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World: Act Now or Pay Later: Protecting a billion people in climate-threatened coastal cities

15 May 2016 - 7:01pm
Source: Christian Aid Country: Bangladesh, China, El Salvador, India, Nigeria, Philippines, World

NEW REPORT: CITIES IN POLLUTING COUNTRIES MOST AT RISK FROM CLIMATE INDUCED COASTAL FLOODING

  • Miami and Kolkata ranked as most vulnerable coastal cities exposed to flooding
  • Cities in carbon polluters USA, China and India most at risk
  • UK ranks in the top 25 for most exposed future coastline
  • Next week’s World Humanitarian Summit offers hope to tackle problem

To mark the start of Christian Aid Week, a new report by the charity highlights the world cities most at risk from future coastal flooding.

Act Now Or Pay Later: Protecting a billion people in climate-threatened coastal cities, shows that more than a billion people are set to be exposed to coastal flooding by 2060 through a combination of sea level rise, storm surges and extreme weather.

Published today, the report reveals that it is people living in three of the biggest carbon polluting countries that will be most at risk: the USA, China and India.

According to projections for the year 2070, supported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, India’s Kolkata and Mumbai top the list of cities whose populations are most exposed to coastal flooding, with 14 million and 11.4 million respectively. The first seven cities on the list are from Asia, followed by Miami at number eight.

Miami is also forecast to suffer the brunt of the financial losses from coastal flooding by 2070, topping a separate list with an eye-watering $3.5 trillion of exposed assets. The USA is likely to pay a hefty price for its world-leading per capita carbon emissions, as New York also comes in third with $2.1 trillion. China’s Guangzhou splits the two American cities with exposed assets of $3.4 trillion. In total, of the top 20 most financially vulnerable cities, half are from either of these two countries: four from the US, six from China.

Report author Dr Alison Doig, Christian Aid’s Principal Climate Change Advisor, said the figures should be a wakeup call ahead of next week’s World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul (May 23-24). “We are facing a head on collision between the growth of coastal urban areas and climate change which makes coastal flooding more likely,” she said. “This perfect storm is likely to bring about a heavy human and financial toll unless we do something about it.

“Cruelly, it will be the poor that will suffer the most. Although the financial cost to cities in rich countries will be crippling, wealthier people will at least have options to relocate and receive insurance protection. Evidence shows that from New Orleans to Dhaka, it is the poorest who are most vulnerable because they have the worst infrastructure and no social or financial safety nets to help them recover.”

Dr Doig added: “There is a chance this horrifying vision of the future can be avoided. It is striking that the cities facing the most severe impacts are in countries with high contributions of carbon emissions. The first thing we can do is speed up the global transition away from dirty fossil fuels to the clean, renewably energy of the future.

“We can also do more to prepare for such occurrences. Spending money now on reducing the risk of disasters will save money and lives later. Such investment is a no brainer.”

Ahead of next week’s World Humanitarian Summit, UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon has called for the percentage of global aid spent on disaster risk reduction to be doubled to 1%. This would bring the figure to $1 billion. Christian Aid is calling for a rise to 5%. Dr Doig said: “This billion dollars would go some way to help protect people in these cities now, and alleviate the threat for the billion vulnerable people at risk from coastal flooding by 2060.”

In another ranking the report lists which nations will have the most people living in exposed coastlines by 2060. China tops the list, followed by India and Bangladesh. The UK comes in 22nd. Dr Doig said: “In the UK we’ve experienced in recent years the winter flooding that has left large parts of the country deluged. But these figures show that it’s not just more rainfall we need to be wary of. The people living along our coastlines will become vulnerable to rising tides unless we do something about climate change.”

The report goes on to examine how men and women are affected differently by climate related disasters, with women on the whole suffering more acutely. It also shows examples of where Christian Aid is providing practical assistance to help the most vulnerable deal with the climate impacts they are already facing.

Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change and ranked 142nd out of 187 nations on the UN’s Human Development Index. But donations to Christian Aid are helping lift people away from the floodwaters. Feroza Begum and her family are on the front line of climate change; their home was flooded multiple times and at one point was under water for 18 days. Thanks to help from Christian Aid partner organisation GUK their home and surrounding land was raised onto a sturdy plinth. Feroza was also given livestock and climate resistant seeds so that she can diversify her income and become more resilient. She said: “Because of this plinth, I feel better. Now I have been able to make a small plantation and grow some vegetables. I am doing much better and feel much safer.”

“70% of C40 cities are already experiencing the effects of climate change and it is coastal and delta cities that are the most at risk from the impact of a rapidly warming planet. Mayors are already acting to protect citizens from climate related floods and storms and they are learning from those cities that have pioneered efforts to adapt, such as Rotterdam and Ho Chi Minh City. Now is the moment to invest and adapt our cities to protect the billion vulnerable people and trillions of dollars in assets.” - Mark Watts, Executive Director, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group

The full report can be accessed here: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/act-now-pay-later-climate-report-may-2016.pdf
For more information contact Joe Ware at jware@christian-aid.org or on +44(0)7870944485. The 24-hour Christian Aid press duty phone is 07850 242950. Notes to Editors:

Philippines: Four dead as Philippine clans clash over election

15 May 2016 - 8:13am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Philippines

Cotabato, Philippines | AFP | Sunday 5/15/2016 - 12:10 GMT

Four people have been killed in clashes between rival political clans in the southern Philippines, authorities said Sunday, just days after a contentious election reinstated a local mayor.

Fighting has flared between Sabal and Buisan clans in the strife-torn southern province of Maguindanao over the vote on May 9, the same day as national elections, which saw Muntasir Sabal retain his post, beating out a Buisan-backed opponent.

A member of the Buisan family was killed a day before the polls and subsequent violence on Friday and Saturday claimed three more lives.

About 15,000 people have fled the town of Talitay since Friday as fighters from both sides gathered in the area, local police chief Senior Inspector Freddie Solar said.

He said those fighting had ties to the country's two largest armed Muslim groups that once fought the government to set up a separate Islamic state in the south of the largely-Christian Philippines.

"This is not an ordinary family feud because both sides have relatives and supporters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)," he said.

Though both groups have signed truces with the government as part of a peace process, most of their followers have not disarmed.

The military has sent forces into the area since the clashes erupted, but soldiers are not engaging either of the armed groups to avoid breaking the ceasefire, said regional military spokeswoman Captain Jo-ann Petinglay.

The police chief said local religious leaders and MILF representatives were trying to negotiate a ceasefire to end the latest bout of violence, while chief MILF negotiator Mohaqher Iqbal denied his group was involved in the fighting.

The province of Maguindanao has long been the site of violent political conflict between powerful Muslim clans.

In 2009, the country's worst political massacre occurred in the province as followers of one such clan killed 58 people in an attempt to prevent an election challenge from a rival group.

str-mm/jv

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Philippines: Philippine communist rebels kill 3 soldiers: military

15 May 2016 - 2:01am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Philippines

Manila, Philippines | AFP | Sunday 5/15/2016

Communist guerrillas killed three Philippine soldiers in the first fatal clash since a newly-elected president offered to restart stalled peace talks, the military said Sunday.

