Information and stories on Natural Disasters

Solutions to Flooding
Flooding — it is one of the ways nature humbles humanity with its destructive prowess. Roaring water and rushing waves seem universal in their destruction, but underneath the surface, there lies a high-risk population: those in poverty. According to a study investigating
floods and poverty in 188 countries, “170 million people [are] facing flood risk and extreme poverty (living on under $1.90 a day).” Solutions to flooding are necessary to combat global poverty. 

In efforts to further understand the link between flooding and poverty, The Disaster Poverty House Survey, founded in 2017, examined five countries to explore the impacts of flooding. It found that people with low incomes experienced far more flood episodes than people with high incomes, and areas much more prone to floods had lower rents by margins of up to 56%, attracting low-income residents. This data conveys a close relationship between flooding and poverty, worsened by developing countries’ poor infrastructure, leading to issues with water drainage and water damage. More so, floods’ ability to wreak havoc in dwellings, roads and other structures in areas without disposable income reveals a startling connection: Flooding intensifies poverty. Thankfully, innovators are pioneering solutions to fight Mother Nature and help those struggling by mitigating the impacts of flooding. Below are three of them. 

Nature Based Solutions 

There is an age-old saying, “Fight fire with fire,” and that is what the Philippines is working towards as a solution to flooding. It aims to tackle this natural issue with natural responses. The United Nations Environment Assembly defines nature-based solutions as actions to “protect, conserve, restore, sustainably use and manage” natural resources and ecosystems. The Philippines, with funding from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), has been implementing green structures to manage flood risk; these include growing and maintaining mangroves, creating connections between rivers, promoting and restoring natural river meandering and reducing erosion with vegetation strips. These green concentrated works reduce erosion by increasing riverbed stability- reducing the risk and severity of floods. 

An added benefit of natural solutions is the effect on the economy and population. Green solutions create green jobs, which provide steady salaries to many. Additionally, the implementation of native flora as solutions to flooding bolsters the national food supply. Added stability to food sources is massive, considering one in 10 households in the Philippines suffers from food insecurity. The approach to tackling flooding is sustainable long-term and fights poverty — uplifting the 18.1% of the Philippine population who live below the national poverty line. 


Hydroseeding is a process of planting that sprays a flurry of seeds across large areas. Hydroseeding is used with vetiver grass to secure riverbeds; vetiver is a long, thin type of grass that can improve soil quality with its long roots, typically 2-4 meters. Large quantities of vetiver grass can reduce soil erosion by 90% and reduce run-off by 70%, stabilizing riverbeds and mitigating flooding damage. While introducing a new species en masse brings up concerns of competition and invasive species, ecologists state the plant is not invasive and does not outcompete for resources, adding to its utility. Vetiver and hydroseeding present themselves as valuable solutions to flooding. 

Water Filters

A staggering 91 million people in India do not have access to clean water. Frequent floods combine with animal waste, dirt and other pollutants to contaminate the water, inhibiting access to clean water. Poor drainage infrastructure also leaves this hazardous water roaming on the streets, which causes further damage. In response, Harjeet Nath, a scientist and assistant professor at Tripura University, invented a water purifier. The filter is around the size of a suitcase and can produce water at a rate of less than half an Indian rupee (around seven cents) per liter. This invention provides more affordable access to water compared to bottled water, which has risen 500% to 100 Indian rupees per liter. Moreover, using the filter reduces the quantity of contaminated water pooling in the streets, which can harbor pathogens and diseases. Nath’s innovative solutions to flooding will no doubt improve the infrastructure and water security of those struggling in India. 

Flooding is an issue that is not disappearing anytime soon. Due to a changing climate, flood-related disasters have risen 134% since 2000. While flooding is a pressing issue with roots in larger systemic problems such as climate change and global poverty, the efforts of many resilient people have provided many solutions to flooding and improved the lives of countless people across the globe. 

– Aditya Arora
Photo: Flickr

Poverty on Sinking IslandsAs the effects of climate change continue to manifest around the world, island nations bear the brunt of rising sea levels. Located in the Pacific Ocean, Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands are just a few of these “sinking islands.” Given their unique circumstances, these islands face distinctive challenges as they fight to fend for themselves. The following is an overview of the issue of poverty on sinking islands.

Tuvalu: Challenges

Tuvalu consists of nine islands, two of which are on the verge of submerging. Scientists predict that Tuvalu could become inhabitable in the next 50 to 100 years. Around three-quarters of the labor force operates in the informal economy, working in subsistence farming or fishing. Even so, Tuvalu’s salty soil renders the ground practically useless for agriculture, and the fish risk being affected by ciguatera poisoning, forcing locals to expend a large sum of money on imports. Furthermore, rising sea levels have contaminated underwater ground supplies, making Tuvalu entirely dependent on rainwater, which, coupled with the alarming frequency of droughts, is unreliable. 

