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South Asia

One of the Eldis RSS newsfeeds on major development issues

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Social accountabilty initatives in health and nutrition: lessons from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

19 May 2017 12:25:15 GMT

South Asia is home to nearly a quarter of the world’s population and is a region of dynamic economic growth, yet it performs relatively poorly on health and nutrition indicators. As a potential route towards addressing this poor performance, a range of  accountability initiatives has been implemented to improve service delivery in the health and nutrition sectors.
The project synthesised in this report started from the overall premise that studies of accountability initiatives should be rooted in an understanding that the state is not distinct from society but is embedded in prevailing power dynamics and social relations. The report sketches some of the accountability issues facing the health and nutrition sectors in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, before homing in on social accountability practice in the three countries.
The authors narrow down to micro-level the political processes at play within community-based interventions and actions. This proves useful in drawing out some of the key considerations for the design and analysis of such programmes, and highlights four factors:
  • the need to understand community heterogeneity (rather than assuming homogeneity, as many interventions do)
  • the role of community collective action and/or its role in coercion or ‘noisy protest’ in effecting change
  • the ways in which cooperation, capacity and commitment affect the community and frontline provider relationship, and the ability and willingness to deliver to meet demands
  • the ways in which clientelism and other such extant local political structures form the backdrop against which accountability actions play out

Economic integration and development partnerships: Southern perspectives

28 Mar 2017 12:16:17 GMT

As part of its work programme on capacity-building among developing countries on global and regional economic issues RIS has been conducting its flaghship Capacity-Building Programme on International Economic Issues and Development Policy (IEIDP) under the ITEC/SCAAP programme of the Ministry of External Affairs.
The programme is aimed to inculcate in participants enhanced understanding on challenges and opportunities associated with the processes of globalization and development. It is also designed to expose the participants to the growing complexities of global economic issues and negotiations and to build their analytical skills to deal with them. In this year’s programme, conducted from 13 February-10 March 2017, 33 participants from 25 countries took part.
The participants enthusiastically engaged in technical sessions and group discussions. They identified critical areas to deliberate upon and eventually come up with status papers highlighting regional and global contexts and country experiences.
Based on individual areas of expertise and inclination, they formed five thematic groups. This report comprises of contributions from each group:
  • Drivers and Experience of Regional Integration in Asia and Africa
  • South-South Cooperation: Select Country Experiences
  • Financing for Development: Developing Countries’ Perspectives
  • Economic Growth of Developing Countries in the Globalization Context:  Lessons from some Developing Countries
  • SDGs in Post-Truth: Do SDGs Matter for Developing Countries?

Climate change knows no borders: an analysis of climate induced migration, protection gaps and need for solidarity in South Asia

13 Dec 2016 10:55:29 GMT

Climate change is having devastating impacts on communities’ lives, livelihoods and food security across South Asia. Its consequences are so severe that it is increasingly contributing to migration, and this incidence is likely to escalate much more in the years to come as climate change impacts become more serious.

This study looks at climate change and its impacts on migration in South Asia, and particularly in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The South Asia region is particularly vulnerable to climate change events. Droughts, heat waves, cyclones, rising sea levels, heavy rainfall, landslides and floods strike, are often felt by two or more neighbouring countries in the region, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC AR5) anticipates that these are likely to be felt more severely in future.

Migration patterns in South Asia are complex and take several forms. Temporary migration can take place to find seasonal work, or in response to disasters as a coping mechanism. Internal migration usually takes place from rural areas to the city within the same country. External migration, usually to the Gulf states, is also a growing phenomenon. Significant numbers are also undertaking trans-boundary migration, usually from Bangladesh or Nepal to India. Rising intolerance towards Bangladeshi migrants in India’s Assam and West Bengal is also stoking tensions in the region.

It is more common for men to migrate, leaving millions of women-headed households across the region. In Nepal, there are villages with few or no men of working age. This is creating additional burden of work for women, and driving the feminisation of agriculture.

Policies are currently failing to understand the scale and impact of migration on women, and are failing to address emerging issues. Promotion of women’s empowerment, as well as women-led planning and disaster response, must be part of the solution.

South Asia Regional Diagnostic Study

02 Dec 2016 10:46:11 GMT

India faces a dynamic climatic and non-climatic risk profile. These climatic and non-climatic risks, separately and in interaction, make people and systems highly vulnerable. Key vulnerabilities and risks are found to be deeply embedded within the existing social and biophysical conditions of people and socio-ecological systems, which emerge as critical barriers to effective, widespread and sustained adaptation.

ASSAR has recently completed its Regional Diagnostic Study phase which took stock of the current state of knowledge on the extant and emergent climatic and non-climatic risks in Africa and India. During this phase ASSAR explored why different people are differentially vulnerable to these risks and how people, governments and other stakeholders at various scales are responding to current and future climatic and non-climatic challenges.

Most current development-adaptation interventions in India and the sub-regions focus on water and agricultural sectors. Evidence from various adaptation projects suggests that risk management strategies at various scales and initiated by various actors, are enabling building of local adaptive capacities. However, such changes are not uniform across regions, sectors or scales. India’s rural systems have seen relatively higher and longer investment in direct climate change adaptation projects, as well as those that have adaptation co-benefits such as interventions for livelihood diversification, biodiversity conservation, sustainable agriculture and natural resource management. Given large development deficits and the vulnerabilities of the rural poor, coping strategies to manage risk are more common than adaptive action.

Governance and institutional barriers emerge as a key constraint to ongoing and future adaptation. Governance in much of India is fragmented, making coordination across different agencies and scales challenging. Cities in particular accumulate and generate new risks through unplanned development and deepening inequality. Urban settlements are vulnerable to food, energy and water fragility and consequent social and political unrest. Planning, including for risk management, often takes place at higher levels of government, while the role of local bodies, civil society and communities tends to be that of implementation with little room for innovation. The ways in which governance acts as a key barrier to adaptation are a) multiplicity and redundancy of actors and institutions, b) fragmentation of planning and execution, c) prevalence of top-down planning, d) institutional rigidity and path dependency and e) absence of certain actors and sectors in the planning process such as private sector participation and health.

Communicating climate change for adaptation: challenges, success and future priorities

25 Nov 2016 02:22:49 GMT

Communicating climate change to communities in semi-arid regions remains a difficult task. This information brief helps communicators understand best practice and helps researchers understand where knowledge gaps exist.

Key findings:

  • currently, relatively little attention is given to understanding the ways that important actors from policy, practice or the media in semi-arid regions perceive climate variability and change, and where important gaps in knowledge and information exist
  • aside from the limitations of resource availability, adaptive capacity largely depends on the extent to which problems are understood, knowledge is accessible to vulnerable groups and policy makers, and adaptive responses are recognised and available. Framing climate change messages in line with these local contexts is crucial and greatly improves their effectiveness
  • few attempts have been made to directly test for correlations between climate communication efforts and observed behaviour change. Yet, an understanding of this relationship can offer important guidelines for future climate communication efforts


Gendered vulnerabilities to climate change: insights from the semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia

25 Nov 2016 01:59:18 GMT

Vulnerabilities to impacts of climate change are gendered. Still, policy approaches aimed at strengthening local communities’ adaptive capacity largely fail to recognise the gendered nature of everyday realities and experiences.

