Links between Urban Expansion and Viral Disease Offer Lessons for COVID-19: Study by EWC Researchers in Vietnam

The current COVID-19 pandemic, which started in Wuhan, China, underscores what the public health community has warned about for more than two decades—the risk of viral diseases capable of spreading from animal to human hosts. The first outbreaks of “bird flu” (highly pathogenic avian influenza—HPAI, subtype H5N1)—raised similar concerns 20 years ago, concerns that have persisted with the outbreak of SARS in 2002–2004 and COVID-19 today. A study by EWC researchers, comparing information on infrastructure and other aspects of economic development with outbreaks of avian influenza in Vietnam, has broad applicability the current COVID-19 pandemic, especially given the global importance of today’s rapidly expanding urban landscapes....more...


Extensive Testing and Geographical Isolation Can Mitigate the Coronavirus Crisis in Hawaii

Beach closed sign in Waikiki
The best way to restart Hawaii's economy is to implement effective measures to stop the spread of the virus as soon as possible. The Governor’s mandatory 14-day quarantine of all incoming travelers will stem the flow of new coronavirus infections into the state.

UH economist Sumner La Croix and EWC epidemic tracking expert Tim Brown write that strict isolation enforcement along with rapidly increased testing and tracking are the best ways to slow the spread of coronavirus in Hawai'i and restart the state’s economy. Hawaii needs to quickly adopt and implement a plan to control and then halt the spread of the coronavirus, they write, or the cost in terms of lives and damage to the economy will be catastrophic. La Croix and Brown lay out the roles of the federal and state governments in preventing an economic collapse and in controlling the pandemic. Given this general framework, they write, Hawaii’s chosen plan should then take into account the state’s special characteristics that should give it some advantages in facing these challenges compared to states on the mainland. more


Count Your Care with a New Web App from the Counting Women’s Work Project

As the coronavirus pandemic widens, the need for unpaid care work is undeniable.

How do you spend your time on a typical day? Most of us know how much time we spend at paid jobs, but how much unpaid care work are we also doing? The Counting Women’s Work project answers this question for many countries across the globe.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the unpaid care work that is most often provided by women will inevitably increase. We are caring for the sick at home. We are bringing food and supplies to quarantined neighbors. Millions of us are stepping into the role of teacher as schools close. Housework may be increasing also.

Standard measures of economic activity only include care if it is provided for pay, but the vast majority of care is provided on an unpaid basis, mostly by women. Unpaid care work―including direct care for children, elders, or other persons as well as indirect care in the form of housework and managing and maintaining households―adds considerable value to total welfare and economic output. Because women perform most of these household services, standard measures that leave them out underestimate women’s economic contribution.

Click COUNT MY WORK to try our online app and see how much time YOU spend in unpaid care work compared to people in many countries around the world. Share your results on social media and let us know how your unpaid care work is changing.

Counting Women's Work (CWW) is an international research project dedicated to measuring the unpaid care work that is most often provided by women. CWW is a project within the National Transfer Accounts research network, which is coordinated by the Economics and Demography of Aging (CEDA), University of California at Berkeley and the East-West Center (EWC) in Honolulu.

The East-West Center Research Program brings a cross-disciplinary approach to understanding the process of rapid transformation that is occurring in Asia and the Pacific. The Center’s collaborative research and capacity-building program aims to promote sustainability, prosperity, equity, and peace in the region.

Current research documents how economic, environmental, social, and political change are shaping Asia and the Pacific. Research focuses on changes in climate, land and water use, health, family dynamics, economic roles, and international politics.

As a boundary organization, the Center's Research Program works with research and policy communities in the US and the Indo-Pacific region to provide more complete knowledge and deeper understanding of environments, societies, economies, governments, and international relations in the region. Capacity building and research to support decision-making are conducted in close collaboration with networks of individuals and institutions throughout Asia and the Pacific and is shared broadly with planners, policymakers, regional specialists, the media, and the general public.


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East-West Center researchers are studying changes in climate, land and water use, health, family dynamics, economic roles, and international politics in the Indo-Pacific region.
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East-West Center Fellow Leads National Climate Change and Health Dialog in the Republic of the Marshall Islands

On 30-31 January 2020, East-West Center Research Fellow Laura Brewington led the first national Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Climate Change and Health Dialog in Majuro. Underlining the importance of the topic, RMI Secretary of Health Jack Niedenthal stressed that climate impacts on health are not merely something the country needs to prepare for in the future—they are happening right now. “The reason why climate change impacts the RMI and other nations of Micronesia so severely is that we have one of the highest rates of diabetes and tuberculosis in the world, so our health system is already overtaxed.”