Kiribati: Challenges 

The 33 islands of Kiribati are largely dependent on exports of copra and coconuts. However, a shortage of skilled workers and remoteness from international markets hinder its economic development. In 2019, 21.9% of the population lived below the national poverty line

As one of the most isolated countries in the world, Kiribati is battling several climate-related threats: severe storms cause the sea to invade the land more frequently, destroying crops and inundating homes; malnutrition increases the spread of diseases such as tuberculosis; and the salinization of water makes it hard to grow food and heightens the risk of diarrhea and skin infections. Furthermore, insufficient planning leaves Kiribati especially vulnerable to rising sea levels. 

Marshall Islands: Challenges 

The Marshall Islands is a collection of 29 atolls and five islands. Subsistence agriculture is the country’s primary economic industry, with coconut and breadfruit being the most crucial commercial crops. Commercial fisheries and tourism also generate substantial income. 

In 2018, a third of the nation fled for the United States (U.S.), seeking to escape impending climate hazards, including sea-level rise, droughts and tropical storms. A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts a one-meter rise in the sea level by 2030, meaning entire islands will disappear, and its capital city Maduro will be irreparably flooded. On average, tropical typhoons occur twice a year, causing major landslides and flooding.

Foreign Aid and Potential Solutions

Most of Tuvalu’s GDP comprises donations from the U.N. and nearby countries. The U.N. has been present in Tuvalu since 2000, with 18 agencies actively implementing programs. Moreover, Australia’s partnership with Tuvalu has provided essential medicine and supplies; maintained access to essential goods and services, including education; contributed to the Tuvalu Trust Fund to allow greater economic development; and ensured infrastructure can withstand stubbornly strong winds, coastal erosion and heat waves. Funded by the U.N. Development Program, the construction of a 170-meter-long concrete sea wall to protect the administrative center of the capital is currently in progress. 

Foreign aid accounts for approximately 43% of Kiribati’s finances. The Revenue Equalization Reserve Fund (RERF) — Kiribati’s sovereign fund — holds investments in more than 20 currencies. In July 2023, a Chinese military-run hospital ship arrived in Kiribati, providing medical assistance to the island. In search of a realistic solution, the Kiribati government has purchased land in Fiji in hopes of growing crops and evacuating the whole island should the worst occur. 

Since achieving independence in 1986, the Marshall Islands has operated under a Compact of Free Association with the U.S. The U.S. gives the Marshall Islands more than $80 million in assistance every year, aiding in sectors like education and infrastructure. The country has additionally received aid from Australia, Japan, Taiwan, the U.A.E., Thailand and the E.U. In 2022, the World Bank approved a $30 million project to improve the climate resilience of urban areas in the Marshall Islands. 

Furthering these actions — strengthening infrastructure, building sea walls and buying foreign land — are all potential ways to combat rising sea levels.  

– Lauren Liu 
Photo: Wikimedia

Natural Disasters in HaitiHistorically, Haiti has been one of the most vulnerable countries to natural disasters worldwide, with more than 96% of the population exposed to hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and more. These natural disasters in Haiti only make living in poverty more challenging.

The State of Poverty in Haiti

Due to political, economic and social issues, the poverty rate in Haiti aligns with the World Bank’s extreme poverty line; as of 2021, 30.3% of people in Haiti live on less than $2.15 a day. The state of politics in Haiti has been particularly precarious in the 2020s due to the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 2021. Furthermore, gang violence in Haiti has increased to the point where the Mercy Corps humanitarian group has declared that the country is on the “brink of civil war.” 

The gang violence and political instability in Haiti have worsened poverty rates due to a lack of security and safety; families cannot easily access food and clean water, or go to a hospital or health clinic for fear of being kidnapped or killed by gang members. What’s more, cholera rates have shot up, with 400 weekly cases reported from July 1, 2023. 

Thus, the effects of natural disasters in Haiti have impacted already poor living conditions and increased the rate of poverty significantly. 

Rate of Natural Disasters in Haiti

The World Bank records show that from 1980 to 2020, Haiti experienced a multitude of floods, storms, landslides, droughts, epidemics and earthquakes. The most frequently occurring of these events annually are floods, with an average of 57 taking place yearly from 1980 to 2020. 

