Somalia’s food crisis
Somalia is facing significant consequences as a direct result of changing weather patterns. The most serious is the food crisis and severe malnutrition it faces due to droughts, poor crop yields and livestock deaths. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has called for immediate action as the continuing conflict and rising food and energy costs will require immense humanitarian aid in 2023. The ICRC is tackling Somalia’s food crisis by implementing several programs and methods, including teams on the ground that provide water and food, financial help, nutrition services and health care (mobile health teams).

Somalia’s Food Crisis

Many different factors have led to the food crisis in Somalia. Changing weather patterns and the resulting “worst drought in 40 years” has left more than 7 million people without adequate food, British Red Cross reports. The droughts have prevented access to food and water and led to the death of livestock that Somalians depend on for their livelihood. Another factor that has contributed to Somalia’s food crisis is the conflict.

Conflict throughout Africa and the COVID-19 pandemic have led to the displacement of populations and a rise in food and fuel prices. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which produces a quarter of the world’s wheat and grains, is a significant contributor to the hunger crisis since Somalia relies on its exports for 90% of its wheat and grains, ICRC reports.

The rising food and energy costs are hurting communities steeped in armed conflict and violence. The ICRC has indicated that the price of food staples has risen to more than 30% in Somalia. The consequences of the food crisis in Somalia have left many exhausted as people are displaced and struggle to find necessities such as water and food. Many children are unable to attend school to fulfill their education needs.

Ultimately, as of May 2022, Somalia has seen drought affect 6.1 million people and the displacement of 760,000 people throughout the country without access to sufficient water, food and health care. An update that the ICRC provided in the month of August indicates that the internal displacement throughout Somalia due to the drought continues to rise. About 30,000 people experienced displacement in May 2022, 100,000 people in June 2022 and 83,000 people in July 2022, totaling more than a million people displaced in Somalia in 2022.

Emergency Funding For Families

One of the ways the ICRC is tackling the food crisis is by providing monthly payments of $90 to more than 150,000 families in the south and central parts of Somalia to help them purchase food and other necessities. As of the end of August 2022, the program had provided more than $13 million. The program’s outcome has seen positive results. One of the recipients, Dadir Ahmed Adan was able to use the money to open a small shop for $50 and save the rest of his money to buy food for his children after losing his livestock to the droughts.

The primary objective of this program is to help the most vulnerable people survive and minimize debt. The impact of the droughts has caused families to become displaced as they lost their livelihoods. They end up in desperate situations where they look for help from other family members or aid organizations.

Agricultural Cooperatives

Another way that the ICRC is tackling Somalia’s food crisis is by supporting agricultural cooperatives designed to help bear the brunt of changing weather patterns. The cooperatives involve training, farming tools, drought-resistant seeds and cash that is necessary for the fuel in order to irrigate. The ICRC cash assistance will continue distributing cash assistance to people in conflict-affected areas of Somalia and rehabilitating boreholes and wells. Communities will also benefit from primary health care services and mobile health clinics and support. Through this program, the ICRC has managed to help more than 150,000 families with life-saving assistance to purchase food and other necessities, following severe droughts in Somalia.

Provision Of Clean Water and Sanitation

The ICRC is also tackling Somalia’s food crisis by increasing the production and quality of water to alleviate the impact of droughts. This consists of “electromechanical quick fixes, re-drilling of boreholes, increasing the water storage by constructing elevated water tanks, water catchment systems, animal troughs and generator houses for strategic existing borehole/mechanized hand-dug well locations.”

Since the beginning of 2022, the ICRC has successfully distributed fuel and made quick fixes to 26 electro-mechanical boreholes. They completed the construction of five water reservoirs and half a dozen hand-dug wells and rainwater catchment systems. They have also constructed community water sand filters and animal troughs.

The ICRC’s success in aiding drought-stricken regions comes from their initiative and determination, along with support from local communities. The organization ensures that the most vulnerable people in Somalia have the means and access to clean water and sanitation and that these facilities have proper maintenance and improvement.

Road Ahead

The work that the ICRC conducted in response to the food crisis continues and the challenges for 2023 are ever-present. This is a year where humanitarian support is greatly necessary and the ICRC has appealed for $2.9 billion to fund its work in 2023. The ICRC expects the situation to get worse throughout the year, with children and the elderly being the most affected.

