Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
"MFIs have proved that poor can also save," said Shankar Man Shrestha, chief executive officer of Rural Microfinance Development Centre (RMDC) addressing the pre-conference press meet of regional conference on 'Microfinance in SAARC Countries: Sharing Lessons & Way Forward' here in the Valley today.
Institute of Microfinance (InM), Bangladesh and RMDC in cooperation with the SAARC Secretariat are jointly organising the first ever regional conference on microfinance on November 30-December 1.
"The conference aims at disseminating the findings of InM governed study on 'State of Microfinance in SAARC Countries' among the stakeholders in microfinance sector throughout the region," informed Dr Amanullah (Mak) Khan, interntional team leader and advisor at the Promoting Financial Services for Poverty Reductio (PROSPER) Programme under DFID in Bangladesh.
"The conference is also expected to bring together the eminent persons from microfinance sector like policymakers, renowned academicians, practitioners, stakeholders and representatives from SAARC member countries to appraise the successes and challenges of the sector," he said, adding that around 220 participants from eight SAARC countries, including Nepal will take part in the two-day regional conference.
'State of Microfinance in SAARC Countries' report is a part of InM's long term study to publish reports on the state of microfinance in different regions of the world.
"The key issues like sustainability and regulations of the Microfinance Institutions (MFIs), knowledge sharing, lessons learning from inter-country experience will also be part of the conference," Khan added. "The outcome will help policymakers and practitioners create and implement significant policy guidelines for the sector."
"At the end of the conference, the SAARC Declaration on microfinance will be released," said InM interim executive director Dr Md Mosleh Uddin Sadeque.
hailing Nepal's progress on MDGs, InM chairman Prof Wahiduddin Mahmud said that microfinnace has taken banking to the doorstep of the poor helping the country achieve MDGs. "The poverty alleviation programme and innovative way of banking of Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) caters to poor," he said, addong that South Asain microfinance has a human face unlike in other regions.
"The idea of microfinance in its modern form is something for which South Asia can deservedly claim the intellectual property right," Mahmud added.
"The varied and rich experiences gathered from these programmes provide a unique opportunity for the countries of the region to share knowledge and revisit the idea of microfinance from various institutional and policy-making perspectives," Shrestha said, adding that Microfinance represents an evolving and dynamic system that has shown its capacity to adjust to various socio-cultural settings and respond to the changing and varied needs of the poor.
KATHMANDU: The RMDC and InM are planning to create a forum Know MicroFm for advance reserach, capacity building and advocacy for the microfinance sector. The forum will also be helpful in seeking colaboration with international agencies as well but it will take a little while on giving it a final shape
On December 4 and 5, in over twenty locations around the world, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, NASA and The World Bank will host the third Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK), their progressive initiative that brings together volunteer software developers and experts in disaster risk management for a weekend-long “hackathon” to create software solutions that can help mitigate or respond to disasters around the world and help save lives.
This RHoK will see events being hosted in locations including Atlanta, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Seattle, in the United States and internationally in Toronto, Canada; Aarhus, Denmark; Berlin, Germany; Bangalore, India; Birmingham, UK; Jakarta, Indonesia; Nairobi, Kenya; Lusaka, Zambia; Mexico City, Mexico; Bogota, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Singapore; Tel Aviv, Israel and São Paolo, Brazil.
“Microsoft is honored to support this global community of developers committed to making a difference,” said Curt Kolcun, Vice President, Microsoft US Public Sector. “While Microsoft has a tenured global crisis management team focused on accelerating the impact technology can have, it’s fantastic to see a complimentary effort like Random Hacks of Kindness performing this kind of sustainable development work while at the same time connecting developer communities with disaster risk experts around the world.”
"Random Hacks of Kindness goes to the heart of what we believe at Google; that the creative and cooperative use of technology can help make the world a better place and that collective intelligence is strength,” said Vint Cerf, Google Chief Internet Evangelist and popularly known as the “Father of the Internet.”
