Helping Societies Flourish
The Asia Foundation improves lives, expands opportunities, and helps societies flourish across a dynamic and developing Asia. We work with innovative leaders and communities to build effective institutions and advance pathbreaking reforms. Together with our partners, we are committed to Asia’s continued development as a peaceful, just, and thriving region of the world.
President David D. Arnold with Yasmin Merali moments before she accepts a special honor on behalf of The Merali Foundation at 60th Anniversary Gala in San Francisco
Chairman David M. Lampton presents inaugural Chairman’s Award to Senator Dianne Feinstein at Ambassadors Dinner in Washington, DC.
Trustees S. Timothy Kochis and Judith F. Wilbur served as Gala co-chairs.
FROM THE CHAIRMAN AND PRESIDENT
For sixty years The Asia Foundation has contributed to tangible improvements in the quality of life and steadily expanding opportunities for millions of Asian citizens. We have nurtured important legal, cultural, and civic institutions that sustain a sense of community and shared identity within countries with diverse and sometimes disparate populations. The Foundation’s commitment to helping societies flourish remains an enduring element of our mission and is very much reflected in our current program activities and past accomplishments.
The Asia Foundation works to foster open, vibrant societies where citizens have a voice, where justice is accessible, fair, and effective, and where leaders are responsive and ethical. To that end, this year, in advance of Indonesia’s hotly contested presidential election, we used cutting-edge technology to distribute essential polling information directly to millions of voters, and created an interactive election results map in collaboration with Google Indonesia. In Myanmar, we conducted the first-ever nationwide survey to document public knowledge of new government institutions and processes. In China, we are working with local partners to enable migrant women to become successful entrepreneurs, while our cover story highlights how technology is supporting government transparency and improving urban services in Mongolia. In 2014 our first class of distinguished Asia Foundation Development Fellows helped sustain the Foundation’s six-decade tradition of investing in the region’s most promising future leaders to tackle Asia’s challenges.
In 2014 we marked The Asia Foundation’s 1954 founding with a series of 60th anniversary events in the U.S. and Asia. In our headquarters’ city of San Francisco, the gateway to the Asia-Pacific, we held a first-ever Gala event and brought together civic and corporate leaders, Asian diplomats, scholars, and philanthropists from across the Bay Area and honored The Merali Foundation. In Washington, DC, we paid tribute to Senator Dianne Feinstein of California with our Chairman’s Award for her commitment to U.S.-Asia Relations; in New York City we honored Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, Indonesian activist Nani Zulminarni, and The Estée Lauder Companies at the fourth annual Lotus Leadership Awards; and in Seoul, we held a special America’s Role in Asia Roundtable and Gala hosted by Friends of The Asia Foundation, an association founded by Korean alumni of Foundation programs.
The Asia Foundation’s work over the past year and its contributions to Asia’s development over the past six decades are a reminder of the important role that private nonprofit organizations can play in creating the environment for economies to grow and societies to flourish. Together, we can ensure Asia continues on a path toward peace, prosperity, and inclusive development.
David D. Arnold
David M. Lampton
Chairman of the Board and Executive Committee
FIRST and MIDDLE: Lotus Circle Advisors honor PEKKA Founder Nani Zulminarni, Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, and Estée Lauder Companies, at 4th annual Leadership Awards in New York City
LAST: Anniversary Dinner, Seoul, Korea: Former Minister of Science and Technology, and Chairman, World Peace Forum Kim Jin-hyun greets Professor David I. Steinberg, former Asia Foundation Korea Representative.
In a Flourishing Society
Citizens Have a Voice
Using mobile apps to reach Indonesian voters
In Indonesia’s divisive recent election, we helped get essential polling information directly to millions of voters and supported the largest source of independent observer and media reporting. With support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, we pioneered the development of an open data and API platform that enabled Indonesian developers to build free mobile applications to provide better voter access to real-time electoral information. It garnered more than 100 million hits. In the first five months, 41 apps were publicly released, and have since been downloaded more than 300,000 times. An interactive election results map built in collaboration with Google Indonesia has been visited by more than 325,000 users.
