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Philippines: DOH intensifies its campaign to prevent spread of leptospirosis cases in OrMin

23 January 2016 - 1:00am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

CALAPAN CITY, Oriental Mindoro, Jan. 18 (PIA) – The Department of Health (DOH) Mimaropa has intensified its campaign to prevent spread of leptospirosis to residents whose areas were recently flooded due to possible infections they may get from the urine of infected animals.

In Oriental Mindoro alone, it was confirmed that four leptospirosis cases were found positive based on the specimens submitted recently to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for validation.

According to the RITM, the four cases that are tested positive were two from Sta. Rosa I, Baco, and one from Brgy. Poblacion, Baco and another one from Brgy. Calsapa, San Teodoro. All of them were males ranging 16-38 years of age.

Further, according to DOH Mimaropa Regional Epidemiological Surveillance Unit (RESU), from December 27, 2015 to January 12, 2016, there are now a total of 58 reported suspected leptospirosis in Mindoro with 30 males (52%) and 28 females (48%) whose ages ranged from six to 76 years old. Four deaths have been reported by DOH as to date.

Meanwhile, DOH Mimaropa Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo said they are conducting strict monitoring in different areas to stop the increasing leptospirosis cases in the province. In fact, the RESU, Provincial DOH Office and Provincial Epidemiological Surveillance Unit (PESU) continue to conduct mentoring to staff of rural health units on the management of cases and further case finding to prevent the spread of cases in the community.

Janairo said that most of the suspected leptospirosis cases have already recovered while the others are still undergoing treatment. “We advise residents to take precautionary measures such taking doxycycline tablets before wading to rice-paddies as waters may be contaminated by urine from infected animals,” Janairo said.

Likewise, Janairo assured Mindoreños that they will continue to provide technical assistance to LGUs in the province of Oriental Mindoro. DOH is providing additional prophylaxis in areas with positive cases and supplementary doxycycline capsules and these are distributed to evacuation centers to prevent them from contracting leptospirosis disease. (DOH-Mimaropa/LTC/PIA-Calapan)

Philippines: Success Story: An Integrated Approach to Assistance in the Philippines

22 January 2016 - 2:02pm
Source: US Agency for International Development Country: Philippines

Following Typhoon Haiyan, USAID supported multisector programs that included DRR to help Tacloban residents rebuild their neighborhoods and increase their resilience against future disasters.

In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan affected 16 million people, caused at least 6,300 deaths, and damaged or destroyed nearly 1.1 million houses across the Philippines. In the coastal city of Tacloban, powerful winds and storm surge devastated seaside neighborhoods, damaged the vast majority of the city’s infrastructure, and left tens of thousands of residents wondering how to rebuild their homes and lives.

In coordination with the Government of the Philippines, USAID quickly identified Tacloban as a priority area for assistance and supported a range of partners to rapidly provide emergency shelter materials and other life-saving aid to typhoon-affected households. At the same time, USAID began discussions with partners regarding longer-term interventions to help communities safely rebuild and increase their resilience against future disasters.

USAID’s partnerships with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Plan International USA (Plan) illustrate USAID’s integrated, neighborhoodbased approach to assistance in Tacloban. USAID supported CRS and Plan to implement multi-year, multi-sector programs that centered on disaster risk reduction (DRR) while simultaneously providing protection, shelter, and water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance to 26 coastal barangays, or wards, severely affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

Through a combination of repaired and newly constructed houses, apartment rentals, and host family support, CRS and Plan provided transitional shelter assistance to more than 4,500 households in Tacloban with USAID funding. The organizations also engaged communities to restore or build water supply and drainage infrastructure, latrines, and hand washing facilities while concurrently conducting hygiene promotion campaigns and educating residents about genderbased violence, child safety, and other protection concerns.

USAID’s approach to early recovery in Tacloban included a continuous focus on emergency preparedness and response to build community resilience and mitigate the effects of future disasters. CRS and Plan trained nearly 2,900 people on safer construction techniques, established and trained emergency response teams in each of the targeted barangays, and conducted disaster drills that engaged thousands of community members, among many other capacity-building activities.

While many disaster response programs are short-term and focus on a limited number of activities, USAID supported CRS and Plan to implement longer-term programs in Tacloban that encompassed a range of projects that helped neighborhoods devastated by Typhoon Haiyan rebuild their homes, infrastructure, and sense of security. Additionally, the 26 barangays targeted by CRS and Plan are now more resilient and better prepared to face future shocks—one of USAID’s key objectives in Tacloban and throughout the Philippines.

World: El Niño and Health: Global Overview, January 2016

22 January 2016 - 5:46am
Source: World Health Organization Country: Argentina, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Cook Islands, Djibouti, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, French Polynesia (France), Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niue (New Zealand), Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tokelau, Tonga, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna (France), World, Zambia, Zimbabwe

El Niño threatens at least 60 million people in high-risk developing countries, WHO says

Geneva, 22 January 2016—The World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners predict a major global increase in health consequences of emergencies this year due to El Niño.

