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World: Addressing the perennial problems of disaster response

11 June 2015 - 1:32pm
Source: DARA Country: Philippines, World

Background study for the Disaster Response Dialogue Conference Manila, Philippines, October 2014

Better cooperation between international and local actors, especially the government, is necessary to help improve the effectiveness of the response to the humanitarian consequences of natural disasters. The Disaster Response Dialogue (DRD) commissioned DARA and HERE-Geneva to conduct an independent study on humanitarian financing to disaster-affected governments and other national actors, looking at how the relationships and cooperation can be improved.

The study highlights as key to greater effectiveness the need for continuous dialogue over the issues affecting victims of disasters and looks at well-known issues in disaster response in order to try to shed new light on them to promote more honest and transparent dialogue.

World: Mainstreaming environment and climate change into humanitarian action

11 June 2015 - 10:37am
Source: Evidence on Demand Country: Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, World

This topic guide on mainstreaming environment and climate change into humanitarian action is intended for Climate, Environment, Infrastructure and Livelihoods Advisers in the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and other development professionals. It is presented in 4 main sections and includes a glossary, reference list/bibliography, list of relevant organisations, and an annex with additional background information. It includes 5 case studies.

Section 1 provides an overview of the key reasons that environmental and climate change issues are relevant in the context of humanitarian action, including in the initial, life-saving response phase. Section 2 provides evidence of the relationships between environment, climate change and humanitarian action, describes the relevant humanitarian policies, and identifies key barriers to acting on the relationship. The evidence on relationships alone may not consistently justify raising the level of attention given to the environment in a humanitarian response, particularly during the most acute, life-saving phase. However, the evidence, taken together with the humanitarian policy basis and the fact that some barriers are entirely avoidable, may well do so. Moreover, there are no-regrets actions that can minimise the risk of negative environmental impacts, as illustrated in the case study, Challenges and no-regrets lessons from the field.

Section 3 describes the key junctures or ‘entry points’ at which the environment–climate–humanitarian action relationship can be most effectively acted upon, and provides strategies for doing so. Section 4 provides information on topics of concern to DFID advisers in a humanitarian response. The tables provide general information on the topic area, related environmental issues, typical interventions and additional evidence and information. More background and resources are contained in the Annex. The topics covered include:

  • Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)

  • Shelter

  • Food security

  • Energy

  • Debris and waste

  • Land tenure and land use

  • Livelihoods

  • Climate change

This Topic Guide has been produced by Evidence on Demand with the assistance of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) contracted through the Climate, Environment, Infrastructure and Livelihoods Professional Evidence and Applied Knowledge Services (CEIL PEAKS) programme, jointly managed by DAI (which incorporates HTSPE Limited) and IMC Worldwide Limited.

Philippines: Homeless ‘Yolanda’ survivors from Antique town receive shelter aid

11 June 2015 - 8:29am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

Some 817 families from Laua-an, Antique whose houses were totally damaged by Typhoon Yolanda received their Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) of P30,000 each after the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) released some P24.5 million to the local government unit.

ESA provides P30,000 and P10,000 financial assistance to ‘Yolanda’ survivors whose houses were totally and partially damaged, respectively.

Laua-an Mayor Francisco Baladjay said that the ESA is an added resource for the affected families to continue moving on with their lives. “I am very grateful for the assistance the government, through the DSWD, has afforded to us. I will ensure that the aid will be put to good use,” Mayor Baladjay said.

Cherryl Aretano, 24, one of the recipients who is in her eight month of pregnancy, said that the assistance will be used to replace their wooden walls into concrete.

“Kami ay gagawa na ng konkretong bahay dahil ito ay mas matibay kumpara sa bahay na gawa lamang sa kahoy para maprotektahan na rin ang aking sanggol at pamilya. Ito ang natutunan namin mula sa nangyaring trahedya na dulot ng ‘Yolanda.’ Ang bahay namin na gawa sa marupok na bagay ay tinangay ng hangin. Ayaw naming mangyari ulit iyon (We will build a concrete house which is more durable than a wooden house to secure my baby and our family. This is the lesson we learned from ‘Yolanda’. All the light materials were blown by the wind. We do not want this to happen again),” Cheryl added.

