Information and stories on Natural Disasters

Hunger in El Salvador
El Salvador, home to more than 6.4 million people, is a middle-income country located in Central America. Despite El Salvador’s efforts to reduce poverty and food insecurity — hunger remains an issue for its citizens. Fortunately, several organizations, including the World Food Program (WFP) and Feed the Children, are stepping in to fight hunger in El Salvador.

Poverty, Agriculture and Hunger

The poverty rate in El Salvador dropped from 39% in 2007 to 29% in 2017. Throughout those 10 years, extreme poverty decreased by 6.5%. Half of the country’s youth live on just $1.25 or less a day. Reasons for continued poverty in El Salvador include high unemployment, natural disasters and crime. The World Bank predicts an increase in poverty for the year 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has left millions worldwide unemployed and food insecure.

Although El Salvador produces coffee, sugar, corn, rice and more — threats to agriculture remain in the nation. These threats include deforestation, soil erosion and water pollution. Furthermore, natural disasters such as hurricanes and volcanic eruptions often leave El Salvador with food shortages. In this same vein, decreased agricultural production contributes to hunger and food insecurity in El Salvador.

Between 2008 and 2014, El Salvador made progress in reducing malnutrition and food insecurity. However, 14% of children younger than 5 years old still suffer from chronic malnutrition. Hunger in El Salvador contributes to health issues that range from low birth weights to increased susceptibility to infectious diseases, such as malaria and meningitis. Children who are malnourished often also have issues with their mental development — which can impact them for the rest of their lives.

The World Food Program (WFP)

The WFP is a U.S.-based, nonprofit organization that fights global hunger. Its mission includes working with U.S. policymakers, corporations, foundations and individuals to help eliminate hunger as an issue in several countries — including El Salvador.

Through advocacy, U.S. government funding and private sector fundraising — the WFP continues to work toward ending world hunger and food insecurity. The money raised goes towards delivering food to people in need, especially women, children and those who have experienced natural disasters. Natural disasters that have impacted El Salvador in 2020 include Tropical Storm Amanda and El Nino. Both contributed to hunger, as they affected crop production.

Feed the Children

Founded in 1979, Feed the Children has had a significant impact on hunger around the globe. The organization has distributed roughly 78 million pounds of food and essential items that have benefited more than 6.3 million people worldwide. Feed the Children began working in El Salvador in 1987 and currently works in 17 communities.

In addition to providing food, Feed the Children focuses on holistic development. This includes food and nutrition, health, water and education. Its funding allows the organization to continue supporting countries like El Salvador and implement livelihood activities. For example, one livelihood activity is tilapia farming — which helps increase food and income for families in need.

Moving Forward

Addressing hunger remains a challenge for El Salvador. Natural disasters and poverty are two of the leading causes of hunger in the country. Moving forward, it is essential that organizations like the WFP and Feed the Children continue to prioritize fighting hunger in El Salvador. With continued support, there is hope for continued, significant progress.

Amanda Cruz
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Indigenous People of Taiwan
Taiwan is an island nation off the coast of China that houses 560,000 indigenous peoples — around 2.7% of the entire population. In the 1940s, the Chinese Civil War forced the Republic of China (ROC) to relocate its base to Taiwan, causing 1.4 million people to migrate from the mainland. Prior to this incident, in 1895, Japan defeated the Qing empire for Taiwan in the First Sino-Japanese War. War has ravaged native families and brought thousands of colonists to the country. This decreased the number of aboriginal people and created a divide between the settlers and the indigenous people of Taiwan.

The Reasons Behind Poverty

Due to consistent colonization since the 1600s, the native people of Taiwan (originally Formosa) have faced persistent oppression. Under Dutch rule from 1624 to 1662, the indigenous people of Taiwan had to convert to Christianity. Colonists also recruited them for military services and placed them into strenuous jobs. Japanese soldiers in the early 1900s raped women, illegally took land and enslaved indigenous men. In 1914, the Japanese killed over 10,000 aboriginal inhabitants of the Taroko area, resulting in the major uprising the Wushe Rebellion of 1930.