El Niño is a warming of the central to eastern tropical Pacific Ocean which affects rainfall patterns and temperatures in many parts of the world but most intensely in the tropical regions of Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America which are particularly vulnerable to natural hazards. Typically, some places receive much more rain than normal while others receive much less.

“From Ethiopia to Haiti to Papua New Guinea, we are seeing the damage from El Niño, and we believe the impact on public health is likely to continue throughout 2016, even after El Niño winds down,” said Dr Richard Brennan, Director of WHO's Emergency Risk Management & Humanitarian Response Department. “To prevent unnecessary deaths and illnesses, governments must invest now in strengthening their preparedness and response efforts.”

According to a new report by WHO, severe drought, flooding, heavy rains and temperature rises are all known effects of El Niño that can lead to food insecurity and malnutrition, disease outbreaks, acute water shortages, and disruption of health services. The health implications are usually more intense in developing countries with fewer capacities to reduce the health consequences. The current El Niño from 2015 to 2016 is predicted to be the worst in recent years, and comparable to the El Niño in 1997-1998 which had major health consequences worldwide. In Eastern Africa, as a result of the El Niño in 1997-1998, WHO found that rainfall patterns were unusually heavy and led to serious flooding and major outbreaks of malaria, cholera and Rift Valley Fever.

Based on the latest UN figures, the report estimates 60 million people will be impacted by El Niño this year with many suffering health consequences. Thus far, requests for financial support by seven high-risk countries (Ethiopia, Lesotho, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda) facing the health costs of El Niño have reached US$ 76 million. WHO expects more countries will seek financial support to respond to El Niño effectively. Part of the response will be to provide additional health services to those in need, such as increased surveillance and emergency vaccination. Immediate needs also require funds to provide treatments for severely malnourished children in many countries, such as Ethiopia.

Different impacts across the world

While adverse weather effects of El Niño are expected to peak in January 2016 and wind down by April, the health impacts will last throughout 2016.

“It could take years to recover without an adequate, efficient and timely preparedness and response to El Niño," said Dr Brennan.

El Niño is causing heavy rains and flooding in Eastern Africa with an associated risk that a recent cholera epidemic of more than 12 000 reported cases in Tanzania will spread and other countries will experience disease outbreaks. The Tanzanian cholera outbreak is the largest since 1997-1998, which had over 40 000 reported cases.

In the Horn of Africa, the devastating drought which has affected 22 million people has been followed by unusually heavy rains with a higher risk of vector borne-disease such as malaria, and outbreaks of other communicable diseases including measles and cholera. Populations with high rates of malnutrition are more susceptible to these types of diseases.

Extreme drought and acute water shortages affecting millions of people in south western Pacific, Central America and southern Africa will extend into the first half of 2016 leading to increased malnutrition and diarrheal diseases. For example, in Central America 4.2 million people are currently affected by drought. The poorest, most affected households may be severely food insecure with increased malnutrition until the next harvest in August 2016.

Following the severe flooding in Paraguay in December which led to evacuations of more than 100 000 people, wetter conditions in South America are expected to cause intense flooding in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia with increased incidence of vector-borne diseases, respiratory infections and damage to health facilities with impacts to last well into 2016.

Health effects can be prevented

WHO’s report notes that important steps can be taken to prevent and reduce the health effects of El Niño, including: disease surveillance; controlling the transmission of diseases (e.g. vaccinations) and the vectors that spread diseases; mobilizing communities to promote health and hygiene practices; improving water and sanitation services; strengthening logistics and medical supply chains; providing emergency medical care and maintaining access to health services; and effective coordination of preparedness and response measures.

WHO and partners supporting countries in their preparedness and response to El Niño

WHO and partners are working closely to support governments and the health sector in their preparedness and response for El Niño. To support national emergency measures in many countries, WHO has deployed specialised health emergency and technical personnel to Ethiopia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Somalia, Tanzania and several Pacific Islands. WHO and health sector partners have provided inputs to government and UN interagency planning and coordination for El Niño at national level, including in Ecuador, Haiti, Kenya, Malawi, Papua New Guinea, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.

In addition, WHO has actively worked with countries and donors in other ways, including, information management and health risk assessments, as well as engagement with national meteorological agencies for detailed updates on rainfall observed as well as more localised predictions.

Philippines: Philippines: Typhoon Melor - 3W (Who-does What Where) Snapshot (as of 21 January 2016)

22 January 2016 - 4:42am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Philippines

Philippines: Philippines Humanitarian Bulletin Issue 1 | 1 December 2015 – 15 January 2016

21 January 2016 - 7:15am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Philippines

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Landless farmers bear the brunt of drying effects of El Niño in southern Mindanao.

  • 85 per cent of the country is projected to experience drought due to El Niño by the end of April.

  • Government declares a state of national calamity as three weather disturbances affect the Philippines.

  • 24,600 people remain displaced in Zamboanga as it faces serious water shortage.

Small-scale farmers bear the brunt of El Niño in southern Mindanao

Breadbasket of Mindanao hit by prolonged dry spell

While the rain brought by Typhoon Melor (known locally as Nona), Tropical Depression Onyok and the northeast monsoon was much-needed respite from the drying effects of El Niño, large areas of the Philippines are expected to face drought in the coming months.
Small-scale farmers in southern Mindanao are already suffering a big drop in crop production, and fear that El Niño might push them further into debt.

