Innovations in Resilience

 

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Monday commuters at the end of our street this morning. Photo credit: Stephanie Le @saigonsteph

Over the last 24 hours Saigon has been submerged by Typhoon Usagi – officially the “longest and heaviest rainfall ever recorded in Saigon history”. Earlier last night, me and the girls schlepped home from a friend’s house, up to our knees in water and, overnight, our downstairs bathroom and kitchen were mildly flooded.

Thousands of other city residents here were less fortunate – one man was killed by a falling tree not far from where we live, and stories were shared overnight of people abandoning their homes and finding refuge elsewhere.

I’ve written before about storms in Saigon, and the natural occurring disasters in South East Asia more generally, but this current season has been busier than normal.

Vietnam often escapes heavy storms, thanks to the Philippines, a country well versed in combating typhoons, hurricanes and tropical storms. I’ve visited the country twice this year, working with CARE team in Manila who manage the TUKLAS Innovation Labs – a initiative supported by UK Aid and The Start Network that seeks out new ideas and solutions from local communities, to help them better prepare for the typhoons and storms which routinely batter the country’s shores.     Continue reading “Innovations in Resilience”

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Innovating against the inevitable

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Local street in Calamba City, Philippines

Paula Atun, a young Filipino entrepreneur living in Calamba City, thought she was filling in an online survey, with her idea on how to catch and filter rainwater. She’d seen the idea on the Discovery Channel.

A few weeks later, CARE Philippines had signed her up as one of their local ‘innovators’, tasked with investing over PHp 1,000,000 ($20,000) into this idea, and leading the production and distribution of it to 15 local households, the inhabitants of which are either elderly or living with disabilities.

Paula had, in fact, inadvertently applied to the Philippines TUKLAS Innovation Labs project. And her idea was eventually chosen as one of forty, shortlisted by CARE Philippines and three NGO partners managing this DFID and Start Network initiative.

The Philippines is the second most disaster prone country in the world, and the objective of TUKLAS is to source ideas from local communities for disaster preparedness. It then instigates a process for funding and building the capacities of local creators and entrepreneurs to pilot or scale these.      Continue reading “Innovating against the inevitable”

Tacloban: Exposing “middle-income” country realities

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CARE’s shelter team with local communities in rural Tacloban

I am on my way home from a visit to Tacloban, in the Philippines, one of the country’s most damaged districts following the carnage caused after Typhoon Yolanda swept through some of the nation’s poorest communities last November.

The Philippines has been classified by the World Bank as a “lower-middle income” economy. Middle-income economies are those with an annual GNI (gross national income) per capita of more than $1,045 but less than $12,74.

Other countries in Asia Pacific who share this classification with the Philippines include Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. “Upper-middle income” economies nearby can be found in China, Malaysia and Thailand, whilst the likes of Cambodia and Myanmar are “low income” status.

Meaning that, on the surface of things, the Philippines’ economic gains in recent years, and its growing numbers of new middle-class citizens, represent an optimistic narrative. Its capital city, Manila, stands as a beacon of commercial potential to the private sector, host to a recent World Economic Forum summit, home to some of the world’s most famous, and infamous, global retail brands. Busy, built up, urban Asia. Opportunistic, dynamic but, in fact, wholly deceiving.

Turn this promotional pamphlet over and what lies beneath is, at best, a flimsy and precarious reality… Continue reading “Tacloban: Exposing “middle-income” country realities”

Yolanda

Survivors of the super Typhoon Haiyan, wait for a C-130 military plane at T
Image courtesy of Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty images

You don’t need me to point out where this photo was taken, nor what messages sit behind the faces within it.

I only have admiration for those people who are on hand in the Philippines at the moment, helping, and only great sadness and hope for those whose lives have been altered forever.

For any long standing visitors to my blogs, it will hopefully have been made obvious by now that I have involved my organisation, CARE International, and the developmental issues we address around the world mainly as a platform from which to couch ideas and thoughts – mainly, in other words, as a lens through which I can write.

The world has collectively reacted to the images created by the Haiyan (Yolanda) typhoon, and we have all shared our thoughts with loved ones, friends, colleagues, people sat next to us on the bus.

Pointless as it typically is to try and immediately draw any conclusions as to what events like these ‘mean’, or what they reinforce to us all as fellow citizens on the planet, the one thing that remains tangible and easy for many of us to do, is support the work of those agencies who are, today, right now, saving lives.

It is not my intention to use this space again to promote CARE or the work of the other DEC (Disaster Emergency Committee) members, but today, and right now, that is what I am doing.

Here is a link through which you can lend your support:

http://www.careinternational.org.uk/news-and-press/latest-news-features/2459-typhoon-haiyan-this-will-haunt-me-for-a-long-time-