-18), this multi-country survey attempts to give a voice to average people in the developing world.