Information and stories on Natural Disasters

GiveLight FoundationWhen Alfin Nur was 11 years old, he lost his mother, father and one of his siblings in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Two years later, the GiveLight Foundation found Alfin and began to invest in his life. He studied at a boarding school in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, which GiveLight fully sponsored, while also providing him with love and emotional support. In 2015, he graduated from Al-Azhar University in Cairo.

The GiveLight Foundation

GiveLight Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides orphans with stability so that they can rise out of the cycle of poverty. Its mission is to build quality homes for these children and support them in receiving proper education that will serve them long-term. It emphasizes raising children in a loving and supportive environment and providing a sense of belonging.

“GiveLight Foundation is one big home for all orphans,” described Fatima Jaber, the founder of the GiveLight Baltimore Chapter, in an interview with The Borgen Project.

The same disaster that destroyed Nur’s family, hit and devastated the hometown of Dian Alyan, in Aceh, Indonesia. The tsunami killed a quarter of a million people overall, leaving many orphans. Alyan decided to build an orphanage called Noordeen Orphanage. A year later, with the help of friends, family and generous donors, the orphanage was housing 50 orphans. Through that, the GiveLight Foundation was founded.

It now has orphanages in many countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Morocco, Sri Lanka and Cambodia, providing a loving home for around 1000 children.

The Baltimore Chapter

GiveLight provides opportunities for people to start “chapters” in their own city. The chapters focus on raising funds and sponsoring the orphans of GiveLight. Most of these chapters are located within the United States in cities like Chicago, Southern California, Seattle, Baltimore, New Jersey and Orlando. GiveLight is also beginning to focus on opening chapters internationally. Currently, there is one in South Africa, Paris and Toronto and there are efforts to open chapters in Istanbul, Sydney, Brussels and Dubai, UAE.

Jaber, the founder of the Baltimore Chapter, talked about how she opened up the chapter in Baltimore around three years ago. “I heard Dian Alyan’s story when I lived in California in 2012 and knew I wanted to be involved. After moving to Baltimore and meeting supportive friends and a generous community, I thought it would be great to start a chapter here.”

Raising Funds for Orphanages

The Baltimore Chapter raises funds by hosting galas, game nights, scavenger hunts and walkathons. Soubia Balkhi, one of the other members of the Baltimore Chapter, told The Borgen Project in an interview that the last two galas had been very successful, with the team raising more than $10,000.

Because the cause is so broad, beforehand the team decides which GiveLight project the funds will contribute to. They typically like to focus on where the need is the most for that year. “For example, this year Bangladesh needs it the most and so the money from this year’s fundraiser will go to building an orphanage in Bangladesh,” said Balkhi.

The funds are then sent to the headquarters which has on-site representatives distribute the money specifically where it is needed.

Despite the limits due to COVID-19, the Baltimore Chapter continues to raise funds. Jaber discussed its latest event, taking place next month. “I’m excited to announce our next virtual scavenger hunt event! It is a fun and interactive social event where families can join, create teams and still follow all COVID-19 protocols.”

Empowering Orphans Alleviates Poverty

GiveLight is not a typical orphanage that solely provides children with a place to stay. It ensures that the orphans under its care are given a home and a proper life. The strategy that GiveLight uses allows the orphans to become self-sufficient through education, enabling them to be independent and to be able to give back. This is especially important considering that education is proven to positively contribute to reducing poverty.

Alfin Nur was not the only orphan who was able to graduate due to the opportunities that GiveLight provided for him. Rahmat Mico is now on his way to become a scientist and  Nursawami is a working mother who continuously gives back to GiveLight.

With more time, orphanages, chapters and supporters, GiveLight will be able to broaden its support in the qualitative manner that it has been doing since the very beginning.