Watch the video Code for Vote: Indonesia
Myanmar survey reveals limited civic awareness and understanding
After decades of military rule and isolation, people in Myanmar are hopeful about the future, but their optimism is tempered, according to The Asia Foundation’s 2014 survey of civic knowledge and values. The first nationwide survey in Myanmar to document public knowledge of new government institutions and processes, the findings were distributed widely to help inform civic and voter education. 3,000 respondents in all 14 states and regions were interviewed; our findings reveal limited knowledge among the public about government institutions and functions, a low level of social trust, and deep apprehension about the prospect for peace and economic opportunities.
Providing real-time citizen feedback to Sri Lanka’s local governments
A record voter turnout for a new president vividly illustrates the tenacity of ordinary citizens to make a difference, and signals a desire for change and good governance. But challenges of rebuilding infrastructure, bridging social divisions, and strengthening local democracy remain. In the first of its kind in South Asia, the Foundation pioneered an electronic citizen report card using Android-based mobile applications in war-affected Batticaloa, a major commercial center where delivery of basic public services like street lighting and trash collection is grossly uneven. The city administration responded to the feedback by providing a separate line item in their annual budget to fund priorities identified through Electronic Citizen Report Card surveys. Spurred by this success, residents in six cities across Sri Lanka have provided feedback on access, quality, and reliability of public services to their local municipal councils to influence new policies and budgets and to make their voices heard.
Nationwide election observation amid national unrest in Bangladesh
Despite widespread violence and challenging conditions, this year we undertook the only nationwide observation mission for the 10th National Parliamentary Elections. The Foundation worked with a network of 29 local NGOs to train and deploy 9,490 short-term and 180 long-term observers. For subsequent local-level elections, we supported the use of SMS real-time data collection methodology and statistical sampling to allow for scientific analysis and independent verification of election results. For additional impact, we partnered with the Bangladesh Election Commission in a comprehensive civic education campaign to update the electoral roll.
Emerging young leaders gather in Malaysia to tackle regional challenges
Our office in Kuala Lumpur and the Australia-Malaysia Institute hosted this year’s Australia-ASEAN Emerging Leaders Program in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, and Kuala Lumpur. Jointly funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and in cooperation with the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, we gathered inspiring young leaders from Southeast Asia and Australia for highlevel discussions on contemporary issues. They were provided a rare opportunity to develop their knowledge of regional social, political, and economic dynamics and capacity as regional leaders, and build long-term linkages with leading thinkers and each other.
The Lotus Circle
The Lotus Circle is a community of individuals and organizations empowering women and girls across Asia. This year, at the fourth annual Lotus Leadership Awards Gala in New York, Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus was honored for his vision to use small loans to lift women out of poverty. Ms. Nani Zulminarni was honored for her remarkable work with widows in conflict-affected areas of Indonesia. The Estée Lauder Companies were recognized for their ongoing support to help young girls in Vietnam continue their secondary school education. Asia Foundation Trustee Ambassador Melanne Verveer introduced special video appearances by Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Former President Jimmy Carter. The Gala was cochaired by Asia Foundation Trustee and Lotus Circle Advisor Missie Rennie and her husband Zach Taylor, along with Lotus Circle Advisor Winnie Feng and her husband Michael Feng. Said Winnie Feng in our noted blog, In Asia: “I think of Lotus Circle members as modern day activists, passionate about positive change but who just can’t be on the ground. We raise awareness, take action, and empower others.
Bringing critical services to Vietnam’s migrant workers
Migrant workers suffer low incomes, poor benefits, unstable employment, and are far from their traditional family support systems. With funding from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, we are providing legal counseling to migrant workers and improving the ability of local organizations to advocate for the protection of workers’ rights. Last year we assisted more than 1,200 workers, largely through pro-bono legal clinics. And with support from the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, we are now reaching more than 30,000 new migrant workers a month through a website that provides free legal advice.
