the holdout provinceWhile the world has breathed a collective sigh of relief following the September agreement made by Turkey and Russia – thus halting the advance of troops, the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib has yet to exhale. It remains one of the last rebel strongholds in the conflict. As world leaders work to decide Idlib’s political future, many workers toil to provide aid in the holdout province.

Aid in the Holdout Province

Presently the area known as the holdout province is home to three million people. There are around 1.5 million people living in the area who are internally displaced, having fled to escape previous rounds of fighting. This influx of people has stretched already scarce resources (housing, food and medicine) even more thinly.

The United Nations has been doing its part to help, both inside and out of the diplomatic arena. By running cross-border operations from Turkey, the U.N. has organized a convoy of more than 1,000 trucks to deliver winter supplies, such as blankets, coats, boats, gas stoves and plastic shelter materials. As winter approaches and nightly temperatures become cold – especially for those without proper housing – many will be glad to have the extra warmth.

Through its food assistance arm (The World Food Program or WFP), the U.N. is also doing what it can to give food aid in the holdout province. In October alone, the WFP was able to feed 3.2 million people. Food deliveries were able to reach 14 Syrian provinces, including the more isolated areas of Syria like the Aleppo, rural Damascus and Ar-Raqqa governorates, which fed almost 291,865. Specific packages addressing malnutrition and nutrient deficiency were provided to more than 100,000 children – reaching many in the holdout governorate.

Medical and Psychological Care

Medical attention is difficult to find in any conflict; keeping facilities well supplied and away from the fighting can be an impossible task. In September, four hospitals were damaged in attacks. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is combating this shortage, supporting ten health facilities, as well as two mobile clinics and four emergency response teams. The teams deliver kits stocked with clothing and sanitary supplies. Through the IRC’s efforts, 860,000 patients were treated in 2017, with 80,000 people being treated every month.

Still, while it’s easy to focus on the physical (visible) needs of survivors, the emotional needs of children often – out of necessity – go overlooked. However, the IRC operates a safe space that gives psychosocial support to children as well as providing the children with a place to learn and play. In the future, the IRC plans to distribute kits containing games, books and learning aid through this center. As a consequence of war, children are exposed to the harsh realities of life in a conflict zone; they are denied an education that would enable them to succeed as adults in peacetime. Even small learning toys and aids make a significant difference in light of the alternatives.

Current Negotiations

With the conflict stretching into its eighth year, recent peace talks have been referred to as “a glimmer of hope” by high ranking U.N. members. Syrian representatives have agreed to send 50 representatives to the negotiating committee, and have agreed to speak with 50 representatives from the opposition. Unfortunately, they have refused to ratify any representatives of Syrian civil society in the negotiations. Only fair, fully-represented and public negotiations can truly end the suffering in the country. Until then, aid in the holdout province must continue in order to help these refugees survive.

– John Glade
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Burkina FasoThe history of Western Africa country of Burkina Faso is layered with various conflicts and complicated cultural conduits. The desperation and vulnerability accompanying the Sahel region, a region in Africa between the Sahara to the north and the Sudanian Savanna to the south, and the food crisis in the region have affected much of the surrounding area, jeopardizing education, jobs and food security. Being in the middle of the crisis, the people of Burkina Faso have suffered immensely. With developmental assistance and diversification of agricultural exports, the crisis will gradually lessen and the economy will strengthen. In the article below, the top 10 facts about hunger in Burkina Faso are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Burkina Faso