Key points and recommendations:

  • gender is not just about women, but the arrangement of roles, responsibilities and relations between men and women of different social groups, ages, educational and marital statuses. Both perceptions of risks and actual vulnerabilities are shaped by these roles, responsibilities and relations, and hence may vary across place, time and social position/location
  • policies still largely fail to acknowledge the intersection of social relations and identities, which could provide a more exact understanding of adaptive behaviour in semi-arid contexts. To facilitate the inclusion of gender in policies, practices and extension services, gender should form an early focus in dialogue spaces, decision making processes and policy discussions
  • adaptive strategies need to pay attention to the divisions of work between men and women to ensure that women’s everyday lives are not overburdened, and that suitable technologies are put in place to support their performance of everyday tasks (e.g., ensuring water for domestic use in the context of scarcity)
  • adaptive strategies also need to work with social norms (that shape what kind of activities are appropriate for men and women to engage in) which might be restrictive but are not inflexible. Such social norms must be taken into consideration, and sometimes challenged, to promote gender equality and improve or increase women’s rights
  • attention needs to be paid to the growing resource conflicts around the use and management of water and land, and the underlying causes ‒ particularly with the monetisation and commoditisation of these resources posing a threat to the already-precarious survival of some semi-arid communities
  • new forms of diversification and collective action are emerging, especially by women, and trade-offs between short-term coping strategies and longer-term adaptation adaptation are becoming more apparent. All of these changes need to be better understood in terms of how gender works, is arranged and rearranged over time and place. At the same time, by building the capacity of local community ‒ especially women ‒ to access resources and ensure their voices are heard, their adaptive capacity can be increased and their dependency on state welfare can be reduced
  • studies on climate change vulnerability and impacts and identification of adaptation strategies should be done from a gender-sensitive perspective. Further research is needed to understand the potential impacts of the reorganisation of domestic groups and the rise in numbers of female-headed households on their adaptive and coping strategies, particularly in the semi-arid regions in Africa

Climate change adaptation practice in semi-arid regions: views and insights by practitioners

25 Nov 2016 01:50:10 GMT

The Research into Use (RiU) element of the research project Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR) aims to ensure that ASSAR’s research outputs and findings are taken-up in adaptation practice and policy spheres across semi-arid regions. For that purpose, the ASSAR consortia is keen to engage with practitioners early in the research process to reflect their views in the research design and in the definition of research questions. It is recognised that this step is key to enhance the likelihood of research up-take and creates interest and ownership in the research process by practitioners.

In order to solicit views and insights by climate change adaptation practitioners, Oxfam GB, one of ASSAR’s consortia lead partners, collaborated with one of the leading knowledge platforms for adaptation practitioners, weADAPT. Oxfam GB and weADAPT devised a short online survey (see annex 1) with questions focused on a) information needs (type and usefulness) and sources used (frequency and ease of access); b) barriers to implementation of adaptation actions and c) additional insights in the realities of implementing adaptation projects, programmes and strategies.

The survey findings have been analysed by taking into account the professional sector/ type of organisation and institution the respondents indicated. For this purpose, the findings have been divided into three categories: (1) total = all respondents; (2) practitioners and (3) researchers. This has been done to explore whether there is significant difference in information needs, information sources and perceived barriers to implementation between practitioners and researchers.
Strong efforts were made to target climate change adaptation (CCA) practitioners working specifically in semi-arid regions in order to maximise relevance to ASSAR’s research agenda.

This report elaborates recommendations aimed at ASSAR’s Regional Research Teams (RRT) as they enter the transition between the Regional Diagnostic Studies (RDS) and the Regional Research Programmes(RRP), and as such, recommendations hope to influence the design and refining of research questions. The Oxfam team is committed to supporting the RRTs in this transition process by offering them tailored support. [

Use and communication of climate information to support uptake of adaptation action in the semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia

25 Nov 2016 01:41:57 GMT

Africa and Asia are among the continents most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This vulnerability is further worsened by the poor state of their socio-economic development and low adaptive capacity. Hence the states within these two continents face a serious challenge in providing sustainable livelihoods for their populations, especially in the vulnerable and fragile ecosystems of their respective semi-arid regions. There is therefore a critical need for the development of adaptation policies, strategies and plans in response to the changing climate. To develop effective adapation policies, strategies and action plans, however, it is necessary to have a comprehensive and multi-sectoral understanding, communication and use of weather and climate information. The Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA) aims to build the resilience of vulnerable populations and their livelihoods in semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia by supporting collaborative research to inform adaptation policies and practices. To realize this research goal, CARIAA has developed the Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR). One of the research activities funded within this program is research on the factors that shape understanding and use of weather and climate information as well as challenges to and opportunities for effective communication of climate information in semi-arid regions of Asia and Africa. This research is structured in three overlapping but complementary phases: (1) Regional Diagnostic Study phase (RDS); (2) The Regional Research Program (RRP), and (3) Transformative Scenario Planning (TSP) and Knowledge Synthesis and Sharing phase.This paper reports on the findings of the first phase of the research. This phase involved a desk study to examine how weather and climate information is understood, communicated and used in semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia and the challenges and opportunities that could support effective communication and use of weather and climate information in semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia. Specifically, this diagnostic study phase addressed the following questions, to inform the next phase of the resarch:what factors shape understanding and use of weather and climate information in semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia?how is weather and climate information communicated and used in semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia?what challenges and opportunities could support effective communication and use of weather and climate information in semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia?The study found that understanding and use of weather and climate information in semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia is influenced by both intrinsic and contextual factors. The intrinsic factors that influence weather and climate information understanding and use include the communication channels, forms, and formats used to communicated the information. Contextual factors include community’s cultural practices and religious beliefs; community’s indigenous knowledge; community’s social structures and networks; locality i.e. rural versus urban settings; community livelihood practices and experiences; and gender. Although both intsrinsic and contextual factors influence understanding and use of weather and climate information, the study noted there is little research that examined exactly how these factors enable or hinder adoption of adaptations actions. In this regard, the study has identified several research questions that could be explored in the next phase.The study also identified several challenges and opportunities that could support effective communication and use of climate information. In particular, the study found that models that facilitate co-production of weather and climate information enable better understanding and use of climate information by different users. The study also not[...]

Impacts of climate change on the cryosphere, hydrological regimes and glacial lakes of the Hindu Kush Himalayas: a review of current knowledge

22 Nov 2016 12:29:08 GMT

The climate and cryosphere of the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region have changed in the past and are very likely to change in the future. Warming of the climate system is unequivocal. The atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants has increased, the atmosphere and oceans have warmed, snow and ice have diminished, and the sea level has risen. The Himalayan region has the third largest amount of ice and snow in the world, after the Antarctic and Arctic, but these reserves are considered to be exceptionally vulnerable due to climate change. There is good agreement among global climate models (GCM) on future temperature trends in the region, but projections of future precipitation patterns differ widely. As a result, the demand for increased knowledge about likely future climate change is still high. Growing scientific knowledge and recent weather events show that extremes related to hydrological change can be substantial, although the geographical and temporal resolution of the projected changes is still low in many areas.

This review provides a comprehensive overview of the present state of knowledge on climate change impacts on the cryosphere, hydrological regime, and glacial lakes of the Hindu Kush Himalayas at regional and basin scales, with a focus on the implications for hydropower development. It provides an insight into the limits in present understanding of the relevant natural processes, as well as the shortcomings in models, in situ measurements, and technologies in general.

It is clear that there is a considerable need for further research. The research questions vary from the general (e.g., how to improve broad scale climate modelling for the region) to the specific (e.g., future sedimentation and its role in hydropower plant longevity). The marked large spatial variation in the findings indicates the need to follow up at smaller scales. The research needs also vary in degree of importance of their role in improving effectiveness in hydropower development.

Many reports have discussed the potential for hydropower to transform the economies of the Himalayan region. But in order to develop this potential, it is essential to have good information on the likely scenarios for water availability and water related risks over many decades. A coordinated research programme is needed for the region that focuses more strongly on understanding the impacts of climate change at catchment and sub-basin levels, and specifically in those catchments/sub-basins which are candidates for hydropower development. ICIMOD and its partners should consider ways in which such a programme can be developed to cover the spectrum of research requirements that have become apparent in this review.

