High food prices in 2010 – Grow your own veggies!

In 2008, food prices soared,along with fuel prices, reaching their highest level in 30 years. This created the worst food crises in recent memory. In 2010, food prices grew again, amidst natural disasters and drought hitting countries around the globe. Of course, high food prices make farmers happy, as it encourages them to plant more crops. But, what is the typical consumer to do when food and fuel prices continue to rise.

Source: http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/FoodPricesIndex/en/

One answer to this problem to grow some of our own food. This can be done, even on a small scale, if one can grow vegetables and herbs in containers or a small garden. All it takes is a little soil and a little care to grow your own food.

Luckily, in Thailand, we are blessed with great conditions for growing food all year round. It’s been said that you can throw seeds on the ground and things will just grow. However, to get a good production of vegetables, it’s best to do a little preparation to make sure you are improving the conditions for your plants, since it will all determine the quality of the products that you get out. You need to “feed” the plants for them to produce well.  It’s all going into your body, so we want to grow high quality vegetables.

Of course, when you grow our own vegetables you do not want to use pesticides. This is another benefit of growing your own vegetables. Many growers use pesticides to make sure their crops are unblemished since those are the beautiful fruits and vegetables we all look for when we got to the market. Some of the crops which use the most pesticides are watermelon and cabbage (at least in Thailand.

If more people grew their own food, it would help promote food security and development. As we saw with the recent flooding, there are times when food production areas are hit by disasters, thereby reducing the supply of food at those times. In think this idea is something that is well promoted by HRH King Bhumphipol’s Sufficient Economy (Por Peang) and goes in line with leading a sustainable lifestyle.

It won’t solve all of the problems resulting from high food prices, but spending a little less at the market each week will all add up.

Right to Play for Peace and Development

Right to Play is working toimprove the lives of children in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world by using the power of sport and play for development, health and peace.
They use sports, physical activity and play to attain specific development and peace objectives, including the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). They believe they cancreate a healthier and safer world through the power of sport and play.Currently, Right To Play has programs in the following countries:
Benin, Botswana, Burundi, China, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories (West Bank and Gaza), Peru, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda and the United Arab Emirates.

They work towards inclusion and give children a chance to become constructive participants in society, regardless of gender, disability, ethnicity, social background or religion. A team of top athletes from more than 40 countries support Right to Play. As role models, these athletes inspire children and raise awareness about Right To Play internationally. Right To Play uses sport and play programs to promote opportunities for development, teach life skills and health education and build stronger, more peaceful communities. To do this, Right To Play trains local Coaches to run programs, thereby creating the foundation in a community for regular and long-term sport and play programming and for individual and community leadership. Right To Play also uses sport and play to mobilize and educate communities around key health issues to support national health objectives, in particular HIV and AIDS prevention and awareness and vaccination campaigns.

The Red Ball is the symbol and logo for Right to Play. Right To Play’s philosophy “LOOK AFTER YOURSELF, LOOK AFTER ONE ANOTHER” is written on the Red Ball. This philosophy embodies the ideas of looking after ones own bodies and well-being, as well as advocating teamwork and cooperation in looking after one another.

These videos feature a refugee camp on the border of Thai and Myanmar. Since more than half of the refugees are children, these sports programs become an important part of the children’s lives and uplifting their spirits.



Global Buckets Promoting Edible Gardens

outh and entrepreneurship are two great elements for social change because young people really have the drive and creativity to push the limits and help people. These two brothers are a wonderful example of young people who are looking to help people in developing countries by spreading information about gardening systems.

They started by developing an idea similar to the Earthbox but used 5 gallon buckets. They filmed an intro and various how-tos for making their Global Buckets using 2 5-gallon plastic buckets, a plastic cup, PVC pip, drill/hole drill bits, black plastic, soil and vegetable plant (tomatoes, peppers, etc.) The video are narrated by the two brothers and are very easy to follow. The benefits of their system is that it reduces water loss, reduce time needed for weeding and can easily be used in small spaces, even urban rooftops.

Furthermore, these guys are great experimenters. After some feedback from users in Jamaica that told them that 5-gallon buckets in Jamaica are too valuable to put holes in, they decided to try to make similar system out of garbage and recycling various materials. So now, they have suggested other ideas such as growing bags and using dirt, instead of potting soil. They hope to lower the cost and make these systems more applicable to developing countries. I wish these two young social entrepreneurs the best and will try some of their ideas out in my own garden.


Gender Equality Calendar 2011

This year, the calender that sits on my desk is the UNESCO-UNGEI Asia-Pacific 2011 Gender Equality in Education calendar.

The calendar is filled with wonderful photos captured throughout the Asia-Pacific region as part of a photo contest. Over 250 entries were submitted from 14 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The photos were taken by students, teachers, government workers, development workers and photographers. The 13 winning photos are featured for the cover and each month of the calendar. You can see the amazing cover photo of school children in Bhutan below.

