Foreign aid in economic crises…

In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Bill Gates called for a doubling of foreign aid commitment. Even though historically, economic crises tend to suppress aid packages, I couldn't agree more that maintaining and increasing aid is in the US' strategic interests. No, I'm not affiliated with USAID. Not surprisingly, Germany increased aid-- knock on wood-- ...When this administration blundered into war it soon became apparent that our goal isn't finding and killing the enemy. It's about rehabilitating zones of chaos where dangerous ideologies grow and breed. The world’s path to progress and stability is increasingly threatened by alarming headlines of terrorist nature, troubling in the fact that their roots lie in failing or failed states, … [Read more...]

A common sight

Photos courtesy of H. Prytherch This is a common sight along the roads of Cambodia-- a patient riding on the back of a moto on the way home, hooked up to an IV. There's large demand for IVs and injections in the country, and people seek it out whether or not it is medically necessary. The problem of overuse of drugs/IVs is more prevalent in rural areas where educational levels are much lower. We asked some people in the communities when they typically get IVs, and we were told it's good for making the body strong again after many days out fishing or working in the fields. We're told they can be bought at any pharmacy or clinic, and the colored IVs are better because the medicine in it makes it more potent. (Unknown to them, oftentimes … [Read more...]

FDA Globalization Act of 2008

Many of you know I've recently developed sensitivities and have to be very careful about what goes on my skin and into my body. As a result I've had to either formulate or purchase from crafters any and all hair, cosmetics and beauty products. (Thank GOD for my recent trip back home!)I firmly believe that the body absorbs (daily) around hundred-or-so harmful compounds from endless fillers in beauty, hair and cosmetic products. Does your product tout the anti-aging benefits of Vitamins C/E, antioxidants, Argilene, Hyaluronic Acid? How far down the list after scores of synthetic or chemical fragrances and preservatives are these? This is hotly contested by the conventional beauty industry, but I can't ignore the vast improvement in skin … [Read more...]

Zen for aid and development

Cambodia is a tad far from the hubs of Zen interest, but its philosophy is apt because we are not without the onslaught of rabid change in Phnom Penh, given vast sums of development aid and foreign investment. It's interesting to see a newly minted middle class so taken with modernisation and the rush of consumerist culture. Well, interesting but sad at the same time, because embrace of materialistic entertainment culture--or rather, lust for it-- comes at the expense of so many beautiful elements Khmer and Angkorian, that is steadily lost to antiquity. An interesting development to highlight this was during the Chinese New Year celebrations this year (Chinese and Khmer traditions are embraced in Cambodia). Tradition has it that various … [Read more...]

Where does aid money come from?

This interactive map with accompanying document shows the source of aid by country, and maps other interesting information such as corruption, natural disasters, security risk areas, etc. (If aid map is not the default, click the scroll-down map to 'aid'.)Aid began after WWII in the new international economic system. Supporting insufficient capital flows in developing countries became part of the Cold War politics. OECD collects data on Official Development Assistance, which does not include funds from philantrophic sources, private foundations, or NGOs.To address poverty, in a 1970 UN resolution, industrialised nations committed 0.7% of their GNI towards international aid. Of the 22 OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) countries, … [Read more...]

Foreign Aid and Development

It's difficult not to be cynical given the futility and waste of many aid programmes, no matter the intent of individuals. The constraints of procurements, lack of transparency and accountability, coupled with donors' foreign policies, often lead to inefficient and ineffective efforts. All for the sake of creating viable markets out of lagging economies?The impact of foreign aid and development has received increased visibility and debate among the mainstream media lately. There's a downloadable podcast on NPR's Intelligence Squared, which hosts an Oxford-style debate on many topics. Is Aid to Africa Doing More Harm Than Good?, broadcast on 12 Dec 2007, offers interesting insights from both sides of the issue.And the following is a foreign … [Read more...]

East-West Cultural Differences

We recently had a team retreat where cross-cultural issues was the popular topic. Misunderstandings happen frequently due to diametrically opposed personalities, working culture, and approach to negotiations by the Khmers, Filipinos, Germans, and American. Below are pictorials of the cultural differences between East and West, designed by Liu Young who was born in China and lived in Germany. Blue is Western, Red is Asian Read this doc on Scribd: East-West by Liu Young … [Read more...]

Faces: why we’re here

Boy and grandmother, courtesy NGO GRET.This is a family in Kampong Thom who has purchased community health insurance. They are categorised by programmers as "near poor". Health financing efforts are aimed at those below the poverty line and also those just above it who are at risk of a financially catastrophic event. Photo courtesy NGO GRET.Khmer kids from the boat communities just across the Tonle. Their desperately poor communities can be seen from the Royal Palace riverfront.One of the hospitals in the capital city of Phnom Penh, where there is a Safe Motherhood Programme being implemented. Cambodia's very high Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) of 472/100,000 did not improve between 2000 and 2005 despite millions in aid money and technical … [Read more...]