In June 2023, Haiti was hit particularly hard by a consecutive flood and earthquake. Mere days after flash floods had displaced 13,000 people and killed 50, a 5.5 magnitude earthquake occurred and destroyed houses, hospitals and roads. According to reports, the death toll stands at four and the number of injured people is 37. Many people were unable to receive medical attention at hospitals due to destroyed roads both caused and worsened by the flood and earthquake combined. 

Dr. Didinu Tamakloe, country director for Project Hope, said to The Guardian, “Disasters keep hitting Haiti, left and right. People have not had sufficient time to recover from previous disasters…” Haiti’s vulnerability to natural disasters is partly due to its position on a fault line between two huge tectonic plates: the North American plate and the Caribbean plate. When these plates shift, Haiti is the most susceptible to any effects it causes. The World Bank states that the frequency of natural disasters in Haiti is also due to its location in the path of Atlantic hurricanes, as well as the steep structure of its land. 

The high rate at which natural disasters occur in Haiti results in a lack of time to recover between disasters. Shortages of resources like food and water often cannot be resolved in time, and structures often cannot be rebuilt before they are affected once more. Therefore, natural disasters in Haiti are a significant driving force behind its high poverty rate. 

The 2010 Earthquake

Another natural disaster in Haiti this century was the earthquake of January 2010, where up to 100,000 people were killed. The fallout of the earthquake left many residents with no access to water, finances, food, shelter and medical equipment. Many were still digging in the rubble for missing loved ones two days after the earthquake occurred. 

Much like in 2023 and 2021, charities did whatever they could to help. For example, the U.N. raised more than £107 million in appeal donations and helped at least 1.8 million people.

What Is Being Done To Help

The Red Cross is constantly helping Haiti in many ways. As of this article’s publication, aid for Haiti is still in its early stages. NGOs are being organized to send to the country to provide assistance, and political negotiations are taking place with Haiti’s prime minister calling for troops from the U.N. to help gain control amid the rising gang violence. 

Charities including UNICEF, the World Food Program (WPF) and the International Organisation for Migration, are working with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to help those affected by the earthquake and floods. The World Food Program is set to distribute 350,000 hot meals to those displaced by the disasters. 

In the aftermath of the August 2021 Earthquake:

  • Six Red Cross ambulances were deployed to transport people from affected areas to health centers. 
  • 25,000 people were provided with essentials like hygienic supplies, blankets, tarpaulins, etc.
  • 32 volunteers worked with Restore Family Links to reunite separated loved ones.
  • Volunteers continually assessed the damage and provided aid where needed. 

While the rate of natural disasters in Haiti is detrimental to the country’s stability, the assistance provided by charities like the Red Cross is what helps them to recover and persist. 

– Jess Wilkinson
Photo: Flickr

Typhoon Doksuri in the PhilippinesOn July 26, 2023, Typhoon Doksuri struck the Philippines, affecting 502,782 Filipinos. The impact was significant, leading to unfortunate consequences. According to the national disaster agency, 13 individuals lost their lives due to flooding and landslides. Tragedy further unfolded as a ferry boat capsized due to Doksuri’s powerful winds, resulting in an additional 26 fatalities. Notably, Doksuri possessed the intensity of a Category 4 hurricane. This calamity forced more than 42,000 Filipinos to evacuate their homes, adding to the ongoing homelessness crisis in the country.

Homelessness in the Philippines 

Roughly 4.5 million people, out of the country’s total population of 106 million, were reported homeless in January 2023. This dire situation primarily stems from job losses, inadequate income and job instability. The homelessness crisis was further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michelle Sicat, a 28-year-old single mother, relocated to Manila in pursuit of employment and secured a job as a shop assistant. Leaving her daughter and parents behind, she aimed to build a career. However, the COVID-19 pandemic hit abruptly, leading to a strict lockdown across Luzon, the island where Manila is situated. The ensuing business closures left Sicat unemployed.

Desperate to return to her family, Sicat rushed to the bus station but faced immense competition for limited seats due to the overwhelming demand. She sought refuge at Manila Baywalk, and her life suddenly upended.

The issue of homelessness persists in the Philippines, with Typhoon Doksuri worsening the crisis, displacing more than 42,831 individuals (and the numbers continue to rise), all in search of shelter.

This challenge perpetuates the cycle of poverty throughout the nation. According to World Bank data, 6.1% of Filipinos live on less than ₱104 per day ($1.89), while 26% survive on less than ₱175.37 per day ($3.19) and a substantial 55.1% live on less than ₱301.42 per day ($5.49).

In the wake of this natural disaster, numerous organizations worldwide are mobilizing to provide financial assistance to the Philippines.