The ESA is given to affected families who have no permanent sources of income or whose income is below the poverty threshold of the region; whose houses were partially or totally damaged but are located in safe areas; who are listed in the Disaster Family Access Card (DAFAC); whose heads are not permanent or regular employees and do not have access to housing loans; and whose heads have a fixed monthly salary below P15,000 and have not received the same assistance from other agencies.

World: Stop TB Launches Online Consultation for Global Plan

10 June 2015 - 11:10pm
Source: The Global Fund Country: Honduras, Philippines, South Africa, World

The Stop TB Partnership launched an online consultation process today to engage a wide group of stakeholders in developing the Global Plan to Stop TB 2016-2020. The development of the Global Plan seeks to be as inclusive as possible, and the online consultation ( aims to reflect a diverse range of input, including the voices of people, professional groups and TB constituencies who may not have been reached previously. The consultation process will run from 10 June to 10 August 2015. Participants are encouraged to provide comments based on top line questions.

Since its creation, the Stop TB Partnership has issued five and ten-year Global Plans for concerted global advocacy actions, and to provide an estimate for the resources needed to reach the WHO End TB Strategy goals by 2035. The current Global Plan provides a ‘business case’ for the period 2016-2020. It is meant as an instrument for those working with TB and those allocating funding.

The Stop TB Partnership said that to achieve WHO’s End TB Strategy goals, significant changes need to be made in the way most countries organize and run their TB interventions and programmes. An acceleration in research and development of new drugs, diagnostics tools and a vaccine is also imperative, it said.

In addition to the online consultation, the Global Plan to Stop TB 2016-2020 will be informed by the outcomes of four regional consultation meetings. The Global Plan will be launched at the end of the year in Cape Town, South Africa, during the 46th Union World Conference on Lung Health.

New Effort to Expand Viral Load Testing

Viral load testing is the best way to know if a child is HIV positive. It’s also a powerful tool to determine if HIV drugs are working. The problem is that until now, the tests were often prohibitively expensive and contract terms varied.

New agreements struck between the Global Fund and seven diagnostic manufacturers aim to change that. After a year of in-depth negotiation and intense study of the market, the Global Fund sourcing team believes it’s found a route to affordable and stable prices, better contracting, and hopefully, expanded testing.

The manufacturers have agreed to provide the test components at a stable and competitive all-inclusive price as low as US$15 per test, which includes the cost of testing equipment. Today, tests can cost as much as US$85.

A more competitive price is welcome, but Christopher Game, the Global Fund Procurement head, explained that it’s not the only benefit of the agreement.

“What we were really after was transparency and reliability,” Game said. “So yes, the price reduction is great, because it will free up money to do more testing. But just as importantly, we now have transparency around the various components of that price, such as transport and machine maintenance.”

The machines required for the tests don’t come cheap, selling for around US$150,000. By stabilizing the other elements required to test, Game and his team expect to see an expansion in the number of tests done.

The agreement should deliver net savings of at least US$30 million over three years to the Global Fund, and potentially much more. Seven manufacturers have been through a technical and commercial evaluation before being added to the panel of suppliers. The framework agreements last at least three years. Other public health funders and agencies will also be able to enter into agreements based on the benchmark prices and contracting negotiated.

Strategy Review

An independent group of health and development experts has presented its preliminary findings and initial recommendations of the Strategic Review 2015, the document that will provide valuable input into the Global Fund partnership’s next five-year strategy, for 2017-2021. After conducting 16 country case studies and assessing impact in another 27, the Technical Evaluation and Reference Group, known as TERG, focused the Strategic Review on key areas including resilient health systems, sustainability, human rights and gender, partnerships, differentiation and national capacity building. The findings will be presented to the Strategy, Investment and Impact Committee meeting next week. A final report is due by mid-August. The Global Fund Board will receive the full report in November. The Strategic Review has two main objectives: One is to review progress in strategy implementation to date of the 2012-2016 Strategy; the second is to assess impact against the three diseases over the past 10 to 14 years.