Farms to market: Improving roads and value chains across the Philippines
Less than 30 percent of the Philippine road network is paved, and most roads are in very poor condition. Inadequate public resources and fragmentation of responsibilities across levels of government hinder investments in roads that will connect production, tourism, and industrial areas with the rest of the country. Recognizing the private sector’s strength as the driving force for economic growth, with support from Australia, we mobilized local chambers of commerce to influence government’s decisions to invest in strategic road links that facilitate movement of products from farm to market, and more efficient delivery of government services. This year we succeeded in helping to secure a public investment of $6 million in improvements to strategic segments of roads crucial for trade and commerce.
Improving Children’s Literacy
Our Books for Asia program is contributing to Asia’s development by helping individuals acquire literacy in their mother tongue as well as gain English-language skills required in a global economy. With support from USAID and local partners in Timor-Leste, we created some of the country’s first professionally produced storybooks and teacher materials. Combined with parent workshops and teacher training emphasizing student engagement over rote lectures, the impact of providing these materials was dramatic. Since the project’s launch in 2010, 20 percent more first graders are now able to read a simple word. Tests on numeracy skills revealed 77 percent of the students are now also able to solve simple math problems.
In a flourishing society
justice is accessible, fair, and effective
Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Nepal’s migrant workers
As increasing numbers of Nepalis depart for foreign employment each year, we are invested in improving understanding of cultural acclimatization, safe migration, financial management skills, and training of government officials to prevent trafficking and exploitation. Last year, we helped the government produce a first-ever Labor Migration for Employment report that reflects the process and magnitude of Nepali labor migration, identifies structural challenges and policy gaps, and presents strategies and programmatic options for reform. Our work has helped unify donor initiatives in safe migration and in counter-trafficking. At the regional level, we engaged with government and civil society to advocate a common South Asia Framework based on workers’ rights and human security.
Transforming conflict in Southern Thailand
The Asia Foundation is one of the most active and respected international organizations working in conflict mitigation efforts in Thailand’s southern border provinces. This year we helped address bitter grievances rooted in historical and cultural identity, rights protection, and access to justice that underlie Malay-Muslim discontent with the Thai State. For decades, the Malay-Muslim community has called for the renaming of villages in a manner that reflects the identity of the region. We supported local partners to successfully advocate the government to restore the traditional Malay-language names of 10 villages. In addition, we trained 994 respected religious and secular leaders to channel citizen views and expectations concerning the conflict to decision-makers, while local news media reached more than 200,000 radio listeners with balanced analysis of conflict issues and the peace process.
Empowering China’s women entrepreneurs
Rural to urban migration is a widespread phenomenon in China. According to government statistics, internal migrants account for approximately 20 percent of the total population of China, or 274 million people as of 2014. Over one-third of these are women, who face serious barriers in achieving equity and access to state benefits and social resources. Since the late 1990s, the Foundation has supported initiatives to level the playing field for migrant women in China as they seek higher levels of socio-economic wellbeing. More recently, as living expenses in big cities now outpace wage increases in the manufacturing and service sectors, we are working with local partners to enable migrant women to become successful entrepreneurs through business skills training and mentoring, and linking them with affordable local lending resources for business loans. Our latest program in Shanghai enrolled 109 migrant women entrepreneurs in 2014, and many more will benefit in the years to come.
Strengthening access to justice and protection in Pakistan
Although Pakistan’s constitution provides for equality and equal protection before the law, vulnerable populations face difficulties in accessing channels of justice. These include ethnic and religious minorities, survivors of gender-based violence, and persons with disabilities. With support from the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, we helped provide legal aid in 13 districts and supported advocacy on protection measures in all four provincial capitals and in Islamabad. We are working closely with 16 organizations, including 13 legal aid centers. The staff of these centers are specifically equipped to serve religious minorities, victims of gender violence, and other vulnerable populations.
