Trans-boundary and DRM Forum

The Regional Dialogue on Trans-boundary Water and Disaster Management in North-East Cambodia, a joint effort of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) was held in Mondulkiri Province, as a starting venue for dialogue and discussions to bring to the fore key regional and long-standing issues of trans-boundary disaster and water management in thenorth-Eastern region of Cambodia.

Vulnerability assessments completed by IOM  in the provinces of Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri (2009) and Stung Treng (2010) revealed high vulnerability levels of surveyed communities to natural hazards, particularly flood (slow onset and flash floods) and drought. The devastation caused by flooding during the onslaught of Typhoon Ketsana drew attention to how dynamic pressures as well as vulnerable conditions can worsen the impacts of a disaster. The Ketsana Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (2010) reported that of the 14 poor provinces hit by the typhoon, Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri and Stung Treng provinces ranked high in terms of poverty levels. Additionally, these provinces suffered substantial losses in the health, education and transport sectors, and disruptions in rural water supply.

One of the key issues for disaster risk management in the North-East is the cooperation between nations and their counterpart regions in trans-boundary water management. Viet Nam and Cambodia are countries in the Lower Mekong Basin, with sharedborders in the North-Eastern provinces of Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri bordering the Central Highland provinces of Kon Tum and Gia Lai, and the tributary flows in the Se San, Sre Pok, and Sekong.

(Source: The Forum Concept Note: more to be reported later)

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Are ICTs emancipating women???

The introduction of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has been believed that will bring more opportunities for both men and women to increase their capabilities and utilities. Some thought so that it would bring to voice of the most vulnerable women and men to be heard. However, some argued that as long as technology designers are not gender sensitive, then ICT will not be beneficiaries to women, but for men.

Technology such as telecommunication, for example in India in the case of call centers, women have the chance to be in the front in term of employment and incomes to the families. In the case of Africa while women joined together in promoting, selling and marketing their textile online and likewise in the US and Cambodia where women and youth/young couples access to reproductive counseling with medical or specialist through internet. Additionally, social networking where all Khmer abroad get connected is becoming a popular now… These thanks to the advancement of the technology which have opened up doors and windows for men and women’s status to be socially and economically enhanced.

However, some other have challenged that the introduction of technology has not been to assist women in emancipating themselves from such patriarchal society; as long as women are not incorporated in the designs of the technology, men are not made to see and acknowledge their domination of women as well as women are not accessing/controlling to their resources. What is your opinions? Does the technical aspect of the “men” sufficiently to meet the needs of women online?

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Is there a fisherwoman?

Now, you have come here with perhaps little bit wonder why fisherwoman was my title? Have you have heard in Cambodia where men or women have told you that fisherwomen are on the boat fishing or with strong storm, winds or climate change affecting greatly on women? Maybe not!

My aims of writing this little blog is to alert readers that how we are so blindly ignored the fact that women also go fishing. Many reports includig published news recently as well as personnel working in related departments claimed that fishermen are hardest hit by the climate change or strong storm. What such a imbalanced of statements where many women as well as men go on fishing but her contributions and realisation of her efforts did not get any notices? Not only that, their impacts of flooding or disaster received so little attention that women do not get any affects from that. Doing so further will marginalise women but also reproducing the gender bias in both intervention and relief assistance.

Should also note that the Tsumani report recently show that women and kids are very much vulnerable to the disaster given such socially and cultural constructed in term of what should be so called appropriate.

This has gathered for an attention that such impacts of disaster or climate change is very much socially context specific but also locally and globally influenced. Give the gender division of labour where women are given role as household/wives and caregivers, as long as this nottion remains alive and we dont act anything towards this, women will continue to be dismissed not from just development assistance but also her great contribution would go un-notice. How will we make sure that we can transform such idea? Later of my next post will be available soon. Come by and let us share.

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If women exist, why dont we talk about them in the postive way?

Some concerns over the fact that women still remain uncounted in both participating and contributing to the development and its impacts of the country. I am aware of the other gender who dont fall into the category of either male or female, though for the sake of this article, I am just using women and men ( Apology for those who are not of them, but I promise i will come back with another blog dealing specifically on gays, lesbians, transgenders and so on).

In the attempt of this article, I shall outline several things on how can our policies be more inclusive towards gender, the different needs of both women and men and recogising their each individual needs to achieving gender equity. Three points shall be raised are: (1) Engendering public policies, (2) Men, you gotta do it, (3) Women, let’s get up and take action. I will be as brief and simple as I can.

