Information and stories on Natural Disasters

Charities Providing Aid During Disastrous Hurricanes
After the hurricane season in 2004, Science Magazine published a paper about the increasing intensity of hurricanes over the years. The number of category four and five hurricanes have increased by 80 percent in the past 30 years. The paper titled, Changes in Tropical Cyclone Number, Duration, and Intensity in a Warming Environment, links the rise in storms to increasing sea surface temperatures. The authors, led by the National Center of Atmospheric Research, concluded that “global data indicate a 30-year trend toward more frequent and intense hurricanes.” In recent years, the world has seen the serious aftermath of these chaotic hurricanes. Luckily, there have been numerous charities providing aid during disastrous hurricanes.

Hurricane Irma, ICNA Relief and Project C.U.R.E

In 2017, two hurricanes made their way into the headlines: Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. Hurricane Irma, classified as a category five hurricane, devastated a string of small Caribbean islands. Irma’s eye touched Barbuda, destroying 95 percent of the buildings on the island. The hurricane hit southwest Florida on September 10. When it left the following Tuesday, Irma had flooded major cities including Jacksonville, Florida and Charleston, South Carolina. It left millions without power. Thankfully, several charities came to provide support.

One of the charities during the disastrous hurricane was ICNA Relief. Its disaster relief team was one of the first responders after Hurricane Irma made landfall. Its mission was to assist the people by cleaning out the homes that fierce winds damaged. A couple of days later, it assisted the flooded homes. Another charity was Project C.U.R.E and for every dollar peopled donated, it provided $20 worth of life-saving medical supplies and equipment. A week and a half later, Hurricane Maria struck the Caribbean before it could complete reparations and restoration for Hurrican Irma.

Hurricane Maria, the Hispanic Federation and the International Relief Team

After making landfall on the Caribbean island of Dominica, Hurricane Maria landed on the U.S. territory, Puerto Rico. With strong, damaging winds, Maria pummeled through infrastructure and left Puerto Rico without electricity for months. To this day, Puerto Rico has not fully recovered after the disastrous hurricane. It has been the second-costliest hurricane in the history of the United States, just after Hurricane Katrina. Since it made landfall, relief efforts have continued to deliver much needed short and long term support to the people of Puerto Rico.

One of the biggest charities to provide assistance for Hurricane Maria was the Hispanic Federation, which managed to transport emergency first responders and 7.4 million pounds of food and essentials during the devastating months after the hurricane. Another charity worth mentioning is the International Relief Team. It provided more than 2,000 large, heavy-duty tarps to provide shelter and protect families from the blazing sun and frequent rainfalls, which is further proof of charities providing aid during disastrous hurricanes. A year later, charities became necessary as Hurricane Michael blew away infrastructure.

Hurricane Michael

In October 2018, Hurricane Michael, classified as a category five, made landfall in the Florida Panhandle. It was the first significantly damaging hurricane in the area. One of the hardest-hit locations was from Mexico Beach to Indian Pass where people observed nine to 14 feet of peak storm surge inundation. On Cape San Blas, the storm surge cut through a peninsula, creating two inlets. The hurricane heavily damaged or completely destroyed numerous homes close to the coast as the water slammed against the structures. Amid the chaos, different charities came up to share the burden.

Charities Aiding in the Aftermath

The Samaritan’s Purse deployed more than 300 volunteers to the area where it cleared downed trees and debris whilst tarping roofs. Because of the damage in infrastructure, a lot of health clinics and shelters suffered. Americares delivered 61 shipments of medicine, medical supplies, hygiene supplies and other relief items to local health facilities in relief efforts.

Charities providing aid during disastrous hurricanes have made a significant impact. They have provided people with support physically and emotionally after these traumatic events. With Hurricane Dorian recently threatening the East Coast and the Bahamas, one has to be thankful for those volunteers that have managed to help those people in need as these strong hurricanes become more frequent.

– Andrea Viera
Photo: Flickr

IsraAID Responds to Global Crises
Based in Tel Aviv, Israel, the nonprofit organization IsraAID responds to global crises, such as natural disasters and poverty, and sends teams of volunteers to help those in need. After its founding in 2001, IsraAID responded to crises in over 50 different countries. Its expertise in crisis relief includes emergency aid distributions, pinpoint trauma support and prevention training for local government and non-government professionals. These are some of the global crises IsraAID has responded to:

Typhoon Ketsana in the Philippines

IsraAID sent its first mission to the Philippines after Typhoon Ketsana in 2009. Working in collaboration with local partner Operation Blessing International, IsraAID dispatched a team of nurses and doctors to assist in the emergency medical operations. In 2013, another typhoon devastated the Philippines, killing over 6,000 people, injuring more than 28,000 and affecting over 16 million people overall. IsraAID responded within 48 hours with its medical team on the ground less than four days after the event. It spent the first three days of its efforts assisting the local health workers in one of the many hospitals the typhoon had destroyed. After that, IsraAID spent the next two years operating with the local government, instigating programs in medical support, psychotherapy and the rebuilding of the fallen cities.

