Information and stories on Natural Disasters

10 Worst CyclonesThese top 10 worst cyclones in the world have devastated communities with lasting effects. A tropical cyclone is an intense spinning storm system with a low-pressure center that forms over warm water. All over the world, cyclones have created chaos and devastation. Once tropical cyclones develop sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour, they are classified as either hurricanes, typhoons or cyclones. The name of a tropical cyclone depends on the region in which they occur. Those that occur in the Eastern Pacific are hurricanes. Those that occur in Southeast Asia are typhoons. And those that occur in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific regions are cyclones. Here are the 10 worst cyclones in the world, from least to most severe.

10 Worst Cyclones in the World

  1. Bangladesh Cyclone of 1942 (Bangladesh, 1942)
    Coming in as the least severe of the list is the Bangladesh Cyclone of 1942. The cyclone struck the eastern coast of Bangladesh Oct. 16 with 70 miles per hour winds, causing a 20-foot storm surge. The cyclone led to the deaths of 61,000 people and destroyed at least 3,000 homes in the afflicted areas.
  2. Cyclone Nargis (Myanmar, 2008)
    On May 2, 2008, Cyclone Nargis made landfall in Myanmar, moving across the southern region of the country over two days. Cyclone Nargis particularly devastated the Ayeyarwady Delta region of Myanmar. The United Nations approximated the cyclone affected 2.4 million people. As a result of the cyclone, 84,500 people died, and 53,800 went missing.
  3. Cyclone 02B (Bangladesh, 1991)
    Cyclone 02B, commonly referred to as the Bangladesh Cyclone of 1991, made landfall onto the southeastern coastal region of Chittagong on April 29, 1991. The cyclone devastated Bangladesh, killing more than 135,000 people, and rendering 10 million people homeless. Plus, one million cows died as a result of the cyclone. More importantly, the cyclone devastated the country’s crops. As a result, many survivors of the cyclone would end up facing a risk of starvation. Cyclone 02B resulted in more than $1.5 billion in damages.
  4. Chittagong Cyclone (Bangladesh, 1897)
    In 1897, the Chittagong Cyclone devastated the town of Chittagong in Bangladesh, killing 175,000 people, and destroying more than half of the buildings in town. Unlike some of the other cyclones on this list, there is not much data or news coverage available on the cyclone.
  5. Great Backerganj Cyclone (Bangladesh, 1876)
    Also known as the Bengal Cyclone of 1876, the cyclone occurred Oct. 31, 1876, in Bangladesh, leading to the deaths of an estimated 200,000 people. Forming over the Bay of Bengal, the cyclone made landfall at the Meghna River Estuary. Combined with an already high tide, the Cyclone caused a 40-foot storm surge that devastatingly flooded low lying coastal areas. The high tide and storm surge made the effects of the Cyclone deadly in particular; an estimated 50 percent of deaths from the cyclone resulted from starvation and disease associated with the flooding.
  6. Backerganj Cyclone (Bangladesh, 1584)
    Occurring in 1584, the Backerganj Cyclone formed in the Bay of Bengal and struck Bangladesh. Creating destruction in Bangladesh, the cyclone caused an estimated 200,000 deaths.
  7. Coringa Cyclone (India, 1839)
    The port city of Coringa was struck by a disastrous cyclone Nov. 25, 1839. The cyclone brought heavy winds and produced a 40-foot storm surge, causing havoc throughout the city. The cyclone killed 300,000 people and completely demolished the port, destroying around 20,000 ships. Coringa has never fully recovered from the damage of the cyclone and is now a small village.
  8. Haiphong Cyclone (Vietnam, 1881)
    Next is the 1881 Haiphong Cyclone of Vietnam. On Oct. 8, 1881, the Haiphong Cyclone struck into the Gulf of Tonkin, setting off a course of tidal waves that flooded the Northeastern city of Haiphong. The flooding devastated Haiphong and led to the widespread destruction of the city. The Haiphong Cyclone led to an estimated 300,000 deaths. However, more are thought to have died afterward from starvation and disease, as a result of the flooding.
  9. Hooghly River Cyclone (India and Bangladesh, 1737)
    One of the deadliest natural disasters in all of history, the Hooghly River Cyclone, also known as the Calcutta Cyclone, devastated the Indian city of Calcutta, as well as the surrounding regions. The cyclone made landfall just south of Calcutta in the Ganges River Delta, creating a 30-40 foot storm surge, and bringing an approximated 15 inches of rain over six hours. The cyclone devastated the city of Calcutta, destroying the majority of buildings and structures, mostly made from wood and having straw roofs. Many existing brick structures were also damaged to a point beyond repair. The cyclone led to the deaths of 300,00 to 350,000 people. While most data focuses on Calcutta, it is also thought that villagers in East Bengal and Bangladesh died as a result of the cyclone. Additionally, the Hoogly River Cyclone destroyed 20,000 vessels.
  10. Great Bhola Cyclone (Bangladesh, 1970)
    The most severe cyclone on the list is the deadliest tropical cyclone ever, Great Bhola Cyclone. It completely devastated Pakistan (then East Pakistan). The cyclone started out as a depression in the Bay of Bengal Nov. 8, 1970, and quickly intensified into a tropical cyclone with 85 to 90 mile-per-hour winds by Nov. 11. The cyclone further intensified and moved north by November 12th, bringing with it 140 mile-per-hour winds and a 20-foot high storm surge. Unfortunately, while meteorologists did know of the impending cyclone, they had no way of notifying most people living within the islands of the Ganges River Delta and the coastal plain; thus, most people didn’t even know that it was coming. The cyclone killed between 300,000 to 500,000 people, making it the deadliest cyclone ever, as well as one of the deadliest natural disasters in history. The cyclone resulted in more than $490 million in damages, and 85 percent of homes were either damaged or destroyed.