– Maryam Tori
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Eradication in Dominica
In a significant step towards poverty eradication, the Caribbean country of Dominica is using the funds it garnered through a program called Citizenship by Investment (CBI) in order to become the world’s first climate-resilient nation. This effort would both prepare the island for the future while addressing poverty in the present. Dominica’s poverty rate is 39%, higher than that of neighboring countries, due in large part to its economy’s reliance on banana exports, an industry that extreme weather events increasingly impact. In the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017, the government committed to the construction of affordable, weather-resistant housing that strengthens the social safety net, the expansion of its health care infrastructure and the support of its jobs program, all with CBI funding. Here are seven facts about CBI and poverty eradication in Dominica.

7 Facts About CBI and Poverty Eradication in Dominica

  1. CBI: International Investment, Local Impact: CBI issues citizenship in exchange for monetary investment. According to the Financial Times, Dominica’s CBI program is the best in the world. It is relatively affordable at $100,000, efficient due to Dominica’s experience in administering the program and has a commitment to integrity, thoroughly vetting the source of every cent that goes to the country. Recipients enjoy the business and travel opportunities that having a second citizenship affords them while the issuing country is able to invest the revenue at the local level. Though the program has been in place in Dominica since 1993, it has only recently become the primary source of the climate-resilient investments that are helping to progress poverty eradication in Dominica. This shift in focus follows the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
  2. The Storm that Changed the Face of the Island. Hurricane Maria made landfall in Dominica, aptly known as “The Nature Island,” on Sept. 18, 2017. Winds reaching up to 160 mph battered the island, triggering landslides, destroying infrastructure, washing away crops and either razing or damaging an estimated 90% of homes, left tens of thousands of people without a roof over their head. The prime minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, took to Facebook to announce that the hurricane blew his own roof off his residence in an effort to draw attention to the crisis as it was still ongoing. When the storm abated, the government endeavored to put the CBI funds, and the people of Dominica, back to work.
  3. The Housing Revolution. In September 2018, one year following Hurricane Maria, Dominica partnered with the Montreal Management Consultants Establishment (MMCE) to build homes across the island. As of September 2020, this initiative, known as “Housing Revolution,” has built over 1,000 affordable, weather-resistant homes, with plans to ultimately construct a total of 5,000 of these units. CBI funds support the program entirely.
  4. An Emphasis on Community. The nascent neighborhoods include commercial centers, sports fields and farmers’ markets, a reflection of the Housing Revolution’s commitment to fostering communities, not simply constructing houses. To that end, the CBI-sponsored Trafalgar Community Centre, which opened in August 2020, features a sickbay, an events space, clinic and a dining and activity hall. The government heralds the Centre as “a place where at-risk youths can receive help, neighbors can socialize with each other and anyone can receive educational classes and participate in recreational activities.”
  5. Health Care: Prior to Hurricane Maria, the Dominican health care system centered on its four national hospitals. Care was specialized and reactive rather than general and preventative. After Maria’s devastation forced every sector to re-examine priorities, the Ministry decided to use CBI funds to strengthen its primary care system. In addition to a state-of-the-art hospital, Dominica is building 12 new primary health centers that will emphasize community-based care. Further, CBI funds subsidized the complex medical treatment abroad for 16 Dominican children.
  6. Jobs: The National Employment Program (NEP), which helps young people secure internships, jobs and develop vocational skills, has stayed afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic due in large part to the CBI. The NEP has provided support to 4,500 businesses and 3,896 interns.
  7. Economic Growth. An Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) report indicated that Dominica is the fastest growing economy in the region, its GDP up 9% in 2019. One can attribute this growth to both the CBI program and the rise in ecotourism as world travelers seek out Earth’s most rugged, unspoiled gems.

Looking Ahead

The rise in GDP is an indicator of the country’s economic upside, but one will soon be able to see whether it will correlate with the eradication of poverty in Dominica. The country is still rebuilding and the people are still getting back on their feet. If poverty rates do tick down over the coming years, then the investment of CBI funds into community-based, climate-resilient infrastructure and jobs could serve as a blueprint for other developing countries as they work to lift their people from poverty while investing in their future.