Tracing TB patients in South Africa

On a rainy morning in Mitchell’s Plain, a township near Cape Town, Community Care Worker Songezwa Matrose sets out to check on a client she’s been assigned— a former prisoner with TB, released the day before from Pollsmoor Detention Center’s Juvenile section. Her first challenge is just to find his house. Names of lanes and passageways here are few, and houses are numbered arbitrarily, if at all.

“Sometimes it takes hours just to find my client,” says Songezwa, who is from Mitchell’s Plain herself, and began doing contact tracing for TB patients more than a year ago, under a program managed by the South African NGO TB/ HIV Care.

Men and women held in South Africa’s overcrowded prisons have been pinpointed as a group at high risk of tuberculosis, because of the densely populated communities they often come from, as well as the close quarters within prisons. Risk of infection with TB increases exponentially as air-borne bacteria can be passed on by a mere cough in a crowded room. In the past, many who were diagnosed with TB were lost to follow-up or never told their test results because of the processing time for a test, and the difficulty of follow-up once they left prison.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and TB/ HIV Care, Pollsmoor Detention Center’s Health System is working to tackle this problem head on, both while prisoners are inside, and through follow-up after they are released. TB HIV Care workers within the hospital screen and test detainees, with results available in two hours since state of the art GeneExpert machines were installed in 2013. Their colleagues on the outside - Community Care Workers like Songezwa - receive contact information for TB-infected prisoners as they are released so they can facilitate adherence to treatment.

They have a critical role to play: On this day her client, Abonga Mfanta had returned home to his grandfather, mother, girlfriend and brothers and sisters—eight in all under one roof. Abonga was started on DOTS treatment for TB during his six weeks in prison, and to continue with the treatment, it’s essential that he goes to the clinic where he’s been referred.

“I did get stressed at that time,” says Abonga about the moment he heard his diagnosis from a TB HIV Care volunteer inside the prison. “I told myself ‘I’m here in prison, now I’ve got TB… I was afraid, but they tell me I’m going to be OK.”

During the 45 minutes that Songezwa spends with the family, she verifies whether anyone else in the household is showing symptoms of infection. She talks with Abonga about the next steps for his DOTS treatment, and provides him a referral to the Town 2 Clinic, a 5-minute walk from his home. With evident relief Abonga agrees that he’ll go the following day, having been given only a few days’ supply of TB treatment by the prison upon his release. He’s been advised that failure to adhere could have dire consequences—failure to be cured, developing drug resistant TB, even dying of the disease.

For Songezwa, Abonga is one of up to 40 homes she’s visiting at any given time in the community. She'll continue her visits at least once a week up to the six month treatment completion date, where with ‘normal’ TB he should be fully cured. Her attention to the family is not only a plus because of her knowledge about TB; it’s also the calm and winning smile, the in-charge manner and her dedication to the community that shines through.

By the Numbers

Honduras is on track to achieving zero new cases of P. falciparum -- the deadliest form of malaria -- by 2017. Thanks to projects with a strong involvement of local communities, malaria cases dropped 78 percent between 2000 and 2011.

The Philippines is also edging closer to elimination, with confirmed cases of malaria down by 90 percent from more than 48,000 in 2003 to 4,900 in 2014. Malaria deaths fell from 162 to 8. The National Plan targets elimination by 2030.