Oppression and discrimination have quelled the process of native people integrating into modern society. Most of the indigenous people of Taiwan remain below the poverty line. Household incomes of aboriginal families are 40% lower than the national average. A study by an Academia Sinica sociologist surveyed Han people of Taiwan: only 40% of families would let their children marry an aboriginal person while 80% allowed their children to marry another Han person. This is shocking evidence of the prominence of societal discrimination. The Democratic Progressive Party leaders have been heard calling indigenous peoples racial slurs to suppress and insult aboriginal people. Many businesses still refuse to employ aborigines. The problem worsened when an influx of workers from southeast Asian countries came in and competed for traditionally aboriginal jobs.

Natural disasters that often rampage the island consistently annihilate sources of income for indigenous families. Typhoon Morakot, a fatal category 2 typhoon that hit Taiwan in August of 2009, killed 673 people, mostly from aboriginal villages. Landslides and heavy winds destroyed villages and small economies. An earthquake on September 21, 1999 killed over 2,400 people and sent 100,000 people into homelessness.

The Effects of Being in Poverty

Poverty in indigenous communities has hurt their access to education, insurance and healthcare and is exacerbating the inequality gap. In 2013, 10% of aboriginal students dropped out of college. Of those, 12% could not afford to continue their education. Although 90% of aboriginal college students receive a higher-level education at private universities, they tend to be more expensive causing many students to have financial burdens. Despite the 12-year compulsory education system, aboriginal students in rural areas receive a substandard education. Financial struggles prevent 3% of students from enrolling in school. Aboriginal parents often move to the city for work while their children provide for themselves. Sometimes, the oldest sibling drops out to take care of their younger siblings.

According to a survey that professors at the National Taiwan University conducted, 45% of indigenous participants believe that they are least likely to be hired and promoted compared to Han people. The study also found that the indigenous people of Taiwan lack access to social welfare services. This leads to the widening gap of inequality among the rich and poor, as well as between the Han and indigenous people. In 1985, the income gap between the indigenous people and the national average was $3,702 (USD), while in 2006 it increased to $20,006 (USD). Gradual increases in inequality build higher obstacles for indigenous people to conquer.

Combatting Poverty

The Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) is a group of ethnically indigenous government individuals, working to improve the life of indigenous people of Taiwan. Recently, CIP initiated the Four-Year Plan to develop a proper social welfare system to protect aboriginal individuals. The government hopes to increase employment by providing internship opportunities to the indigenous youth and creating websites like “Indigenous Job Agency.” The CIP also guides aboriginal businesses, teaching companies how to market, package and sell their products in the metropolitan area. They aim to develop a “sustainable self-sufficient industrial model” in indigenous villages. A self-sufficient model will help businesses survive with the modern market economy and traditional manufacturing skills. CIP also plans to increase healthcare services and protect indigenous rights to bridge the inequality gap.

The Renewal Foundation, a nongovernmental organization devoted to children’s education, is helping bring people out of poverty. The Bunun Tribe’s official website, run by the Bunun Cultural and Educational Foundation and the Bunun Tribal Leisure Farm, aims to develop educational and financial sectors of their own communities.

Taiwanese indigenous communities are gradually rising out of poverty. Recent statistics have shown increasing education rates and income equality. With assistance from the government and other institutions, aboriginal people will preserve their cultural heritage and reintegrate back into society.

Zoe Chao
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in Ecuador
There are currently 17.7 million people calling Ecuador home — but a home with a poverty problem. The overall population living on less than $3.20 per day in Ecuador has been decreasing since 2010 but poverty remains an issue. The result is severe homelessness in Ecuador. It is a struggle many who live there have in common. The poverty rate of people who live on $5.50 a day has fluctuated between 24% and 23% since 2015 according to some figures. This has forced many to live on the streets with no place to call home. Natural disasters and unemployment are other risk factors one can point to — causing people to lose their homes.

