Frost Season in PeruWhile Peru is known for having a pleasant climate in most regions, this isn’t always the case all year round. In the winter months of the frost season in Peru, a wave of freezing weather strikes the communities in many areas of the Andean region.

These freezing temperatures are not your average winter. In 2010, freezing weather in the Andean South went below -20 Celcius, causing pneumonia and hundreds of deaths — with children being the most impacted demographic. In 2017, a wave of freeze killed around 180,000 alpacas on the farthest areas of Ayacucho, where the people heavily depended on the breeding of alpacas for sustenance. Since the affected regions are in extreme poverty, the people living there do not have enough resources to prevent tragedies such as the ones mentioned above.

Each frost season in Peru brings a new wave of adversity and problems, and unfortunately, it is the most vulnerable people that are the most affected by the weather. However, help comes even during the most troubled times. Here are three initiatives that have helped those affected by frost season in Peru.

3 Initiatives To Helping Those Affected by Frost Season in Peru

  1. Demos Calor a Los Hermanos de Puno- After the southern Andean regions were in a state of emergency in 2010, the Peruvian Radio Program and Solaris Peru Association joined forces to create these campaigns. Their main objective was to collect enough warm clothing and blankets for children between the ages of 1 to 5. The campaign was successful; by the end of 2011, it delivered more than 3.5 tons of apparel and other necessities to the victims.
  2. Peru Frost and Friaje Mitigation Plan- In 2017, with a new frost season approaching, ex-president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski began the Peru Frost and Friaje Mitigation Plan. Their main objective was to take the necessary steps to prevent the fatal damage caused by the frost on the highland regions. The program spent around $30 million to repair damaged infrastructure. The benefits did not only include monetary help but also the delivery of blankets, prefabricated classrooms and provide essential pneumonia vaccines. Small children and the elderly are the most affected during the frost season, so the delivery of pneumonia vaccines saved their lives
  3. Abrigando Esperanzas – The Oli Foundation- The Oli Foundation helps and assists Peru’s most vulnerable sectors. Beginning in 2011, the foundation has successfully managed several initiatives. “Abrigando Esperazas” specifically focused on the victims of the frost season. Their principal goal was the collection of warm blankets and other first-aid necessities and delivering them to the affected zones of the Peruvian Andes in Arequipa, Cerro de Pasco, Cusco, Puno and Tacna. In June 2019, their campaign “Contra el Frio por Los Nuestros,” has the main goal of building 20 warm safehouses in the town of Kusamayo, Puno. These safehouses will help keep vulnerable populations warm during the challenging frost season.

Peruvian frost season is not an easy season to overcome. Luckily there is even more being done to fight against the hardships of the winter. This year, for example, a new type of potato was developed, called Wiñay, that can tolerate freezing temperatures and maintain its nutritional value, making it possible for farmers to produce crops even then the ground is covered in snow. Through the efforts of organizations like the three mentioned above, Peruvians are being given the resources they need to survive and thrive throughout the frost season in Peru.

– Adriana Ruiz
Photo: Flickr

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

Worst TyphoonsA tropical cyclone is a generic term for a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that starts over tropical or subtropical waters and has a closed low-level atmospheric circulation. The words hurricane and typhoon both refer to tropical cyclones.

However, the word hurricane is used for tropical cyclones that form over the North Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific, and the word typhoon is used for tropical cyclones that form over the Northwest Pacific Ocean. Typhoons are often seen as more destructive than hurricanes because they tend to hit the densely populated countries of Asia. Below is a list of the top 10 worst typhoons of all time.