(Un)natural disasters: communicating linkages between extreme events and climate change

22 Nov 2016 01:05:34 GMT

Issue of the World Meteorological Organization Bulletin.  The science of attributing extreme weather and climate events has progressed in recent years to enable an analysis of the role of human causes while an event is still in the media. However, there is still widespread confusion about the linkages between human-induced climate change and extreme weather, not only among the public, but also among some meteorologists and others in the scientific community. This is an issue of communication as well as of science. Many people have received the erroneous message that individual extreme weather events cannot be linked to human-induced climate change, while others attribute some weather events to climate change where there is no clear evidence of linkages. In order to advise adaptation planning and mitigation options, there is a need to communicate more effectively what the most up-to-date science says about event attribution, and to include appropriate information on linkages when reporting extreme weather and climate events in the media. This title article reviews these issues, advancements in event attribution science, and offers suggestions for improvement in communication.

Other articles include:

  • Integrating Meteorological Service Delivery for Land Transportation
  • The Weather Enterprise: A Global Public-Private Partnership
  • Outcomes of COP21 and the IPCC
  • 20 Years of Impact – Working on Partnership on Water
  • Photo Essay: Women in Action
  • WMO Virtual Laboratory for Meteorological Satellite Education and Training
  • The HimawariCast Project – Bringing the power of new satellite data to the Asia-Pacific region
  • Weather and Climate Services for Farmers in India
  • Climate change impacts on aviation : An interview with Herbert Puempel
  • Observing Water Vapour
  • Contributions to Climate Science of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project

Costs of non-cooperation in South Asia: an illustration and way forward

06 Oct 2016 01:37:17 GMT

The South Asian economic integration has remained afflicted with a narrative that is more often than not a negative one. As a part of this, the arguments put forth include the assertion that the region lacks in trade complementarities due to similarities in production structures. Therefore, the region can only compete in
products and there is limited scope for intra-regional trade.
The effect of such an argument is enormous. It has apparently led to a tendency to neglect trade integration in South Asia let alone adopting a comprehensive approach towards it, whereby trade in goods, trade in services and investment are sought to be regionally integrated simultaneously. Pakistan’s consistent postponement of Most Favoured Nations (MFN) status to India and Sri Lanka’s ever evasive approach towards Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) are but two glaring examples. The examples of Pakistan and Sri Lanka are deliberate as they both are the only two non-LDCs (Least Developed Countries) apart from India in the region.

Degraded Peri-urban biophysical environments in South Asia

27 Sep 2016 01:04:01 GMT

Urbanization leads to the deterioration of peri-urban biophysical environments. Urban sprawl encroaches and degrades peri-urban ecosystems,and alters the natural  equilibrium. This  in  turn, depletes the resource base of peri-urban areas.   

Urban development policies,plans,and programs treat the peri-urban as an opportunity for urban expansion, and rarely factor issues of environmental sustainability. Thus, peri-urban areas are often selected as suitable places for discharge of urban wastewater and disposal of solid wastes. As a consequence, and because of the haphazard construction of urban infrastructure, the drainage systems of peri-urban areas are severely compromised.

This research brief is based on comparative field research in four South Asian peri­ urban areas with different biophysical settings. The paper underscores the adverse consequences ofurbanization and climate change and offers policy recommendations.

The State of Biodiversity in West Asia: a mid-term review of progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets

16 Aug 2016 04:17:22 GMT

Global Biodiversity Outlook-4 (GBO-4), the mid-term review of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 , published by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), provides a global assessment of progress towards the attainment of the Plan’s biodiversity goals and associated twenty Aichi Biodiversity Targets, but contains limited regional information.

This second edition of the State of Biodiversity in West Asia report builds on and complements the global GBO-4 assessment, serving as a near mid-term review of progress towards the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 for the West Asia region specifically. This report draws on a set of regional indicators, information from fifth national reports to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), other government reports, case studies and published literature, to provide a target by target review of progress towards the twenty Aichi Biodiversity Targets. As much as possible, global indicators for the Aichi Biodiversity Targets have been broken down to regional level and additional analyses of existing global information have been undertaken.

The key messages about the state of biodiversity in West Asia, and the pressures upon it, which have emerged from this assessment are:

  • available biodiversity and ecosystem service information for the region is limited, which has made the reporting task challenging, and in many cases data are too poor and fragmentary to allow robust conclusions
  • the major drivers of biodiversity decline have seen a rapid increase, including urban expansion, the spread of intensive agricultural systems and cultivation of marginal land resulting from considerable population growth. Such changes necessitate reliance on resources imported from elsewhere in the world, meaning that West Asia’s ecological footprint is growing sharply and now exceeds the global average
  • the volatile political situation in parts of the region means  conservation work has been unable to proceed in the countries or areas experiencing significant internal and international conflicts and political instability in recent years
  • protected areas networks in West Asia are limited in both coverage and management effectiveness
  • wildlife crime linked to hunting is a continuing problem with ineffective enforcement of regulations and legislation
  • water scarcity, driven by rapidly rising demand, is threatening the survival of the region’s wetland habitats
  • multiple anthropogenic and climatic pressures are interacting to threaten the integrity of marine ecosystems
  • the region is likely to be one of the hardest hit by the direct and indirect impacts of climate change such as sea level rise, sea temperature rise, increasing water scarcity and ground water salinity, and desertification

Intrapartum oxytocin (mis)use in South Asia

15 Aug 2016 03:36:47 GMT

Oxytocin is a natural hormone with uterine stimulant properties that plays a prominent role in obstetric practice. Clinical guidelines for oxytocin use intrapartum emphasise that injudicious use has serious potential for adverse outcomes for mother and baby. Oxytocin is readily available in South Asia and widely used in ways that flout these guidelines. Yet recommendations for active management of third stage of labour include the administration of oxytocin to prevent post-partum haemorrhage. Troublingly, these proposals seem to ignore oxytocin’s already extensive life independent of policy interventions. Taking oxytocin as an example, the paper argues that policy-makers urgently need to engage with the everyday realities of drug availability and use in South Asia.

South-South cooperation: conference proceedings 2016

12 Aug 2016 10:32:08 GMT

Emerging economies such as India have their own philosophy underlying development cooperation. The norms and mechanisms of such cooperation are different from OECD norms or norms followed by international financial institutions.

There is a need for engagement and dialogue among all the stakeholders involved in development cooperation – the traditional donors, the emerging Southern providers, the development partners in developing countries and international and regional financial institutions. A broad international consensus on international development cooperation in a transformed world would be worth pursuing especially in the context of the very ambitious goals adopted under Agenda 2030 by the United Nations, involving 17 Sustainable Development Goals with 169 targets to be achieved.

It is against this background that the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) organised the Conference on South-South Cooperation in New Delhi on 10 and 11 March 2016 in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India; United Nations; Network of Southern Think Tanks (NesT); and the Forum of Indian Development Cooperation (FIDC). The large number of participants, representing all the major stakeholders in SSC – policymakers, academics, civil society organisations, traditional donors, private enterprises and development practitioners – majority of them being from the global South, deliberated at length on major emerging issues facing South-South Cooperation and other forms of development cooperation.