Natural Disasters

The main natural disasters that play a role in the high rate of homelessness in Ecuador are floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. Natural disasters impact almost 87,000 people in the country, every day. From 1980 to 2010, about 2.6 million people suffered from natural disasters. In 2008, more than 300,000 people required movement to temporary housing due to a flood. In 2016, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed 700 people and crushed many buildings — a big portion of them being homes. The earthquake destroyed around 35,000 homes. At the time, it was the worst earthquake in almost three decades. Many people had to leave their destroyed homes, changing their whole lives in just a moment.

Unemployment Rates

An increasing unemployment rate exacerbates the issue of homelessness in Ecuador. The unemployment rate in the country was declining — dropping from 5.21% in 2016 to 3.69% in 2018. Since then, it has increased from 2018 with the current rate being at 6.48%. Taking that percentage out of the current population results in 1.1 million people unemployed. Likewise, these people are prone to having to leave their homes or unable to afford housing.

A big part of this issue is the fact that the economy is not growing at a comfortable or suitable rate. This is due to companies having to leave the country and Ecuador’s inability to manage its resources. These living conditions make it incredibly difficult to afford available housing and provide for children and other life needs.

Solutions

While these problems seem very difficult to improve, some are undertaking projects to bring available housing to Ecuadorians who do not have it. The shelter support volunteer project in Quito, Ecuador is a one to 12-week program where participants travel to Quito and help local shelters feed and support local Ecuadorians. The program places 10 to 20 volunteers per month to help out the communities, five hours per day. Tasks for the volunteers include: serving meals, doing laundry, cleaning, maintenance and other living essentials. Volunteers also help educate the youth and work to provide housing for the children and many other Ecuadorians experiencing homelessness.

The Manna Project International is another organization that focuses heavily on bettering the lives of Ecuadorians. The project has two teams — one that works in Ecuador and the other in Nicaragua. Roles on the team involve an Ecuador Site Coordinator, a community development fellow, program directors and volunteer community advisors. In response to some of the shortcomings such as homelessness in Ecuador, the team puts together professional job development workshops. This way, they educate the people there and develop small businesses to help people find jobs. The end goal is to provide Ecuadorians the ability to gain an income suitable enough to afford housing.

Dorian Ducre
Photo: Pxhere

Homelessness in SomaliaWhat do people tend to think about when they first hear the word “Somalia?” A Google search of Somalia would bring up pirates. Somalia is a small country off the coast of Africa and one of the poorest countries in the world with more than 50% of its population living in poverty. Poor living conditions and homelessness in Somalia afflict many of its citizens.

Somalia as of 2018

Government policy in Somalia is leaving the citizens out on the street. At the end of 2017, Somali government officials damaged around 3,000 homes in the city of Mogadishu. They used bulldozers to tear down houses and evicted people from their homes. In 2018, the government displaced more than 2 million people living in Somalia. Moreover, the number of homeless citizens in the nation reached millions.

Droughts have left the second-largest city in Somalia with hundreds of homeless children. Interviews with the children of Hargeisa revealed terrible conditions in which children left their homes due to neglect and loss of means. Moving from rural to urban cities has resulted in these children living on the street, addicted to smelling glue to ease the pain required to fight for their lives. The drought along with a lack of food, water and shelter has resulted in child death, every day in Somalia.

Homelessness in Somalia

Somalia is in grave need of humanitarian aid. Whether due to droughts, violence or politics — millions of Somali citizens have been displaced from their homes. Homelessness in Somalia has progressively become a more urgent issue. In October of 2019, flooding washed away thousands of homes, separating families. Another factor affecting homelessness in Somalia is the migration of citizens from rural areas to cities. People moving into urban areas are settling in tents with little protection.