Region XII of the Philippines, composed of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces, is considered to be the breadbasket of Mindanao.

Mindanao accounts for over 40 per cent of the country’s food requirements and contributes more than 30 per cent to the national food trade according to FAO.

Farmers here produce staple crops including rice and corn and cultivate large plantations of cash crops such as bananas and pineapples.

The prevailing El Niño has led to dry conditions in 2015. Sarangani province in particular recorded below-normal (40-80 per cent of average) rainfall for seven months and waybelow-normal (less than 40 per cent of average) rainfall for three months, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

Landless farmers without coping mechanisms suffer production loss

For Jennie Korbo, a small-scale farmer in Alabel municipality of Sarangani, waiting for the rain was not an option. She grows corn on her rented 1.8-hectare land, which yields 3.7 tons or 148 sacks of corn during a normal farming season. Due to frequent water shortage this season, her corn has been withered and she is expecting to harvest less than 1 ton or about 40 sacks.

Though she had heard about El Niño and its effects on the radio, she took the risk of planting in August 2015 because she could not afford to delay harvest. In addition to PhP7,000 (US$147) annual rent for the farmland, Jennie had borrowed P30,000 ($628) to buy seeds, fertilizer and chemical spray for the corn. With most of her corn damaged, she lost over P10,000 ($209) net profit this season and can pay back only P8,000 ($167) out of her loans. A working mother of five, Jennie is worried her family might remain in debt for several farming seasons to come.

Many landless farmers in Mindanao share similar stories. While they cultivate one of the richest farmlands in the country, they are often chronically food insecure. A single bad harvest can strain their already-poor access to food as well as their income to purchase alternatives. Coupled with low literacy levels and a dependence on rural livelihoods, they find it extremely difficult to cope with the impact of El Niño.

Philippines: Philippines: Accountability to affected populations at the core of FAO’s Typhoon Haiyan Response

21 January 2016 - 6:56am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization Country: Philippines

When Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) swept through the central Philippines on 8 November 2013, the storm affected some 14.1 million people and caused more than USD 700 million in damage to the agriculture sector, severely threatening the country’s food security.

The typhoon’s record intensity destroyed crop fields, orchards, fishing boats and gears—virtually all productive assets that rural and coastal families base their livelihoods upon.

With one-third of the country’s population relying on the agriculture sector for their livelihood, it was crucial to get people back on their feet as quickly as possible and assist them in rebuilding their lives.
FAO placed Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) at the core of its emergency and rehabilitation programme cycle. In line with this, the views of communities were taken into account, so that both the process and what was being delivered addressed their needs, especially for the most vulnerable.

AAP principles were integrated into the design, implementation and evaluation of all FAO projects to ensure the highest levels of programme accountability in terms of participation, governance, transparency and redress to complaints by programme beneficiaries.

From the start of implementation, all staff members including partners from the Government and Local Government Units were oriented on AAP as FAO’s commitment to local communities.

The number and type of inputs provided to beneficiaries were configured based on their farming needs, vulnerability and suitability to the area. This was done through conducting Agricultural Hazard and Vulnerability Mapping exercises in consultation with municipal agriculture officers, and presentation/validation with partners at project coordination committee meetings.

To further engage in two-way communication with affected communities during the recovery and rehabilitation phase, a mobile phone feedback system was set up using FrontlineSMS, a web-based platform that aggregates feedback gathered from communities into data for ease of sharing, reporting and tracking of responses. The feedback system encouraged farmers and stakeholders to SMS their concerns or questions about inputs received and the process.

Throughout the programme implementation, flyers and banners in the local dialect were also produced and distributed to ensure that there was continuing emphasis on beneficiary engagement in the decision-making process as well as respect for their cultural sensitivities.

At the conclusion of each project, a performance assessment was conducted by gathering feedback from selected implementation partners at the regional, provincial and municipal levels, including community-based organization representatives and project beneficiaries. The process included developing sustainability plans, which were formulated by the beneficiaries together with their corresponding local government units, to identify opportunities to link to existing or upcoming government programmes.

Philippines: Philippines: 2015 In Retrospect Snapshot

21 January 2016 - 6:48am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Philippines

In 2015, 14 typhoons and tropical storms entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility, 9 of which made landfall. Typhoon Koppu (known locally as Lando) in October and Typhoon Melor (Nona) in December displaced hundreds of thousands of people in Luzon. Government-led military operations in central Mindanao led to displacement of over 120,000 people, while 24,600 displaced people in Zamboanga City are still waiting for permanent housing. Minor eruptions and abnormal activities of Mayon, Bulusan and Kanlaon volcanoes prompted the authorities to raise alerts. Effects of El Niño were slowly felt throughout the country, with many provinces experiencing below normal rainfall, dry spells and drought. Conditions are projected to worsen in the first half of 2016 and aggravate water shortage and food insecurity.