  1. As of 2011, chronic malnutrition in Burkina Faso was at 34 percent and acute malnutrition was over 10 percent. Severe and acute malnutrition rates passed the emergency threshold in some parts of the country recently in relation to the Sahel food crisis. More than 10 percent of Burkina Faso children suffer from acute malnutrition. Another 30.2 percent of children experience growth stunting, a symptom corresponding to malnutrition.
  2. External debt increased to $3.6 billion in 2018 from $3.2 billion in 2016. Terrorism rose to 4.52 in 2018, the highest index ever recorded for the nation. Security in the country is frequently linked to limited employment availability, poverty, hunger and desperation.
  3. Though Burkina Faso experienced a boost of gross national income of 95.3 percent between 1990 and 2017 due partly to increased cotton production, it remains among the 10 poorest countries in the world. Around 45 percent of Burkina Faso’s population still lives below the poverty line or has an income lower than $1.25 per day.
  4. Swelling insecurity and sporadic attacks on the borders of Mali and Burkina Faso (and other countries in the Sahel region) plague agro-pastoral regions, forcing families to flee. The conflict and droughts have raged on since 2012 and displaced many, including the 24,000 Malian refugees who fled to Burkina Faso. Levels of violence are proportionate to the levels of child malnutrition and food shortage.
  5. The cost of food in Burkina Faso increased by 2.7 percent between August 2017 and August 2018. At the same time, less money is coming into Burkina Faso as exports fell from 602.2 units in July to 434.8 units in 2019.
  6. Cotton accounts for 70 percent of Burkina Faso’s exports. When Burkina Faso’s government phased out genetically engineered cotton seeds in 2017, cotton production plummeted. Farmers are worried the country will not regain ground unless the agricultural sector modernizes. Mali cotton production surpassed Burkina Faso for the first time in a decade. Studies reported by the Alliance for Science show the introduction of genetically engineered cotton to Burkina Faso led to a 22 percent increase in yield and households gained an average profit of 51 percent. However, the government’s rejection of genetically engineered cotton reversed all this progression, and drought and pasture shortages affected the highly agricultural country as well.
  7. Cotton agriculture employs about 20 percent of the working population, a number that has been challenged due to the struggling production and phasing out of genetically engineered seeds. Seidu Konatey, a local farmer, expressed in early 2018 that if the situation continues through 2019, his farm will abandon cotton production. Refugees and displaced families have very little job security, a number exacerbated by the conflicts in the Sahel region.
  8. Burkina Faso is a great example to show how a lower than the average Human Development Index can affect education. Country’s 1.5 mean years of schooling is well below the low Human Development Index bar of 4.7 years. The average number of school years in sub-Saharan Africa overall is 5.6 years, with Burkina Faso resting at the meager end of the scale.
  9. The World Food Program (WFP) has been helping those impacted by the Sahel food crisis since 2012 by providing treatment for acute malnutrition and dispensing food. WFP also distributes food and assistance to orphans and HIV patients and provides breakfast and school lunches to children in the Sahel region. Supporting farmers’ organizations by linking them with buyers, offering training, and restoring land, WFP combats hunger on many levels.
  10. The number of people from Burkina Faso in need of food quadrupled in 2018. The European Union directed $18.2 million in 2018 to Burkina Faso, ensuring children receive the nutrition and medicines they need. The EU gave treatment to 187,000 children under the age of 5 and launched a new disaster risk reduction program this year. This includes resilience methods such as safety nets and free health care.

Diversification of the agricultural force in Burkina Faso will help strengthen the market and shift the focus from stalling cotton crops toward the production of different products. Projects promoting greater production and technological advances in agricultural work towards lifting the extremely impoverished out of this cycle. Greater exports and modernization of the industry will contribute to less hunger and a more balanced economy that can alleviate food inflation. Humanitarian aid has made a difference, as these top 10 facts about hunger in Burkina Faso show, but millions of people are still in need of food security and medical assistance for acute malnutrition.

– Hannah Peterson
Photo: Flickr

Cuatro Por VenezuelaVenezuela continues to face an extreme humanitarian crisis with a failing economy, medicine and food shortages and violence. Thousands have fled, and many of those that remain are struggling to find the necessary resources to survive.

While there are many complex issues involved, alleviating the crisis in Venezuela is within the reach of virtually anyone who wants to contribute. The Cuatro Por Venezuela Foundation is providing the way by collecting donations and resources from individuals throughout the world who want to get involved in the cause.

How Cuatro Por Venezuela alleviating the crisis in Venezuela?

In 2016, The Cuatro Por Venezuela Foundation was founded by four Venezuelan women living in The United States. With the vision of fundraising to deliver resource packages to Venezuelans in need, they have made tremendous progress in a short amount of time, delivering supplies to more than 130 hospitals and institutions in 14 of the 23 states in Venezuela.