Earthquake in Nepal

After a major earthquake left Nepal in ruins back in 2015, IsraAID sent a team to help the local police force locate survivors and provide emergency medical treatment. This was a relief to the local authorities and medical personnel outnumbered by the number of injuries and the chaos that ensued. Working alongside the authorities and an emergency response from the Israeli Defense Forces, IsraAID volunteers risked their lives to save and treat the survivors who the rubble had trapped. IsraAID not only provided the immediate essentials of food, water, shelter and medical aid to the Nepalese but also focused its efforts on long-term recovery via farming, fishing and a new supply of clean water. It also provided psychosocial services to the victims, helping them cope with and build resilience in the wake of the tragedy.

The Dadaab Refugee Camp and Famine in Kenya

Since 2007, IsraAID has been sending emergency relief teams to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya—the largest refugee camp in the world—to aid the victims running from violence and famine. Later in 2011, when a drought caused one of the worst famines to ever strike the Horn of Africa, IsraAID returned to Kenya with a distribution of food and relief items for the refugees and locals still suffering from hunger and chaos. It also offered that same assistance to the people of Turkana, Kenya’s poorest county. IsraAID has maintained a steady presence in Kenya since 2013, helping those in poverty and the refugee camp with medical treatment, water management and psychosocial support.

Refugee Crisis in Greece

During the refugee crisis in 2015, IsraAID responded by sending a team of volunteers to Greece. Special mobile units provided immediate medical and psychosocial aid, distributed supplies and identified particularly vulnerable groups, such as children. IsraAID volunteers also rescued refugees whose boats had capsized and provided sleeping bags to anyone who had to sleep on the ground. Throughout the crisis, the volunteers provided food, clothing, medicine and hygiene kits to the refugees, as well as psychotherapy training to the local government and non-government professionals so that it could better care for the traumatized population.

Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

After Hurricane Maria devastated the Puerto Rican population in 2017, IsraAID responded with a Spanish-fluent team of psychosocial and medical support, as well as experts in water and sanitation. At the time, the country’s poverty rate was 43.5 percent and the unemployment rate at 10.3 percent, on top of 95 percent of the populace losing electricity as a result of the storm. IsraAID provided emergency relief programs in the distribution of food, water and basic supplies, medical treatment and mental support. The team then shifted focus to long-term recovery and implemented a system to provide water and sanitation to the people of Puerto Rico.

The aforementioned countries and many others have benefitted greatly from IsraAID’s support, and IsraAID responds to global crises to this day. The organization has even established ongoing training programs for water management, psychosocial services and other relief efforts in the countries listed above, as well as in Japan, South Korea, Haiti, Jordan and South Sudan. As IsraAID responds to global crises, those in need have a chance to lead better lives.

– Yael Litenatsky
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in Fiji
Travelers all around the world know Fiji’s islands as picture-perfect tourist locations. Although translucent aqua waters gleam in the minds of tourists, Fijians do not always picture it as a resource let alone a source of leisure. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Fiji.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Fiji