– Arijit Joshi
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Mauritania
The U.S. Department of State has ranked Mauritania on the Tier 2 Watch List, indicating that it needs to do much more when it comes to tackling human trafficking. The Tier 2 Watch List reflects countries that have made strides to stop human trafficking but do not comply with all of the established minimum prevention criteria. Here is some information about human trafficking in Mauritania.

About Human Trafficking in Mauritania

Slavery and child labor have been part of Mauritania’s long history. Mauritania did not abolish the practice until 1981, and it was only two decades later before it became a criminal offense. This is the root cause of human trafficking in the region.

Indeed, many often refer to Mauritania as one of the last strongholds of slavery. Estimates point to approximately 20% of the 3.4 million Mauritanians living in some form of enslavement; women and children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking.

Many factors complicate the issue of slavery and bondage in Mauritania. Like many other religions, Islam does not condemn slavery and recognizes it as an institution. The Maliki School of Islamic Law was famous in Mauritania before the 19th century. After the holy wars, labor was necessary to boost the economy and Muslims used Maliki law to justify the enslavement of black Africans.

Human trafficking in Mauritania has deep roots. Slavery and the trafficking of children operate quietly in the nomadic and pastoral settlements of the country. People often pass slaves down through family ties and generations. There are no chains and few large transactions that one can track in Mauritania. The government has also allowed a system of forced labor to exist.

Solutions

Mauritania’s government implemented the Law of Associations, which gives NGOs more room to investigate issues, establish a permanent committee on trafficking and increase fundraising for the anti-trafficking national action plan (NAP). The law has anti-trafficking organizations’ investigations involving three hereditary slavery instances in the country. According to the U.S. Department of State’s data, authorities arrested 14 traffickers and prosecuted five traffickers since 2020. As a member of the G5 Sahel (countries that cooperate with counterterrorism efforts), Mauritania has been willing to comply but large improvements on behalf of the Law on Associations have not undergone fulfillment.

Although the government showed some commitment to the cause, it has yet to develop strong enough institutions to prosecute traffickers effectively — to which the severe impacts of COVID-19 did not help to strengthen their anti-slavery institutions. Human trafficking in Mauritania can disappear, but only if the country takes more effective measures.

Room for Improvement

The U.S. Department of State has suggested that Mauritania increase efforts to prosecute cases of human trafficking and hereditary slavery; which would include directing law enforcement to investigate instances of trafficking and slavery fully. There should also be an institution in place to help victims of human rights violations such as human trafficking in the Sahel.

A glimpse into the marginalized groups in Mauritania provides a sense of optimism for a better future. Biram Dah Abeid is an abolitionist in Mauritania who authorities previously arrested for fighting against the country’s deeply rooted slave tradition and recently became a member of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations to truly improve their human rights initiative. He founded the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement, which actively sought to empower people in Mauritania to protest slavery in a non-violent manner. The non-violent tactics include sit-ins, publicizing the issue and assisting victims. The Netherlands presented him with the Human Rights Tulip Award in recognition of his work.

Human trafficking and slavery have significant roots in the nation’s history, but the government has made some efforts to combat the issue. More work is essential to improve the safety and security of marginalized groups in Mauritania.

– Anna Richardson
Photo: Flickr

USAID Programs in Nigeria
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is a government agency that provides aid and development assistance to countries around the world. In Nigeria, USAID has implemented several programs that aim to address key development challenges and promote inclusive economic growth, improve health and education outcomes and support democratic governance and civil society.

Power Africa: Expanding Electricity Access in Nigeria

USAID’s Power Africa program is focused on increasing access to electricity in Nigeria. The program works in collaboration with the government, private sector and civil society to accelerate the development of new power projects and improve the performance of existing ones. Through this program, USAID has helped introduce 3,043 megawatts of electricity production projects in Nigeria, bringing reliable power to more communities across the country.