Women Empowerment Indicators are limited to only certain levels, for eg. parliamentarian positions held women. However, I am referring is on the process of mainstreaming gender into our government policies. We see most of the positions and departments are occupied by male, and yet with limited understanding of the women’s needs, (I am not talking about reproductive needs, but the needs for their development, the ability). Of course gender is no one business, but the business of all to ensure our policy is well enough addressing those needs. To do so, we must provide all necessity things and means to help bring women more into the position all every sphere where they can influence and make change in their lives and the lives of other women. These means include chances and access to and control of education, economic, politics, social, recreations and making the choices they wished to make, not the choices which have already given; otherwise, man, these are not going to help them but pushing them back into their private spheres.

My second point is rquiring more attention from the male involvement. It is impossible to build up a complete package of women empowerment or addressing the needs of women so that their voices can be heard without engaging men into. Various debates on such issues are still ongoing, especially if women status are to be improved, men’s status must also be adapted to. This is an opportunity where we can contribute as male to bring changes in the lives of our sisters, wives, aunt, mother and those who may benefit from it. Wake up guys, you are a part of the changes that you can help improve those who need it. Women alone will be hard and that is where you as male come in, not just to push but to coordinate, adapt and allow spaces where women can come in.

My last concern is to alert you that ‘as women, we have no longer have to accept the traditional roles as only cooker and mother but developer and builder of the nation’. We have heard very often that any attempts to break the culture is bad and not good at all to do so. What’s I am telling you is that culture has been evolving all the times. It is changing and it will not be stuck here. Get up, get aware, get forward, take action and dont give up! You have the rights and chances as others to move on. My hope is that once you have aware of your own rights and privileges, then utilise it with the maximum capacity. Slowly, we build the castle.

In my concluding debate remains that all stakeholders must be in. We have seen three points from the government, men and women. Yet we cannot ignore the social structures that have influenced our lives everyday and these structures include families, religious, schools, medical and other social institutions must be also adapted and worked with together for such other means to come in. Without addressing these social structures and other aforementioned, it would be quite impossible to bring women in, both development and evaluating their impacts.

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Climate change does discriminate…

Climate change is now on the top of international agenda. Everyone is worried about this climate change that would eventually destroy the whole world if we are not prepared to take this challenge and look for better solution to tackle it.

This change is not going to harm people discriminatory. Of course, some maybe more affected than others. Poor women and men may also struggle to survive differently. Major contributions to this climate change are human activities, deforestation, green house emission,etc… For example, families living along the sea where the only livelihood is fishing would be so badly suffered from the sea level rising. Taking into account of gender division of labour and social norms. This causes even more trouble, for example, in Asia where the fishing is very much male dominated and therefore less fishing available puts men into a more risky of not being to support the whole family as breadwinner anymore. Similarly, in Asia and Africa where majority of the farmers are women would also more greatly be the victims of this climate change in comparing to men whose diversified options of livelihoods are more flexible. Predicted by scientists that Bangkok, Shanghai, Tokyo, New York will be at risks or flooding in the decades to come.

In fact, there is no use to challenge this difference on and on but what is important is to find better adaptation and resilience to assist poor countries and look for alternative energy solutions.

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How ICTs are used for community development?

There plenty of debates on how Information and Communication Technologies are used to help the communities  for better self reliance. The power of technologies as well as education can change the world.  I am here once again to bring you a topic on ICTs and community development.

There are debates of how can poor communities and those are at risk can use effectively the growing benefit of ICTs? There are plenty of cases, however, I would bring it down the the use of technologies such as mobile phones and radio, as internet in the rural areas are mostly not available or not accessible given the electronic matter, language barriers and the economic power to fully utilize them, etc…

My recent research in rural Ratanakiri province showed that mobile phones and radios are pretty much useful in the recent context of rural areas which they provide great benefits.  Here I discuss mobile phone and radio and also challenge idea of paying more attention about social aspect of the community structure.

-Mobile phone for agriculture purpose: Communities had accessed to mobile phone and used it to check the price of cashew nut in the market. And they organize their community members via mobile phones and social networks to sell their crops. In rice planting seasons, they even use mobile phones to check the rice price and other fertilizers methodologies as well as technical aspect.

-Mobile phone and radio for early warning system: Communities used their mobile and radio to access and receive early information notice regarding food, storms, water level rising and the potential alert on the issues of flood. With these combination of technologies, even though little was used, was found useful in flood management and recovery where heavily the use of mobile was for connecting authorities and families for supports. Without such, it leaves the communities less information and less chances of being prepared and responded.

A key note to remember also that even in the condition where technologies are used with limited options, but there is a reference that communities also relied heavily on their social network among friends,relatives and local authorities. To ignore these aspects even further marginalizing the social cohesion which build on the use of technologies. Therefore, effectiveness and sustainability, technologies require a great understanding on the communities needs and their social benefits. And that is where technologies can greatly complement the socially acceptable norms, which both may enhance the better development of a rural communities.

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