Poor sanitation is also a significant issue in Somalia. The lack of proper housing combined with a lack of water and food can increase the risk of disease. The number of people affected by malnourishment in 2019 was in millions. Furthermore, this tragedy has a major effect on children. Malnourishment is one of the leading causes of death for 14% of children less than age five. The lack of humanitarian aid in Somalia is also causing citizens to flee from home and move toward urban housing. Those who choose to move, settle in “makeshift shelters” which increase their exposure to terrorism and abuse.

Hope for Somalia

Overall, homelessness in Somalia is the result of multiple factors. Violence and terrorism cause a majority of people to flee from their homes. Yet, forced evictions pose a major threat to families in the agricultural sector as well. Changing weather patterns and year-long droughts result in death, famine and the loss of homes. Political instability and regime changes are also an underlying cause of homelessness in Somalia.

On a more positive note, there is hope for the future of Somalia. In February of 2020, the World Bank announced it would normalize its relations with Somalia. This new relationship will go a long way in helping to grow the country politically, socially and economically. The World Bank is providing Somalia with grants of over $250 million to help reduce poverty. The grants will provide natural disaster recovery for citizens impacted by the droughts. In the same vein, these grants aim to increase security for families by improving education, the health system and providing basic, household utilities such as water.

Hena Pejdah
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

hunger in fijiFiji, a country bordering both Tonga and Futana, has faced increased obstacles with food security. It is estimated that amongst the population of 926,276 citizens, over 250,000 individuals are battling poverty and hunger. However, increased efforts have been made to combat this rise in hunger in Fiji.

Problem in Numbers

It is estimated that over 35% of Fiji’s population is below the national poverty line. With the income of households drastically declining, thousands of families do not have the proper resources to thrive.

Fiji children are also heavily impacted, further contributing to the increased rate of hunger in Fiji. It has been recently estimated that over 40% of Fiji’s children are malnourished. A majority of children in Fiji suffer from “protein-energy malnutrition”, meaning that they do not consume enough vital and nutritious foods for their bodies.

The Causes

The lack of food distribution in Fiji points towards a variety of factors. A primary cause is due to Fiji’s political instability and corruption. Additionally, with tourism making up a majority of Fiji’s GDP, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to decreased budgets and widespread unemployment.

Climate change has also affected hunger in Fiji. Cyclones have led to massive agricultural losses, resulting in widespread losses of income and the destruction of food that would be derived from the agricultural crops.

Another cause contributing to the hunger in Fiji is the increased dropout rates among children. With the majority of Fiji’s population battling poverty, children are often instructed to leave school in search of work. From grueling street work to harsh agricultural labor, children earn very little over the years.

In 2016 it was estimated that over 55% of children at primary school age were not attending school. This low schooling rate leaves many children uneducated, unskilled and closed off to stable job opportunities which in turn leaves them unable to afford basic necessities as adults.

The Road to Change

However, despite the increased rates of hunger among the Fiji population, organizations have stepped up to aid the needy. A prominent organization is Moms Against Hunger, which has dedicated itself to providing food for the individuals battling poverty. Moms Against Hunger has recruited numerous volunteers and has delivered over 250,000 food packages to families in need. Under the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of families received enough food to last several months.

Another impactful organization is HELP International, which looks to empower and educate individuals in need. HELP International focused its efforts in the nutrition sector, teaching individuals nutritional guidelines, financial literacy and the importance of schooling. Through these efforts, thousands of families can learn to manage a budget, eat well and pursue higher education.

Additionally, Aggie Global seeks to educate farmers on sustainable practices. Under a team of various volunteers, Aggie Global hosted workshops to teach farmers about crop control, production tricks and sustainable solutions. After conducting these workshops, hundreds of farmers were able to boost production, increasing the amount of food distributed to the public.