  1. Contamination: The University of Otago’s 2018 report on the typhoid problem in the Pacific, and perhaps the first one to investigate modes of transmission of typhoid fever in Fiji, illustrates the severity of the disease in Oceania. Many now think that the area is the global region with the highest incidents of typhoid fever. Typhoid in Fiji most likely spreads through the consumption of contaminated surface water and unwashed produce.
  2. Open Defecation: People still practice open defecation in some areas of Fiji. Human waste that people would usually flush down toilets ends up in metal drums which are just above the surface of the ground. Toilets can often be too expensive and when they are affordable, flushing them could cause an endemic spread of waterborne diseases like typhoid.
  3. Toilets: Flushing toilets are not ideal in the areas that are closest to the tide and to hurricanes. When disaster strikes, many do not advise flushing frequently. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “it can overload already weakened electrical systems that power municipal and regional sewer systems.” Fijians’ options are between pressing and pour-flushing and then disposing of the waste in the metal drums.
  4. Natural Disasters: Among this list of 10 facts about sanitation in Fiji are natural disasters because typhoid outbreaks often follow them due to the practice of open defecation. According to Dani Barrington, a research fellow at the International Water Centre and Monash University, the tidal inflow mixes with industrial waste and waste from the metal drums.
  5. Typhoid: Certain water-borne illnesses look similar to others, but require different treatment options, further exacerbating typhoid’s impact. It is not uncommon to have patients presenting to the clinic with one disease and sent home to return with another, especially when there are no diagnostic laboratory tests with 100% accuracy to detect either disease. As a result, treatment decisions are usually based on how severe the symptoms are. According to the short version of the Fiji national typhoid fever treatment guideline, medical professionals often treat typhoid with Ciprofloxacin or Cipro for short.
  6. Vaccines: The NCBI notes that typhoid vaccines are not readily available in endemic regions citing several reasons. Though, the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation reported that the measles vaccine is available free of charge in Fiji’s nearest health facilities, it is unclear whether Fijians have access to typhoid vaccines as well. Fiji seems to echo NCBI’s sentiments that there is a lack of sufficient evidence concerning the vaccine’s effects on certain populations and insufficient data on the disease’s severity. In particular, limited information pertains to the lack of health care access in the poorest communities affected by typhoid.
  7. Main Exports: A positive aspect of this list of 10 facts about sanitation in Fiji is that water is one of Fiji’s main exports. For anyone who has ever wondered, the brand Fiji Water actually does come from Fiji. This means that Fiji exports much of its clean water to developed countries, yet the country’s poorest citizens do not have access to it. On the other hand, Fiji Water provides its citizens with good jobs. “The product itself is a little silly,” said journalist and “The Big Thirst” author, Charles Fishman, “but what’s interesting is that it benefits Fijians in a way that’s not silly at all.”
  8. Improvements: Fiji added clean water as a right in the constitution in 2013. UNICEF reported, “The Government’s commitment is also reflected in the National Development Plan targeting 100% access to safe drinking water by 2030 and 70% access to improved sanitation systems by 2021.” A 2011 Columbia University blog post stated that only 47 percent of Fijians had access to clean drinking water and a 2018 article by Fiji Sun reported that 78 percent of Fijians have access to a proper water supply.
  9. Portable Water Testing Laboratories: In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF assisted Fiji in developing its water quality surveillance system by providing technical guidance. The two organizations donated portable water testing laboratories and kits, Potalab and Potatest respectively. In addition, they trained environmental health officers of the Ministry of Health & Medical Services (MoHMS) in ensuring the equipment met international microbiological and chemical standards of water safety and quality. The equipment will ensure higher levels of accuracy, sensitivity and reliability in routine water quality surveillance. In addition, the equipment cuts down the amount of time needed to test water supplies after disasters.
  10. A Decrease in Poverty: In Spring 2018, the World Bank reported that poverty rates in Fiji were among the lowest in the Pacific. One should note that one can use different poverty lines to measure different poverty rates. The upper-middle-income class poverty line determined that close to half the population lived in poverty. This is the highest poverty rate in Fiji, however, whereas cases of extreme poverty are lower in contrast.

Though it may seem like Fiji has a long way to go, the country has already come so far. The progress Fijians, nonprofits and the Fijian government have made towards stabilizing Fiji’s economy and providing valuable resources is to thank for it.

– Julia Stephens
Photo: Flickr

Natural Disasters Shaping Global Poverty
When people discuss the causes of global poverty, natural disasters do not often come up, but there is a correlation between natural disasters and global poverty. This may be due to the fact that natural disasters tend to be completely out of human control, while human choice and behavior can either cause or greatly reduce other factors that contribute to poverty. However, natural disasters shape global poverty through post-disaster destruction and economic and societal instability. Geographical location and weather patterns, as well as vulnerability to natural disasters, are immensely pertinent to a society’s poverty rate.

The Danger of Natural Disasters

According to the World Bank, natural disasters force over 26 million people across the globe into poverty annually and cost the global economy around $520 billion every year. These disasters also reinforce the cyclical nature of poverty; they ruin progress that countries have made to reduce poverty and leave impoverished people completely vulnerable due to their inability to cope and recover after the calamity. The five countries with the highest Climate Risk Index ratings from 1998 to 2017 all have national poverty rates above 20 percent. Honduras and Haiti rank two and four on this index, respectively and are great examples of how natural disasters shape global poverty.