This Report on the proceedings of the Conference, brought out by RIS will serve as a reference for deepening the South-South development cooperation, expanding North-South and Trilateral Development Cooperation, particularly in the context of the recent UN agenda of achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Climate impacts on food security and livelihoods in Asia: a review of existing knowledge

11 Aug 2016 10:04:23 GMT

There is agreement in the scientific community that the global food system will experience unprecedented pressure in the coming decades – demographic changes, urban growth, environmental degradation, increasing disaster risk, food price volatility, and climate change will all affect food security patterns.
The Asian continent is particularly vulnerable to climate change due to a combination of: high reliance on climate-sensitive livelihoods, high incidence of poverty and food insecurity, and high population densities in vulnerable and areas highly exposed to climate-related hazards such as floods, cyclones and droughts, and long-term climate change such as gradual changes in monsoon patterns, glacier melt and sea-level rise.
The purpose of this primer is to review the current state of knowledge on the relationship between climate change and food security, focusing specifically on the Asian context, to provide an evidence base for discussion and further analysis.

Review of laws policies and regulations governing labour migration in asian and arab states.pdf

15 Jun 2016 02:57:34 GMT

This publication is meant to serve as a ready reference on the country-specific legal protections that exist for women migrantworkers in source and destination countries in the programmeme countries of un Women’s Asia & Arab states Regional programmeme on Empowering Women Migrant Workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lao PDR, nepal, Philippines. In addition, destination countries and territories such as Bahrain, Hong Kong SAR, uAE, singapore and Thailand were included.

It endeavors to compile existing legal provisions for departing and returning migrants in countries of origin and measures for access to justice for women migrant workers in destination countries.  Evidence  and/or  information  on  the  implementation  status  of  the  existing  laws  were  included as far as current data and information would allow.

It also sought to provide examples of and recommendations for gender sensitive and rights based legal measures that could be adopted to empower women migrant workers to effectively enjoy their rights.

This  publication  was  intended  as  an  aid  to  the  enhancement  of  policy,  programmemes  and  development actions aimed at increasing the protection of women migrant workers; advocating with regional bodies e.g. South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and Association of  South  East  Asian nations  (ASEAn)  and  Governments  for  appropriate  protective  measures  for  women migrant workers; assisting non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Governments in reporting to the un Committee on the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); helping inform migrant civil society, including NGOs/migrant workers associations;  and,  developing  guidelines  for  recruitment  agencies  and  employers  regarding minimum employment standards.

The AIIB and investment in action on climate change

14 Apr 2016 03:55:24 GMT

This working paper from the ODI suggests Asian countries are emerging as leaders in clean energy with new business models that meet the needs of poor people within poor countries. Countries in the region are also highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. A focus on low emission paths to sustainable development represents an investment in a future with major long-term commercial benefits for many members of the AIIB.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a new actor in international development finance led by developing countries to scale up investment in infrastructure. It has an opportunity to establish a new approach to infrastructure investment that prioritises renewable energy, climate resilience and sustainable development. The report proposes concludes that AIIB’s investments can help expand markets for renewable energy, and change the narrative around the emphasis of China’s overseas investments as one focused on clean sustainable development, rather than resource extraction.



Transformations for sustainable development: promoting environmental sustainability in Asia and the Pacific

07 Apr 2016 09:56:14 GMT

Asia and the Pacific is a dynamic region. Regional megatrends, such as urbanization, economic and trade integration and rising incomes and changing consumption patterns, are transforming its societies and economies while multiplying the environmental challenges.

These environmental challenges range from growing greenhouse gas emissions, poor air quality, land use change, pressure on marine ecosystems, biodiversity loss and increasing demand for resources, such as energy and water. These megatrends are already shaping the future patterns of resource use and defining who benefits the most and who loses. A basic premise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is that trade-offs between environmental protection, shared prosperity and social progress can no longer be viewed as acceptable.

Aligning these trends with sustainable development requires political will and action to reshape the relationships between the economy, society and the environment. This report examines four critical determinants of the relationships between these three dimensions of sustainable development as targets for fundamental transformations—in social justice, resource efficiency, investment flows and economic structures.

Climate projections for local adaptation in the Hindu-Kush Himalayas

04 Apr 2016 03:57:40 GMT

This report is an output of the Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme (HICAP). The aim of this report is to present downscaled climate scenarios in a relevant, understandable and illustrative manner for a diverse group of end-users and stakeholders, including other HICAP research components decision-makers at different levels. This report is based on dynamically downscaled temperature and precipitation projections for 8 different domains in the Hindu-Kush Himalayas. It uses the HICAP model (the WRF model, driven by the NorESM GCM model) for the RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios. Comparing model results with local observations for a reference period (1996-2005, the output was corrected for various under- and overestimations. For each domain, projections for periods 1996-2005, 2010-2030, 2030-2050 and 2050-2080 are presented a) in figures relevant for local users and decision makers, b) in a simplified text summing up the projections, and briefly discussing them in relation to potential impacts. This report provides highly relevant, locally specific results for the HICAP region, and relates these to geographical variations within each domain across the Himalayas. No other models and projections have been used in this report, and the HICAP model results should be compared with other sources of information for a final assessment of local climate change and impacts. The usability of the report extends beyond the HICAP project: the model-adjustment method, aimed at showing how to make projections realistic and relevant at the local level, the ease of the calculations and the guided interpretations of the figures and projections can serve as a guide to model use and presentations anywhere, provided the availability of a minimal amount of observations to compare and adjust larger scale model outputs to local climate observations for a certain reference period.

Prospects of Blue Economy in the Indian Ocean

31 Mar 2016 11:16:05 GMT

The concept of Blue Economy is emerging as a new narrative on productive and sustainable engagement with the vast development opportunities that oceanic resources offer. The important sectors of Blue Economy are fisheries, sea-minerals including oil and gas, ports and shipping, marine tourism, marine biotechnology, deep-sea mining, and transport and logistics.

It is believed that by undertaking Blue Economy initiative countries would be able to achieve high economic growth and maintain healthy balance between resource use and its renewability. However, there are few attempts to estimate the gains of Blue Economy. This assumes importance in the light of the fact that the world faces the challenge of restoring a healthy balance between the ambition of high economic growth and the goal of environmental sustainability. With the launch of SDGs, concerns are emerging in favour of sustainable use of natural resources especially in the context of growth-centric development models. In fact the oceans and the ocean related activities are viewed as the greatest source of growth in the post-recession period.

This report presents the synthesis of various conceptual and methodological issues relating to blue economy and the importance of this paradigm to the overall social and economic progress of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) countries. Since there exist ambiguities over the coverage of blue economy sectors and data availability, empirical estimates of the size of blue economy and related indicators are avoided here.

Towards South Asia economic union: proceedings of the 7th South Asia Economic Summit (SAES)

31 Mar 2016 11:01:10 GMT

Presently, the challenges before the South Asian countries are to identify the ways and means of achieving regional integration on a fast track basis. The move from SAPTA (South Asian Preferential Trading Arrangement) to SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Area) and now the proposal for South Asia Economic Union is a pragmatic move towards the next stage of cooperation. South Asian countries need to move further from trade liberalization measures alone to regional investment cooperation strategy, production integration, and technology cooperation. In the economic union and common market, macro- economic coordination also assumes greater significance.

The theme of the 7th SAES was “Towards South Asia Economic Union”. Several eminent scholars from India and abroad presented research papers at this Summit, and discussed a number of key issues that are relevant from the point of view of deepening South Asian integration. What emerges out of the deliberations is that the creation of South Asian Economic Union (SAEU) would prove to be a milestone in the regional cooperation efforts. The selected papers of the Summit are now presented in a single volume which will become a valuable reference for scholars and researchers as well. The papers of this volume also provide important policy lessons.

