Traffic accidents account for 1.24 million deaths globally every year while estimates put that number at 3.6 million by the year 2030. In developing countries, this projection would put traffic deaths ahead of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and many other common causes of death, according to a Global Burden of Disease study.

Those dying in road accidents are typically young, male and living in poverty.

Roughly 50% of global traffic fatalities occur in developing countries, and according to Jose Luis Irigoyen, a World Bank traffic safety expert, the costs of such a high number of road deaths are a “poverty-inducing problem.”

He estimates that low and middle income countries lose 1 to 3% of their GDP on road fatalities, which Irigoyen says could counterbalance the billions given in aid money to these developing nations.

The UN General Assembly in 2010 adopted a resolution that established a “Decade of Action for Road Safety,” its goal to stabilize the number of road fatalities and then reduce them as much as possible. The resolution estimates that 5 million lives could be saved during this time.

A Washington Post article on the topic of road fatalities highlighted four countries with particularly infamous driving records. In Indonesia, an average of 120 people die in road accidents every day. “When a jumbo jet crashes, it’s big news,” World Bank transport specialist Mustapha Benmaamar states. “But here, these people die in silence.”

Indonesian figures represent roughly two plane crashes per week.

Moreover, a surge in motorcycle use has largely contributed to a massive increase in the number of road deaths—from about 8,000 per year in 2002 to over 16,500 in 2007, and doubling once more in 2010. Motorcycles accounted for 60% of those fatalities.

Benmaamar asserts, “You reach a tipping point when these deaths are perceived not as something accidental, but as a result of a problem that has to be tackled. Only then will you see the fatalities start to drop. Indonesia has not reached that point.”

Experiencing even more road deaths per day than Indonesia is Nigeria, which has the worst driving figures in Africa. There are about 34 road-related deaths for every 100,000 people in the country, according to a 2013 World Health Organization report.

Nigeria’s Federal Road Safety Commission points to high speeds as the culprit behind so many traffic fatalities, though poorly maintained roads, loosely obeyed traffic laws and lax driver’s license requirements contribute to making the country one of the most dangerous places in the world in which to drive a vehicle.

On another note, traffic accidents cause three times more deaths in Colombia than its internal armed conflict. However, the country’s situation has improved over the years. Since the mid-1990s, road fatalities and accidents have decreased significantly, falling from 7,847 deaths in 1995 to 5,502 in 2010. Progress appears to be stalled, however, as fatalities in 2012 increased by 3% from the previous year.

With a goal of achieving better outcomes by 2016, Colombian leaders have begun to focus on addressing and rectifying the nation’s top cause of traffic-related fatalities—motorcycles and their passengers, accounting for 70% of road deaths in Colombia.

Helmet laws, strict license and road regulations, better motorcycle safety and a mental shift away from seeing road accidents as merely “accidents” could eventually curb the number of global traffic deaths.

Kaylie Cordingley

Sources: Washington Post, Colombia Reports
Photo: The Promota

The Act of Killing, directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, is a documentary/investigative film on the 1965 genocide in Indonesia.  In 1965, the Indonesian government was overthrown in a military coup. Once the military government took over, the communist party of Indonesia was banned and anyone associated with communist activities was killed.  Eventually, the hunt for communists moved from the communist party to unions, intellectuals, farmers, ethnic Chinese and anyone in opposition to the new regime.

During this time, the United States and other western governments supported the communist hunt.  Headlines in the U.S. declared these killings a “victory over communism,” calling Indonesia “a gleam of light in Asia.” Within a few years over a million people were killed.

Oppenheimer traveled to Indonesia to speak to the victims of the communist hunt, but found that the people responsible for these killings were free, in positions of power, and happy to talk about their involvement in the killings.

He asked one of the killers, Anwar Congo, and his fellow gangsters to recreate their killings for his cameras.  The men were under the impression this would turn into a Hollywood-style movie that Americans would celebrate as they had celebrated their actions some fifty years ago. Anwar’s reenactments provide insight into the heroic characters these men believed they were, as well as the nightmarish consequences of living with the memories of killings.

The film follows Anwar and his friends around the city while they go about business as usual.  Anwar and his friends are wealthy by Indonesian standards, but live quite normal lives.  Moments of silly bantering, reminiscent exchanges and monotonous tasks make up about half of the movie.  These moments make viewers want to laugh at them, and worse, like them. There are several moments where one quickly forgets each of these men are responsible for the brutal murders of a thousand or more people.

In other scenes, viewers feel sorry for them as they recount nightmares and what could possibly be the onset of PTSD.  However, they never say they feel remorse.  All three stand by what they did—but they also all recognize that what they did was wrong.  As one of the killers puts it, “war crimes are defined by the winners.  I am a winner, so I define what is a war crime.”  They repeatedly say they would do it all over again if the communists tried an uprising.