Bringing legal advice and representation to Lao citizens
Rule of law is still nascent in Laos. Where legal frameworks or policies exist, Laos lacks effective mechanisms to implement such laws; and there is low awareness of many laws and rights among citizens. The Asia Foundation promotes greater understanding of and access to justice, focusing in particular on legal aid and village mediation in order to ensure that rural and disadvantaged populations are served by the justice system. Working with the Lao Bar Association and Ministry of Justice, we have contributed to building the capacity of the legal profession and empowering citizens to access legal information and rights. The Asia Foundation also supports the National Assembly in their role of monitoring government officials’ adherence to the rule of law.
Digital technology supports government transparency and urban service delivery in Mongolia
The 25-year old democracy of Mongolia is undergoing a digital revolution. We are improving transparency and helping eradicate corruption in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, by developing an integrated database of 48,000 key decisions and city legislation. Among other issues these efforts are contributing to effective land permission and title issuance, highly contentious issues. Last year we digitized more than 150 detailed land demarcation maps for a website where citizens and city officials can now find information, download maps, and avoid disputes. In addition, we combined community participation with digital tools to establish a community mapping website for citizens and city officials, where they can explore and download maps for advocacy and planning. Recently we helped develop a pilot electronic customer database on solid waste collection, linked to Ulaanbaatar’s Citizen Service Center, to enable residents of the city’s sprawling ger districts to provide direct feedback on collection services via SMS.
Helping Cambodian families uprooted in illegal land concessions
Cambodia’s economic development has been driven in part by exploitation of natural resources, bringing the elite into conflict over land rights with the less powerful, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Land concessions to private investors rarely follow legal requirements, and courts systematically fail to check abuses of power. With support from USAID, we provided grants to local human rights and grassroots groups to counter violations and mobilize communities. Our actions supported more than 12,000 families fighting land disputes in 20 provinces and the training of nearly 1,500 citizens on human rights and land law.
Justice for Afghan women affected by violence
Women’s rights and access to justice are essential if Afghanistan is to achieve a lasting peace. From our active office in Kabul, we are working to change perceptions and misinterpretations, and we partner with religious leaders and Islamic scholars to ensure laws aren’t seen as being in contradiction with Islam. With support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, we reached more than 2,900 women and provided training and materials related to women’s rights in Islam and the Law on Elimination of Violence against Women.
In a flourishing society
leaders are responsive and ethical
Helping reformers in Timor-Leste advance good public policy
We support public policies that reflect community needs, and are actively working to help build a network of influential policy reformers. Regular meetings, workshops, and locally led research agendas provide for meaningful change and a reform agenda that will have a positive impact on development outcomes for Timorese citizens. With support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, we are working with nearly 40 midcareer Timorese professionals from a wide variety of institutions, civil society organizations, universities, and media outlets to address issues like inclusive government policy. This year, the group hosted its first public forum, with a keynote address by Nobel Peace Laureate H.E. José Ramos-Horta.
Asia Foundation Development Fellows selected as BBC’s 100 Women
Asia’s youth population will reach 460 million by 2030. The opportunity for youth to lead in shaping Asia’s future is enormous. The Asia Foundation Development Fellows: Emerging Leadership for Asia’s Future program provides a coveted new platform for these emerging leaders. We recognize and empower promising young NGO and civil society leaders, government officials and policymakers, social entrepreneurs, journalists, environmentalists, and academics – to encourage lasting solutions to the region’s most pressing development challenges. Our inaugural 2014 class of 10 fellows included Dwi Rubiyanti Kholifah, director of Indonesia’s Asian Muslim Action Network; Nepal’s nationally acclaimed journalist and women’s rights advocate Jaya Luintel; and Thai engineer and social entrepreneur Salinee Tavaranan. These three fellows were tapped for the BBC’s 100 Women 2014, a powerhouse of top young women leaders across the globe that symbolize the BBC’s pledge to better represent women in its coverage.