The foundation’s Health Program focuses on four core objectives: decreasing the medicine and medical supply shortages, preventing complications from chronic diseases, decreasing the resurgence of diseases through vaccinations and prevention methods and decreasing the mortality of hospitalized patients. The annual report for the organization showed that they served 17,375 medical patients last year.

The desperation associated with the medicine shortages and inflation in Venezuela has led to the rise of black markets. While these markets have created greater access to much-needed medicines, this accessibility comes at a great risk. José Oberto Leal, the President at the School of Medicine in Zulia, Venezuela, has “found that a lot of them [the drugs] have not been maintained at proper temperatures.”

The need for organizations, like Cuatro Por Venezuela, that can properly maintain and deliver these very medications is abundant in times like these. Its efforts are vital to alleviating further medical issues for locals in a time when medical institutions are unstable, understaffed and lacking in resources.

Other Projects by Cuatro Por Venezuela

Beyond fundraising and mailing supplies, the organization is getting involved on the ground alleviating the crisis in Venezuela. One of the foundation’s most recent projects, Projecto Nodriza in Petare, Caracas, is delivering food to mothers in the area to use to cook for their families. They are also sending nutritionists to guide local mothers on ways in which they can eat properly and provide proper natal care for their babies with limited resources.

The organization’s Food Program is its newest branch, having started in May 2017. In just seven months, 20,000 meals were delivered to orphanages, nursing homes and to local organizations that cook for the homeless. Meals were also delivered to rural schools, providing students with at least one meal a day on school days and weekends.

As the economy has failed, so too have the school systems in Venezuela. Annual school dropout rates have doubled since 2011, in part due to the inability of many low-income families to buy school uniforms, shoes, backpacks and other required supplies, according to the foundation. Cuatro Por Venezuela is not only addressing the health and food crises but it is also improving access to education for low-income children through a program called Schools with Smiles.

Cuatro Por Venezuela is alleviating the crisis in Venezuela on several levels. In doing so, they are providing a platform for ordinary people to get involved, whether it be through their grassroots initiatives on the ground in local communities or from afar through donations and resource packages. As a U.S. based foundation, Cuatro Por Venezuela’s grassroots initiatives allow them to have a meaningful impact on the lives of the people they serve and ensure that their donors’ dollars are making it to those communities as well.

While solving the grand issues behind the economic crisis in Venezuela may not be in the foundation’s repertoire, making a difference in the lives of those most affected by the crisis is. The efforts of Cuatro Por Venezuela, as well as those of its partners and donors, have and will continue to be a key part of alleviating the crisis in Venezuela.

– Julius Long

Photo: Flickr

Combatting the Currency Crisis in ArgentinaArgentina has experienced quite a few economic struggles in the past decade. The country now faces its fifth recession in the past ten years and its currency, the Argentine peso, has lost a third of its value. Now the lowest performing currency in the world, the currency crisis in Argentina imposes the new challenge to revamp its peso and bypass the friction of its economy.

Who Is Affected?

Virtually everyone in Argentina is affected by this crisis. Business owners who expected to succeed in their business endeavors, due to the nature of Argentine markets and demand, are evidently experiencing a consumer drought.

Moreover, current negotiation details between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Argentina’s government have consequences for the public. Infrastructure projects will be postponed, subsidies cut, transfers to the provinces reduced and the federal payroll shrunk. Social unrest has followed already as the General Confederation of Labour, the greatest trade-union group in Argentina, protested against the government’s economic policies on June of 2018.

How Did the Crisis Commence?

Wolf Richter, a writer who featured on Business Insider, described the origin of the currency crisis in a simple yet concise fashion. Lending money to Argentina’s government is a tricky venture since lending to the government in its own currency devastates their peso and lending in a foreign currency leads to defaulting of the loan.

The currency crisis in Argentina started from reasons outside of the country’s control as well as the institutional reactions to them. Argentina underwent the greatest drought in 50 years at the beginning of this year, specifically affecting the harvesting of two export crops: maize and soybeans. A stronger U.S. dollar and Treasury yields led to the risk aversion of international investors, leaving riskier assets. Thereafter, Argentina’s peso, alongside Mexico’s peso, Brazil’s real, Turkey’s lira and Russia’s ruble, struggled.

Following these uncontrollable forces, the Central Bank of Argentina raised interest rates to a staggering 40 percent in the hope of helping the Argentine peso. The endeavor did not work as planned. Argentina’s president Mauricio Macri and his administration took a $50 billion loan from the IMF. President Macri collaborated with senators, governors and other leaders in order to get the country on board with the plan. Nevertheless, the public is skeptical because of Argentina’s past experiences with the IMF, such as the 1990s Convertibility Plan that fell through and spiraled into one of the greatest economic crises for Argentina.

Possible Solutions

Solutions to this problem that directly involves Argentina and international organizations, proposed by different institutions, are as follows:

  1. Make the IMF more sensitive to political realities
  2. Selectively slash government spending
  3. Avoid overvaluation of the currency
  4. Address fiscal problems in a timely manner
  5. Devaluate the Argentine peso
  6. Revise fiscal and economic policies that tend to disrupt the peso

The currency crisis in Argentina is undergoing a tug and pull from differing sides. The public keeps a retrospective mindset as they remember the past events of the 1990s and early 2000s. On the other hand, President Macri holds onto a prospective plan, trying to help Argentina climb out on top and even willing to take a $50 billion loan from the IMF. There are a number of solutions that have been drawn out. Although Argentina struggles to find a national consensus, the gears are in motion to eradicate this crisis and past mistakes are increasingly considered as citizens politically mobilize.

Roberto Carlos Ventura
Photo: Flickr

SOS Méditerranée Saving the Distressed at SeaThousands of migration attempts across the Mediterranean take place every year. By mid-November of 2017, over 150,000 people reached Europe by sea. During this time, almost 3,000 were found dead or declared missing. NGOs accounted for 40 percent of all lives saved in the Mediterranean during the first half of 2017.

SOS Méditerranée is a European maritime and humanitarian organization responsible for the rescue of lives in the Mediterranean. The organization was created in response to the deaths in the Mediterranean and the failure of the European Union to prevent them. Its mission focuses on three key points: to save lives, to protect and assist and to testify. It was founded by private citizens in May of 2015 and works as a European association with teams in Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland. Together the countries work as a European network,  jointly financing and operating the rescue ship Aquarius.

Since February of 2016, Aquarius has operated in international waters between Italy and Libya. Since then, the rescue ship has welcomed more than 27,000 refugees aboard. Once aboard, Aquarius provides emergency medical treatment through its partnership with Doctors Without Borders. This supports the organization’s second key mission, to protect and assist. It provides both medical and psychological care to those on board and then works to connect them to supporting institutions in Europe.

In early March of 2018, the Aquarius welcomed aboard 72 survivors from a merchant ship after two tragic operations in the Central Mediterranean. The Aquarius was the only search and rescue vessel present in the area. It was mobilized to search for a boat in distress in international waters east from Tripoli by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome. Its rescue operations involved a complex search of 120 nautical miles over the course of 24 hours. Those rescued were from 12 different countries, mainly in West Africa, but also from Sudan and South Sudan. Once aboard, the survivors were able to receive the medical treatment they desperately needed.

SOS Méditerranée wants to give those rescued a voice, to testify, and show the actual faces of migration in the hope of bringing awareness about refugees in the Mediterranean and remembering those who were unsuccessful in their journeys. Evidence from the Mediterranean Migration Research Programme (MMRP) has examined the dynamics of migration to Europe from 2015 and 2016, as well its difficulties. Its key findings challenge assumptions about the dynamics of migration, including that migration is primarily driven by the need to access jobs and welfare support.

Instead, the MMRP found that the vast majority of people migrate across the Mediterranean by boat because of the belief that their lives are in danger or in hopes of a better future. During its study in 2015 and 2016, nearly 1.4 million people crossed the Mediterranean to Europe. However, due to the absence of legal routes to reach the E.U., migrants resort to dangerous crossings with smugglers. There is an urgent need to greatly expand safe and legal routes for the protection of these migrants.

