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Sustainable Communities

Beyond bright lights and skyscrapers, how can East Asia and Pacific cities expand opportunities for all?

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture

Cities in East Asia and the Pacific can be vibrant, exciting, and filled with opportunities. Yet we are always struck by their dichotomies: there are the bright lights, modern skyscrapers, air-conditioned malls, and the hustle and bustle of people coming and going to offices and shops.

And there are also neighborhoods with no safe drinking water, sanitation, or waste collection; where houses flood every time it rains; and where families spend long hours trying to earn enough to feed themselves and keep their children in school.  

With an estimated 250 million people living in slums across the East Asia and Pacific region, and much more urbanization to come, prioritizing the delivery of basic services and ensuring opportunities for the urban poor presents an urgent call for action.

Philippines: A crucial first step to address Metro Manila’s floods

Mara Warwick's picture
A resident of the city of Manila helps clean up a creek to remove garbage that clogs drainage and waterways. (Photo: Justine E. Letargo/World Bank)
Metro Manila -- my current home -- is a metropolis of extraordinary contrast.  Referred to as the National Capital Region, it is the workhorse of the country, housing about 12.8% of the total population and producing about 38% of national GDP.  Metro Manila is a key contributor to the country’s dynamic and vibrant economy, which has been among the fastest growing in East Asia in recent years.  With glittering high rise buildings, a Starbucks on seemingly every corner, and bustling commerce wherever you look, one could be lulled into thinking that the citizens of Metro Manila all have a comfortable life.

Hope for the future: Key to peace lies with the Filipino youth

Mara Warwick's picture
Women beneficiaries from Maguindanao, southern Philippines, with World Bank Country Director Mara Warwick. These women are participating in livelihood projects under the multi-donor Mindanao Trust Fund. Photo: Justine Letargo/World Bank

Peace – something that many of us take for granted in our own lives – is elusive for millions of people around the world, including in southern Philippines. Long-standing conflict between the government and rebel groups, and a complicated patchwork of clan and family conflicts, has led to decades of economic stagnation and poverty in one of the Philippines’ most beautiful and productive regions – Mindanao. A peace process is hopefully nearing its conclusion and is expected to bring autonomy and with it, greater opportunities for peace and development to the people of the Bangsamoro.

The Philippines is a middle-income country – with GDP at $2,953 per capita and a robust economy, with almost 96% enrollment rate in basic education, and improving health indicators such as child mortality; overall the country is doing well. But these numbers mask sharp regional contrasts: in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) the GDP per capita is only $576 – equivalent to countries like Rwanda and Afghanistan – the poverty rate is 53.7%, and more than 50% of its employed population are in agriculture with 80% of them working as subsistence farmers, living precariously from crop to crop.  One crop failure can mean ruin for a family.

Women play a part to bring peace in Solomon Islands

Sophie Egden's picture
Margaret Wete, first female Village Peace Warden in Makira Province, Solomon Islands。 Photo: Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening

In a hot and crowded school classroom in December 2015 I sat excitedly watching Margaret Wete accept her role as Village Peace Warden for Waimasi and neighbouring villages in Makira/Ulawa Province, Solomon Islands. She was the first woman to be elected into this role by her community and I took it as a positive sign that the majority of those present for the vote were young women and men, making an important decision for the community’s future and putting their faith in a fellow young person. 

At the end of “the tensions”, a civil war in Solomon Islands which lasted from 1998 to 2003, peace was something not many people could picture. The government requested, and received, support from the region and 14 years of RAMSI – the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands – ensued.

Unlocking the Philippines’ urbanization potential

Judy Baker's picture

 

Fostering Livable Cities
The Philippines is one of the fastest urbanizing countries in East Asia and the Pacific. This can bring many opportunities for growth and poverty reduction. Cities become engines of growth if well planned and well managed.


Rapid urbanization in the Philippines has brought new jobs, educational opportunities, and better living conditions for some. However, it has also brought challenges, which you’ll see when you move around the streets of Metro Manila. It’s a large sprawling metropolitan area of over 12 million, with congestion that is estimated to cost US$70 million (₱3.5 billion) a day. When it rains, streets and homes are quickly flooded because many drains are clogged or non-existent. Because of lack of affordable housing, an estimated 11 percent of the city’s population live in slums. With 17 cities and municipalities in the metropolitan area, trying to tackle these challenges becomes stuck in deep complexities of urban governance and management. While other cities in the Philippines don’t face the scale of these challenges, they tackle similar issues.
 

Lồng ghép giới trong tái định cư: Chúng ta đã cố hết sức chưa?