Philippines: Philippines - Mindanao: Impact of El Niño (January 2016)

21 January 2016 - 6:02am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Philippines

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) on 30 September 2015 announced that a mature and “strong” El Niño now prevailed in the tropical Pacific Ocean, upgrading the categorization from “moderate” conditions observed in the four months since June.
PAGASA projects that El Niño will remain strong from December 2015 to February 2016 before the ocean temperature of the Equatorial Pacific characterising the phenomenon normalises in May or June 2016. Below normal rainfall is expected in most parts of the country from January to April, which may lead to drought condition. More than 60 provinces including the provinces in Mindanao will be affected by the end of April. PAGASA in its latest drought/dry spell assessment reported that 11 provinces were affected by dry spell and 1 province by drought in Mindanao.

Philippines: El Niño Advisory No. 11 (7 January 2016)

19 January 2016 - 7:31pm
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

Strong El Niño still persists in the tropical Pacific Ocean

Sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTAs) in the equatorial Pacific are still beyond 1.5°C, indicative of a strong El Niño event. The highest running three-month SSTA so far, was recorded in October-November-December 2015. Transition to El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) – neutral condition is expected by May-June-July 2016 season.

The weather systems that affected the country in December were the inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ), low pressure areas (LPAs), Northeast (NE) monsoon, tail-end of cold front, easterlies, and two tropical cyclones, namely: Typhoon (TY) “Nona” (Dec. 11-17) and Tropical Depression (TD) “Onyok” (Dec. 16-18). TY “Nona” made four landfalls over the provinces of Northern Samar, Sorsogon, Marinduque and Romblon, while TD “Onyok” made landfall over Manay, Davao Oriental. Both tropical cyclones brought heavy rainfall and enhanced the Northeast (NE) Monsoon that caused flooding and landslide incidents over most parts of Luzon and along the track of TY Nona over Bicol-Samar Area.

Rainfall assessment for the month of December showed that most parts of Luzon experienced near to above normal rainfall conditions except for Catanduanes and Palawan which received below to way below normal rainfall. Most provinces of Visayas and Mindanao received below to way below normal rainfall, although there are patches of areas which received near to above normal rainfall specifically the provinces of Bohol, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, Davao del Norte, Agusan del Norte, and Agusan del Sur.

Further analysis showed that twenty three (23) provinces, mostly from Visayas and Mindanao were affected by dry spell; while the provinces of Northern Samar, Samar (Western Samar) and North Cotabato experienced drought conditions in December.

Slightly warmer than average surface air temperatures were observed in most parts of the country during the month of December.

Weather systems that will likely affect the country in January 2016 are the northeast monsoon, tail-end of cold front, easterlies, ITCZ, LPAs, ridge of high pressure areas and at most one (1) tropical cyclone that may develop and/or enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR), with probable tracks over the Visayas and northern Mindanao.

Rainfall outlook for January 2016 indicates that way below to below normal rainfall conditions will be likely in most parts of the country except in Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, provinces of Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR), Batanes, Isabela, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Nueva Ecija and Rizal where near to above normal rainfall are expected.

Drought and dry spell outlook for the month of January showed that fifteen (15) provinces will likely experience drought while fourteen (14) provinces may experience dry spell. For a complete list of these provinces, please refer to Drought/Dry Spell Outlook map.

Surface air temperatures for January are expected to be slightly warmer than normal in most parts of the country. Predicted ranges of temperature will be as follows: 7.5°C to 27.5°C over the mountainous areas of Luzon and 12.0°C to 35.0°C for the rest of Luzon, 18.0°C to 34.5°C over the Visayas, 14.0°C to 33.5 oC over the mountainous areas of Mindanao and 19.0°C to 37°C for the rest of Mindanao. Predicted temperature ranges in Metro Manila are 17.0°C to 34.0 °C.

PAGASA will continue to closely monitor the on-going strong El Niño condition and updates shall be issued as appropriate. Meanwhile, concerned agencies are advised to take precautionary actions and intervention measures to mitigate adverse impacts of El Niño. For further information, please contact the Climatology and Agrometeorology Division (CAD) at telephone numbers 434- 0955 or 435- 1675.

VICENTE B. MALANO, Ph.D.
Acting Administrator

World: Opportunities for peace and risk scenarios for 2016

19 January 2016 - 8:23am
Source: School for a Culture of Peace Country: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Myanmar, Philippines, South Sudan, Thailand, Turkey, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), World, Yemen

Opportunities for peace in 2016

Cyprus: The resumption of peace negotiations in 2015 and the confluence of factors linked to them (the commitment of local leaders, international support and the mobilisation of non-governmental actors from both communities of the island in favour of dialogue, as well as tangible results including but not limited to significant confidence-building measures) provide a historic window of opportunity to achieve a definitive agreement despite obstacles related to the circumstances and the background of the dispute.

Burkina Faso: The country has put an end to the transition begun after the fall of the regime of Blaise Compaoré by holding the presidential and legislative elections that had been postponed following the failed coup d’état in September 2015. The elections returned control of the country’s political institutions to the Burkinabe people after an 18-month interim government, ushering in a new period of democracy for Burkinabe society.

