International Development

Marine sand is pumped by a ship at the commencement of "Colombo Port City" backed by China in Sri Lanka. Increasing attention is being paid to the social and environmental impacts of China’s investments abroad. 

Environmental and Social Impacts of Chinese Investment Overseas

June 1, 2016

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On June 5, China marks its second national “Environment Day,” first established as part of the revised Environmental Protection Law in 2014. Along with the increased focus on environmental issues at home, more and more attention is being paid to the social and environmental impacts of China’s investments abroad. Outward foreign direct investment (O… Read more

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Q&A: An Evolving Paradigm of South-South Cooperation

April 6, 2016

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In March, The Asia Foundation’s director of International Development Cooperation program, Anthea Mulakala, joined more than 500 renowned scholars and experts from around the world for an international conference on South-South Cooperation (SSC) in New Delhi. In Asia editor Alma Freeman caught up with Mulakala to discuss how SSC is changing the int… Read more

SriLankaSept18 

2016 Australasian Aid Conference Convenes Leading Researchers on Global Development

January 27, 2016

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It’s not often that Canberra can be described as an international crossroads. But on February 10-11 it will be a hotbed of discussion when researchers and practitioners from across Asia, the Pacific, and beyond converge on The Australian National University…

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How Behavioral Insights Can Nudge Voter Turnout in Bangladesh

January 20, 2016

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On Dec. 30, 2015, Bangladesh held its first-ever local-level elections in which political parties were able to nominate and field their own candidates for mayoral positions. Amid sporadic irregularities, millions lined up to vote in 234 municipalities across the country. While the election commission has yet to release official results…

ThailandConflict 

Responding to Conflict in Asia: Why Good Data is Needed

December 16, 2015

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The new set of post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals includes for the first time a target that specifically sets out to promote peaceful and inclusive societies, marking an increase in awareness that peace and security is critical for sustainable development.

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Local Pathways to Disability-Inclusive Governance in Indonesia

December 16, 2015

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“Nothing About Us Without Us” has become a familiar slogan used by the international disability movement and relies on the principle of full participation for all. However, in Indonesia, where people with disabilities (PWDs) still face enormous barriers…

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Looking Ahead in Afghanistan: A Conversation with Political Economist Timor Sharan

November 18, 2015

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In Asia editor Alma Freeman spoke with Asia Foundation expert Timor Sharan from Kabul on reactions to this year’s Survey of the Afghan People, the challenges facing Afghanistan’s year-old National Unity Government, its changing role in the region, the need for an Afghan-led election dispute resolution mechanism…

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Asia Foundation Hosts Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for Innovation Talk

October 14, 2015

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On October 9, Asia Foundation President Arnold hosted Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, along with Australian Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Beazley, and former U.S. Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich at the iconic Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

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China and the United States: A Conversation with David M. Lampton

July 29, 2015

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David M. Lampton is Hyman Professor and Director of China Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, where he also heads SAIS China, the school’s overall presence in the PRC. He joined The Asia Foundation’s Board of Trustees in 2006, and became Chairman of the Board in 2014.

Conor Ashleigh Nepal 2013 

To Be or Not To Be Part of AIIB

July 22, 2015

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June 29, 2015, may have marked a turning point in multilateral development financing in the Asia-Pacific region. On that day, 50 countries signed the articles of agreement of the $50 billion, China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). While there is a lot of excitement about the potential of this new multilateral financing institution…

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Beijing Panel Explores Stabilizing Afghanistan: A Role for the Neighbors?

July 8, 2015

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As the era of massive foreign aid and foreign troops in Afghanistan draws to a close, the eyes of the international community are turning to Afghanistan’s nearest neighbors, including China, India, and Pakistan…

Afghanistan MOU Governor's Fund, Board of Trustees Afghanistan Visit 

Karl Eikenberry: A Role for China?

July 8, 2015

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Ambassador Karl Eikenberry is the Oksenberg-Rohlen Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, and a trustee of The Asia Foundation. He served as the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2009 to 2011, where he led the civilian surge directed by President Obama to set the conditions for transition to full Afghan sovereignty.

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A Conversation with KOICA President Kim Young-mok

June 17, 2015

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South Korea, a once-impoverished and war-torn nation that has grown to become an economic powerhouse and a provider of international assistance, is one of Asia’s great success stories, and The Asia Foundation has been a partner in that remarkable transformation since 1954.

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American Foreign Policy and American Education

May 13, 2015

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Two reports with ungainly titles and ostensibly nothing to do with each other were released by U.S. federal agencies last month. Together, these two reports should provoke a moment of reflection by anyone interested in the future of U.S. foreign policy.

Manila Daily Life 

Doing Development Differently: Report from Manila

April 29, 2015

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On Monday and Tuesday in Manila, The Asia Foundation, along with Harvard University and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), and with media partner DevEx to get the message out, hosted the second Doing Development Differently forum (DDD).

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A Conversation with Dr. Rajiv Shah

April 29, 2015

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Recently retired after five years at the helm of USAID, Rajiv Shah brought new energy and improved morale, and earned bipartisan Congressional support as director of the United States’ premier development agency. Shah emphasized measurement, transparency, and outcomes in development spending, and he championed the idea that development dollars should build local institutions within developing countries.

IWDTimorLeste 

Post-2015 Development Agenda Needs Standalone Goal on Gender Equality

March 4, 2015

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It has been more than a century since the world first celebrated March 8 as International Women’s Day. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women when representatives from 189 governments signed the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action…

TimorFerry 

A New Era of Development Finance

February 11, 2015

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The global development landscape has changed dramatically in the last 15 years. In 2000, bilateral Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors (UK, U.S., Japan, France) and multilateral institutions like the World Bank dominated the provision of aid. Today, the face of aid is increasingly Asian.

PhnomPenhMonsoon 

Asia’s Cities Poised to Lead in Climate Change Adaptation

January 28, 2015

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With support from the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities challenge, a number of cities across Asia are beginning to confront the impacts of climate change. Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, recently selected as one of Resilient Cities’ newest member cities and home to 1.5 million people, is one. Due to its low elevation and proximity to the Mekong River…

MongoliaUB 

Can Mongolia’s Digital Revolution Help Meet Service Delivery Challenges?

January 28, 2015

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Last month, Mongolia celebrated the 25th anniversary of its democratic revolution, a moment that would catapult the country’s transformation from a communist regime to a dynamic power in the region. But more recently – and more quietly – the country has also been undergoing a digital revolution.

 

Ten Reasons Not to Miss This Year’s Aid Conference

January 21, 2015

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We held our first Australasian Aid Conference a year ago. In fact, we called it a workshop, because we thought it would be a rather small affair. Instead, we got 50 papers and 250 participants, and we’re doing it again this year, from February 12-13 at Australian National University…

 

How Practitioner-Academic Research Collaborations Can Improve Development Outcomes

January 14, 2015

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“Theories of Change,” as Craig Valters argued recently on In Asia, offer development practitioners a potential way to grapple with the complexity of social change. But understanding how to get the most out of the tool is still a work in progress.

Mongoliavideo 

Mapping Mongolia’s Urban Ger Areas in Ulaanbaatar

December 17, 2014

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Infrastructure in Mongolia’s sprawling capital Ulaanbaatar has not kept up with the rapid growth of unplanned ger areas within the city, leading to harsh conditions for newcomers. 1.5 million people now live in Ulaanbaatar, more than twice as many as the city was built to sustain. Since July 2012, The Asia Foundation has been implementing an urban services project…

SriLankaStreetScene 

Using Evidence to Improve Development Assistance

December 10, 2014

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Development assistance is founded on countless theories about how foreign taxpayers’ money can be harnessed to instigate and catalyze economic and social development and provide humanitarian benefits abroad. Basic arguments for how positive change can be achieved…

PhilippinesConflict 

Modern Conflict is Not What You Think

December 10, 2014

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Research has transformed medicine, agriculture, and sanitation, and has helped lift many millions out of poverty. Most of the extremely poor people in the world now live in states suffering from conflict. Scholars have studied wars for millennia, but are usually concentrated on how to win them.

NepalCommunityMediation 

Academics, Practitioners, and Donors: Whose Evidence Counts and For What?

December 10, 2014

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There is a difficult tension in the evidence-seeking agenda: on the one hand, donors seek short-term, project-related outcomes to support claims about their impact on a grand scale in a society; on the other hand, society-level impact does not seem measurable…

 

Can Theories of Change Help Us ‘Do Development Differently?’

December 10, 2014

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Where next for debates and practice of Theories of Change? In my last blog on this topic, I argued that we need to be wary of Theories of Change simply becoming another corporate stick to beat people with: to prevent this, there is a considerable onus on likeminded donors…

AfghanMarket 

The Need for Evidence-Based Narratives Around Afghanistan’s Youth

November 19, 2014

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Earlier this year, the U.S. Congress reduced its development assistance to Afghanistan by half. This still leaves over a billion U.S. dollars. Indeed, since 2001, the country’s economy has relied heavily on foreign aid, including its nascent institutions which now face a number of challenges: to do more with less money, battle the resilient insurgency, and create employment opportunities…

 

Afghans Aren’t Giving Up

November 19, 2014

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Afghanistan’s newly inaugurated president, Ashraf Ghani, appears to be off to a good start with the Afghan people. He has announced a series of new initiatives and adopted a hands-on style of governing, including surprise visits to military posts…

KoreaTimeline 

Former Korea Country Representative David Steinberg Reflects on A Nation in Transition

November 12, 2014

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The Asia Foundation marked its 60th anniversary with a special day-long event and gala on November 6 in Seoul, Korea, hosted by former Foreign Minister Han Sung-Joo…

BeijingSkyline 

Trade, Private Sector, Soft and Hard Infrastructure to Top Beijing APEC Agenda

November 5, 2014

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Wednesday marked the first day of the week-long Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum, hosted this year in Beijing. This year’s summit, themed “Shaping the Future through Asia-Pacific Partnership,” brings together ministerial leaders, CEOs of global corporations, and other leading voices in the private and public sectors to discuss the challenges facing Asian-Pacific economies. The week will culminate with the 22nd APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting on November 10-11. Heads of states from all 21 member economies, including U.S. President Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping…

MyanmarYangon 

Myanmar’s National Museum Reveals Country’s Dynamic Past

October 29, 2014

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Next month, Myanmar will host the ninth annual East Asia Summit, marking the conclusion of the country’s highly anticipated leadership role as 2014 ASEAN chair. Over the last three years, Myanmar has made strides in moving forward…

ElizabethEconomy 

Q&A with Leading China Expert, Asia Foundation Trustee Elizabeth Economy

October 29, 2014

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In Asia editor Alma Freeman recently sat down with new Asia Foundation trustee Elizabeth Economy, Council on Foreign Relations’ C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and director for Asia Studies, to discuss China’s environmental challenges, the country’s role as a donor, and her new book co-authored with Michael Levi…

MyanmarStateRegionGov 

Discussion Series Examines Myanmar’s Path to Decentralization

October 29, 2014

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Since Myanmar’s President U Thein Sein took office in April 2011, the country has embarked on a dramatic set of reforms that have shifted the nation from one of the world’s most repressive regimes to this year’s Chair of ASEAN…

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One Year After Bohol Earthquake, Partnerships Thrive Amid Rehabilitation Efforts

October 15, 2014

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One year ago today, an earthquake reported to have the energy equivalent of 32 Hiroshima bombs struck Bohol and nearby provinces in south central Philippines. Generated from a fault in the northwestern sector of Bohol Island, the earthquake registered 7.2 on the Richter scale…

MongoliaMayorSigning 

Mongolia’s Capital Leads Charge to Improve Transparency and Fight Corruption

October 8, 2014

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Ahead of a major forum on transparency and corruption in Mongolia’s capital of Ulaanbaatar this week, Capital City Governor and Mayor Bat-Uul Erdene set the tone for the discussions: “In Mongolia, corruption is so common that it has become a kind of social norm.” …

KhalidMalik 

A Conversation with UN Human Development Report Author Khalid Malik

October 8, 2014

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Khalid Malik, lead author of the UNDP Human Development Report, sat down with The Asia Foundation’s Global Communications assistant director, Eelynn Sim, on a recent visit to the Foundation’s headquarters in San Francisco and on the heels of the release of the 2014 report.

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Civil Society Organizations in Asia Press for More Open Environment

September 24, 2014

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Indonesians have spoken out about a contentious bill to be voted on today that would eliminate direct elections for local mayors and district heads. Leading the charge against the bill, tabled just a month before President-elect Joko Widodo assumes office…

ZamboangaRehabilitation 

One Year After Siege, Zamboanga Critical to Success of Any Peace Agreement

September 10, 2014

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On Sept. 9, 2013, Zamboanga City woke to an unfolding nightmare. Some 200 Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters under the charismatic commander Ustadz Habier Malik had landed. They professed, despite the fact that they were fully armed, an intention merely to have a peaceful march in support of independence for Muslim-dominated areas in the southern Philippines. When government security forces halted their march, MNLF forces took hostages as a string of human shields, tying them together with rope. As a nightmare, this was a recurrence…

ManilaCity 

WEF Declares Philippines Most Improved Country in Global Competitiveness

September 10, 2014

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The Filipino workforce has long been considered to be internationally competitive, exemplified in its impressive performance in the business process outsourcing and overseas labor markets. However, it is only recently that Philippine competitiveness has been recognized on a global scale.