The Future

Despite organizations looking to aid those in need, Fiji continues to face problems in feeding the entirety of its population. The efforts from nonprofit organizations provide short-term relief but Fiji is in great need of government assistance to see great and lasting change.

For Fiji to see an immense reduction in its hunger rate, the government must act alongside nonprofit organizations to provide for families. In addition, the Fiji government must prioritize the youth and support and encourage the pursuit of higher education. With increased positive influence and support from Fiji’s government, poverty-stricken families all over Fiji would benefit, lowering the overall hunger rate.

Aditya Padmaraj
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Montserrat
Montserrat is a self-governing, British Overseas Territory located in the Eastern Caribbean. It is a relatively small island made mostly of mountains and volcanic beaches. In 1995, Montserrat faced catastrophe as the Soufrière Hills Volcano erupted. This article will provide a brief account of how hunger in Montserrat (among other factors) after the eruption of the volcano increased.

Disaster Strikes

The eruption resulted in a mass evacuation of the island — leaving only 30% of the original population behind. This natural disaster has had lasting effects on the island’s resources and economy. However, perhaps the largest impact was increasing hunger in Montserrat, of course, due to the volcanic eruption.

The volcanic deposits from the Soufrière Hills Volcano severely damaged a majority of the territory’s farmland. In this way, the eruption destroyed much of Montserrat’s agricultural sector. Land that was not damaged by the eruption was placed in the exclusion zone. This, in turn, proved to make food and resources inaccessible and scarce for those remaining on the island. Notably, since the eruption occurred, most food in Montserrat comes from overseas imports rather than the territory’s domestic agriculture.

Lasting Impacts on Hunger Issues

In 2012, a Country Poverty Assessment found that 36% of Montserrat’s population was impoverished. Since most food in Montserrat enters the country from abroad, many families are unable to afford weekly food costs. Children under 15 years of age experience this at high rates and unfortunately make up 33% of the territory’s population that is food insecure.

Hunger in Montserrat after the volcanic eruption of 1995 increased. However, the lack of school-based food programs exacerbates the problem. With poverty largely affecting children under age 15, this lack of support only fuels food insecurity issues. A study of primary school students from 2016 revealed that financially insufficient families could not send their children to school with food.

Helping Hands

Since the natural disaster in 1995, Montserrat has made progress in fighting hunger. Importantly, this progress in fighting hunger comes in conjuncture with assistance from the U.K. as well as other countries. Foreign aid has massively contributed to decreasing poverty and hunger in Montserrat. As a result, Montserrat currently ranks as an upper-middle-class country. Aid also comes from organizations, and not just the U.K., helping Montserrat achieve new levels of economic stability. For example, the Montserrat Foundation focuses on distributing money and resources to local individuals on the island. Furthermore, the foundation distributes this aid (money and other resources) to organizations within the island territory to create economic opportunities and growth for the community. As a promising show, after receiving foreign aid, the country’s GDP experienced a 1.5% increase.

From Natural Disaster to Natural Resource

In 2014, the Government of Montserrat brought attention to the use of Soufrière Hills as a geothermal power source. The proper development of geothermal power holds the potential to be a massive turning point in Montserrat’s future. Notably, the Department of International Development has also invested in the project.

Montserrat is simply another example of how foreign aid can effectively create a promising future for a once troubled community. Out of natural disaster and tragedy, the island territory suffered higher rates of hunger and poverty, yet through foreign aid efforts, it is beginning to improve.

– Adelle Tippetts
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in Dominica
The Commonwealth of Dominica is a small island country in the Eastern Caribbean. People know it for its beautiful mountainous landscape and jungles, which are home to several native species of plants and animals. Though Dominica has abundant natural beauty, its location in the Caribbean is along the path of annual storms, and these storms are a major cause of homelessness in Dominica. This homelessness has been hard to track as there have been no official reports or studies about homelessness in Dominica.