World: Annual Report 2014

10 June 2015 - 1:15pm
Source: Forest Peoples Programme Country: Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Colombia, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guyana, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Nepal, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Suriname, Thailand, Uganda, World

Nearly all forests across the globe are inhabited. The peoples who live there have customary rights and have developed ways of life and traditional knowledge that are attuned to their forest environments. Yet, forest policies commonly treat forests as empty lands controlled by the State and available for development, colonisation, logging, plantations, dams, mines, oil wells, gas pipelines and agribusiness.

These encroachments often force peoples out of their forest homes. Many conservation schemes to establish wilderness reserves also deny forest peoples’ rights. Forest Peoples Programme supports forest peoples and indigenous organisations to promote an alternative vision of how forests should be managed and controlled, based on respect for the rights of the peoples who know them best.

To read our report of activities over the year 2014 please click here

Philippines: After regional quakes, Philippines prepares for the big one

10 June 2015 - 10:36am
Source: IRIN Country: Philippines

MANILA, 10 June 2015 (IRIN) - Recent quakes in Nepal and Malaysia have shaken the Philippines into action, with authorities scaling up earthquake preparedness drills and safety inspections of public buildings in the capital Manila.

The country’s largest city, with an estimated 15 million inhabitants, Manila is sprawled across the West Valley fault, which seismologists say shifts every 400 to 600 years and most recently in 1658.

“If the lower range (estimate) is followed, then the fault is ripe to move,” said Bartolome Bautista, deputy director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).

According to two studies carried out by PHIVOLCS, greater Manila could be hit by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that would reduce much of the city to rubble, kill at least 31,000 people, and injure about half a million more.

Preparing for such a disaster has taken on added urgency following the 25 April earthquake in Nepal that killed more than 8,000 people, and the 5 June quake in Malaysia’s Sabah state, which killed at least 18 people who were climbing Kota Kinabalu mountain.

Sabah deputy chief minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan told reporters that the tremor was caused by a photo session of tourists posing naked at the peak, which angered the spirits of the mountain.

Seismologists have a rather different explanation that involves shifts of tectonic plates beneath the earth’s crust.

They warn that the Philippines is at an even higher risk than neighbouring Malaysia, because the archipelago sits on the Rim of Fire, a string of volcanoes and sites of seismic activity that lines the Pacific Ocean and accounts for about 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes.

Increased preparedness

Since the Nepal earthquake, authorities in Manila have scaled up earthquake preparedness plans, including carrying out simulation drills in schools and hospitals.

The government has distributed to city leaders an atlas of maps showing in detail areas traversed by the fault system. A mobile "earthquake simulator" has been travelling to schools to show students what to expect during tremors. Seismologists are working with the city to fast-track the setting up of markers to indicate where the fault line lies underneath 84 communities.

“Are these enough? It is very hard to tell. I think we will only know if we have prepared enough after the big one,” said Bautista of PHIVOLCS.

Bautista drew parallels with the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, which also lies on a major fault that experts had warned was due to move.

“The Nepalese government had initiated preparedness activities, but at a much slower phase due to budgetary constraints,” he said. “One good lesson that we can learn from this event is that, preparedness should be given priority and that it should be done at a sustained and rapid phase.”

He pointed to the Philippines’ own experience with earthquakes, including the 7.2-magnitude quake that rocked the central Visayas region in October 2013, killing 200 people. Particularly hard hit was the island of Bohol and the city of Cebu.

The reason there were relatively few deaths was because of the low population and because most buildings were low-rise and made of wood and other light materials. However, the destruction would be far worse in Manila with its large population and urban sprawl, which includes informal settlements and concrete buildings that have not been built according to safety standards.

Experts estimate that 170,000 residential homes would be destroyed and 340,000 damaged, Bautista said. Bridges would also fall, water pipelines and electric cables would be cut and at least 95 kilometers of phone cables would be rendered useless.

“The metropolis might also be separated into north, south, west and east due to building collapse, (and) fire and road damages,” he warned. “As a result, there is a probability of isolation and difficulty in accessibility from one area to another which could potentially affect any plans for implementing rescue operations.”