Hurricane Mitch

According to a Penn State University report, Honduras lost $3.8 billion after Hurricane Mitch in 1998. The agricultural economic sector dropped by 7 percent as both domestic and cash crops disappeared. According to Honduras Compassion Partners, the agriculture sector has dropped by almost 33 percent over the last 20 years. Adequate sanitation and clean water were rarities and are still not too ideal levels. The health and education system took a $33 million hit. Penn State University also reported that societal instability increased after the storm. The country saw a surge in gender inequality and sexual and domestic violence after the hurricane. Extreme weather is so influential to poverty rates because its devastation is multifaceted. Like in Honduras, natural disasters simultaneously strip individual necessities like food, shelter, security and sanitation and weaken socioeconomic resilience, that is, the ability for society as a whole to recover after a catastrophe.

Haiti

Another example is Haiti. The 2010 earthquake that ravaged the island nation cost the economy around $7.8 billion. The natural disaster affected all facets of life. A Global Foundation for Disaster Reduction and Recovery report revealed just how vast the consequences of a disaster like this can be:

  • Social sectors like water, food, sanitation, health and education suffered $553.3 million in economic loss.
  • Infrastructure sectors like housing, food, energy and transportation suffered close to $1.3 billion in economic loss.
  • Production sectors like agriculture, industry, retail and finance suffered $933.3 million in economic loss.

These figures do not even include the cost of damages, which more than double the total expense. Almost a decade later, partially due to more natural disasters, Haiti is still recovering from the earthquake. These calamities bombard all of the indicators of poverty and all of the variables that have the potential to lift an individual and a society out of poverty (i.e. food security, capital, sanitation, education, health care) in one fell swoop. The post-disaster consequences underpin the cyclical complexion of poverty. This is how natural disasters shape global poverty.

Direct Relief

Direct Relief is a non-governmental organization that provides relief from natural disasters in over 80 countries in Asia, Africa, South America, Central America, North America and Europe. To date, Direct Relief has provided $747,210,716 in international aid, given 160,038,758 doses of medicine and provided 3,531,448 pounds of medical supplies to victims of natural disasters. The organization distributes products such as emergency medical packs, cholera treatment kits, oral rehydration salts and hurricane prep packs. It also employs a hurricane prep map to supply aid to the affected countries. Direct Relief has been the largest provider of aid to Haiti since the 2010 earthquake.

Natural disasters and global poverty have a close relationship. The ability for one extreme weather event to negatively influence all of the factors that decide poverty makes it much more difficult for countries prone to these storms to end the cycle of poverty. More research and development on disaster preparedness and recovery are necessary to allow countries the opportunity to break the feedback loop. These disasters are stymying poverty reduction efforts in countries like Honduras, Haiti and even now in Zimbabwe which is suffering from severe drought. Response and preparation to natural disasters and climate tendencies need to be a higher priority in the strategy of mitigating global poverty.

Zach Brown
Photo: Flickr

 

Life Expectancy in Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is a small nation in the Caribbean including several islands. Many consider it to be one of the most prosperous countries in the area and it boasts relatively good social indicators. That does not mean that its people have completely escaped the troubles of everyday life that come with residing in a developing country, though. Despite its high standing within the Caribbean it still does not compare well with the rest of the world. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Antigua and Barbuda will shed a light on the country’s struggles as well as the progress it has made and what impact that has on its citizens.