Papers include:

  • South Asia Economic Union: Challenges and Tasks Ahead 
  • Challenges to Regional Services Integration in South Asia Services Trade in South Asia: An Assessment
  • Strengthening South Asia Value Chain: Prospects and Challenges
  • Potential and Prospects of Strengthening Transport Connectivity for Regional Economic Integration in Southern Asia
  • Connectivity for the South Asia Economic Union
  • Stimulating Intra-Regional Investment in SAARC: Is a Regional Investment Agreement the Way Forward?
  • Payment Systems to Facilitate South Asian Integration
  • Post-2015 Agenda and Regional Cooperation in South Asia
  • Regional Integration and the Post-2015 Framework: A South Asian Perspective


World trade and development report: mega regionals, WTO and new issues

31 Mar 2016 09:55:18 GMT

With the Tenth WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, the efforts for trade liberalisation and strengthening of multilateral trading arrangement have come to a full circle. What started in 1995 with graduation from GATT to WTO has come to a point where several challenges for multilateralism are clearly discernible. As a result, it is not surprising that the usual excitement for WTO ministerial meeting is missing this time. The demand to close the Doha Development Round has triggered a deep sense of pessimism across low income and other developing countries. They have also been left outside the Mega-Regionals groupings, which have emerged in all parts of the world. Therefore, lowering of ambition at WTO is a direct outcome of these arrangements.

Signing of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an unprecedented development in the annals of the economic history of the world. Along with TPP another three mega regionals, viz. TTIP, RCEP and FTAAP, have made significant headway in their negotiations, and are likely to be formed in the coming years. These four regional groupings are distinct from those of other existing regional grouping in terms of their content, scope and impact on the global economy. There is discussion about another four mega regionals namely, EU-ASEAN, EU-Japan, China-Japan-Korea FTA and Pacific Alliance, which have got similar features to be treated as mega regionals. UN (2015) has treated Trade in Services (TISA) and Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA) as mega regionals which can have a major hold over the global economic activities in the recent years.

Mega regionals have significant command over several important economic activities in the world economy. Their contributions are felt in several frontiers of economic activities including GDP, FDI, Foreign Exchange Reserves, Saving Ratios, Gross Fixed Capital Formation, etc. among others. In several mega regionals, simultaneous presence of members from developed and emerging countries are seen, stressing on different dimensions of their economic engagement. In many such cases, developed countries have shown their strong base in several macro-economic activities but lacking growth whereas emerging countries have shown their surging growth in these activities.


Social protection in Asia: research findings and policy lessons

18 Mar 2016 09:38:18 GMT

This is a synthesis report from the Social Protection in Asia (SPA) policy-research and network- building programme, 2007-2010, funded by the Ford Foundation and IDRC. It presents research findings and draws out policy lessons from the 11 research projects, with three key elements: tracking the politics that leads governments to invest in social protection agendas; showing social protection to be not purely a state activity or a civil society activity, but drawing on the strengths of both; and presenting our conscious efforts to study ourselves as researchers within research to policy pathways.

Evidence and gaps in evidence on the principle political economy constraints and opportunities to successful investment in clean energy in Asia

15 Mar 2016 02:31:52 GMT

This rapid desk based study is commissioned by DFID. DFID is interested to identify evidence of factors that are deterring investment in renewable energy (RE) in most developing countries in Asia. In our understanding, DFID proposes to use this evidence, along with information on the opportunities and risks in this sector, to commission more indepth studies in the future. These different studies will support the scoping of the potential establishment of one or more investment platforms through which DFID could deploy investment capital in order to catalyse private investment in south and central Asia. It’s been proposed that the platform(s) should focus on clean energy, inclusive agribusiness and financial services.

This rapid study has been conducted based on the review of existing literature and related databases. As mandated, the study adopts a political economy assessment framework. Asia is the general focus. However, examples, wherever applicable, have been drawn only from a selected set of Asian nations. China and India have generally not been considered in this study. It is found that although most countries in developing Asia have RE potentials and plans for mainstreaming renewables in their energy systems, they have mostly under performed with regard to attracting investments and capacity build up in the RE sector. Given the existing scenario, these

The role of bioenergy in energy-food-ecosystem nexus in Asia

11 Mar 2016 08:57:18 GMT

This research revealed significant trade-offs among energy security, food security and ecosystem capacity in the Philippines, India and China. The preferred role of bioenergy for sustainable development reflects the social and economic concerns in the respective Asian countries, e.g. energy security and environmental condition in China, food security in India, and ecosystem degradation in the Philippines. Thus, policy should carefully weigh the impacts of bioenergy development on sustainability issues that are closely interlinked in an energy-food-ecosystem nexus.

[adapted from source]

Preferential trading agreements and agricultural liberalization in East and Southeast Asia

11 Mar 2016 04:39:36 GMT

This paper analyses how various preferential trading arrangements deal with agriculture liberalization and examines a few case studies highlighting the provisions on agriculture. It assesses the effect of preferential trade agreements on agriculture trade flows in the case of ASEAN. It finds that while the tariff reduction on all goods, including agriculture, in ASEAN provides a marked advantage from the MFN tariff rates, intra-ASEAN agriculture trade have not been all that significant. Most of the growth in the intra-ASEAN trade had come from trade in industry; and if total agriculture trade had expanded, much of it was due to trade outside the region.

The paper argues that AFTA, by original design, had not really been made to boost intraregional agriculture trade, but rather to facilitate the interindustry trade arising out of the vertically integrated network of manufacturing transnational corporations.

Financial Services Integration in East Asia: lessons from the European Union

03 Mar 2016 10:30:48 GMT

Economic integration in the European Union has, arguably, been one of the most significant developments in the global economy in the last half-century. Other regions in the world, to a greater or lesser degree, appear to be in quest of a similar goal – the integration of their regional economies. What lessons could they learn from the European Union experience? Specifically, as closer cooperation appears a clarion call at the level of Asian politicians, can East Asia learn some lessons from the European Union?

Many bilateral trade agreements between ASEAN and other East Asian economies have been negotiated, and some have been signed, but thus far have not yet delivered a true free trade area in the sense of zero tariffs for all products. What exist, at the moment, are a collection of preferential trade agreements rather than free trade agreements (FTAs). In the financial markets, regional integration is in an even more infantile state than in goods trade. At least, in trade in goods, multilateral and regional agreements forced tariffs and other trade barriers down and volumes of trade have shown growth. In the financial field, the region has yet to show bigger intraregional transactions, while capital markets have yet to deepen and a host of financial market barriers yet to come down. Each domestic economy remains highly protected by different regulations and restrictions on capital flows, as discussed later in this paper.

An advantage of the present East Asian situation is that being at the start of the process presents an opportunity to observethe experiences of other regional integration efforts, the European Union phenomenon in particular, and learn from both their positive achievements (and to imitate them) and negative experiences. Indeed, the European experience serves as a reference point for determining the policy requirements and operational aspects of regional integration process.

The impact of the global financial crisis on rural and microfinance in Asia

02 Mar 2016 03:28:20 GMT

Using data from a quick survey of various rural (RFIs) and microfinance institutions (MFIs) in East Asia, the paper tries to find out how those institutions and their clientele have been affected by the global financial crisis, how they have coped with the ongoing crisis, and what they plan to do in the future to ensure the stability of the rural financial system and the continuing access of clients to financial services.

The microfinance sector in Asia continues to evolve with emphasis on efficiency and strong growth in outreach. The limited data from the quick survey validate the growth in loan portfolios and increase in the number of clients, with growth varying significantly by country depending on internal and external factors during the period before the global financial crisis. Impacts vary depending on external and internal factors faced by RFIs and MFIs. However, they continue to maintain a positive attitude and expect that business will pick up as a result of an increase in demand for loans to finance livelihood projects and various microenterprises. They are aware of the threats and opportunities brought about by the global financial crisis. The analysis leads to some lessons for policymakers, bank regulators, rural financial institutions, and microfinance institutions that are committed to provide inclusive financial services to member clients.