These are the 10 worst cyclones to have occurred within recorded history. They are also among the deadliest natural disasters of all time and have created mass destruction. To this day, communities like Coringa, have yet to fully recover from the damages of the disaster. Hopefully, with the development of new technologies, more investment into foreign aid, and support for building more cyclone-resistant infrastructure, cyclones will be easier to track and people will be warned in advance.

– Nicholas Bykov
Photo: Flickr

ways natural disasters affect impoverished nationsAfter a natural disaster, an impoverished nation faces even more struggles as it attempts to recover. While the media is a tool that helps inspire assistance to disaster-stricken nations, countries that experience natural disasters often still need more aid after the disaster is no longer in the spotlight. Developing countries are particularly vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters, and it is important to remember these effects when thinking about what you can do to help a nation in distress. Here are five ways natural disasters affect impoverished nations.

Five Ways Natural Disasters Affect Impoverished Nations

  1. Women are at higher risk. Women are at a higher risk of danger during and after natural disasters. In fact, more women than men are killed or injured during floods and hurricanes. Because of the expectation for women to be household caregivers in most developing countries, they are less likely to flee from their homes in an emergency. They are also less likely to know how to swim if there is a water emergency. Medical Teams International (MTI), an organization that seeks to bring medical help to those in need after natural disasters, recognizes the need for intervention. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, women endured the brunt of a health crisis – in addition to a cholera epidemic, women experienced unsafe births and unhealthy pregnancies. To combat this, MTI entered the village of Crochu and provided vaccines and education about how to improve maternal health. The group also trained community members to help with births so the ordeal would be safer for the women. MTI remained in Crochu until 2018, when the community was able to maintain control of its health activities independently.
  2. Agriculture suffers. Natural disasters can damage croplands and livestock production, which hurts a developing country’s agricultural sector. Between 2005 and 2015, developing nations lost $96 billion in agriculture due to natural disasters, with half of these losses occurring in Asia, where floods, earthquakes and tsunamis are common. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. has created a risk assessment and reduction program that studies losses from natural disasters and implements new solutions to minimize future losses. This program also takes into account the losses in the forestry sector and fisheries, which provide additional sustenance.  The disaster analysis paves the way for other humanitarian groups, like the World Health Organization and the World Bank, to intervene directly.
  3. Children are more likely to become stunted. A child in India is seven percent more likely to experience stunting within five months of a natural disaster. For areas like India that face many disasters per year and already have a stunting rate of 38 percent, the stunting risk is great. Stunted children can face developmental difficulties that impact school performance and physical abilities due to a lack of nutritional fulfillment. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy is an international group that helps individual countries after natural disasters by providing meals, developing food security education programs and strengthening agricultural recovery. In 2017, the group was able to send lifesaving nutrition products to Mexico after two dangerous earthquakes ravaged the agricultural sector. This was possible because of a $600,000 donation from Abbott Laboratories Corporate Giving Program.
  4. Natural disasters can spur economic activity. Studies have shown that countries suffering numerous natural disasters also have higher rates of economic growth. After a 2008 earthquake in China, the economic growth rate increased by 0.3 percent due to billions of dollars spent on rebuilding efforts. Creating new and more efficient infrastructures with the help of disaster relief programs can improve the economy by providing immediate construction jobs, but also can facilitate long-term economic growth with safer, newer work buildings. This is made possible by donations to humanitarian organizations like the International Red Cross or All Hands and Hearts.
  5. Disease is likely to follow. A natural disaster itself does not cause disease, but it can become easier to contract a disease after a natural disaster. When there is a flood, there is a higher risk of cross-contamination of water with toxic materials, and water sources become breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitos. In the event of an earthquake, people are forced to live in crowded shelters with limited access to sanitation systems and food. Immunity to vaccine-preventable diseases decreases significantly in this time. Doctors Without Borders is one group that helps disaster victims onsite and provides necessary vaccines or other medical treatment. The organization created pre-made disaster kits to send to countries in need of aid. The kid includes a full set of surgical tools and a large, inflatable tarp to be used as hospital space. The kit was introduced in Haiti in 2010, and now, it is known as a model for other disaster relief organizations.

Natural disasters and the ways natural disasters affect impoverished nations continue to be a threat to global health every day. Donating to relief and recovery organizations is a great way to be involved in helping poor communities abroad.

