New era of big dam building on the Mekong?

More than 50 years have passed since Australian engineers from the Snowy Hydroelectric Authority did site studies for the huge Sambor Dam on the Mekong River in Cambodia, but the mega project is now back on the drawing board.​ The Cambodian Government has signalled it will give permission for new feasibility studies on the proposed Sambor Dam--and two others nearby--to dual Australian/Cambodian citizen, Kith Meng from the Royal Group. Kith Meng is a former refugee who went to secondary school in Canberra and maintains strong ties to Australia. Despite an unofficial moratorium that's been in place since 2010, Kith Meng's latest business venture may signal a new era of dam-building on one of Asia's largest rivers.

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All imported raw prawns to be pulled for white spot testing; fears that prices will rise

There are fears the price of prawns is about to go "through the roof" following a decision by the Federal Government to recall all imported raw prawns. The importation of green, or uncooked, prawns into Australia was suspended in January, but prawn farmers have expressed concern diseased prawns were still being sold. An email from the Department of Agriculture to prawn industry stakeholders, obtained by the ABC, said all imported prawns were now being withdrawn so they could be tested for white spot disease. "The decision to secure all uncooked prawns imported prior to the suspension was not taken lightly, and will not be in place longer than necessary," the email said.

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White spot in prawns the latest in biosecurity failures highlighting impact of cuts to staff, research

After a huge increase in exotic pests and diseases, Australian agriculture and environmentalists are demanding more focus on biosecurity.​ The past five years of failures ranges from the attacking red fire ants, banana diseases, myrtle rust and a melon disease to an exotic disease in Queensland's prawn farms. Global movement of goods and people is partly to blame, but the blame is also being levelled at reduced spending and staff cutbacks by state and federal governments. White spot destroys prawn farms. It has taken less than three months for white spot disease to infect all seven prawn farms on the Logan River in Queensland, between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

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East Asia’s agreement to keep the world economy open

What the Trump administration will ultimately do to the shape of the global trade regime is difficult to foretell but there’s no question that it will change it forever, even if there is strong global push-back against Trump’s threat to unravel trade agreements and carry a protectionist stick.​ The trade regime, and the way in which it encourages open trade and international interdependence among those who sign on to its rules, is not simply an instrument of economic policy strategy that can be changed without political consequence. For most countries, and certainly those in East Asia which are so dependent on open trade to sustain their basic livelihood, the trade regime is a critical instrument of political security. Trump has already signed executive orders to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. What appeared noisy campaign rhetoric has been transformed into concrete action.

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Fukushima peach exports recover in Southeast Asia, sparking hope for other produce

Fukushima peaches are making inroads into Southeast Asian markets in what prefectural officials see as a model case of recovery in its farm produce. Fukushima grabbed the top share of Japanese peach exports to three Southeast Asian countries last year — 73.9 percent in Thailand, 76.8 percent in Malaysia and 55.9 percent in Indonesia. In terms of volume, Fukushima exported a combined 30.6 tons of peaches to the three countries plus Singapore in 2016, surpassing the 23.9 tons logged in 2010 — the year before the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant shattered trust in its farm produce in March 2011.

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Risk and the public balance sheet in Asia: a work in progress

While there are natural catastrophes all over the world, Asia is a unique confluence of people and perils.​ More than half of the world’s population lives in Eastern, Southern and Southeast Asia. The region hosts more than 1.6 billion urban inhabitants and seven of the world’s top ten most-populated cities. It is also home to every major disaster—from cyclone to tsunami—and has experienced some of the world’s largest catastrophes based on economic loss. Many risks remain uninsured as insurance penetration continues to lag well below global averages. Over the past 25 years, six of the top ten earthquakes based on economic loss have originated in Asia, generating over $460 billion of loss. Only four percent of the loss was insured. Similarly, five of the top ten flood events contributed nearly $100 billion of loss, with only 17 percent insured.