Aid From the European Union (EU)

The EU offered an initial €500,000 (approximately ₱30.3 million) for humanitarian relief efforts including emergency shelter, shelter repair, clean water and sanitation to those most in need. 

Luzon, the regions of Cagayan Valley, the Ilocos region and the Cordillera Administrative region were among the most affected and are the target of the EU’s support. 

“The EU expresses its swift and unwavering support to the Filipino people during the aftermath of typhoon Doksuri, which resulted in extensive devastation and tragic loss of life in the Philippines,” said EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič. “Without delay, we have initiated emergency relief efforts in close collaboration with our humanitarian partners to aid those affected during this challenging period.” 

Americares’ Support

Americares is an organization that works to aid impoverished communities or those affected by natural disasters in health necessities. The organization is present in the Philippines, working to support the country as it deals with the results of typhoon Doksuri. 

An Americares mobile medical team left the major city of Manila to offer primary health care to communities in the Isabela province. Flooding was severe in this area and left many roads impassable. 

Paul Pagaran, Americares Philippines Country Director, said “Communities will be cut off from care and will need help providing essential health services, including treatment for waterborne diseases,” shortly after the storm touched land on July 26, 2023. Also, the Americares team distributed hygiene kits to many who suffered displacement due to the storm. 

Looking Ahead

In the aftermath of Typhoon Doksuri, despite the challenges it brought to the Philippines, the international community is rallying to provide support. The EU’s rapid response, offering financial aid for emergency relief efforts, demonstrates solidarity with the affected Filipinos. Organizations like Americares are also playing a crucial role, sending medical teams and hygiene kits to areas in need. While the typhoon exacerbated the ongoing homelessness crisis and poverty cycle, these collective efforts are providing a glimmer of hope for those struggling to rebuild their lives and find a path toward recovery.

– Taylor Barbadora
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in CzechiaThe EU Cohesion Policy Commission is partnering with the government of Czechia for new renewable energy projects from 2021-2027. These projects have the potential to tackle many issues that make life more difficult for Roma people living in poverty, including changing weather patterns, unemployment and unsanitary conditions in public facilities.

How Changing Weather Patterns Makes Conditions Worse for Roma People

Changing weather patterns bring extreme weather events like floods, wildfires, droughts and heat waves. In August 2010, flash floods left thousands of Czech citizens without electricity or gas. In 2021, a tornado in South Moravia left 70,000 households powerless and destroyed 1,600 homes. These events have been devastating to people living below the poverty line, leaving many homeless, including a Romani widow with six children. The tornado was an extremely rare occurrence and multiple studies have found that tornadoes from severe thunderstorms are more likely to form due to changing weather patterns.

Natural disasters such as floods, wildfires, and droughts have severe consequences for impoverished Roma communities. These events lead to population displacement, damage water and sanitation infrastructure and contaminate water sources with fecal bacteria. According to a survey conducted among Roma people living in EU countries, a staggering 80% continue to live below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold in their respective countries. Moreover, 52% of them reside in houses without proper sanitation facilities, and 22% have no access to tap water inside their homes.

The lack of proper sanitation facilities like running water and the challenges of poverty have resulted in alarming health disparities among Roma communities. Reports indicate that Roma women have an average life expectancy that is 11 years less than women in general, and Roma men have an average life expectancy of 9 years less than men overall. Furthermore, the changing weather patterns have become a significant threat to the lives of Roma people, particularly during and after extreme weather events. These challenges, combined with housing and employment instability, further exacerbate the vulnerabilities that members of the Roma community face.

New Renewable Energy Policies in Czechia and How They Aid Roma People in Poverty

The EU Cohesion Policy Commission has joined forces with Czechia to tackle its high natural gas emissions and climate-related disasters through a €21.4 billion agreement that focuses on renewable energy projects. This collaboration aims to support the green and digital transition of Czechia while promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion. The Just Transition Fund (JTF) will facilitate a New Circular Economy Plan, providing €1.5 billion to aid businesses in their shift to a low-carbon economy. The ultimate goal is to reduce Czechia’s GHG emissions by 30% by 2030.

Based on forecasts, the green and digital transition in Czechia could create more job opportunities, fostering employment and social inclusion. This will particularly benefit minority populations, including the Roma people. Moreover, the job market could become more gender-balanced, offering potential advantages for Roma women.

The new circular economy will both preserve and diversify jobs and improve the quality of education. It will also improve the integration of third-country nationals and the living standards of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion. The European Regional and Development Fund (ERDF) dedicates €3.4 billion to digitalize the economy and boost competitiveness in small and medium businesses. Additionally, environmental measures aim to reduce extreme weather events that impact the Roma people.