Top 10 Worst Typhoons

  1. Haiphong – The Haiphong typhoon of October 8, 1881, was one of the most catastrophic events in history. It is the third deadliest tropical cyclone in history. The category of this typhoon is unknown since it occurred before the meteorological advances of the twentieth century. However, what is known is this gigantic typhoon was able to travel through the Gulf of Tonkin. As a result, it ravaged Haiphong, Vietnam and the surrounding coastal area, killing 300,000 people.
  2. Nina Typhoon Nina, a Category 4 typhoon that appeared on July 30, 1975, currently holds the rank of fourth-deadliest tropical cyclone ever recorded. Most of the destruction from this typhoon came not from its devastating winds but from flooding triggered by the collapse of the Banqiao Dam in Zhumadian City, Henan province, China. The collapse of this dam also caused other smaller dams to collapse, which caused even more damage. The death toll is totaled at 229,000 people.
  3. Haiyan Typhoon Haiyan formed rather recently in November of 2013. Haiyan was a Category 5 super typhoon that produced world record wind speeds of 315/km/h or 195/mi/h. It hit parts of Southeast Asia, especially the Philippines. With a death toll of 6,300, it is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record.
  4. Vera – Out of the many typhoons Japan has suffered throughout its history, typhoon Vera was the strongest and deadliest. This Category 5 superstorm began on September 20, 1959. Through heavy rains, enormous waves and powerful winds, it destroyed thousands of homes, ruined crops and flooded rivers. In total, it left 1.5 million people homeless and took the lives of 5,000 others.
  5. Ida – The sixth deadliest typhoon to hit Japan was typhoon Ida on September 20, 1958. Landslides caused by this Category 5 super typhoon damaged or destroyed 2,118 buildings and swept away 244 road and railway bridges. More than 120,000 acres of rice fields were covered with two-foot tides. The Kano, Meguro and Arakawa rivers flooded and spilled onto piers and then destroyed houses, religious shrines, freight depots and stores. In addition to the 1,269 lives Ida claimed, it also left 12,000 people homeless.
  6. Sarah Typhoon Sarah, another Category 5 super typhoon, formed on September 11, 1959. In Japan and South Korea, Sarah’s high winds and rain destroyed or damaged thousands of homes, ruined millions of dollars of crops, caused extreme flooding and left thousands homeless. There is no agreement among sources about casualties of Sarah. Some sources claim that 840 lives were lost and others claim that 1,869 lives were lost.
  7. Nancy – On September 12, 1961, the nations of Guam and Japan experienced the destructive power of typhoon Nancy. As a Category 5 super typhoon, Nancy hit the land with 215 mph winds. It currently holds the rank of the longest-lasting Category 5 equivalent hurricane in the Northern Hemisphere, and it took 191 lives.
  8. Wanda – The Category 2 typhoon Wanda in Hong Kong formed on August 27, 1962, until September 1, 1962. It is the most intense tropical cyclone on record in Hong Kong. Even though it was only a Category 2 typhoon, Wanda wrecked or damaged more than 2,000 boats and left 72,000 people homeless. There were 130 people who lost their lives in this tragedy.
  9. MegiMegi, which is Korean for “catfish,” became a Category 5 super typhoon in the northwestern Pacific. It made landfall in the Philippines on October 8, 2010, and was one of the strongest typhoons on record. The impact of Megi was around 2 million people in 17 cities and 23 provinces of the Philippines. In addition to killing 69 people in the Philippines and Taiwan, it destroyed agriculture, infrastructure and more than 148,000 houses.
  10. Forrest – One of the fastest-moving tropical cyclones on record, typhoon Forrest developed in the Western Pacific on September 19, 1983. This Category 5 super typhoon damaged 46,000 homes in Japan. Although it was not as destructive, it is still responsible for 21 deaths.

The damage done by the top 10 worst typhoons reveals how vulnerable humans are to uncontrollable forces of nature. Humans have not yet developed the technology they need to shield themselves from all of a typhoon’s destructive effects though research efforts are ongoing.

– Jacob Stubbs
Photo: Flickr

effects of el nino
The 2015-2016 El Nino climate pattern was one of the most extreme occurrences in years, affecting almost 60 million people, more than half of whom live in Africa. The effects of El Nino created extreme weather changes, ranging from severe drought to severe flooding. These changes posed drastic problems for the population. Drought caused food insecurity and poverty due to crop failure, and flooding created problems with sanitation and increased the spread of water-borne and communicable diseases. Furthermore, flooding threatened infrastructure and housing. The damage also restricted access to healthcare facilities, preventing victims from receiving the help they need.

The Effects of El Nino on Africa

In Southern Africa, El Nino-related droughts had led to massive crop failure. South Africa had a 25 percent drop in maize and a 23 percent drop in grain production. Maize prices were the highest they had ever been following the drop. The drought aggravated the existing food insecurity, with 14 million people already hungry and as crop failure continued, the number of people at risk of hunger increased.

Most El Nino effects are related to soil dryness or reduced rainfall, but in 2016, this occurrence resulted in a massive drought. In Cambodia, 2.5 million people were left without access to clean water. People had to travel long distances in search of clean and drinkable water after the wells and ponds had dried up. In South Africa, parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia, these effects of El Nino are still posing problems. In past years, most food production decreases have corresponded to El Nino, regardless of its magnitude.