A passanger greets family after returning to Nepal through Tribh 

Framing Human Trafficking to Address Commoditization of Human Beings

August 13, 2014

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The U.S Government’s latest Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report makes some critical observations in relation to how 187 countries are addressing human trafficking, and how this relates to the larger issues of labor migration and its manifestation into forced labor.

SubnationalConflictgraph 

Subnational Conflict: New Approaches Needed

August 13, 2014

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In last week’s In Asia, I examined how the rise of Asia in recent decades has been accompanied by a growth in deadly subnational conflicts (SNCs). These conflicts are occurring across the continent, including in middle-income and otherwise stable states. Democratization has not been a cure. Asia’s subnational conflicts last twice as long as those elsewhere in the world.

Beijing 

China’s Second White Paper on Foreign Aid Signals Key Shift in Aid Delivery Strategy

July 23, 2014

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On July 10, 2014, China released its much-awaited white paper on foreign aid on foreign aid. In recent years, Chinese foreign aid has been a subject of scrutiny and even controversy. As the world’s fastest rising power, China has sharply expanded its foreign aid spending in both scale and scope over the last decade.

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Conversation with Burmese Publisher, Library Advocate U Thant Thaw Kaung

July 9, 2014

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Publisher U Thant Thaw Kaung, head of the Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation and the mobile library project under the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, recently visited The Asia Foundation’s headquarters in San Francisco as part of a three-week study tour…

 

Integrating Disability in Pakistan’s Development Approach

June 11, 2014

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Last month, over 1,000 students, journalists, civil society representatives, and activists walked from the Roshan Khan Complex to Jinnah Stadium in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, to raise awareness of exclusion of persons with disabilities in education. At the walk, UNESCO’s director…

IndiaDevelopmentGraph 

5 Predictions for India’s Development Cooperation Under New Government

May 28, 2014

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On Monday, Narendra Modi took the oath as India’s new prime minister, offering a new, more conservative government that has come to power after winning an electoral landslide. The new leadership has also raised questions about the implications for India’s foreign assistance program.

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A Conversation with Tsagaan Puntsag, Chief of Staff of the President of Mongolia

May 21, 2014

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As The Asia Foundation recently marked its 20th anniversary in Mongolia, Country Representative Meloney Lindberg sat down with Tsagaan Puntsag, chief of staff of the President of Mongolia and former Asia Foundation grantee in the Government Palace…

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Photo Blog: Myanmar Parliamentary Study Tour to Korea

May 14, 2014

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The first session of the Myanmar’s Parliament was held in January 2011, but the legislative body has been extraordinarily busy catching up on a long list of laws that need to be updated, revised, or established anew to meet the country’s democratic transition…

Myanmar1 

Picturing: The Promise of Libraries in Myanmar

April 2, 2014

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Libraries and reading have a special place in Myanmar society. Yangon, the country’s largest city, is teeming with book vendors and libraries. The American Center and British Council libraries were venerated sources of up-to-date publications…

TimorStudyPolicing 

New Study Examines Policing in Timor-Leste

April 2, 2014

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The Asia Foundation just released a new study that examines key features of police development in Asia’s youngest country, Timor-Leste. As part of the Overseas Development Institute’s global “Securing Communities” project, the case study reveals a unique process of development of community policing, influenced by historical legacies of occupation a… Read more

ManilaStreetScene 

How Politics Can Outmaneuver Reform in the Philippines

March 12, 2014

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Over the past two years, the Philippines has achieved the distinction of being the fastest growing of the ASEAN-6 economies with growth rates of 6.8 percent in 2012 and 7.2 percent in 2013. The official poverty rate in the Philippines was 27.9 percent in 2012 and 28.8 percent in 2006; levels which were interpreted this way…

CambodiaBridge 

The Rise of Asia’s Southern Providers in East Asia

February 12, 2014

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Today, there’s no doubt that the global aid landscape is changing. Aid from traditional donors to Asia is declining, with total global aid falling by 6 percent since its high point in 2010. Meanwhile, the volume of development cooperation from non-OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members is increasing.

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Two Months After Yolanda: Lessons from the Bunkhouse Controversy

January 15, 2014

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The recent controversy about temporary shelters – or bunkhouses – for victims in Yolanda-hit areas offers some lessons not only in emergency response but also in reconstruction efforts. These are not new lessons…

 

Corporate Philanthropy in Vietnam: Promise Among Challenges

December 18, 2013

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Giving in Vietnam is strongly rooted in its culture and tradition. Tax breaks for rich people who helped the poor were implemented as far back as the 15th century. Today, the public discourse is full of references to community spirit and the philanthropic impulses of Vietnamese. In addition to quoting the musketeers line, “One for all and all for one,” in his address…

RidoTraining 

Research Effectiveness: The Case of the Mindanao Conflict

December 18, 2013

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Research is most useful for development practitioners when it is embedded in the entire endeavor, directing and directed by actions and reflections throughout implementation, rather than being something done initially to design a project and at the end to evaluate it.

 

Making the Evidence Agenda in Development More Plausible

December 18, 2013

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“What is the evidence?” This must be the most common question in development programming and policy these days. Donors are pressing practitioners to present evidence that their programming approaches are working – themselves under pressure to show measurable results and the evidence for those.

 

In Afghanistan, Provincial-Level Institutions Critical to Protecting and Advancing Women’s Rights

December 11, 2013

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Five months from now, Afghanistan will enter a critical juncture of transition and election, in a dynamic context where large parts of the country are now increasingly controlled by Taliban shadow governments.

 

Getting Academics and Aid Workers to Work Together

December 11, 2013

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Aid workers and academics would seem natural collaborators. Development studies courses are common and it is routine to find academics who oscillate between the academy and the field as aid workers. In turn, the aid world often calls upon academics to provide expert advice and looks to their literature for guidance.

AfghanSurveying 

Afghans Apprehensive But Cautiously Optimistic as They Move into Critical Transition

December 4, 2013

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Today in Kabul, The Asia Foundation released its annual Survey of the Afghan People, the country’s broadest and most comprehensive public opinion poll with 9,260 Afghans interviewed face-to-face across all 34 provinces of Afghanistan. This year’s survey is particularly significant as it reflects the perceptions of the Afghan people as they enter the critical transition year of 2014 faced with national elections, the drawdown of the remaining international security forces in the country, the growing insurgency, and the impact these events will have on the nation’s economy.

 

Afghanistan’s Complex Women’s Rights Discourse

December 4, 2013

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Are women’s rights and gender equality universal or culturally and geographically confined to the West? Are there certain cultures and political systems that are inherently misogynistic? Are the concerns of Western powers’ about women’s rights sincere or are they an instrument to pursue their own political objectives against their rivals?

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The Yolanda Tragedy: 7 Lessons in Early Emergency Response

November 20, 2013

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Last month, when the 7.2 earthquake struck the Philippine provinces of Cebu and Bohol, I was in the southern city of Zamboanga facilitating dialogues between Muslim and Christian leaders to alleviate possible religious tension following the September siege that displaced thousands and threatened the good relationship of the city’s two faith communities. It was the furthest thing from my mind that an even more devastating disaster would happen just a month later, right in Tacloban City, where I had left my wife and kids in safety (or so I thought) and in the province of Eastern Samar where I grew up playing in the gentle edges of the mighty Pacific Ocean.

 

Despite Double Disasters, Bohol’s Local Response Strong

November 20, 2013

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Less than one month after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake destroyed areas of Bohol province in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines, Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan), said to be one of the most powerful storms ever to hit land…

PhilippinesDisaster 

Devastation in the Philippines

November 13, 2013

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On November 8, Typhoon Yolanda (known internationally as Haiyan) struck central Philippines, particularly the eastern coasts of the islands of Leyte and Samar, carrying winds close to 200 mph and causing a massive storm surge that flattened entire towns and devastated communities in its wake. Yolanda is said to be one of the most powerful storms ever to hit land. The official death toll stands at more than 2,300, but local officials warn that number could increase significantly. An estimated 8 million people have been affected and 600,000 are displaced. Most visible is the plight of residents of coastal Tacloban – Leyte’s capital city and regional economic hub – who are struggling to find the most basic of services: food, water, shelter, and electricity.

BangladeshTannery 

Relocation a Boon for Bangladeshi Leather Sector

November 13, 2013

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The government of Bangladesh and the two primary Bangladeshi leather industry trade associations reached a historical agreement last month to transfer the leather industry from central Dhaka to Savar, a new, environmentally compliant industrial zone on the outskirts of the city. According to the president of the Bangladesh Tanners Association, the new location could boost the industry’s export revenues from $1-5 billion. Economists predict that if the leather industry continues its impressive growth, it may even challenge the ready-made garment sector as one of Bangladesh’s most valuable exports.

 

Community-Driven Development: A New Deal for Communities in the Asia-Pacific

November 13, 2013

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The Asia Foundation, in partnership with Australian Aid, World Bank, and SMERU, a leading Indonesian research institute, recently hosted a four-day regional conference…

CDDProgramBali 

What Does Community-Driven Development Deliver? Lessons from a Balinese Village

November 13, 2013

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Early this month, I boarded a bus to visit the Balinese village of Sobangan to see in action the impact from a decade of Community-Driven Development (CDD), an approach that delivers public funds directly to the village level and allows citizens to determine priorities for social services and economic development.

HeratDialogue 

Herat Dialogue Raises Tough Questions on Afghanistan’s Security

November 6, 2013

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On Oct. 5-6, 2013, The Asia Foundation sent a delegation to participate in the second Herat Security Dialogue, an annual international event organized by the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS). The dialogue brings domestic, regional, and international security experts…

 

The Asia Foundation Co-Hosts Regional Conference on Community-Driven Development

October 30, 2013

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On Oct. 28, The Asia Foundation, Australian Aid, World Bank and SMERU hosted a 4-day conference in Indonesia on “Sustaining and Mainstreaming Community-Driven Development Programs (CDD).” In contrast to standard development approaches, CDD programs provide funds directly to the village level, allowing communities to decide for themselves what devel… Read more

StanfordLawTimor 

New Texts Boost Timor-Leste’s Legal Capacity

October 30, 2013

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Justin Bieber may not have visited Asia’s newest state, Timor-Leste, yet, but as six Stanford law students found out earlier this year, his popularity has preceded him at the National University of Timor-Leste (UNTL). The Stanford students were visiting UNTL with the Timor-Leste Legal Education Project (TLLEP), a partnership among The Asia Foundation…

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Civil Society Leaders Gather in Seoul for Inaugural Asia Democracy Network Assembly

October 30, 2013

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As civil society in Asia has made significant progress over the past several decades, the need for a forum that brings together the major players to focus on key challenges to inclusive and participatory democracy has become increasingly important.

MongoliaGerDistrict 

Mapping Ulaanbaatar’s Ger Districts

October 23, 2013

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Mongolia is now one of the world’s fastest growing economies, and nowhere is this growth more evident than the bustling and energetic capital, Ulaanbaatar. Expensive high rises, luxury stores, and modern apartment buildings are common in this city of 1.5 million; tower cranes dot the rising skyline, harbingers of even more cutting-edge development projects to come. But in the shadows of the cranes and high rises, are the city’s ger districts, where more than half of the capital’s residents live without access to basic public services like water, sewage systems, and central heating.

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A Conversation with Capital City Governor and Ulaanbaatar Mayor Bat-Uul Erdene

October 23, 2013

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On Friday, the Ulaanbaatar city municipality will celebrate Ulaanbaatar City Day to highlight the various works being undertaken to improve the capital of Mongolia, home to more than 50 percent of the population.

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Back from APEC, Pres. David Arnold Discusses Private Sector & Sustainable Development

October 16, 2013

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Last week, Asia Foundation President David Arnold joined over 1,200 CEOs and 10 heads of member economies at the annual APEC CEO Summit in Indonesia to discuss inclusive and sustainable development, with a special focus on the importance of women in Asia’s growth trajectory.