The clean urban and suburban transport funded by the ERDF and Cohesion Fund will reduce the number of diseases that would otherwise be spread to Czechia’s vulnerable populations via public transport, potentially addressing the health problems that disadvantaged Roma people face.

Additionally, a new program called “Environment” will directly address the environmental factor of the issue by helping Czechia restore its natural ecosystems and create more sustainable water management. This could create a cleaner and healthier environment while addressing the lack of clean water systems in many Roma homes.

The Progress So Far

According to the Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, “Under the 2014-2020 programming period, the Cohesion Policy supported investments in 11,000 enterprises, creating or retaining 10,676 direct jobs.” 

The new circular economy has begun to implement several new projects, such as modular buildings, smart waste systems and several forms of recycling. These projects have been cleaning up cities and suburbs, allowing flexibility in construction with relation to how many kids wish to attend school and reducing waste and global emissions.

Room for More Progress

Although there are many positive developments ahead for the implementation of renewable energy in Czechia, Roma people continue to face discrimination in education, housing, employment and interactions with the police. Such discriminatory practices are generally motivated by racist ideals. In addition to renewable energy projects that have the potential to protect Roma’s health and living conditions, there is a need for more political measures, such as the Anti-Discrimination Act and the new Social Inclusion Strategy, that focus on protecting the human rights of Roma people. 

– Sophia Holub
Photo: Unsplash

The White HelmetsThe White Helmets, also known as the Syria Civil Defense, is a force of volunteers that has been making an impact in Syria since late 2012. The group provides aid wherever it is necessary, from war-torn neighborhoods to areas affected by natural disasters.


Throughout the last decade, Syria has been one of the most unstable countries in the world, due to both political instability and natural causes. The Syrian Civil War, a conflict that began in 2011 and continues even now, is the main reason for this instability. The fighting mostly occurs in urban areas, and it typically involves mass artillery strikes and chemical weapons attacks. As a result, nearly 7 million people have been displaced from their homes, according to World Vision. World Vision also estimates that food insecurity currently affects 12 million people throughout Syria, while nearly half of all Syrians live in poverty as of March 2023.

In addition to the ongoing conflict, the northwest of Syria suffered two massive earthquakes on February 6, 2023. Both earthquakes registered well over 7.0 on the Richter Scale. The devastating earthquakes were responsible for over 7,000 deaths throughout Syria. According to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDS), 8.8 million people live in the areas that the earthquake impacted, and this dramatically increases the need for humanitarian aid in the country. 

Making an Impact

Over the course of the Syrian Civil War, the White Helmets have provided invaluable aid to those in need. Its official website estimates that the efforts of the White Helmets “saved more than 100,000 lives over the past five years.” The volunteers began with urban search and rescue teams, often scouring through the rubble of bomb sites to find survivors.

The White Helmets continue to make an impact today as it provides earthquake relief. In the early stages of recovery from the earthquakes, the Syria Civil Defense was able to save over 3,000 people, helping pull people from the rubble of destroyed buildings, delivering food and medicine to those in need and distributing medical care all around the affected area.

The Story Continues

Now an influential organization, the White Helmets began as nothing more than groups of everyday people who wanted to look out for others. When the Syrian Civil War first began, there was little to no effective infrastructure to help those hurt in bombings, shootings and a variety of other deadly hazards that the war caused. Despite a total lack of organization and incredible danger, the first members of the White Helmets took it upon themselves to help those in need.

The institution has come a long way since those days, as it has become one of the most well-known aid organizations currently operating in Syria. The White Helmets got a nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2016. Although it didn’t win the prize, the publicity gained from the nomination was invaluable. In 2016, a documentary titled The White Helmets won an Oscar for best short subject documentary. The White Helmets’ impact has earned recognition from around the globe, and the organization’s work continues to make a difference.

– Ezra Bernstein
Photo: Flickr

Earthquake in EcuadorOn March 18, 2023, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Ecuador shook the coastal city of Machala, killing at least 15 people and injuring nearly 460 others. The death toll is expected to continue to rise with search and rescue efforts underway. The earthquake in Ecuador destroyed homes and buildings along the coastline and had an impact as far as the Ecuadorian highlands and some areas of Peru.

Ecuador’s Risk of Natural Disasters

Ecuador is located on the west coast of the South American continent with Colombia neighboring to the north and Peru to the south. Though the country is prone to many natural disasters, the top three most common natural disasters are earthquakes, floods and volcanic eruptions. According to the World Bank’s Climate Change Knowledge Portal, between 1980 and 2020, Ecuador saw an average of 12 earthquakes per year.