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MRLG invites participants for Mekong customary tenure dialogue

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The Mekong Region Land Governance Project is seeking participants for an online dialogue on Recognition of Customary Tenure in the Mekong region, taking place between February 13-24, 2017.

Please see below for their invitation, register for attendance at their website, and contact info@mrlg.org for more information.

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YOU ARE INVITED

The Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) project and the Land Portal invite you to join our online dialogue on the Recognition of Customary Tenure in the Mekong Region, from 13-24 February. The dialogue will focus on exploring the challenges and opportunities related to the recognition of indigenous, ethnic minority and community tenure rights in the Mekong region. Participants, from the Mekong region and around the world, will examine the status of community tenure rights and share ideas on how to strengthen them.

The dialogue will:

Increase information exchange between participants inside and outside the region;

Identify issues of common interest;

Compare and contrast regional and international contexts and experiences in customary tenure recognition that can inform potential strategies and actions at country and regional level.

Generate a regional level synthesis of key challenges and opportunities related to community tenure in the Mekong region that will be shared broadly.

A final report will be published and publicly available online following the dialogue.

Your participation will help ensure a rich discussion.

For more information

Dialogue questions

Here are the questions that will guide our discussion. We look forward to hearing what you think on these issues.


What is customary tenure? Is it the same as “traditional tenure arrangements of indigenous people/ ethnic minorities"?

Why is securing customary tenure rights important?

To differing extents, there are policies recognizing customary tenure in all countries in the Mekong region. However, progress towards securing indigenous, ethnic minority and community tenure rights has been hampered by the cumbersome requirements for achieving formal recognition, reflecting in part the tension between local and state authority. In your opinion, what would be required to strengthen the recognition of indigenous, ethnic minority and community tenure rights in the region?

Since it takes a long time for regulatory revisions recognizing customary tenure to be made and implemented, how effective have interim protection measures been? What are some examples?

We know that in customary systems there is often a mixture of communal land (e.g. collectively managed shifting cultivation areas and forest areas) and plots claimed by individual families (e.g. paddy land or upland plots with long-term crops). What is the best way to recognize the variety of tenure rights in customary systems?

Customary systems, particularly norms governing the internal management of communal land, are often characterized as having higher levels of equality compared to private property regimes. Nevertheless, customary systems may also exhibit gender inequality and/or other forms of exclusions as a result of local power dynamics. How can statuary recognition of customary rights ensure that equity considerations, including principles of transparency and inclusive decision-making, are adhered to in customary systems?

There are concerns that the recognition of customary tenure, which sometimes lead to unique categorizations of “indigenous” land where communities can continue to practice “traditional livelihoods” (in some cases with restrictions on community involvement in commercial activities), may not help alleviate conditions of poverty, food insecurity and vulnerability experienced in many communities. Is it possible to combine recognition of customary tenure rights and forestry/agricultural development through investment/commercial activity? Are there examples where this has been done successfully?

What strategies can be taken to defend, strengthen and promote customary rights in the Mekong region? How can regional dialogues facilitate greater recognition of the rights and priorities of local communities, including addressing issues of power and politics?

How to join the dialogue

We encourage you, your colleagues, and anyone with an interest in land issues to participate. The dialogue will be conducted in English to facilitate transnational communication. We can provide English editorial assistance to contributors, as needed.

Please feel free to answer any of the dialogue questions that interest you and then upload your contributions online.

Please keep your contributions brief - not more than 500 words, shorter is fine too. We welcome as many contributions as you wish.

Once the dialogue begins, we encourage you to follow the online discussion. As a registered participant, you'll have the opportunity to ask questions and make comments. You may also make new contributions at any time, as ideas occur to you. This will make for a lively discussion!

The dialogue will also be open for anyone to follow online even without registration. Only registered participant can contribute with comments and questions.

Please feel free to share this invitation with others.