– Katherine Desrosiers
Photo: U.S. Department of Defense

Natural Disasters in Bangladesh

The people of Bangladesh face great risks from natural disasters. Given the country’s geographical position, cyclones, earthquakes and floods are not uncommon. Natural disasters in Bangladesh are more prominent because of the country’s entirely low-lying, flat landscape. This topography puts more than 80 percent of the inhabitants at higher risk of “floods, earthquakes and droughts, and more than 70 percent to cyclones.” This is why it is so important to have a preemptive system in place for the preparation of natural disasters.

The Impact of Climate Change

The Asian continent accounts for more than half of the cities at risk of experiencing the effects of a changing climate. Among the impacts of a changing climate are frequent droughts, fierce heat waves, intense cyclones and severe flooding. The “World Bank predicts climate change could force tens of millions of people to migrate within their own countries by 2050, including some 13 million in densely populated Bangladesh alone.” Nnatural disasters in Bangladesh leave the people of suffering on a large scale on an annual basis.

An article posted by The New Humanitarian delves into the torrential rainfall that came down on Bangladesh in 2017. It had a severe and negative impact on the fertility of the land and damaged the crops, which is what Bangladeshi people rely on to grow and sell every year. The warm winters and dry summers have brought tremendous flooding.

Even worse, farmers are continuing to move away from their homes and farms, migrating to Bangladesh’s cities. Many families have relied on farming as a sustainable way of life for generations; however, due to weather extremes, they are migrating within their countries by the thousands. Not only does the migration create a sort of refugee crisis as well as overcrowding in the urban areas within the nation but the destruction of crops may ultimately lead to a food security issue.

Moving Forward

It is imperative that the government create better systems of preparation for natural disasters in Bangladesh in order to prevent more issues. In a stride toward environmental public health, efforts to adapt and minimize damages due to the changing climate are underway. Bangladesh has allocated more than $400 million into its Climate Change Trust, which is a “state body that finances adaptation and mitigation projects by government agencies.” Hopefully, some of the projects that come out of this organization will show improved disaster preparation techniques.

The Haor Infrastructure and Livelihood Improvement Project within the Rural Development sector has set a goal to “improve road infrastructure, build local capacity and expand access to natural resources, technology and markets.” The five targeted districts of this poverty-reducing project are Sunamganj, Kishorganj, Brahmanbaria, Habiganj and Netrakona.

Among many projects is the Coastal Embankment Improvement Project (CEIP), which was approved by the World Bank in 2013. This project has helped Bangladesh improve emergency response to the impact of cyclones and flooding in the coastal areas.

Natural disasters in Bangladesh are both inevitable and a public health emergency for a host of reasons. However, the preparations and emergency response protocols already underway signal a more stable future for the promising developing country.

– Karina Bhakta
Photo: Flikr

Sean Penn's Charitable Organization
Shortly after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, Sean Penn established the J/P Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO). Initially, an emergency relief association, Sean Penn’s charitable organization expanded to help vulnerable communities rebuild their lives in healthier and safer neighborhoods. The organization provided access to quality education, health services, improved housing and infrastructure and livelihoods.

Haiti + Beyond Fundraising Gala

As Penn’s annual J/P HRO fundraising gala approached its eighth year, the Oscar-winning actor and humanitarian renamed the event on January 5, 2019. Formerly known as Haiti Rising, the gala name changed to Haiti + Beyond to demonstrate the organization’s expansion into disaster relief around the world and not just Haiti. While honoring CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Puerto Rico’s Mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz, and Ambassador Kenneth Merten, Haiti’s special coordinator during the evening’s social event, Haiti + Beyond, raised $3.5 million.

Besides entertainment, an auction also figured into part of the soiree along with additional contributions and tickets for the more than 400 guests, which ranged from $5,000 to $10,000. Proceeds will go towards saving lives by strengthening helpless communities in Haiti and the Caribbean and enabling faster reactions and effective assistance in emergencies in the U.S.

Legacy of J/P HRO and Expansion

The earthquake in Haiti impacted an estimated three million people with 250,000 lives lost. In the nine years since its start, the humanitarian relief organization has provided preventative health care, education and community resources. With its success in the region, Penn and J/P HRO have set their sights on expanding efforts around the globe.

Starting in 2019, Penn will focus on investing J/P HRO’s resources in particularly disaster-prone areas around the world. J/P HRO, its partners and other like-minded organizations will join forces to work together with communities, municipal governments and the private sector to guarantee a swift response when disaster strikes.

As a result of this new expansion, Sean Penn’s charitable organization, J/P HRO, will now go by the name CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort), dedicated to saving lives while empowering communities affected by or susceptible to catastrophe. The vision of CORE is a world where at-risk communities are prepared for disasters, resilient and able to respond quickly and quick to recover.

This move follows J/P HRO’s efforts in response to recent hurricanes in Puerto Rico, Antigua, Barbuda, Florida and North Carolina. Although Haiti has been the center of this organization and has a majority of Haitian employees and volunteers, these experiences have given Penn insight into how to react and support communities facing similar disasters in the Caribbean and U.S.