Myanmar: The results of the general elections, which gave an overwhelming majority to Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party (NLD) and will lead to the formation of a new government without military guardianship, together with the ceasefire agreement signed with eight insurgent organisations, portends progress on the path to democracy and peace in the country during 2016.

Thailand: Exploratory talks were resumed in 2015 between the military junta and Mara Patani, an organisation uniting the main armed groups operating in the southern part of the country. The unification of the insurgent movement’s demands and the state’s recognition that dialogue is necessary to resolve the armed conflict are two mandatory conditions for building trust between the parties.

Peace processes: Recent research shows that peace processes that are inclusive and incorporate a gender and civil society perspective are more sustainable and more likely to result in the signing of a peace agreement than those that do not. Moreover, the participation of women could also help to draft agreements that address equality-related issues.

Risk scenarios in 2016

Burundi: There has been a significant deterioration of governance in the country in recent years. Growing authoritarianism and the controversial candidacy of President Pierre Nkurunziza, along with the atmosphere of political violence and human rights violations, are different aspects that reveal the seriousness of the situation and have pushed the country to the brink of armed conflict in recent months.

Mali: In June 2015, a peace agreement was achieved between the government and the Arab and Tuareg rebel movements operating in the northern region after three and a half years of armed conflict. However, the exclusion of the jihadist movements from the negotiations and the ineffectiveness of securitization measures to contain their presence pose serious obstacles to ending to the violence and may even jeopardise implementation of the peace agreements.

DRC: The upcoming cycle of new elections is causing an escalation of political violence and general instability as a consequence of the attempts of President Kabila to postpone the presidential election and thereby prolong his rule, as well as the failures of the military operation against the FDLR and the amnesty for and return of the armed group M23, which could lead to a resumption of the conflict.

South Sudan: After the signing of a peace agreement following 20 months of bloody civil war, the warring parties’ lack of ownership of it, the government’s unilateral decisions in matters that should be the jurisdiction of the new transitional government that has yet to be created, the repeated ceasefire violations and the emergence of new armed actors are putting the prospects for peace in the country at serious risk.

Venezuela: The opposition’s resounding victory in the parliamentary elections has led to a new political scenario in the country marked by a polarisation of forces between the executive and legislative branches of government. This new political situation, which substantially modifies the power of Chavism after 15 years, may give rise to new tensions and disputes between the government and opposition forces that could further convulse national politics, expand social fragmentation and lead to outbreaks of violence.

Afghanistan: The negotiating process between the Taliban and the Afghan government hit a roadblock due to an internal crisis within the Taliban movement. The division within its leadership threatens the future of the negotiations. Despite the rising violence, Ashraf Ghani’s commitment to the dialogue and to reaching out a hand to Pakistan, which is still providing sanctuary to Taliban leaders, is weakening the already brittle Afghan government. In addition, although Pakistan should participate in the agreement, its desire to control the process is pitting the parties against each other even more.

Philippines: The problems and delays experienced by Congress to approve the Bangsamoro Basic Law, a kind of statute of autonomy governing the new autonomous entity of Bangsamoro and specifying the contents of the historic peace agreement signed by the government and the MILF in 2014, caused deadlock in the peace process and raised fears of an internal split within the MILF and a resumption of violence in Mindanao.

Turkey: The conflict between Turkey and the PKK seriously worsened in 2015 due to factors such as the increasingly urban nature of the war, the “Syrianisation” of the Kurdish issue and the irruption of ISIS onto Turkish soil, the deterioration of the social atmosphere, the regression of democracy and questions about sustainable dialogue options. These dynamics could worsen in 2016 if measures to build trust and de-escalate the violence are not urgently implemented.

Yemen: Violence in the country escalated significantly in March 2015, when an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia decided to intervene to halt the advance of the Houthi militias that had ousted the government at the beginning of the year. Looking ahead to 2016, the situation threatens to worsen due to the growing complexity of the armed conflict, the severe impact of the violence on the civilian population and the obstacles to a political solution to the conflict.

Jihadist threat: ISIS has established itself as a new model for international jihadism and a competitor with alQaeda, demonstrating a greater ability to act around the world. Many factors may favour the increase of jihadist violence in the future, including an intensification in the struggle between ISIS and al-Qaeda, a greater incidence of armed actions by returning militiamen or “lone wolf” attacks and the possible adverse effects of the international response to ISIS.

Philippines: Communities face multiple challenges following Typhoon Melor

19 January 2016 - 3:29am
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Country: Philippines

By MJ Evalarosa, IFRC @MJEvalarosa

As communities in the Philippines begin to recover from the combined impacts of Typhoon Melor and Tropical Depression Twenty Three, many classrooms in the affected provinces are still too damaged to be used. According to the Department of Education, more than a thousand classrooms were totally damaged, while 2,000 more require major repairs. Regular classes have resumed on 4 January 2016 but many schools had to set up temporary classrooms or conduct their lessons outside the damanged buildings. 

For students in the town of MacArthur, going to school meant helping to clear the debris and salvage what they could from their classrooms. The town, which is nestled within the municipality of Monreal in Masbate, suffered the worst of the damage when the typhoon struck. Father Danilo dela Bajan, who lives inside the school grounds, said that it would take another week before they can resume classes.