– Greg Fortier
Photo: Flickr

Monsoons in South Asian Countries
Monsoons are seasonal changes in the direction of the wind in a region that causes wet and dry seasons. This phenomenon is most associated with the Indian Ocean where its effects greatly impact South Asian countries. The summer monsoon, which occurs between April and September, brings the wet season. Warm, moist air from the Indian Ocean moves inland and brings heavy rainfall and a humid climate. In contrast, the winter monsoon occurs between October and April and brings the dry season, but it is often weaker than the summer monsoons as the Himalayan Mountains prevent most of the dry air from reaching coastal countries. Monsoons in South Asian countries contribute to many industries, such as farming and electricity, however, there are adverse effects.

Negative Impacts of Monsoons in South Asian Countries

Here is a closer look at how monsoons have impacted some countries.

  1. India. With a population of nearly 1.4 billion people, India is one of Asia’s largest countries. Agriculture makes up 15% of the country’s gross domestic product and more than half of the population works in this industry. Consequently, when there is too little or too much rainfall it can be severely damaging to the economy and the livelihoods of millions. The 2009 summer monsoon, for example, brought low rainfall that prevented farmers from planting their crops. Farmers were left to sell their starved farm animals for only a fraction of the normal price. Years with little rainfall also affect India’s electricity as hydropower makes up 25% of its energy source. Likewise, higher levels of rainfall can lead to floods, coastal damage and other disasters. In 2019, flooding due to heavy rain led to 1,200 deaths and millions of displaced individuals.
  2. Bangladesh. The low elevation and dense population of Bangladesh make it extra vulnerable to the impact of monsoons. Now, with the rise of COVID-19 and hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees in the country, the summer 2020 monsoon has affected 5.4 million lives. This monsoon season brought heavy rainfall that led to the worst floods Bangladesh has faced within the last decade. Nearly a million homes were submerged underwater and 600 square miles of farmland faced damage due to the floods. Unfortunately, the pandemic has made relief efforts difficult to reach the country.
  3. Pakistan. Similar to Bangladesh, Pakistan also faced heavy rainfall and floods from the 2020 monsoon season. More than 400 people have died with another 400 injured and more than 200,000 homes severely damaged by floods and landslides across the country. The government reported that the excessive rainfall destroyed nearly 1 million acres of farmland leaving farmers and consumers in a difficult position. In the Sindh Province, the impact of the monsoon displaced 68,000 people who are now in relief camps. The summer monsoons also affect the short-term and long-term health of victims as disease and infection spread faster within relief camps and the water.  In 2010, communities affected by flooding reported 113,981 cases of respiratory tract infections.

Relief Efforts

The countries above are only a few of the several areas affected by monsoons in the region. Fortunately, several agencies provide emergency relief for monsoons in South Asian countries. During the 2020 floods, the U.N. helped with the evacuation of 500,000 people and prepared to provide humanitarian aid to the most affected and vulnerable communities. In Bangladesh, humanitarian agencies worked closely with the government to provide victims with basic necessities, such as food, water, shelter and other supplies.

Additionally, the U.N. launched a $40 million response plan to help more than 1 million people. The Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations gave more than $1 million in emergency funding to provide relief to the Sindh Province in Pakistan and funded other operations that provided basic needs to 96,250 people. Other agencies such as UNICEF are on standby, ready to provide relief to any country impacted by natural disasters. The work of these organizations is critical to saving lives.

Giselle Ramirez-Garcia
Photo: Flickr

Accessible education in HaitiToday, about 10% of the Haitian population struggles with one or more disabilities. This prevents them from receiving a proper education. Out of the 120,000 children in Haiti, only 3% of Haitian children have access to basic education. This is compounded by the fact that people are still struggling to rebuild their lives after Hurricane Matthew demolished most of Haiti’s infrastructure. There is hope, however, as USAID continues to offer support through developmental research. USAID also provides support for new programs dedicated to providing accessible education to Haiti.

Struggles in Haiti

Haitian people continue to suffer from the impacts of the many natural disasters that hit the nation. The country is in a constant state of development due to the frequency of natural disasters. Its location in the Caribbean makes Haiti a hotspot for flooding, earthquakes and hurricanes. Accessibility to education is seemingly unattainable for the Haitian population. This is due to the lack of funding to rebuild schools that lay in ruins. Furthermore, natural disasters increase the risk of cognitive and behavioral disabilities in those who survive, due to the trauma.