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Antigua and Barbuda

  1. Life Expectancy is Improving: Life expectancy for the people of Antigua and Barbuda is 72.3 years old. This is one of the strongest indicators of the steady progress that the country is making. Since 1960, there has been an enormous jump from the previous life expectancy of 52.5 according to the World Bank.
  2. Infant Mortality is Improving: Infant mortality rates are improving but still stand at almost double those of many western countries. UNICEF reported that the current infant mortality rate for children under the age of 5 stands at 7.4 deaths per 1,000 births. This shows great improvement considering that the infant mortality rate was over triple that number in 1990 at 26.3 deaths per 1,000 births.
  3. The Country is Susceptible to Natural Disaster: A Caribbean country, Antigua and Barbuda faces the constant threat of hurricanes. A semi-recent hurricane to hit the country was Hurricane Irma which caused mass devastation. While the country did not suffer massive numbers of casualties, injuries and displacement were rampant. The country was still facing the damage years later resulting in Prime Minister Gaston Browne proposing a complete rehaul of the landowning system in an effort to rebuild the country’s destroyed property.
  4. Poverty is Prevalent: There is still a relatively large amount of poverty within the country. The Headcount Index places 18.3 percent of the population of Antigua and Barbuda as being below the poverty line. Around 3.7 percent of the population falls within the indigent population and another 10 percent is vulnerable. Estimates put the poverty line in Antigua and Barbuda at $2,366 puts into perspective the lack of income that such a large portion of the population lives on. Despite these grim numbers, Antigua and Barbuda still ranks among the most well perfuming Caribbean nations with the second-lowest poverty rate. While little new data is available, an optimist might take continued economic growth as a sign that things have been improving.
  5. Unemployment Rates are High: Reports stated that the unemployment rate in 2011 was 10.2 percent with a breakdown of 11.2 percent of men being unemployed and 9.4 percent of women being unemployed. The biggest age bracket falls within the 15-25 range and no doubt contributes to the relatively high aforementioned poverty rates.
  6. Nourishment is Varied:  Antigua and Barbuda does not guarantee nourishment to every citizen. Data collected in different areas of Antigua and Barbuda showed a major discrepancy with nourishment between those areas. When looking at the percentage of children malnourished over 12 months in two different cities, Bendals and Clare Hall, 1.2 percent of children in Bendals were malnourished, while 10.3 percent of children in Clare Hall were malnourished. The country is has continued to address this issue and in 2013, the Zero Hunger Challenge advertised as an advocacy tool for irradiating world hunger by the Food and Agriculture Organization, which is the leading U.N. agency fighting hunger.
  7. Water Shortages are an Issue: As a Caribbean nation, Antigua and Barbuda has not escaped the water shortage that the entire area is facing. As of 2015, the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) made it known that the country did not have consistent access to running water. In 2017, Antigua and Barbuda was among 37 countries predicted to have “extremely high” levels of water stress.
  8. Health Care has Potential: The government of Antigua and Barbuda provides 100 percent of the population with health care with a reported 2.77 percent of the GDP going towards public health. The publicly financed system provides maternal and child health, community mental health and dental care. While the country provides some care, several tourists have expressed dissatisfaction with the public health care system, which highlights that there might still be more room for further improvement.
  9. Educational Trends are Promising: Not only are primary and secondary school completely free, but they are also compulsory. This no doubt plays a part in the adult literacy rate of 98 percent for those above the age of 15. For context, the Caribbean has an overall adult literacy rate of just 71 percent, well below that of Antigua and Barbuda.
  10. Incentives to Eliminate the Top Killers: Antigua and Barbuda has had the same four leading causes of death for over 10 years. Those four are heart disease, stroke, diabetes and respiratory infections. While there is little clear data on the causes of these diseases in Antigua and Barbuda specifically, medical professionals often attribute them to poor diet, air quality, and access. There have been incentives to improve health care as well as education in the country.

A small nation with a small population of 105,000 people, people often overlook Antigua and Barbuda when addressing the global issues of poverty. However, it is important to realize that people should not overlook any nation and these 10 facts about life expectancy in Antigua and Barbuda are just a snapshot into the progress and problems the country is addressing.

– Samira Darwich
Photo: Max Pixel

History of the Asian Development BankThe Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional bank aimed at fostering social and economic development in Asia. The history of the Asian Development Bank is that of an evolving institution, constantly shifting focus towards new problems and expanding its role in regional affairs.

Founding and Early History

The bank was founded in the early 1960s to foster cooperation among Asian countries and spur economic growth in the region. In 1963, the United Nations Commission for Asia and the Far East held its first Ministerial Conference on Asian Economic Cooperation, where a resolution passed for the creation of this regional bank. The ADB was officially created two years later in Manila, the capital of the Philippines with 31 member states and Takeshi Watanabe residing as president.

OPEC Oil Crisis and Expanding Role

Asia, along with the rest of the world, suffered a severe economic downturn due to the OPEC oil crisis in 1973. The Asian Development Bank responded by increasing funding towards the development of domestic energy sources and infrastructure, to cope with the current shock and mitigate against future instability in the energy markets.  The resources of the Asian Development Bank began to expand during this time period to include increased co-financing and management of other organizational funds. The Asian Development Bank issued its first bond in 1973 worth $16.7 million in Japan.

The ADB also made strides to address the needs of developing nations. In 1974, it established the Asian Development Fund, a program designed to provide poorer nations in the region with safe, low-interest loans to aid in their economic and social development. The positive impacts of the Asian Development Fund on developing economies in Asia came to quick fruition, as some recipient countries’ reliance on the bank’s assistance ended within a decade.

Push for Social Development and Cooperation with NGOs

In the 1980s, the Asian Development Bank shifted its focus away from economic development to initiate support of social development in Asia. It began financing programs related to the environment, healthcare, urban development and women’s issues. In its 1987 policy paper, the Asian Development Bank established a framework for cooperation between the bank and various non-government organizations (NGOs) with the aim of increasing efficacy of social development efforts in the region. During the decade of the 1980s, the Asian Development Bank also expanded its support for infrastructure projects with particular emphasis on energy production, as memories of the OPEC oil crisis were still fresh in the minds of regional policymakers.