Poverty in Dominica

Dominica is a poor country in comparison to its neighbors in the East Caribbean. In fact, it had a poverty level of 39% of the population in 2004. Dominica’s two largest industries are the agricultural and tourism industries. Environmental challenges, such as the hurricanes and tropical storms that pass over the island frequently, have affected both of these critically. The storms have made the island less likely to attract tourists. Meanwhile, flooding and landslides have decimated crops and fields.

Homelessness and Tropical Storms

Because Dominica has a relatively poor population, homelessness often becomes a major issue after tropical storms. Many families cannot afford repairs for damaged or destroyed houses, thus leaving them in need of shelter. An example of this is the tropical storm, Erika, in August 2015. The storm caused massive flooding and landslides which devastated much of the land, small towns and villages on the island. Over 800 households became homeless in the wake of the storm. Further, over 1,400 homes either experienced destruction or became at-risk due to the storm. After Hurricane Maria in February 2017, hundreds of Dominicans became homeless including Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit himself. Estimates determined that the devastating category five hurricane damaged or destroyed around 90% of the houses on the island.

The Grotto Home for the Homeless

After storms in Dominica, shelters frequently undergo construction, but the majority are not permanent. A report also noted that the current status of NGOs in Dominica is not very robust and that the people mainly rely on the government to provide these necessary facilities. One of the largest permanent housing facilities is the Grotto Home for the Homeless. This organization is one of the few that focuses on providing shelter for homeless Dominicans, though it has faced issues with both its facility and funding. This organization helps to highlight some of the key issues surrounding homelessness in Dominica.

The home, which can accommodate 60 persons, needed remodeling which began in 2008. All of the residents moved to a temporary facility while they waited. Due to the constant storms and the lack of funds, the new home still did not reach completion by 2018. This helps to show how the services that others provide for the homeless are not always effective.

There is not much data on homelessness in Dominica, but it is clear that the severity of the weather exacerbates it. Dominica ranks 12th out of 111 countries in the Composite Vulnerability Index which analyzes a countries vulnerability based on a number of factors including population, weather, diversity of business and education. Dominica has a high risk of rapidly losing stability, which often results in spikes in the homeless population.

However, it is clear that after the devastation that Hurricane Maria caused, the Dominican government has been working to create more reliable and more permanent housing for those who lost their homes and for those who cannot afford to repair damages.

 – Jackson Bramhall
Photo: Flickr

Benin's Health Care
The Republic of Benin is located in the western region of the African continent. The sub-Saharan country possesses a tropical climate and a population of approximately 12 million people. Benin’s economy highly relies on agriculture. Its production of cotton provides 40% of Benin’s GDP and 80% of its exports. Unfortunately, Benin is an impoverished nation with about one-third of the population living beneath the international poverty line. The citizens of Benin also experience many different issues regarding the handling of healthcare in Benin.

Lack of Resources

As of now, the government spends only 3.3% of the GDP on services relating to healthcare in Benin. The average life expectancy is around 60 years old. However, the infant mortality rate stands at 63 deaths per 1,000 births, while the maternal mortality rate stands at 500 deaths per 100,000 births.

Despite Benin’s relatively large size (about 110,000 square kilometers), there are only four hospitals within the national borders. A survey conducted in 1999 reported that for every 1,000 patients who arrived at hospitals to receive treatment, only 0.1 doctors and 0.2 beds were available. As a result, one of the primary methods to improve Benin’s health care is to hire and train more doctors.

Diseases

The Joint United Nations Program for HIV/AIDS states that anywhere from 38,000 and 120,000 individuals in Benin may be infected with the HIV/AIDS virus. These figures are comparatively lower than in other African countries, but the virus is still spreading among young adults. Waterborne diseases such as tuberculosis, cholera and meningitis have high risks and rates of infection. Typhoid Fever poses a highly dangerous threat in Benin, as only 23% of the population has access to adequate sanitation services. Further efforts need to emerge to improve the quality of drinking water. Until then, the citizens of Benin have to rely on boiling their water to remove bacteria.