The soldiers were on the central island of Negros on Saturday investigating reports that New People's Army guerrillas were extorting money from villagers when they clashed with about ten rebels, leaving three soldiers dead and two wounded, a military report said.

The violence comes just days after President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said he was open to resuming peace talks aimed at ending a decades-old insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

After his May 9 election victory, Duterte's spokesman said the firebrand politician may release jailed communist rebels in an effort to reopen peace talks.

Incumbent leader Benigno Aquino ended talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines in 2013 over the rebels' demand for the unconditional release of their detained comrades, which his government was unwilling to grant.

Duterte, a hardline mayor accused of running vigilante death squads that have allegedly killed more than a thousand crime suspects in the Southern city of Davao, is a friend of Netherlands-based Jose Maria Sison, who set up the communist party in 1968.

Duterte, who takes office on June 30, has previously described himself as a socialist.

Running for almost half a century, the communist insurgency has claimed 30,000 lives, according to military estimates.

The rebels' strength has dwindled to less than 4,000 fighters from a peak of more than 26,000 in the late 1980s, according to the military.

However it retains support among the deeply poor in the rural Philippines.

mm/kb

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

World: Humanitarian response in middle-income countries

13 May 2016 - 7:03am
Source: Governance and Social Development Resource Centre Country: Colombia, Indonesia, Philippines, Ukraine, World

Question

What evidence, lessons and best practice have emerged from previous humanitarian responses in middle income countries (MICS) that may be of particular relevance to ongoing responses across MENA?

Summary

The literature uncovered by this rapid review indicates that there is very little evidence available about the way in which humanitarian response is carried out in middle income countries in comparison to low income contexts (or an amalgamation of the two). Where there have been evaluations of humanitarian response in middle income countries, they have not really focused on transferable lessons or best practice for similar situations.

Evidence, best practice and lessons emerging from the available literature for humanitarian response in middle income countries include:

  • Middle income countries generally have national capacity to lead the humanitarian response, and international humanitarian efforts should collaborate with these national systems and be carried out in partnership with the national government and civil society organisations. However, progress still needs to be made as international actors sometimes struggle to partner effectively with national organisations and have ended up setting up parallel systems.

  • Responding to humanitarian crisis in middle income countries has a higher financial cost as they are more expensive locations than many low income contexts.

  • The current humanitarian financing system does not provide enough support for middle income countries and the funds available to them are ill-suited to crisis response. As a result there are calls to make financing for refugees in middle income countries eligible for grants and concessional loans by reclassifying the eligibility criteria of the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) to follow the people in need and not the income levels per capita of the countries, for instance.

  • In middle income countries, the needs of those affected by crisis often intersect with the needs of other vulnerable communities. As a result, humanitarian response in middle income countries should work together with development efforts. This will involve responding to the needs of refugees/affected populations and host communities and supporting existing services.

  • Cash-based assistance may be more appropriate than in-kind assistance, especially in highly monetised economies. In some crises in middle income countries, cash transfer distributions have been linked to existing social protection systems.

  • The private sector could be supported to be more involved in humanitarian response in order to take advantage of private capital for humanitarian response and potentially help make humanitarian response quicker, bigger and more effective.

  • Previous experience suggests avoiding camp based solutions and proactively reaching out to urban refugees.

  • Planning and assessment should be flexible and quick to ensure activities remain relevant.

World: Political dynamics and the effectiveness of aid programmes

13 May 2016 - 6:52am
Source: Governance and Social Development Resource Centre Country: Bulgaria, Cambodia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Timor-Leste, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, World, Zimbabwe

Question

What evidence is there that local political dynamics are explanatory factors for the success or failure of aid programmes? Provide examples, drawing on aggregated analyses of aid projects, where available.

Summary

There is an increasing recognition amongst development scholars and practitioners that the obstacles to effective change in developing countries are not only related to technical or financial issues, but are also bound with domestic politics and power relationships (DfID 2010a; DfID 2010b; Di John and Putzel, 2009; Leftwich: 2011; Parks and Cole, 2010; DFID 2016). As a result of the growing appreciation of the political barriers to development, donors and research organisations have developed a range of analytical frameworks and diagnostic tools to help navigate the political and economic conditions which can restrict the effectiveness of aid programmes.

Key findings include:

  • There are a number of aggregated studies which identify political economy variables as key to explaining the effectiveness of aid programmes. These factors include the degree of political stability and cohesion in recipient countries, the presence of sound fiscal policies and institutions, and the strength of interest groups within parliament.

  • There is also a growing appreciation in academic and grey literature of the importance of political factors in accounting for the effectiveness of aid programmes in individual cases. There has been a tendency in this literature to focus on agential factors and in particular the role of elites engaging in corruption, clientelism and rent-seeking.

  • Aid projects can also be undermined by a lack of ownership on the part of recipient governments or the wider public, and through a failure on the part of donors to establish effective partnerships with local reformers.

  • Donors need to be alert to windows of opportunity to push through reforms. Notwithstanding the importance for donors of moving quickly enough to keep abreast of country-level political developments in recipient countries, micro-level features of the public administration can also frustrate the implementation of development projects.

Philippines: Pagasa: El Niño in decaying stage

13 May 2016 - 3:58am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

The current El Niño continues to weaken in the tropical Pacific. Majority of climate models suggest that El Niño is in its decaying stage, returning to ENSO-neutral condition by mid-2016.

(*ENSO-neutral refers to when neither El Niño nor La Niña is present. These periods often coincide with the transition between El Niño and La Niña events.)

[Read: Updates on El Niño]

Meanwhile, the possibility of a developing La Niña is favored during the second half of 2016. With this current state, La Niña Watch is now in effect. A La Niña event is characterized by a persistent cooler than average sea surface temperature anomalies (below -0.5 °C) over the tropical Pacific.

Rainfall assessment for the month of April showed that most parts of the country received way below to below normal rainfall except for the provinces of Compostela Valley, Agusan del Sur, North Cotabato, Pangasinan, Cavite, Rizal, and Metro Manila where above normal to near normal rainfall were observed. Further analysis showed that 23 provinces were affected by dry spell while 28 provinces, mostly from Mindanao, experienced drought conditions in April.

Coming out of summer

Most parts of the country experienced warmer than average air temperatures due to the prevalence of ridge of high pressure area. The highest daytime temperature in the country was recorded at 40.1°C (Apr. 27) in Isabela State University-Echague. Two warmest daytime temperatures that surpassed their historical extremes were also observed: Malaybalay (36.4°C on Apr. 15, 2016 topped 36.2°C on April 24, 1998) and General Santos (39.4°C on Apr. 16, 2016 beat 39.0°C on April 5, 1988).

The month of May marks the weakening of the easterlies and gradual start of southwest windflow. Other weather systems that are likely to affect the country for May are the Intertropical Convergence Zone, easterlies, low pressure areas, ridge of high pressure areas, and zero or one tropical cyclone to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility. Afternoon or early evening thunderstorm activities are also expected to increase during the period.