The first RHoK event was held in Mountain View, California in November 2009 and resulted in applications that were later used on the ground during the devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. The second RHoK hackathon was held simultaneously in six countries around the world in June 2010 and one of the winning applications from the Washington D.C. event - a tool that allows engineers to easily visualize landslide risk to help guide urban and rural development and building planning - is already being piloted by the World Bank in the Caribbean.
“We’re trying to use technology to make the world a better place,” said Todd Khozein from SecondMuse, RHoK’s operational lead. “The event gives hackers the opportunity to use their skills for a noble cause with the guidance of experts who understand the real world challenges.”
“Yahoo! is proud to be a part of the Random Hack of Kindness effort and draw upon our history and knowledge in fostering collaboration and technological innovation among developers,” said Raymie Stata Chief Technology Officer, Yahoo!. “We are looking forward to seeing how technology can give people and organizations the tools to improve disaster relief efforts and help save lives.”
"NASA is proud to be supporting Random Hacks of Kindness and promote wider usage of our open data to solve the world’s greatest challenges," said NASA CIO Linda Cureton.
"We are glad to support the growth of this dedicated community of volunteers using their skills to tackle disaster risk management challenges,” said Inger Andersen, World Bank vice-president of Sustainable Development. "That is why we are working closely with the hackers so they continue to develop practical applications such as the landslide risk reduction tool 'Chasm', one of the winners of the last event. We're excited to see how this volunteer community evolves and what software solutions it will come up with in the future."
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Launching UNCTAD Least Developed Countries Report 2010: Towards a new international development architecture for LDCs' here today in the Valley he said that Nepal has paid the price of Maoists insurency.
Nepal 's national income (GNI) per capita is only the half at $568 than it needs to graduate from LDCs.
According to the UN, LDC is a country that has low-income (three-year average GNI per capita of less than $905, which must exceed $1,086 to graduate to the DCs; human resource weakness -- based on indicators of nutrition, health, education and adult literacy -- and economic vulnerability -- based on instability of agricultural production, instability of exports of goods and services, economic importance of non-traditional activities, merchandise export concentration, handicap of economic smallness, and the percentage of population displaced by natural disasters.
"Though, Nepal has done fairly better in social front, it could not do much in the economic front," he added.
UN Resident and Humaniterian coordinator of the UN Systems in Nepal Robert Piper said that Nepal has made the fatest growth amont the LDCs, though sustainability is under question due to high dependency on external resources. "Dependency on external resources should gone down for sustainable development," he said, adding that except energy crisis, lack of infrastructure, there are a host of governance issues creating hurdles to the sustainable development.
Presenting the UNCTAD's annual report on LDCs Prof Bishwanath Tiwari said that only two LDCs graduated to DCs in last three decades.
In 1994 Botswana and in 2007 Cape Verde graduated from the category of LDC to the DCs. Out of the total 49 LDCs, 33 are in Africa, 10 are in Asia, one is in Americas and five are in Oceania. Nepal is the current chair of LDCs group in the UN.
The annual report said that the 49 least-developed countries (LDCs) had, however, weathered the global downturn better than had been anticipated. But they remained trapped in 'boom-bust cycles' that hit their resource-dependent economies.
"The number of people living in extreme poverty has increased by three million per year during the boom years of 2002-2007, reaching an estimated 421 million in 2007 - twice as many as in 1980," the report said, adding that during the boom years, the LDC group as a whole averaged annual growth rates of seven per cent. "But their dependence on exports of primary commodities increased overall and in over half of the 49 LDCs, the manufacturing share of the countries' total value added actually declined."
The subsequent financial crisis and recession of 2008-2009 led to a significant growth slowdown in the large majority of poorer countries, UNCTAD said.