Children are the most at risk of developing disabilities due to the physically and mentally destructive effects of countless hurricanes. Between 1998 and 2018 Haiti experienced 10 hurricanes and other tropical storms. The countless calamities and damage often result in mental disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People with disabilities struggle to receive accessible education in Haiti as well as societal acceptance within their own communities. Additionally, studies show that for every 10,000 employees, four people have disabilities.

USAID’s PEER Program

USAID is working to bring more awareness to this issue in order to help provide more inclusive, quality education for children with disabilities. With the creation of Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) in 2011, USAID has been able to offer more support for approaching the issue. About $50 million has already gone toward the funding of more than 250 projects in more than 50 countries to re-evaluate the exclusivities of social ecosystems globally.

The PEER program partnered with the Initiative Group for the Study of Cognition, Language, Learning and Disorders (GIECLAT) to conduct a large-scale survey of the needs of students with disabilities in southern Haiti, areas gravely impacted by Hurricane Matthew. This effort also included the support of Haiti’s Ministry of Education through the Commission for School Adaptation and Social Support (CASAS), an organization led by disabled youth and other integral bodies.

The study indicates that learning disabilities and social and emotional difficulties are prevalent in schools. In several public schools surveyed, more than 50% of the learners displayed a form of a disability yet many of the educators reported no students with disabilities. Despite these findings on disabilities, few teachers received training on inclusive education and support services were lacking. The locally-led research project helped alter perceptions and spark change.

The Impact

USAID provided assistance to improve teacher-student dynamics. For the first time, Southern Haiti now has comprehensive information on learners with disabilities and their needs. Using this data, programs are underway to provide extensive training for inclusive education to teachers and principals.

Haiti’s Ministry of Education is also excited about the project. The research team published a book of the findings and recommendations for inclusive educational reforms. The PEER program is also helping to train professors and university students in inclusive education. Now, schools are adopting more inclusive pedagogies in order to provide accessible education.

Today, USAID has reformed almost 20 primary schools in Haiti to accommodate those with various learning disabilities. USAID provided disability awareness training to more than 660 teachers and principals. More than 62,000 community members also participated in disability awareness initiatives. As a result of these efforts, Haiti is beginning to see a brighter future of accessible education for all.

Caroline Kratz
Photo: Flickr

Impacted by HurricanesOn November 2, 2020, Hurricane Eta made landfall in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. As a Category 4 hurricane, it was the strongest hurricane to hit the Central American region in many years. Shortly after, Hurricane Iota hit. Thousands have died and many have experienced displacement. Since Central America is one of the poorest areas of Latin America, the U.S. is in a position to help alleviate the crisis by providing foreign aid to those impacted by hurricanes.

Poverty in Central America

Nicaragua is the second-poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Moreover, Nicaragua’s poverty rate sits around 15.1%. Geographically, the poorest area of Nicaragua is the Atlantic Coast of the country. Similarly, Honduras is an impoverished nation located north of Nicaragua. Honduras is also one of the poorest countries in Central America. Furthermore, Honduras’ geographical location leaves it exposed to extreme weather such as heavy rainfall and droughts. The most vulnerable, oftentimes rural and coastal populations, are susceptible to these intense weather changes. Neighboring countries of El Salvador and Guatemala are also impoverished nations with vulnerable populations. The increased climate disasters leave these populations at risk of death, poverty and becoming climate refugees.

Hurricane Eta and Hurricane Iota

On the eve of Hurricane Eta’s landfall, the Nicaraguan government evacuated around 3,000 families living in the coastal area. According to UNICEF, more than a million Nicaraguans, which also includes half a million children, were endangered by the hurricane. El Salvador evacuated people as a precaution and many of Guatemala’s departments declared a state of emergency.

Hurricane Eta made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane. The storm destroyed houses, hospitals and businesses. Widespread flooding and mudslides were responsible for the casualties across the region. Unfortunately, Hurricane Eta was not the only storm blasting through Central America.