Feed the Future: Reducing Poverty and Hunger in Nigeria

Another one of the USAID programs in Nigeria is Feed the Future, which aims to reduce poverty and hunger in the country. The program works with smallholder farmers and agribusinesses to increase productivity and access to markets, while also supporting the development of value chains for key commodities such as cassava, maize and rice. USAID’s efforts through Feed the Future have helped to increase agricultural production and incomes for thousands of farmers in Nigeria and have contributed to a reduction in malnutrition rates in targeted areas.

Feed the Future’s investments in 2019 led to the adoption of new farming technologies and improved management practices by 400,000 farmers, resulting in a significant increase in staple crop yields by 155% compared to 2018. Specifically, maize yields rose by 75% and rice yields increased by 37%. The program also resulted in greater participation of women and youth in agricultural markets and food systems, with 25% of participants being women and 28% being youth who received training and access to agricultural technology that led to increased crop yields.

Health Partnerships for Outcomes: Boosting Primary Health Care

USAID recently announced new partnerships in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Nigeria to accelerate primary health care in these countries. The partnership will leverage these countries’ global health footprint, which USAID has supported with an average of $415 million per year. This will improve coordination, synchronize investment initiatives and showcase significant improvement in primary health care.

The goal is to boost life expectancy, increase health equity and respond to disease outbreaks and arising health threats head-on. This action comes on the heels of USAID’s recent launch of the Accelerating Primary Health Care Collaborative, which intends to establish a unified primary health care approach while enhancing the exchange of information, technical integration and coordination.

Education: Increasing Access to Quality Education in Nigeria

USAID’s Education program focuses on increasing access to and improving the quality of education in Nigeria, with a particular emphasis on basic education and literacy. To achieve this, USAID works with the government and civil society to increase enrolment and retention in schools, particularly for girls and children in conflict-affected areas, and to improve the skills and knowledge of teachers and other education personnel. USAID’s efforts through this program have helped increase the number of children attending school in Nigeria and have contributed to a rise in literacy rates and improved educational outcomes.

Approximately 10 million primary school-aged children in the country do not enroll in formal education, according to estimates. USAID has targeted this issue through its Addressing Education in the Northeast (AENN) program in Borno and Yobe states. The program has successfully reached more than 20,000 out-of-school children in both formal and informal settings in Northeast Nigeria.

Combating Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria: USAID’s MOMENTUM Program

“In Nigeria, one in three women and girls aged 15 to 24 have experienced gender-based violence,” which often comes from close friends and family. By disguising it as tradition, culture and religion, this type of violence is normalized. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation.

USAID has partnered with the Nigerian government to launch a four-year program in Sokoto state which is in Northern Nigeria and Ebonyi state in the Southeast, to combat this near epidemic. A $5 million budget will help with the implementation of the MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership in Nigeria (MCGL) program. It seeks to reduce maternal and child mortality by expanding access to high-quality health care. It also seeks to address the causes of child, early and forced marriage, as well as to prevent and lessen the impact of violence against women and girls.

These USAID programs in Nigeria are making a significant impact on the country’s development and the well-being of its citizens. The programs cover a range of areas, from expanding electricity access and reducing poverty and hunger to improving health care and education. Overall, USAID’s programs in Nigeria are helping drive progress and sustainable development in the country.

– Nkechi First
Photo: Unsplash

Rule of Law in Lebanon
Once dubbed the “Paris of the Middle East,” Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, was well-known for its vibrancy. It comprised culture, music, art and a spirited social life inspired by France after it gained independence in 1943. Until 1975, Lebanon was in a state of peace and prosperity and it was a popular tourist destination and center for international trade. While that all changed when a 15-year-long civil war raged on and completely changed the governance of the nation socially and politically, the Lebanese people never lost their celebrated resilience.

About the Rule of Law in Lebanon

The aspiring future of Lebanon was heavily altered after the 15-year civil war of 1975 that left Lebanon in a rather unique state of fragility. While the nation had both an open political system and economy after gaining independence from the French, with low poverty levels compared to others in the region, the War greatly impacted Lebanon’s sense of safety, political regimes and infrastructure. Thus, in efforts to rebuild the state and end the war in 1989, the government signed the National Reconciliation accord in Taif, Saudi Arabia.

Notably, the amended Lebanese Constitution that followed called for establishing a constitutional court and enhanced the power of the Sunni Muslim Prime Minister, Rafic Hariri, over the Maronite Christian president and the Shi’a Muslim speaker of Parliament.