“It is difficult to find workers to set up temporary classrooms and help clear the debris, because they themselves are victims of the typhoon and are busy repairing or rebuilding their own homes,” Father Danilo said. “At the moment, our school urgently needs chairs and books, since they have been completely destroyed.”

For some schools, like in San Vicente in Bulusan, Sorsogon, students were asked to help clear the debris from fallen trees and damaged roof under the supervision of their teachers. In the town of Kauswagan in the Biri Islands, Northern Samar, school only started on 6 January as students and teachers spent the first three days cleaning broken glass and burying them to prevent anyone from getting cut.  

Last December, Typhoon Melor and Tropical Depression Twenty Three triggered a massive flooding that caused structural damage in several areas in Southern Luzon and Eastern Visayas. At the peak of the typhoon, over 362,000 people were being supported inside and outside evacuation centres. The estimated cost of damage to agriculture and infrastructure is 6.5 billion Philippine Pesos (USD 140 million), with agriculture damage alone amounting to 4.3 billion Philippine Pesos (USD 90 million).

Over a month since the typhoon, communication and electricity lines are still down in many provinces, particularly in areas that are difficult to reach like island communities in Masbate and Northern Samar. “Our only form of communication with the most affected areas like Northern Samar was via radio since cell phone lines were down,” said Philippine Red Cross Chairman, Richard Gordon.

On 18 December, a composite team from the Philippine Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was deployed to Northern Samar to assess the damage wrought by Typhoon Melor. In total, 872 personnel consisting of 136 staff members and 736 Red Cross volunteers took part in the relief operation.   

“We wanted to see the extent of the damage and to make an assessment as to how we can assist the communities so that they can get back on their feet,” Gordon added. 

For the latest updates on the emergency response in the Philippines, follow @IFRCAsiaPacific.

Philippines: Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (12 - 18 January 2016)

18 January 2016 - 4:22am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Japan, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Philippines, Thailand

PHILIPPINES

The number of displaced families in North Cotabato province temporarily increased from 186 families to about 600 families (2,800 people) following armed conflict over land between two clans associated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on 7 Jan. About 60 per cent of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) returned home by 12 Jan. Remaining IDPs are staying with friends or relatives. Initial assistance was provided by municipal authorities.

2,800 people displaced

Zamboanga City declared a state of calamity amid water shortage due to the persisting dry spell. Local authorities reported that some 600 hectares of rice and corn fields in the city were declared unusable by farmers. Insufficient water supply is reportedly escalating the tension between the displaced and the host communities.

600 acres unusable

THAILAND

The Government announced that nine provinces throughout the country are affected by drought.
Emergency procedures are in place to ensure adequate water supply during the dry season.

Nine drought-affected provinces

LAO PDR

Six circulating Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus (cVDPV1) cases have been confirmed in Bolikhamxay and Xaisomboun Provinces as of 11 Jan, including two confirmed deaths. On 13 Jan, the Prime Minister declared the current Vaccine Derived Polio Virus (VDPV) outbreak a National Public Health Emergency. The Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion of Ministry of Health and National Immunization Programme have put in place measures to ensure vaccines are available in all health facilities in the country.

JAPAN

A 6.7M earthquake struck off the coast of Hokkaido on 14 Jan. No tsunami was generated nor were there reports of casualties or damage.

Philippines: ICRC: Our work in the Philippines in 2015

18 January 2016 - 1:35am
Source: International Committee of the Red Cross Country: Philippines

HUMANITARIAN CONCERNS AND RESPONSE IN THE PHILIPPINES

The year 2015 was challenging for the Philippines due to several internal armed conflicts and other situations of violence that led to the displacement of around 100,000 civilians, mainly in Mindanao. Typhoons have also brought significant humanitarian consequences in some parts of the country.

The level of conflict-related incidents was slightly higher than in 2014. The ICRC, a neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian organization, was concerned by the almost daily occurrence of attacks and encounters, arrests, summary executions and improvised explosive devices mainly in Central and Eastern Mindanao, and the Sulu Archipelago, but also in Sorsogon Province in Region 5 and Samar in Region 8.

The ICRC has increased its confidential dialogue with all parties to the conflicts in relation to the respect for international humanitarian law. Its priorities have included building the resilience of communities affected by chronic armed conflicts through various projects; supporting the authorities to address the causes and consequences of extreme jail overcrowding; and enhancing the capacity of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), its primary operational partner, to help people affected by man-made and natural disasters.

Philippines: ‘Lando’ victims get aid from PLGU

18 January 2016 - 12:48am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

Ben Moses Ebreo

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya, Jan 17 (PIA) – Fifty eight families in the upland town of Sta. Fe town recently received cash assistance from the provincial government here in order to rebuild their houses wrecked by the recent onslaught of typhoon ‘Lando’ in the province last year.

The cash assistance ranging from P3,000.00 for partially damaged houses and P5,000.00 for totally damaged houses of the typhoon victims is part of the calamity funds given by the provincial government for calamity victims in the province.