Herat 

Afghanistan Reimagines its Regional Role

October 16, 2013

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In the beautifully restored third century B.C. citadel of the ancient western Afghan city of Herat, scholars and diplomats from Afghanistan’s neighbors and international partners spent the first weekend in October at a security conference exploring prospects for the country to emerge…

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Photo Blog: Zamboanga City Begins Recovery Through Inter-Faith Efforts

October 16, 2013

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October 15 was a national holiday in the Philippines to celebrate Eid’l Adha, the Muslim festival of the sacrifice. The day was also tragically marked by an earthquake in central Philippines, one consequence of which was considerable damage to historic churches…

 

Obama’s Asia Pivot on Shaky Ground

October 9, 2013

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Asia-Pacific leaders gather in Brunei this week for the 8th East Asia Summit (EAS) and the 23rd ASEAN Summit, on the heels of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali on Monday. While a number of critical issues were set to be discussed, President Obama’s last minute cancellation…

Mongolia20th 

Marking 20 Years in Mongolia

October 9, 2013

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This week in Ulaanbaatar, celebrations are in full swing to mark The Asia Foundation’s 20th anniversary in Mongolia. In 1993, we opened our resident office in the building that is fondly remembered as the “Log Cabin,” becoming one of the first international nongovernmental organizations…

MyanmarMarket 

In Myanmar, an Evolving Discourse on Decentralization

October 2, 2013

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With a much-heralded democratic transition underway in Myanmar, the future holds the potential for impressive gains but also significant challenges. Among the latter, decentralization and state-local relations as mandated by the 2008 constitution are emerging as a critical issue…

BangladeshClimateChange 

First-Ever Research Tool for Measuring Gender Equality in Environmental Governance

October 2, 2013

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The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Global Gender Office enjoys worldwide recognition for the extensive work it has carried out over the past 12 years addressing gender equality issues within the environmental sector.

IMG_7875CROP 

Photo Blog: Relief Efforts in Zamboanga City

October 2, 2013

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The ongoing conflict in Zamboanga City, on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, which started on Sept. 9, 2013, has displaced 110,687 people, damaged more than 10,000 homes, and left more than 200 dead, among them soldiers, rebels, and civilians…

Shanghai 

Engaging China in International Development Cooperation

August 21, 2013

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As the world’s fastest rising power, China has sharply expanded its foreign aid spending in both scale and scope over the last decade. As China emerges as a major player in the field of foreign aid, longstanding “established” Western donors have begun to seize the opportunity to engage China in development cooperation in an effort to form new joint-venture programs and facilitate mutual understanding. Such cooperation and linking of resources could play a significant role in improving aid quality and effectiveness throughout the developing world. It could also help both China and established Western donors learn from each other in the rapidly evolving aid landscape.

DavidShear 

A Conversation with U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear

July 10, 2013

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In June, The Asia Foundation hosted U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, David B. Shear, at its headquarters in San Francisco. In Asia editor Alma Freeman sat down with him to discuss expanding economic and diplomatic ties, negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, progress in human rights, and Vietnam’s lively but circumscribed social media landscape.

BoatBuildingMekong 

Rapid Pursuit of GDP Growth in Lower Mekong Region Threatens Environment

June 26, 2013

Blog

Next week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will join leaders from the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) partner countries – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam – for the sixth LMI Ministerial Meeting in Brunei, Darussalam. The meeting will be held on the margins of the ASEAN Regional Forum Ministerial Meeting…

ConflictinSouthernThailand 

New Round of Talks Gives Hope for Peace in Thailand’s South

June 19, 2013

Blog

After nearly a decade of deadly conflict in Thailand’s Deep South, Thai officials and insurgent groups met in Kuala Lumpur last week for the third round of peace talks in hopes of finding common ground to end the violence. While both sides agreed to reduce violence during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which starts next month, few concrete solutions emerged. The Thai government has been requesting a cessation or reduction of violence since discussions began on March 28, 2013, but judging from the ongoing violence on the ground, and the apparent inability by the self-proclaimed separatist leaders to influence the militants on the ground, this upcoming Ramadan is likely to be a significant test for the Barisan Revolusi Nacional (BRN) separatist movement.

 

Confidence in Mindanao Peace Process Fragile

June 19, 2013

Blog

While the peace process in Mindanao has made tremendous progress over the past year, including the signing of a Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, there is still a long way to go. The current stage can be described as a “fragile transition,” where there is significant progress in the negotiation of a final settlement to the conflict…

ShweMann1 

Myanmar’s Speaker of the Lower House Shwe Mann: Economic Reforms Needed Ahead of 2015 Election

June 19, 2013

Blog

On June 10, Myanmar’s speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, Thura U Shwe Mann, during the first official visit to the U.S. by Myanmar’s Parliament since the reform process began two years ago, confirmed he would run for president in 2015. Shwe Mann, a former general and widely considered a “key architect” of recent reforms…

ConflictSouthernThailand 

The Right Kind of Development: Building Peace in Thailand and Beyond

June 12, 2013

Blog

The Asia Foundation’s new study, “The Contested Corners of Asia,” highlights the growing importance of conflicts that occur within rather than between countries. In recent years, subnational conflicts between national governments and local rebel groups…

Aceh 

Lessons from Aceh: Early Focus on Institutions Critical to Cementing Peace

June 12, 2013

Blog

Aceh – Indonesia’s western-most province which endured three decades of a secessionist civil war that left at least 15,000 dead – is frequently cited as the best recent example in Asia of a successful peace process. However, eight years after the Helsinki accord brought an end to the conflict, new forms of localized violence are now emerging.

ContestedCornersDataViz 

Data Visualization Site Examines Asia’s Subnational Conflicts

June 12, 2013

Blog

In conjunction with The Asia Foundation’s new study, “The Contested Corners of Asia: Subnational Conflict and International Development Assistance,” a just launched data visualization website provides further insight into one of the most pressing challenges in Asia today.

MasakoShinnfull 

A Conversation with Lotus Circle Founding Member Masako Shinn

June 5, 2013

Blog

The Asia Foundation’s third annual Lotus Leadership Awards luncheon takes place this week on June 6 at New York’s Boathouse in Central Park, and In Asia sat down with Lotus Circle founding member and advisor, Masako Shinn, who joined the Foundation’s board in 2012

NanditaBaruah1 

Nandita Baruah Examines Realities & New Approaches to Combating Human Trafficking

June 5, 2013

Blog

Ahead of The Asia Foundation’s third annual Lotus Leadership Awards luncheon on June 6 in New York, which highlights work to end human trafficking in Asia, In Asia editor Alma Freeman caught up with counter-trafficking expert Nandita Baruah from her office in Nepal.

IndiaStreetScene 

A New Aid Order in the Asian Century

May 29, 2013

Blog

The future of “traditional” aid is increasingly and rather suddenly in question. Why? Several reasons: rapid transformations in the global economic and political order, the growth and diversification of private financial flows to developing countries…

Luce40Anni 

Luce Scholars Program Marks 40 Years

May 29, 2013

Blog

Since its launch in 1974, The Asia Foundation has had the honor of administering in Asia the signature program of the Henry R. Luce Foundation, the Luce Scholars program, a major effort to provide an awareness of Asia among future leaders in American society.

ContestedCorners 

New Study to Reveal Impact of Foreign Aid on Asia’s Enduring Subnational Conflicts

May 29, 2013

Blog

On June 3 in Bangkok, The Asia Foundation will release a major new study, “The Contested Corners of Asia,” that examines subnational conflict, now the most deadly, widespread, and enduring form of violent conflict in Asia.

Japanopedblog 

In 21st Century Asia, Civil Society Blossoms

May 22, 2013

Blog

With ongoing tensions in Northeast Asia – North Korea threatening war, pervasive struggles over island territory, and disputes over history and trade – there is a temptation to grow impatient with dialogue and diplomacy. But for more than 60 years, economic growth, peace, and stability in this region…

CambodiaSME 

Cambodia’s Small Businesses Serve as Backbone of Sustainable Economy

May 15, 2013

Blog

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced in late March that the nation was on target to move from the status of a low-income to a lower-middle-income nation by the end of 2013, ranking it the 15th country that obtained high economic growth in the world in the last 10 years.

BurmaPagoda 

Asia Foundation Signs MOU with Government of Myanmar

May 15, 2013

Blog

Last week in Nay Pyi Taw, H.E. U Zin Yaw, Myanmar’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Asia Foundation President David Arnold signed an MOU marking the Foundation’s expansion of programs to support Myanmar’s democratic transition and plans to re-establish a resident office in the country. The Foundation also announced the appointment of Dr. Ki… Read more

 

Muslim Mindanao’s Cadre of New Leaders and Managers

May 1, 2013

Blog

When we hear about the current slow pace of negotiations between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, we can lose sight of the many concrete achievements made over the years. As peacemakers on both sides of the negotiating table try to learn lessons from past peace efforts…

MongoliaCD 

7th Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies Showcases Mongolia’s Democratic Transition

May 1, 2013

Blog

Against the background of Mongolia’s famous blue sky, around 1,215 delegates from 104 countries gathered in Ulaanbaatar to participate in the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies (CD) from April 27- 29, 2013, organized under Mongolia’s Presidency of the CD, which started in July 2011.

CambodiaRiceFarmers 

Cambodia Must Up its Game in Rice Exports

May 1, 2013

Blog

Cambodia announced two major bilateral trade agreements last month, with the Philippines and Thailand, that are expected to further expand the country’s rice export sector. Over the last few years, Cambodia has emerged as a major rice exporter in the region, due in large part to the Royal Government of Cambodia’s recent expansion of its agricultural sector.

KoreaGreenGrowth 

Korea Leads Way for Asia’s Green Growth

April 24, 2013

Blog

The conference in the Asian Approaches to Development Cooperation dialogue series convened in Seoul, South Korea, this month, and brought together development experts and senior government officials to discuss climate change mitigation, green growth, and adapting to and building resilience to natural disasters. This dialogue series, co-organized by The Asia Foundation and the Korea Development Institute (KDI), brings together both “emerging” and “traditional” development actors to discuss international development challenges. This year’s focus on effective cooperation for deterring the impacts of climate change was launched in Seoul, fittingly, as South Korea is playing a leading role in low-carbon development in the Asia-Pacific region.

CBAgame 

Climate Change Games Crystalize Complexities

April 24, 2013

Blog

People were standing up and sitting down, intense negotiations were underway, funding decisions were being made, and a lot of commotion was coming from a crowd of over 300 policymakers, scientists, and practitioners from over 40 countries. We are gathered in Dhaka, Bangladesh…

 

A Platform for Asian Emerging Donors

April 24, 2013

Blog

As discussions on the federal budget and sequestration continue here in Washington, D.C., The Asia Foundation’s Washington office sponsored an event to discuss how various Asian nations are approaching and, in some cases, expanding their development assistance programs.

CambodiaReaders 

Elevating Education for Cambodia’s Growth

April 24, 2013

Blog

Yesterday marked the 18th World Book and Copyright Day, first introduced by UNESCO in 1995, in celebration of books, authors, and the joys of reading. It’s also an occasion to reflect on the importance of education, especially as a driver of poverty reduction.

 

Dignity in International Relations

April 24, 2013

Blog

Recent vituperative comments by the North Korean regime can normally be dismissed as the ravings of a state that either misinterprets their negative external impact, or as rhetoric that is intended for consumption by a remarkably unsophisticated internal audience.

MongoliaArtisanalMiners 

A Green Model for Mine Reclamation in Mongolia

April 17, 2013

Blog

Mongolia sits on some of the world’s largest mineral deposits, primarily coal and copper, as well as rare earth and precious metals. While the country’s abundant resources have driven Mongolia to the top of Asia’s economic performers, the rapid growth has not happened without serious concern…

AdrianLeftwich 

Remembering Adrian Leftwich: Professor and Intellectual Leader on International Development

April 17, 2013

Blog

The Asia Foundation honors the memory of Dr. Adrian Leftwich, highly regarded political scientist, activist, and international development expert, who passed away early this month. Adrian was the research director of the Developmental Leadership Program (DLP)…

AsianPerspectives 

New Asian Approaches to Development Cooperation

April 17, 2013

Blog

In recent years, Asian countries have emerged as game changers in the development assistance arena, challenging traditional notions of aid, reshaping global aid architecture, and placing new challenges on the global development agenda.

seoul-squarethumb 

Asian Approaches to Development Cooperation Dialogue Series in Seoul

April 17, 2013

Blog

With a special focus on climate change, The Asia Foundation and the Korea Development Institute last week convened 25 government officials, policy specialists, and development experts from more than 10 countries in Seoul for the 8th meeting of the Asian Approaches to Development Cooperation (AADC) dialogue series. Stay tuned for analysis in next we… Read more

KumbhMela 

Lessons from India’s Pop-Up Megacity: The Kumbh Mela

April 10, 2013

Blog

On February 10, 36 people were killed in a stampede at the Allahabad railway station. Allahabad, located in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, is the second-oldest city in India and plays a central role in the Hindu scriptures. Most of those caught in the stampede were devotees traveling to attend the sacred Maha Kumbh Mela, a massive Hindu religious festival held every 12th year in Allahabad. While planning to travel to the festival ourselves, news of the stampede was concerning. Taking in the reports from our offices in Delhi, we became increasingly skeptical that the authorities could pull off an event of the Kumbh’s magnitude. We were surprised by what we found.