Contagion effects of the Asian crisis, policy responses and their implications

02 Mar 2016 01:41:09 GMT

In July 1997, the Thai financial crisis broke out, which had strong contagion effects on the neighboring economies, including the Philippines. In fact, the Philippine peso was among the initial currencies subjected to heavy speculative attacks. However, the country was not as severely affected in that the currency crisis did not develop into a full blown financial and economic crisis. This was attributed to the structural reforms that had already been implemented, including financial sector reforms. And the consensus was that the Philippines would be among the first to recover from the regional crisis.

This paper looks at the contagion effects of the Asian crisis on the Philippine economy, the policy responses, and their social implications. In particular, the paper discusses the role of the financial sector in the evolution of the crisis. In Section II, the recent performance of the Philippine economy, the financial sector and the social sector is reviewed in order to better situate the Asian crisis and its contagion effects on the Philippines. Section III then looks at the economic and social impacts of the Asian crisis on the Philippines, as well as the government's policy responses. The government's social safety net programs are then discussed in Section IV. Finally, Section V presents some conclusions and the continuing policy issues.

Forecasting natural hazards and disasters in selected Southeast Asian countries: the need for cooperative action

29 Feb 2016 11:03:39 GMT

With Southeast Asian countries like Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, the Philippines, and Viet Nam experiencing the increasing occurrence of weather and climate-related hazards and disasters in recent years, some of which they commonly share due to their close proximity to each other, it thus becomes important for them to cooperate and coordinate with one another in addressing said hazards and disasters.

This policy note reviews the occurrence of disasters caused by weather and climate-related hazards in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, the Philippines, and Viet Nam, and the socioeconomic damages that they have caused. The note aims to highlight the increasing incidence of natural disasters in these countries and suggest some recommendations for cooperative action among them, particularly in the forecasting of natural hazards.

Education cooperation in Asia and the Pacific

29 Feb 2016 10:06:45 GMT

The role of education in economic development is widely acknowledged. It increases the innovative capacity of an economy and facilitates the diffusion, adoption, and adaptation of new ideas. With a higher quality higher education system, the Philippines would then be better placed to reap the well-documented economic benefits of an educated population. This policy note explores the potential of regional cooperation to improve the quality and availability of, and access to education.

Oxfam’s strategy for resilience in Asia

15 Feb 2016 06:24:13 GMT

Asia is experiencing unprecedented change. Some of these changes are bringing benefits, while others are increasing the vulnerability of some or all of the population.

Resilience building is a counter to these drivers of vulnerability. The Asia Resilience Strategy for 2015–2020 provides a broad framework on inclusive humanitarian and development trajectories focused on the poorest of the poor in the areas of:

1) smallholder agriculture;

2) water;

3) urban resilience; and

4) natural resource management.

[Author introduction]

The financial crisis in the Gulf and its impact on South Asian migrant workers

09 Feb 2016 03:05:40 GMT

The financial crisis originated in the United States of America and impacted the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries after a time lag. The falling oil prices, contracting trade and declining private investment flows have adversely affected the GDP growth of the Gulf countries, which in turn affected the flow of migrant labour to and from them and remittances from them.

In this context this study seeks to:

  • assess the impact of the recession on key industries in the GCC economies
  • assess the repatriation of expatriate labourers
  • assess the flow of emigrant labourers and fall in remittances
  • assess the impact of loss of employment on the emigrant households’ in the country of origin; and
  • identify the measures undertaken by various stakeholders to mitigate the adverse effects


Assessing the Effectiveness of Agri-Food Value Chain Interventions Aimed at Enhancing Consumption of Nutritious Food by the Poor: Conceptual Framework

28 Jan 2016 02:38:15 GMT

South Asia has experienced rapid economic growth, yet it still has the highest rate of child malnutrition in the world, and half the population is undernourished. Besides children, undernutrition among women and adolescent girls is also a major concern. The lack of progress in solving undernutrition, in all its guises, reflects in part the complexity of factors involved.

There is increasing interest in the links between agriculture and nutrition outcomes in consumers who derive some or all of their food through markets. Seeing that many households rely on food purchases for all or part of their nutrient intake, attention is being given to the scope for developing and improving the functionality of agri-food value chains for better nutrition. Also, many households in South Asia rely on market purchases seasonally or year round, for some or all of their dietary needs. For these people, access to food depends upon how the food markets function.

This paper lays out a conceptual framework to guide the analysis of value chain-based interventions aimed at enhancing the intake of micronutrient-dense foods in South Asia under the LANSA research programme. It describes in broad detail how this framework is employed to undertake a series of case studies of value chain-based interventions aimed at increasing consumption of nutrient-dense foods in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. The conceptual framework specifically focuses on understanding the effectiveness of interventions in enhancing the performance of food markets in terms of the availability, affordability, acceptability and consumption of nutritious foods by the poor on a sustained basis, with particular emphasis on infants and women of child-bearing age. The ultimate aim is to identify the most effective strategies for ensuring that nutritious foods get to the poor and are eaten and draw lessons that can inform policy in the region.

Swapping the stick for a broom: Men supporting women in local politics in India, EMERGE Case Study 4

25 Jan 2016 04:28:08 GMT

Women’s engagement, leadership and decision making in the public sphere continues to be suppressed in much of rural India. It is controlled by cultural norms which place women as subordinate to men, and prescribe their roles as confined to the domestic sphere. . Understanding and supporting women’s pathways of empowerment within and between private and public life continues to be a feminist struggle for women’s rights and gender equality. This paper shares findings of case study research exploring how work with men can contribute to this process of change, and support women’s participation in public and political life. The work of the Samajhdar Jodidar (meaning ‘understanding partner’) project in rural Maharashtra, provides an interesting, and important example of the role men can play in contributing to progressive social change on women’s public participation. 

Research with 42 men and women involved in this initiative, either directly as activists or as key stakeholders, including women local government representatives, provides some important lessons for how this kind of approach can work. Importantly the commitment to democratic accountability on gender equality spans both private and public spheres. Men first work through consciousness raising to transform their own practices within their homes and intimate relationships. This provides a platform for social action in the wider community and enables trusting relationships to be built with women to work together to drive political change. Demanding accountability from existing legal mechanisms for affirmative action on women’s participation and transforming local level institutions from within have been important strategic areas. 

We do it ourselves: Nijera Kori and the struggle for economic and gender justice in Bangladesh', EMERGE Case Study 2

25 Jan 2016 03:44:46 GMT

Deep-rooted patriarchal systems uphold gender and class-based inequalities in Bangladesh, within which the issue of land distribution and use remains integral to the transformation of poverty for a large number of women and men. Nijera Kori is a national social movement organising landless people to claim their rights and challenge the discrimination that constrains their agency and development. Through qualitative research, backed up by an extensive secondary literature, this study explores how and why men and women are working together for the gender equality objectives of this movement, and how these relate to wider economic justice goals. Across two sites in Northern Bangladesh the qualitative research engaged men and women from landless groups, Nijera Kori staff, and stakeholder groups.

The data indicates that by working to raise the consciousness of, and bridge relationships between men and women, Nijera Kori’s approach reflects differential entry points for analysing gendered power and the importance of synchronising work between men and women for gender equality. Furthermore, a commitment to democratic practice in the movement helps realise shared commitments to gender equity. This approach has enabled men and women to address women’s rights issues, tackle corruption in public service provision and claim land rights. Domains for change reach family and community, breaking down barriers to women’s participation in public life. At the household level the redistribution of caring roles among men and women has emerged and the community collective agreements on dowry and early marriage suggests a degree of normative change. This report makes recommendations that men and women’s shared claims for interpersonal and political accountability through collective action are critical in enabling gender equitable pathways for economic justice.

