Uber and licensed cabs to replace Yangon taxi turmoil

Now that the new Yangon Bus Service is underway, the regional government is turning its attention to the city’s taxis, and is hoping to have a system of licensed cabs to run side-by-side with Uber drivers, according to chief minister U Phyo Min Thein. The Yangon Region Transport Authority  has already started a survey in order to get an idea of just how many taxis are on Yangon’s roads. Once that is done, the YRTA plans to strictly limit their number, he said. The authorities estimate there are over 50,000 taxis in Yangon, which play a large role in the frequent traffic jams.“We have plan to upgrade and control the taxi system, which is now operating without a system of licences,” said U Phyo Min Thein.

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ASEAN energy cooperation: the only way to prevent ‘lights out’ in the region

The countries comprising Southeast Asia have witnessed steady economic growth and improving living standards since the Asian Financial Crisis. Having weathered the global fiscal and financial crisis better than most other parts of the world, Southeast Asia has become the third-fastest growing region in the world after China and India. In the wake of this economic success story, energy demand has increased rapidly and is projected to grow in the coming years as people aspire to own modern household appliances and personal vehicles. At the same time, conventional energy production is expected to decline in important oil and gas exporting countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia. Expanding energy access and delivering secure and sustainable energy supplies will be key to sustaining Southeast Asia’s economic success story as industry, business and households depend on energy to keep the lights on.

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Passenger numbers rise 8.5% at airports

Passenger traffic to Cambodia’s three international airports continued to grow last year, with total arrivals and departures topping 7 million for the first time, according to the operator’s annual report. Khek Norinda, communication director for Cambodia Airports, the company that holds the concession to manage the three international airports, said on January 22 that passenger growth increased by 8.5 percent over last year. He said Phnom Penh International Airport continued its seven-year streak of double-digit growth, registering a 10 percent gain with 3.4 million passengers.

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NGOs may have stymied government health care: report

A new study examining the development of health care in post-conflict societies suggests that the influx of NGOs in Cambodia may have weakened the government health sector. The report, published last week by BioMed Central, compares Cambodia’s health care development after the fall of the Khmer Rouge to post-conflict health care development in Uganda, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe. The study concludes that Cambodia has been more dependent on health NGOs for a longer period of time than the other case studies. While it does acknowledge that “international aid was critical to support the country’s reconstruction”, the study also claims that conflicting agendas “did not help strengthening government stewardship and ownership of health sector development in the post-conflict period”. 

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Mechanized farming on the rise

The use of agricultural machinery in Cambodia has risen noticeably compared with last year, said the Agriculture Ministry. A ministry report released last week showed that the use of agriculture machinery rose to about 91 percent in 2016, compared with 83 percent in 2015, while the use of cattle in farming was 8.8 percent last year. Ouk Makara, director of the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute, said the increasing use of tractors and other agricultural machinery was a good sign because it cut costs and saved time. Thus, farmers could use their time to grow another crop or do something else besides growing rice. “It is good for agriculture when it is dominated by machinery other than cattle since Cambodia is short of labor in the agriculture sector as lots of rural people migrate to work in a neighboring country or find another job besides farming,” Mr. Makara said. “I think that labor is more expensive than using machinery for farming – especially harvesting rice paddy since the cost of using labor is $150 for a hectare of rice paddy while it is only $100 for a hectare of rice paddy using machinery.”

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Interior examines voter names

The Ministry of Interior on January 20 sent a letter to the National Election Committee verifying 152 of the 179 names in seven suites of complaints related to the new digital voter list had legitimate identity cards and would remain on the final voter list. According to the letter, the NEC had sent the Interior Ministry 181 names on January 15 to verify if they had legal national identity cards, with 152 names appearing on the ministry’s database. Of the remaining 27, 20 were using older ID cards and seven people had used other forms of identification to get onto the voter list, with Som Sorida, deputy secretary-general of the NEC, saying they would remain on the list for the time being. “Those 27 names would be deleted from the list only if the Ministry of Interior finds irregularities. There will be an updating of the list at the end of the year 2017,” he said.