Below to way below normal rainfall conditions are expected over Luzon and Visayas while significant portions of Mindanao are predicted to have near normal to above normal rainfall conditions. Drought and dry spell outlook for the month show that 23 provinces will likely experience drought and 37 provinces may experience dry spell. For a complete list of these provinces, please refer to the Drought/Dry Spell Outlook map.

May predictions

Generally warmer than average air temperatures are expected in many parts of the country. Predicted ranges of temperature in May are as follows: mountainous Luzon (15.0-29.9°C), lowland Luzon (18.2-42.3°C), lowland Visayas (19.5-39.6°C), mountainous Mindanao (16.1-36.0°C), and lowland Mindanao (19.1-39.0°C).

PAGASA will continue to closely monitor the on-going El Niño and developing La Niña and updates shall be issued as appropriate. Meanwhile, concerned agencies are advised to take precautionary actions and intervention measures to mitigate the adverse impacts of El Niño.

—From the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration

*For further information, please contact the Climatology and Agrometeorology Division at telephone numbers 434-0955 or 435-1675.

Philippines: DA 12 delivers seed assistance to drought-hit farmers

12 May 2016 - 11:56pm
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

KORONADAL CITY, May 13 (PIA) -- As promised, the Department of Agriculture (DA) 12 is delivering help to farmer who lost production due to El Nino.

Regional Executive Director Amalia Jayag-Datukan, announced that DA 12 has started the distribution of 73,011 bags of certified rice and corn seeds thousands of farmers in SOCCSKSARGEN Region on Thursday, May 12.

First to receive production inputs were farmers in North Cotabato as agricultural technicians, accompanied by a number of farmer representatives withdrew their allocations from DA 12.

Datukan said DA 12 assembled certified seeds and fertilizers at the height of the dry spell so that these will immediately be handed over to farmers at the beginning of the wet cropping season.

“Since we are already experiencing downpour of rains throughout the region, farmers should immediately receive these assistance from DA,” Datukan said.

DA 12 revealed that 52,434 bags of high yielding and certified rice seeds amounting to Php71.4 million are allotted for rice farmers.

These are apportioned as follows: 26,014 bags for North Cotabato, 19,164 for Sultan Kudarat, 5,635 for South Cotabato and 1,721 for Sarangani.

Meanwhile, 20,477 bags of hybrid and open-pollinated corn seeds are also set for distribution with allocations as follows: 5,564 bags for North Cotabato, 5,548 for South Cotabato, 4,498 for Sultan Kudarat, and 4,887 for Sarangani. These seeds cost Php28.03 million.

Provincial allocations, Datukan explained, was based on the reported production area and damage reported.

On May 4, DA 12 gathered provincial and municipal agriculturists in the province to lay down the schedule of distribution of the support aids to farmers.

Distribution started on Thursday (May 12) and may continue until June.

Field Operations Division Officer-In-Charge Ray Embajador said they have already discussed with local government unit counterparts regarding the guidelines of the distribution of seeds that the process is correctly followed and priority farmer-beneficiaries get their share.

LGU-based agriculturists were also directed to prepare master lists of recipients before the inputs are withdrawn.

Director Datukan emphasized that rice and corn growers among El Niño-hit areas are first on the list that the regional office considered in close coordination with the local agriculture offices making sure that those mostly-affected farmers as per LGUs’ identification and submission will be the priority recipients of the assistance.

“We have hastened the monitoring and validation of areas to ensure the efficient delivery of appropriate services and interventions for the immediate recovery of these areas with reported damages,” Director Datukan said.

Regular program funds, Quick Response Funds (QRF) from DA-Central Office and regional office, and 2015 continuing funds were programmed for the procurement of 73, 011 bags of rice and corn seeds which constitute the first salvo of assistance covering May-June planting season. (DEDoguiles-PIA 12 with report from CRMatullano/LMSalvo-DA12)

World: WHO Zika Virus, Microcephaly and Guillain-Barré Syndrome Situation Report, 12 May 2016

12 May 2016 - 11:07am
Source: World Health Organization Country: American Samoa, Argentina, Aruba (The Netherlands), Barbados, Belize, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba (The Netherlands), Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao (The Netherlands), Dominica, Dominican Republic, Easter Island (Chile), Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, France, French Guiana (France), French Polynesia (France), Gabon, Guadeloupe (France), Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Malaysia, Maldives, Martinique (France), Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), New Caledonia (France), New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Puerto Rico (The United States of America), Saint Lucia, Saint Martin (France), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sint Maarten (The Netherlands), Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America, United States Virgin Islands, Vanuatu, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Viet Nam, World

Summary

  • As of 11 May 2016, 58 countries and territories report continuing mosquito-borne transmission of which:

  • 45 countries are experiencing a first outbreak of Zika virus since 2015, with no previous evidence of circulation, and with ongoing transmission by mosquitoes.

  • 13 countries reported evidence of Zika virus transmission between 2007 and 2014, with ongoing transmission.

  • In addition, four countries or territories have reported evidence of Zika virus transmission between 2007 and 2014, without ongoing transmission: Cook Islands, French Polynesia, ISLA DE PASCUA – Chile and YAP (Federated States of Micronesia).

  • Person-to-person transmission:

  • Nine countries have reported evidence of person-to-person transmission of Zika virus, probably via a sexual route.

  • In the week to 11 May 2016, Grenada is the latest country to report mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission.

  • Microcephaly, and other fetal malformations potentially associated with Zika virus infection or suggestive of congenital infection, have been reported in seven countries or territories. Two cases, each linked to a stay in Brazil, were detected in Slovenia and the United States of America. One additional case, linked to a brief stay in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, was detected in a pregnant woman in the United States of America.

  • Three cases of microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities are under verification in Venezuela, Honduras and Spain (linked to a stay in Latin America).

  • In the context of Zika virus circulation, 13 countries and territories worldwide have reported an increased incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and/or laboratory confirmation of a Zika virus infection among GBS cases.

  • Based on research to date, there is scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and GBS.

  • The global prevention and control strategy launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a Strategic Response Framework encompasses surveillance, response activities and research. Key interventions are being undertaken jointly by WHO and international, regional and national partners in response to this public health emergency.

  • Incident managers from the six WHO Regional Offices and headquarters, as well as relevant technical and support staff, met in Washington D.C., USA on 4 and 5 May 2016 to review past and ongoing activities, to discuss key lessons and to develop a strategy for future action to ensure that the response collaboration continues to work effectively. A draft of the Strategic Response Framework for the second half of 2016 will be shared with partners mid-May and finalized by mid-June.

  • WHO has developed new advice and information on diverse topics in the context of Zika virus. WHO’s latest information materials, news and resources to support corporate and programmatic risk communication, and community engagement are available online.

Bangladesh: Asia’s indigenous communities marred by militarisation

11 May 2016 - 11:31pm
Source: Inter Press Service Country: Bangladesh, Philippines, World

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage

UNITED NATIONS, May 10 2016 (IPS) - Militarisation in indigenous territories in Asia is exacerbating conflict and human rights violations, said Secretary-General of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact Joan Carling at an event during the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) held here Monday.