The movie ends with Anwar playing a victim while his friend plays the torturer.  Anwar tries the scene three times, but each take he breaks down.  In tears he says, “Is this what my victims felt? I did this to so many people.”  The director reminds him that his victims must have felt worse, because Anwar knew it was only a movie while his victims knew they were going to die.  Anwar returns to his old “office” where he slaughtered people and begins to vomit.

In the end the viewers are left wanting these men tried by an international court for their crimes, but feeling like these men may already be suffering the consequences of their actions in 1965.

– Stephanie Lamm

Sources: The Act of Killing, Rotten Tomatoes
Photo: Slate

Indonesia Slum Trash Trade Healthcare
Gamal Albinsaid, an Indonesian doctor, is thinking outside the box with his new method for bringing healthcare to impoverished people. His new idea: trade trash for health services. While this concept may seem strange to many people, the strategy will essentially be resolving two of Indonesia’s major concerns: making healthcare available to people who cannot afford it and disposing of the huge amount of trash that accumulates in the cities and slums.

Through the Garbage Premium Insurance Clinic Program, Indonesians are able to pay for health insurance by  bringing the equivalent of $0.85 in garbage to a healthcare facility every month, instead of paying with cash. These health clinics then give the trash to a “garbage bank” and receive the cash amount. Dr. Albinsaid is proud to have developed a solution for both the healthcare and the garbage problems.

Dr. Albinsaid, who is only 23 years old, was moved by the fact that only 33 percent of Indonesians have health insurance. He is eager to commence the Garbage Premium Insurance Clinic Program to increase this number. The self sustainability of this program will ensure its longevity as a staple in Indonesian healthcare. Although the initial clinics required investor donations, the clinics were self sufficient after six months and able to generate enough profits to open new facilities.

The new system will be implemented in different areas all over the country, mostly in poverty ridden regions, but Indonesia is also improving healthcare in other ways. An improved universal healthcare initiative will potentially cover all its citizens by 2019. Questions over the realistic expectations of the universal healthcare system are being raised by economists as well as by ordinary citizens. Universal healthcare is set to be introduced January 2014, but if for some reason some Indonesians are not included, they have the option to trade garbage for health insurance.

– Mary Penn

Sources: Devex, Market Place
Photo: Flickr

Indonesia-Jakarta-Flood-Monsoon Rains
Despite Indonesia’s recent economic successes, children are continuing to struggle with poverty, education and healthcare. A two-day conference in Jakarta, Indonesia addressed these issues, as well and child labor, and discussed ways to alleviate young adolescents from harmful conditions.   Those who attended the conference advocated for child-specific poverty programs to finally bring a brighter future for thousands of children living in Indonesia.

As a country where 30 percent of its population (220 million people) is under the age of 15, Indonesia is home to child labor. The International Labour Organization estimates that 3.2 million young people, between the ages of 10 and 15, are working in harsh, unsafe conditions. Children this age often do not have access to education and must work to assist their impoverished families.

By only considering child poverty in terms of economics, Linda Gumelar, Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Minister, is worried that many other aspects of childcare will be overlooked. “The issue of development of children can’t be separated from successes in women’s empowerment and the achievement of gender equality in families,” she said. Healthcare, education, sanitation are all factors to be addressed.

Gumelar continued to discuss how Indonesia must break down child poverty into rural and urban areas, wealth distribution and other geographical distributions before the government can truly understand how to begin to solve the problem. A five year development plan is already being implemented; however, there are concerns over administrative monitoring and funding for certain regions.

Although those at the conference would like to see local communities taking on these child poverty programs, there have been problems in the past with unaccountability and lack of progress in less monitored areas.

With a more centralized approach, the children’s programs can be consistent and ubiquitous around Indonesia. With the government’s goal of reducing Indonesia’s overall poverty rate from over 10 percent to 8 percent, the reduction of child poverty and child labor is an admirable addition to the five year plan.

Mary Penn

Sources: Jakarta Globe, International Labour Organization


Facts about Child Labor



In 1962, the United Nations granted control of West Papua to the Indonesian government. Since then, more than 100,000 West Papuans have been killed or abducted by Indonesian forces with many others having been raped and tortured. The Indonesian military has also been responsible for destroying entire villages and village gardens. Though such atrocities have continued for more than 50 years, the United Nations has yet to intervene on behalf of the West Papuans.

On August 17, a group of activists, politicians and refugees set sail from Australia on what is being called the “West Papua Freedom Flotilla.” Speaking about the purpose of their voyage, activist Izzy Brown said, “West Papuans live in fear every day, in fear of the Indonesian military.” According to Brown, the participants’ aim is to raise awareness “about an issue that has for too long been ignored in the Australian and international media.”