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EarthRights International hosts Mekong Legal Advocacy Institute

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EarthRights International has hosted the annual Mekong Legal Advocacy Institute forum in Chiang Mai, Thailand bringing together 15 fifteen young lawyers and campaigners from the six Mekong countries: Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Read more about this event and its outcomes at their blog post, Forging Connections Along The Mekong.

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EITI calls for structured open data disclosures from government, industry

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The Extractive Industries Transparency Iniative has proposed that its data disclosure model be used as a leveraging tool for institutional embrace of structured open data disclosures in the state and private sectors of developing countries. 

Mr Djibi Sow, Senior Adviser to the Prime Minister and Chair of the EITI multi-stakeholder group in Mauritania, walks through Mauritania's progress and cites open data portals as other leveragable tools to help implement this institutional shift. He writes:

"Mauritania has a strong tradition of nomadic herding, a vibrant culture of communication, trading and kindness to strangers. It has an opportunity to apply the same principles through the EITI. The EITI provides a framework for government and company disclosures. A key focus of this work is promoting open data.

As Mauritania’s EITI reporting has become more timely, with preparations for the 2015 EITI Report now underway, the next step will be to embed disclosures of information required under the EITI Standard into routine government and company systems. Mauritania has a number of online information portals that provide limited extractives information, such as the Mauritanian Development Portal, the Private Sector Promotion Directorate, the Treasury and MPEM’s two websites (here and here). Moving beyond standalone EITI reporting in a static PDF format, Mauritania has the opportunity to use the EITI as a tool for structuring government open data disclosures. Other countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mongolia, Timor-Leste and the United States of America are doing the same."

Read the rest of his fascinating post at the EITI blog.

 

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Lao PDR is to undertake MRC’s prior consultation on its new hydropower development plan in Pak Beng

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The Lao government has notified the Mekong River Commission (MRC) that it will seek the the MRC's prior consultation on the Pak Beng hydropower project in Oudomxay province. See the full release below, and at the MRC's website

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Vientiane, Lao PDR, 7 November 2016 – The Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat has received a notification from the Lao government that it will undertake the formal process of prior consultation on its new hydropower project planned in Pak Beng in the Lao PDR’s northern province of Oudomxay.

The Pak Beng Hydropower Project is a run-of river project located in the Mekong mainstream. The power plant is planned to have an installed capacity of 912 MW, designed to discharge the flow of 5,771.2 cubic meters per second.

The Lao National Mekong Committee Secretariat submitted on 4 November the detailed description of the planned project to the MRC Secretariat for its review and further action to inform the other member countries about the project’s scope and other requirements under the prior consultation process. Within the next one month, the MRC Secretariat will review the document and verify its completeness with the rules before forwarding the case to the MRC’s Joint Committee (JC), a body consisting of four member countries’ representatives at the head of department level where the consultation takes place.

The prior consultation is part of the MRC’s procedural rules on cooperation on water use of the Mekong mainstream: the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA). Under the procedures, any infrastructural project using the mainstream water during the dry season within the same basin, as well as during the wet season between two basins, must undergo the prior consultation process. Applicable projects include large-scale irrigation and hydropower development which may cause significant impacts on the environment, water flow and quality of the Mekong mainstream.

In the prior-consultation process, with technical and administrative support from the MRC Secretariat, the notified member countries would review technical aspects of the project, assess any possible impact on the environment and livelihoods along the riparian communities, and suggest measures to address those concerns. The member countries aim to come to an agreement on how the consulted case should proceed. It is not meant to approve or not to approve the proposed project. This process normally lasts six months, but could be extended further by the JC.

The MRC so far experienced two prior consultation cases – Xayaburi and Don Sahong hydropower projects, both of which are located in the Mekong mainstream in Lao PDR. In the two cases, neither of them reached an agreement at the JC level and were referred to the MRC Council, the organisation’s highest body with the ministers from the four countries. The Council was also unable to reach a unanimous conclusion on the cases.