This judiciary structure and political system of Lebanon, which both French and Ottoman models inspired, had a multi-confessional structure. It called for equality before the law and equal representation of Lebanese civilians, protecting their freedom of religion, and respecting rights for the Cabinet to act as a mechanism for fairness between the religions. Furthermore, it also allowed the Syrian forces that remained in Lebanon as a result of the Syrian occupation of 1976 to stay in the country as a stabilizing force.

However, it suffered significant division following the war, as warlords began holding seats in Parliament after a national amnesty in 1990. There were also exchanges of personal benefits between the government and parliament, and conflict over sectarian interests that deeply impacted the rule of law in Lebanon. Despite this, Lebanon still managed to see five prosperous years starting in 2000, until the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri in 2005.

The Way This Has Impacted the Nation

The year Prime Minister Hariri was assassinated, the Syrian occupation ended, and thus, Syrians received permission to remain in Lebanon and increase their military power. Because of this, they began interfering in Lebanese political affairs, and a series of events followed that included continuing assassinations, a war between Israel and militant group Hezbollah, Hezbollah’s retaliation and their invasion of Sunni areas in Beirut as well as further religious showdowns, corruption and economic mismanagement.

The Lebanese government’s structure meant that it needed to include all factions, which led to leaders monopolizing their shared power amongst themselves, and then using that power to pursue their own agendas and interests, allowing for sectarian divide. This political unrest and breach of Lebanon’s security, as well as threats from neighboring countries, severely rattled rule of law in Lebanon.

Thus, Lebanon grew to become the most indebted country after the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri, as the nation became financially reliant on internal and external borrowing. Lebanon was unsuccessful in producing long-term economic growth, despite the fiscal, monetary and central bank policies that attempted to reduce its deficits.

With this debt and other economic disasters, the political structure of Lebanon adopted a clientelist structure as the productive sector only favored elites, making the economy unproductive and undiversified, worsening poverty levels and deepening inequality. In 2020, the top 10% of Lebanese workers received 56% of the total income earned from 2005 to 2014 and the lowest 50% of the population received only 11%.

Solutions

All the political unrest amongst leaders in government created an ethnoreligious identity and social dynamic that formed multiple political parties, creating a strong sense of community amongst the people and militias who support each other despite contributing to an insurgency in the country.

In October 2019, citizens across Lebanon stormed Beirut streets as they protested against a tax on WhatsApp calls, which was meant to act as one of Beirut’s solutions to combat economic pressures. However, these protests eventually turned into nationwide protests that lasted for months, as the Lebanese people saw these tax measures issues as only favoring the elite at the expense of the lesser privileged middle class.

This shows that hope still exists for the future of Lebanon, as Lebanese people have taken measures to improve the rule of law in Lebanon. Following the protests in October 2019, Lebanon saw an increase in community-based and grassroots networks, as well as public mobilization, looking for peaceful change. After the explosion in Beirut in 2020, for example, youth groups, women’s networks and Chief Starting Officers joined together to assist vulnerable families and keep community tensions under control, as well as tackle the spread of fake COVID-19 news.

Among these initiatives is the Grassroots Lebanon Non-Profit Organization (GLNPO), a network of Lebanese citizens looking to take action into their own hands to improve the standards of living that Lebanon’s fragility impacted. GLNPO encourages a sense of belonging and looks to promote a high sense of solidarity and agency among the community by tackling poverty, improving education, providing medical support and raising awareness of a number of issues impacting society. So far, GLNPO has provided relief after the Beirut explosion in 2020, distributed aid to schools and hosted cultural events among many other projects that aim to benefit the future and people of Lebanon.

– Noura Matalqa
Photo: Flickr

Zambian Towns
To improve the state of the network in Zambia, back in November 2022, Paratus Zambia and Meta announced the building of a 900 km open-access metro fiber network in 10 Zambian towns. That will allow people in underserved communities to get access to a high-quality internet connection.

About Paratus

The Paratus Group is a multinational provider of a wide-ranging and independent African network, which includes Paratus Zambia. Paratus Zambia is the top provider of corporate internet, MPLS, cloud and satellite services in the area. One of the group’s goals is to transform Africa through first-rate digital infrastructure and customer support.