After the fall of General Suharto in 1998, many democratic reforms were passed in Indonesia. But this did nothing to alleviate the brutal oppression of the people of West Papua. Murder and assassinations of political leaders have continued under the regime of current president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. A government ban on journalists and human rights organizations make it difficult for the international community to monitor the situation in West Papua.

Under Indonesian rule, many West Papuans have been jailed or murdered for resisting the government, displaying separatist flags or speaking out in support of a free West Papua. For example, activist Philip Karma was arrested in 2004 while participating in a peaceful protest of the Indonesian government and raising a Morning Star Flag, which is a Papuan symbol. For his actions, Mr. Karma is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence.

At the end of this month, the Freedom Flotilla will land in Papua New Guinea and attempt to enter West Papua. The Indonesian government has said that it intends to intercept the flotilla and turn away the participants. Hopefully, this event will help bring awareness to a conflict that has not received much media attention in the West. But if the past is any indication, even the Freedom Flotilla may escape the attention of the international media.

In 1994, Bishop Desmond Tutu issued a statement calling on the United Nations to intervene on behalf of the West Papuans. In that statement, he said, “The people of West Papua have been denied their basic human rights, including their right to self-determination. Their cry for justice and freedom has fallen largely on deaf ears.” Almost ten years later, there are still too few listening to the cries of the West Papuans.

– Daniel Bonasso

Sources: Democracy Now!, The Guardian
Photo: West Papua Media

breastfeeding Indonesia

In the world’s fourth most populated country, Indonesia, exclusive breastfeeding is less popular than one might think. Despite the well documented health benefits of breastfeeding such as healthy weight and naturally created nutrients, an Indonesian Demographic and Health Survey from 2002 and 2003 reported that only 14% of women in Indonesia breastfeed. In a more recent study, breast-feeding fell by 10% between 2007 and 2008.

These statistics prove to be disturbing in a country where, according to UNICEF, 37% of children suffer from malnutrition and stunting that results in the delay of mental and physical development which also leads to disease susceptibility. In a search to remedy the situation, formula companies are facing new laws and regulations that will prevent them from targeting mothers with children under the age of one. The Indonesian government estimates that 30,000 young children could be saved simply by being exclusively breastfed until the age of six months. After the six month bench mark, mothers are encouraged to supplement the diet with other foods.

Laws are already in place promoting breastfeeding, but do not have any repercussions for violation. The new laws will enforce the current regulations as well as implement new regulations for formula companies. Iip Syaiful, a nutrition expert from the Ministry of Health, said that the new laws will penalize companies and individuals that “intentionally hamper exclusive breastfeeding” and could face jail terms up to one year or maximum fines of US$32,000.

Regardless of the current laws, many women in Indonesia are guided towards formula use soon after giving birth. The Health Ministry admitted many health workers had “not received the knowledge about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding”.

– Kira Maixner
Source Irin News
Photo Kalyanamitra

Defining an Emerging Market
The term “emerging markets” was coined in 1981 at the International Finance Corporation when promoting the first mutual funding investments in developing countries. While the term is sometimes considered unhelpful, it is important to identify and define these markets. Emerging markets are a hot topic as they are predicted to surpass the US, German, and UK economies in the future.

There are three factors that distinguish an emerging market from a developed market. Firstly, rapid economic growth defines emerging markets. Great examples of emerging markets are Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS). In recent decades, these developing countries have boosted their large economies based on global capital, technology, and talent. The GDP growth rates of these countries have outpaced those of more developed economies, lifting millions out of poverty and creating new middle classes and large new markets for consumer products and services. The large labor pools of these countries give their economies a huge advantage over more developed economies.

The second factor that defines the emergence of a developing economy is how much competition it offers in comparison to developed markets. Along with the rapid pace of development, these countries pose serious competition to current dominant economies in developed countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Italy.

Lastly, emerging markets are often defined in terms of their financial situation and infrastructure. While their rapid growth and competitiveness are positive growth indicators, the amount of red-tape and inconsistencies involved in dealing with these markets marks them as emerging. Unfortunately, some argue that the corruption in these markets will halt them all together despite other growth factors.

While the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China are well on their way to surpassing “emergence”, the predicted emerging economies of the future are Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa (CIVETs). According to John Bowler, director of Country Risk Service at the Economist Intelligence Unit, the sizeable populations of some of these countries and the wealth of natural resources in others, just might make them the economic boomers of the next decade.

– Kira Maixner

Source CNN , Forbes
Photo ACF

Oxfam Fair Trade
Coffee is the second most-traded commodity and one of the most consumed drinks around the world. The consumption of coffee is a universal business within its own, for its demand is incredibly high worldwide. Drinking coffee has become almost second nature to many who can afford it. American author and journalist, Sarah Vowell, says that she realized that drinking a mocha, although seemingly trivial, was in fact “to gulp down the entire history of the New World.” She continues on to say that the modern mocha is nothing less than a “bittersweet concoction of imperialism, genocide, invention, and consumerism served with whipped cream on top.”