Thanks to organizations like SOS Méditerranée, there have been thousands of lives saved in the Mediterranean. However, joint efforts must be made in order to prevent any further lives from being lost.

– Ashley Quigley

Photo: Flickr

current global issues

Among all the good in the world, and all the progress being made in global issues, there is still much more to be done. Given the overwhelming disasters that nations, including the U.S., have been or still are going through, it is important to be aware of the most pressing global issues.

Top 10 Current Global Issues

  1. Climate Change
    The global temperatures are rising, and are estimated to increase from 2.6 degrees Celsius to 4.8 degrees Celsius by 2100. This would cause more severe weather, crises with food and resources and the spread of diseases. The reduction of greenhouse emissions and the spreading of education on the importance of going green can help make a big difference. Lobbying governments and discussing policies to reduce carbon emissions and encouraging reforestation is an effective way of making progress with climate change.
  2. Pollution
    Pollution is one of the most difficult global issues to combat, as the umbrella term refers to ocean litter, pesticides and fertilizers, air, light and noise pollution. Clean water is essential for humans and animals, but more than one billion people don’t have access to clean water due to pollution from toxic substances, sewage or industrial waste. It is of the utmost importance that people all over the world begin working to minimize the various types of pollution, in order to better the health of the planet and all those living on it.
  3. Violence
    Violence can be found in the social, cultural and economic aspects of the world. Whether it is conflict that has broken out in a city, hatred targeted at a certain group of people or sexual harassment occurring on the street, violence is a preventable problem that has been an issue for longer than necessary. With continued work on behalf of the governments of all nations, as well as the individual citizens, the issue can be addressed and reduced.
  4. Security and Well Being
    The U.N. is a perfect example of preventing the lack of security and well being that is a serious global issue. Through its efforts with regional organizations and representatives that are skilled in security, the U.N. is working toward increasing the well being of people throughout the world.
  5. Lack of Education
    More than 72 million children throughout the globe that are of the age to be in primary education are not enrolled in school. This can be attributed to inequality and marginalization as well as poverty. Fortunately, there are many organizations that work directly with the issue of education in providing the proper tools and resources to aid schools.
  6. Unemployment
    Without the necessary education and skills for employment, many people, particularly 15- to 24-year olds, struggle to find jobs and create a proper living for themselves and their families. This leads to a lack of necessary resources, such as enough food, clothing, transportation and proper living conditions. Fortunately, there are organizations throughout the world teaching people in need the skills for jobs and interviewing, helping to lift people from the vicious cycle of poverty.
  7. Government Corruption
    Corruption is a major cause of poverty considering how it affects the poor the most, eroding political and economic development, democracy and more. Corruption can be detrimental to the safety and well being of citizens living within the corrupted vicinity, and can cause an increase in violence and physical threats without as much regulation in the government.
  8. Malnourishment & Hunger
    Currently there are 795 million people who do not have enough to eat. Long-term success to ending world hunger starts with ending poverty. With fighting poverty through proper training for employment, education and the teaching of cooking and gardening skills, people who are suffering will be more likely to get jobs, earn enough money to buy food and even learn how to make their own food to save money.
  9. Substance Abuse
    The United Nations reports that, by the beginning of the 21st century, an estimated 185 million people over the age of 15 were consuming drugs globally. The drugs most commonly used are marijuana, cocaine, alcohol, amphetamine stimulants, opiates and volatile solvents. Different classes of people, both poor and rich, partake in substance abuse, and it is a persistent issue throughout the world. Petitions and projects are in progress to end the global issue of substance abuse.
  10. Terrorism
    Terrorism is an issue throughout the world that causes fear and insecurity, violence and death. Across the globe, terrorists attack innocent people, often without warning. This makes civilians feel defenseless in their everyday lives. Making national security a higher priority is key in combating terrorism, as well as promoting justice in wrongdoings to illustrate the enforcement of the law and the serious punishments for terror crimes.