The annual two-week forum has brought together over 1000 participants from around the world to discuss issues of conflict, peace, and resolution and its implications on indigenous communities.

On its first day, a group of delegates came together during a side event to focus and raise awareness of the theme in the context of Asia.

Approximately two-thirds of the world’s indigenous population lives in Asia, making it the most culturally diverse region in the world. Among the increasingly major challenges in the region is militarisation and the denial of indigenous self-determination and rights to land.

Home to 11 indigenous groups, Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) continues to be one of the most militarized areas in the world.

According to the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), an estimated one-third of the Bangladesh Army is in the CHT, an area that only accounts for one percent of the country’s total population and nine percent of land mass.

The military bases were initially established due to a two-decade war between the Government of Bangladesh and Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti (PCJSS) over indigenous rights and the region’s autonomy.

Despite a 1997 peace accord which included commitments to withdraw military troops and self-governance, military presence and de facto control persist.

“Almost 18 years have passed and major commitments have not been fulfilled,” said Secretary-General of the Bangladesh Indigenous People’s Forum Sanjeeb Drong during the event.

Drong stressed that indigenous communities are not against the military, but they do not support military rule.

“The military can be there, but civil government will rule the area,” he stated. However, this has not been the case in CHT as indigenous institutions continue to be invalidated, he added.

An appointed Special Rapporteur Lars Anders-Baer also expressed concern in a report over the failure to implement the agreement and the continued deployment of armed forces in the region.

“The lack of substantial progress is leading to an increasing sense of frustration and disillusionment among the indigenous peoples in the region,” the report states.

“Adding fuel to the dwindling faith in the Government’s sincere intent or political ability to fully implement the accord are developments and initiatives that violate or go against the spirit of the accord,” Anders-Baer adds.

Violations include torture and arbitrary arrests committed by military personnel, suppressing dissident voices. Another major issue is land grabbing, Drong notes.

Beyond forced evictions of indigenous residents and illegal land leases to non-local individuals, Drong stated that the military’s involvement in the tourism industry has contributed to the expropriation and destruction of indigenous lands in CHT.

Sena Kalyan Sangstha (SKS), the business wing of the Bangladesh military, is a key player in real estate construction and management. With the help of government subsidies and funds earned from UN peacekeeping missions, the group operates luxury resorts including the Nilgiri resort in CHT. During its construction, the army reportedly tore down a local indigenous group’s orchard as well as shops and a nearby school.

Similarly, indigenous leader Josephine Pagalan spoke of land grabbing in the resource-rich Mindanao island of the Philippines.

The island is particularly known for its mineral resources including copper and gold. As a result, Mindanao host 60 percent of the Philippines’ armed forces excluding paramilitary groups, she noted.

The southern Philippines is also is home to the majority of the country’s indigenous groups, collectively called the Lumads.

The country’s military have forcefully evicted and displaced numerous Lumad residents, which many believe are aimed to protect and allow the expansion of large-scale mining industries.

The military has also been involved in the massacre of indigenous leaders.

Pagalan, who witnessed the event, recalled the incursion by a paramilitary group, stating: “Last September 1st, at 3:30 in the morning, we were forced awake and forced to leave our houses…all 150 of us.”

In front of her, the group stabbed the Executive Director of a Lumad school Emerico Samarca multiple times along with indigenous leader Dionel Campos and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo.

“After their deaths, [the paramilitary] said that we had to evacuate in two days and if we didn’t, we would all be massacred,” she told attendees.

The event reportedly sparked the evacuation of almost 3,000 Lumads.

Just a month prior to these attacks, Human Rights Watch reported that Philippine government soldiers killed five members of a Lumad family, including children ages 13 and 17, reflecting larger, systematic violations of human rights.

President Benigno Aquino III denied any wrongdoing, stating that “there is no campaign to kill Lumad people, we are serving the people.”

Pagalan urged for government accountability and justice for affected indigenous peoples, including the return of ancestral lands.

Bangladeshi politician and activist Devasish Roy especially highlighted the need for justice in CHT at a press briefing Monday, stating: “We really need to look at peace…with justice as a necessary part of it. You can have the cessation of hostilities…but [it] doesn’t mean that’s real resolution.”

Carling expressed her hope to IPS that the UNPFII will particularly raise awareness among member states to respect and enforce conflict resolution and indigenous rights.

“Unless states take this matter seriously and have the political will to address the issue of militarisation…then we cannot expect much of any improvement in the situation.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a video message during the opening of the forum, announced the launch of a system-wide action plan for coherent and coordinated action on indigenous issues.

“Lasting peace requires that indigenous peoples have access to cultural, social and economic justice…it is essential that we work as one to realize the full rights of indigenous peoples,” he stated.

World: 2016 Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID 2016)

10 May 2016 - 8:00pm
Source: Norwegian Refugee Council, Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Kenya, Kiribati, Malawi, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, World, Yemen

28 MILLION PEOPLE FORCIBLY DISPLACED BY CONFLICT AND DISASTERS IN 2015 AND MILLIONS MORE STILL INVISIBLE: IDMC NEW REPORT HIGHLIGHTS GLOBAL CRISIS OF INTERNAL DISPLACEMENT

Conflict, violence and disasters internally displaced 27.8 million people in 2015, subjecting a record number of men, women and children to the trauma and upheaval of being forcibly displaced within their own country.

"This is the equivalent of the combined populations of New York City, London, Paris and Cairo grabbing what they can carry, often in a state of panic, and setting out on a journey filled with uncertainty," said Jan Egeland, the Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). “Put another way, around 66,000 people abandoned their homes every day of 2015.”

Today, NRC's Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) publishes its new Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID 2016), marking a breakthrough for IDMC as it synthesizes all of its reporting on global internal displacement into one report. This will be supported by a new Global Data Platform which will continually update the figures online.

“By reporting on all situations of internal displacement, regardless of their cause, our intention is to provide an ever more holistic picture of what has truly become a global crisis,” said Alexandra Bilak, Director (a.i.) of IDMC.

The report covers internal displacement caused by conflict and sudden-onset disasters, on which IDMC has been the global authority for years. In addition it now also explores displacement currently "off the grid", such as that caused by criminal and gang violence, slow-onset disasters like drought, and development projects. It also takes the reader “inside the grid” and presents some of the methodological and conceptual challenges faced in trying to paint as complete a picture as possible.

“Having comprehensive and accurate figures is essential to efforts to alleviate the suffering and needs of tens of millions of highly vulnerable people. National governments have primary responsibility for collecting this data, and for protecting and assisting internally displaced people. Sadly, this responsibility is not fulfilled in many contexts,” Bilak said.

The report makes sobering reading. Some 8.6 million new displacements associated with conflict and violence were recorded in 2015, and as of the end of the year the total including those who fled in previous years stood at 40.8 million. “This is the highest figure ever recorded, and twice the number of refugees worldwide,” Egeland said.

The Middle East and North Africa bore the brunt of new conflict-related displacement in 2015, with 4.8 million people internally displaced, with Syria, Yemen and Iraq accounting for over half of all new conflict-induced internal displacement worldwide.