Weather forecasters predicted another strong storm, Hurricane Iota. Also a Category 4 hurricane, Iota made landfall 15 miles south of where Hurricane Eta did just days prior. The hurricane further stalled the rescue efforts of the region. In Honduras, the hurricanes impacted around 4 million people with more than 2 million losing access to health care. Moreover, Guatemala had more than 200,000 people seeking shelter after the two hurricanes.

Foreign Aid to Central America

The Central American region is impoverished and vulnerable to natural disasters. Furthermore, many Central American nations depend on foreign aid from the United States. The countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador (the Northern Triangle) rely on foreign aid from the U.S. to manage rural poverty, violence, food insecurity and natural disasters. Moreover, that aid has been reduced under the Trump administration. Since Donald Trump took office, the aid for these countries has reduced from $750 million to $530 million. In April 2019, Trump froze $450 million of foreign aid to the Northern Triangle, further diminishing the lives of many. Foreign aid keeps Central Americans from plummeting to extreme poverty and also curtails migration to the United States.

Congress Pleads for Foreign Aid

As Hurricane Eta ravaged through Central America, Rep. Norma Torres (CA-35) wrote a letter urging Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to increase foreign aid to Central America. Torres (CA-35) wrote, “Hurricane Eta was an unavoidable natural disaster, but its aftermath is a preventable humanitarian crisis in the making.” In addition, the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC), Eliot Engel (NY-16), also showed his support for increased aid to those Hurricane Eta impacted. Engel wrote, “a large-scale U.S. effort is needed to provide much-needed relief to those affected by Eta so that they are not forced to leave their countries and make the perilous journey north.”

USAID Provides Disaster Relief

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has agreed to increase aid by $17 million to the countries impacted by Hurricane Eta and Hurricane Iota. Studies have shown that foreign aid is a successful policy to reduce global poverty. Any aid given to these countries benefits the lives of those impacted by hurricanes in several significant ways.

– Andy Calderon
Photo: Flickr

Israel's Foreign AidIsrael, a country 18 times smaller than California, is proving that size does not matter in terms of global impact. For decades, Israel has served as a trailblazer in technology, medicine, artificial intelligence and innovation. Golda Meir, Israel’s former Prime Minister, spearheaded a program called MASHAV in 1957. MASHAV is a Hebrew acronym for “Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation.” At its onset, MASHAV worked with countries in Africa and Asia. Today, MASHAV works with more than 130 countries like Ethiopia, Vietnam and Guatemala.

Natural Disaster Response

Among the most impactful of Israel’s foreign aid is the work with refugees, natural disasters and terrorism response. For example, in 1995, the Israeli Foreign Ministry, in collaboration with the Israeli Defense Force, created a humanitarian aid unit that executes operations worldwide. Israel has sent 24 delegations of Israel’s foreign aid team to 22 countries between 1985 and 2015.

Israel’s aid to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake is among the most respected of Israel’s foreign aid efforts. Israel, one of the first countries to send support to Haiti, set up makeshift hospitals and disaster relief tents. Israel’s teams sent more than 200 doctors and volunteers to treat those affected by the disaster directly at the scene. In less than two weeks, Israel’s foreign aid teams treated more than 1,000 Haitians, performed more than 300 successful surgeries, delivered 16 babies and rescued four lost individuals.

Start-Up Nation

Israel’s foreign aid capacity can be primarily attributed to its advanced technology. In 2019, Israel received the third-largest amount of funding from venture capitalist firms for various Israeli startups. The U.S. and China are the only countries that received more funding. In the last six years, annual investments have increased from $112 million to $650 million, with more than 250 active startups.

Among Israel’s startups are various medical companies working on COVID-19 innovations. For example, the Israel Innovation Authority is working to create a robotics partnership. This partnership will connect Israeli companies to South Korean companies to collaborate on coronavirus solutions. Additionally, with more than 600 investors and 100 companies working on COVID-19 technological solutions, the Israeli private sector is far more efficient than other companies and governments.