The U.K. government’s advice on foreign travel indicates that Ecuador’s propensity for earthquakes is due to its location in an area of extreme seismic activity. The advice states, “Seismologists assess the risk of earthquakes in the province of Esmeraldas on the north-western coast as particularly high because of its proximity to the convergence of the Nazca and South American plates.”

Recent Earthquake Impact on a Struggling Economy

The recent earthquake in Ecuador originated off the Pacific Coast about 50 miles south of Guayaquil, the country’s second-largest city and is the most destructive since the devastating earthquake in April 2016. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), after striking Ecuador’s northern coast, the 2016 earthquake left reconstruction costs estimated at almost 3% of the GDP.

The nation does not quickly recover from the loss of livelihoods and infrastructure due to the struggling Ecuadorian economy and high poverty rates. According to a World Bank 2020 report, in 2019, about a quarter of the population lived under the national poverty line, equal to more than 4 million people, due to rising unemployment rates and a 2% real labor income decrease for the second consecutive year.

The WFP reports that 40% of Ecuador’s rural population now lives below the poverty line. While Ecuador has seen some growth in its GDP due to a decline in poverty through investments in health, education, infrastructure and social policies, plummeting oil prices and other factors are driving an economic decline.

GlobalGiving Initiative

A struggling economy and devastating natural disasters make it difficult for a country to flourish. For this reason, initiatives like the GlobalGiving’s Ecuador and Peru Earthquake Relief Fund are crucial to building up developing nations. GlobalGiving is a nonprofit whose mission is to connect various nonprofit organizations to donors and companies. The organization states that “All donations to this fund will support relief and recovery efforts in Ecuador and Peru. Initially, the fund helps first responders meet survivors’ immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, medicine and shelter.” GlobalGiving states further, “As needs emerge, we will support longer-term recovery efforts run by local, vetted organizations in the impacted areas.” The goal is to raise $500,000 to support relief for the earthquake in Ecuador and Peru.

Government Initiatives

After President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency, Ecuador’s Ministry of Economy and Finance announced that it will provide financial resources so the government can assist citizens impacted by the devastation of the earthquake. President Lasso has toured the impacted areas and has committed to mobilizing teams to provide needed support. In addition, the government announced in March 2023 the creation of a housing lease program to temporarily house families who lost their homes during the earthquake.

With government assistance and nonprofit support, there is hope that impacted families will find relief. The Ecuadorian government’s efforts in terms of addressing poverty and establishing disaster resilience are essential to minimize the impact of future natural disasters.

– Stella Tirone
Photo: Flickr

Aid to Turkey and Syria
On February 6, 2023, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southeast Turkey and northern Syria collapsing more than 6,500 buildings and destroying neighborhoods. The earthquake has become the worst disaster in Turkey’s modern history. As a result of this natural disaster, dozens of countries and humanitarian organizations across the globe have mobilized to send assistance and aid to Turkey and Syria in their times of need.

Humanitarian Organizations

Turkey, a country with the largest refugee population in the world, is home to an already vulnerable population in the exact towns where the earthquake struck. With 3.6 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey, many humanitarian groups and aid organizations are already familiar with these areas. Many old and new humanitarian organizations have stationed themselves in and sent aid to Turkey to help rescue and slowly rebuild the nation:

  • Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS): This foundation serves on the front and in hospitals providing emergency medical treatment to those in need. Focusing on neurological procedures, SAMS performed 43 surgeries involving head, nerve and spinal injuries. It also provided $1.2 million of supplies to hospitals in need.
  • United Nations: The U.N. has launched a humanitarian appeal of $1 billion for the nation of Turkey. It intends the funds to aid 5.2 million people in the country and will help provide food security, education, shelter and water. Simultaneously, the UNHCR is on the ground in Turkey providing urgent assistance by providing thermal blankets, sleeping mats, winter jackets and other relief items, Time reports.
  • International Rescue Committee (IRC): The IRC has sent more than 1,000 staff to Turkey and Syria for support. It has provided cash assistance and financial support to organizations in Syria and Turkey. It is also providing households with essential items like hygiene kits for women, towels, blankets and much more. The organization also provided two mobile health teams providing care to those in need.

Foreign Aid and Resources

Many countries have sent aid to Turkey and Syria in their time of need. Different countries are providing help in various forms. Some are sending teams and dogs to help rescue people from the rubble, others are sending money and many are sending physical resources.

Germany has offered temporary visas to victims of the disaster whose families are already living in Germany. It also sent search and rescue teams to the countries. The EU has sent search and rescue teams from 19 different countries. China has sent $5.9 million to Turkey along with an additional $200,000 to both Syria and Turkey.