Governor Ruth Padilla said more than 200 victims of typhoon ‘Lando’, whose houses were totally or partially damaged, will be given the same assistance particularly in the towns of Kasibu, Bambang and Aritao, among others.

Families of the five died casualties of the recent typhoon ‘Nona’ in Alfonso Castaneda town will also be given P10,000.00 each as cash assistance, Padilla said. (ALM/BME/PIA 2-Nueva Vizcaya)

India: 2015/2016 El Niño in Asia – An Actor Analysis

17 January 2016 - 11:32pm
Source: Action Against Hunger Country: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines

Situation to Date

In June 2015, drought conditions monitored by satellite showed high water deficits in various parts of the country. Cambodia suffered from a 2015/16 El Niño-induced drought that could rival the devastating effects of the 1997-98 episode.

Cambodia is considered by international institutions a moderate priority country23 among those most-affected by the 2015/16 El Niño. Areas of growing concern are located around the centre of the country and the North West.

Weather Patterns

Regional forecasts by the end of 2015 (October-December) indicate a moderately favourable improvement in rainfall patterns as compared to the seasonal averages. This could help alleviate the impact of the drier than average Monsoon months (July-September), usually providing about three-quarters of Cambodia’s annual rainfall. However, this relative improvement will be insufficient to compensate the existing deficit, which has already dried up many of the country’s water sources with limited capacity to fill them again until the next wet season (monthly average rainfall during the dry season show only few days of rain per month on the country. While climatic conditions are expected to improve, the situation remains preoccupying in terms of water availability by mid-2016.

Philippines: Int'l community supports milestones in Bangsamoro peace process

17 January 2016 - 3:24am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

MANILA, Jan. 17 -- Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles expressed her gratitude to the support and attention that the international community is giving to the Bangsamoro peace process, noting that these indicate the level of success the Philippine government has achieved in pushing peace in Mindanao.

"The level we have on our interchange and conversations with other countries regarding the Mindanao peace process is different (from the local mood)," Deles said in a meeting with media on January 12. "Some of the works that we have done caught the interest of the international community."

Deles said that such level of international discourse on the Bangsamoro peace process has not happened before in any of the government’s previous peace tables. She said the level of attention and engagement of the international community in connection with the Bangsamoro peace process, only showed that the negotiations are progressive and productive.

“This is a milestone in the peace process. What we went (through) last year only showed the profound understanding of the (interested) sectors on the peace negotiations,” Deles said.

During a visit to the Philippines in July 2015, Colombian Ambassador Tito Saul Pinilla said his government considers the decommissioning and normalization processes being implemented by the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as a model in the ongoing peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the rebel group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC).

“The situation in the Philippines between the government and the MILF is the same with the Colombian government and the FARC,” Pinilla said. “After 25 years of armed conflict, we have come to the peace table and it came to our interest on how the Philippines did the ceremonial decommissioning.”

Last June 16, 145 MILF combatants and 75 crew-serve and high-powered weapons were decommissioned in simple ceremonies in Sultan Kudarat to signal Phase I of the normalization process under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed between the Philippine government and the MILF.

The International Decommissioning Body (IDB), a multinational independent body led by Turkey, supervised the decommissioning process of the MILF forces and weapons as stipulated in the CAB.

Other countries in conflict-situations like Thailand and Myanmar have also sent delegations to study the Bangsamoro peace process.

In July last year, 16 members of the Afghanistan High Peace Council (HPC) went to the Philippines to study the peace process, especially in upholding the role of women in the peace talks.

New York-based International Peace Institute (IPI) hailed both Deles and GPH chief peace negotiator Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer as ideal women peacemakers for their key roles in the government peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the MILF.

Deles is the country’s first woman presidential peace adviser while Ferrer is the first female to chair the MILF peace negotiations and the first female chief negotiator in the world to sign a major peace agreement.

Ferrer also accepted the 2015 Hillary Clinton Award for Advancing Women in Peace and Security held at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The said award honors Ferrer for her “indefatigable work to bring about peace in the Philippines and for (her) historic role as the first female chief negotiator to sign a comprehensive peace agreement.” (OPAPP)

World: Over 12 million children have better educational opportunities through IKEA Foundation, Save the Children and UNICEF partnership

15 January 2016 - 9:58pm
Source: UN Children's Fund, Save the Children Country: Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, Philippines, Viet Nam, World

NEW YORK, 15 January, 2016 – More than 12 million children in over 46 countries have better schools, teachers and learning materials, thanks to a 13-year partnership between the IKEA Foundation, Save the Children and UNICEF.

Since 2003, the IKEA Foundation’s ‘Soft Toys for Education’ campaign has contributed €88 million to Save the Children and UNICEF, helping to increase school attendance for some of the world’s most marginalized and vulnerable children. Funds have also helped train teachers, provide educational materials and improve child protection systems in schools and communities.

“Education is the most solid road leading out of poverty. All children have the right to an education but still too many are left behind. Partnering with UNICEF and Save the Children for 13 years has allowed us to address this issue strategically and invest in improving the quality of education in some of the world’s poorest communities—and we’re incredibly grateful to the IKEA customers and co-workers who have worked so hard to make that right a reality for over 12 million children,” said Per Heggenes, CEO IKEA Foundation

In Ethiopia, funds from the IKEA Foundation have helped UNICEF reach children in rural farming communities with basic education. The flexible schooling model has been so successful that the Ethiopian government has rolled it out nationally.