Poverty Reduction and the Asian Financial Crisis

With the end of the Cold War, the Asian Development Bank added several new central Asian countries as member states. Fears that the benefits of economic development were bypassing those most in need prompted the ADB to focus its efforts on poverty reduction in the mid-1990s. In 1995, the Asian Development Bank instituted a policy to ensure that 100 percent of its developmental assistance from the was directed to decreasing poverty.

The late 1990s were a dark period for Asia, which was hit hard by the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997. The ADB’s response was a shift towards aiding the poor and creating a social safety net for those hit hardest by the crisis. By 1999, poverty reduction became the top priority of the ADB.

Response to Humanitarian Crises

In the 2000s, the Asian Development Bank expanded its response to the humanitarian crisis in Asia. Following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations, the World Bank established the Millennium Development goals, which include the elimination of hunger and extreme poverty, promotion of universal primary education, reduction in child mortality, gender equality, combating disease, ensuring environmental sustainability, improving maternal health and establishing a global cooperative effort towards development. The ADB committed to helping its member states achieve each of these goals.

In 2003, Asia was struck with a severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic, illustrating the need for regional cooperation to combat infectious diseases. The Asian Development Bank provided financial support for efforts to combat HIV and the Avian Flu in the region. In December 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami caused widespread devastation across India, Indonesia, the Maldives and Sri Lanka. The ADB responded to the disaster by providing over $775 million to recovery efforts. In 2005, the ADB mobilized almost $400 million to help the victims of an earthquake in Pakistan.

The history of the Asian Development Bank is one of constant evolution. It was established with open-ended goals and forced to adapt to new challenges as they arose. In the 1970s, the OPEC Oil Crisis forced the bank to invest in energy infrastructure. The financial crisis in 1997 prompted a focus on poverty reduction. Most recently, the natural disasters in the early 2000s catapulted the ADB into disaster recovery. In its eventful 55-year history, the one constant of the Asian Development Bank is its willingness to assume a central role to address regional challenges.

– Karl Haider
Photo: Wikimedia

Empowered Fijian Women
When Cyclone Winston barreled down on rural Fiji in 2016, the women left the kitchen and shouted to their neighbors to warn them of the impending storm. The women protected food in containers and buried crops to save them from the destruction. Using their phones, the women spread messages to other rural areas and warned others of the forecasted disaster. This network of women is the Women’s Weather Watch Program and it has empowered Fijian women.

The Women’s Weather Watch Program

The Women’s Weather Watch Program consists of around 350 empowered Fijian women all connected by a mobile network. The program started in 2009 following Cyclone Mick. The reason the program started was that women’s communities were excluding them from the decision making process despite their selfless efforts to protect their homes.

The base is in Fiji’s capital, Suva, and those members monitor weather reports. In the event of a natural disaster, they send a message to women all over Fiji that are part of the program. These women then warn their villages and prepare them for the worst. This unique method of preparation for a storm shows how natural disasters have empowered women in Fiji.

Femlink Pacific Empowers Fijian Women

The entire weather watch program is run by Femlink Pacific. It is a feminist non-governmental organization that uses the media to empower women. It interviews women all over Fiji about their needs and concerns. Femlink then broadcasts these interviews from its studios in the hopes that it can raise awareness for those women.

The lives of these women have changed for the better with the creation of the Weather Watch Program. Previously, people told the women to be quiet, stay in the kitchen and look after the kids. The men took power and disregarded their opinions. Now, Femlink Pacific and the Women’s Weather Watch Program have given these women a voice. They use their voices to warn neighbors and friends all over their villages and will no longer confine themselves to the kitchen. The women are leaders and now that they have a say, they are changing things for the better.

Fijian women know how to best prepare for a disaster. They know how to help their crops when drought hits. When times are tough, they are the ones who skip meals to help their families. The women find ways to get money by talking to each other and teaching each other how to survive in the face of adversity.

The progress that women have made in Fiji is remarkable. It is amazing to see how natural disasters have empowered Fijian women. The work they do truly does save lives. Less than half of Fiji is connected to the internet. There is no app on these women’s phones to tell them a storm is coming. There is no way to search online for how to prepare for a storm or how to recover after one has passed. It is the women who have taken on this important job. Without the Women’s Weather Watch Program, a severe storm could cost countless lives and the destruction of crops simply because people were not expecting it.

– Gaurav Shetty
Photo: Flickr

 

 

Fighting Poverty in Haiti
Haiti is a country among the most struggle-filled in terms of development in its personal history. With a long history of changing its rule, sociopolitical instability and copious natural disasters, Haiti faces one of the tallest uphill battles of any country. The country is one of the United States’ top trading partners and there has been a solid, though rocky, history between the two nations. The following will describe some of the struggles the country faces in developing its infrastructure, as well as a quick look at how the United States and other nonprofit groups are fighting poverty in Hati.