BethKanter 

Global Trends in Social Media: An Interview with Blogger Beth Kanter

April 10, 2013

Blog

In Asia editor Alma Freeman recently caught up with author and social media expert Beth Kanter after a talk held at The Asia Foundation’s headquarters, organized by the Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy. Named one of the most influential women in technology by Fast Company

PrisonDatabaseRegistration 

How an Electronic Database is Dramatically Reforming Indonesia’s Prisons

April 3, 2013

Blog

Kiki, a registrations clerk at Cipinang Prison in Jakarta, glanced at his pile of paperwork with a degree of resignation. It was April 2009, and he was responding to three summons letters from the prosecutor’s office and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) for 92 inmates to appear in court the next day.

MyanmarMobilePhone 

Building a Technology Future in Burma/Myanmar

April 3, 2013

Blog

Driving from the airport down the gridlocked streets of Yangon – with people of all ages going about their business in patterned longyis – it’s hard not to notice the dozens of billboards jutting out at eye level advertising web services and brand name mobile devices. Though mobile and internet penetration rates are still very low (no higher than four and two percent, respectively, of Burma’s 50 million people), senior leadership in the government, NGOs, and the private sector is increasingly focused on improving the country’s existing technology infrastructure. These collective efforts to loosen censorship laws, extend telecommunications licenses to foreign operators, and develop new legal frameworks for eGovernment and information and communications technology (ICT) are likely to not only ramp up mobile penetration rates, but also bring greater access to information for Burma’s citizens.

MG-Infographic-final 

Despite Odds, Mongolians Hopeful for a Less Corrupt Society

April 3, 2013

Blog

Recent reforms in legislation and institutions have helped demonstrate Mongolia’s strong commitment to combating corruption, and the effects are noticeable in some areas: in Transparency International’s 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index, Mongolia’s ranking improved from 120 to 94, up 26 places from 2011.

DanMozenaSouthAsiaConferenceFULLWEB 

The Next Asian Tiger? A Conversation with U.S. Amb. to Bangladesh Dan Mozena

March 27, 2013

Blog

The Asia Foundation recently hosted U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, Dan W. Mozena, for an informal lunch discussion at its San Francisco headquarters, followed by a public event organized by the Foundation’s Washington, D.C., office.

CommunityMediationSriLanka21 

As Sri Lanka’s Economy Grows, Commercial Disputes Heat Up

March 27, 2013

Blog

Despite decades of internal conflict, Sri Lanka now boasts high-income growth and a notable reduction in human development index shortfall, according to the just-released

SivashankarKrishnakumar 

Inaugural LankaCorps Alumni Share Experiences with Sri Lankan Diaspora

March 27, 2013

Blog

In July 2012, five strangers – Ann Selvadurai, Sabina Martyn, Seshma Kumararatne, Sahani Chandraratna, and Sivashankar Krishnakumar – boarded a plane to Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, under the auspices of a unique Asia Foundation fellowship program.

 

Gender-Based Violence Still Presents Greatest Need in Nepal

March 27, 2013

Blog

Gender-based violence (GBV) affects nearly half of women in Nepal, according to a recent survey by The Asia Foundation. The results of the survey, included in a recent field report from Asia Foundation program officer and Give2Asia’s field advisor to Nepal, Diana Fernandez, showed that 48 percent of women…

MicronesiaIslands 

Dispatch from Micronesia: Mitigating Water Insecurity through Disaster Preparedness

March 20, 2013

Blog

My colleague Lisa Hook and I are currently in the Pacific Island countries of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), two small island states that face some of the highest risks of natural disasters and climate change.

 

Study: Community-Based Development in Conflict Areas of the Philippines

March 20, 2013

Blog

Over the past decade, community-based development (CBD) programs have become among the most common and widely accepted methods for providing assistance to conflict-affected regions. To help inform future programs and stimulate new thinking and dialogue…

DouglasBereuter 

Q&A: Douglas Bereuter Examines Global Food Security & Sustainability

March 13, 2013

Blog

As the world population approaches 9 billion by 2050 and demand for food rises, tackling food security and sustainability is one of the most critical challenges. In Asia editor Alma Freeman spoke with former Asia Foundation president and member of Congress, Douglas Bereuter…

CambodiaWomenCouncilNetwork 

Cambodia’s Women Local Leaders Take Charge

March 6, 2013

Blog

This year, the Cambodian Ministry of Women’s Affairs’ 5-year strategic plan, known as the Neary Rattanak III, which aims to ensure gender equality for women, comes to a close. While serious obstacles remain, women have made great strides in Cambodia, particularly in the area of political participation.

ThaiForensics 

Forensic Science Enhances Access to Justice and Human Rights Protection in Thailand

February 27, 2013

Blog

Among the array of international television series aired by cable networks in Thailand, “CSI,” “Bones,” and other dramas that highlight the work of forensic pathologists are especially popular. While Thai audiences are exposed to the dramatized investigative techniques applied by forensic specialists working in cooperation with law enforcement agencies…

VisualizingAfghanistan 

USAID Honors Asia Foundation’s Visualizing Afghanistan

February 27, 2013

Blog

USAID honored The Asia Foundation’s in-house film “Visualizing Afghanistan: A Survey of the Afghan People  last week at its Social Media Week 2013 event, “#Popcorn + International Development,” held at USAID Headquarters in Washington, D.C. “Visualizing Afghanistan” allows users to interact with survey data digitally, exploring by region, year, or… Read more

Peace Forum on Harnessing Peace and Security in Marawi City 

Civil Society More Ready Than Ever to Play Role in Forging Peace in Mindanao

February 20, 2013

Blog

In a study I wrote a number of years ago, I quoted a peace activist in Mindanao lamenting the lack of success in ending the war between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). He was speaking in the wake of President Estrada’s 2000 “all-out war” offensive that overran fixed positions of the MILF.

 

New Report Reveals Distinct Barriers to Women in Business in APEC Developing Economies

February 20, 2013

Blog

Women make up more than half of the population in Asia, and the UN estimates that the Asia-Pacific economy would earn an additional $89 billion annually if women were able to achieve their full economic potential in these countries. To examine this disparity, The Asia Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State…

ClareLockhart 

A Conversation with Author and Governance Expert Clare Lockhart

February 13, 2013

Blog

New Asia Foundation trustee Clare Lockhart, author of the acclaimed book, Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World and co-founder (with Dr. Ashraf Ghani) of the Institute for State Effectiveness (ISE), spoke with In Asia editor Alma Freeman on state effectiveness, Afghanistan’s unsung progress, engaging youth for change, and why we are living on the cusp of a third industrial revolution. A Foreign Affairs article on the 2012 Failed States Index claims that, “most countries that fall apart … do so not with a bang but with a whimper.” What are your thoughts on this statement? There are examples of seemingly gradual deterioration: where a vicious cycle of state weakness generates a spiral of decline, with deepening corruption and reducing public service, leading to an increasing loss of trust from the population. We’ve seen this in countries including Haiti, Somalia, Liberia, and Zimbabwe.

THSouth&PondokChandler 

International Perspectives: Asia’s Development Challenges

February 13, 2013

Blog

This week, the International Policy, Development and Practice Speaker Series [at UC Berkeley] welcomed David D. Arnold, the President of The Asia Foundation. Seen through the lens of his work at The Asia Foundation, Mr. Arnold delivered a talk on “Asia’s Development Challenges.”

 

Shaking up Global Fight to End Human Trafficking

February 6, 2013

Blog

Over the weekend, academics and practitioners from across the U.S. gathered at the University of Southern California for a conference that aimed to challenge some of the bedrock assumptions and rhetoric that underpin the movement against trafficking in persons.

ID-Ted Alcorn 

Indonesia Makes Strides in Budget Transparency Despite Political Patronage

January 30, 2013

Blog

Two new publications showing very different profiles of the quality of governance in Indonesia landed on my desk this week, prompting debate and consternation. The just-launched International Budget Partnership’s “2012 Open Budget Survey” painted an encouraging picture…

 

U.S.-ASEAN Relations Mature, but Pitfalls Abound

January 30, 2013

Blog

For Southeast Asia, 2012 brought both challenges and opportunities to the region – from Cambodia’s chairmanship of ASEAN and further political opening in Burma (also known as Myanmar) to tensions in the South China Sea and the adoption of the ASEAN Declaration of Human Rights (ADHR).

 

Visualizing Afghanistan: Peace and Security Beyond the Transition

January 23, 2013

Blog

Karl Eikenberry, former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and Asia Foundation trustee, wrote in an op-ed in the Financial Times that, “Afghanistan’s future is of course uncertain. Lower levels of international support will inevitably place stress on its security forces, depress the economy…

MongoliaGer 

Ulaanbaatar’s Ger Residents May See Improvements Under New Leadership

January 16, 2013

Blog

Mongolia enters 2013 as one of the world’s fastest growing economies, with forecasters predicting GDP growth of 18-20 percent. Driven by a boom in mining revenues, the impact of this growth is clearly visible in Mongolia’s capital city, Ulaanbaatar…

Beijingcrowd 

China’s Charity Sector Poised to Expand In 2013

January 9, 2013

Blog

Last November, when a new leadership team stepped forward in Beijing, they confronted a very different set of challenges than their predecessors had faced. Among the most urgent of these is the challenge of providing adequate basic social services for all of China’s 1.3 billion people…

 

While Impressive, Gains for Afghan Women Must Increase

November 14, 2012

Blog

Let’s face it – the women activists of Afghanistan, along with the international community’s support, have done a pretty good job of achieving critical gains for women. For example, we have three women in our cabinet, we have almost 30 percent women in our parliament and women in parliament are the most active participants…

BurmaPagoda 

Obama’s Trip to Burma Makes History

November 14, 2012

Blog

On November 19, Barack Obama will visit Burma (also known as Myanmar). History will be made as Mr. Obama will be the first U.S. president to ever visit the country. But he won’t be the first Obama. The president’s grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, reportedly served in Burma during World War II…

Shwedagon 

The Heart of the New Burma

November 7, 2012

Blog

Rangoon shimmers under a blue sky in mid-October, but the gentle breezes announcing the coming end of the year soften the edge of the heat and allow for the day to ease gracefully into the evening. The city is more spread out than one would expect, with tree-lined streets wrapping around lakes and gardens…

MongoliaPassport 

Expanding the Global Anti-Trafficking ‘Tool Box’

November 7, 2012

Blog

In President Obama’s speech at the Clinton Global Initiative this year, he called on all Americans and the world to take a broader, more comprehensive view of combating human trafficking of all kinds. He outlined how the U.S. is strengthening law enforcement through improved training…

 

Survey Reveals Increasing Diversity of Civil Society in Vietnam

October 31, 2012

Blog

On September 23, a Vietnamese organization arranged simultaneous flash mobs in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights. A few days later, another organization helped a youth group hold a festival to promote anti-corruption among students…

Boy tightening bag to horse 

The New Face of Foreign Aid in Asia

October 24, 2012

Blog

A sea change is unfolding in the world of foreign aid. Emerging powers, particularly China and India, are challenging longstanding aid principles held by the United States, the United Kingdom, and other established donors. Ironically, amid this shifting landscape, opportunities exist for increased cooperation between established and emerging aid providers, including in the field of governance. Such cooperation would not only help to address pressing humanitarian challenges in Asia, but could improve the quality and impact of aid throughout the developing world.

SouthernPhilippines2 

Internationals, Malaysia, and Negotiations for Peace in the Philippines

October 17, 2012

Blog

It has been an exciting and emotional 10 days for the peace process between the Philippine government and the country’s largest rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which looks to end 40 years of conflict that has left a reported 150,000 dead and devastated the economy.

ASSKAsiaFoundation 

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Calls for Rule of Law, Cautious Engagement in Burma

October 3, 2012

Blog

“Everyone has been speaking about how change has come to Burma, and I would like to say that it’s important that you make haste sensibly,” Nobel laureate and elected parliamentarian of Burma (also known as Myanmar), Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, said to a packed, eager audience at The Asia Foundation’s offices…

 

Rule of Law Can Rid the World of Poverty

October 3, 2012

Blog

Poverty is on the retreat. Despite the global economic downturn, the World Bank and UN reported this year that the number of people living in extreme poverty has dropped in every region of the world for the first time since record keeping began.