Push for public awareness

Red Cross secretary general Gwendolyn Pang said the agency has been training its staff to respond to a major quake, but she also urged residents to take their own precautions.

“Everyone is advised to evaluate the safety of his own house and to consult an engineer if the building is found to be unsafe and is located in highly hazardous areas,” she said.

Senator Bam Aquino, who has filed a resolution seeking to assess the local government’s preparedness, said there was a need to prioritise communities to “mitigate and recover from the impact of a massive earthquake.”

"A significant factor in ensuring earthquake safety is ensuring the ability of houses, buildings and all public infrastructure to withstand earthquakes even with magnitudes of 8 to 10," Aquino said in a statement.

“We need to learn from incidents that happened in Nepal, Cebu and Bohol,” he said. “Let us not wait for many lives to be lost and houses to be destroyed.”


World: Health Governance and Dengue in Southeast Asia - NTS Report No. 2 | May 2015

10 June 2015 - 7:27am
Source: Nanyang Technological Univ. Country: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam, World

Executive Summary and Policy Recommendations

This Report focuses on health governance of vector-borne diseases in Southeast Asia, analysed from the context of threats and opportunities brought about by climate change, urbanisation and globalisation. It first discusses regional health governance in ASEAN and the mechanisms and frameworks that have been established to promote health security, with particular focus on vector-borne diseases. It then provides a background on dengue in Southeast Asian countries, the economic burden of the disease and the regional prevention and control measures that have been implemented so far. The Report also presents a SWOT analysis that assesses the health governance systems of two Southeast Asian countries – Indonesia and Malaysia – with a particular focus on the institutions, networks and the effectiveness of domestic vector prevention and control measures. It assesses the level of integration that regional frameworks and domestic measures have achieved and policy shifts from reactive towards preventive and sustainable long term solutions. Finally, the Report lays out a number of policy recommendations relevant to regional dengue prevention and control.

Philippines: UNDP and Canada partner to favor recovery in the Philippines

10 June 2015 - 1:37am
Source: UN Development Programme Country: Philippines

Canadian wood construction manufacturers and UNDP rebuild local government infrastructure after Typhoon Haiyan

In aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms recorded on the planet, the Quebec Wood Export Bureau (QWEB) and UNDP have partnered to provide municipal building solutions to the people of Guiuan in the Philippines.

Four buildings were provided to support local recovery efforts after consulting with Guiuan authorities and the community. The buildings will serve as the town council session hall, the office of the mayor and house various key departments like accounting, treasury, and disaster risk reduction and management. One of the units will be used as training center for an agricultural demonstration farm and as an evacuation center in the event of a future disaster.

Restoring basic social services

Every year, millions of people around the world are displaced by conflicts or natural disasters. Less affected communities find themselves with a population that has doubled or sometimes tripled overnight. Such demographic shifts add pressure on often already strained basic services and challenge traditional humanitarian, camp-based delivery systems.

In such a context, municipal services need to be bolstered to extend access to water, education, health, housing as well as ensure adequate waste management to the newly arrived populations. The private sector can play a pivotal role in upscaling the ability to offer these basic services.

Typhoon Haiyan caused unprecedented devastation and killed more than 6,000 people. Suddenly the community of Guiuan in Eastern Samar found itself struggling to provide basic social services. In response to this need for humanitarian assistance, QWEB in partnership with the Société d’habitation du Québec, Natural Resources Canada, and four wood construction manufacturing companies provided four prefabricated wood buildings to help restore social services in Guiuan. While the prefabricated buildings were manufactured in Quebec, they were designed for quick assembly on-site and engineered to resist typhoon winds up to 251 km/h.

“We decided to partner with UNDP as the organization, on top of its extensive on-the-ground experience with recovering from disasters, has solid relationships with local authorities. These relationships could facilitate all negotiations with the municipal authorities as well as help us obtain authorizations, hire workers, support the shipping, and customs clearance and provide training on the maintenance of the buildings” noted Alain Boulet, QWEB manager for the wood construction sector.