The Challenges of Infrastructure

Developing infrastructure and fighting poverty in Haiti is no small task, but Haiti has a history and a geographical position that makes it even more challenging than many other developing nations. Economically, Haiti has faced a depreciation of value in its currency and a heavy reliance on foreign aid that composes 20 percent of its overall annual budget. It also has faced a long history of dictatorships or otherwise corrupt government officials, which creates difficulty in achieving political stability even today. The most damaging factors to Haiti’s infrastructure, however, come from the natural world.

Haiti faces more natural disasters than any other Caribbean nation. Positioned on a fault line and directly in the path of most hurricane formations through the Gulf of Mexico, the nation suffers earthquakes, extreme flooding and wind damage. Though these are difficult enough to face on their own, a lack of city planning or rapid response to infrastructure damage leaves Haiti recovering for a lengthy time period after such disasters. In 2010, there was a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that displaced many Haitians from their homes; from 2015-2017, there was a massive drought leading to losses of 70 percent of crops; and in 2016, Hurricane Matthew caused significant damage to infrastructure and housing. Haiti faces a number of rapid-fire disasters and it does not have the economic resources nor the political responsibility required to recover.

There are other infrastructural systems that face significant issues in Haiti. Aside from damages to roads and buildings, there are many cities in Haiti without a central sewage system. Port-au-Prince is among the largest cities in the world without such a system, causing over 3 million people to use outhouses. The lack of improved sanitation systems leads to water contamination and outbreaks of diseases such as dengue, malaria and cholera. Internet access and electricity is also improving, but at a very slow rate – only about 12 percent of Haitians have access to the internet and roughly 44 percent have access to electricity.

Solutions

In order to assist with developing infrastructure and fighting poverty in Haiti, organizations like the World Bank and USAID, and nonprofits such as HERO and Hope for Haiti, are coming together to provide assistance to Haitians both directly and through funding. The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) rehabilitated over 100 kilometers of roadway, set up a debris processing facility and provided recovery kits to 50,000 people following the 2010 earthquake – all the while employing Haitians for such recovery projects and providing them a source of income.

The nonprofits HERO and Hope for Haiti are also helping with developing infrastructure and fighting poverty in Haiti. HERO provides 24/7 medical emergency response, as well as other important health services, in Haiti. This means that when such disasters occur, there will still be emergency relief aid. Hope for Haiti is also assisting with education and water-based infrastructure – providing education for over 7,000 students, and 1.7 million gallons of clean water annually to families in need. The assistance of these organizations is integral, and with their help alongside national organizations and a potential increase in aid from the United States, Haiti can overcome its struggles for infrastructure.

– Jade Follette
Photo: Defense.gov

5 Causes of Poverty
Of the population of the world, over 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 a day. This is a staggering number that begs the question, why? What are the causes of global poverty? There is a multitude of reasons as to why poverty devastates countries, but here are the top five causes of global poverty.