Taken into consideration how big of a role coffee plays in people’s lives today, one would think that people would know where their coffee was coming from and what kind of conditions it was produced in. However, the truth is to the contrary because many people have no idea what conditions coffee producers undergo. Approximately 25 million farmers depend on coffee production/sales to make their living, and many of them live in poverty. The coffee market is prone to severe fluctuations due to changes in climate which in turn affect the growth patterns of coffee plants. Due to the longevity of the growth of coffee plants, producers cannot react quickly to changes in coffee demand. Thus, this is where smart consumers can help poor people, and in particular, coffee producers.

As smart informed consumers, people can buy certified fair trade coffee which basically means that farmers and coffee producers are paid a fair and stable price regardless of changing conditions. A recent Oxfam Australia survey reports that more than 85% of consumers want more fair trade products in their supermarkets, and 60% believe that their consumer decisions can make a difference in the lives of producers and farmers in less-developed countries. Marcial Valladolid, from CACVRA, which is a small producer organization in Peru, expressed how coffee cultivation used to disappoint him because the money he made was not remotely close to cover the cost of his coffee production. CACVRA uses its fair trade premium to “support and improve organic cultivation and certification.” By joining this cooperative, Marcel is content that he was able to receive some profit, and he is hopeful for a future with more fair trade.

It is no wonder that coffee was once described by Neil Gaiman as “sweet as sin,” taking into account all the producers and farmers horribly affected by our enjoyment of their produce. Majority of coffee producers live in developing countries including Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Mexico. Luckily, our enjoyment can come as a better price as the conditions can change because certified fair trade products are becoming increasingly available and accessible through independent grocers, major supermarkets, and retail stores. Thus, making the switch to becoming a smart consumer could not be any easier today. Make the switch today and change people’s lives.

– Leen Abdallah

Sources: AU News, Good Reads
Photo: Google, Google

The New Stars of Emerging Markets
As the economy continues to expand, the stories of economic growth and development are shifting.  The new stars of emerging markets are beginning to rise and take the spotlight in the story of development.  Over the past decade, the most well-known stories of rising nations within emerging markets have been that of BRIC nations-Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Reporting double-digit growth numbers over the past several years has catapulted them to the top of the emerging markets.  However, their growth is starting to level off and has fallen back into single digits.  They are more stable and sustainable in their growth and have paved the way for new stars to take the spotlight.

Head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley Investments Ruchir Sharma believes the BRIC nations are beginning a period of slow-down and their slower growth will leave room for other nations to take center stage.  The stories of the BRIC nations are remarkable. China’s double-digit growth has turned the nation into a sustainable nation with a growing middle class.  This is a huge step in overall country development. The creation of a middle class provides additional opportunities for advancement and brings in outside investors to the nation who are interested in the increasing consumer spending capacity.

Who are the new stars?  Sharma says the nations to watch for are the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia, as well as parts of Latin America such as Peru, Chile, and Colombia. Political leaders in these countries are stable and have a strong understanding of economic reform. These nations have great potential to be the new emerging markets and double-digit growth-producing countries.

The Philippines is one of the most cost-competitive destinations of technology and business service centers. While India used to dominate the call-center world, the Philippines is fast becoming a strong competitor.  Indonesia has a strong commodity business to build economic strength and Thailand’s manufacturing sector continues to expand.

Beyond the potential new stars of emerging markets are several economies that have the ability to follow behind in the coming years. Nations like  Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka are beginning steps towards economic reform. According to Sharma, the winners of one decade are rarely winners in the next, but the emerging markets continue to be a strong factor in the global economy and a strong place for foreign investment. It will be a fascinating story to watch as the decade unfolds.

– Amanda Kloeppel
Source: Wall Street Journal
Photo: Avid Investor Group

Indonesia's Fight Against Tuberculosis
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is currently working with the Indonesian government in the next step in the fight against tuberculosis (TB). Indonesia has already had significant success in fighting the disease and USAID is helping fund research to help the country completely eliminate fatalities caused by TB.

Last year, USAID granted Indonesia The Champion Award for its exceptional accomplishments for the category of “Work in the Fight Against TB”. Indonesia’s work with the World Health Organization (WHO) has helped decrease the number of TB-related deaths and raise awareness about the disease, as well as bolster the opening of new treatment centers. Today in Indonesia, more than 88% of people with TB have been successfully treated.

When patients have only been partially cured through treatment, TB sometimes resurfaces as multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB. USAID’s latest initiative in Indonesia will focus on helping fund research and treatment centers to help find new solutions to the public health threat of MDR TB. Indonesia will likely accomplish the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of fighting TB in the very near future.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: Global Post
Photo: CRW Flags