The Effects of El Nino on South-East Asia

South-East Asia faced droughts and below-average rainfall as well. Thailand had faced its most severe drought in 20 years during the 2015-2016 El Nino. Water levels in dams throughout the country fell below 10 percent, leading to Thailand pumping water from nearby rivers. The Mae Jok Luang Reservoir, for example, typically served 11 sectors and can now, as a result of El Nino, can only serve one.

The droughts hit farmers hard, causing mass crop failure. Rice production and exports especially had gone down in Thailand. Consequently, many farmers found themselves in debt and unable to pay back loans. To deal with financial stress, many Filipino farmers started sending their children into town to work instead of going to school. Indigenous farmers turned to odd jobs as well, giving up on trying to farm in the drought.

The Effects of El Nino on Latin America

Effects of El Nino on Latin America often vary, and in 2016, there were droughts in Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Central America as well as floods in Argentina and parts of Peru and Chile. Areas like Brazil had an increase in wildfires and tropical storms as a result of El Nino. Similar to South-East Asia, farming and fishing industries faced decreased production and exports during El Nino.

This was not the first time that El Nino has harmed the health and population of South American fisheries. The 1972 El Nino played a major role in the collapse of the Peruvian fishery, the largest fishery in the world at the time. With less fish, the population of seabirds also decreased, which damaged the seabird-dependent fertilizer industry. The impact on agricultural production led to higher food prices and lower food availability.

As a result of El Nino, 2.3 million people in Central America needed food assistance in 2015-16. The weather conditions also posed a great threat to civilians. Peru declared a state of emergency in 14 provinces where the lives of two million people had been at risk of mudslides and flooding. In October 2015, 500 people in Guatemala City died because of widespread mudslides.

Aid for Countries Affected by El Nino

Fortunately, there are organizations working to combat the effects of El Nino. Care, a nongovernmental organization, for example, has distributed food and emergency supplies to drought-ridden countries. In Cambodia, Care distributed water tanks and filters to the most affected areas. They had continued aid well into 2017.

While the work of organizations like Care is valuable, long-term plans to combat general climate change is necessary for countries to prepare for future climate change events. The results and effects of global warming and weather changes can be felt throughout the whole world, and the countries that suffer the most are usually less developed ones that do not have the right tools to combat this issue. People need to start taking climate issues seriously before it becomes too late to recover from these effects.

– Massarath Fatima

Photo: Flickr

Are Natural Disasters Getting Worse?According to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, the amount of flood and storm catastrophes have risen by 7.4 percent annually in recent decades. With reports of excessive weather damage constantly in the news, it is important to ask: Are natural disasters getting worse? 

By definition, natural disasters are any form of catastrophic events induced by nature or natural activities of the Earth. Some examples include earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, droughts, tsunamis and tornadoes. The severity of such disasters is typically measured by the number of deaths, economic loss and the nation’s capacity to rebuild.

Many natural disasters are beyond human control. The constant motion of Earth’s tectonic plates initiates earthquakes and tsunamis. Fluctuation in solar radiation infiltrating the atmosphere and oceans give rise to storms in the summer and blizzards in the winter.

However, sometimes natural disasters aren’t so natural and are caused by humanity’s interference with the Earth’s system.

For example, as environmental pollution increases, humans are contributing more energy to the system; which strengthens the likelihood of repeated hazards such as flash floods, bushfires, heatwaves and tropical cyclones. 

So are natural disasters getting worse? The answer is yes. The number of geophysical disasters on Earth’s surface, like earthquakes, landslides and volcano eruptions, have remained steady since the 1970s. But the number of climate-related catastrophes has vastly increased. The amount of damage done to the economy due to these catastrophes has seen a steady upsurge.

There were triple the number of natural disasters between 2000 to 2009 as the number that occurred between 1980 to 1989. A large majority, 80 percent, of this growth is caused by climate-related happenings.

It may no longer be important to ask: Are natural disasters getting worse? But instead: Why are natural catastrophes getting worse?

The scale of disasters has swelled due to higher rates of urbanization, deforestation, environmental degradation and escalating climatic elements like high temperatures, extreme rain and snow and more brutal wind and water storms.

Dangerous events do not need to result in a tragedy. Limiting vulnerability and increasing the ability to respond to these disasters can save lives. Additionally, the continuous evolution of science and technology is making it more possible to anticipate disasters, provide aid quicker and allow for the rebuilding of cities in safer areas.