Most recently, Israel developed a sticker called the Maya to cover medical doctors’ masks to decrease their exposure to the virus. Made of a nanofiber material, the masks contain nanoscale pores that prevent the virus from attaching to the mask’s base. The virus itself is 130 nanometers, which is small enough to attach to standard masks. However, the Maya prevents such attachment. The U.S. and Europe are expected to approve the mask. In addition, there are currently plans to export the masks to Canada, Japan and Spain.

Israel’s foreign aid efforts span from natural disaster relief to cutting edge technological advances. The country’s global impact in comparison to it’s size is proving Israel to be a trailblazer in global aid and innovation.

Maya Sulkin

Photo: Pixabay

International Aid to El SalvadorEl Salvador faces threats from multiple angles as heavy tropical flooding has been compounded by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. While El Salvador has managed to curtail infection rates by imposing strict restrictions, in October 2020, more than 32,000 people had COVID-19, with around 1,000 deaths. Due to the stringent measures to protect against the pandemic, economic growth has been stifled and poverty reduction efforts have waned. Organizations are stepping in to provide international aid to El Salvador.

Dual Disasters in El Salvador

In May and June of 2020, the tropical storms Amanda and Cristobal wreaked havoc on the people of El Salvador. Nearly 150,000 people were affected by heavy rain, flooding and severe winds. Developing countries such as El Salvador have poor building infrastructure and during natural disasters homes are more likely to be destroyed by storms. The World Food Programme (WFP) has estimated that about 380,000 people in El Salvador do not have sufficient access to nutritious food due to the dual disasters that have weakened infrastructure and the economy. An estimated 22,000 farmers have suffered from the destruction of flooding, with over 12,000 hectares of agricultural crops being destroyed.

COVID-19 Pandemic Increases Poverty

El Salvador has been moderately successful with poverty reduction, marked by a consistent decline in poverty over the past 13 years, as poverty rates plummeted from 39% to 29% between 2007 and 2017. Extreme poverty was cut from 15% to 8.5% over this time period as well. Additionally, El Salvador has increased its level of equality and is now the second most equal country in Latin America.

Despite this positive trend in poverty reduction, El Salvador has suffered from forced economic restrictions due to the pandemic. Its GDP is projected to decrease by 8% this year due to economic restrictions, a weakened international market and diminished funds sent from El Salvadorians abroad in the United States. Additionally, low income and marginalized individuals are becoming more vulnerable to health issues and wage deficiencies and are falling victim to predatory loans. El Salvador’s economic shutdown and destruction from tropical storms have prompted calls for international aid to alleviate the crisis.

Swift Action to Mitigate COVID-19

El Salvador has seen relatively low COVID-19 cases as a result of its swift response to the pandemic. It adopted strict containment measures faster than any other Central American country and invested heavily in its health system. The government has provided cash distributions to the majority of households, food for low income households and payment deferrals for rent and mortgages in order to curb the effects of the pandemic on citizens.

International Aid to El Salvador

Requests for international aid to El Salvador have been granted in the form of assistance from USAID and the WFP. These organizations are providing disaster relief and bringing in resources to those affected by the storms and the COVID-19 pandemic. USAID has donated $3 million to be dispensed by cash in stipends for vulnerable citizens to buy food. This stipend will boost local economies and reinforce food security for impoverished citizens affected by the dual disasters.

– Adrian Rufo
Photo: Flickr

How Hurricanes Affect Poverty Around the WorldHurricanes are large storms that develop from warm ocean waters. As they reach land, they create a storm surge, pushing ocean water onto the land, causing extreme damage such as infrastructure loss and flooding. Hurricane season lasts from May to November and causes loss of life and property for coastal regions around the globe. This article will examine how hurricanes affect poverty around the globe and organizations that help combat their destruction.

Hurricanes And Poverty: The Cycle

Hurricanes affect global poverty as they slow development and cause a significant loss of money, pushing people and countries into poverty. Each year 26 million people fall into poverty due to natural disasters. In particular, hurricanes cause a decrease in development and a loss of GDP. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch caused 30 years of decreased development in Honduras and Nicaragua. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan led to losses of more than 200% of Grenada’s GDP.