The operational staff of Paratus is based in seven African countries – Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia. The company’s expanded network offers a satellite connectivity-focused service in 37 African countries. It provides top-quality service while connecting African enterprises across the continent. The group also has an international presence in Europe, the U.K. and the U.S.

Paratus’s Successes in Zambia

Paratus Zambia has invested in cutting-edge technologies to deliver steady, dependable and fast internet connection with reduced latencies and direct peering with the largest international internet service providers. It offers connectivity to hundreds of Zambian enterprises across many different industry sectors, through its own vast fiber and microwave network. With the help of its expanded network, 4,000 terminals in more than 35 countries in central and west Africa may access the internet.

Because high-speed internet connection is significant for businesses Paratus Zambia uses its own fiber to provide the fastest internet connection to Zambians in Zambian towns. Also, Paratus Zambia integrated auto-failover from fiber to wireless if the client’s primary connection fails, that way the client gets an extra layer of resilience, which ensures that the business can still keep running.

Paratus delivers tailor-made Cloud Solutions. The help of Cloud Solutions can keep company data safe and accessible. In addition to that Paratus offers public, private and hybrid Cloud Solutions with guaranteed accessibility based on solid data centers and communication infrastructure. Paratus also removed high upfront expenses and allowed technology costs to change as the business grows, that way companies can avoid financial risks.

What Paratus and Meta are Doing for Zambia

Paratus Zambia with the help of Meta will build and operate the network to offer wholesale services to mobile network operators and internet service providers. As a result, locals will get around 500 new jobs, more affordable services and better coverage. The network will also connect to Lusaka’s Paratus carrier-neutral data center, where Paratus can provide direct, high-quality access to nearby enterprises, IT News Africa reports.

All of it will be crucial to the economy of Zambia and contribute to giving millions of people and hundreds of enterprises access to the internet through a fiber network that is faster and more secure. That is not all Paratus Zambia is also working on a separate project to connect Zambia’s metro networks to numerous towns and cities. According to IT News Africa, towns where the metro fiber will be available at the end of 2023: Kitwe, Ndola, Livingstone, Chingola, Chililabombwe, Solwezi, Chambishi, Kabwe, Luanshya and Mufulira.

A good internet connection is essential not only for entertainment reasons but also for businesses and people who work remotely. More people have access to it – more people have jobs and money which helps reduce poverty globally as well as in Zambian towns.

– Elizaveta Medvedkina
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in EnglandWith the ongoing cost of living crisis, the rippling effects of both Brexit and the pandemic, and the war in Ukraine, hunger in England has become a national concern. The cost of living increase has led to steep energy bills, and food prices grew at a rate of 13.1% inflation in August 2022 leading many households and families to make the grueling decision between staying warm or having a meal that day.

About Hunger in England

In May 2022, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) predicted that by 2023, the number of U.K. households facing food and energy bills higher than their disposable income would rise to 1.5 million, with households in London and Scotland bearing the heaviest impact. Later in the year, almost 30% of adults reported struggling to afford balanced meals, an increase from 9% pre-pandemic.

With the costs of living rising, so is the use of food banks, a resource already stretched thin during the pandemic. In August 2022, the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) surveyed 550 food banks across the U.K. and found that in the short space of four months, the demand for food banks had increased by 90%, whilst almost three-quarters of food banks reported a drop in the number of donations received. This has led to various food banks having to reduce the size of food packages available per person, with more claiming they may have to resort to doing so in the near future.

Child Food Poverty

Nonetheless, those who suffer the most from food poverty in England and the U.K., are the most vulnerable. Children, ethnic minorities and individuals with disabilities are on the front lines of the crisis.

Loughborough University conducted a study revealing that one in four children live in poverty in the U.K. Meanwhile, at approximately 46%, children from black and minority ethnic groups are the most likely to live in poverty, as opposed to 26% of their peers from white British families.