As part of the expansion, the organization will announce an expanded board while longtime board members, such as Penn, will continue to serve and engage new staffers. Consequently, strategic partnerships with other nonprofits to provide emergency services in low-income neighborhoods and at-risk areas will round out this development. While J/P HRO is branching out, Haiti will, nevertheless, be a significant part of Sean Penn’s charitable organization as the country remains a primary passion for Penn. The devastation that occurred in Haiti led to Sean Penn’s desire to assist in every aspect of rebuilding which lead to the launch of J/P HRO and has remained in place for a decade.

– Colette Sherrington
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in Dominica

Dominica is one of the islands in the Caribbean that suffered from two destructive hurricanes within the last four years. The hazardous climate in this region has been a catalyst for the building of resilient infrastructure. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Dominica highlight the benefit of disaster relief.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Dominica

  1. Dominica’s government is funded through the exchange of passports through the Citizenship by Investment Program. This program invites foreign residents to come and live on the island under certain agreements. One-third of the population of 74,027 lives on the coastline. The rest are scattered inland.
  2. Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has expressed concern for the living situations caused by Hurricanes Erika and Maria. The Citizenship by Investment Program is funding projects for housing developments that brave Dominica’s natural hazards. The residential reconstructions include electrical, cable and telephone lines that run beneath the surface.
  3. The state has an international disagreement with Venezuela’s dominion over Aves Island. This calls into question whether the circumstances fall under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. But instead of a military, the Commonwealth of Dominica has a police force that includes a coast guard.
  4. Dominica has subtropical valleys and cool coastlines. However, the mountainous parts of the island can experience flash floods. Between June and October, hurricanes pose a major threat. These natural hazards contribute to soil erosion.
  5. Dominica suffered disruption in more than 40 of its water systems as a result of Hurricane Maria’s destruction. The Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance has partnered with the U.S. Agency for International Development, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to provide support with water, sanitation and hygiene. Access to safe drinking water was an urgent need for hurricane survivors.
  6. The Japan Caribbean Climate Change Partnership donated wood chippers, tillers, brush cutters, seeds, water tanks, soil testing equipment, machine-powered mist blowers and laptops to 40 Roseau Valley Farmers. The total cost of the project to equip farmers affected by Hurricane Maria’s devastation of agriculture $390,000.
  7. In an effort to sustain school feeding programs and engender the value of farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture is working to form an agro-entrepreneurship program in schools nationwide. The ministry has invested $70,000, not including other resources. The Junior Achievement Agricultural Program will use this opportunity to give students the experience of fundraising to cultivate their own food.
  8. The World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme assisted the Dominican government in the maintenance of public services following Hurricane Maria. The restoration of four hospitals, five medical clinics, three schools and six structures at the Dominica State College took place in the summer of 2108. More than 400 contractors learned the methods of climate resilient reconstruction.
  9. Plastic pollution has affected the island’s coast. In an effort to heal Dominica’s ecosystem, the country will have to restrain from using plastic through a plastic ban that the Prime Minister has introduced. The U.K. government is also funding the Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme (CME), which will improve the economy’s tourism sector by developing navigation charts to reduce the damage to Dominica’s coral reefs.
  10. The U.K. government’s CME Programme will also restore a tide gauge at Roseau’s port to detect unsafe sea patterns. Instructions on the conservation of data equipment, like the Tidal Analysis Software Kit, and connections to the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, as well as to other experts, will contribute to the region’s tsunami warning system. These foundations and skills will bring stronger pre-disaster security.

Though strides are being made to establish Dominica as the first climate-resilient country, there is still danger in the unpredictability of these natural disasters. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Dominica show how proactive development of a stable infrastructure is the most effective way to respond to calamity. Systems must be put in place to overcome adversity before the blow.

Crystal Tabares
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

10 Worst Hurricanes

Hurricanes represent an annual threat to the lives and livelihood of millions living in coastal or insular geographic regions. Throughout history, certain natural disasters have stood out as especially destructive. This is a compilation of the 10 worst hurricanes in modern history, with 10 being the worst.