Natural Disasters

In 2010, Benin experienced the worst series of flooding that it had seen in decades. The floods affected over 800,000 people and wiped away entire villages. Due to the lack of water clean-up and filtration, people were consuming water that overflowing latrines had contaminated. As a result, reports to hospitals determined that there were nearly 800 new cases of cholera. The disaster prompted the U.N. refugee agency to activate an emergency plan to help those the floods displaced.

Malnutrition

Despite Benin’s current progress in healthcare, child malnutrition still remains a critical marker of poverty and improper healthcare. Assumptions have also determined that over 25% of infants and children younger than 5-years-old suffer or die from malnutrition. However, the government of Benin has recently developed an innovative plan for improving child nutrition.

The new Early Years Nutrition and Child Development Project (EYNCDP) is the first step in a series of three operations that aim toward improving the delivery and quality of selected health and nutrition interventions throughout the country. This first project focuses on integrating early stimulation and learning, primary school feeding programs and policy improvement.

Nonprofit Aid

There is further hope toward improving the lives of the people in Benin. Since 1995, the nonprofit organization CARE has been working on projects to help families in Benin receive improved income and education. For example, CARE has organized programs to combat gender-based violence, provide access to better nutrition and improve Benin’s healthcare.

It also provides aid to communities plagued with frequent flooding. Additionally, CARE grants further assistance by helping local farmers in rural communities improve their income via loan associations. By aiding farmers with their loans and savings, CARE ensures that their families are able to make proper investments, and in turn, can buy better livestock, seeds and farming equipment.

Projects like CARE can go a long way to provide aid to people living in difficult conditions like those in Benin. Through its efforts to aid communities experiencing flooding, healthcare in Benin should improve.

Aditya Daita
Photo: Pixabay

Bangladesh eradicates poverty through flooding
Bangladesh, along with many other South Asian countries, is prone to flooding and increasing rainfall. For years, Bangladesh has suffered from one of the harshest torrential rains in the world. However, this year the country has experienced the worst of its effects. These torrential rainfalls lead to flooding in Bangladesh and this, in turn, has an adverse effect on poverty levels.

Monsoon Season in Bangladesh

In many cases, monsoon season in Bangladesh typically starts in June and can last for months, as situations worsen. According to satellite data, at least 24% of the land in Bangladesh lies submerged underwater, due to the rapid inundations. This environmental crisis affects at least 4.7 million people and most of them lose their houses and utilities. Specifically, people living along the Brahmaputra river are deprived of basic human necessities, such as food and shelter. This is because of the increased flooding this year, alone. For example, Tajul Isam, a local sharecropper, had to find creative ways to protect himself from the overflows of the Brahmaputra River, such as building bamboo sheds.

Assessing the Damage

Many officials claim the source of the floods is a result of the rampant rainfalls this past year. Through the analysis from a combination of satellites, many scientists also predict that Bangladesh will experience its longest flooding season since 1988. Again, this due to the recent, recurrent rainfalls. More than 1,200 kilometers of farmland is damaged, along with approximately 1.5 million houses affected. At least 100 people have died, either from waterborne diseases or drowning from the overflow of rivers, such as the Himalayas river and the Brahmaputra river. Fifteen districts are predicted to be affected by the rising water levels from other rivers — specifically the Padma, Ganges and Jamuna rivers.

Response to One of the Worst Monsoon Seasons in Bangladesh

Bangladesh and many others are initiating protocols in providing disaster relief funds and resources for the areas most affected by the monsoon season. The Humanitarian Coordination Task Team (HCCT) strategized plans to rehabilitate some of these damaged lands and provide people with resources. For example, they are currently transporting 14,000 tons of rice to over 33 districts. Additionally, they are giving over $870,000 for expenditures such as food, farming equipment and housing grants. Along with the expenditures — 50,000 farmers will receive $450,000 for tools such as fertilizers and seeds to compensate for their damaged farmland.