#EndChildFoodPoverty Campaign

During the pandemic in England, and after the closure of schools, many children who had previously relied on the free school meals scheme as a means to feed themselves went hungry. This prompted England footballer Marcus Rashford to lead the #EndChildFoodPoverty campaign in October 2020. Rashford’s petition garnered more than 1 million signatures, and the government announced an eventual funding package for families on the free school meals scheme that aimed to alleviate child food poverty throughout the remainder of the pandemic, and during the school holidays.

Nonetheless, since Rashford’s campaign, the number of school children eligible for free school meals has increased from 20.8% of state-funded pupils in January 2021, to 22.5%.

Government Initiatives: Present and Future

Hunger in England and across the rest of the U.K. is rife, and despite the steps the U.K. government is taking towards reducing food poverty, such as extending free school meals, many may argue these movements are merely ‘tokenistic.’ Tokenistic or not, it is clear more is necessary to help those who cannot afford to eat to live.

– Genevieve Lewis
Photo: Flickr

Floating Solar Farms
Indonesia, a Southeast Asian island nation, has developed significantly in recent years. As the government of Indonesia seeks a more prosperous life for its citizens, the demand for energy increases. Indonesia is becoming a key global economic player, not only a member of G20, the international organization which addresses major issues related to the global economy, but it also has the largest economy in Southeast Asia. However, with higher standards of living, Indonesian energy supplies are at their limits.

Developments in renewable energy technologies could provide a solution. Indonesia consists of more than 10,000 islands and huge parts of the country are simply oceans. Recent developments in floating solar farms could provide the perfect solution to Indonesia’s growing energy crisis.

Floating Solar Farms

New companies such as Ocean Sun and SolarDuck are developing floating solar farms which enable solar panels to sit on top of the water, generating electricity, while remaining afloat without taking up valuable land space, BBC reports.

The technology relies on the ability to create a floating solar panel that is robust enough to withstand ocean movement. For example, Ocean Sun creates its floating solar farms using modified silicone solar photovoltaic (PV) modules attached to a flexible membrane that floats on the ocean surface. As the panels sit very close to the surface of the ocean, people cannot view them from the shore.
>Floating solar panels could offer a renewable energy solution for numerous countries. Not only is land incredibly valuable for building, but many people feel that solar panels are unsightly and do not wish to see them in their daily lives. However, placing them far out at sea alleviates many of these problems. Given the vast ocean area which makes up Indonesia, investing in floating solar farms could offer an innovative solution.

Indonesian Energy Needs

Nearly all of the Indonesian population now has access to electricity however, what constitutes access is, by Western standards, relatively low. “Access to electricity” translates to access to basic lighting and the ability to charge a phone or power a small radio for four hours. Despite many people having access to electricity, countless on Indonesia’s islands are still not connected to the grid at all, meaning that more than a million people have to go to great lengths to gain electrical connection, BBC reports.
As the country develops and people desire the kinds of electrical devices which surround us every day in Europe and America, the amount of energy that the government must provide continues to grow. In Indonesia, energy use per capita is at just over 8,000 kWh per year. Whereas in the U.K. usage per capita is almost 30,000 kWh and in the U.S. almost 77,000 kWh, according to Our World in Data.

Innovation in Indonesian Energy

Indonesia is still hugely reliant on fossil fuels in order to produce electricity, a finite and ever-decreasing resource. Currently, only 18.66% of electricity production in Indonesia came from renewable resources in 2021.

The ocean space available in Indonesia offers a huge opportunity for renewable energy generation, whether through floating solar farms or other forms of generation. As Indonesia makes exciting strides, economically and politically, and the life of Indonesian people improves, new forms of electricity generation could create an even greater future for Indonesian citizens.

– Florence Jones
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid to Yemen
Yemen is facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the U.N. The civil war has been going on since 2014 and the country is not facing another challenge due to the Russia-Ukraine War.

The Civil War and its Impact on the Yemeni People

Two main groups are controlling different parts of Yemen. The internationally recognized government (IRG) is controlling the south and east of the country, and the Houthi group is controlling the west of the country and its capital, Sana’a. The IRG is also supporting the Southern Transitional Council (STC). The situation caused around 377,000 casualties between 2015 and 2021. Although casualties slowed down in 2022 due to the ceasefire which took place between April and October 2022, Yemeni people are in need of humanitarian assistance. According to a U.N. report, more than 23.5 million people of Yemen’s 31.2 million population need humanitarian assistance.

