People read about climate change every day and we are all familiar with it as a concept. While we understand that steps need to be taken to address the risks; its impact often feels harder to imagine. We assume that the impacts are something we will experience in the future.
But in the Pacific, the impacts are already being felt by communities. This came across clearly in our work on the Climate Vulnerability Assessment – Making Fiji Climate Resilient report, which the Fijian Government produced with the support of our team and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), and which was launched at COP23.
For many Pacific Island countries, natural disasters such as cyclones and tsunamis, are an all-too common occurrence. Out of the top 15 most at-risk countries for natural disasters globally, four are Pacific Island countries, and Vanuatu is consistently at the top.
In 2015, Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu, and knowing the extent of damage was vital for the government to identify and plan reconstruction needs. A team of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) experts were sent out to quickly establish credible estimates of the damages and losses. Many damage reports were already available from the field, but with varying quality, and the challenge was to consolidate and verify them, within a very tight timeframe. Cloud cover also prevented us from getting satellite images, so we mobilized two UAV teams to fly below the clouds and capture high-resolution footage showing the impacts on the ground in the worst affected islands in Tafea and Shefa province.
Challenges continued throughout, from needing to coordinate airspace with those flying relief goods into affected areas, to transferring massive datasets over low internet bandwidths. But with team-effort and ingenuity, solutions were found; the UAV teams were able to capture valuable damage footage within sampled areas during the day, which were analysed overnight by volunteers of the Humanitarian Open Street Map (HOT) and the Digital Humanitarian Network; new workflows were developed to collate the data and to feed the outputs into the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment.
Berkat program subsidi pemerintah, Dewi baru saja menjadi pemilik rumah untuk pertama kalinya. Tahun lalu, Dewi pindah ke rumah barunya di Yogyakarta. Ia saat itu berpikir: semuanya sempurna.
Ternyata kenyataannya tidak demikian. Rumah Dewi berjarak satu jam dari pusat kota, jauh dari daerah perkantoran, pusat perbelanjaan, dan sekolah untuk kedua anaknya. Dua tahun setelah perumahan selesai dibangun, lebih dari setengah rumah di sana masih kosong. Karena rumah tidak terhubung dengan sistem air setempat, dua kali seminggu Dewi harus membeli air. Saat musim banjir, Dewi mengalami kesulitan untuk mencapai rumahnya.
Penyediaan perumahan yang terjangkau dan memadai telah menjadi prioritas kebijakan utama pemerintah Indonesia dengan diluncurkannya program Satu Juta Rumah (One Million Homes). Berbagai upaya sebelumnya untuk memenuhi permintaan perumahan yang terjangkau – gabungan dari adanya permintaan baru secara tahunan dan pemenuhan kekurangan perumahan yang belum terlaksana - belum secara efektif membawa dampak pada skala yang diperlukan.
Tapi haruskah jumlah kepemilikan rumah menjadi indikator tunggal program subsidi perumahan yang sukses? Mungkinkah ada program yang memenuhi kebutuhan Pemerintah untuk tetap efektif biaya secara fiksal maupun ekonomi, dan sekaligus dapat merespons pasar swasta dan juga kebutuhan warga?
Saat ini berbagai pilihan sedang dieksplorasi. National Affordable Housing Program Project (NAHP) yang baru disetujui misalnya, bertujuan untuk berinovasi dalam pasar perumahan yang terjangkau dengan mengatasi kemacetan dan secara aktif melibatkan sektor swasta dalam melayani berbagai segmen yang belum tersentuh. Sejauh ini, upaya dari Indonesia ini memberikan pelajaran berharga, yaitu:
Since our days in school, we have often been told to first define our terms before doing anything else. China is a country that does not shy away from acronyms, and “TOD,” or transit-oriented development—a concept that merges land use and transport planning—is one such acronym that has become wildly popular within the field of urban development.
So, recently, when government officials from seven Chinese cities and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development gathered to launch the China Sustainable Cities Integrated Approach Pilot Project on the topic of TOD, it was clear that they all had the same definition of this three-letter acronym.
Or did they?
Cities in East Asia and the Pacific can be vibrant, exciting, and filled with opportunities. Yet we are always struck by their dichotomies: there are the bright lights, modern skyscrapers, air-conditioned malls, and the hustle and bustle of people coming and going to offices and shops.
And there are also neighborhoods with no safe drinking water, sanitation, or waste collection; where houses flood every time it rains; and where families spend long hours trying to earn enough to feed themselves and keep their children in school.
With an estimated 250 million people living in slums across the East Asia and Pacific region, and much more urbanization to come, prioritizing the delivery of basic services and ensuring opportunities for the urban poor presents an urgent call for action.
Peace – something that many of us take for granted in our own lives – is elusive for millions of people around the world, including in southern Philippines. Long-standing conflict between the government and rebel groups, and a complicated patchwork of clan and family conflicts, has led to decades of economic stagnation and poverty in one of the Philippines’ most beautiful and productive regions – Mindanao. A peace process is hopefully nearing its conclusion and is expected to bring autonomy and with it, greater opportunities for peace and development to the people of the Bangsamoro.
The Philippines is a middle-income country – with GDP at $2,953 per capita and a robust economy, with almost 96% enrollment rate in basic education, and improving health indicators such as child mortality; overall the country is doing well. But these numbers mask sharp regional contrasts: in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) the GDP per capita is only $576 – equivalent to countries like Rwanda and Afghanistan – the poverty rate is 53.7%, and more than 50% of its employed population are in agriculture with 80% of them working as subsistence farmers, living precariously from crop to crop. One crop failure can mean ruin for a family.
In a hot and crowded school classroom in December 2015 I sat excitedly watching Margaret Wete accept her role as Village Peace Warden for Waimasi and neighbouring villages in Makira/Ulawa Province, Solomon Islands. She was the first woman to be elected into this role by her community and I took it as a positive sign that the majority of those present for the vote were young women and men, making an important decision for the community’s future and putting their faith in a fellow young person.
At the end of “the tensions”, a civil war in Solomon Islands which lasted from 1998 to 2003, peace was something not many people could picture. The government requested, and received, support from the region and 14 years of RAMSI – the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands – ensued.
Rapid urbanization in the Philippines has brought new jobs, educational opportunities, and better living conditions for some. However, it has also brought challenges, which you’ll see when you move around the streets of Metro Manila. It’s a large sprawling metropolitan area of over 12 million, with congestion that is estimated to cost US$70 million (₱3.5 billion) a day. When it rains, streets and homes are quickly flooded because many drains are clogged or non-existent. Because of lack of affordable housing, an estimated 11 percent of the city’s population live in slums. With 17 cities and municipalities in the metropolitan area, trying to tackle these challenges becomes stuck in deep complexities of urban governance and management. While other cities in the Philippines don’t face the scale of these challenges, they tackle similar issues.