›March 10, 2014 // By ECSP Staff
I meet Keo Mao, 42, in the floating fishing village of Akol on Cambodia’s Lake Tonle Sap. The houses here move seasonally with the lake, which expands by a factor of five during the monsoon rains and recedes again in the dry months. Fish supply about 80 percent of the animal protein eaten by Cambodians, and about 60 percent of the inland catch comes from the Tonle Sap.
›February 20, 2014 // By ECSP Staff
In the sleepy northern Thai border town of Huay Luk, a community leader, Pornsawan Boontun, still remembers the day when villagers netted a Mekong giant catfish more than a decade ago. The fish weighed 615 pounds, and it surprised everyone since the elusive species has never been common in this stretch of river.
›February 14, 2014 // By ECSP Staff
What do melting Himalayan glaciers have to do with food security in Cambodia? Not much, thought an aid practitioner trying to boost food security along the lower reaches of the Mekong River – until she heard a colleague working on the Tibetan Plateau describe the downstream implications of climate change in the Himalayas. Everything she was working on, she suddenly realized, could be literally washed away.
What does Himalayan ice melt have to do with food security in Cambodia? A lot, when they both significantly affect the flow of the Mekong River. But when it comes to long-term planning across topical and regional lines, development agencies aren’t always as collaborative as they could be – both externally and internally.
The past three years – and more pointedly the past 12 months – have laid witness to monumental, if not heartbreaking, incidents of gender-based violence. The gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi last December; the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl left for dead in a pit latrine in Western Kenya last June; the mass sexual assault of women in Tahrir Square during the 2011 revolution in Egypt and since; all were high profile atrocities that ignited outrage around the world.
Dark Forests: Interview With Bopha Phorn on Investigating Land Deals, Logging, Gender Issues in Cambodia›
Cambodia is a young democracy in transition. It has the highest rate of urbanization in Southeast Asia, but the lowest percentage of current urban dwellers and widespread poverty. The Mekong River, on which millions of rural Cambodians rely, is being dammed at a rapid pace, both upstream, beyond the country’s borders, and within. Aided by weak land laws, both foreign and domestic industrial forces have staked claim to large swaths of the country for logging and rubber plantations, displacing thousands.
›August 1, 2013 // By Kathleen Mogelgaard
Cambodia to grow by nearly one-third by 2050; Kenya to more than double; Mali to swell to three times its current size. These were the population projections available when Feed the Future, President Obama’s global hunger and food security initiative, was beginning implementation in 19 focus countries around the globe in 2010.
›“The gains we have made [in reducing maternal mortality rates] are remarkable; however, gains are fragile and donor resources are declining. Substantial investments must be maintained to safeguard these hard-wins,” said Afghan Minister of Health Suraya Dail at the Wilson Center on April 23. [Video Below]
As part of the Wilson Center’s Global Health Initiative, the Advancing Dialogue to Improve Maternal Health series partnered with the U.S. Agency for International Development to co-host Minister Dail, along with Honorable Dr. Mam Bunheng, Minister of Health, Cambodia; Honorable Dr. Bautista Rojas Gómez, Minister of Health, Dominican Republic; and Dr. Fidele Ngabo, Director of Maternal and Child Health, Ministry of Health, Rwanda.
These ministers spoke about the lessons learned in countries where there has been tremendous progress under challenging circumstances.
In the Dominican Republic, Bautista Rojas Gomez said the first challenge was to address the “Dominican paradox,” where maternal mortality rates were high despite the fact that 97 percent of women received prenatal care and delivered in hospitals. The government created a zero tolerance policy that included a comprehensive surveillance system, mandatory maternal death audits, and community oversight of services, which assured better quality services.
Similar political commitment improved indicators in Cambodia, where maternal mortality rates dropped from 472 to 206 per year from 2005 to 2010. “It takes a village…and the prime minister has inspired the country to act,” said Mam Bunheng. Through increased access to contraception the number of children per woman went from seven to three and commitment to family planning, education, technology, infrastructure, and community have been the key drivers of success.
“In Rwanda, the big challenge we are having is education,” said Fidele Ngabo. “Many of the maternal health indicators depend on education.” When women and girls are educated they are twice as likely to utilize modern contraception. The efforts of Rwanda’s government have been instrumental in facilitating positive change, he said, particularly the efforts of First Lady Jeannette Kagame, who he called a “champion” for women and girl’s health.
As witnessed throughout the Advancing Dialogue to Improve Maternal Health series – and reiterated by the ministers of health – the interventions to improve maternal mortality rates exist, what’s left is to generate the needed political willpower.
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