Food insecurity, disruption of education, scarcity of health care facilities, severe drought and intense flooding are among many issues people are facing in Yemen. The issues require humanitarian assistance in relation to the problems.

Education

The U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) estimates that primary and secondary school attendance has fallen sharply since the beginning of the conflict, from 100% to 75% and from 50% to 28% in 2021, respectively. Girls often endure the most challenges due to a lack of education.

Health Care

In February 2021, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees stated that “Yemen cannot even afford to worry about the coronavirus” because of famine risk and other infectious diseases such as diphtheria and measles. The outbreak of cholera in Yemen in 2016 was also one of the worst in recent history. Moreover, only half of Yemen’s sanitary facilities were fully operating in 2021.

Food Security

Even before the current war, food insecurity was a problem. For the period from October to December 2022, the World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that 54% of the population of Yemen suffered from extreme food insecurity while 2.2 million children and 1.3 million pregnant and nursing women experienced acute malnutrition.

The WFP is also facing underfunding as it stood around $1 billion short of its $1.98 billion requirements for 2022. As a result, in both December 2021 and June 2022, the organization expressed that it has had to reduce the rations it provides.

The Russia-Ukraine War also deeply impacted Yemen’s food security, as the country used to import 40% of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine.

Main Donors of Foreign Aid to Yemen

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released a report on March 16, 2022, stating the countries’ foreign aid to Yemen pledges. The U.S. and the European Commission were the first two potential donors of foreign aid to Yemen in the previous year.

The U.S. pledged around $500,000 and donated more than $1 billion. Also, the European Commission pledged $173 million USD and donated €170 million.

The U.N. is appealing for large amounts for Yemen. The March 2022 appeal was the largest amount for Yemen since the conflict began, which was $4.3 billion. However, the U.N. could receive only 54% of the required funds at $2.3 billion.

In addition to the efforts on brokering for peace, the international community should also increase the amount of foreign aid to Yemen to respond to the world’s humanitarian crisis.

– Murathan Arslancan
Photo: Flickr

Cholera Outbreak in Malawi
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “cholera is an intestinal infection that ingesting the bacteria Vibrio cholera in contaminated food and water causes.” Inadequate sanitation and lack of safe drinking water is the most common way to contract cholera, which causes severe diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration. Although it is an easily treatable disease, it can be fatal without treatment for even a few hours. Displaced populations and overcrowded camps on top of a lack of safe water and medication lead to an increased risk of the spread of cholera. Beginning in March 2022, a cholera outbreak in Malawi infected about 6,056 people with 183 deaths as of the end of October.

The Current Situation

Since 1998, cholera has plagued Malawi, specifically in the southern regions where there is frequent flooding in the rainy season. The current outbreak is the “largest reported Cholera outbreak in Malawi in the past 10 years” and comes after tropical storm Ana in January 2022 and Cyclone Gombe in March 2022, WHO reports. These storms spurred flooding and displacement of an already susceptible population who now lack access to safe water and sanitation.

Over the holidays, the outbreak surged causing 19 deaths on New Year’s Eve and the closure of primary and secondary schools in the capital Lilongwe and the commercial hub Blantyre. In these two cities, one of the main sources of the outbreak is improper drainage systems, which leads to polluted water sources.

The current cholera outbreak in Malawi exacerbates the country’s existing hunger crisis. With around “5.4 million individuals facing hunger,” a lack of sufficient nutrients weakens people’s immunity and leaves them highly susceptible to a fatal case of cholera. Malawi is one of the poorest nations in the world with 70% living in the country on less than $1.25 a day. In addition, 80% of the country’s population is in agriculture, an industry that storms and flooding deeply affect.

Some of the most at-risk populations during the cholera outbreak in Malawi are pregnant women and mothers with young children as they experience an increased workload and extra risk of infection as primary caregivers. This also threatens the advancement of women and girls in education and economic empowerment as they focus first on survival.