For Xayaburi, however, the process has prompted the Lao government and the developer to conduct its own environmental impact assessment and to invest additional $400 million to revise its dam’s design in order to address the issues of fish migration and sediment, two of the main concerns raised during the prior consultation.

From learning lessons from the previous cases, the MRC has reviewed various aspects of the PNPCA to improve its application, including adequacy of documentation and early sharing of information.

“We have learned lessons from the previous two cases. The Secretariat is ready to assist the member countries to review the project, assess technical aspects and come to a conclusion in an inclusive and meaningful way,” said MRC Secretariat CEO Pham Tuan Phan. The MRC together with the National Mekong Committees will facilitate national and regional consultations to solicit the public views on the case.

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The MRC is the intergovernmental body responsible for cooperation in the sustainable management of the Mekong Basin. It was established by a 1995 agreement between Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. It serves as a regional platform for water diplomacy as well as a knowledge hub of water resources management for the sustainable development of the region. It is not a supra-national or regulatory body. The commission looks across all sectors including sustaining fisheries, identifying opportunities for agriculture, maintaining the freedom of navigation, enhancing flood management and preserving important ecosystems.

For more information, please contact:
The Office of the Secretariat in Vientiane
E-mail: mrcmedia@mrcmekong.org
Phone: +856-021 263 263

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AIPP seeks section head

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The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) is seeking indigenous applicants for a newly open position for a section head of their regional secretariat in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) is a regional organisation founded in 1988 by indigenous peoples' movements and established its Secretariat in 1992. It is committed to the cause of promoting and defending indigenous peoples' rights and human rights as a whole. It aims to strengthen the movements of indigenous peoples of Asia for recognition of their collective rights, and protection of traditional knowledge, bio-diversity and environment for sustainable and self-determined development. 

See below for the full text of their call, or read further on AIPP's website

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ASIA INDIGENOUS PEOPLES PACT (AIPP)

REGIONAL SECRETARIAT

CHIANG MAI, THAILAND

 Position:  Section Head (SH) – Management Position 

Section:  Institutional Support Services

Duration of the Contract: 3 years with minimum 3 months to maximum 9 months probation. The contract will be renewed annually subject to performance and availability of funds

Reports to:  Management Team and the Secretary General

To supervise: Programme coordinators of the Communication Development and Regional Capacity Building

Duty Station:  AIPP Regional Secretariat in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Level of Education:  At least Bachelor’s Degree with the field of specialization on Organizational Development and Management

Date of Announcement:  

The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) invites for the applications from qualified and competent candidates for the position of the “Section Head” for the Institutional Support Services Section in the Regional Secretariat, based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Background:

The AIPP is a regional organization founded in 1988 as a platform for solidarity and cooperation among indigenous peoples in Asia. It actively promotes and defends indigenous peoples’ rights and human rights, sustainable development and management of resources, as well as environment protection.  For detail visit www.aippnet.org

The AIPP secretariat has three main sections– Thematic Programmes (TP) SectionInstitutional Support Services (ISS) SectionAdmin and Finance Section.  These sections collectively implement the following strategic programmes: Environment, Indigenous Women, Human Rights, Regional Capacity Building (RCB), Organizational Strengthening, and Communications Development (CD) to raise awareness; build capacities for indigenous peoples’ empowerment and conduct sustained advocacy, networking and alliance building based on the strategic plan of AIPP to achieve its mission.

Major Duties and Responsibilities of the Section Head (SH):  

The Section Head (SH) is responsible for supervising the Institutional Support Services Section as outlined in the AIPP Organizational Manual.