The World’s 10 Worst Hurricanes

  1. Sandy
    • Death Toll: 186
    • Economic Losses: $65 Billion
    • Summary: In 2012, this massive, slow-moving storm wreaked havoc not only in Cuba, Haiti and Jamaica but also on the United States East Coast in New Jersey and New York. Sandy caused devastating flooding, killing 80 people in the Caribbean and damaging 18,000 homes. Sandy hit especially hard in Haiti, where the storm execrated food insecurity, which Haiti had already been struggling with after Hurricane Isaac.
  2. David
    • Death Toll: 2,000
    • Economic Losses: $1.54 Billion
    • Summary: In 1979, Hurricane David, a powerful Category 5 storm, struck both the Dominican Republic and the East Coast of the United States. In the Dominican Republic, David killed at least 600 people and left over 150,000 homeless.
  3. Jeanne
    • Death Toll: 3,000
    • Economic Losses: $8 billion
    • Summary: Jeanne was the deadliest hurricane of the 2004 season. Jeanne was a Category 3 hurricane, which caused devastation in the same region as the prior storms on this list, the Caribbean and the East Coast of the United States.
  4. Flora
    • Death Toll: 7,000
    • Economic Losses: $125 million
    • Summary: Flora struck in 1963, but it remains one of the deadliest Atlantic hurricanes of all time. The storm swept through Tobago, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, triggering massive landslides and destroying crops. Inland flooding caused by the storm surge was among the chief causes of crop destruction, especially in Haiti. In Tobago, crop destruction was so great that the agricultural backbone of the economy was abandoned in favor of a new emphasis on tourism as a means of revenue.
  5. Katrina
    • Death Toll: 1,800
    • Economic Losses: $125 billion.
    • Summary: Katrina is infamous for being one of the worst natural disasters ever to strike the United States. Coastal flooding caused by Katrina completely devastated many communities on the gulf coast. Katrina nearly completely submerged New Orleans and destroyed around 800,000 homes in Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida. While it is not quite among the deadliest hurricanes of all time, the extensive destruction caused by Katrina makes it by far the costliest in terms of economic damages.
  6. Maria
    • Death Toll: 4,500
    • Economic Losses: $90 Billion
    • Summary: Maria is the most recent of the tropical storms featured on this list, and the devastation that it brought is still fresh in Puerto Rico, Dominica and Guadeloupe. The most severe effects of Maria were felt by Puerto Rico, where Maria severely damaged the infrastructure, leaving countless citizens without power for extended periods. Maria was also the most costly hurricane in modern history for the island territory. Fortunately, thanks to efforts funded by the federal government, Puerto Rico has seen a slow, but steady recovery, with power being entirely restored.
  7. Fifi
    • Death Toll: 8,000
    • Economic Losses: $1.8 Billion
    • Summary: Fifi was a catastrophic storm that struck Central America in 1974. Fifi triggered landslides and flash floods, which swept through crop fields and small towns throughout the region. Dozens of villages in Honduras were completely wiped out. Twenty-three hundred people were killed when a natural dam in Choloma gave way to the flooding and burst. The impact of Fifi sparked a series of reconstruction projects among the villages of Honduras, which succeeded in rebuilding housing and infrastructure across the nation.
  8. Galveston
    • Death Toll: 8,000-12,000
    • Economic Losses: $20 million
    • Summary: Galveston was a vibrant trading port, and the largest city in Texas at the turn of the twentieth century. Though Galveston had endured many tropical storms since its founding, the 1900 Hurricane was in a class of its own, and the ensuing 15-foot storm surge wiped out the city, destroying 3,600 buildings. Galveston was the deadliest natural disaster in the United States history at the time. Remarkably, despite the immense damages, and the loss of 20 percent of Galveston’s inhabitants, the people managed to rebuild and construct a new seawall to protect it from future catastrophes.
  9. Mitch
    • Death Toll: 10,000-20,000
    • Economic Losses: $6 billion
    • Summary: Hurricane Mitch was a Category 5 storm that predominantly affected Nicaragua and Honduras. Flash flooding and landslides caused by Mitch destroyed thousands of homes, rendering 20 percent of the population homeless. Mitch also caused extensive damage to the infrastructure of Honduras, leaving numerous roads and bridges destroyed, which prevented the transport of much-needed aid. In Nicaragua, a mudslide off of La Casitas Volcano killed over 2,000, and over 1 million homes were damaged or destroyed. In the aftermath of Mitch, countries around the globe donated billions to Central America, which the affected countries used to rebuild, constructing stronger foundations to withstand future disasters.
  10. The Great Hurricane of 1780
    • Death Toll: 22,000-27,000
    • Economic Losses: Unknown
    • Summary: The Great Hurricane of 1780 predates modern storm-tracking technology, but it is widely accepted to be the deadliest storm in history. Making landfall on Oct. 10, the Great Hurricane devastated Barbados, Martinique, St. Lucia and the rest of the Caribbean, causing incalculable damage and claiming more lives than any other storm in recorded history. The Great Hurricane represents a disaster of unprecedented scale and truly belongs at the top of the 10 worst hurricanes of all time.

Hurricanes often serve as a bitter reminder of human vulnerability, however, even when in the path of the 10 worst hurricanes, people show an incredible capacity to adapt and recover from tragedy. The 10 worst hurricanes of all time illustrate not only the fierce violence of nature but also the ingenuity and tenacity of humanity.

– Karl Haider


Photo: Flickr

Aid to IndonesiaIndonesia is no stranger to natural disasters; it has experienced a lot of destruction throughout the years. A major natural disaster occurs in Indonesia almost every year in the form of tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Christian organizations are planted internationally in order to minister and bring aid to those in need. World Vision Ministry is one such organization that has been in Indonesia since 1960. Here is a look at World Vision’s aid to Indonesia.