Burma, 2012 

Optimism High, But Challenges Remain for Burma’s Future

September 26, 2012

Blog

Given the decades-long political stasis in Burma (also known as Myanmar), the changes introduced under President Thein Sein have been nothing short of remarkable. Over the past 18 months, President Thein Sein has released thousands of political prisoners…

ASSK1 

Asia Foundation Hosts Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

September 26, 2012

Blog

Last week, The Asia Foundation hosted Nobel laureate, democracy icon, and elected parliamentarian of Burma, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, for an invitation-only event in San Francisco. This marked her first public remarks in the Bay Area, and immediately followed a meeting with Foundation president David D. Arnold and the organization’s leadership. Watch v… Read more

SirFazle 

In Conversation with BRAC’s Sir Fazle Hasan Abed

September 19, 2012

Blog

This week, development pioneer Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder of BRAC, the largest nongovernmental development organization in the world, is in Washington, D.C., where he concludes his visit to the U.S. as an Asia Foundation Chang-Lin Tien Distinguished Visiting Fellow.

 

Rethinking Results Monitoring in Conflict Areas

September 19, 2012

Blog

Despite a major expansion of funding to the world’s most conflict affected areas over the past decade, many of these regions, including in Asia, remain afflicted by the same problems of poor governance, troubled state-society relations, and insecurity.

Construction work outside the Presidential Palace. 

U.S. Secretary of State Clinton’s Timor-Leste Visit Highlights Growth

September 12, 2012

Blog

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived at Nicolau Lobato Airport in Timor-Leste. The plane sailed in low over pristine reefs with the U.S. flag on the tail of plane and lettered in white then neatly across the powdered blue body – “The United States of America.”

SirFazle-300x272 

Asia Foundation Hosts Development Pioneer Sir Fazle Hasan Abed

September 12, 2012

Blog

From September 9-19, The Asia Foundation hosts development pioneer Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder of BRAC, the largest nongovernmental development organization in the world. Based in Bangladesh, and dedicated to alleviating poverty by empowering the poor…

The Asia Foundation Vietnam 

APEC 2012: Overcoming Challenges to Women’s Entrepreneurship

September 5, 2012

Blog

On September 8-9, the heads of 21 Asia-Pacific economies will gather in Vladivostok, Russia, for the 2012 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting to adopt a final declaration outlining prospects for the development of the region. Among the topics that will be integrated into the discussion is how women can more fully participate in APEC economies to foster innovative growth. Earlier this year, APEC held the second Women and the Economy Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia, and released a follow-up statement urging government officials and business leaders to “recognize the crucial role that women play in innovative economic development…

 

Harnessing Mobile Learning to Advance Global Literacy

September 5, 2012

Blog

This International Literacy Day, Sept. 8, 2012, marks the culmination of the United Nations Literacy Decade (UILD), an initiative launched in 2003 to increase literacy levels and develop literate environments worldwide.

GordonHeinWACEvent 

Panel Discusses Burma’s Future

August 29, 2012

Blog

On August 28 at the World Affairs Council in San Francisco, The Asia Foundation’s Gordon Hein moderated a discussion on Burma’s (also known as Myanmar) current reform process and its future. Dr. Hein, who just returned from his third trip to Burma this year, joined leading experts Stan Sze of Community Partners International; Nyunt Than of Burmese… Read more

WomensLeadershipForum 

Number of Seats Held by Women in Mongolia’s Parliament Triples

August 22, 2012

Blog

While the arrest of Mongolia’s former president Nambar Enkhbayar on corruption charges has been dominating headlines, another quieter, but very significant event took place earlier this summer on June 28, when nine women won seats in the country’s parliamentary elections.

Daily life shots 

What’s Holding Mobile Money Back in Asia?

August 22, 2012

Blog

My colleague Michelle Chang recently blogged about the promises of mobile money for Asia. It’s true that in many countries, like Pakistan and Afghanistan, where banking infrastructure is limited, mobile money represents a potential solution for the hundreds of millions of individuals who remain unbanked…

 

Proving that Good Governance is Good Politics: A Tribute to Secretary Jesse Robredo

August 22, 2012

Blog

Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Jesse Manalastas Robredo – a highly-regarded, multi-awarded public servant, and an internationally recognized expert in local governance – died after the small plane…

MirzaAmiri-300x346 

Q&A: Chang-Lin Tien Fellow Mirza M. Amiri on Afghanistan’s Private Sector

August 22, 2012

Blog

The Asia Foundation’s Sam Taffer recently joined Mirza Amiri, former director and CEO of the Export Promotion Agency of Afghanistan, in a discussion on the challenges and opportunities for Afghanistan’s private sector. Mr. Amiri is the recipient of the Foundation’s prestigious Chang-Lin Tien Visiting Fellow Award…

DASSK-1 

Burmese Immigrants in Thailand ‘Want to Go Home’

August 8, 2012

Blog

Hours before her expected arrival at the Migrant Workers Rights Network (MWRN) office in Mahachai, Thailand, southwest of Bangkok, hundreds of people began to assemble around the building, hoping to secure a good spot to greet or at least catch a glimpse of “the Lady.”

 

ASEAN Must Close Ranks Quickly

August 8, 2012

Blog

The Foreign Ministers of the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were reluctant history-makers last month. The 45th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM), which took place in July in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh…

Kathmandu 

Legislating Against Witchcraft Accusations in Nepal

August 8, 2012

Blog

In Nepal’s Chitwan District, a 40-year-old widow and mother of two was

 

Pivots Toward Peace in Mindanao

July 25, 2012

Blog

A fortnight ago I blogged about the energy for peace I found at two very different events in Mindanao. We might now ask: what is the origin of that energy, and of the general surge toward a peace agreement? At first glance, this may seem to have an obvious answer, since it is clear from citizen surveys…

Sri Lanka, Community-Oriented Policing 

Bicycle Patrols Rebuild Trust Between Sri Lanka’s Police and Communities

July 25, 2012

Blog

Still recovering from the effects of a 26-year civil war that ended in 2009, Sri Lanka is now seeing hopeful signs that one of its deepest wounds – the relationship between the police and the community – is improving. During the war, police were often preoccupied with counter-insurgency and national security.

TimorElections1 

ASEAN Regional Forum Deploys First Election Observation Mission to Timor-Leste

July 25, 2012

Blog

Nearly 19 years after the establishment of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) at the 26th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Singapore in July 1993, the ARF just embarked on its first concrete elections mission, to observe the July 7 parliamentary elections in Timor-Leste.

 

Listening to the Voice of Afghan Civil Society at the Tokyo Ministerial

June 27, 2012

Blog

“Afghanistan transition, 2014.” Ask citizens of countries engaged in Afghanistan since 2001 what this target date means, and the answer is likely to center on bringing home troops and resources. But ask the people of Afghanistan what 2014 means, and the answer is more likely to reflect anxiety…

 

Waves of Rohingya Refugees Highlight Refugee Problems Across Asia

June 20, 2012

Blog

Today is World Refugee Day. This year’s commemoration coincides with ongoing ethnic violence targeting Rohingya Muslims in western Burma (also known as Myanmar). Ethnic clashes in Rakhine State have left at least 50 dead and 30,000 displaced.

SakenaYacoobi 

Sakena Yacoobi’s Courage and the Future of Afghan Women

June 13, 2012

Blog

It’s good to have heroes. One of mine is Sakena Yacoobi, the founder of a terrific organization called the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) that provides education and health services to women across Afghanistan. I first met Sakena nearly a decade ago…

AfghanGirls 

As Afghanistan Transitions, Gains for Women’s Rights at Stake

June 6, 2012

Blog

More than 10 years of grim news from Afghanistan has made it easy to overlook the positive stories from the country – especially when the negative news is overwhelmingly preferred by campaigning politicians and media outlets to garner attention-grabbing headlines. But beyond the sound bites, real progress has been achieved by and for Afghanistan’s women, including broader freedoms, increased access to education, greater economic clout, and improved civic participation. You just have to look beyond front page headlines to see them.

The Asia Foundation Philippines 

Polling for Peace in the Philippines

May 30, 2012

Blog

Now that I have returned from my sabbatical, one of the most exciting and challenging parts of my job is attending negotiations between the government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The current round of talks, hosted in Kuala Lumpur by the Malaysian Facilitator, started Monday…

Design & Photography Training 2011 

A Look Back at 10 Years of Independence in Timor-Leste

May 30, 2012

Blog

Timor-Leste marked 10 years of independence over the past weekend, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon commending Asia’s newest nation for its “impressive advances,” and congratulating the new President, Taur Matan Ruak, on his inauguration.

Street-vendor-in-Hanoi 

Banking on the Poor: Integrating Low Income Populations into Vietnam’s Modern Economy

May 30, 2012

Blog

Nearly two decades of market-based development has dramatically changed the way Vietnamese live and work, transforming patterns of personal and commercial saving, borrowing, and lending. By 2011 there were 93 banks…

 

Asian Development in an Asian Century

May 30, 2012

Blog

It is no wonder that political and economic analysts have dubbed our era “The Asian Century,” and quite timely that we will soon be seeing the White Paper on Australia in the Asian Century commissioned by Prime Minister Gillard last September.

 

AusAID, The Asia Foundation Address Critical Needs Across Asia-Pacific

May 30, 2012

Blog

As Australia strives to close development gaps in places most affected by poverty, conflict, and instability, the Asia-Pacific region remains its highest priority area of focus. On May 29, 2012, the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and The Asia Foundation…

Kabul Market 

NATO Summit: Afghanistan Progresses toward Transition

May 16, 2012

Blog

It’s May, and as the old saying goes, spring is in the air. In Afghanistan, while spring has surely brought a bounty of roses and wonderful weather, it is probably more apt to say “transition is in the air.” No matter with whom one speaks – from shopkeepers and farmers…

ErikJensen 

U.S.-Afghan Pact and Strengthening Rule of Law in Afghanistan

May 16, 2012

Blog

An interview published by Stanford University on May 3 with Professor Erik Jensen who just returned from Kabul, where he was working on the Afghanistan Legal Education Project at the American University of Afghanistan.

The Asia Foundation, Cambodia, August 2010 

Study Examines Voice, Choice, and Decision in Cambodia

May 16, 2012

Blog

On June 3, Cambodians will vote for the third time since 2002 to select their local representatives, or commune councilors. This is a crucial part of the long-term process of decentralizing governance and enabling citizens to play a greater role in decision-making.

 

Troubled Souths in Thailand and the Philippines

May 9, 2012

Blog

It seemed appropriate for the last class of my semester at SAIS teaching “Domestic Politics of Southeast Asia: Philippines and Thailand,” to focus on the “troubled souths.” The two countries garner international attention for any number of reasons, but one obvious similarity is that both have Muslim minorities…

AfghanistanMay2 

Time to Rethink State-Building in Afghanistan?

May 2, 2012

Blog

President Obama’s overnight visit to Afghanistan underscores the long-term security and financial commitment of the United States to this country in advance of the NATO Summit later this month.

 

How Do You Get Reform in a Country Like the Philippines?

April 25, 2012

Blog

In previous posts, the nature of politics in the Philippines has been explored from many angles. We’ve examined the history of a weak state, how local politicians have difficulty making a national impact, and trials and techniques of Philippine presidents in the face of this situation.

2011 Afghanistan Survey: Daikondi Province 

The Future of Afghanistan’s Natural Resources

April 18, 2012

Blog

On May 20-21, President Obama and NATO allies will meet to discuss their ongoing strategy for transitioning responsibility for Afghanistan’s security to the Afghan National Army. These discussions will address the future of a country that has been at war for decades. Issues such as Taliban insurgency, transparent elections, women’s education, development aid, and anti-corruption, among many others, have all been topics on the table. But one vital component to Afghanistan’s reconstruction that has yet to receive much attention is the crucial role of natural resources.

MobilePhilippines 

Be Green. There’s an App for That

April 18, 2012

Blog

The wonderful thing about Earth Day is that this annual global celebration of our planet is largely self-organized. There is no overarching organization or government that has been implementing all the projects held on this day for the past 42 years, nor are individuals required by law to plant trees, participate in clean-ups, or host events that promote environmental causes.

A Just Alternative: Providing access to justice through two decades of Community Mediation Board in Sri Lanka 

Better Approaches to Local-Level Justice

April 11, 2012

Blog

Over the years, international development assistance in Asia, as in other parts of the world, has included a focus on law and justice as a means for addressing a range of development goals, including poverty reduction, economic growth, and the advancement of human rights. A variety of rationales have been used to try to explain how law and justice interventions contribute to these broader development objectives, including asserted links to peace and stability, state legitimacy, and citizen empowerment. Most recently, the

 

Taking a Hard Look at Formal and Informal Justice Systems in the Philippines

April 11, 2012

Blog

It is always exciting to be able to take a break from program implementation to think more deeply about the theories that underlie development practice on the ground. That is of course the whole point of a teaching sabbatical, and it is what we both enjoyed about the “Experts’ Roundtable on Local-Level Justice in Conflict-Affected and Fragile Regions.”…

VietnamCooperative 

Vietnam’s Economic Growth Challenges Rural Businesses to Adapt

April 11, 2012

Blog

Giang has lived his whole life in the village of Phu Lang, a traditional ceramic handicraft village about 30km north of Hanoi. Giang’s entire family has been producing the same jars and pots that they and many other family businesses in the village have for decades. However, when we last met with Giang, he told us that business is increasingly bad:… Read more

Malaysiastreetscene 

Ahead of Elections, Malaysia on Track to Achieve Vision 2020

April 4, 2012

Blog

On Monday night, April 2, Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced to the nation that the country was on track to achieve its goal of high-income developed nation status by 2020. Unveiling the results of the first 2-year phase of the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), Najib proudly stated that the list of achievements has been “nothing short of astounding.”