Of the ten countries with the highest number of people internally displaced by conflict, five - Colombia,
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, South Sudan and Sudan - have been on the list every year since 2003. “This is further evidence that in the absence of the help IDPs need, displacement tends to drag on for years and even decades,” Bilak said.

As if this were not enough, the number of people internally displaced by disasters in 2015 was 19.2 million in 113 countries. Over the past eight years, a total of 203.4 million disaster-related displacements have been recorded. As in previous years, south and east Asia were worst-affected, with India, China and Nepal accounting for 3.7m, 3.6m and 2.6m people displaced respectively.
The vast majority of displacement associated with disasters is triggered by weather-related hazards such as storms and floods, but the earthquakes in Nepal were a stark reminder of the potential of geophysical hazards.

Additionally, preliminary estimates of internal displacement by other causes suggest at least a million people were forcibly displaced by criminal violence in Mexico and Central America, and tens of millions more by development projects such as dams, urban renewal projects and mega sporting events. “This report illustrates the many challenges to addressing this global crisis of internal displacement. It also highlights the glaring absence of political solutions to address displacement, and constitutes an important wake-up call to national governments and global policy-makers alike.” Bilak said.

NOTES TO EDITORS

From 11 May, 2016, a micro website for the 2016 Global Report on Internal Displacement can be found at:

www.internal-displacement.org/globalreport2016 This new report replaces both the ‘Global Overview’ and the ‘Global Estimates’, IDMC’s previous flagship reports on conflict and disaster-related internal displacement.

Media are welcome to attend the launch of the IDMC 2016 Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID 2016) on Wednesday, 11 May 2016 at Chatham House, London by registering at https://www.chathamhouse.org/event/global-crisis-internal-displacement Media based in Geneva are also invited to attend a second launch event on 13 May at the CICG in Geneva (for more info please contact info@idmc.ch)

What is the difference between an IDP and a refugee?
The main difference between IDPs and refugees is that internally displaced people remain within the borders of their own country. Refugees have crossed an international border in search of refuge, and this gives them legal refugee status which entitles them to certain rights and international protection. However an IDP is not a legal status because IDPs are still under the jurisdiction of their own government and may not claim any rights additional to those shared by their fellow citizens.

FOR INTERVIEWS WITH JAN EGELAND, ALEXANDRA BILAK OR ELIZABETH RUSHING PLEASE CONTACT:

Ms Sian Bowen Head of Communications Email: sian.bowen@idmc.ch Office Tel: 00 41 22 552 3612 Mobile: 00 41 (0) 78 630 16 78 Ms Francesca Da Ros (Geneva)
Communications Coordinator Email : francesca.da.ros@idmc.ch Office Tel: + 41 22 552 3645 About the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) (http://www.internal-displacement.org) was established by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in 1998. Monitoring internal displacement caused by conflict, violence, human rights violations and natural disasters worldwide, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) is widely respected as the leading source of information and analysis on internal displacement throughout the world.
Follow IDMC on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/InternalDisplacement Twitter: @IDMC_Geneva

Philippines: Drought and dry spell hits 58 provinces in the Philippines

10 May 2016 - 8:28am
Source: ACT Alliance Country: Philippines

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration on September 30, 2015 announced that a mature “strong” El Niño has prevailed in the Pacific Ocean affecting the Philippines. 14 provinces in Luzon and 12 provinces in Visayas experience dry spell, while drought is expected to be experienced by 6 provinces in Luzon, 3 provinces in Visayas, and 23 provinces in Mindanao. As of February 2016, the drought has already caused P5.32 billion worth of damages to the agriculture sector alone. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has reported that at least 100,000 fisher folk are also affected by drought through fish kills and red tide.

Geneva, 10 May 2016

Brief description of the emergency and impact

The worsening effects of El Niño are still felt by 43% of the county despite recent but sporadic rainfall in the country. In early April, around 3,000 farmers severely affected by the drought in South Cohabit province protested the lack of government support; this led to a violent dispersal, which left 1 dead and 13 injured. Drought has been experienced since the last quarter of 2015 in more than 40% of the country, according to partner reports of Christian Aid, Lutheran World Relief, and HEKS Swiss Church Aid covering. Hunger is rampant as it is directly correlated to the halt in farming and fishing production as the primary source of rural sustenance and income. Disease has also become prevalent due to malnutrition and access to potable water. Market prices for food and other necessities remain the same; but income opportunities among partner communities have drastically declined due to extreme heat and dried up water sources. Crop cycles have practically failed since July 2015, and this is expected to continue in the next months due to dry and infertile land, and the expected intense rains post drought. After El Niño, La Niña or intense monsoon activity is expected to occur (http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/02/26/1556983/pagasaW) which may result to continued halt in production of agriculture and aquaculture products.

Myanmar: Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (3 - 9 May 2016)

9 May 2016 - 5:24am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: China, Fiji, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines

MYANMAR

During the past week, strong winds, heavy rain and hail continued to affect various parts of Myanmar. The Relief and Resettlement Department (RRD) reported over 64,500 people have been affected with over 23,300 houses damaged. It is expected that heavy rainfall will continue in the coming days heightening the risk of landslides in Chin and Kachin states.

On 3 May, fire swept through "Baw Du Pha 2", an IDP camp in Sittwe, Rakhine State, destroying 49 IDP long houses and affecting 392 families. There have been no confirmed fatalities. RRD, along with NGO and UN agencies have provided assistance, including emergency shelter materials, food and NFIs. Mobile health teams have deployed to support the State Health Department to meet health needs.

PHILIPPINES

The City of Bayawan in the Western Visayas region is the latest to declare a state of calamity due to El Niño. About 30 per cent of the city’s response fund will be used to assist 24,500 families (122,600 people) affected by drought. While in Maguindanao province, 124,100 families (620,500 people) are reported to be affected by drought. Local authorities are providing food rations. To date, states of calamity have been declared in 11 provinces, 11 cities across the country.

INDONESIA

In Keerom District (Papua Province), gastroenteritis virus is suspected to have caused the deaths of 77 children over the past month. The cases are suspected to be a result of contaminated water following a series of flash floods in March. The Ministry of Health is currently conducting an investigation.

CHINA

On 8 May, heavy rainfall reportedly triggered a landslide in Taining County in south-eastern Fujian province. According to media reports, 14 people have been killed and 25 are still missing. Search and rescue operations are ongoing, and Government officials report that over 600 rescue personnel have been deployed. The National Meteorological Center issued a warning on the heightened risk of further geological disasters in parts of Fujian and Jiangxi provinces and the Zhuang Autonomous Region.

FIJI

More than two months since Tropical Cyclone Winston hit Fiji, food security remains a concern which has been compounded by flooding in April that destroyed crops and increased vegetable prices. The Government’s food ration distributions for 370,000 people affected by the cyclone will end in the coming week but food vouchers will continue to assist 70,000 people on social welfare. Partners are conducting food security monitoring to ensure that the situation does not deteriorate.

Philippines: A fresh start for peace in the Philippines?