World Vision’s Foundation

World Vision in Indonesia is based on a vision of a world that is committed to the well-being of children. The organization strives to build thriving communities where peace and justice can prevail with security, opportunity and contentment. This is accomplished through its relief, development and advocacy work. World Vision has become one of the world’s largest charities with annual revenue reaching more than $1 billion. It has ministries in 90 countries, focusing on children.

In the 1970s, World Vision Indonesia initiated a community development approach that provides more integrated support toward the empowerment of the poor communities and their children. Its involvement improved basic education, health, income generation and basic infrastructure for Indonesia. In 1998, World Vision raised 14 million to aid the poor in Jakarta, Indonesia. As a global humanitarian organization, World Vision’s ministry is dedicated to continuous aid to Indonesia whether it be a food crisis or assistance to victims of natural disasters.

Programs to Empower

According to the ministry, World Vision introduced the Area Development Program (ADP) approach in the 1990s to create an effective and lasting transformation in the lives of people in poor communities. The organization describes the ADPs as nurturing an inclusive approach to tackle poverty across extensive areas, normally involving several villages and communities. World Vision’s aid to Indonesia through the ADP approach has led to more sustainable developments and impacts through longer intervention and lifetime concentrated programs.

Today, World Vision has a partnership with Wahana Visi Indonesia, which supports around 50 ADPs in aid to Indonesia’s North Sumatra, Jakarta, East Java, West Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi, East Nusa Tenggara, North Maluku and Papua. World Vision in Indonesia has helped to save lives in many ways, but it is most effective in its emergency response.

Emergency Relief and Support

World Vision has administered emergency relief support to those affected by natural disasters or communal conflicts for many years. In 1963, World Vision supported the victims of Mount Agung eruption in Bali and then provided aid to Indonesia in the resettlement of displaced people in West Kalimantan, Maluku among other sites in the 1970-80s. The ministry remained Indonesia in 1997 and 2009 following the drought from the El Nino weather phenomenon, severe economic crises, earthquakes and the major tsunami in Aceh province.

In December 2018, World Vision provided aid to Indonesia when the Sunda Strait tsunami struck Java and Sumatra, resulting in more than 300 deaths. The ministry distributed hygiene and household items to families who lost their homes and provided safe places for mothers to feed their young children.

Margie Siregar, Humanitarian Emergency Affairs Director with World Vision, spoke with NPR’s Ari Shapiro while she was in Jakarta, Indonesia. “We had 30 aid staff already in the place before the earthquake happened and now we are providing some public kitchen and children feeding,” Siregar told NPR. The workers of World Vision also provided the children with a child-friendly space where they could play and recover from the trauma. In Central Sulawesi, an estimated 460,000 children in four districts were affected according to World Vision Indonesia.

Combatting Poverty

Each fiscal year, World Vision raises around $20 million from donors and sponsors in various countries to combat poverty and bring lasting transformation in the lives of the children to facilitate their communities. In 2018, 86 percent of World Vision’s total operating expenses went to aid Indonesia by establishing programs that benefited children, families and communities in poverty.

Parents in Indonesia are being empowered to care for their children through education on child protection and disaster risk reduction thanks to World Vision’s aid to Indonesia. Those who are interested in aiding the families affected by the recent tsunami may donate to World Vision’s Indonesia tsunami relief fund.

Carolina Chaves
Photo: Flickr

Flood in Iran

Heavy flooding due to severe rain wreaked havoc in Iran, destroying homes, infrastructure and agriculture. The flooding is the worst the country has seen in 70 years, but many in the international community have been gracious and cooperative in assisting relief efforts following the flood in Iran.

Unprecedented rainfall caused flooding that destroyed or damaged 143,000 homes and killed at least 78 people. An estimated 10 million people were affected, 2 million of which need humanitarian aid. Several countries and many humanitarian organizations are cooperating with the Iranian government to facilitate disaster relief.

Iranian Response

The Iranian government authorized allocating up to $2 billion from the country’s sovereign wealth fund. They plan to implement the funds through relief payments and reconstruction. The flooding inflicted $2.5 billion in damages to roads, bridges, homes and farmland. Around 4,400 villages across 28 of Iran’s 31 provinces were affected, and 8,700 miles of roads were damaged.

Initially, the Iranian Red Crescent Society’s (IRCS) Emergency Operations Center received meteorological alerts of severe rain and responded by circulating flood warnings. As the flooding occurred, IRCS sent helicopters and boats to rescue at-risk people threatened by rising floodwater. Many people took shelter in public evacuation centers inside of stadiums, halls and mosques.

Global Relief Efforts

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has been coordinating a relief plan implemented through the IRCS. The IFRC is appealing for over 5 million Swiss francs to assist around 150,000 people for nine months.

Thus far the IRCS has provided support services to more than 257,000 people. Those services include shelter for 98,000 people, pumping water out of 5,000 flooded houses and transporting 89 people to health facilities. They also distributed thousands of tents, blankets, heaters, health sets and kitchen sets. Part of the money appealed for by the IFRC would go toward replenishing stocks of emergency items like these.