In addition to the chronic disease burden, confirmed new cases of dengue fever in RMI have risen to more than 120 a week since May 2019, and today an estimated 8,000 of the country’s 53,000 citizens are infected. Since the Christmas holiday season, persistent dry, warm weather punctuated by short periods of intense rain has exacerbated the number of new cases. This record-breaking dengue outbreak has occurred in tandem with other, smaller disease outbreaks related to a lack of clean water—typhoid fever, diarrheal disease, and conjunctivitis.

Around 100 participants attended the Opening Ceremony of the Dialog, including His Excellency, RMI President David Kabua, former President Hilda Heine, the Honorable Ministers of Health and Environment, the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Health, Senators and Mayors representing many of the islands and atolls, the World Health Organization Liaison for Micronesia, and high school and college students from Majuro and Ebeye. Workshop participants discussed information products that would help health officials identify early warning signs for the health impacts of climate variability and change, particularly vector-borne and waterborne diseases. The workshop concluded with a set of next steps for generating an early warning system for the health sector using the relevant forecast products in tandem with EWC/NOAA, the University of Hawaiʻi, and the National Weather Service Majuro office.

Guam’s Climate Change Resiliency Commission partners with Pacific RISA to host National Climate Assessment Workshop and Town Hall

Guam's Lieutenant Governor Joshua Franquez Tenorio welcomed Wendy Miles and Zena Grecni (on the right) of the East-West Center's Pacific RISA program, speaking to the gathered press about the importance of Guam’s newly established Climate Change Resiliency Commission.

In late October, the Government of Guam's newly formed Climate Change Resilience Commission held its first meeting with government officials to prepare for future climate variability and change. The day before, a University of Guam town hall forum shared highly anticipated data and projections on how the Pacific region will be affected by climate change and, specifically, how Guam will fare in the current century. Wendy Miles, program manager with the Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (Pacific RISA) program at the East-West Center, and Zena Grecni, a sustained climate assessment specialist with the program, participated in both meetings. They presented key findings from the Fourth National Climate Assessment, a federally mandated study that pools hundreds of authors and contributors to deliver scientific evidence of climate variability and change. Key takeaways from the Guam data include: (1) a dramatic increase in hot days and decline in cool nights; (2) slightly drier conditions; (3) stronger typhoons; (4) coral reef bleaching and loss; and (5) coastal flooding from sea level rise.

The meetings in Guam followed similar meetings in Palau and the Northern Mariana Islands. Through these gatherings, Pacific RISA is building on the Fourth National Climate Assessment to support the development of a robust and inclusive regional network of scientists, resource managers, policymakers, non-profits, and local, state, and regional governments that are committed to understanding and addressing the impacts of climate change.


Learning from Success in Climate-Informed Decision-Making: Case Studies Across Three U.S. Regions

A network of sustained assessment specialists created within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (NOAA RISA) program present a new report that includes five case studies of successful local responses to climate change supported by scientific information. East-West Center Project Specialist Zena Grecni was the lead author. Based on three regions—the U.S. Pacific Islands, the South Central United States, and the Rocky Mountain West—the case studies feature local managers who are providing and applying climate information, with valuable outcomes, across a range of geographic scales and sectors. They include improving local climate-adaptation efforts in San Angelo, Texas, enhancing the resilience of iconic coastal ecosystems on Hawai‘i Island, managing water in the Colorado River Conservation District, increasing conservation resilience in the southern Great Plains, and using El Niño forecasts to plan for drought in the Pacific Islands. The case studies provide new insights, which are summarized as five practical lessons for anyone seeking to better integrate climate considerations into decision-making.



Changes in Rice Farming in Mainland Southeast Asia

East-West Center Fellow, Phanwin Yokying (standing), and two research assistants interview rice farmers in Pathum Thani Province, Thailand.

Ongoing changes in the global economy as well as environmental changes mean that both the incentives for growing rice and the ways in which rice is produced will require novel socioeconomic, environmental, and technological adaptations. To help address these challenges, East-West Center researchers recently launched a collaborative study on changes in rice farming in mainland Southeast Asia, supported by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Researchers will examine one of the most intriguing agricultural-development questions in the region—how have fewer, older farmers with fewer agricultural laborers and smaller farms managed to more than double rice production over the past 20 years?