Access to Information and Justice 

Three Tech Advances That May Lead to a More Equitable World

March 28, 2012

Blog

“Just because they are poor and isolated doesn’t mean they don’t have the potential to be the next Bill Gates,” said Shahed Keyes, the founder of Subornogram Foundation in Bangladesh, while introducing me to lively students at a school he started on the remote island of Mayadip.

CLICK 

Digital Libraries Expand Access to Information for Lao Citizens

March 28, 2012

Blog

Internet users in Laos are estimated at only 7 percent of the population as of 2010, the last time this data was gathered. But, despite how low this seems, that is double the number of users than in 2008. And, as the economy continues to grow, internet usage is steadily climbing in Laos.

 

Encountering Asia’s Empowered Women

March 28, 2012

Blog

The most lasting impression of my first trip to South Asia is the empowered women I met at every turn. Asia’s economic future depends less on finding a new technology or development strategy and more on expanding opportunities for women.

WomenWaterSecurity 

Women and Water Security

March 21, 2012

Blog

As we reflect on the state of global water on World Water Day 2012, measurable progress has been made over the last two decades, but much more remains to be done. Looking ahead, who are the catalytic change agents? The answer: women. On March 6, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) published a report stating that, as of 2010, 89 percent of the world’s population had access to safe drinking water. This exceeds the international target set by the seventh Millennium Development Goal on environmental sustainability (MDG7) by one percent.

India (Leela) 

Will Conflicts Over Water Scarcity Shape South Asia’s Future?

March 21, 2012

Blog

Climate change combined with rapid population growth and urbanization is placing intense pressure on South Asia’s most precious resource: water. Per capita water availability in the region has decreased by 70 percent since 1950, according to the Asian Development Bank.

RiceCambodia 

Eating the Last Drop: Changing Diets in Asia Challenge Future Water Security

March 21, 2012

Blog

A bowl of rice, vegetables, and tofu is a meal that has been eaten for hundreds of years throughout Asia. It is a meal that requires approximately 571.5 liters of water to produce. And, it is a meal that is, slowly but surely, being replaced. Throughout the region, people are increasingly…

 

Asia: The World’s Most Water-Stressed Continent

March 21, 2012

Blog

Tomorrow is World Water Day. Tragically, by the end of the day, 4,300 children somewhere in the world will have died because of contaminated water and poor sanitation. That’s one child every every 20 seconds. This is an appalling statistic, but still represents a marked improvement from 12 years ago…

 

The Philippines through the Lens of Academia

March 21, 2012

Blog

This past week I (and, truth be told, most of the faculty in the Southeast Asia Studies Program at SAIS) went to Toronto for the

Kathmandu 

New Act a Blow to Human Rights in Nepal

March 14, 2012

Blog

This January, the president of Nepal signed into law a new National Human Rights Commission Act. Today, very few people are aware of the new Act and, perhaps more importantly, of its consequences. For a democratic country that aspires to respect and uphold the rule of law, this appears to be a step in the wrong direction.

TimorLesteReportLocalGovernance 

New Report Examines Timor-Leste’s Local Governance Strengths, Weaknesses

March 14, 2012

Blog

After 10 years of independence and as a nascent democracy, Timor-Leste still faces the dual challenge of building formal institutions from the ground up while ensuring that traditional, local institutions are integrated into the state. In a country where the overwhelming majority of governance functions that citizens rely on…

Rajshahi Beauty Parlour 

Women at Work: Good for the Economy, the Family, and the Future

March 7, 2012

Blog

March 8 marks the 101st celebration of International Women’s Day. A century of history has seen this global occasion imbued with varying levels of political, economic, social, and cultural significance in diverse cultures around the globe. The United Nations has declared this year’s International Women’s Day theme, “Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty.” According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 578 of the world’s 925 million chronically hungry people live in the Asia-Pacific region.

PakistaniWomenblog 

Pakistan’s First Oscar Exposes Women’s Realities, Honors their Strength

March 7, 2012

Blog

Last month, the world watched as Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy brought home the first ever Oscar win for Pakistan for her short documentary, “Saving Face,” which recounts the brutal story of survivors of revenge acid attacks. Within minutes, social networking sites…

The Asia Foundation Philippines 

Early Feminism in the Philippines

March 7, 2012

Blog

The Philippines has been noted as having one of the smallest gender disparities in the world. The gender gap has been closed in both health and education; the country has had two female presidents…

AsiaIndonesia1 

Without a Say in Indonesia’s Budget Decisions, Women’s Needs are Left Out

March 7, 2012

Blog

Over the past few months, Indonesians have been witnessing a procession of scandalous cases involving female lawmakers accused of bribery, embezzlement of state funds, and shady, back-door political bargaining.

India 2009 - Karl Grobl 

Emerging Economies like India’s Make Aid Recipients the New Donors

February 29, 2012

Blog

Rapid economic growth in Asia and other developing regions of the world is triggering a sea change in international aid. Countries that were once beneficiaries of assistance are now emerging as donors themselves, while traditional donors are reassessing their objectives and modalities in order to stay relevant. Nowhere is this more evident than in India. India is widely viewed as an economic success story, which is certainly true on one level. Growth for the current year is projected around 7 percent, and was averaging 9 percent before the last global economic downturn.

Children Playing in Front of Mural Promoting Tour-de-Timor Cycle Race 

Oil in Timor-Leste – A Kick-Start or a Kick-Back?

February 22, 2012

Blog

There is so much said about the adverse effects of extractive industries on social, economic, and political development in fragile states. However, in Timor-Leste, the truly ominous signs of the “oil curse” have not befallen the country. As Bob Brown, the leader of Australian Greens Party, famously stated in 2003, “It’s the one resource that can give East Timor the kick-start it needs.”

The Asia Foundation Philippines 

Filipino Citizens Still Optimistic About Chances for Peace in Mindanao

February 22, 2012

Blog

Peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Kuala Lumpur last week featured chocolates on Valentine’s Day. It was a light moment in talks characterized by the Malaysian facilitator as “sincere but tough.” As the next scheduled meeting in March approaches…

Field Training - Nancy Kelly, Kristin Colombano, May 2010 

Mongolia Marks Passage of Landmark Anti-Trafficking and Corruption Legislation

February 15, 2012

Blog

As Mongolians prepare for next week’s Mongolian Lunar New Year festivities, government and non-governmental organizations are celebrating the passage of two long-awaited pieces of legislation that the Parliament of Mongolia passed in January. The passage of a standalone Law on Combating Trafficking in Persons marks a milestone in Mongolia’s anti-trafficking efforts, and signifies the culmination of more than three years of intense advocacy.

The Asia Foundation Philippines 

Have Philippine Presidents Overcome the Governance Impact of the ‘Hollywood Years?’

February 15, 2012

Blog

The Philippines has many cultural similarities to the rest of Southeast Asia. Some similarities, take cockfighting for example, puzzle some Filipinos and give great pride to other Filipinos (particularly males). Cockfighting is pre-colonial (as the chronicler of Magellan’s voyage when it arrived in the Philippines, Antonio Pigafetta observed) and is shared with Southeast Asia…

Kathmandu 

What Greater Trade Liberalization in South Asia Would Mean for Consumers

February 8, 2012

Blog

Global economic recovery in 2012 remains tenuous, with the World Bank recently downgrading its forecast for this year’s global growth from 3.6 percent to 2.5 percent. This slide in expectations and persistently high unemployment rates in many countries has sparked a resurgence of protectionist tendencies toward trade. These tendencies are couched in the language of “bringing jobs back,” while tariffs are euphemistically coined as “flexibility” needed to protect domestic producers. South Asia has suffered for decades from a low level of intraregional cooperation, both politically and economically.

Thaifishboat 

Human Trafficking Rampant in Thailand’s Deep-Sea Fishing Industry

February 8, 2012

Blog

While a lucrative deep-sea fishing industry places Thailand among the world’s leading exporters of sea products, a grim specter of human rights abuse lurks below the surface of an industry whose contribution to the national economy is estimated to exceed $4 billion a year. A combination of factors – including a shortage of labor in this dangerous…

 

The Philippines in the Context of Southeast Asia’s History

February 8, 2012

Blog

One of the interesting things about team-teaching a course on “The Domestic Politics of Southeast Asia: The Philippines and Thailand” is that I myself have never taken a course on Southeast Asia. I was an American politics specialist as a graduate student, with a dissertation on “Interpretation and American Electoral Studies.” On the Philippines in particular…

USMilitaryinPhilipppines 

U.S. Military and the Philippines: What do Philippine Citizens Really Think?

February 1, 2012

Blog

No sooner did I warn in last week’s blog on my way to Washington, D.C., that there is “a danger that U.S.-Philippine relations will be viewed entirely through the lens of ‘the rise of China'” than I was greeted upon arrival by the morning front-page story in The Washington Post entitled, “Philippines may allow greater U.S. military presence in reaction to China’s rise.” The article stated that “the sudden rush by many in the Asia-Pacific region to embrace Washington is a direct reaction to China’s rise as a military power and its assertiveness in staking claims to disputed territories, such as the energy-rich South China Sea.”

Indonesia-prison-495x331 

Frustrated, Indonesians Demand Changes in Juvenile Justice System

February 1, 2012

Blog

After a series of reports emerged across the archipelago in recent weeks of children being arrested and prosecuted for petty crimes, Indonesians are raising questions about the state of juvenile justice in the country. The first was a confounding case that resonated around the globe: a 15-year-old boy from Central Sulawesi was incarcerated and tried last month…

Karl Grobl, Sri Lanka September 2011, Vavuniya 

Helping Sri Lanka’s Banks to Trust Small Businesses

February 1, 2012

Blog

Since Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war ended in 2009, we’re now witnessing the beginning of reconstruction in the country’s battered North and East. The government is rapidly investing in roads, rail, ports, and telecommunications that help connect marginalized communities with the vibrant, growing capital of Colombo.

Sri-Lanka-Slideshow 

Consolidating Peace in Sri Lanka

February 1, 2012

Blog

Colombo is shedding its image as Sri Lanka’s charming but dilapidated capital. Pulsing with new energy and growth, major investments and improvement is palpable since the end of the war. But in the North and East and bordering regions, clashes, attacks, and decades of economic neglect have left a legacy of division and hardship.

SteveRood 

A Step Back for a Closer Look at the Philippines and Development

January 25, 2012

Blog

It would be a gross exaggeration to say that panic swept the development community in Manila when word spread that after 12 years on the scene as country representative of The Asia Foundation I was disappearing into a 4-month teaching sabbatical at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies…

LaosFilmWorkshop 

Luang Prabang Film Festival Inspires and Showcases Lao Filmmakers

January 18, 2012

Blog

DVDs of popular Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Hollywood movies are readily available in Laos, but there are very few Lao films and only a small and nascent Lao filmmaking industry. With only a handful of movie theaters in the entire country, many citizens have never been to the cinema, and filmmaking is generally seen as a foreign industry. Not only are there few films about Laos, but even fewer told from a Lao point of view.

PeterBeck 

Q&A: New Korea Representative Peter Beck Discusses Challenges Facing the Peninsula

January 18, 2012

Blog

Weeks into his new post, In Asia editor Alma Freeman spoke with The Asia Foundation’s new Korea country representative, Peter Beck, from Seoul for his insight on South Korea’s domestic politics, North Korea’s transition, Seoul’s new mayor, the contentious National Security Law, and more.

 

A Changing Indonesia

January 18, 2012

Blog

Indonesia boasts one of the most successful development stories in Asia, with a thriving economy, stable democracy, and a young, technologically sophisticated population. Despite this, Indonesia still faces stubborn development challenges such as poverty, gender inequality, overpopulated prisons, and burdensome regulations that slow down business growth.

Women Business Bogra 

Using Technology to Track Economic Policy Reforms across Asia

January 11, 2012

Blog

Female entrepreneurs in Bangladesh represent a miniscule percentage of business owners (0.05 percent), according to The Asia Foundation’s 2010 firm-level survey results. Issues of concern to women business owners, such as difficulties in accessing information on regulations…

 

Reimagining Education at the Big Ideas Fest

January 11, 2012

Blog

For three days in December, individuals from a range of industries gathered at the 3rd Annual Big Ideas Fest to explore the future of education. In a venue overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a stone’s throw from Silicon Valley, teachers, administrators, and representatives from policy and advocacy groups…

Srabani Roy trip to Bangladesh 

Can Stronger Public-Private Partnership Help Combat Climate Change in Bangladesh?