Gender equality is more than treating women and men exactly the same. It means providing equal access and participation in decision-making processes, social responsibilities and so forth. UNESCO has the specific objective to ensuring that men and women or boys and girls, all have equal access to achieve in education to their highest potential, not on whether they are born male or female.

“Mr Condom” in Thailand Promotes Safe Sex

AIDS activist Mechai “Mr. Condom” Viravaidya discusses several “out-of-the-box” methods for promoting condom distribution and safe-sex practices in his native Thailand. Khun Mechai is the founder of the Population and Development Association and promotes having safe sex since sex in natural and absinence is difficult for most of the population. He shares his ideas such as the “Cops and Rubbers” program where the police force is recruited to help save people on the streets and back seats. His humor about sex makes it possible to bring this traditionally taboo topic out into the open in Thailand.

About this video:

Mechai Viravaidya was recently awarded the 2007 Gates Award for Global Health on behalf of The Population and Community Development Association (PDA), the organization he founded in 1974. For over 30 years, PDA has helped improve lives and strengthen communities in Thailand through HIV prevention and family planning programs that have become international models. The programs developed by Viravaidya and PDA led to a dramatic reduction in new HIV infections in Thailand, from 143,000 in 1991 to 21,000 in 2003.

Using a nationwide network of village-based volunteers, PDA empowers women to plan their pregnancies, giving both mothers and children the opportunity to live healthier lives. PDA’s comprehensive approach to poverty reduction also addresses income generation, water resource development, sanitation projects, environmental conservation, and promotion of gender equality and democracy.

Today, PDA’s 600 employees and more than 12,000 volunteers work in 18 regional development centers and branch offices throughout Thailand. Through its international training program, PDA has trained 2,900 people from 50 countries in innovative approaches to HIV prevention, family planning, adolescent reproductive health and other issues.

MDGs in Lao PDR – Gender and Education

This poignant video features a woman describing her life from childhood and her inability to get an education because she had to take care of her younger siblings and do housework. She never learned to read and write and because she was a girl, she was denied the chance for education.
Now, a mother herself, she wishes that both her sons and daughters will have a chance to get good educations.

DdTV Ep. 6 on Open Dream

This video follows John Berns, one of the co-founders of Barcamp Bangkok, on bike tour of the city.  John discusses the rise of local tech communities and the founding of Barcamp in Thailand. The event starts with no agenda and is based on the premise that everyone is both a learner and teacher.

Then they travel to Open Dream to meet Thai developers building digital tools for civil society and business. Open Dream is a social enterprise working with PM Abhisit to create Government 2.0, which provides a platform for Thai citizens to ask the Prime Minister questions. They also work to provide mobile solutions that help in health and agricultural sectors.

TED Population growth explained with IKEA boxes

In this TED video, Hans Rosling explains why ending poverty – over the coming decades – is crucial to stop population growth. Only by raising the living standards of the poorest, in an environmentally-friendly way, will population growth stop at 9 billion people in 2050. Instead of using digital media to demonstrate his point, he uses an analog technology available at IKEA with a few props. He uses one IKEA box to represent one billion people. In 1960, the industrialized world comprised of one billion people (blue box) aspiring to buy a car. In contrast, the developing world with two billion people (green box) sought to find food for the day and aspired to buy a pair of shoes.  In 2010, the number of people have increased and their aspirations have changed but the tragedy is that the poorest of the poor as still struggling to get a pair of shoes while the richest group want to travel the world.

Hans Rosling uses Gapminder in his presentation to show the data of children per woman compared to child survival over time. In particular, if child survival is increased to 90%, then population growth can be stopped and it has become the new indicator to strive for.

In Thailand, we have the entire continuum of people from those in the aspiring for shoes, bikes, cars, and airplane. With its roughly 60 million people in the country, we don’t even get to represent the entire population in Thailand using one IKEA box. However, it is interesting to consider the implications of poverty and population growth on Thailand and the world.

Source: http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

Conference stresses the importance of Language

The Nation newspaper in Bangkok published this article regarding the recent International Language, Education and Millenium Development Goals Conference held on November 9-11, 2010. Many reknown experts in the field, academics, educators, practioners and government officials attended this conference in addition to representatives from various international agencies and NGOs. Over the three days of the conference, many papers were presented regarding the power of language in increasing access for disadvantaged people to access basic services such as health care and education. Langauge is also crucial in decrease their poverty level through better school and income generation opportunities, as well as more sustainable lifestyles. As Dr. Suzanne Romaine, a well-published author on socio-linguistics, stated “language is the missing link” to having our world and its peoples develop sustainablty and equitably. Without language, we will lose to reach lingusitic and cutlural heritage and knowledge, much of which resides with the most disadvantaged and lingusitically diverse group of all, indigenous people. The speeches and talks echoed the central message that languages must be preserved and cherish and its role towards reaching important social and econmic goals must be recognized and brought to the front of the development and planning agendas.

Source: Nation