In China, IKEA Foundation funding helped develop early-childhood development centres for disadvantaged children living in selected rural communities. The impact of these centres on children’s lives contributed to the Government of China’s decision to universalize preschool education.

“UNICEF is grateful to the IKEA Foundation, IKEA co-workers and customers for the commitment demonstrated over the past 13 years to help transform children’s lives through education,” said UNICEF Global Chief of Education Josephine Bourne. “We will continue to build on these achievements so that many more of the world’s most vulnerable and marginalized children are given the opportunity to build a better future for themselves and their families through education.”

With the support of the IKEA Foundation, Save the Children has worked in 17 countries in Asia and Europe to provide educational opportunities for previously out-of-school children, to improve the learning environment and to train teachers on child-centred, nonviolent, and inclusive teaching methodology.

In Bangladesh, the Philippines and Vietnam, Save the Children has, together with education authorities and civil society organizations, supported policy reform and practices to ensure that children from minority groups learn in a language they understand.

“Education is a human right and the means by which to equip children with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the world. It also saves lives, protects and builds peace. Save the Children is extremely grateful for the partnership we have with the IKEA Foundation and the support we receive from IKEA employees and customers around the globe. Together, we have made an enormous difference for children with disabilities and children from ethnic minority groups, and Save the Children will not rest until all children have the opportunity to learn,” said David Skinner, Director of Save the Children’s Education Global Initiative.

Although the Soft Toys for Education campaign has ended its successful run, the IKEA Foundation will continue its commitment to UNICEF and Save the Children through ongoing grants in Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia in the areas of education, early-childhood care and development, child protection, adolescence and humanitarian response.

Notes to editors

Behind these figures are the individual stories of teachers and children like May Yoi Ching Marma in Bangladesh, Naima in the Philippines, Nokolunga in South Africa and Jan Sankoh in Sierra Leone. Save the Children
The story of Naima in Mindanao, the Philippines https://www.savethechildren.net/save-children-ikea-foundation-partnership-case-study-philippines

The story of May Yoi Ching in Bangladesh
https://www.savethechildren.net/save-children-ikea-foundation-partnership-case-study-bangladesh

UNICEF

The story of Nokulunga in South Africa
http://www.unicef.org/esaro/5440_south-africa_day-of-the-girl-child.html

Studying despite the Ebola outbreak Sierra Leone
http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/sierraleone_81528.html

About IKEA Foundation

The IKEA Foundation (Stichting IKEA Foundation) is the philanthropic arm of INGKA Foundation, the owner of the IKEA Group of companies. We aim to improve opportunities for children and youth in some of the world’s poorest communities by funding holistic, long-term programmes that can create substantial, lasting change. The IKEA Foundation works with strong strategic partners applying innovative approaches to achieve large-scale results in four fundamental areas of a child’s life: a place to call home; a healthy start in life; a quality education; and a sustainable family income, while helping these communities fight and cope with climate change.

Learn more at www.ikeafoundation.org and www.facebook.com/IKEAfoundation.

About IKEA Group

Our vision is to create a better everyday life for people and we offer well designed, functional and affordable, high-quality home furnishings, produced with care for people and the environment. The IKEA Group has 315 stores in 27 countries. In addition, more than 40 stores are run by franchisees outside the IKEA Group. The IKEA Group had 716 million visitors during FY14 and 1.5 billion people visited www.ikea.com.

About Save the Children

Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organization for children, delivering programmes and improving children’s lives in more than 120 countries worldwide. Working towards a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation, Save the Children’s mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives. Learn more at www.savethechildren.net and www.facebook.com/savethechildren.

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work, visit http://www.unicef.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Join UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook

For further information, please contact:

IKEA Foundation
Radu Dumitrascu, Tel: +31 6 5569 8570, email: Radu.Dumitrascu@IKEAfoundation.org

Save the Children
Suzanne Standfast, Tel: +46 733 553 431, email: Suzanne.standfast@rb.se

UNICEF
Tania Dhakhwa, Tel: +41 22 909 5243, email: tdhakhwa@unicef.org

World: Finding Ways Together to Build Resilience: The Vulnerability and Risk Assessment methodology

15 January 2016 - 6:58am
Source: Oxfam Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Botswana, Ghana, Myanmar, Philippines, World

Oxfam's Vulnerability and Risk Assessment (VRA) tool develops a holistic, landscape-wide understanding of vulnerability and links up actors across various levels of governance to jointly identify and analyse root causes of vulnerabilities for distinct social groups and later design programmes and risk reduction initiatives accordingly, ensuring that they are equitable, gender-sensitive and effective.

Attention to historical and evolving power dynamics is fully embedded into the design of the VRA, primarily through the convening of a Knowledge Group to inspire and drive the analysis.

The VRA methodology has been implemented by Oxfam and its partners in twelve countries and by other aid and research organizations, such as the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the University of Cape Town and the University of Botswana.