Export revenues for LDCs were down by 26 per cent in 2009, while foreign direct investment (FDI) contracted by 13 per cent compared with the previous year. But the good news was that average GDP growth in LDCs, which reached 4.3 per cent in 2009, was higher than in other developing countries and developed countries.
The report also recommended that the poorest nations broaden their economies so that they benefited from, but became less dependent on, commodities such as raw natural resources.
It will be the second international flight of Buddha Air after Paro, Bhutan.
"Buddha Air is flying every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday in a week to Lucknow," the Airlines said, adding that the three scheduled flights every week on the Kathmandu-Lucknow-Kathmandu will help ease the pressure of the air travellers as Lucknow has a very good connectivity to other Indian cities.
"Currently it is flying with 47-seater ATR-42 aircraft," Marketing Chief of the airlines Rupesh Joshi said, adding that the depending on passenger flow, it could start 70-seater ATR -72-500 aircraft. "One can fly to Lucknow for Rs 5,600 excluding tax."
One of the biggest private airlines in the country is also planning to add flights to other different cities in India like Guwahati, Kolkata, Patna, Banaras, Gorakhpur and Deharadun soon, said the airlines.
After the revised Air Service Agreement (ASA) with India, Nepali private airlines and Indian Airlines, both can start cross border flights trying to make cross border air travel more cheaper between the two South Asian neighbours.
Earlier, Necon Air, Cosmic Air and Air Nepal used to fly to Indian cities and abroad. Currently, after the national flag carrier Nepal Airlines that flies to New Delhi, Buddha Air is the only airlines that is flying cross border.
After its 13 years of domestic services, Buddha Air has started its first international flight from Kathmandu to Paro, Bhutan on August 23. The airlines has been operating four scheduled flights every week with its Beech 1900D aircraft that has a capacity of carrying 16 passengers.
During tourist season, Buddha Air is planning to operate one flight daily and can also add charter flights as per requirement, said the airline that is the fourth private airline flying across the border.
Buddha Air currently has 4 Beech 1900D aircrafts and can operate up to 12 flights to Paro daily. “It means Buddha Air has capacity to carry up to 192 passengers daily,” said the airlines, which added a new 70-seater aircraft ATR -72-500 recently. Buddha Air has a fleet of eight aircraft at present.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The western districts of Nepal are among the most deprived in terms of income and food security. The Road Sector Development Project (RSDP) began in early 2008 with an original grant of $ 42.6 million. With the additional financing, Nepal will extend and complete the upgrading of 405-km of dry season roads to all weather standard and connect the district headquarters of Darchula, Bajhang, Kalikot, Jumla Jajarkot and Rukum to country's strategic road network.
These roads are in addition to the 297-km being upgraded in the ongoing phase of the project. The new funds will also finance the rehabilitation of sections of roads in Dailekh, Darchula, Baitadi, Bajhang and Kalikot, which were damaged by the monsoon floods last year.
"The Roads Sector Development Project has exceeded its original targets despite often difficult conditions,” said Susan Goldmark, World Bank Country Director for Nepal. "This remarkable progress speaks to the fact that roads are a high priority for people living in remote areas and that they find ways to overcome differences to achieve their collective interests. This additional financing will help over 1.4 million more Nepalis benefit from all weather roads."
The project will also support the periodic maintenance of 2,100-km of blacktop strategic roads, selected on the basis of the government’s maintenance priorities and its annual road condition surveys.
In addition, the project will continue to support institutional strengthening of the Department of Roads and the Roads Board of Nepal, as well as support the National Vigilance Centre in carrying out technical audits of the roads.
"Nepal has the second lowest road network density in South Asia,” said Surendra Govinda Joshi, transport specialist at the World Bank. "Only about 40 per cent of the population has access to paved roads within 20 minutes walking distance. Out of 75 districts in Nepal, 17 are still deprived of all weather access to the main transport network,” he said.
The RSDP additional financing is a blend of credit ($ 41.26 million) and grant ($ 33.74 million) from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm.