Earthquake in Indonesia
On November 21, 2022, a 5.6 magnitude earthquake hit the Cianjur region, located on the west coast of Indonesia’s Java Island. The earthquake was particularly deadly with a shallow epicenter of 6.2 miles deep. Records showed a minimum of 140 aftershocks by November 23. Search and rescue attempts have occurred so that people can locate their loved ones. This is an earthquake that will undoubtedly have an immense effect on poverty for Indonesia already has 9.5% of its population living in poverty as of March 2022. This article will be laying out what the effects of the earthquake in Indonesia are presently and will be in the future as well as the initiatives already in place to help mitigate the damage.

The Damage

As a result of the earthquake in Indonesia, more than 73,800 people have experienced displacement due to the destruction of more than 22,000 buildings. Many of the people displaced have been moved to shelters, providing temporary medical assistance, food, water and a place to stay. On the other hand, some are staying outside near their homes as they look for missing loved ones. The earthquake damaged 63,219 houses in Cianjur, and of that number, the earthquake seriously damaged 26,237. Due to this, citizens will not have a secure place to call home nor have a stable income with unemployment since the earthquake destroyed workplaces or caused injuries.

Furthermore, children have accounted for a third of the approximate 310 killed. Many children were in lessons when the earthquake hit leading to questions about the best way to reconstruct schools so they can withstand earthquakes. University of Indonesia Engineering professor Widjojo Prakoso stated that “School buildings should get special attention because they are not only supposed to withstand earthquakes, but they should also act as temporary shelter during disasters.” Indonesia’s biggest challenge regarding education has been to improve quality instead of access, with the Indonesian Government hoping to develop a world-class education system by 2025. However, the Indonesia earthquake is likely to halt, or at least delay these efforts. The earthquake damaged 142 school buildings, resulting in the need for repairs so that people can access them.

The Impact of the Earthquake on Poverty

A natural disaster as severe as the Indonesia earthquake will undoubtedly have a long-term impact on poverty in the country. As aforementioned, poverty is at 9.5% based on the national poverty line, which means that a significant proportion of the country lives in impoverished circumstances. Indonesia’s location as a hotspot for natural disasters has an impact on poverty as infrastructure is very difficult to build and maintain. This earthquake will add to the already high amounts of economic pressure facing the country.

Places that are more economically stable are able to prepare and build infrastructure according to their geography in relation to vulnerability to natural hazards, but for nations such as Indonesia, this proves to be harder. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has committed to ensuring that all damaged homes are rebuilt so they are earthquake-resistant. However, considering that 43% of Indonesia’s population live in rural areas and in poorly constructed homes, this is a huge feat to tackle. 

The earthquake has affected stability, both economically and mentally. Yayasan CARE Peduli Humanitarian and Emergency Response Manager Renee Manoppo stated that “The community remains traumatized and fearful of reentering their homes – they will require a lot of support in the coming weeks, months and years.” 

Initiatives to Help

Victims of the Indonesia earthquake are already experiencing help through the implementation of numerous emergency funds, deployment of emergency response teams and the provision of resources. It has been proven time and time again that help from external nations at a time of crisis is vital in a country’s recovery and the need for this help is even more prominent in developing nations. Emergency funds collect donations to help damaged communities rebuild and recover. Immediate needs require monetary support from organizations for things such as medical supplies, food, water, tents and other temporary shelters, fuel and personnel. In order to help the rescue efforts, the Indonesian Red Cross has already mobilized items including 13 personnel, 800 hygiene kits, 20,000 medical masks and 300 mattresses 

Looking Ahead

The earthquake in Indonesia will likely have long-term effects. However, it is the above efforts that will help them along this long road to recovery.

Ruby Wallace
Photo: Flickr

Earthquake in Afghanistan
In June 2022, the citizens of Khōst, Afghanistan faced the aftermath of a 5.9-magnitude earthquake. The tragedy that claimed more than 1,000 lives is responsible for the annihilation of hundreds of houses, increased poverty in Afghanistan and the need for aid to support Afghanistan’s already large homeless population.

Poverty in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is infamous for having some of the most brutal poverty in the world, with many families living in houses solely made out of mud. Anthony Pantlitz, an immigrant from Guyana, compared the poverty in Afghanistan to “living in the 17th century” because of their lack of basic necessities such as electricity, plumbing and water.

In 2020, nearly half of the population of Afghanistan was living below the national poverty line. During this year, the mortality rate for children under 5 years old was 58 out of every 1,000. Many Afghan citizens have very low expectations for an improvement of the country’s economy, with 87% reporting a struggle to make enough money to upkeep their household. It is estimated that 95% of the people in Afghanistan suffer from consistent monetary issues and are frequently unable to purchase food.

The Earthquake’s Effects

The earthquake in Afghanistan created even more difficult living conditions for the country’s poverty-stricken citizens. These neighborhoods, already treated as outcasts, note that their future looks grim based on their treatment prior to the disaster. The citizens say that many outside countries have come to their aid with short-lived items, like food and tents, but have not done much more to help them rebuild their now-destroyed region.

UNHCR

UNHCR has prepared to build earthquake-resilient houses in Afghanistan. Funded with $14 million, the project is able to provide the cost of not only the supplies for the homes but around $700 to give each family in order to cover the payment for builders’ labor. With this budget, they will begin to construct over 2,300 homes, 2,000 in Paktika and 300 in Khōst. The houses will be earthquake-resilient and “winterized,” built in order to withstand the grueling winter weather.

UNHCR is also increasing various types of aid for poverty in Afghanistan. The agency, acting on an “emergency response,” has provided water, shelter, heat and much more to families in danger. A very important issue to the UNHCR is providing these items during the winter months, as many families have no more than a blanket to survive the freezing temperatures; the agency has provided “blankets, stoves, solar lanterns, insulation kits and support for heating, clothing and vital household supplies.”

However, UNHCR still urges others to help. A single organization cannot fight an entire crisis on its own, especially because the company estimates that Afghanistan needs around $8 billion to fund its humanitarian plan. With this budget, UNHCR will be able to send out emergency items at a much more rapid pace. UNHCR accepts donations towards decreasing the number of citizens who fall into poverty in Afghanistan.

– Aspen Oblewski
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Providing Earthquake Relief to MexicoLocated in the southern region of North America, Mexico is among one of the most economically disparate nations in the world. This broad inequity is largely a result of the political and economic corruption that is commonplace within the country and has resulted in approximately 41.9% of the nation’s constituents living below the poverty line as of 2018. Unfortunately, a recent earthquake in Mexico has likely caused an increase in this number, but organizations are on the ground providing earthquake relief to Mexico.

Context

On September 19, 2022, an earthquake with a 7.6 magnitude hit Mexico’s central pacific coast. This date, in fact, marked the anniversary of two previous highly damaging earthquakes that hit Mexico City in 1985 and in 2017. Mexico has had a long history of natural weather disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and volcanic eruptions. These unpredictable disasters contribute to the high poverty rate within the country. Natural weather disasters are responsible for the destruction of crucial infrastructure and result in mass displacement.

The most recent September 19 earthquake, in specific, resulted in damage to hospitals, malls, hotels, homes, parking lots and highways. Major parts of the city also faced power losses. Though the area reported no immediate casualties, reports confirm that the earthquake led to the death of at least one person. Mexico is in need of immediate aid.

3 Charities Providing Earthquake Relief to Mexico

  1. Direct Relief. Direct Relief began operations in Santa Barbara California in 1948 as an organization dedicated to “improving the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies – without regard to politics, religion or ability to pay.” The organization provides aid to territories all over the globe, including Mexico. Since 2010, it has provided Mexico with more than $57 million worth of medical assistance, more than 1.2 million pounds of medical supplies and more than 22 million “doses of medication.” In terms of Mexico’s most recent devastation, Direct Relief is providing earthquake relief to Mexico by offering assistance and aid (both physical and financial) to local and federal response agencies.
  2. Red Cross. The Red Cross began operations in Washington D.C. in 1881 as an organization dedicated to “protecting human life and health” and offers a wide range of services across the globe. The Red Cross has a primary focus on disaster relief but also provides blood services and humanitarian aid during global conflicts while working to improve global hygiene through water and sanitation initiatives. Its specific work in Mexico relating to the September 19 earthquake includes sending out Red Cross teams to monitor all regions impacted by the earthquake. In addition to its data collection, 57 Red Cross paramedics are on-call in Mexico City, ready to support affected constituents.
  3. All Hands and Hearts. This foundation came about in 2005 with headquarters in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. All Hands and Hearts is an organization dedicated to “helping families recover faster after natural disasters through community and volunteer engagement.” All Hands and Hearts’ earthquake relief program in Mexico began after the September 2017 earthquake in Central Mexico. The team devised a five-phase plan to reconstruct schools and piloted several natural disaster education programs within the country, positively impacting more than 2,400 students. This program is still in progress providing earthquake relief to Mexico today.

Looking Ahead

While natural disasters are powerful enough to destroy infrastructure and displace thousands in poverty, it is crucial to remember the important work of organizations in the aftermath of these crises. Together, these relief organizations promise a better tomorrow for forcefully displaced Mexicans.

-Aarika Sharma
Photo: Flickr

Helping Afghanistan
On June 22, 2022, a magnitude 6.1 earthquake devastated eastern Afghanistan. An aftershock struck the same area, temporarily stopping all aid and recovery efforts on June 24. The earthquakes took the lives of approximately 1,000 people and destroyed nearly 10,000 houses, a number that poor rural infrastructure in Afghanistan exacerbated. The immediate danger stemming from the earthquake has now subsided and hundreds of thousands of Afghans still desperately need medical attention, shelter and aid. Fortunately, the international community has met the call to action. Here are four ways the international community is helping Afghanistan recover from its deadly earthquakes.

Temporary Shelters

Several countries and organizations have sent temporary shelters to Afghanistan. Poor rural infrastructure, with many people living in mud homes, characterizes much of the affected portion of Afghanistan. On June 23, the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) delivered 600 tents, 4,200 blankets and 1,200 plastic sheets to the country alongside other household supplies such as buckets and solar lamps. The U.S. announced on June 28 that it will be delivering temporary shelters to the country, though it has not disclosed the quantity. In all, the U.S. will send temporary shelters alongside water collection vessels, blankets, lamps, pots and clothes.

Medical Supplies

Now that the immediate danger of the earthquake has passed and rescue efforts have concluded, the difficult task of treating survivors and dealing with the medical fallout associated with temporary shelters and natural disaster aftermath begins. The already overburdened medical system in Afghanistan, with many hospitals being understaffed or outright closed due to a lack of supplies and personnel, has made the situation worse. Neighboring countries, the United States, UNHCR and the World Health Organization (WHO) are helping Afghanistan by delivering medical supplies.

On June 22, hours after the initial earthquake, WHO sent 10 tonnes of medical equipment to the region, enough to perform 5,400 surgeries and treat an estimated 36,000 people. In addition to treating survivors, much of the medical equipment will go towards preventative measures. The population of East Afghanistan is in severe danger of waterborne illness in the coming weeks and months. To counter this, much of the supplies that UNHCR and the United States sent come in the form of sanitation, hygiene and water supplies.

Workers on the Ground

UNHCR deployed several exports to Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. The workers helped set up shelters and supply food and household goods to some 4,200 survivors. Further, additional teams from UNHCR have worked to set up supply hubs in three separate districts in east Afghanistan to facilitate rapid aid delivery. The World Health Organization sent eight ambulances and 20 medical teams alongside medical supplies on June 22.

Financial Support

The government of Afghanistan may have some difficulties in receiving financial aid from citizens of the world as well as some countries due to the heavy sanctions that the United States imposed on them. Donations to crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe cannot transfer to Afghanistan banks for that very reason. The U.S. announced on June 28, that it will provide $55 million in aid, some of which is purely financial. However, there have been several calls for the United States to unfreeze some Afghan assets in order to facilitate humanitarian relief. The government of South Korea pledged on June 23, financial support totaling $1 million to help Afghanistan recover from its deadly earthquake.

Looking Ahead

Efforts in helping Afghanistan recover from its deadly earthquakes are well underway. Delivery of medical supplies, temporary shelters, household goods and financial aid have been plentiful and will continue to ease the suffering of thousands of Afghans. Additional help on the ground from UNHCR and other agencies has also sped up the recovery process while keeping victims of the earthquakes safe. Despite this, the recovery will remain a long and arduous task. Fortunately, the international community has thus far been sufficient in providing aid and shows no signs of stopping.

Benjamin Brown
Photo: Flickr

Ryan Reynolds and Blake LivelyHaiti’s present reflects its past as a French colony, when the country faced intensive slavery, natural resource exploitation and a costly independence process, among other abuses and challenges. As of 2019, almost 60% of Haiti’s population lives in poverty, experiencing problems such as a lack of access to clean water, electricity and sanitation. Moreover, the Associated Press affirms that the country has not fully recovered from the 2010 earthquake or the 2016 hurricane. The assassination of Haiti’s president Jovenel Moïse on July 7 intensified the nation’s instability at the political level. 

The 7.2 magnitude earthquake that happened on August 14, 2021, exacerbated an already difficult situation. Now, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere is even more endangered. Fortunately, the event had an effect on some celebrities including Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, who went out of their way to help Haiti after the most recent earthquake. Although the country needs much more help to be lifted out of poverty, donations from celebrities and the general population can make a positive and meaningful impact.

The Earthquake Horror

Geological studies show that Haiti is prone to earthquakes because it sits near a boundary between two tectonic plates. Furthermore, the makeshift material used to construct most of the country’s buildings has proved to be susceptible to the violent shaking of the ground. In 2010, for example, around 100,000 buildings collapsed because of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. The most recent event on August 14 destroyed more than 50,000 homes, killed at least 2,207 and injured more than 12,200 people. USA Today stated that “more than 3,000 humanitarian nongovernmental organizations operate in Haiti” amid an atmosphere of both sadness and hope. The country stands to benefit from different kinds of aid, including food and personal hygiene supplies. 

A Notable Donation to Haiti

Some celebrities have been pitching in and doing their part to improve Haiti’s situation. A few days after the earthquake, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds donated a total of $40,000 to 4 humanitarian organizations assisting the population in the country. Hope for Haiti received a fourth of the amount and thanked the couple on social media. On Instagram, Hope for Haiti posted, “Our entire organization would like to thank @vancityreynolds and @blakelively for their generous donation to our #HaitiEarthquake Response & Recovery efforts.”

The organization also said, “This donation will help empower our team to continue to respond in the hardest-hit areas of southern Haiti in the days and weeks to come.” According to People, the organization stated that the money will be used to build clinics and pay for food delivery costs from World Central Kitchen. The other three organizations that received the donations are Ayiti Demen (Fokal Haiti Relief Fund), Airlink Haiti Relief and Haiti Air Ambulance Service.

The Power Couple’s Philanthropy Example

Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds have a history of philanthropy that can inspire other celebrities and the public. In 2020, the couple donated $1 million to two food banks in the U.S. and in Canada as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact. The couple donated another $1 million to the same two organizations at the beginning of 2021. The couple also pitches in to help non-emergency causes; for example, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds gave “$250,000 USD to help launch a Canadian mentorship program for Indigenous post-secondary student” this year.

The couple’s most recent move was to help Haiti after the earthquake’s devastation. Considering their philanthropic history, it will not be the last time they give back to those who need it. Events similar to the earthquake in Haiti expose the nation’s vulnerable system and the suffering of a population that calls for broader, global help. Although it is only part of the poverty-reduction equation, the money donated by celebrities inspires the public’s action, draws attention to the cause and equips humanitarian organizations to better provide local services.

– Iasmine Oliveira

Photo: Flickr

Reconstruction in HaitiHaiti is a country in the Caribbean with a population of 11.2 million. In 2010, more than 200,000 Haitians died in a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that also destroyed much of the country’s properties and infrastructure. Destruction from the earthquake has since been compounded by other natural disasters, unrest and disease outbreaks. The United States allocated USAID funding for reconstruction in Haiti back when the crisis first developed. In April 2021, a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examines how effective this aid was in helping Haiti recover. The report analyzes $2.3 billion of aid over the course of 10 years. The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Gregory Meeks, believes that this report will help identify which U.S. development projects best help Haitian people. In turn, this report has the potential to shape how U.S. aid in Haiti changes going forward.

Overview of Past Aid

The GAO found that USAID dispersed 89% of the total allocated aid to Haiti, with a canceled project to build a new port accounting for much of the remaining portion. In addition to operating expenses, the funding spent on Haiti fell into several categories. Health and disabilities as well as economic and food security made up the majority of spending at a combined 60%. Cholera outbreaks and droughts made these two sectors a high priority for funding. However, the aid that helped Haiti recover from cholera and food insecurity means a smaller portion of USAID funding focused on the physical infrastructure needed for reconstruction in Haiti.

Future USAID Projects

The U.S. Government continues to allocate aid in support of Haiti. Three months before the GAO  published the April 2021 report, the  United States announced additional developmental assistance aid to Haiti worth almost $76 million. U.S. ambassador to Haiti, Michele Sison, commended the work USAID has done so far in advancing health, education, food security and Haiti’s economy. Future projects through the most recently allocated aid will attempt to further progress.

In April 2020, the U.S. committed $16.1 million to exclusively address the COVID-19 outbreak in Haiti. Due to the urgent nature of crisis outbreaks in Haiti, the U.S. Government developed a rapid aid response for the country’s most pressing needs.

The World Bank

Other development agencies also responded directly to the relief required as a result of the earthquake. The World Bank responded to Haiti’s crisis by forming the Infrastructure and Institutions Emergency Recovery Project. This gave special attention to rebuilding vital institutions and infrastructure as part of reconstruction in Haiti. The overall aim was to benefit long-term recovery. These reconstruction activities helped more than 1.1 million Haitians as of May 2019. While the $11.3 billion required to reconstruct the damage from the earthquake far eclipses USAID funding for Haitian aid, the United States can more effectively impact this process by shifting the focus of aid.

The Road Ahead

More than 10 years ago, the country of Haiti experienced a devastating earthquake and USAID formed an aid relationship to assist in the country’s recovery. Since then, the U.S. Government involved itself heavily in improving Haiti’s dire needs when new crises emerge. Through the efforts of the United States and other fundamental organizations, significant progress has been made with regard to reconstruction in Haiti. Further efforts will build the foundation for more long-term recovery.

Viola Chow
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Eradication in HaitiHaiti has experienced a long history of natural disasters and extreme poverty. Despite these challenges, Haiti could eventually thrive through technology and innovation. Technology and innovations in poverty eradication in Haiti have set the stage for new products and ideas, but expertise and transformation have also allowed the country to improve on assets that already exist.

Foreign Direct Investment

Digicel, a communications and entertainment company headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica, set up its mobile phone venture in Haiti in 2005. Until its arrival, operators Comcel-Voilà (now Voilà) and Haïtel controlled the mobile phone market. When Digicel entered the Haiti market, its economic impact was almost immediate. Within two years, Digicel contributed to more than 15% of the Haitian Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Meanwhile, paired with its two competitors, the contribution of all three was more than 25% of the GDP.

During the years 2005-2009, Digicel invested more than $250 million in Haiti’s economy which led to more than 60,000 jobs. Not only had Digicel poured into Haiti’s bottom line with job creation, in a market with two telecom competitors, but it was also able to account for almost 30% of tax revenue. The company has definitely been working on poverty eradication in Haiti.

In 2012, Digicel acquired Voilà, which substantially increased its market share penetration and helped maintain its presence. All of this occurred despite the fact that Haiti had experienced a major earthquake that displaced 5 million people and killed 250,000 people in 2010 on top of the devastation of Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy that occurred in 2012. Those setbacks have not derailed Digicel as of 2020. The company is still strong as it continues to provide innovations in poverty eradication in Haiti by keeping the country connected.

Education: Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)

Many have proven and echoed that children are the future and that they need to have exposure to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to keep pace with the future innovative job market. Haiti’s challenge is that it lacks some capabilities and resources as an underdeveloped country.

Enter the NGO, Pennies for Haiti. This NGO’s long-term goal is to end Haiti’s series of poverty by providing sustenance and educating the country’s children. Meanwhile, its short-term objective is to equip Haiti’s children through education as a means to help them rise above their current situation. While Pennies for Haiti has several ongoing projects that serve 200 people a year, two of the projects focus on education.

The first is Haiti STEM Alliance, which is open to both boys and girls. The second is STEM 4 Girls, which places emphasis on girls. While both of these projects pour their energies into helping each participant achieve higher education and realize the vast employment opportunities in STEM, the difference is that STEM 4 Girls delves into personal growth and the benefits of higher learning. Pennies for Haiti hopes to instill in young women how STEM jobs can open the door to economic freedom.

In addition, the organization visualizes engaging an abundance of youth in the STEM industry as it will create more opportunities for technology and automation careers in Haiti. Pennies for Haiti is counting on the success of both of these programs with a focus on poverty eradication in Haiti and to boost Haiti’s image to the world and make them attractive to those companies who are looking to subcontract jobs as well as showing that they are a leader in gender equality and STEM careers.

Entrepreneurs

People may not know Haiti as a startup oasis, but over 75% of its residents operate some type of business to supplement their income. As a result, it is evident that Haiti is full of citizens who have demonstrated they can build, operate and sustain their own companies. Their startups range from fresh markets to tech platforms, and these enterprises are redefining the Haiti business culture.

One citizen, Christine Souffrant Ntim, who founded the Haiti Tech Summit (2017), has firsthand experience. She answered her entrepreneurial call as a youngster by helping her grandmother and mother sell goods in the streets of Haiti.

The Haiti Tech Summit brings together entrepreneurs, stakeholders, superstars and visionaries to address humanity’s extreme difficulties via tech and entrepreneurship. It has generated tangible results in its short existence such as helping an Airbnb sign a five-year multiple year contract with Haiti’s governmental branch that specializes in culture, tourism and the arts. Also, Facebook launched Haiti’s initial globally recognized grassroots pioneer group in 2017.

The Haiti Tech Summit’s success is based on the Ecosystem Map methodology, a vigorous arrangement of unified organizations that rely on each other for shared survival. As the Summit gains more energy and notoriety across the globe, Ntim’s focus is for the association to become the world’s next major tech innovation hub by 2030.

Poverty eradication in Haiti has made positive headway as it continues to rebuild its community and successfully learn how to navigate a technology-driven society. It has the existing tools to help bridge the gap with the main ingredient, being themselves. With the assistance of foreign aid, continued support of educational equality, especially among girls and entrepreneurs mobilizing the next generation, Haiti should be ready to move into the future with momentum.

Kim L. Patterson
Photo: Pixabay

Homelessness in Albania
In the early hours of November 26, 2019, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake rattled Tirana, the capital city of Albania. Moments later, a second powerful earthquake hit near the coastal city of Durres with strong aftershocks continuing for weeks. Buildings collapsed on people sleeping in bed, who were unable to wake in time to seek safety. As soon as it was safe, rescue crews began to search for survivors in the rubble. In addition to taking lives, this destructive earthquake also caused homelessness in Albania to skyrocket.

The disaster left 51 people dead and more than 900 people hospitalized with injuries. The earthquake was the largest Albania has seen in 30 years and caused significant damage to apartment buildings and houses. With a shortage of recovery funding and complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are facing homelessness in Albania for the first time. These citizens are living in dire need of foreign aid to help them rebuild their homes and communities.

Mass Housing Lost in the Earthquake

Homelessness in Albania remains a significant issue nine months after the earthquake and strong aftershocks rocked the country in late 2019. Albania has one of the lowest GDPs in Europe and is located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea, bordering on Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Greece. The districts near the epicenter, Tirana, Durres and Lezhë, suffered the greatest damage with 32,000 Albanians losing their homes, and nearly 5,080 buildings destroyed or slated for demolition after an assessment deemed them uninhabitable. Another 83,745 buildings were severely damaged.

Immediately after the earthquake, camps were set up to shelter homeless Albanians who slept in tents and temporary shelters created by the Albanian Red Cross (ARC) with the support of aid groups like the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and other U.N. agencies. The damages from the earthquake have affected around 10% of Albania’s 2.9 million citizens, and the poverty rate increased by 2.3% with around 220,000 people impacted by the loss of buildings and infrastructure.

Falling Short on Funding for the Homeless

Despite a worldwide outpouring of support for the small European nation, homelessness in Albania caused by the earthquake remains a major issue. According to a situation report published by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in June 2020, the funding necessary to help Albanians recover from the earthquake is over five million U.S. dollars, but currently, the humanitarian organizations have raised just three million from a range of foreign aid donors. The American Red Cross and U.S. private donors gave close to $21,000 for relief efforts, and the U.S. Embassy in Albania states that it contributed to funding via on-the-ground technical support and through USAID funds provided to UNICEF.

Initially, families were accommodated in shelters and hotels, but for those who wished to stay near their destroyed homes, particularly in more rural areas, many began living in tent camps. As Albania headed into winter, the ARC focused on providing materials for these homeless earthquake victims to stay warm and survive the winter in tents and shelters with sleeping bags, blankets and kitchen kits. Later, the plan was to shift focus to creating permanent housing for them. However, as of June, some 17,000 people remain in temporary housing and shelters. A large group of people in Durres protested on May 26, marking six months after the earthquake, and asked authorities for clarity on the timeline of the reconstruction process. Their lives remain on hold as they wait for permanent housing and aid.

Housing Issues Compounded by COVID-19 Crisis

Albanians who lost their homes in the disaster faced a second crisis when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country in March 2020, compounding their already difficult circumstances. In early March, Albania confirmed the first cases of COVID-19 in the country, and as a result, aid efforts were interrupted as airports closed and movement was temporarily halted. Funding to help the issue of homelessness in Albania has been redirected to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus, further complicating things for the thousands of people struggling to rebuild their lives after the earthquake.

To date, Albania has more than 6,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and still lacks adequate testing infrastructure but has reopened borders, leaving those most vulnerable in the population, namely the homeless, at greater risk. Quarantine rules ask people to stay in their homes, but for those in Albania living in temporary housing and tents, this critical safety measure can be difficult. While USAID has committed to investing $2.4 million for the COVID-19 crisis, it is integral that the issue of homelessness in Albania caused by the earthquake receives equal attention and financial support to stop the spread of the virus and help victims recover from the damage of the earthquake.

Diana Bauza
Photo: Wikimedia

Earthquake Preparedness in Nepal
Nepal sits between two very seismically active tectonic plates that span the length of the Himalayan mountain range. In the 20th-century and again in the early 21st century, devastating earthquakes prompted the Nepali government to create programs that prepare the Nepali people for possible earthquake situations. International organizations were also present and significantly aided earthquake preparedness in Nepal. The development of technological programs that maintain the tracking of people during a panic has made an enormous difference in the way first responders find and rescue people during natural disasters. To keep people safe, it is necessary to have earthquake preparedness programs in place.

Earthquake Education and Planning

The Nepali government created the Kathmandu Valley Earthquake Risk Management Project (KVERMP) in 1997 as an earthquake preparedness initiative. This project instituted an earthquake scenario program that simulated an emergency situation and assigned specific roles to various actors in the towns. A branch of KVERMP includes the School Earthquake Safety Program (SESP). This program provided funding to schools so students could practice earthquake safety drills and masons received training to make the school buildings more resilient. Community members also received safety information along with risk-prevention advice from professionals. Another notable achievement of the KVERMP was the creation of Earthquake Safety Day, which is to promote awareness and normalize new earthquake preparedness safety methods.

The Study on Earthquake Disaster Mitigation of Kathmandu Valley (SEDM) was a study that the Nepalese government initiated in conjunction with the Japan International Cooperation Agency to increase earthquake preparedness in the country. The goal of SEDM was to assess the possible outcomes of major earthquakes in relation to resources, infrastructure and aid. The parties involved suggested various policy changes and committee formations to further promote earthquake preparedness. Most notably, the group suggested the establishment of a National Disaster Council and recommended that the government put a higher priority on policy relating to disaster preparation and mitigation and implement a disaster management plan in each level of government.

Gorkha Earthquake Relief and Recovery

When people in the 21st-century talk about earthquakes in Nepal, they are most likely referring to the April 2015 earthquake near Kathmandu. The magnitude 7.8 quake, also known as the Gorkha earthquake, killed about 9,000 people and injured around 25,000 more. The earthquake was so powerful, that Bangladesh, China and India could feel it and the devastation prompted response crews from all over the world to sift through more than 600,000 damaged structures. These aftershocks led to international organizations partnering with the Nepali government to reconstruct the damaged infrastructure using sustainable tactics. This relief effort built upon the earthquake preparedness that Nepal already put in place.

Nepal’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment wrote a document entitled, Rapid Environmental Assessment (REA), outlining the issues that the 2015 earthquake caused and the frameworks to fix them. Topics that the report covered included damaged water and sanitation facilities, agricultural impacts, education and more. Taking preventative action, such as changing toilet construction methods, should allow for faster reconstruction and less waste containment issues in the case of an earthquake. Among the multitudes of topics the document covers, another example is sustainable land use. Landslides that were dormant for years became free during the earthquake. This is partly due to the misuse of land and tree removal. The REA is calling for the revision of land-use laws and the enforcement of policies.

Life-Saving Technology

Earthquake preparedness comes in many forms. In response to various earthquakes around the world, a nonprofit organization called Flowminder created a population tracking program. Rescue crews use the technology to pinpoint the location of endangered civilians in a timely manner. Utilizing mobile phone data, satellite images and census data, the program analyzes the information and then sends the data to organizations in the midst of disasters. Organizations involved in relief efforts following the 2010 Haiti earthquake used similar programs, so the technology does work. Governments and first responders often struggle to find people in the dynamic aftermath of a crisis. Nepal would have an easier time finding and helping citizens with this sort of technology.

Sustainable Rebuilding

During the Gorkha earthquake, hospitals remained open and functional due to the earthquake preparedness technique of retrofitting. The World Health Organization (WHO) praised the Kathmandu hospital for working diligently to fill cracks and holes as they appeared on walls. The process of retrofitting has been a long-term campaign of the WHO in efforts to promote earthquake preparedness in the health sector. While thousands of other buildings collapsed, the hospital was able to continue to care for patients. The hospital also cited an emergency preparedness plan for the staff’s ability to respond quickly to the crisis. The plan ensured that everyone knew where to go and what to expect after the earthquake hit.

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake in 2015, USAID trained over 900 locals to build earthquake-resistant buildings. In the years after, the organization trained thousands more to help in the effort. The only way to prevent widespread infrastructure devastation is to take every precaution possible so that structures do not fall. USAID also encouraged the construction of seven deep wells in Kathmandu to ensure clean water in case of a natural disaster. Another project working towards earthquake preparedness involved the development of 12 “relief material” warehouses throughout Nepal in case of emergency. The idea was to stockpile supplies before a disaster occurred, allowing relief agencies sufficient amounts of resources to reduce the negative impacts of earthquakes. USAID has been instrumental in the long recovery since 2015 and preventing similar results from the next earthquake.

Creating Open Spaces

The final instance of earthquake preparedness in Nepal is the protection of open spaces. During crises like earthquakes, it is important for first responders and humanitarians to have a place to set up. The urbanization of Nepal has endangered these open spaces and the 2018 National Policy for Disaster Risk Reduction saw this as a threat to optimal earthquake preparedness. As a result, the planners decided to focus attention on the preservation of urban parks. The International Organization for Migration claims that 83 of the 123 parks in the Kathmandu area are at risk for infringement. However, various groups are actively working to protect those open spaces.

Ashleigh Litcofsky
Photo: Flickr

How an Earthquake affected Homelessness in Puerto Rico
An earthquake registering at a 6.4 magnitude struck Puerto Rico on January 7, 2020. Consequently, families are still reeling from its destruction and records state that it was the strongest earthquake in a century. The aftermath of the earthquake has been unbelievable, causing the homelessness in Puerto Rico to spike. Currently, almost 5,000 residents had to move to homeless shelters. Also, there was at least $110 million worth of damage. In addition to the damage, a mass power outage occurred as a result of the earthquake. Reports indicated that nearly all of Puerto Rico did not have access to power.

The Aftermath of Hurricane Maria and the 6.4 Magnitude Earthquake

The last earthquake to register as strong as this one happened in October 1918. That earthquake registered at a magnitude of 7.3 and it took the lives of 116 people.

The latest earthquake has caused havoc throughout Puerto Rico. The aftermath led to 950 earthquakes and aftershocks throughout the area. This has caused even more issues for those who were already going through hardships. Moreover, these aftershocks caused people to evacuate from their homes and seek new places of shelter. Over 200 people took shelter in a nearby gym after an earthquake on Monday, January 6, 2020. However, the 6.4 magnitude earthquake damaged that building and the citizens had to evacuate again.

Homelessness in Puerto Rico After the Hurricanes

The aftermath of Hurricane Maria in September 2017 placed 10,000 people in shelters all across Puerto Rico. The island is still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, as thousands are still homeless and struggling as a result of it. The total damage after Hurricane Maria was around $100 billion.

After the earthquake in early 2020, 5,000 residents remained in homeless shelters even after Puerto Rico restored power. In addition, there are still others who choose to sleep outside of their homes, in order to avoid the damage from aftershocks.

Tourism

The country is planning to use tourism to get the economy back on track and reduce the alarming rate of homelessness in Puerto Rico. Ricardo Rossello and his administration are attempting to encourage visitors to continue to visit the island. They want visitors to continue to show their support for the Island as tourism is vital to recovering the economy.

IsraAID

IsraAID came to the rescue to provide aid for those homeless due to the damage of the 6.4 magnitude earthquake in Puerto Rico in early 2020. This organization has been assisting and helping around Puerto Rico since the devastation that Hurricane Maria caused in 2017. Some teams have been in Puerto Rico since the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

In early 2020, IsraAID initially went to the heart of the damage that the 6.4 magnitude earthquake caused to evaluate and determine what its first steps of assistance should be. It determined where teams should go to provide first aid, clean water, sanitation and psychological assistance.

In the case of Hurricane Maria, IsraAID and other volunteers provided food and water to over 6,000 citizens in six different communities throughout Puerto Rico. The organization set up its own mobile clinics and assisted hundreds of citizens in the poorest areas throughout Puerto Rico. Since this was one of the most catastrophic storms in history, there were a lot of mental health issues related to this event. IsraAID provided mental health treatments and psychological support and assistance to citizens.

Initially, IsraAID set out to assist and help in any way that it could. Since then, its efforts have extended into maintaining resiliency against natural disasters. The organization started working on two projects after Hurricane Maria to ensure and create resilience, working with nearby schools and creating a clean water filtration system in the remote community of El Real.

The current 6.4 magnitude earthquake caused chaos adding up to $110 million worth of damage along with increasing homelessness to 5,000 residents. Tourism could help the economy of Puerto Rico recover while Israeli nonprofit organization IsraAID has been of huge assistance to the residents of Puerto Rico. With continued support, Puerto Rico should be able to reduce its homelessness and improve its economy in the aftermath of its most recent devastating earthquakes.

Jamal Patterson
Photo: Flickr