Zala Falahat, the IRCS Under Secretary for General International Affairs and International Humanitarian Law, commented, “This is the largest disaster to hit Iran in more than 15 years…For the Red Crescent, this is one of the largest humanitarian relief efforts in our history.” The IRCS effort is 18,000 relief workers strong, many of whom are volunteers.

The European Commission is also actively assisting relief efforts following the flood in Iran. They activated the European Civil Protection Mechanism (EUCPM) and provided $1.2 million in humanitarian funding. Other countries from Europe providing support include Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, the Vatican and Slovakia. The money has gone toward emergency supplies like generators, water and mud pumps, inflatable boats, hygiene kits and other necessary items.

Iraq has been especially active in providing support for people affected by the flood in Iran. The Iraq Popular Mobilization Force organized an aid convoy including six ambulances and 20 trucks of medical and food supplies. Other Middle Eastern countries have also cooperated with humanitarian efforts, including Amenia, Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan and Turkey. Russia, Japan and India have also sent relief items.

The United Nations has sent a wide range of agencies to help Iran. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is providing emergency supplies. Indrika Ratwatte, the UNHCR’s Director for Asia and the Pacific, said, “UNHCR’s efforts are in solidarity with Iran and its people who have hosted millions of refugees for four decades.” The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) estimates $1.5 billion in damages to the agricultural sector due to the flood.

Though the flood in Iran caused wide-spread damage, the international humanitarian community is springing into action to help. The government of Iran expressed gratitude toward the many global partners who provided aid. The disaster relief effort is a powerful example of international aid in action.

– Peter S. Mayer
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Haiti
The following 10 facts about life expectancy in Haiti reveal a domino-effect of massive natural disasters, fragile health care infrastructure and low access to preventative care in a country where half of the population lives in extreme poverty. On the bright side, poverty rates have improved and can continue to uplift if aid focuses on establishing long-term preventative care facilities and the government can effectively communicate with programs to meet needs. With the improvements in poverty rates and health care, life expectancy will consequentially improve.

Top 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Haiti

  1. The life expectancy in Haiti is 63.5 years, lower than that of its neighbors Cuba, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. Female are projected to live longer with the life expectancy of 65.7 years while men are expected to live 61.3 years on average. The country’s population consists of 10.98 million people. The healthy life expectancy is alarmingly low, standing at only 44 years.
  2. More than half of the population lives on less than $2 a day, categorized as suffering from extreme poverty. A $2 daily budget allows little to no room for medicine, preventative care, hospitals or emergency clinics.
  3. The country has also seen various improvements over the last 30 years, as 1970 saw life expectancy rates that were as low as 47 years.
  4. The child mortality rate drastically improved since 1960 when it hovered around 249 deaths per 1,000 live births. Today’s rate of 71.7 deaths per 1,000 live births means care access for infants and children with complications or illnesses still needs to advance.
  5. On 12 January 2010, earthquake disintegrated medical and treatment facilities in Port-au-Prince within seconds. The magnitude 7 earthquake, powerful enough to destroy most of the city, put the medical system back to the most rudimentary stage with few facilities and overloaded the hospitals with the wounded people. Between 46,000 and 300,000 Haitians died and most areas were forced to wait for Doctors without Borders humanitarian aid for over a month due to the critical devastation of roads and airports.
  6. The country never had proper funds to establish a secure health care infrastructure amidst a crushing sequence of natural disasters. Quick and accessible care often spells the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, Haitian clinics that would have saved lives were destroyed in the earthquake. Of course, aid can never replace a health care system. Many international organizations partner with the country to provide health care access and immediate care. Plenty International, whose past and ongoing projects in Haiti include partnering with Haitian clinics, channeling medicine and supplies, including water sanitation tablets and offering Haitian midwives training in Home Based Life-Saving Skills, interventions that save women and children’s lives, is one of those organizations.
  7. After the 2010 earthquake, cases of cholera developed from unsanitary water conditions and lack of health care. By 2016, this disease had sickened 770,000 people and the U.N. promised to bring in funding to compensate the families of the deceased and ill. Cholera is not the only concern as Haiti suffers the highest percentages of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean at approximately 150,000 cases in 2016. Around 55 percent of the sufferers had access to antiretroviral treatment, an improved rate from 2010 when there were 10 percent more HIV-caused deaths. Progress shows up in malnutrition rates as well, as the number of undernourished children dropped significantly from 2006 to 2012 due to the government ramping up programs. As of May 2012, services included 285 outpatient programs, 16 inpatient stabilization units for severely affected children, 174 baby feeding tents and 350 supplementary nutrition programs.
  8. Annual per capita expenditure for health care is a stark $13. In comparison, this number is $180 in the Dominican Republic. After the administration of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whose presidency was toppled in 2004, the health care budget took a hefty slash. Hopefully, as Haiti strives to create more sustainability in its health care infrastructure, the current government administration will prioritize preventative care and have the ability to increase the budget.
  9. Habitat for Humanity, responding to the need for structures and sustainable living situations after the earthquake, organized Pathways to Permanence, developing urban areas and teaching about land rights and finances. Their HOME program also provides access to long-term financing to reduce the housing deficit. They have helped rebuild the district Simon-Pelé, north of capital Port-au-Prince, whose former structures were predominately self-built. The organization also partnered with the community to provide water and sanitation projects and vocational training for adults.
  10. Text message donations from all over the U.S. brought immediate funding for disaster relief. A nongovernmental organization named Innovating Health International (IHI) combines community-oriented disease research, collaboration with local perspectives and prevention awareness to treat women with a range of chronic illnesses. IHI is carrying out the widest-reading study of chronic disease in a low-income country in the world.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Haiti highlight the hard road ahead to establish a sustainable infrastructure to address the country’s health care needs. Part of the struggle lies with its need for disaster-relief programs, many of which operated mainly to bring emergency care. As Haiti stabilizes its economic and employment rates, and more citizens can afford or be provided with preventative care, the crisis will decelerate. However, the economic, political, and health-care infrastructure all require stabilizing and the continued partnering of foreign aid for the country to progress to a more sustainable future.