Nghi Quy Nguyen's picture
Also available in: English
Một phụ nữ người Thái tại buổi lấy ý kiến về dự án thuỷ điện
Trung sơn.  Photo: Bồ Thị Hồng Mai / Ngân hàng Thế giới


Tháng 8 năm 2016, tôi đến Quảng Ngãi, một tỉnh miền Trung Việt Nam, nhằm thu thập số liệu điều tra về sự tham gia của phụ nữ trong quá trình tái định cư. Tôi nghĩ cuộc họp đầu tiên với người dân địa phương sẽ diễn ra suôn sẻ và nhanh chóng, nhưng thực tếkhông hẳn như vậy.

“Phụ nữ á? Chúng tôi tham gia á? Tham gia cũng thế thôi. Chúng tôi chỉ quanh quẩn ở nhà, nên không quan tâm đến việc cán bộ đến và hỏi chúng tôi tham gia hay không,” một phụ nữ nói. “Cái chúng tôi muốn biết là những kiến nghị hôm nay sẽ được thực hiện đến đâu. Chúng tôi cần một khu tái định cư, nhà văn hoá chung cho cộng đồng, cần có cây cối và nhà trẻ như đã hứa khi chuẩn bị dự án.”

Những ý kiến đó hé lộ một vấn đề quan trọng. Đó là sự lệch pha giữa cái mà ta tưởng là phụ nữ muốn và nhu cầu thực sự của họ.

Phụ nữ chịu tác động nghiêm trọng hơn nam giới trong quá trình tái định cư bởi họ phải đối đầu với nhiều khó khăn trong vấn đề ổn định gia đình. Điều này càng dễ thấy nếu không có cơ chế thu hút sự tham gia và lấy ý kiến phụ nữ một cách thực chất trong quá trình thực hiện dự án nói chung và trong quá trình tái định cư nói riêng.

Mighty Mangroves of the Philippines: Valuing Wetland Benefits for Risk Reduction & Conservation

Michael Beck's picture
Mangroves are weeds; if you give them half a chance they grow in some of the most inhospitable environments; with their knees in seawater and their trunks in the air. They create forested barriers between the wrath of the seas and our coastal communities providing benefits in coastal defense and fisheries. Unfortunately there are too many examples where we have not given mangroves half a chance; hundreds of thousands of hectares have been lost to pollution, aquaculture and other developments. These represent real losses to the coastal communities – often some of the most vulnerable communities living in the highest risk areas.
 
A recent study estimates that without mangroves, flooding and damages to people, property and infrastructure in the Philippines would increase annually by approximately 25%.

Education user committee improves teacher service performance in a remote Indonesian village

Dewi Susanti's picture
Also available in: Bahasa Indonesia
Chair and members of the Education User Committee announce the teachers’ performance scores in a meeting attended by the representatives from the Ministry of Education and Culture, the sub-district education department, the village government staff, the school staff, and community members.

Competitive Cities: A Game Changer for Malaysia

Judy Baker's picture
Photo: mozakim/bigstock


As an upper-middle income country with a majority of its population living in cities, Malaysia is situated among the countries that prove urbanization is key to achieving high-income status. Asking “How can we benefit further from urbanization?” Malaysian policymakers have identified competitive cities as a game changer in the 11th Malaysia Plan. To this end, the World Bank has worked with the government to better understand issues of urbanization and formulate strategies for strengthening the role of cities through the report, “Achieving a System of Competitive Cities in Malaysia.”

While Malaysia’s cities feature strong growth, low poverty rates, and wide coverage of basic services and amenities, challenges still remain. 

Its larger cities are characterized by urban sprawl, particularly in Kuala Lumpur, where population density is low for an Asian metropolis. This inefficient urban form results in high transport costs and negative environmental impacts. This is matched by low economic density, indicating Malaysia’s cities can do better in maximizing the economic benefits from urban agglomeration.  



A second challenge hampering Malaysia’s cities is the highly centralized approach to urban management and service delivery, a system that impedes the local level, and obstructs service delivery and effective implementation of urban and spatial plans.

Third is a growing recognition of the importance of promoting social inclusion to ensure that the benefits of urbanization are widely shared.

The long road to Chin state in Myanmar: A journey to build back better

Degi Young's picture

Also available in Myanmar

Chin state is the second poorest state in Myanmar, located in the mountains with poor road conditions making it difficult to travel. Photo: Kyaw Htut Aung/World Bank

My journey to Chin state in Myanmar began with a simple question from my colleague – “Where do you want to go?”

“It doesn’t matter,” I said, “Anywhere is fine.”

This was it. I had volunteered to join the World Bank Group’s Myanmar Performance Learning Review consultations, which are being held across the country this month to obtain feedback from the government, private sector and civil society on our Country Partnership Framework. Approved in 2015, the partnership is the first World Bank Group strategy for Myanmar in 30 years and consultations are being held to discuss lessons-learned, review achievements and consider adjustments.

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