Three Quebec workers travelled to Guiuan to assemble the buildings and train local labor to help erect the structures. Local workers were shown how to create good foundations, assemble the house kits and customise the buildings. In addition, the maps and blueprint were handed to the General Services unit of the Guiuan municipality so the buildings could continue to be maintained. After two weeks, the local government was using their four new offices.

Exploring a niche market and matching municipal needs

Although partnerships between the UN and private sector can sometimes be challenging due to differing implementation timeframes and corporate cultures, this project was different.

“Our timing is not always aligned, as UNDP consults a lot to make sure projects will respond to local needs and to make sure the beneficiary community will own the project. Businesses most often cannot afford such lengthy processes”, noted Glaucia Boyer from the UNDP Geneva Office. “QWEB as the one stop contact and interface for the industry with us played an essential role reconciling these different agendas. I doubt a company would have been able to invest time and resources in such process”, she added.

This project was possible due to market development work supported by Société d’habitation du Québec and Natural Resources Canada to develop new building solutions and explore new markets. This experience was part of a long-term strategy for Canada’s wood manufacturing sector to play an active role in global post-disaster reconstruction efforts. QWEB and its members were able to forge links with international organizations and showcase a product that can provide vital shelter when a crisis strikes.

“We want to leverage our expertise to develop better housing solutions for people displaced by conflicts and disasters. In addition to the four municipal buildings erected in Guiuan, a QWEB member manufacturer provided 6,775 timber-frame houses to an NGO for the communities affected by the 2010 earthquake in Haïti. This was a tremendous learning experience that helped us understand the reality on the ground, improve our product so it fits the needs and reduces the unit cost by 38%”, added Alain Boulet from QWEB.

For the local government, this was also a positive experience. The quick assembly time allowed public servants to resume providing much-needed services to the community.

“This is a very reliable space to hold our temporary office. Some of my colleagues are indeed so impressed by the strength of the buildings that they are keen to build more to host their administration. We could resume quickly the legislative sessions of the Town Council and manage the crisis left by Typhoon Yolanda. We are in a more productive mode in our daily tasks serving the people of Guiuan” Mayor Christopher Sheen said.

Philippines: Dengue cases decrease in Caraga Region

9 June 2015 - 10:17pm
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

BUTUAN CITY, June 9 (PIA) – Dengue cases in Caraga Region remarkably dropped by 51 percent in the first semester this year compared to the same period last year.

Dengue project regional coordinator Dr. Jonathan Basadre said that a total of 1,162 cases of dengue fever were admitted to the different disease reporting units regionwide from January 1 to June 6, 2015, lower by 1,224 cases than the 2,386 recorded in the same period in 2014.

Basadre also said that in terms of geographic distribution, Butuan City has the highest number in the six cities with 267 cases while Surigao del Sur is the highest among all the five provinces in the region with 230 cases.

There were also six deaths reported to the different diseases reporting units regionwide, it was learned.

“We continue to follow the simple rules of eradicating this problem by searching and destroying mosquito breeding places every 4:00 p.m. and be updated to the dengue status of our barangay,” said DOH Caraga regional director Dr. Jose Llacuna, Jr. (DJApit/PIA-Caraga)

World: Global Emergency Overview Snapshot 3 - 9 June 2015

9 June 2015 - 9:52am
Source: Assessment Capacities Project Country: Afghanistan, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Haiti, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, Vanuatu, World, Yemen

Snapshot 3-9 June 2015

Yemen: 20 million people, close to 80% of the population, are estimated to need humanitarian aid. 500,000 people were displaced in May, bringing the total displaced since 26 March to more than 1 million. The escalation in the conflict has meant two million more people are food insecure, and six million more lack access to healthcare, and 9.4 million lack access to safe water.