January 11, 2012

Blog

Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Interventions will be required over a long time for adaptation and mitigation. They will need to adopt different approaches to programming, while the ongoing development initiatives will need to be sensitive to climate change.

ThailandfloodsJan41 

Flooding in Asia’s Megacities

January 4, 2012

Blog

My colleagues in The Asia Foundation’s Environment Program recently returned from Bangkok, where the Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum they were scheduled to attend was canceled due to the worst flooding in Thailand in 60 years. The disaster resulted in over 600 deaths, approximately 10 million lives affected, $21 billion in lost revenues from major industries, and an estimated $24 billion dollars in damage to property…

Indonesiabridgecollapse 

Private Firms Say Infrastructure Main Impediment to Indonesia’s Growth

December 14, 2011

Blog

Indonesia’s economy could grow even faster than its current rate of around 6 percent, according to a statement made by Vice President Boediono last week, if the government and private sector worked together to overcome a major technical hurdle – infrastructure. And, it’s not just Boediono who feels this way…

Schoolfloods1 

Thailand’s Students Return to Classrooms, But Rebuilding Remains a Challenge

December 14, 2011

Blog

The flooding that submerged one-third of Thailand this year was the worst the country had seen in 50 years. Sixty-five provinces and over 4 million people have been affected, tens of thousands have lost jobs, and nearly 700 were killed. Nine provinces remain underwater.

The Asia Foundation Sri Lanka Sept 2011 

Incentivizing Better Local Governance in Sri Lanka

December 14, 2011

Blog

While local governments are widely viewed as critical to development because they are considered citizens’ most accessible government unit, in many developing countries these local government institutions don’t live up to their potential…

cbp_blog_1_3108 

Bridging the Gap between Bangladesh’s Police and Communities

December 7, 2011

Blog

Earlier this year, Sumaiya Akhter, a 12-year-old resident of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, hanged herself from her ceiling fan with a scarf. She had been verbally harassed by Selim, an older neighborhood boy, on the way to and from school every day. Sumaiya told her parents, but just prior to her death, her mother scolded her for what was happening…

Books for Asia Exhibit Photos: Hidayatullah State Islamic University 

Study Abroad Programs: A ‘Sure Thing’ for Development in Indonesia

December 7, 2011

Blog

Having worked with Indonesia’s higher education sector since 2000, I have come to believe that studying abroad is as close as one may come to a “sure thing” in Indonesian developmental assistance. Indonesian students and professors studying abroad are exposed to new educational techniques and knowledge…

ENTER YOUR HEADLINE HERE 

Stanford, Asia Foundation Launch First Text to Focus on Laws of Timor-Leste

December 7, 2011

Blog

Law has little meaning when it is not widely understood. Concepts like “conflict of interest” or “integrity” are used repeatedly in theories and explanations of law, but they are not self-explanatory. Perhaps nowhere is this more the case than in Timor-Leste, where rule of law is in the early stages of institutionalization and not well-understood by most citizens.

AsianCentury 

Busan HLF4: A New Global Compact for Development?

November 30, 2011

Blog

In the 60 years since The Asia Foundation began, the global development landscape and accompanying aid architecture has changed dramatically. Tackling the challenge of global poverty reduction seems to be on track. In the early 1980s, more than half of people in developing countries lived in extreme poverty.

BusanPort 

As HLF4 Host, Korea’s Own Development History Inspires

November 30, 2011

Blog

It is entirely appropriate that the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness is being held in the city of Busan, South Korea. In many ways, Busan symbolizes the story of Korea’s transition from poverty and aid dependence to aid donor and host of the most important global meeting on development cooperation.

 

Developmental Leadership Requires Forging Coalitions

November 30, 2011

Blog

In a recent speech at the Overseas Development Institute, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair stressed the important role that leadership plays in development. Now, as the Forum draws to an end, the importance of leadership proves a crucial and timely message…

 

Malaysia’s South-South Cooperation Leaves Lasting Effects Far and Wide

November 30, 2011

Blog

This story is one that I have shared many times before. Years ago, I found myself walking through a stunning village in Bazarak, Panjshir Valley – home of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud – over 50 miles from Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. I was there to help monitor preparations for the 2004 presidential elections.

 

Giving Foreign Aid Helps Korea

November 30, 2011

Blog

When times are tough, it’s difficult to settle into a charitable mood. At the mention of global aid, people grumble that we can’t even afford to care for our needy at home. But as with individual lives, a nation needs to look beyond immediate concerns in forging a path for the future.

 

Should the U.S. ‘Lead from Behind’ at East Asia Summit?

November 16, 2011

Blog

On November 19, leaders of the 18 nations that comprise the East Asia Summit (EAS) will meet in Bali, Indonesia, to discuss a broad array of political, security, and economic issues. For the first time, the United States will participate as a full-fledged member. For much of the post-Cold War period, the U.S. approach to institution-building in Asia…

India 2009 - Karl Grobl 

What Does 7 Billion Look Like for China and India?

November 9, 2011

Blog

As world population reached 7 billion last week, stories about the implications of population growth saturated the media. While total population counts offer broad “sound bite” appeal, the underlying structure of population has far greater socio-economic, political, and environmental implications. Population composition by sex, age, ethnicity, educational attainment, political orientation, or geography matters for everything from school planning to environmental management and even to political stability.

GeorgeVarughese 

Q&A: Will Agreement Over Fate of Former Maoist Combatants Advance Nepal’s Peace?

November 9, 2011

Blog

Last week, Nepal’s political parties reached agreement on the future of 19,602 Maoist ex-combatants, breaking years of political log jam. In Asia spoke with Asia Foundation Nepal country representative, George Varughese…

NicolasAxelrodCambodiafloods2834 

Months Later, Floods Threaten Health, Food Security of Cambodia’s Rural Citizens

November 2, 2011

Blog

While international media attention has been focused on the rising floodwaters in and around Bangkok, and Thailand’s efforts to cope with this disaster, across the border, Cambodia has been experiencing its worst flooding in a decade…

IndiaStreet 

7 Billion and Counting

November 2, 2011

Blog

According to the United Nations, a baby born this week became the world’s 7 billionth person. As four babies are born somewhere around the world each second, no one knows for sure exactly which baby was the 7 billionth, or where he or she was born. However, it is probable this person was born somewhere in Asia…

IndonesiaLearningCenters 

Deep in Jakarta’s Slums, Community Learning Centers Thrive

October 26, 2011

Blog

Sitting at the back of the classroom, with one eye on her mobile phone, Shanti looks like a typical Indonesian high school student. But Shanti is not here to learn; instead, she’s a tutor herself. In a makeshift classroom constructed from two old shipping containers stacked on top of each other, Shanti tutors first grade students at the Master Community Learning Center in Depok, on the outskirts of Jakarta. “It’s a great experience,” the 17-year-old says. “I can contribute to the education of Indonesian children as well as help relieve some of the pressure on the learning center.”

 

Community Mediation in Nepal

October 26, 2011

Blog

In this new video, Nepal Country Representative George Varughese describes The Asia Foundation’s approach to community mediation in Nepal, and includes footage of mediators and disputants engaged in an actual mediation session…

The Asia Foundation Philippines 

Are Internal Conflicts Holding Asia Back?

October 19, 2011

Blog

Internal conflicts are a widespread and enduring problem for Asia – Afghanistan, Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, and Myanmar, among others. Ten of the 18 countries in South and Southeast Asia have protracted internal conflicts, and in a few, there are several. These internal conflicts last a very long time…

ThailandFloods 

Apprehension and Criticism of Government Rise as Floods Spread in Thailand

October 19, 2011

Blog

For the last several days, the water level in Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River has been rising in virtual synch with the escalating worry that grips a city bisected by this great river and whose neighborhoods are crisscrossed by dozens of canals, or klongs.

The Asia Foundation Sri Lanka Sept 2011 

Calling on Overseas Sri Lankans to Spur Post-War Progress

October 19, 2011

Blog

For many first- and second-generation people of Sri Lankan heritage, Sri Lanka casts a curious spell. It may be a result of being fed a steady diet of their parents’ nostalgia pie. Other children of recent immigrants from Asia, Eastern Europe, Central America, and Africa might experience the same emotional tug, but if you’ve grown up in a Sri Lanka… Read more

MobilePhilippines 

Social Media in the Philippines is Widespread, but what is its Impact?

October 12, 2011

Blog

The Philippines long had a terrible reputation for telecommunications, with Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew famously saying that in 1992, 99 percent of the population in the Philippines was waiting for a phone and 1 percent was waiting for a dial tone. However, beginning with the administration of Fidel Ramos (1992-1998) and followed by President Estrada (1998-2001), the telecoms industry was liberalized, and phone ownership skyrocketed.

The Asia Foundation Vietnam 

Examining the Giving Instinct: Philanthropy in Vietnam

October 5, 2011

Blog

The streets of Vietnam’s biggest cities reveal unmistakable signs of wealth. Mercedes and Lexus luxury cars are common, and now and then, you can catch a glimpse of a Bentley or a Maybach gliding along the congested thoroughfares. Vietnamese “new rich” can now access the latest fashion and accessories…

AnAlternativeApproachtoPartyAssistance.pdf-preview 

New Paper Examines Political Party Assistance in Developing Democracies

October 5, 2011

Blog

In a just-released paper, The Asia Foundation’s director for Elections and Political Processes, Tim Meisburger, examines the changing role of politics in development to find more effective approaches to supporting the development of democratic political parties…

The Asia Foundation Vietnam 

Vietnam’s Migrant Workers: Greatest Advantage, Greatest Challenge

September 28, 2011

Blog

The majority of migrants are young and, increasingly, women. Migrants represent both Vietnam’s greatest advantages and greatest challenges. Their 14-15-hour work days have helped fuel the economic miracle that has rocketed Vietnam from one of the five poorest countries in the world in 1985 to an average per capita income of over $1,000 in 2010. Economic reform, combined with cheap, flexible labor has led to a surge in foreign investment. Booming consumerism is visible in the adverts on every street corner and the accessories hanging off Vietnam’s newly wealthy youth.

Legal Aid Clinic Pakse 

Bringing Legal Aid to the Poor in Laos

September 28, 2011

Blog

During my recent visit to Laos, I couldn’t help but notice the abundance of newspaper headlines proclaiming the country’s economic success stories. Firm phrases such as “World Bank predicts Lao economic growth at 8.6 percent,” “Vietnam & Laos boost rubber cooperation,” and “New Laos airline preparing for takeoff,” stood out at stands…

 

Q&A with Founder of ‘I Paid a Bribe,’ India’s Anti-Corruption Online Movement

September 21, 2011

Blog

India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with an average GDP growth of about 9 percent over the past several years. Yet corruption remains a pressing problem in the nation of 1.2 billion. The Asia Foundation’s Katherine Loh spoke with T.R. Raghunandan…

India 2009 - Karl Grobl 

From Fractions to Millions: People Fighting Corruption Using Mobile Phones

September 21, 2011

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During the 1980s, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), an NGO working in rural Rajasthan in India, began to campaign for access to government records related to wage employment programs for the rural poor. In the course of its work, MKSS discovered that accessing official records and information was critical to exposing corrupt practices…

TimorLeste 

Tour de Timor: A Tour of Peace

September 14, 2011

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The Tour de Timor has been billed as the world’s toughest mountain bike race. From September 11-16, over 350 cyclists from around the globe are pitting themselves against each other and against Timor-Leste’s awesome terrain, which promises an even more grueling…

TimorILD 

Timor-Leste’s President Calls for Redoubling of Nation’s Commitment to Education

September 14, 2011

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On September 8, The Asia Foundation commemorated International Literacy Day for the first time in Timor-Leste. The Foundation partnered with the Secretary of State for Youth and Sport, Alola Foundation, Care International, and Timor Aid to host a book fair for primary and secondary students.