With so many current global issues that require immediate attention, it is easy to get discouraged. However, the amount of progress that organizations have made in combating these problems is admirable, and the world will continue to improve in the years to come. By staying active in current events, and standing up for the health and safety of all humans, everyone is able to make a difference in changing the fate of our world.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr

 

 

Youth Unemployment Rate in GreeceThe youth unemployment rate in Greece has reached tremendously high levels and is resulting in the growth of poverty among young Greeks, in addition to stunting the development of the Greek economy. As of May 2017, the youth unemployment rate in Greece reached a staggering 46 percent. This rate means that roughly half of the Greek youth population are unable to find employment opportunities.

Looking at the high rate of youth unemployment, one factor can be seen as its primary cause: Greek debt.

In 2011, due to its ballooning debt levels and fears that Greece would default on its debt, European counterparts were forced to give Greece a bailout package of 109 billion. As part of the loan, however, major credit rating agencies gave Greece a rating along with a disclaimer saying there would be a substantial risk of default on Greek debt.

By giving Greece this rating, the country pushed away potential investors in the Greek economy, and, in combination with the effects of Greek austerity programs, substantially hurt the growth potential of the Greek economy. The adverse effects observed in Greece are exemplified by the fact that the country’s economy has contracted by a quarter since the crisis began.

The minimum wage in Greece is calculated differently for younger people than it is for people over 30, so young Greeks who have a job are often paid at a significantly lower rate than older workers.

As an overall effect on poverty in Greece, the high youth unemployment rate will very obviously impact the country and raise its poverty rate. As the Greek economy continues to deteriorate and young people continue to go without opportunities to work, the poverty rate in the country will inevitably grow.

Going hand-in-hand with the increase in the rate of poverty among young people in Greece is the level of youth homelessness. As the unemployment rate continues to climb, the rate of homelessness among Greek youth – in addition to the rate of substance abuse – both continue to rise.

Overall, the youth unemployment rate in Greece is elevating enough to become a significant issue requiring foreign assistance to resolve. As countries capable of proving support, the United States and Greece’s European counterparts must increase aid to help Greece combat this problem. By focusing efforts on increasing the success of the Greek economy, issues such as youth unemployment will certainly begin seeing improvement.

Garrett Keyes

Education During CrisisIt seems that every day, a new crisis emerges in some area of the world. Whether it is a natural disaster, war or a political upheaval, there is a common theme: humanitarian aid organizations are quick to respond, while education during crisis falls by the wayside.

In impoverished countries, education is typically lacking, as the need for food and shelter come first. Conflict is a leading cause of both poverty and the suspension of education.

According to An International Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), conflict-affected countries have 20 percent of the world’s primary-school-aged children. Unfortunately, these nations also host 50 percent of the world’s out-of-school children.

Access to a quality education is the United Nation’s fourth sustainable development goal. According to the U.N., “When people can get quality education, they can break from the cycle of poverty… Education is also crucial to fostering tolerance between people and contributes to more peaceful societies.”

Many organizations are working to make education during crisis a top priority. One such organization, Education Cannot Wait, is thinking of innovative ways to give children in poor situations a quality education.

In alliance with the U.N.’s sustainable development goal, Education Cannot Wait cites five challenges that need to get conquered for all of the world’s children to receive adequate education by the year 2030. They are as follows:

  1. Lack of prioritization (during emergencies)
    Only two percent of humanitarian aid during a crisis gets given to educational programs.
  2. Poor coordination between humanitarian and development groups
  3. Preparedness in the educational sector is a problem during emergencies.
    According to the INEE, individual sectors should create contingency plans that will help in creating a cohesive procedure for education during a crisis.
  4. Insufficient humanitarian funding
    Currently, $8.5 billion is needed annually to close the education gap. Humanitarian and development efforts have not matched the frequency of crisis.
  5. Lack of real-time data
    As the problem of inadequate education during crisis is often unrecognized, the data collected on the issue is not enough to promote change.

Many people are simply unaware that there is a problem of a lack of education during a crisis. One of the most important tools in counteracting the problem is knowledge and awareness. This is why the U.N. is also working to inform people and give clear ways to help. Here are a few ways to help today:

  • Ask your government leaders to make education a priority in policy and practice.
  • Lobby the government to commit to free, primary school education for all.
  • Encourage the private sector to invest in education.
  • Urge non-governmental organizations to foster the growth of education at the local level.