– Zainab Adebayo

Photo: Flickr

Mozambican Adaptation ProjectMozambique has seen the capabilities of climate change first-hand. Rainwater from northern watersheds often cause massive floods that destroys the property of 22 million Mozambicans living on the coast. Seasonal rains, cyclones and tropical storms also pose threats to inhabitants of the coastline. Heavy rains often disrupt the energy supply in Northern Mozambique. Cyclones bring strong winds, torrential rains, and storms that cause landslides, coastal and inland erosion.

As a result of climate change, rainfall becomes unpredictable, and extreme weather occurrences like drought that occur every three to four years become more frequent. Flooding and cyclones threaten the health and economic stability of many Mozambicans. In 2015, flooding affected 160,000 people, displaced 50,000 and killed 159 in central and northern Mozambique. Furthermore, the country suffered great economic damage to infrastructure, as flooding collapsed roads and bridges.

Mozambique’s mangrove forest in Bon Sinais River, Icidua, Quelimane has completely flattened out as locals use the trees for building and fuel, and the clear space for harvesting salt. Mangroves protect communities that have improperly built homes that are incapable of withstanding strong winds.

USAID funded the Mozambican adaptation project by equipping five municipalities: Pemba, Quelimane, Nacala, Mozambique Island and Mocimboa de Praia. Throughout the next few years, the Coastal City Adaptation Project (CCAP) will see more than 200,000 mangrove trees planted on 37 acres in Icidua, resulting in decreased erosion and flood prevention and an increase in fishing.

Pemba, Mozambique has witnessed the heaviest rainfall in 40 years destroy the homes of its community. The Mozambican adaptation project will commence dune restoration and a phone-based early warning system that allows communities to quickly learn about and prepare for disaster. This emergency response system will prevent flooding damages that have previously destroyed the homes and taken the lives of many.

If the Mozambican adaptation project cannot combat climate change, by 2075 semi-arid and arid areas can expect a 2-3 percent increase in solar radiation and a 9-13 percent increase in evapotranspiration. Mozambique will see an overall 2-9 percent decrease in precipitation and a 5-15 percent decrease in precipitation during the rainy season from November to May.

Tiffany Santos

Photo: Flickr


While natural disasters always leave devastation in their paths, the recovery is always harder for the world’s poor. The countries with the most hurricanes are, in increasing order, Cuba, Madagascar, Vietnam, Taiwan, Australia, the U.S., Mexico, Japan, the Philippines and China.

The storms may be unbiased when they hit, but the work to recover is nowhere near equal. This is why it is detrimental that the countries with the most hurricanes are also those with the least amount of preparation for them. This is evident because of events such as Hurricane Matthew. Although it created damage to the southeastern portion of the U.S., the devastation in Haiti was unparalleled.

Between 1996 and 2015, more than a million people were killed by natural disasters. Ninety percent of the deaths occurred in low and medium income countries.

In countries such as the Philippines, which can expect between eight and nine hurricanes a year, the population isn’t prepared for the devastation these storms bring. The majority live in homes that are weakly constructed and do not stand a chance against nature’s wrath. With a population of 96 million, of whom 19.2 percent fall below the poverty line, it is impossible to recover from one storm before the next strikes.

Behind Mexico’s brightly decorated resorts and tourist destinations, there is a population of more than 40 percent living in poverty. Although preventive measures lessened the blow from Hurricane Patricia in 2015, the nation is still recovering from its wake.

Global organizations are quick to respond to disasters all over the world. The U.N. and the Red Cross work to have people on the ground in the affected country immediately.

UNICEF takes the preventative path to these problems and works with some of the countries with the most hurricanes to improve emergency response strategies and prepare them for the natural disasters that are sure to come.

The organization also works to develop indications for the decision-makers in the least developed countries to follow when assessing the needs of children during disasters.

Emily Trosclair

Photo: Flickr

Weather Prediction Technology
By 2020, 8.5 billion people will reside in developing countries. This reality dictates food security as a critical component of agricultural planning to support this burgeoning population.

With nearly 100 countries lacking early warning systems for weather patterns, the developing world cannot protect crop yields to feed a growing world. While increased food production is an important part of the puzzle, improved food security measures are the missing link.

India’s AgriMet Department of the Indian Meteorological Department is helping to solve this problem by sharing weather prediction technology and satellite data with Bhutan and seven other developing countries including Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, Moldova, Dominica, Peru, Colombia and Burkina Faso.