Nigeria: The situation in the northeast is destabilising further. Boko Haram attacks killed more than 66 people over 4–7 June. Populations in parts of Yobe, Borno, and Adamawa states are expected to face Emergency food insecurity between July and September.

Sudan: In South Kordofan, 26,000 people were displaced by violence in May. Increased violence in South Sudan has brought 13,000 new refugees to White Nile and South Kordofan since the end of May. In Darfur, some 100,000 people are thought to have been displaced since the beginning of the year, but they cannot be reached and numbers cannot be confirmed.

Go to for analysis of more than 40 humanitarian crises.

Updated: 09/06/2015 Next Update: 16/06/2015

Global Emergency Overview Web Interface

Philippines: Alternatives to coconut: Improving disaster resilience in the Philippines

8 June 2015 - 4:18pm
Source: Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development Country: Philippines

During the French presidential visit to Guiuan in February 2015, the French government reiterated its support to those most affected by the consequences of climate change in the Philippines, by supporting ACTED’s activities with the support of the French Development Agency (AFD). Part of this support will go to coconut farmers, hit severely by more and more frequent natural disasters due to global warming.

42 million headless coconut trees

In the Philippines, coconut trees are nicknamed "The Tree of Life". Indeed, coconut trees are not just images from pretty postcards. You can get nearly everything out of a coconut tree, from diverse sorts of food to solid furniture, oil, medicine, paper and even clothing. 25 million Filipinos are directly or indirectly dependent on the coconut tree industry. When typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013, it affected more than 14 million people, and destroyed millions of trees. Eastern Samar was one of the worst hit areas, with more than 42 million coconut trees beheaded.

In this desolated landscape of headless trees, Filipinos worked hard with the support of the government and the humanitarian community to rebuild their homes and ensure access to water and sanitation. But for more than one million farmer families, the question of how to build back their main source of work and income, coconut agriculture, remains a huge challenge. Replanting is not enough, newly planted coconut trees take between 6 to 8 years to be productive. Farmers need to diversify their production, find new possibilities of income.

A need for improved agricultural and business skills

When your family and most of the families around you have been cultivating coconut trees for ages, in an isolated area, it is difficult to imagine what else you can plant, and difficult to have access to different quality inputs. This lack of access and knowledge led to inadequate investment in storage and technology services (e.g. collection centers, livestock housing etc.), incorrect usage of inputs and technologies, which has decreased productivity and production quality, hampered soil quality and incurred higher production costs for farmers. This could also lead to markets becoming overcrowded with a single type of new product.

Besides the production itself, limited business skills, market linkages with buyers and sellers, and access to information about the market (supply and demand, price, market actors, and quality standards) is a challenge. Market structures and mechanisms are weak. Production is small scale and the area is difficult to reach so it does not attract bigger market players. Moreover, farmers are not well organized and they do not buy inputs in bulk amount or sell collectively. This gives them low leverage to negotiate prices or terms. They either have less access to services or are less confident to individually go and seek advisory services from the department of agriculture or other local government bodies. Market actors are also reluctant to work with individual farmers due to high transaction costs and risks, and low level of production and productivity.

A bridge between farmers and markets

ACTED, People In Need and HELVETAS (part of the European NGO network Alliance2015) have recently started to support farmers to diversify their livelihoods, with support from Swiss Solidarity and the French Development Agency. Teams will first conduct feasibility studies and market assessments in the area, which means exploring the existing types of agricultural practices, what techniques farmers are using, what is possible in terms of other agricultural practices that would be marketable, and how can existing farming practices be improved or what new techniques can be introduced.

Secondly, the project will support the training and capacity building of Local Lead Farmers who can provide continued agricultural support and expertise to their communities. Local Lead Farmers will be experienced and skilled local farmers who will act as the link between poor farmers and the private sector to help farmers enter and successfully engage in markets. Local Lead Farmers will support farmers to organize into Farmer Groups, identify markets and provide farmers with the technical and business know-how to be successful in markets. Local Lead Farmers act as trainers, extension workers and they embody the link or bridge between farmers and markets. Through the capacity build-up of local Lead Farmers, ACTED will support 12,000 farmers’ families recover sustainably by facilitating and supporting stable income generating opportunities, and improving their resilience to the effects of climate change.