Malawi’s Response & International Aid

In response to the cholera outbreak in Malawi, the Ministry of Health and WHO are conducting an emergency response that consists of “surveillance, social mobilization, treatment, water sanitation, hygiene and oral cholera vaccines,” WHO reports. A cholera response plan and national and district-level emergency operation centers are mobilized nationally. The most affected districts received cholera kits, IV fluids, antibiotics, protective equipment, diagnostic tests, tents and cholera beds.

CARE will distribute chlorine powder for water purification in affected communities as well as supply Oral Rehydration solutions.

On November 7, 2022, Lilongwe received 2.9 million doses of Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) for a single-dose reactive campaign to the current Cholera outbreak in Malawi. The OCV campaign targets “adults and children aged 1-year-old and above living in highly affected districts.” The second campaign will prioritize providing vaccines to 14 districts with a large number of cholera cases.

UNICEF joins WHO and the Government of Malawi to strengthen water treatment systems, train health care workers, distribute medical supplies, provide clinical care and raise awareness regarding cholera prevention methods and best hygiene practices. The Government of Malawi has also appealed to the public and private companies and organizations for aid and constructed new, clean water spots in affected areas. As of November 6, around 6,398 people have recovered from the disease, UNICEF reports.

While numbers from January 11, 2023, reported 3,415 new cholera cases, according to Nyasa Times.

– Arden Schraff
Photo: Flickr

Impact of COVID-19 on poverty in DominicaThe Commonwealth of Dominica is a country located in the Caribbean, with a population of 71,808. Despite its small population, Dominica has a total poverty rate of 28.8%, according to the most recently available official data. However, the island, which is still recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria, may actually have a poverty rate as high as 43% according to a World Bank study.

The already struggling nation met yet another problem when the pandemic hit the island, with the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Dominica bringing along serious problems for the island’s most vulnerable.

Impact on the Economy

According to the World Bank, the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Dominica started with the economy contracting by 10% when the pandemic hit the island, in large part due to a halt in tourism earnings. Tourism makes up 25% of the GDP and is next to agriculture as the largest driver of Dominica’s economy.

The World Bank also stated that COVID-19 had only worsened the economy that was still recovering from Hurricane Maria’s impact on the nation’s agriculture industry. Both disasters have likely raised the poverty rate to somewhere around 43%, while the exact number is currently unknown. 

Impact on Employment 

The impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Dominica can also be seen in employment statistics. The steep decline in tourism earnings caused by the pandemic led to an unemployment increase in Dominica, according to OCHA. The tourism industry accounts for 32.9% of total employment in the country, and 58% of respondents in an OCHA survey reported losing their jobs. A similar percentage of respondents also noted that they saw increased food prices as a result of the pandemic.

Impact on Marginalized Groups

According to the U.N. Development Programme, the most marginalized and vulnerable groups in the country are Kalinago indigenous peoples, rural citizens, women and children.

The impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Dominica was felt the hardest by women. Women in Dominica are the main income earners in 39% of the nation’s households; furthermore, 70.2% of workers in the food service and accommodation sector are women, meaning that the stop in tourism due to COVID-19 heavily impacts female workers. This would lead to many women being unable to support their families alone, and make them less likely to be able to provide for their children.

The Road to Recovery

In response to the pandemic and the effects on poverty in the country, the government of Dominica started the Employees and Small Business Programme to provide financial assistance to those in need. The program offered grants to employees who were laid off due to the pandemic, as well as “self-employed sole trader businesses” who were in need of financial assistance. For both grants, eligible applicants were given monthly payments of EC$600 ($222) if they had “minor dependents under the age of 18” and EC$400 ($148) if they had no dependents.

According to Reuters, the island nation reported administering 66,992 doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of July 2022. Although the exact number of fully vaccinated persons is unknown, the amount of doses administered is “enough to have vaccinated about 46.6% of the country’s population.” The government also repealed testing mandates for tourists, allowing more tourists to visit the country ahead of the 2023 Mas An Lawi Carnival, creating jobs that had been lost due to the pandemic.

With the COVID-19 pandemic on the back burner, the GDP of Dominica increased by 4.8%, an indicator that the people and economy are currently on the road to recovery. The U.S. Peace Corps also welcomed back volunteers in the Eastern Caribbean in 2021, a sign of hope for the people who have suffered from disaster after disaster.

– Mohammad Samhouri
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