5 Causes of Global Poverty

  1. War: A country that goes to war can impact poverty greatly. There are several factors to consider when looking at how war contributes to poverty. There is the destruction of the infrastructure wherever the conflict rages. Fierce fighting can destroy power facilities, buildings and roads and usually take years to rebuild. The disruption of trade can have a devastating impact on the goods that people rely on. The halt to production in factories, growing of crops and work in mines can bring a country’s economy to almost a complete stop. The human cost is the most devastating out of every impact that war can bring. Not only is there the number of dead to consider, but also the number of people fleeing the conflict zones. Large numbers of a country’s workforce are fleeing the conflict zones looking for peace in a different country. Today, 71 million people have been displaced because of war and violence in countries all over the world. Since the creation of organizations such as the United Nations, countries are more willing to talk to each other and keep the peace rather than fight.
  2. Little to No Education: Often, when a country is in poverty, there is very little to no education available for its citizens.  Nearly 1 billion people came into the 21st century not knowing how to write their names or read a book. When a nation lacks in education, they become an untrained workforce for an impoverished nation. Families in these countries often cannot afford to send their children to school, and frequently require them to work to support their families. By the year 2000, it was possible to send every child in the world to school and in order to do that, the world would have only had to spend less than 1 percent of what it does on weapons. However, this obviously did not happen. Even though 1 billion people or 18 percent of the population could not read or write at the start of the century, this statistic is still an improvement from 1980 when the world illiteracy rate was 30 percent.
  3. Corruption: One can blame poverty in a country on the leaders as well as any outside factors. A country with corrupt leadership can have a devastating impact on the well being of its people. Corruption can divert much-needed resources and funds away from those that need them. Every country may have some level of corruption, however, the most poverty-stricken countries often show the most corruption. According to Transparency International’s Corruption Index, out of the 177 nations it ranked, 118 had a score of 50 or less. A score of 100 means that the country is free of corruption. Meanwhile, the least developed nations in the world have a score of 28. Fortunately, many countries are creating offices to hold their leaders accountable. Cuba, for example, has started the Ministry for Auditing and Control that aims to fight corruption within the country.
  4. Inflation: Countries’ economies can fluctuate from extreme highs to lows. Venezuela is a current example of a country going through this type of hardship. The South American country was able to prosper from an economic boom from its oil industry. When that began to regress, the country’s economy began to take a turn for the worse. Inflation ruined the country, making goods almost impossible to afford. There was also a lack of necessary supplies such as food and medicine. The current poverty rate in Venezuela sits at 90 percent out of a population of 32 million. Because of the economic hardship, 4 million people have left Venezuela as refugees. Despite Venezuela’s struggles, there are examples of countries that have faced terrible economic times and turned things around. Norway had one of the worst economies at the turn of the 20th century, but through foreign aid and resources, it is now one of the richest nations in the world.
  5. Natural Disasters: A natural disaster can have an overwhelming impact on a country’s livelihood and the well-being of its people. There is very little that anyone can do to stop natural disasters from happening. Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, landslides, volcanic eruptions and tornadoes can destroy areas and leave whole regions to pick up the pieces. Countries that are already in poverty struggle to recover and frequently sink deeper into poverty. According to the World Bank, over 26 million people enter poverty each year because of natural disasters. By the end of 2018, the world lost $225 billion as a result of natural disasters globally. As technology improves, countries become better prepared for natural disasters and have more warning.

No matter what the causes of global poverty are, there is always a solution to fix them. Whether it is through international aid or a change in legislation around the world, people can eliminate those causes, or at the very least, limit the devastation of poverty.

– Sam Bostwick
Photo: Pixabay

Help the Bahamas
After a record-breaking 185 mph category 5 hurricane ravaged The Bahamas in September 2019, the island is in need of assistance. Efforts to help the most affected are now accepting donations and aid in any way possible. There are many local drives around the nation. There are also many organizations that are receiving monetary donations. Below are five ways to help The Bahamas through organizations that are receiving monetary and material donations.

Five Ways to Help The Bahamas

  1. World Central Kitchen (WCKitchen): Celebrity chef and philanthropist José Andrés is notable for his relief efforts after Hurricane Maria slammed Puerto Rico in 2017. He led kitchens all over the island and brought quality meals to families. In 2018, WCKitchen provided over five million fresh meals to people in need. He and his crew are now in The Bahamas providing the same relief and require as much help as they can receive. WCKitchen is receiving donations online to continue providing meals to the families on the island.
  2. The American Red Cross: The American Red Cross responds to an average of more than 62,000 disasters every year. Although much of the work and donations go to the United States, the well known nonprofit organization has a separate fundraising campaign that will apply directly to the disaster relief for The Bahamas after the devastation of Hurricane Dorian.
  3. The Bahamas Red Cross Society: The Bahamas Red Cross is also receiving donations to enable it to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from Hurricane Dorian. It urges people to send non-perishable goods, baby supplies, cleaning items and bedding.
  4. The Smile Trust: Florida native Valencia Gunder is the executive director of the Smile Trust. Since February 2014, the Smile Trust, or formerly, Make the Homeless Smile, has provided approximately 100,000 meals to people between Miami, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia. She is now on the ground, helping people in The Bahamas recover from Hurricane Dorian. Valencia Gunder has said that the Bahamian people have a long history and crucial influence with the United States, specifically South Florida. She says that U.S. citizens should view The Bahamas as neighbors and family, and should find it necessary to provide aid to them in their time of need.
  5. The National Association of The Bahamas: The National Association of The Bahamas (NAB) is a nonprofit organization. Volunteers and friends of The Bahamas support it, working to better the communities in The Bahamas. After the devastation of Hurricane Dorian on the northern Islands of The Bahamas, the organization is reaching out to the public for support to help the people affected by this monster hurricane.

Americans should continue to donate essentials to nearby drives. However, there is a need to provide monetary donations to no-profit organizations that have teams on the island preparing for the recovery of living conditions. The organizations mentioned above are only just a few ways to help The Bahamas.

– Francisco Benitez
Photo: Flickr