8 May 2016 - 11:06pm
Source: Peace Direct Country: Philippines

May 8 2016: The Philippines goes to the polls in a general election next week. Rey Ty asked Bishop Reuel Marigza if a change in government might jump-start a long-running peace process.

The Role of the Church in the Peace Process

Bishop Reuel Marigza is the General Secretary of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines . With elections in the Philippines due shortly, I recently paid him a visit. He shared his views with me on the peace process between the Government of the Philippines and the rebel National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), which is the umbrella organisation of the underground movement to which the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army belong.

Marigza is one of the bishops in the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum, a member of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP). PEPP’s member organisations are separately and collectively working for the just settlement of the armed conflict between the Philippine Government and the NDFP.

Peace consultants under fire

Marigza said: “We need to find a way out of the impasse in the dialogue and peace talks between the two camps.” Currently, the NDFP rebels cry foul, as many of its officially designated peace negotiators have been arrested on trumped up charges, despite being on the list of Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) – negotiators who are accredited and allowed to move freely. Due to a lack of trust on both sides, peace talks are now regularly held up. So Marigza says one key issue is to draw up a new list of JASIG holders: “The peace talks are held hostage by the verification process. Substantive issues are more important than procedural ones.”

Presidential candidates on the Peace Agenda

The PEPP recently organised a forum at the Malate Church with the advisers of presidential candidates, who expressed their views on the peace process. Representatives of Rodrigo Duterte, Mar Roxas, and Grace Poe were all in attendance. Bishop Marigza shared his insight on their proposals.

In the event that Duterte wins the presidency, Duterte’s representative at the forum said, Duterte will resume contacts with rebels within the first six months of his rule. He will widen the peace process in Mindanao, not only contacting the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as the current President Aquino has done, but also the Moro National Liberation Front, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters: “The peace agenda for Mindanao must embrace the sentiments of people living in Mindanao and those who stand for them.”

On the broader national front, the NDFP seeks comprehensive socio-economic reforms. “The roots of insurgency are social inequity and the economic condition of the Philippines,” Marigza told me.

“A major issue is poverty. Economic issues are the breeding ground for insurgency. How can government deliver a wide-ranging social-economic transformation? Genuine land reform and national industrialisation, not land reform in its present form. Law-makers from higher social classes have to give up their interests. Socio-economic reforms must be addressed.”

Referring to the elections, the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform the largest ecumenical group of church leaders in the country, has declared: “Principled negotiations by both parties can help end the decades-long armed conflict in the country.

“Voting for peace means choosing candidates who show their sincerity to address the roots of the armed conflict – poverty, landlessness, inaccessibility to services and inequitable distribution of resources – especially, even during times when they are not courting our votes.”

Burning issues

Confidence building measures between the government and the NDFP must be put in placeOn the psychological level, confidence building measures between the government and the NDFP must be put in place, in addition to real structural reform.

Duterte has consistently stated that he would work for federalism in the Philippines so that all provinces will have full authority over provincial matters. But Marigza wonders if federalism as such would respond to the problems with which the provinces and the country are faced. According to the Bishop, problems will still arise.

So how can Filipinos as a nation of diverse and multi-ethnic people – but also as a state – move on from this? There needs to be a commitment to revise the Constitution. A Convention could be called to change the present legal set up.

Other candidates

If elected into office, Presidential candidate Mar Roxas says he will uphold previous agreements with the NDFP, unlike former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who did not observe JASIG permits, questioning the safe-conduct passes of NDFP peace consultants.

Bishop Marigza says this is a warning from the past. “Peace agreements cannot be guaranteed to proceed, if new governments renege on previous agreements.”

Meanwhile, candidate Grace Poe is open to the resumption of peace talks. If she wins, she has said her administration will be open for a reconstruction of the list of NDFP peace consultants. Marigza wonders: “The issue always crops up. Does the government really want the peace negotiations to continue?” Suspicions are also strengthened by the fact that current President Aquino has aggressively pursued a peace settlement with the MILF – another armed group in the Philippines – but not with the NDFP.

Tasks ahead

Bishop Marigza recommended the following actions in relation to the Philippine Government’s peace talks with the NDFP:

  • Address the root causes of the armed conflict, especially social inequity.

  • Principled negotiations must be conducted and based on substantive matters, and procedural matters such as drawing up a list of NDFP peace negotiators must be resolved immediately.

  • Respect previously agreed upon agreements.

  • Call for renewed peace talks now.

With elections set for Monday, they could represent a powerful way to jump-start a peace process in the Philippines. Bishop Marigza’s recommendations outline clear steps forward. The candidates should take note.

World: East Asia and Pacific - El Niño impact - ECHO Daily Map | 06/05/2016

8 May 2016 - 8:13pm
Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office Country: Cambodia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Timor-Leste, Viet Nam, World

Mongolia
• The UN reports that 41% of the country’s herder population is seriously affected by the dzud (225 000 people). Most affected were the provinces in the eastern and western parts of the country.
• The HCT updates the Dzud Response and Preparedness plan on 25 April for 12 months.
• Several UN agencies, international and national NGOs and the Red Cross are assisting the government’s response efforts.

Papua New Guinea
• Assessments conducted by the Wolrd Food Programme identified 180 000 people as severely food insecure and over 1.3 million in a state of high food insecurity.
• The PNG Disaster Management Team published on 18 April, an El Niño Response Plan for 3-6 months to address critical needs in food assistance.

Timor-Leste
• Around 170 000 people are severely affected by drought, mostly in the eastern and south-western parts of the country. Assessments indicate that needs relate mainly to food security and education.
• A response plan was issued by the HCT in April 2016, aiming to cover needs estimated at USD 25 million.

Vietnam
• El Niño has caused severe drought in 39 out of 63 provinces of the country. Drought emergencies have been declared in 18 provinces. Around 2 million people do not have access to water and over 1.75 million have lost their income due to the drought.

Cambodia
• Water sortage has been reported in 18 out of 25 provinces and over 93 500 rural poor households have been affected by the effect of the dry spell.

The Philippines
• El Niño has caused drought in 40% of the territory and over 1.1 million households have been affected.
• On 1 April, a protest by 6 000 droughtaffected farmers of Northern Cotobato in Mindanao caused the death of three people and hundreds were injured.

Pacific islands (RMI, Palau, FSM)
• In RMI, an estimated 4 700 people are facing moderate to severe food shortage
• In Palau, rainfall is expected to be below normal and the only source of freshwater is at a critically low level.
• In FSM, a State of Emergency has been declared in four states, as lack of rain resulted in a critical shortage of drinking water.

Philippines: Security forces on alert ahead of tense Philippine elections

8 May 2016 - 10:57am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Philippines

Manila, Philippines | AFP | Sunday 5/8/2016 - 11:35 GMT

by Mynardo MACARAIG

Security forces fanned out across the Philippines Sunday on the eve of national polls, following a vicious and deadly election campaign dominated by presidential favourite Rodrigo Duterte's threats to kill thousands of criminals.

Surveys show Duterte, mayor of the southern city of Davao, has a clear lead in Monday's presidential elections as millions of voters embrace his threats to unleash security forces in an unprecedented crime spree, and shut down Congress if lawmakers oppose him.