If you have any questions, please contact us at: info@mrlg.org

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CFI announces data journalism training program for ASEAN countries

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CFI, France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development's media cooperation agency, has launched a training program to support news organizations execute empowering data journalism projects. They are accepting applications until March 8, 2017.

See below for the full announcement text and visit their website for more details.

06-02-2017
2017-03-08 13:00:00 GMT/UTC

Do you have an idea for a great data journalism project that could impact on local communities or tackle topics related to people’s rights and freedom in ASEAN countries? Are you a media organization eager to learn about data journalism, visualizations and how to future-proof (sustainability) your work? This three weeks programme will help you realize a data-driven project from start to finish and learn new skills along the way.

Context

This programme is part of a CFI project called 4M Asia, which aims to develop new skills on the part of media stakeholders to promote new journalistic forms allowing broader expression of the diversity of opinion within society. For more information, see the full 4M Asia project here.

Objective

The aim of this call for applications is to select 12 media organizations from ASEAN countries, and for each of them, support the realization of a data-driven project (article/data story, data visualization or other interactive), through a workshop and training programme taking place between May and October 2017. After the end of this programme, you must have set up at least one digital project, attract new public (widen the target audience) with data driven articles and increase your audience using data visualization.

Schedule and key dates

Launch date: 07 February 2017
Online platform application deadline: 8 March 2017 (1pm GMT, no extension)
Announcement of selected candidates: 21 March 2017

- First workshop: How to kickstart a data journalism project
How do you collect, find and understand data? This first workshop will tackle basic data journalism techniques and teach you how to launch a data-driven project in your newsroom.
Date: beginning of May 2017 (5 days).
Location: Phnom Penh (Cambodia).

- Second workshop: How to bring a project to life with data visualization and interactives
Acquire the skills to create data visualizations and other data-driven interactives and apply them to your own project.
Date: beginning of July 2017 (5 days)
Location: Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

- Third workshop: How to future-proof a data journalism project
Tackle subjects such as monetization, viability and community interaction to ensure your project is impactful and sustainable in the long term.
Date: mid-October 2017 (5 days)
Location: Manila (Philippines)

Please note that these dates are provisional. CFI reserves the possibility to modify this schedule on the basis of received applications.

Who can apply?

- Media organizations based in ASEAN countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.
- Applicants who are fluent in English (although the project itself can be realized in your local language).
- Applicants of all levels in data journalism.

Why should I apply?

- This programme is a great opportunity for your media organization to gain new skills in every aspects of data journalism.
- By the end of the three workshops, you will achieve a data journalism project from start to finish with help from international experts.
- Your staff will get to meet other journalists from various countries in Asean countries and learn from their experiences.
- Submitting a project and taking part in the programme is free, so why not giving it a try?

Assessment criteria

- Editorial relevance (50/100):
We are looking for data journalism projects which tackle a topical issue in a pertinent and innovative way, which bring a new angle to issues related to communities, people’s rights and freedom and potentially bring positive outlook on the matter. Tackling a topic of public interest which could achieve political (democracy, reforms) social, environmental or economical impact or issues is also a plus.

- Potential for innovation (20/100):
We will select projects which use new innovative techniques in terms of data journalism, whether that shows in the level of interactivity of the end-product itself, the technology used to make it happen or any other ideas.

Note that knowing what end product or types of visualizations you will create for this project is not compulsory to apply for this project, but can help the jury a great deal during the selection process. If you don’t have the knowledge yet to fully grasp how innovative your project could be, give us as many ideas as you can and if your application is shortlisted.

- Openness (30/100):
We will put special emphasis on projects which use open data or make data open, publish their data under open licenses via an interactive platform or show a high level of transparency and engagement with a community. We are looking for projects which empower their audience by giving access to information or data otherwise unattainable. If you have in mind to make a project that could hold the powerfuls accountable, we want to hear from you!

Also, if your project end up being either an interactive data visualization, a mobile application or any other type of interactive products, we will encourage you to publish your work via an open licence or API.

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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.

-END-

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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