 

Bridging the Divide at Busan HLF4

September 14, 2011

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Over the past year, The Asia Foundation in partnership with the Korea Development Institute (KDI) has convened a series of dialogues on Asian Approaches to Development Cooperation to discuss the experience and perspectives of six Asian countries…

Busan 

Asian Civil Society Mobilizes for Major Role in Busan

September 7, 2011

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The Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF-4) at the end of November in Busan, Korea, will be the most inclusive global consultation on development cooperation ever held. As national host of the forum, the Korean government has created a unique opportunity for all major aid players to come together by throwing open the doors to representatives of non-governmental organizations and the private sector. At a conference last week in Seoul, the Seoul Civil Society Forum on Aid and Development Effectiveness…

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Q&A: Nepal Library Director Discusses Nation’s Literacy Challenges

September 7, 2011

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As the world celebrates International Literacy Day on September 8, The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia officer in Nepal, Shameera Shrestha, caught up with the director of the American Library at the U.S. Embassy of Kathmandu, Prakash Thapa, on where he sees the future of Nepal’s library system…

Legal Aid 

Timor-Leste’s Legal Aid Lawyers Offer Vital Voice on Draft Legal Aid Law

August 24, 2011

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Last month, Timor-Leste took a commendable step toward institutionalizing free legal assistance for its citizens who cannot afford it. Although the exact shape of legal assistance for the disadvantaged here remains uncertain…

KillingtheCranes 

Killing the Cranes: A Reporter’s Journey through Three Decades of War in Afghanistan

August 10, 2011

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Edward Girardet has made an important contribution to the growing body of literature on war-time Afghanistan in this sweeping and personal account of the country’s travails beginning just before the Soviet occupation…

Indonesiaprison 

Reform at the Doorstep of Prisons in Indonesia

August 10, 2011

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Prison is where some of Indonesia’s worst problems are brought together in the same place, at the same time. These include chronic corruption, an imminent threat of gang violence, over-crowding, poor quality water and sanitation, and an absence of basic health and education services. With police and prosecutors under pressure to meet annual arrest and prosecution targets, Indonesia’s prison system is now clogged with many inmates…

Post-Civil War Police Reform and Public Security: The Asia Foundation is bringing together socially marginalized estate Tamils and local police officers in a series of first-time community-policing forums. The goal is to improve security, encourage better 

Kandy Revitalization Project Bridges Rift between Sri Lanka’s Public and Private Sector

August 10, 2011

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Nestled in a valley surrounded by tea plantations a few hours’ drive east of Colombo, Kandy is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famed for its natural beauty and cultural significance. In July and August during the 10-day “Esala Perahera,” Sri Lanka’s most celebrated Buddhist festival…

 

Will the Debt-Ceiling Logjam Undermine U.S. Influence?

July 27, 2011

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In Hong Kong on Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Asian business leaders to stay calm and not “overreact” to the U.S. debt-ceiling crisis. Despite such a call for calm, some say the saga is swiftly eroding American moral standing in Asia and throughout the world in the areas of governance and democracy.

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Japan’s Tohoku: Still an Emergency

July 13, 2011

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For 10 days in mid-June, my Give2Asia colleague, Gillian Yeoh, and I visited Iwate and Miyagi prefectures in Tohoku, the northeastern area devastated by the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11. We found that Tohoku is still an emergency situation.

 

A Trafficker Behind Bars: A Counter-Trafficking Success Story

July 13, 2011

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Eighteen year-old Sita met Prakash in Banke, a district in the far west of Nepal, where she lived with her parents. Prakash came to her village during a festival celebration, and Sita’s uncle introduced them. The two quickly fell in love and decided to elope.

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Water Tank Saves Sri Lankan Residents from Worst of Floods

June 22, 2011

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Sri Lanka is no stranger to water-related disaster; the 2004 tsunami was only one such threat to livelihoods in the vulnerable island nation. In January and February 2011, Sri Lanka’s Northern, Eastern, and Central provinces were deluged by severe floods. Though flooding during the country’s bi-annual monsoon is a recurrent problem, the rains in the hardest-hit district of Batticaloa…

Nepalwoman 

The UK Turns High-Level Attention to Nepal’s Fight Against Gender-Based Violence

June 22, 2011

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On June 12, the UK’s Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone, arrived in Kathmandu on a three-day visit to share her experiences in combating violence against women and to learn how Nepal is tackling the issue.

Baucau ECM 

Timor-Leste’s Legal Aid Organizations Face Uncertain Future

June 15, 2011

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In Timor-Leste’s nascent formal justice sector, legal aid organizations play a key role in ensuring access to justice for the country’s most disadvantaged citizens. Located in remote corners of the country, legal aid organizations work in isolated communities that are still out of the reach of the formal justice sector.

2010Pakistanfloods 

Pakistan’s Women Rebound from 2010 Floods

June 8, 2011

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The floods of 2010 swept away homes and livelihoods, affecting more than 18 million people and killing more than 1,750 in Pakistan. They also destroyed and contaminated precious water systems integral to the survival of Pakistan’s communities. For example, in Union Council Amaze, a remote location in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province…

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Integrating China’s Migrant Women in Sanxiang

June 8, 2011

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Like many manufacturing hubs in the Pearl River Delta region, Sanxiang Town in Guangdong Province has a large migrant population. Though they make up more than half of the total population, they are not considered official residents…

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Conversation with Afghan Expert Roohafza Ludin

June 8, 2011

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Recently, In Asia sat down with Asia Foundation governance specialist in Kabul, Roohafza Ludin, just back from Washington, D.C., where she participated in a seminar at Georgetown University to discuss U.S. foreign policy and the pending reduction of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Women Business Bogra 

Where are Bangladesh’s Businesswomen?

June 8, 2011

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Since the 1980s, microfinance institutions in Bangladesh, such as the Grameen Bank, have touted the success of women microentrepreneurs in starting and operating thousands of microenterprises throughout the country. While this is certainly an achievement, Bangladeshi women have not achieved…

Pakistanwomen 

Does Mukhtaran Mai Verdict Mean Failure for Pakistan’s Women’s Rights Movement?

June 1, 2011

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In April, Mukhtaran Mai had to relive the most excruciating memory of her life when the Supreme Court of Pakistan acquitted all but one of the accused in her rape case. The decision elicited a sharp reaction from civil society groups and media organizations in Pakistan.

Timor-Leste Daily Life 

Making Timor-Leste’s ASEAN Accession a People-Centric Effort

May 25, 2011

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At the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta earlier this month, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa circulated Timor-Leste’s application to join ASEAN to the nine other ASEAN member countries, recommending that it be given “urgent attention.”

NepalLCP 

Nepal’s Inability to Write Constitution Stymies Local Elections, Progress

May 25, 2011

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As Nepal’s elected Constituent Assembly (CA) extended tenure ends on May 28, the fate of the nation’s constitution writing progress now looks certain to be delayed further. The delay has frustratingly prolonged the political transformation process…

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Closing the Governance Gap with Suco Councils in Timor-Leste

May 25, 2011

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Recently on East Asia Forum, Timor-Leste’s President J. Ramos-Horta wrote that the nation’s “desire to join ASEAN is a long-standing one and in the last 10 years we have shown unequivocal determination to join the organisation.”

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Examining the Aid and Development Landscape

May 25, 2011

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Listen to a new podcast of The Asia Foundation’s Gordon Hein and AusAID’s John Davidson discussing the shifting aid and development landscape, particularly the implications of Asian countries that were once aid recipients becoming donor countries themselves. Hein examines these countries’ priorities and perspectives as new donors and talks about a… Read more

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Celebrating a ‘New Year’ of Dialogue for Bangladesh’s Local Businesses

May 18, 2011

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On April 12, Dhaka was vibrating with excitement as residents celebrated the first day of Bengali New Year, or Pahela Baishakh. Lavish, colorful street parties mixed in with bicycles, rickshaws, cars, and motorbikes added…

Pelabuhan_Merak_Port_of_Merak 

High Transportation Costs Hurt Indonesia’s Eastern Economies

May 18, 2011

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Indonesia is rapidly developing and home to some of the richest Asians, yet still has huge pockets of extreme poverty. The disparity of Indonesia’s Eastern regions – the islands of Papua, Maluku, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, and Nusa Tenggara – has been a major concern for decades.

 

The North Korea Food Aid Debate

May 11, 2011

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There has been a protracted debate over whether the United States should give food assistance in response to North Korea’s appeals for assistance from earlier this year, with an exchange between Stephan Haggard and Lee Jong Cheol as the most recent example.

Jakartaprotests 

Lessons from Indonesia’s Democratic Transition

May 4, 2011

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Much has already been said about the parallels between Indonesia’s transition to democracy in the late 1990s, and protests in Egypt that led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in February. Both are large, Muslim-majority countries, ruled for approximately three decades by authoritarian leaders…

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Will Arab Revolutions, Bin Laden’s Death Distract U.S. from Asia Commitment?

May 4, 2011

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From my hotel in Bangkok, I watched on CNN as President Obama announced to the American people and the world that “justice has been done,” shortly after Osama Bin Laden was killed by an elite group of U.S. forces in Pakistan.

Afghanistanschool 

Development Realism: Why the World Bank’s World Development Report Should Lead to Changes in Aid to Fragile States

April 27, 2011

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Earlier this month, the World Bank released its 2011 World Bank Development Report, “Conflict, Security and Development.” This highly ambitious report intends to challenge conventional wisdom and propose a new strategy for the international community to help countries emerge from war, long-running violent conflict, entrenched criminality, and fragility. In my view, the report has accomplished this goal, and in so doing, may change the way we work with fragile states and conflict-affected regions.

HillaryClinton 

At U.S.-Islamic World Forum, Turbulent Middle East Examined for Implications for Muslims across Globe

April 13, 2011

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“Revolution is in the air … and there are thousands of people demanding their universal human rights. …We are witnessing attempts to suppress the aspirations of the people and this lends an urgency to this year’s event,

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George Varughese and Steven Rood Speak at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

March 9, 2011

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George Varughese and Steven Rood, our country representatives from Nepal and the Philippines, respectively, in cooperation with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, led a discussion “Moving from Theory to Practice on Political Approaches to Development.” In a new video, they present specific country implications of political economy on t… Read more

 

Improving Aid Effectiveness: Local Context is Everything

February 2, 2011

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In my decades in the Philippines, I have traveled from one end of the country to the other – ranging from Basco in the northern province of Batanes to Bongao in Tawi-Tawi in the south. But until now I had never been on the Pacific Ocean coast of Mindanao. Here I was, though, in a calm cove on White Sand Beach, walking along the shore at dawn.

 

From Pakistan: Responding to the Balochistan Earthquake

December 17, 2008

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In the early morning hours of October 29, 2008, an earthquake hit Pakistan’s Balochistan province. Striking multiple times, its most intense jolt measured  6.4 on the Richter Scale. Over two hundred people lost their lives, thousands of homes and buildings were destroyed, and tens of thousands of people were left homeless as a result. An emergency… Read more

 

In the Philippines: Setbacks in the Battle against Corruption

December 10, 2008

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In the past few years, high-profile public sector corruption cases have played out in the Philippine media, and some international observers have rated the Philippines as the most corrupt country in Asia. Unfortunately, a recently conducted survey clearly shows that business managers in the Philippines believe that corruption increased in 2008. Ove… Read more

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From China: Six Months after the Earthquake

December 3, 2008

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Six months ago, a major earthquake struck central China, leaving nearly 88,000 people dead or missing, injuring hundreds of thousands, and leaving over five million homeless. The quake, with a magnitude of 8.0, was centered in Wenchuan County in Sichuan Province, and was felt as far away as Beijing, Bangkok, and Hanoi. In the days and weeks afterwa… Read more

 

“Let’s Work Together”: The Power of Print in Timor-Leste

November 19, 2008

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In early October, the Timorese art collective Gembel launched its first major exhibition in Dili, with financial assistance from The Asia Foundation. The exhibit, Recovering Lives Across Borders, featured the print works produced from successful collaborations between Gembel and two unique art groups: Taring Padi from Indonesia, and Culture Kitchen… Read more

 

Meeting Muhammad Yunus

November 19, 2008

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Last Thursday, I had the privilege of attending a special dinner where Dr. Muhammad Yunus discussed topics ranging from the current global economic crisis to recommendations for the Obama administration. Yunus, the world-renowned founder of Grameen Bank, Grameen America, and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, was accepting an award for excell… Read more

 

In Timor-Leste: Reborn Island Nation Loves its Soccer, er, Football

May 21, 2008

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You might ask why Timor-Leste, at the very bottom of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association’s (FIFA) rankings at 202 of all countries, is likely to be a future talent factory for football. I see three promising factors. First, Timorese possess an inexhaustible fighting spirit. Not 10 years ago, during the Indonesian occupation, Timor… Read more

 

In Laos: Paradise Found

April 16, 2008

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The annual New York Times’ feature on hot travel destinations named Laos as number one on its list of “Places to Go in 2008.” The spotlight is now on Laos, and a recent spate of articles has been written about Lao tourism, notably Tuesday’s International Herald Tribune article by Seth Mydans and one a few weeks earlier by Denis D. Gray for Associat… Read more

 

Blurring Lines between the Profit and Non-profit Sectors

March 12, 2008

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Corporate social responsibility, corporate philanthropy, and corporate community engagement are terms that have been used more or less interchangeably to describe the relationships between the modern corporation and its shareholders, its employees, the communities in which it operates, and others, including government and civil society. These conce… Read more

 

In Afghanistan: A Missing Piece in the Development Puzzle

May 23, 2007

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The international community has engaged with Afghanistan in profound ways since December 2001.  Billions of dollars have been pledged and provided to rebuild the country, put the state back together, and help Afghanistan take its rightful place in the world.  This has been a collaborative effort involving bilateral donors, multilateral donors, nong… Read more