The Himalayan climate and water atlas: impact of climate change on water resources in five of Asia's major river basins

24 Jan 2016 07:45:36 GMT

The first atlas of its kind, this new publication offers a comprehensive, regional understanding of the changing climate and its impact on water resources in five of the major river basins in the region: the Indus, Brahmaputra, Ganges, Salween and Mekong.
The atlas shows clearly that the region’s climate, which has been changing rapidly, will continue to do so in the future, with severe consequences for populations locally and downstream. Some of the main points in the atlas include:

  • Temperatures across the mountainous Hindu Kush Himalayan region will increase by about 1–2°C (in some places by up to 4–5°C) by 2050.
  • Precipitation will change with the monsoon expected to become longer and more erratic.
  • Extreme rainfall events are becoming less frequent, but more violent and are likely to increase in intensity.
  • Glaciers will continue to suffer substantial ice loss, with the main loss in the Indus basin.
  • Communities living immediately downstream from glaciers are most vulnerable to glacial changes.
  • Despite overall greater river flow projected, higher variability in river flows and more water in pre-monsoon months are expected, which will lead to a higher incidence of unexpected floods and droughts, greatly impacting the livelihood security and agriculture of river-dependent people;
  • Changes in temperature and precipitation will have serious and far-reaching consequences for climate-dependent sectors, such as agriculture, water resources and health.

The atlas includes recommendations to encourage policy makers to develop flexible and cooperative strategies between countries in order to deal with increased variability and to meet the challenges posed by either too much or too little water.

The findings are drawn from several years of research under the Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme (HICAP), with external reviews from international experts.

The project is funded by the governments of Norway and Sweden.

Low-carbon south Asia: India

04 Jan 2016 05:17:19 GMT

A key development challenge for India is addressing poverty and deprivation through inclusive sustainable development. One-third of the global poor, living on less than $1.25 a day, are in India – the highest in any country.

In 2009/10, the number of people living below the official Indian poverty line was 354.7 million – 29.8 per cent of India’s population.

Energy poverty is another dimension of the development challenge, especially when it comes to providing a decent living standard for the vast majority – 32.7% of Indian households do not have access to electricity. Furthermore, many of the households that do have access are often supplied electricity for a very short period of time and thus continue to rely upon kerosene for lighting their homes.

Where urban demand is a high energy demand, the report suggests solutions in four key areas:

  • Extending the existing Energy Conservation Building Code.
  • A greater emphasis on urban waste management and recycling, including power production from waste.
  • Strengthening the enforcement of automotive fuel economy standards and using pricing measures to encourage the purchase of efficient vehicles.
  • Incentives for the use of public transportation.

A review of case studies and emission reductions concludes the report, after a series of recommendations to support policy changes for a switch to low-carbon energy solutions.

Gender, headship, and the life cycle: Landownership in four Asian countries

18 Dec 2015 03:42:06 GMT

Despite increasing evidence that households do not always function as one, policies regarding land and property rights are often formulated at the household level, assuming the primary adult male is the landowner.

Because land policy reform has typically focused on changing household, rather than individual, rights to land, many of the data are collected at the household rather than the individual level. As a result of a combination of these factors, securing women’s land rights has remained a largely unaddressed issue by policymakers.

So as to inform the formulation of policies and interventions to strengthen women’s land rights, this paper analyzes nationally representative data from Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam to understand the processes by which men and women acquire land; the social, cultural, and legal institutions surrounding gender and landownership; and the role of individual and household characteristics influencing an individual’s ability to own land.

The reserachers' findings that women own less land than do men across different types of household structures and that gender inequality increases with household landholdings suggests that women’s land rights need to be strengthened within marriage and protected should the marriage dissolve. Although the impacts of gender-sensitive land policy reform are not well researched, early findings on policy reforms such as joint titling in Vietnam show that policies to strengthen women’s land rights have the potential to improve women’s well-being as well as their children’s without detrimental effects on productivity.

Findings of gender inequalities in intrahousehold land allocation and of increasing inequality as households accumulate land suggest an agenda for future research and policy that strengthens the land rights of women, particularly within marriage

Bangladesh in 2015

16 Dec 2015 02:09:53 GMT

Contrary to its violent beginning and potential of political instability, the year 2014 was generally marked by peace and tranquility in Bangladesh. The new government led by Sheikh Hasina was able to consolidate its power and authority through the year. The international community extended cooperation and support to the new government to a great extent, defying the conventional wisdom of political analysts at home and abroad. Sheikh Hasina demonstrated her diplomatic acumen to garner global support for Bangladesh as well as her new government. Starting with back‐to‐back high profile visits to the Asian power houses, Japan and China, Bangladesh continued strong relations with India despite the change in political regime in the latter. The major actors in the Western world ‐ the US and EU ‐ continued strong bilateral relations with Bangladesh while maintaining their basic positions about the need for inclusive and participatory elections in Bangladesh. Although the Hasina regime sailed through the first anniversary of its rule following the 5 January elections, the year 2015 has brought with it surprise and uncertainty in the political landscape of Bangladesh. In looking ahead, this paper looks at some critical issues which are likely to dominate the discourse in Bangladesh politics. 

Transforming forest conflicts in Asia-Pacific: A capacity development approach

23 Nov 2015 10:47:09 GMT

Asia-Pacific is a forest conflict hotspot as too often forest governance and management excludes the interests and values of local and indigenous people, who see their rights increasingly diminished as the allocation of forestland to private sector entities and conservation areas intensifies.

This paper is intended to raise awareness of mediation as a tool for transforming forest conflict, and in our training programs through development of, for example, an advanced conflict mediation manual.

It aims to help build and strengthen the capacity of a network of conflict transformation practitioners from governments, NGOs, private sector and community organizations.

Overall recommendations are outlined for achieving conflict transformation through prevention and policy initiatives and conclude with a comprehensive capacity development programmatic approach towards transforming forest conflict to include five mutually reinforcing and interwoven activities.




Counter-terrorism in South Asia: new threats call for deeper cooperation

30 Oct 2015 02:02:43 GMT

With foreign forces drawing down in Afghanistan, there is an inevitable loss of focus on the threat of terrorism in the highly vulnerable region of South Asia. But almost every country in the region, barring Bhutan, continues to confront the challenges of terrorism and
insurgency. Yet there appears little sense of the danger posed by terrorism, and its 'new' forms that ride the wave of technology and the collapse of traditional state structures. The story of counter-terrorism (CT) in the region has been that of individual countries crafting distinct strategies to deal with a problem which has long ago gone trans-national. Attempts at crafting a regional approach have not been absent but sporadic and ineffective. This paper argues that the unfolding new wave of terrorism poses a far greater threat than the countries in South Asia have faced before and will therefore need a more integrated, regional approach to counter it effectively.

The countries in the region, without exception, realise the need for capacity building in CT. Considerable progress has been made on many of these fronts but a great deal more needs to be done. The political leadership of the region must seize the initiative and ensure that the conventions and covenants agreed upon are implemented in a given timeframe.

Newer forms of threat need fresh insights and resolutions. Delays in creating an effective framework against terrorism, in all its manifestations, could seriously undermine the collective effort to live in a stable and progressive environment. There has to be a regional
commitment to tackle terrorism with a clear unambiguous definition of terrorism and what constitutes terrorist activity. The region will not
make progress in dealing with this ominous threat unless it learns to handle these threats unequivocally.

ASEAN-India economic relations: opportunities and challenges

15 Oct 2015 10:57:27 GMT

India-ASEAN relations have witnessed remarkable growth in recent years. At the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in 2012 in New Delhi, relations were levated to a Strategic Partnership. Relations have also received new momentum under the Act East Policy. The relationship is set to deepen in days to come as the two sides step up their collaboration across a range of economic and strategic issues, including trade and connectivity, culture, people-to-people contacts, trans-national terrorism, and maritime security. 