– Hannah Peterson
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The Importance of Female Disaster Responders
Within the aid sector, female disaster responders are essential to ensuring the concerns of women and girls are heard and met. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable during crises, facing risks that male responders may not even consider that can happen. Additionally, a lack of local female responders may reinforce gender inequalities. In certain regions of the world, however, women are coming together, taking charge of disaster response efforts and helping their communities prepare for and respond to crises.

The Forgotten Effects of Disasters

A recent study by the International Federation of the Red Cross on three Southeast Asian nations- Indonesia, Laos and the Philippines, found that sexual and gender-based violence increased after disasters. Sexual harassment, sexual assault, child marriage, child sexual abuse, domestic violence and human trafficking all increased in the aftermath of natural disasters.

Often, those in charge of the disaster response do not take into account these risks when designing shelters and evacuation centers. It is crucial that these facilities have separate areas for men and women, provide separate, lockable bathroom facilities and have adequate lighting.

The Importance of Female Disaster Responders

Having female disaster responders increases the likelihood that these issues will be considered and addressed. International aid groups need to work to increase the number of women who are deployed to participate in the disaster response. Having female staff can help make communication with local women easier, and ensure that women’s concerns are being met.

This can be difficult, however, as female responders face additional risks and concerns, including safety, security and access to personal hygiene products. To mitigate these concerns, the safety of female responders always needs to be taken into account when designing living arrangements and women need to be encouraged to speak up about sexual harassment or assault. Women should also be encouraged to speak up about hygiene needs, and all staff needs to be trained to be open and understanding about these issues.

Involving local women in response efforts is also crucial. Suzy Madigan, the senior humanitarian advisor for gender and protection with CARE International, stated: “By not understanding what are the protection risks facing women and girls and, crucially, what are the solutions that they themselves would suggest, then we’re failing 50 percent of the population that we’re trying to serve.”

Madigan also warns that not including women in disaster response efforts can “reinforce barriers and discrimination.” In certain communities, women may already be generally excluded from decision-making, so if humanitarian groups are only working with men, they are both reinforcing this inequality and ignoring the needs of women.

Femlink Pacific

In certain areas of the world, women have started forming female-led disaster response organizations for their communities, breaking down gender barriers and ensuring the needs of women are met. Female disaster responders in Fiji provide a perfect example of this and their work can potentially be used as a model for other locations. The southwestern Pacific averages seven tropical cyclones every year between November and April. Recent cyclones have been particularly devastating, with three Category 4 cyclones in the Pacific between November 2016 and April 2017.

The Women’s Weather Watch program, run by a women’s media organization in Fiji, Femlink Pacific, maintains a network of 350 women across the nation. They use this network to communicate weather reports to women in different communities and provide advice for preparing for the coming weather. Women working with Femlink Pacific connect with other women in their communities and may even lead meetings for local women to help educate them. For example, Fane Boseiwaqa leads monthly meetings for 60 women in the area. She says that women are leaders, but they have to have access to adequate information and communication.

It is not always easy for female disaster responders to get their voices heard by the wider community, however. While doing their part to prepare for disasters and help their neighbors, women are often sidelined. Sarojani Gounder, a member of the Femlink Pacific network and local district councilor, stated: “Nobody comes and asks the women what you want or what you need. There’s nothing.”

In response to this, women have begun organizing on their own, taking the initiative to form women-based groups. When there are shortages in food and supplies, women have proven themselves to be the most effective first responders, as they are more likely to work together for the betterment of the whole community. Selai Adi Maitoga, a member of the Femlink Pacific network, stated, “Men don’t ask the neighbors. But the women, we talk to each other. That’s why women are the first responders.”

The initiatives of female disaster responders in Fiji can provide a model for disaster response elsewhere, exemplifying the importance of getting local women involved in preparing for storms and providing aid in their aftermath. The knowledge that local women have about the needs of their communities is crucial to any disaster response. Where possible, efforts to include local women should be made, helping to bring women’s concerns and needs to light and adequately address them in the aftermath of a disaster.

– Sara Olk

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