World: Asia Pacific Zone Office Annual Report 2014 (MAA5001)

8 June 2015 - 6:59am
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Pakistan, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, World


The Asia Pacific zone (APZ) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) comprises the zone office in Kuala Lumpur, four regional offices in Suva (Pacific), Bangkok (Southeast Asia), Delhi (South Asia) and Beijing (East Asia) and 12 country offices, adopting a “best-positioned” strategy to support the national societies (NSs) in the zone according to their needs. Through this decentralized management structure, the Asia Pacific zone office directs the work of the regional and country offices.

The 37 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in Asia Pacific work to help the most vulnerable groups in their respective countries who are most affected by these disasters and socio-economic and health crises. With their widespread network of grassroots members and volunteers, they seek to address the needs of the most vulnerable people in both disaster, and non-disaster, situations.

The mission of the APZ office is to promote and facilitate the development of strong Asia Pacific NSs with quality disaster response/recovery and development programmes addressing priority humanitarian needs in their countries in line with Strategy 2020 as articulated by the Amman Commitment from the 8th Asia Pacific Regional Red Cross Red Crescent Conference held in October 2010 and the ‘Beijing Call for Innovation’ as per 9th Asia Pacific Regional Conference held in October 2014.

A major milestone for IFRC APZ has been its involvement in the 9th Asia Pacific Regional Conference and the pre-conference Youth Summit in Beijing. The Asia Pacific Regional Conference highlighted the importance of embracing innovation in terms of attitudes, technologies, approaches in building partnerships to support vulnerable people. The conference concluded with the ‘Beijing Call for Innovation’, 10 key action points to guide the IFRC’s humanitarian action in the coming years, including a commitment to establish a Red Cross Red Crescent Innovation Fund to pilot new and creative ways to work with communities through peer support platforms. The Beijing Call for Innovation will be a guiding document for East Asia NSs for the next 4 years.

The Youth Summit culminated in the ‘Beijing Youth Commitments 2014’ where 49 Red Cross Red Crescent youth delegates from 35 countries in Asia Pacific and the Middle East declared their determination to do more, do better, and reach further as they respond to disasters.

The launch of the IFRC annual flagship publication – The World Disasters Report (WDR 2014) – on 17 December 2014, in collaboration with the the Harun M. Hashim Law Centre of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) in which offering a platform for engagement between Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement members, faculty member and students of IIUM, representatives from the diplomatic community, international organisations and local NGOs

Malaysia: Dengue Situation Update 466, 2 June 2015

8 June 2015 - 2:07am
Source: World Health Organization Country: Cambodia, China, French Polynesia (France), Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Viet Nam

Update on the Dengue situation in the Western Pacific Region

Northern Hemisphere


As of 30 April, there were 20 cases of dengue reported in China for 2015. Compared with the same period of the previous of 2012 to 2014, the number of dengue cases reported in China has increased slightly in 2015(Figure 1).


As of 23 May 2015, there were 45,070 cases of dengue reported in Malaysia for 2015. This is 35% higher compared with the same reporting period of 2014 (n=33,456) (Figure 2). From 17 to 23 May 2015, there were 1,944 cases of dengue reported, 16% higher than the cases reported in the previous week (n=1,675).


From 1 January to 2 May 2015, there were 24,075 cases of dengue, including 65 deaths, reported in Philippines. This is 8.53% higher compared with the same reporting period in 2014 (n=22,182) (Figure 3).


As of 23 May 2015, there were 3,130 cases of dengue reported in Singapore for 2015. From 17 to 23 May 2015, 110 dengue cases reported, 48 cases lower than the previous week (Figure 4).