On top of the HCTT Response Plan, many other organizations are also taking charge to help victims of the flooding in Bangladesh. For example, the Need Assessment Working Group (NAWP) and the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) have provided at least 1,086 flood shelters to families. Specifically, these shelters went to those who lost their homes in the district of Jamalpur. Overall, however, the Start Fund Bangladesh — with the help of USAID and U.K. support — raised over $1 million to provide disaster relief in districts such as Kurigram, Gaibandha and Siraganji.

Although the government has issued many responses, smaller projects have also pursued action towards the recovery of damaged areas in Bangladesh. In particular, Friendship Organization has provided services and resources in impoverished areas— one of which is Bangladesh. As of now, they have had over 400 volunteers and 200 staff members assist in the emergency response for the monsoon season in Bangladesh. Additionally, flood shelters were provided for over 8,800 people through Friendship’s built schools and villages.

A Bright Outlook

Bangladesh has suffered through much environmental damage due to its drastic weather conditions. Nonetheless, many actors are pressing forward to ensure the safety of vulnerable communities. With the help of the Bangladeshi government and many NGO projects, Bangladesh will more than likely recover and replenish the resources that it desperately needs.

Aishwarya Thiyagarajan
Photo: Flickr

Zero Poverty in Wake Island
Wake Island is a small landmass resting between Hawaii and the Northern Mariana Islands. The Spanish discovered the island in 1568 and received its name from William Wake, a British Captain who came across the island in 1796. It covers a total of 6.5 square Km, which is approximately 11 times the size of the National Mall in Washington, DC. This island boasts an impressive statistic: there is zero poverty on Wake Island.

Wake Island’s Background

In 1899 the U.S. created a cable station on the island after seizing it from Spain. In 1941, the country then constructed an air and naval base. However, the Japanese stole it shortly after, forcing the U.S. to bomb the island until Japan surrendered. By 1945, the U.S. recaptured Wake Island. During World War II, the island served as a military landing strip for the Pacific region. Wake Island is a National Historic Landmark due to its involvement in WWII. It has been under preservation by the National Preservation Act since 1966 and is protected by the United States Air Force. The U.S. government maintains the Island for emergency landings.

Reasons for the Absence of Poverty

However, Wake Island has no indigenous people: the only residents on the island come from the United States government and are contractors or military personnel. The sparse population watches over the facilities and airfields. There is currently one military doctor on the island for emergencies. There are no commercial flights to or from Wake Island, making it accessible solely to military personnel. The only telecommunication systems on the island are the Defense Switched Network circuits off the Overseas Telephone System (OTS), located in the Hawaii area code.

Approximately 150 people live on Wake Island as of 2019. Wake Island’s small perimeter does not have the structure or capabilities to hold more people. Thus, the small population creates the condition of zero poverty in Wake Island.

The U.S. regulates, and the present military personnel manages the island. The U.S imports all of the island’s food and manufactured goods for the limited population. By having the food and products imported, Wake Island has a lower possibility of falling into poverty. The island’s currency is in U.S. dollars due to its status as a United States territory. With the U.S. defensive base and government support, the island stays out of poverty.

Environmental Impacts on the Economy

In 2006 a super typhoon almost hit Wake Island, carrying the potential to devastate the island. The government evacuated all residents, but due to the storm’s size, there was a possibility of severe damage. The storm could have destroyed the island’s economy; however, despite the storm’s 155 miles per hour winds, no significant impact affected the military base or buildings. With wreckage of only trees, power lines and rods, the island was fortunate to escape destruction narrowly.

Since 2006, there have not been any storms or other major disasters to threaten the island’s economic status. The island also did not contribute to any wars: following WWII, the island sat peacefully with zero damage. This overall safety has significantly contributed to the absence of poverty in Wake Island.

– Mackenzie Reese
Photo: Flickr