With ASEAN and India working towards establishing a Comprehensive Free Trade Area through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), their cooperation will be key to promoting political stability and economic prosperity in our shared region. The Third Roundtable of AINTT, which was held at Hanoi, Vietnam on 25-26 August 2014, discussed a number of key issues that are relevant from the point of view of deepening ASEAN-India relations. Representatives of think-tanks presented several ideas, which would be found useful by policymakers and other stakeholders working on deepening the economic ties between the two partners.

This paper covers the Proceedings of the Roundtable of the ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks (AINTT).



Output 4 Options Analysis: options analysis for a regional climate change programme to deliver more effective climate services, early warning and disaster risk reduction

15 Oct 2015 10:07:27 GMT

South Asian countries are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events, climate variability and longer-term climatic changes due to high population density, poverty, and lack of resources for adaptation.

This report provides an Options Analysis for a South Asia regional programme on climate services for risk reduction and economic growth. It is the fourth output of a scoping project, which has reviewed evidence on climate services, early warning systems and disaster risk reduction in selected countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Burma. It considers four options for DFID investment with different emphases on the ‘supply’ or ‘demand’ sidei of climate information provision and use, the choice of sectors, geographical focus and finally the appropriate delivery mechanisms for implementing the programme. The proposed investments range from £5 million to £145 million. The lowest cost options involve small-scale research and innovation projects with targeted support to country offices or existing donor programmes, whereas the larger options include significant capital expenditure on weather observations and investment in national hydrological and meteorological services.

Topic Guide: Developing regional infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Unblocking constraints and enabling effective policy intervention

15 Oct 2015 09:47:13 GMT

Developing infrastructure enables structural transformation, which accelerates economic growth and reduces poverty. This is of particular importance in South Asia and Africa, where the lack of regional infrastructure is constraining economic growth. Therefore this Topic Guide, produced by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), provides an expert overview of regional infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The guide focuses on how to unblock constraints and enable effective policy intervention to achieve greater benefits.

Regional infrastructure development is one of the most challenging areas for execution. However, it also has the potential for significant acceleration of economic development in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and sometimes can have a peace-building role. This is of particular value for fragile countries or countries which are on the cusp of becoming fragile.

These potential benefits and challenges need to be reflected in DFID business cases. Business cases that make the case for further engagement in regional infrastructure will need to consider the following four issues to ensure successful implementation of regional integration projects:

  • creating and maintaining a political space
  • regional governance arrangements to ensure that projects are sustainable and provide the right context
  • financing, which is likely to involve public and private finance from different sources for a long-term period
  • implementation, maintenance and operational issues, which will involve setting up accountable management structures for project implementation and arrangements to cover maintenance and operation over the longer run
Even if engagement is planned in only one of these areas, success in one area will depend on success in the other areas. Financing, implementing, maintaining and operation of a regional infrastructure project will be easier when regional governance arrangements are more effective. However, just setting up the regional governance arrangements are no guarantee that all regional infrastructure projects will achieve funding and will reach successful implementation.

The 3As: Tracking resilience across BRACED

15 Oct 2015 09:29:14 GMT

Resilience is generally understood as the ability of systems to function in the face of disturbance (Holling, 1973). There has been a substantial push to operationalise this concept to reduce the vulnerability of marginalised communities. While development actors across the world recognise the potential of resilience thinking, operationalising the concept presents a number of conundrums. 

Funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) is one of the largest resilience programmes globally. This initiative aims to help people become more resilient to climate-induced shocks and stresses in South and Southeast Asia, East Africa and the Sahel. Grants have been awarded to 15 consortia, with projects covering a wide range of issues, from securing, servicing and promoting transborder livestock mobility across the Sahel, to sharing skills and technology to improve uptake of climate information in Ethiopia, to supporting smallholder farmers in Nepal to take advantage of economic opportunities and investments in climate-smart technologies (Harvey 2015, forthcoming). 

There is now a growing body of literature that recognises that resilience is highly contextual and pathways to enhancing it vary greatly from one location to the next (Carpenter et al., 2001). The projects funded under BRACED will produce a diverse set of outcomes based on the varied hazards, vulnerabilities and socioeconomic characteristics of the locales in which they are unfolding. 

This paper presents an explanatory conceptual framework for measuring resilient outcomes that embraces and makes sense of this diversity. Outcomes from BRACED projects are understood to be a set of interrelated resilience capacities – the capacity to adapt to, anticipate and absorb climate extremes and disasters (the 3As). The 3As framework can organise practical actions or processes, but which of the 3As they fall into can vary depending on the context, as actions and processes can overlap and interact.

The recalibration of middle powers under conditions of stress and opportunity

14 Oct 2015 09:53:58 GMT

Today’s global environment puts pressure on the so-called middle-power countries to project their identity and national interests. The current paper shows that middle powers have chosen different approaches to reinforce their identification.

The document demonstrates that the members of the BRICS grouping (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have shown a willingness to work within other multilateral institutions, notably the Group of Twenty forum (G-20), as a means of status enhancement. However, some other countries have chosen to reinforce their identification with middle-power status, as witnessed by the creation of the Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Australia grouping (MIKTA). Furthermore, a country might choose to consolidate on its core international engagements, as witnessed by the trajectory of Canada’s diplomatic approach over the decades.

The author underlines that the impact of these choices is highly salient:

  • for MIKTA, the key will be to move from just talk to some form of collective niche activity
  • for South Africa, the important thing will be to highlight the benefits of engaging with BRICS without any detrimental economic or reputational damage
  • for Canada, it will be to demonstrate that the highly instrumental diplomatic approach is consistent with its image as a global player



Silk, cinnamon and cotton: emerging power strategies for the Indian Ocean and the implications for Africa

07 Oct 2015 10:15:28 GMT

This paper sheds light on the growing array of strategic visions for the Indian Ocean from an African lens, focusing particularly on the role that South Africa could play in this area.

The paper notes that China, India and Indonesia are articulating national and regional approaches to this critical global waterway. However, it argues that it is of vital importance that the African continent recognises the implications of these initiatives, their development and geo-strategic impact on Africa, and works actively to integrate its own planning towards this key marine resource highway.

In this sense, the authors believe that South Africa should consider enunciating a policy framework that encapsulates its maritime interests – security, political and economic. More broadly, South Africa should work within the regional and sub-regional organisations to take forward key elements of the AU’s African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) and the oceans economy, while fleshing out Africa’s geostrategic maritime interests.

Conclusions are that:

  • Africa’s limited maritime capacity, linked with the need to tackle both traditional and non-traditional security threats, necessitates building partnerships with its neighbours and pooling resources where possible in this regard
  • there is room for greater co-operation among the regional economic communities along the ocean’s littoral to pool resources in tackling some of the key security and sustainability challenges

Towards 'Make in South Asia': Evolving regional values chains

02 Oct 2015 11:19:22 GMT

One of the most important ways in which several of the common developmental challenges in South Asia could be addressed is by focusing on manufacturing. In the new context, manufacturing becomes key to creating Regional Value Chains (RVCs) in South Asia along with its potential to serve as the engine of growth. For this to happen, the paper presents the theoretical canvass emphasising the need to adopt an integrated approach towards trade in goods, trade in services and investment in a regional framework. In this context, rules of origin within the realm of trade in goods can serve as important instruments for ensuring manufacturing and local value addition besides achieving developmental outcomes like employment generation in all factors of production. Insights from the status of the manufacturing sector in India, followed by an analysis of trade in manufactured products, are further used to empirically identify product-country-wise possibilities for creating RVCs.

To address some of the constraints to these processes, the paper makes some policy-suggestions towards the Make in South Asia initiative.