Thousands of individuals went to Turkey and Syria as part of rescue and medical teams from various countries including the United States, Switzerland, the European Union and the Czech Republic. Tons of supplies like medical supplies, tents, food and emergency equipment have gone to the two countries from supporting countries across the globe including Algeria, Australia, Iran and Pakistan. In terms of financial aid, countries like France, China, Malaysia and New Zealand have sent hundreds of millions of dollars.

Moving Forward

While aid to Turkey and Syria is still an immense need due to the destruction caused by the earthquake, the global community has offered support and come to the aid of those affected. From humanitarian organizations like the United Nations to more than 32 countries globally, the response to this disaster has shown that the people of Turkey have the support of those around the world.

– Kellyjohana Ahumada
Photo: Flickr

Impact of the Turkey-Syria Earthquakes
As of February 27, 2023, the Turkey-Syria earthquakes, which struck Southern Turkey near the Syrian border on February 6, 2023, have directly affected 9.1 million people. As with all natural disasters, marginalized communities face the harshest impacts. The impact of the Turkey-Syria earthquakes on women and girls is detrimental, with ActionAid reporting that the situation has become “increasingly alarming” for women and girls in the aftermath of the 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude earthquakes.

Increased Vulnerability of Women and Girls

The United Nations Development Programme reports that in the event of a natural disaster, “women and children are 14 times more likely than men to die.” Pre-existing structural gender inequalities often make females more vulnerable when a disaster strikes, putting them at a far greater disadvantage than their male counterparts. Women and girls across the globe already face greater challenges when accessing health care. Additionally, females often take on primary caregiving responsibilities, which leave them unable to easily evacuate disaster zones, and are at greater risk of abuse and violence in situations of crisis.

Before the Turkey-Syria earthquakes struck, women and girls in the affected regions already lived in vulnerable circumstances. With countless women and girls internally displaced by the conflict in Syria and others living as refugees in Turkey, female victims of the disaster already struggled with crises brought on by 12 years of war. The impact of the Turkey-Syria earthquakes on women and girls has only increased the uncertainty already felt by many, pushing females further into hardship and poverty.

The Aftermath of the Turkey-Syria Earthquakes

The well-being of women and girls from low-income backgrounds in the aftermath of the Turkey-Syria earthquakes is of particular concern. The earthquakes, which have claimed the lives of more than 46,000 as of February 19, have left an unprecedented number of women homeless and without families to support them. Many displaced women and girls are at risk of sexual exploitation and child marriages as they struggle for survival.

Pregnant women are also particularly vulnerable, with the United Nations Population Fund stating that 356,000 pregnant women in earthquake-torn regions of Turkey and Syria need urgent help. The widespread destruction caused by the disaster has rendered more than 15 hospitals inoperative, according to the Turkish Ministry of Health, leaving pregnant women unable to access urgent medical services.

The U.K. has acknowledged the need for women and girls to receive particular support as Turkey and Syria grapple with the effects of the earthquakes. In a press release on February 15, 2023, the U.K. announced a £25 million ($30.2 million) additional aid package for the affected regions, with a “particular focus on protecting women and girls.” The U.K. included provisions to reduce the risk of gender-based violence within displaced communities along with medical support to aid in childbirth and midwifery.

Work of NGOs

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are stepping up to provide for women’s needs amid growing concerns about inadequate support for females who are menstruating, pregnant or breastfeeding. Vanessa Zammar, co-founder and project coordinator of Jeyetna, a Lebanese NGO dedicated to tackling period poverty, explained to Al Arabiya English that “gender-blind responses to emergencies and policymaking in general overlook menstruation because it is still considered something to be dealt with by women on an individual level in private.”

In response to the crisis, NGOs across the globe, such as the International Rescue Committee (IRC), are asking people to donate supplies to help vulnerable people impacted by the disaster, especially women and girls. The IRC is also providing “dignity kits” to those in need of feminine hygiene products and has set up a number of safe spaces to help women and children that the earthquakes affected.

The impact of the Turkey-Syria earthquakes on women and girls is devastating. While nations and NGOs have already taken some measures to ensure that women and girls receive protection and support, it is of utmost importance that they remain at the forefront of recovery efforts and humanitarian endeavors.

– Priya Thakkar
Photo: Flickr

The Turkey-Syria Earthquake
On February 6, 2023, a devastating earthquake struck parts of Turkey and Syria that left more than 47,000 dead and more than 80,000 injured, with numbers still expected to keep rising. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake greatly impacted the town of Gaziantep in south-eastern Turkey and northern Syria. An aftershock followed that caused almost as much damage as the first and the Middle East region felt it throughout. With a fault line of around 62 miles, the earthquake is one of the deadliest of the last 20 years, thus causing serious damage to buildings and maximum casualties with the Turkey-Syria earthquake occurring early in the morning, when people were still asleep.