Hurricanes disproportionately affect impoverished communities. Those with lower income have less access to technology, which leads to a lack of information and leaving them unprepared for a coming natural disaster. Additionally, disadvantaged populations live in less stable housing that does not fare well against natural disasters. For example, the Caribbean has a history of suffering a severe impact of hurricanes, and this is partly because 60-70% of the infrastructure is informal, meaning not professionally made or following safety protocol.

Impoverished communities also have less access to transportation and healthcare, leaving them with fewer resources after a hurricane. In Puerto Rico after the 2017 Hurricane Maria, 2975 people died as a result of not having the transportation to go to a hospital or sufficient life-sustaining medicine. Rebuilding also requires funds that many disadvantaged populations do not have. While the rich can often afford to move out of high-risk areas, impoverished households cannot. Developing countries also cannot afford to protect high-risk areas, by, for example, rebuilding structures with higher elevations and installing sea walls. Hurricanes affect those living in poverty the most and, as a result, hurricanes push them further into poverty.

The Red Cross

The Red Cross is one of many organizations that provide hurricane relief around the world. It has stations throughout the globe, so it can provide emergency services and life-saving materials quickly to those who need it in the aftermath of a natural disaster, such as hurricanes. Many people working with the Red Cross are disaster response specialists who can work quickly in a disaster zone and are trained in situations that may occur during and after a hurricane. The Red Cross also reconnects families separated in natural disasters. The Red Cross has helped in hurricanes around the globe, including Haiti after Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian in 2019.

Other organizations that help those living in poverty recover from hurricanes include Heart to Heart International, Convoy of Hope and Tourism Cares. By donating to any one of these organizations, one could help bring an impoverished person their livelihood back and help them recover from a hurricane, helping to bridge the gap between the rich and poor in terms of hurricane recovery.

– Seona Maskara
Photo: Flickr 

Kandari is Providing Aid
The government of Bangladesh confirmed its first COVID-19 cases on March 8, 2020. As cases rapidly increased, so did the number of families living below the poverty line. Two months later, a second disaster struck — Cyclone Amphan. The United Nations projected that 500,000 families lost their homes. Moreover, it destroyed the structure of the Deluti Secondary School in Bangladesh, the only school within a 50-mile radius. Kandari, a local nonprofit, plans on rebuilding it with the help of volunteers and donations. Additionally, Kandari is providing aid pertaining to feeding families and providing quality education during the present challenges of COVID-19 and the destruction from Cyclone Amphan.

About Kandari

Afsara Alvee, a 27-year-old from Khulna, was living in the United States when her mother called and told her that she and Afsara’s younger brother received positive tests for COVID-19. In an interview with The Borgen Project, Afsara said that they were able to recover from home, but she knew there were many other families in Bangladesh suffering the same fate under worse conditions. In response, she founded Kandari, a nonprofit that provides resources to low-income and middle-class families that COVID-19 affected in Bangladesh.

“When their paycheck stops coming, that’s the time it hits,” Afsara said. “Because of their social status, it’s hard for them to ask for help. They never thought of going to a food bank because of the shame. But we can provide them food for at least a week or so.”

Kandari is providing aid by feeding families. Afsara oversees 17 volunteers who have been delivering food, including rice, lentils, chickpeas, oil and onions, to about 1,400 families since the start of the pandemic. Her goal is to reach 4,000 families but obtaining funding has been a challenge. When crowdfunding runs out, she spends her own money to keep Kandari’s efforts going.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bangladesh reached 495,841 and 7,156 deaths on December 16, 2020, according to Johns Hopkins University. Although many countries were not prepared for a global pandemic, Bangladesh must also recover from Cyclone Amphan.

Providing Quality Education

Another way Kandari is providing aid, next to ensuring food security, is by working toward granting quality education. One in four people is illiterate in Bangladesh according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. Afsara said that children who must help their families with labor or have disabilities have rarely had access to education even before COVID-19 and Cyclone Amphan forced schools to close. Her proposed education program would help provide textbooks and lunches to children in orphanages or ones whose parents are day laborers.