Fostering transparency, data-sharing, and policy dialogue on river systems in India
South Asia is one of the most densely populated and water scarce regions in the world. In India, demand for water is rapidly increasing with the pace of urbanization, energy consumption, and food production intensifying faster than ever before. India draws most of its fresh water supply from large international river basins. In managing shared rivers, regional cooperation on water remains a key constraint. We are focused on convening multi-stakeholder and multi-country dialogues and engagements on shared rivers. Our most recent work seeks to promote open sharing of water and climate data in South Asia. With support from the Skoll Global Threats Fund and in partnership with the World Resources Institute, we assessed the availability of data and information relating to four transboundary rivers in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal, building the capacities of civil society and the media to utilize transparency tools and mechanisms.
Floods are a frequent occurrence in South Asia, where for centuries, transboundary rivers such as the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra, have served as the cradles of civilization. Worshipped, revered, and the source of livelihoods for an estimated 700 million, these rivers are the lifeline of the subcontinent but also the source of much misery and devastation.
FLOOD DATA: D. Guha-Sapir, R. Below, Ph. Hoyois – EM-DAT: International Disaster Database – www.emdat.be – Université Catholique de Louvain – Brussels – Belgium
Our Washington office provides substantive dialogues with key audiences on policy issues facing Asia. Roundtables, forums, lectures, and dialogues provide policymakers, nongovernmental leaders, journalists, and scholars with opportunities to engage with the latest thinking and views from Asia. To mark the Foundation’s 60th anniversary, we honored Senator Dianne Feinstein of California with the first-ever Asia Foundation Chairman’s Award for her commitment to U.S.- Asia Relations at a special Ambassadors Dinner, where ambassadors from across Asia gathered to mark the Foundation’s pioneering work over six decades. Foreign policy experts and officials, journalists who cover the region, and highly accomplished Luce Scholars program alumni attended.
Investing in Korean leadership and institutions
We created a two-way exchange between Korea and Mongolia to deepen understanding among development partners and aid providers about urbanization issues in Mongolia and how Korean development experience can respond to these development challenges. With support from the KDI School of Public Policy and Management, we placed 10 KDI graduate students in development studies at six of our Foundation offices in Asia to gain first-hand experience and broaden their perspectives. Our special partnership with KDI has brought together more than 100 leading experts and practitioners across the region as well as from the U.S. and Australia to examine commonalities and differences among Asian development cooperation approaches.
Our prestigious Exchange programs help shape perceptions of the Asians and Americans who take part in multifaceted academic studies, conferences, special programs, and study tours. Foundation grants have provided thousands of current and future leaders with opportunities to exchange views and gain direct experience with regions other than their own.
Leadership, Contact Us
2014 Financial Highlights
The Asia Foundation Condensed Financial Information (In Thousands)
REVENUE, SUPPORT & INCOME
|Government: Bilateral & Multilateral Institutions||117,513|
|Foundations, Corporations, & Individuals||5,136|
|Programs, Grants, & Related Services||108,499|
|Change in Net Assets from Operations||340|
|Donated Books & Related Materials||3,986|
|Distribution of Books & Materials||11,178|
|Total Change in Net Assets||-6,166|
Management is responsible for the preparation of The Asia Foundation’s financial statements in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America, and for the financial information presented in this report. This responsibility includes maintaining the integrity and objectivity of financial records, protection of Foundation assets, and compliance with funder restrictions and instructions. The Foundation’s financial statements have been audited by Clark Nuber, P.S., independent certified public accountants. It is the opinion of the independent auditor that the financial statements as of and for the year ended September 30, 2014, are fairly stated in all material respects in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. The independent auditor’s report and complete audited financial statements and accompanying footnotes are available here.
PHOTO CREDITS: We are grateful for the photos provided by Sunita Anandarajah; Conor Ashleigh; Emdadul Islam Bitu; Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Sara Farid; Karl Grobl; Geoffrey Hiller; Kwan-Joo Kim; Whitney Legge; Tim Mann; Pete Marovich; Tenzing Paljor; Photo Peace of South; Roz Plotzker; Don Pollard; Gobie Rajalingam; Abu Bakar Siddique; Richard Tay Chiew Soon (Team2Photo Studio)