S/he shall be responsible for the following functions:

A. Institutional Strengthening

  • Design the capacity development programmes for AIPP and its members based on the needs assessment in close consultation with the Regional Capacity Building Programme Coordinator
  • Update the Executive Council (EC) and the members on organizational matters (quarterly updates from the Secretariat – summary of EC meetings, new projects, staffing schedule, new engagement, etc.)
  • Provide support in the organizing and conduct of key organizational meetings (Executive Council meetings, sub-regional meetings of members, and AIPP General Assembly among others)
  • Provide support in the organizational strengthening of members and partners
  • Ensure the coordination for organizational strengthening and disaster support for members through the AIPP Fund
  • Ensure the implementation of the plan for Institutional strengthening in consultation with the SG and the EC
  • Ensure the implementation of the staff development plan in close collaboration with the section Head on Finance And Admin
  • Ensure the proper recording and filing of organisational documents

B. Management and Supervision of the ISS Section

  • Responsible for overseeing the management and implementation of the Communication Development programme and the Regional Capacity Building programme
  • Develop and maintain a programme monitoring information system for the programmes under the Institutional Support Services and submit regular reports to Secretary General/Management Team
  • Review and comment on programme reports from the ISS Section programmes
  • Prepare the annual work plan and budget and the annual report of the Institutional Support Services Section
  • Take initiative in fundraising, particularly for the Institutional Funding and       Communications Development, and Regional Capacity Building Programmes
  • Ensure inter-programme collaboration, optimization of resources, and coordination within the section and with other sections
  • Report to and brief the SG on pertinent programme issues, challenges and achievements related to institutional support and make recommendations accordingly

C. Overall Management Functions

  • Develop a project catalogue to support the implementation of the strategic plan
  • Provide support in the development and updating of a standardised management guidelines for inter alia, organisational management, finance, administration and programme management
  • Ensure the regular updating of all Sections in close coordination with other SH including regular update on new documents in the OwnCloud
  • Assist in checking the quality of proposals and ensuring that the needs and priorities of members and partners are reflected in the proposals

III. Minimum work requirements:

The applicant must be an ‘Indigenous person’ from the Asia

Knowledge and Qualification:

  • Bachelor’s degree with specialization in Organizational Development and Management
  • Comprehensive understanding of organizational development and project/programme management including the development and use of appropriate tools and guidelines
  • Comprehensive knowledge and understanding of indigenous peoples rights, issues and concerns especially of indigenous peoples in Asia.

Experiences:

  • Minimum of 3 years experience in a senior management position including being responsible for strategic management, fund raising, networking and advocacy and staff management
  • Minimum of 3 years experience working with local, national, regional and international IP organisations, government agencies, civil society organisations etc.

Skills and Abilities

  • Strong analytical skills and English writing skills for project and programme reports, project proposals and staff evaluation reports
  • Strong organizational development and programme and project management skills (detailed planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation) including the development and use of appropriate tools and Guidelines
  • Skills in human resource management and development
  • Knowledge and skills on logical framework and finance monitoring and budgeting
  • Excellent communication skills in written and verbal English. (More than 7.5 score in English test)
  • Excellent in facilitation and presentation and motivation skills
  • Self-motivated, dynamic, creative and energetic
  • Positive attitude to working in a multi-ethnic/social environment
  • Flexible to do multi-tasking and to work under pressure
  • Willing to travel throughout Asia and beyond, when needed

Remuneration and benefits for the coordinator include:

  • Salary and benefits including 13th month pay
  • Housing and personal communication allowance.
  • Health Insurance including annual executive medical check-up
  • Travel fare for annual home visit for foreign staff
  • Paid holidays including 2 weeks year-end holiday
  • Related cost for work permit and visa

Salary rate shall be based on the salary criteria approved by the Executive Council of AIPP

Interested indigenous persons from Asia (applicants from member-organizations are encouraged) can submit application (indicating ethnicity) together with updated CV with at least two references with complete contact details (including email address and, phone number) and two reference letters by 30 November 2016 to following email addresses:
saofina@aippnet.org, robie@aippnet.org

 

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IDI launches 'accountability hub' for land, housing and resource rights

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Inclusive Development International has launched an online accountability hub to provide resources for advocates to conduct investigative research in support of communities whose rights and resources are threatened by investment projects. 