Cyclone Amphan hit the Deluti Secondary School particularly hard. No other schools exist in a 50-mile radius and about 202 students attended the school before the pandemic. Kandari plans on rebuilding the school and has raised $865 of its $7,000 goal on GoFundMe.

“Our slogan is there is no tomorrow because there is no tomorrow. If you see that someone needs help, if you think something bad is going to happen, then you should do something today to prevent that,” Afsara said.

Plans for the Future

Kandari means “helmsman,” someone who would guide and work selflessly to reach a destination. Afsara hopes to extend her mission to other parts of the world as well.

“We don’t want to just help today, we want to help with something that’s going to impact that person who may impact the economy and definitely impact our whole society,” Afsara said.

Afsara’s latest project, A Touch of Warmth, will give hundreds of people on the streets of Bangladesh in Dhaka, Dinajpur, Rangpur, Jessore and Bandarban blankets to cope with the winter months. She said she is always looking for more volunteers and donations to contribute to Kandari’s ongoing efforts.

– Maya Gacina
Photo: Afsara Alvee, founder of Kandari

Poverty in the PhilippinesThe Philippines is a country in the Pacific Ocean that is made up of over 7,000 small islands. The Philippines struggles with issues of global poverty, healthcare and education. However, progress has been made in recent years to combat these issues and ensure that every Filipino citizen is able to live a healthy and happy life.

7 Facts About Poverty in the Philippines

  1. Data indicates that 16.6% of the population of the Philippines, or about 17.6 million people, live under the poverty line. Those who reside in rural areas have a much higher chance of experiencing poverty, with nearly one-third of those under the poverty line working as farmers.

  2. The Philippines is exposed to more natural disasters than any other nation in the world. These disasters, which include typhoons, earthquakes and cyclones, cause horrific devastation and contribute heavily to the high poverty rate in this country. Other causes of poverty in the Philippines include low job creation, low economic growth and high levels of population growth.

  3. For every 1,000 babies born in the Philippines, 28 die before they turn 5 years old. Many of these children die of pneumonia. The Philippines is one of the 15 countries that make up over 75% of the pneumonia deaths globally. A lower socioeconomic status, which often leads to limited access to vaccinations and healthcare options, contributes to this high rate of pneumonia.

  4. As of 2019, an estimated 64% of Filipino households struggle with food insecurity, and two in every 10 children under the age of 5 are underweight. The high rates of natural disasters and large numbers of people living in rural areas contribute to this hunger problem and make food inaccessible for many in the Philippines.

  5. The COVID-19 crisis has affected all aspects of life in the Philippines but especially food access. A study done in May of 2020 showed that 4.2 million families reported struggling with involuntary hunger, doubling since December 2019. This is likely due to the economic devastation and financial issues that many countries around the world have struggled with since the pandemic.

  6. The Filipino Government has launched its Philippines Development Plan in an effort to combat poverty and hunger and ramp up job creation in the country. This plan was initiated in 2011 and updated in 2017 and has reported remarkable success in job creation, education and poverty reduction.

  7. Various Filipino NGOs as well as some from outside of the country, have worked to combat poverty in the Philippines. A group called Zero Extreme Poverty PH 2030 (ZEP) has led the charge, dedicating itself to eliminating poverty in the nation by 2030 by enacting positive change in eight areas: education, environment, health, housing and shelter, livelihoods, peace and human security and social justice. In 2018, ZEP created a coalition of various NGOs from both the Philippines and around the world, with the goal of helping those living under the poverty line in the country.

Poverty Progress in the Philippines

While the Philippines still struggles with extreme poverty, especially in rural areas, progress is being made to combat the issues that this country is facing. These seven facts about poverty in the Philippines illuminate both the strides that are being made and the further steps that must be taken to improve the lives of Filipino people struggling with poverty and hunger.

– Daryn Lenahan
Photo: Flickr