Madeline Boeding

Photo: Google

Cholera Crisis in Somalia
For the vast majority of developing countries, poor water quality and waterborne disease are the biggest contributors to mortality rates. For the people of Somalia, this reality has only been made more evident in their recent cholera crisis.

Cholera is an acute diarrheal disease.  It has the potential to kill its victims within hours if left untreated. Not only is the disease extremely virulent and easy to contract, but it also kills at unprecedented speed and is often difficult to detect.

The transmission of cholera gets often linked to a lack of access to clean water sources and sanitation facilities. This type of environment is particularly characteristic of the peri-urban slums of Somalia where open defecation is commonplace, and populations get crowded together.

The cholera crisis in Somalia stems from an endemic food deficiency that has plagued the country for years and has placed them on the brink of famine. Drought and extreme food insecurity have forced Somalian farmers into crowded urban areas putting an even greater strain on the limited clean water sources and contributing to the poor hygiene problem. After three consecutive years of failed rains, the current drought has resulted in more than 600 deaths. Most of these were related to acute watery diarrhea or cholera.

A humanitarian coordinator notes of the crisis: “Open defecation not only puts women’s dignity and security at risk, but it also poses a serious health hazard.” In addition to providing vaccines and treatment for existing cases of cholera, it is imperative that Somalians acknowledge the dangers of poor hygiene habits on their health and prioritize finding alternatives.

CARE Somalia is making an impact on the crisis through water, sanitation and hygiene efforts to prevent the onset of the disease. Alongside the Ministry of Health in Somalia, they reached over 250,000 people and potentially save the lives of thousands.

Another integral part of the organization’s humanitarian aid is the distribution of water purification tablets. The tablets can treat large volumes of water with chlorine and disinfect within 30 minutes, killing off bacteria that could transmit typhoid or cholera in a community’s water supply.

Since 2011, CARE invested in water infrastructure and hygiene efforts to curb another famine and improve the cholera crisis in Somalia. Although progress has been made, it is vital to keep the momentum on the project and continue prioritizing infectious disease prevention in poor slums worldwide.

Sarah Coiro

Photo: Flickr


As the rainy season approaches in the war-torn Lake Chad region of Africa, humanitarian organizations stand on high alert. The Lake Chad Basin is composed of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. With some of these countries facing violent attacks from Boko Haram and others in desperate humanitarian circumstances, this upcoming rainy season poses a threat to millions of lives. Fortunately, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), USAID and other humanitarian organizations are coming together to figure out solutions to the Lake Chad crisis.

The focal threat of the rainy season is disease and famine, caused by flooding and muddy roads which limit the accessibility and mobility of populations. With more than seven million people already suffering from malnutrition in this region, the threat of the rainy season puts 17 million individuals, mainly women and children, directly at risk. Of those 17 million, 5.6 million children are in danger of contracting water-borne diseases such as cholera, which can prove fatal if not treated.

Amplified by the violence occurring in the Lake Chad region (specifical conflict in Northern Nigeria), the threat of this upcoming rainy season is palpable. Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria prevents much of the aid from reaching the affected population. The group has also destroyed vital infrastructure such as medical clinics, schools, water pipelines, bridges and roads, which has left many without access to essential services.

With 2.3 million people already displaced in the Lake Chad region, it is essential that humanitarian organizations work with haste. After meeting at the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region, international humanitarian agencies have devised a response plan for 2017. However, it will require a budget of $1.5 billion, which is out of reach for most aid agencies.

Despite the lack of funding, UNICEF and its partners have stayed committed to the cause, going to the communities at the highest risk for cholera outbreaks and teaching families about sanitation and how to protect themselves against water-borne infections. In Niger, Cameroon and Chad, the distribution of essential drugs and bars of soaps have helped out the citizens living in internally displaced persons’ camps. Humanitarian organizations are also urging the governments of the affected populations to take their responsibilities seriously and protect their civilians.

Despite the difficulties faced by both the concerned communities and the aid organizations trying to reach them, UNICEF, the WHO and other international humanitarian agencies still dedicate their resources to helping those in the Lake Chad crisis.

Kelly Hayes

Photo: Flickr