Visit 'Following the money to justice' to see what it's all about, and see the full press release below.

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Follow the money to justice: New tool for fighting land grabs

Inclusive Development International is pleased to announce the launch of our new online resource for fighting land grabs and other corporate abuses: www.followingthemoney.org

Follow the Money to Justice is designed for advocates working to support communities whose rights and resources are threatened by irresponsible investment projects. Building on our 2015 publication, co-produced with IIED, Following the Money: An advocates guide to securing accountability in agricultural investments, this online resource explains how to mine publicly available information to identify and analyze the companies, investors and other actors behind destructive projects. It also provides guidance on how to collect evidence, get organized and develop tailored multi-pronged advocacy strategies to hold these actors accountable. It draws upon the experiences and lessons learned from community advocates around the world who have successfully challenged harmful investments and shaped development in their regions.

We know from experience that mapping and analyzing investment chains can be a complex, time-consuming process. Often, information about the various actors profiting from harmful investment projects can be difficult to find, due to the opaque nature of global financial and trade flows. Yet many of these actors have reputations to protect and are acting in violation of laws or their own social and environmental standards, making them potential pressure points for advocacy. When they are hidden from view, affected people are denied critical avenues to stop harmful investments and demand redress for harms suffered.

That's why - in addition to developing this online resource - we launched the Follow the Money Initiative this year as a pilot program in the Mekong region, in partnership with Equitable Cambodia and Columbia University's Business and Human Rights Clinic. Through this initiative, our research team uses subscription-based digital tools to uncover the financial backers of land and resource grabs, and then works with partners to get this information to affected people on the ground, expanding their opportunities to defend their rights and demand accountability.

Upon request from communities and their local advocates, we map and analyze the upstream actors – such as parent companies, shareholders and banks – and downstream actors – such as buyers and distributors – connected to harmful land-based investment projects. We then provide tailored advice about potential advocacy strategies that target the pressure points we identify along the investment chain.

The Follow the Money Initiative is still in a pilot stage. As such, we are currently only accepting mapping requests from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, and a limited number of requests from partners in Africa, through the end of 2016. We hope to expand the project over the next year and begin accepting more requests from other regions.

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This announcement was originally published on Inclusive Development International's website.

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Regional guidelines on public participation in environmental impact asessment

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Mekong Partnership for the Environment (MPE)'s Regional Technical Working Group (RTWG) on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) have invited public comment on their draft regional guidelines for public participation in EIA. See an introduction to the guidelines below and access the full set of guidelines at their website to leave comments.

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These draft Regional Guidelines on Public Participation in Environmental Impact Assessment have been collaboratively developed by the Regional Technical Working Group on EIA comprised of 25 government and non-government members from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, and are now being made publicly available for feedback and comment from interested stakeholders.

These regional EIA guidelines have been developed in response to the shared concern for increasing meaningful public participation in development planning, in the context of increasing investment projects across the Mekong region. Their purpose is to provide practical guidance for implementing meaningful public participation in the EIA process in the Mekong region, in order to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the EIA process, while reducing risks for projects as well as all stakeholders involved.
 
The use of the guideline is envisioned to result in improved, sustainable, and more equitable development outcomes. The guidelines provide a regional “good practice” approach to public participation in EIA and are intended to complement national laws and policies where they already exist with additional “how to” detail. The intended users of these guidelines includes project proponents and EIA consultants, as well as government agencies, project affected people, non-governmental and civil society organizations, and others.
 
Formed in August 2015, the RTWG on EIA provides a model multi-stakeholder platform for regional collaboration to strengthen the policy and practice of EIA and to enhance cooperation for inclusive and sustainable development of the region. The RTWG on EIA is comprised of a diverse group of non-government/civil society and government representatives from 10 Ministries across the five lower Mekong countries. The group is supported by national technical advisors and other international technical experts.
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