President Benigno Aquino, who is limited to a single six-year term, has likened Duterte to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and warned of a looming dictatorship, with the presidential tensions fuelling an already volatile and violent political culture.

"Their rhetoric is quite vicious, their exchanges are quite vicious and this is a signal to a lot of supporters to up the ante and be more aggressive," Eric Alvia, head of the watchdog group, National Citizens Movement for Free Elections, told AFP.

"This campaign has been divisive and its polarising a lot of people. They (feel they) can do whatever they want."

Duterte has accused Aquino's administration of planning "massive cheating" to ensure that his preferred successor, former interior secretary Mar Roxas who surveys show is trailing in second place, wins.

His followers have warned of a "revolution" if Duterte loses, while military-linked figures have threatened a possible coup attempt if he wins.

Alvia said that the violence was largely taking place on the local levels, but with the leaders' angry rhetoric fuelling matters.

At least 15 people have died in election-related violence this year, according to national police statistics.

In the latest suspected case, a grenade blast killed a nine-year-old girl behind the house of a powerful political warlord in the strife-torn province of Maguindanao late on Saturday, said Chief Inspector Jonathan del Rosario.

Her death has not yet been included in the tally although it likely will be, according to del Rosario, spokesman for a police election-monitoring taskforce in Manila.

"This looks like it is election-related but we have a process we have to follow," del Rosario told AFP.

  • Security, vote buying -

In the wake of the blast, armoured vehicles could be seen patrolling the streets of the town while soldiers in camouflage stood guard on vital chokepoints.

Del Rosario said 90 percent of the nation's police force, or about 135,000 officers, were already on election-related duty and had been authorised to carry their assault rifles.

The military has said their forces are also on election duty.

Del Rosario said policemen were guarding polling and canvassing places and manning road checkpoints and were even acting as election officials in a few towns that have been identified as "election hotspots," due to the heated rivalry between politicians.

With more than 44,000 people running for 18,000 positions ranging from president to town councillor, the competition has also resulted in a surge of vote-buying.

"The strategies have changed. We've seen... a shift from just pure money to other things of value, like pigs, livestock," Commission on Elections spokesman James Jimenez told AFP.

"We are receiving stories like people giving away things that are contained in (plastic) dippers, with names of candidates. Sometimes, they give out pails with groceries inside."

Jimenez said politicians had been increasingly forced to resort to buying votes as other tricks, like manipulation of vote tallies, could no longer be applied since elections had largely been automated since 2010.

Election watchdogs said the sums paid for a vote could be as low as a hundred pesos ($2.10) for a post like town councillor with higher amounts for higher positions.

Such small gifts are an effective, if illegal, way for politicians to win support in a nation where roughly one quarter of its 100 million people live below the poverty line.

In response, the commission has banned cellphones from polling places to prevent voters from photographing their ballots so they can get paid when they present proof that they voted the right way.

str-ajm-mm/kma/iw

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

World: WHO Zika Virus, Microcephaly and Guillain-Barré Syndrome Situation Report, 5 May 2016

5 May 2016 - 12:17pm
Source: World Health Organization Country: American Samoa, Argentina, Aruba (The Netherlands), Barbados, Belize, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba (The Netherlands), Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao (The Netherlands), Dominica, Dominican Republic, Easter Island (Chile), Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, France, French Guiana (France), French Polynesia (France), Gabon, Guadeloupe (France), Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Malaysia, Maldives, Martinique (France), Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), New Caledonia (France), New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Puerto Rico (The United States of America), Saint Lucia, Saint Martin (France), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sint Maarten (The Netherlands), Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America, United States Virgin Islands, Vanuatu, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Viet Nam, World
  • As of 4 May 2016, 57 countries and territories report continuing mosquito-borne transmission; for 44 countries this is their first documented Zika virus outbreak (Fig. 1).

  • Mosquito-borne transmission (Table 1):

  • 44 countries are experiencing a first outbreak of Zika virus since 2015, with no previous evidence of circulation, and with ongoing transmission by mosquitos.

  • 13 countries reported evidence of Zika virus transmission between 2007 and 2014, with ongoing transmission.

  • Four countries or territories have reported an outbreak since 2015 that is now over: Cook Islands, French Polynesia, ISLA DE PASCUA – Chile and YAP (Federated States of Micronesia.

  • Person-to-person transmission (Table 2):

  • Nine countries have reported evidence of person-to-person transmission of Zika virus, probably via a sexual route.

  • In the week to 4 May 2016, Peru and Saint Barthélemy are the latest country and territory to report mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission.

  • Microcephaly and other fetal malformations potentially associated with Zika virus infection or suggestive of congenital infection have been reported in six countries or territories (Table 3). Two cases, each linked to a stay in Brazil, were detected in Slovenia and the United States of America. One additional case, linked to a brief stay in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, was detected in a pregnant woman in the United States of America. A case in Marshall Islands was also recently reported and is awaiting confirmation.

  • In the context of Zika virus circulation, 13 countries and territories worldwide have reported an increased incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and/or laboratory confirmation of a Zika virus infection among GBS cases (Table 4).

  • Based on research to date, there is scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and GBS.

  • The global prevention and control strategy launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a Strategic Response Framework encompasses surveillance, response activities and research. Key interventions are being undertaken jointly by WHO and international, regional and national partners in response to this public health emergency (Table 5).

  • Incident managers from the six WHO Regional Offices and headquarters, as well as relevant technical and support staff, are meeting in Washington D.C., USA on 4 and 5 May 2016 to review past and ongoing activities, to discuss key lessons and to develop a strategy for future action to ensure that the response collaboration continues to work effectively.

  • WHO has developed new advice and information on diverse topics in the context of Zika virus.1 WHO’s latest information materials, news and resources to support risk communication, and community engagement are available online.2

Risk assessment

Overall, the global risk assessment has not changed since April 21. Zika virus continues to spread geographically to areas where competent vectors are present. Although a decline in cases of Zika infection has been reported in some countries, or in some parts of countries, vigilance needs to remain high. At this stage, based on the evidence available, WHO does not see an overall decline in the outbreak.

World: The Market Monitor - Trends and impacts of staple food prices in vulnerable countries, Issue 31 - April 2016

5 May 2016 - 11:51am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chad, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, Viet Nam, World, Yemen, Zambia

This bulletin examines trends in staple food and fuel prices, the cost of the basic food basket and consumer price indices for 71 countries in the first quarter of 2016 (January to March).1 The maps on pages 6–7 disaggregate the impact analysis to sub-national level.

Global Highlights

•During Q1-2016, FAO’s global cereal price index fell by 14 percent year-on-year thanks to ample supplies and stock positions. The index is now at levels last seen in early 2007. The FAO global food price index is 15 percent lower than in Q1-2015.

•The real price2 of wheat has fallen by 22 percent over the past year and is 3 percent below Q4-2015 levels. This is because world production is still at record levels, and ending stocks in March were 9 percent greater than those in 2014/15.

•The real price of maize came under pressure in Q1-2016 and is 9 percent lower than last year. Global supplies are abundant and export competition is high.