The Impact of the Turkey-Syria Earthquake

In Turkey, reports have indicated that more than 41,000 died as of early February, with more than 5,800 in Syria. Rescue teams continued searching through the ruins of the nearly 7,000 buildings that have collapsed for survivors more than a week after the earthquake took place in Turkey. Almost no buildings in the cities remained intact, due to the large scale of the impact, with as many as 5.3 million people in Syria losing their homes and experiencing displacement. About 3,000 people managed to find temporary accommodation, with 380,000 seeking shelter in schools and education facilities. The region had not faced a major earthquake in more than 200 years and was vastly unprepared for the disaster.

The biggest worry, however, is for northwestern Syria, where 12 years of conflict has already left 4 million people displaced and heavily reliant on aid and humanitarian assistance. The earthquake caused damage to the Hatay airport in Syria, as well as Bab al-Hawa, the road used to transport aid at the border, which the Turkish government controls. This, among other damaged roads and infrastructure in Southern Turkey, has caused significant delays for shipments and has stalled aid reaching impacted parts of Syria. These delays have already cost thousands of lives, with aid unable to reach survivors pulled out of the rubble, and a lack of resources for those displaced and without basic necessities.

Syrians Displaced and Land Restrictions for Aid

As a country divided due to the 2011 civil war, providing aid for the 5 million already displaced Syrians who live in the opposition-held northern areas has been a complicated matter for the international community. The United States and European nations have refused to send aid to Bashar Assad’s government in Damascus due to sanctions, despite the earthquake. While the majority of Syria is under government control as the conflicting opposition groups hold the north, with Turkey and rebel group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham holding the northwest and the northeast held by U.S.-backed Kurdish-led groups. Naturally, this area of Syria has become heavily reliant on aid.

However, it is very difficult for aid to reach this corner of land due to restrictions that the Syrian government imposed, which also keeps aid from international organizations from reaching there. NGOs outside Syria have been helping these areas, including Idlib, for years, however, since the United Nations coined the term ‘Syria fatigue,’ the level of donations has decreased and the focus of people’s attention has shifted elsewhere, particularly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

The Caesar Act, a set of U.S. sanctions that originated due to the belief that war profiteers and Syrian officials would keep aid, aimed to discourage human rights abuses in areas of Syria, although some have claimed that it does not target humanitarian assistance. The Syrian government, however, challenged this claim, saying Syrians had to dig “through the rubble by hand, because tools for removing rubble are prohibited for them, and they’re using the simplest, old tools … because they are punished by the Americans, who are blocking them from the needed supplies and equipment.”

Solutions for the Destruction of the Turkey-Syria Earthquake

Aid for Syria by the international community following the earthquake in Turkey has been minimal, with the Syrian humanitarian response for the year already being “severely underfunded,” according to The International Rescue Committee. The organization requested that the global community promptly boost funding in order to provide the necessary assistance to those impacted by this crisis within a crisis.

According to the American Red Cross, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent in Turkey and Syria are furnishing hot meals and beverages, transporting necessary blood and plasma to affected areas, and rendering psychosocial assistance to survivors. The Turkish Red Crescent has put into action 77 catering vehicles, five mobile kitchens and nearly 2,000 tents. Additionally, it has dispatched mobile kitchens, more than 1,000 tents and almost 20,000 blankets. Turkey’s Islamic Relief aid organization initiated a $20 million fundraising campaign, cautioning that their inventory of mattresses, blankets and other bedding items was at risk of depleting in a matter of hours.

In a press conference last week, Syrian Arab Red Crescent head Khaled Hboubati urged the U.S. and EU to lift the sanctions in place following the disaster of the Turkey-Syria earthquake as Aid convoys and rescuers from many countries including ally Russia and United Arab Emirates, Iran, Iraq and Algeria, have touched down into government-held Syria airports. Hboubati claims his group is prepared to provide relief to all areas, including the northern regions that the government in Damascus does not control.

Looking Ahead

Currently, considering the circumstances, Syrians rely heavily on donations and aid from local charities and NGOs. One such charity, Basmeh & Zeitooneh, has been tirelessly working on the ground to provide food, blankets, mattresses and shelter for the people who have lost everything, with further efforts to help actors deal with the debris and rubble littering the areas. While they have successfully managed to help hundreds of people in this dire situation, more work is necessary as the death toll continues to rise. 

Noura Matalqa
Photo: Flickr