Subscribe to Our E-mail Alerts & Updates

Please click here to register to receive news and updates from Respondanet.  And thank you for your continued interest in Respondanet!
Australia & New Zealand
AUSAID: Aid set to increase, but ODA target defered. Aid groups voice concerns PDF Print E-mail

Concerns among Australian aid and development organizations that the government is set to further defer its 0.5 percent official development assistance spending commitment are set to be proved correct.

Read more... [AUSAID: Aid set to increase, but ODA target defered. Aid groups voice concerns]
 
Philippines: Texting help and health in disaster response PDF Print E-mail

MANILA, 17 July 2012 (IRIN) - The Philippines looks set to expand its rapid monitoring system, based on mobile phone text messaging, to lessen the number of deaths and improve emergency response times. With over 7,000 islands and more than 100 million people, the archipelago experiences an average of 20 typhoons a year, with stronger storms in recent years.   
 
Surveillance in Post Extreme Emergencies and Disaster (SPEED), a project supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), uses SMS / text messages on mobile phones or the internet to alert emergency health officials to dangerous situations and send them health information, and receive data on health conditions in communities and reports of disaster damage. 
 
The system was set up in 2009 on a trial basis after the Philippines, one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, was battered by back- to-back typhoons. Ketsana dumped enough rain to flood more than 80 percent of the capital, Manila, when major rivers and waterways burst their banks, swallowing entire urban communities in the worst flooding in recent history. 
 
Exactly a week later, Parma ravaged the northern Philippines, triggering landslides and floods. More than 1,000 people were killed, 600,000 were displaced, and up to 10 million were affected by the storms, which caused an estimated US$43 billion in economic damage, according to the World Bank. 
 
As emergency workers struggled to help people in desperate conditions, an outbreak of deadly waterborne diseases, including Leptospirosis began ravaging survivors, infecting more than 3,380 people and killing 20.
 
"It was a wakeup call for us. It caught many health workers off-guard, because they too were victims of the flood," said Carmencita Banatin, head of the Emergency Management section of the Health Department. "So we decided to do something and improve monitoring in post-disaster [circumstances] and asked the WHO to help us put in place a surveillance system through text messaging."

WHO sent its Global Outbreak and Alert Response Network to Manila, which worked with local officials to establish the initial phase of SPEED, covering flood-affected areas. "We realized that in the aftermath [of a disaster]… health managers needed to make quick decisions based on verifiable data on the ground to prevent more death from disease outbreaks," Banatin said.

SPEED can be activated within 24 hours of any disaster, including displacement caused by conflict, and works by tapping into the vast mobile phone network in the Philippines - official statistics say almost everyone has a handset. Where mobile phone systems are down, field reporters can use radios to send in statistics for their area, she said. 
 
Health and emergency “reporters”, usually disaster response or health officers at the barangay (the smallest administrative area) or municipal level, fan out to community health facilities, hospitals and evacuation centres to check on reported cases of the most common post-disaster diseases. 
 
This data and other information is then sent via mobile phone - using codes and formats specially designed for the system - to the central SPEED server based in Manila, where it is collated and analyzed before making the information accessible to emergency officials at all levels of government. 
 
The system also sends immediate "notification alerts" to the mobile phones of designated recipients when the number and distribution of specified health conditions go over a specified threshold, "signifying the potential development of a possible outbreak or epidemic, thereby allowing officials to respond quickly," Banatin noted.
 
WHO country representative in the Philippines, Soe Nyunt-U, said access to the SPEED website would be restricted to emergency officials who could make vital decisions, including mayors, governors, members of the executive department and emergency relief agencies. They would be able to pull up tables, graphs and maps to help them analyze trends and deploy help where it was most needed. 
 
"The principle is to prevent more deaths and diseases. Disasters do happen, and deaths and injuries at the time of the incident, but through this system we would be able to prevent outbreaks that could lead to more fatalities," Soe Nyunt-U told IRIN. 
 
He said the nationwide SMS-based surveillance system was unique to the Philippines, but other countries in the region were beginning to study the module. Localized surveillance systems had been put in place after major disasters, such as the 2004 tsunami that struck Aceh in Indonesia, but they were abandoned when the situation normalized.  
 
"This is a very good example of harnessing technology for a noble cause," said Soe Nyunt-U. "With this tool, we can prevent outbreaks, prioritize movements, and health and emergency officials can pinpoint where to deploy help with immediacy.” 

IRIN News
July 17, 2012

FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. “RESPONDANET” distributes this material without profit to those who are interested in visiting our website or have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C ß 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

 
Corruption watchdog slams oil, gas firms PDF Print E-mail

Despite some improvements, oil and gas firms must do more to help stop corruption in the poor but resource-rich countries where they operate, watchdog Transparency International (TI) said Tuesday.

“Two-thirds of the world's poor live in resource-rich countries. They have a right to know how much money their governments get from companies to exploit these resources,” Berlin-based TI said as it published a new report.

“It is good news that transparency is improving, but too few companies publish what they pay governments in each country where they operate.”

The 2011 Report on Oil and Gas Companies rates 44 companies on the public availability of information on their anti-corruption programmes and how they report their financial results in all the countries where they operate.

Conducted together with the Revenue Watch Institute (RWI), it is an expanded version of a report published in 2008 and represents 60 percent of global oil and gas production.

It does show some improvements, however. In 2011 eight companies failed to score any points for reporting on anti-corruption programmes, compared to 21 out of 42 companies in the 2008 report, TI said.

The full report can be downloaded at http://www.transparency.org/. - Sapa-AFP

iol.co.za

FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. “RESPONDANET” distributes this material without profit to those who are interested in visiting our website or have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C ß 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. 

 
Indonesian woman paid £800 to serve 7 months inside for corrupt businesswoman PDF Print E-mail

A corrupt Indonesian businesswoman who was sentenced to seven-months in prison but did not fancy doing the time hired another woman to be locked up on her behalf.

Read more... [Indonesian woman paid £800 to serve 7 months inside for corrupt businesswoman]
 
Nigeria: Corrupt Practices - Alcatel-Lucent to Pay U.S.$92 Million Penalty PDF Print E-mail

Abuja — Alcatel-Lucent South Africa and three of its subsidiaries have agreed to pay a combined $92 million penalty to resolve a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation led by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI into the worldwide sales practices of Alcatel S.A. prior to its 2006 merger with Lucent Technologies Inc.

Read more... [Nigeria: Corrupt Practices - Alcatel-Lucent to Pay U.S.$92 Million Penalty]