Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

Dear friends and loyal readers of this blog.

There is no finer time than this holiday season to express my sincerest appreciation of your friendship and support, and to wish you the warmest Holiday Greetings now and throughout the coming New Year. Thank you visiting and making this blog interesting via your contributions.

Season Greetings and Best Wishes for a Wonderful and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 15, 2006

What's Wrong with Moldovan Media?

Just as I was wondering whether to write or not about my own frustration and disappointment with Moldovan media and journalists’ professionalism, I visited Sandu Culiuc’s blog where he addresses a similar issue. His story is that a well-respected media agency, Infotag , used some information from his blog to make a news article, distoring his name, position and the key message of his blog post. Furthermore, that article was distorted even more by a local news portal Moldova Azi

My story is not so personal, but just as outrageous. Since my return to Moldova, I’ve been professionally involved in regional development policy making, so I believe I’ve had time to develop a pretty good understanding of the situation in Moldova. According to my own assessment and given the current political, economical and social circumstances, the progress is significant. In this sense, I was pretty surprised when I came around this article in Logos Press, which gives a completely erroneous description of what’s going on in regional development in Moldova. Based on this example, I question the professional quality of the journalist who published this article, and consequently, the newspaper as a whole. If everything else in this newspaper is as true as the facts in this article, then I guess I won’t be reading it seriously any longer.

Moldova to Develop a National Development Plan

The President of Moldova announced that starting next year the Moldovan government will begin working on a 4-5-year national development plan. I took this as good news as I’m not very happy with the current national document that everyone refers to as Moldova’s major development plans: the Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy. This document is narrow in scope and, as the title suggests, its aim is far from setting national development objectives, priorities and guidelines. As a result, Moldova has had no national development plan, which means that development throughout the country has remained largely unplanned, unaccounted for, and thus stagnant. And this is a big problem, which is finally starting to draw some attention.

The regional development policy, slowly but surely taking shape within the Ministry for Local Public Administration, is another approach to the same problem. Addressing regional underdevelopment through targeted public investment programs and support to regional and local capacities is a practice that has worked successfully in many countries, including EU, US, Japan. However, I noticed a high level of resistance to regional development in Moldova. Skepticism and distrust are the attitudes that people most commonly display regarding the Moldovan regional development policy in making. In my view, this resistance is based on lack of information and misunderstanding of the concept itself, as well as on the general distrust towards any governmental policies. I see it as a big challenge for the Moldovan government to try to regain people’s support, and persuade the public opinion about the positive outcomes of its development policies.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Is Chisinau City Really Ready for an Earthquake?

I try to make time and patience for the daily news program on TV Moldova 1, the only channel operated by the national public broadcaster TeleRadio-Moldova . Time because there are many other things I would rather do after a long workday, and patience because it is so different from CNN – my favorite news channel. However, TV Moldova 1 is the only source of current information about public policies, debates, activities and events in Moldova for a great segment of Moldovans. Sometimes, I find out interesting facts as well. For example, yesterday the municipal authorities conducted a simulation of earthquake-related drill and evacuation in one of the most crowded places in Chisinau City, the Central Market. It was good to learn that local authorities still conduct such activities, as they are extremely important, particularly given the increasing vulnerability of Chisinau City to natural disasters such as an earthquake. In reply to "Do you feel prepared in case of an earthquake?" one vendor gave a confident affirmative answer.

But is Chisinau really ready for an earhquake? Chisinau is an earthquake-prone area. The last strong earthquake (7 degrees Richter) took place in 1977, and a couple of weaker earthquakes occured in Chisinau since then. What I’m worried most of all is the physical condition of the housing stock in Chisinau. Very poor maintenance and continuous unauthorized interventions in the engineering networks and buildings structure of apartment blocks are making urban dwelling extremely vulnerable to a potential earthquake. The fact that people are eagerly tearing down apartment walls, and municipal authorities are doing nothing to prohibit such practices indicates that the level of awareness of Chisinau residents regarding the potential damage they might be gradually inflicting on their livelihoods is insufficient. Although the evacuation drill in Central Market is a good thing, there is much more that Chisinau authorities should do to reduce the vulnerability and prepare residents for a potential disaster. Otherwise, it is pretty obvious that the damage brought about by a potential earthquake in Chisinau is likely to be enormous, including high costs in terms of human life and livelihood.