•During Q1-2016, the real price of rice remained constant compared to Q4-2015. It is down 15 percent from Q1-2015.

•In Q1-2016, the real price of crude oil dropped by 23 percent to its lowest level since 2004. The drop has been largely supply driven. Prices started to pick up after January.

•The cost of the minimum food basket increased severely (>10%) in Q1-2016 in eight countries:

Burundi, Republic of Congo, Ghana, Lao PDR, Malawi, South Sudan, Swaziland and Viet Nam.
High increases (5–10%) were seen in Costa Rica, Iran, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Sudan, Thailand and Zambia. In the other monitored countries, the change was moderate or low (<5%).

•Price spikes, as monitored by ALPS (Alert for Price Spikes), were detected in 16 countries, particularly in Burundi, Ghana, Haiti, India, Malawi, Mozambique,
South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Zambia (see the map below).3 These spikes indicate crisis levels for the two most important staples in each country, which could be beans, cassava, maize, millet, oil, rice, sorghum, sweet potatoes, sugar or wheat flour.

World: Food Security Now: New Norm or False Dawn?

5 May 2016 - 4:11am
Source: Nanyang Technological Univ. Country: Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam, World

By Paul P.S. Teng

Synopsis

The world is experiencing a situation of slower economic growth and lower commodity prices translated into relatively lower Food Price Indices for many countries. This “new norm” benefits urban consumers but poses potential problems for agribusiness and rural producers, since, inter alia, it discourages them to invest. Will this “new norm” last? Or will it prove a “false dawn”?

Commentary

FOOD SECURITY as a matter of national concern cannot be considered in isolation from the broader economic, social and physical environments. In recent years, many countries have experienced slower economic growth, affecting disposable income levels and consequently consumer spending and food consumption patterns. The physical environment has likewise experienced challenges from climate events and continued loss of arable land and freshwater resources.

During the same period, many food commodity prices have also fallen. While this makes food more affordable, it also reduces farmer incomes and reduces investment in infrastructure and technology needed to improve overall productivity. A vicious cycle may ensue in which reduced productivity can further reduce farm incomes and a country’s agricultural competitiveness.

Lulled Into Complacency?

That there has been no discernible challenge to food security in the recent past should not be taken to mean that ASEAN countries have become food secure. In a new normal, ASEAN particularly and Asia generally has shown slower economic growth which affected the incomes of many of those who are food insecure. But with lower commodity prices, food prices generally had also declined. This situation, however, could potentially be a false dawn if events cause food prices to rise irrespective of economic trends and households again have to endure food insecurity.

An index which tracks food security relative to macro-factors is the Rice Bowl Index (RBI) ©, which provides a measure of a country's ability to withstand disturbances to its various food security dimensions - availability, physical and economic access, utilisation and stability. The latest RBI © Report, titled “New Norm or False Dawn” released in late 2015, showed that over the preceding 12 months, the food security robustness of ASEAN countries had generally improved, but at a slower pace than in previous years.

The RBI ©, further concluded that in 2015, while Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia may be considered as relatively robust in their food security preparedness, other ASEAN countries were not, namely the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar. Most ASEAN countries cannot afford to fall into a complacency trap because there has been no threat of any supply disruption in the recent past. Certainly, the vulnerability of countries such as Singapore and Brunei Darussalam to any prolonged supply shutdown of an important food item remains real.

Warning Signs - A “False Dawn”?

Many threats remain to destabilise food availability in the short term, while over the mid to longer term, challenges linked to climate change affect the ability of countries to be food secure.

Warning signs indicate that for critically important food to Asia such as rice, the “new norm” may be a transient one and become a “false dawn” even faster than expected. The International Rice Research institute (IRRI) in an early 2016 report showed that while global rice commodity prices have declined in consecutive years since 2013, the huge stocks of yesteryears have also declined sharply, especially in the top exporting countries of Thailand, Vietnam and India. By the third quarter of 2016, the combined rice stocks of India and Thailand have been projected by IRRI to be around 70% lower than in 2013 (a peak of 41 Million tonnes).

The same IRRI report has warned of the impending effects of El Niño, expressed through exceptional dry periods, to lower rice yields. So the near term is likely to see a tight supply situation, with a reminder that there could be a repeat of the 2007-08 price hikes which precipitated general food availability crises and civil disobedience in over thirty countries.

The false dawn may be further amplified through a possible La Niña effect of excessive moisture causing flooding later in 2016.

So going into 2017, much will depend on whether the upcoming rice growing seasons will be affected by unexpected severe weather events, and how governments respond to them. Governments will need to keep their food security situation balanced by a broader view and not over-react to temporary price hikes or supply disruptions. Within ASEAN, the countries which can impact greatly on others from the actions they take are Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam by virtue of population and agricultural production.

Thailand and Vietnam play important roles in global rice supply and are therefore barometers of preparedness to meet expected threats to rice security. India, the other big rice exporter, portends a worrisome situation caused by uncertainty about the upcoming wet (monsoon) season crop. The performance of this rice crop may well decide if India continues to export rice.

Preparing For The Expected

In the short-term, rice-eating countries in particular need to do forward planning and take anticipatory action. One such action is to ensure that their own rice stocks are sufficient to buffer any short term (6 -9 months) disruption to the rice supply chain. Forward contracts on supply may not be as helpful if there is a global rice shortage, however, transient.

The current situation of relatively low commodity and food prices suggests that there is a “food security dividend”. This can be derived by governments to invest in improving the preparedness of infrastructure, technologies and farming communities to respond to expected and impending challenges. Climate change adaptation measures, such as the development of Climate Smart Agriculture practices like drought-tolerant or submergence-tolerant crop varieties, need to be given high priority.

Accompanying this is the needed improvement in the ease of doing business to facilitate investments, and increased utilisation of mobile technology such as those championed by Accenture © for improving farm and farmer productivity for pro-active action and also responses to emergencies or calamities.

Paul S. Teng is Professor and Principal Officer, NIE, and Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Rice Bowl Index.

World: Disaster-Resilient Microfinance: Learning from Communities Affected by Typhoon Haiyan

4 May 2016 - 11:08pm
Source: Asian Development Bank Country: Philippines, World

This analysis of the economic recovery of households in the Philippines badly affected by typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) explores how microfinance can improve its role before and after such disasters hit.

Microfinance is now an embedded feature of almost all low and middle income countries inextricably linked to the development of local markets and economies. These countries are often the most exposed to extreme climate events.

The report sets out the experience, analysis and conclusions of VisionFund International and their Philippine microfinance operation Community Economic Ventures Incorporated (CEVI). This analysis follows the economic recovery of over 4,000 client households badly affected by typhoon Haiyan over the 18 months following the calamity and seeks to derive recommendations for future financial disaster risk management solutions. The work was funded by the Integrated Disaster Risk Management Fund of the Asian Development Bank with financial support from the Government of Canada.

Contents

  • Introduction

    • Overview: A Layered View of Risks and Financial Safety Nets
    • A Case Study: Typhoon Haiyan
    • The Benefits of 'Before the Event' Funding
    • Implications and a Way Forward