Within India’s system, weather advisories are sent via text and voice message to registered farmers. Registration is free and participating farmers have reported increased income. Indian scientists also plan to assist other countries in developing their own models for weather forecasting.

This comes on the heels of a warning from the World Meteorological Organization in March 2016 on World Meteorological Day. The initiative titled, “Hotter, drier, wetter. Face the Future,” recognizes 2015 as the hottest year on record and warning that these trends will continue for the next 50 years making weather prediction technology critical in the developing world.

Droughts, flooding, cyclones and heavy rain hit developing countries harder due to lack of preparation and time to evacuate. The effects of weather events are often cumulative in poor populations, making bad situations worse each time a new event occurs.

Global partnerships in weather prediction are a cost-effective way to address weather forecasting but are difficult to manage when a weather event threatens a smaller region. Global systems can also be more difficult for small, poor countries to access due to issues such as slow internet connections.

This makes regional partnerships for weather events a logical next step in forecasting due to closer proximity and easier methods of accessing a weather warning.

The goal for Bhutan and other developing countries is the implementation of long-range weather prediction technology and use of cost-effective toolkits such as rain gauges and measuring tools for soil moisture. While India will provide training and skills in this project, countries such as Canada and Norway will assist with grant funding to set up the weather station.

Mandy Otis

Photo: Flickr

New Story
Hurricane Matthew killed 1,000 people and left 60,000 suddenly homeless. The New York Times reports that in one Haitian city alone, 80 percent of buildings were desolated. In the face of the worst natural disaster since the 2010 earthquake, one has to wonder if there is anything positive to be found among the pain in this devastated country. That’s where New Story comes in. New Story is a non-profit that has built 211 homes in Haiti, all of which survived Hurricane Matthew.

Every single house stood resistant to the category four storm. CEO Brett Hagler updated supporters the day after the hurricane saying, “People […] were bringing in other folks from the tents to take refuge in the homes last night during the hurricane, which is amazing and a testament to the durability of these homes.”

Hypepotamus reports that New Story was founded in 2014 on a mission to build homes for Haitian people in need. Hagler and Mike Arrieta compiled a strong Atlanta based team, successful in leveraging technology for social good as they built two new homes within their first three months of existence. Hagler explains, “We are trying to solve two problems — life-threatening homelessness and the status quo of traditional charity.”

The process begins with the recognition that homes are the foundation: without a stable place to live, families cannot focus on education, income or set hopeful goals for the future. The next step is to work with locals.

Every economy New Story interacts with is stimulated by the process through partnering with nonprofits and utilizing resources already present in the countries where they are building. Their website states, “through our partners, we learn in months what it would take years to understand if we tried to enter new communities independently.”

The key word there is “communities.” Instead of focusing only on individual homes, this organization builds entire communities so as to form strong and lasting places for people to live. They believe a home is more than four walls and are committed to gathering data to ensure that the next is even better than the last.

They challenge the status quo of traditional charity by proving that 100 percent of their donations go toward building homes. Each home costs only $6,000 to build and donors can start a crowdsourcing fund to raise every dollar, or they can give as little as the amount of cash in their pocket.

No matter how much money a donor gives, every single one is connected through video with the exact family whose house they helped to build. This transparency gives visual representation of that which is abstract for donations to so many other nonprofits. “Now going forward there’s obviously a lot of recovery to do […] and we think this hurricane just punctuates our belief that everyone deserves a safe home,” said Hagler.

With 100 percent of donations directly helping families, communities and larger economies, this nonprofit is an incredible example of work that is effective and strong even in the face of 140 mile-per-hour winds. There is a new story being told, in Haiti and beyond, and the question remaining is how each of us will help to write it.

Rebecca Causey

Photo: Flickr

Flood ForecastingThe Federal Ministry of Agriculture together with the Rural Development and the International Water Management Institute in Abuja have launched a mobile application, called “Wetin App” in order to provide citizens with the capability of flood forecasting in Niger and Benue rivers. The mobile application for flood forecasting which will be available through Google App Store has been launched due to the catastrophic flood that occurred in 2012 in Nigeria and caused a massive destruction of houses, farms and human lives.

According to VOA News, “The “WetIn app” is free to download for Android phones and gives users in three flood-prone Nigerian states advanced notice when an inundation is expected.” The application that aims to focus on three Nigerian states, Kogi, Benue and Anambra, will help residents and farmers protect their belongings, their crops and evacuate the region if it is needed.

The smartphone application was developed based on a collection of data from the Nigerian Hydrological Service Agency (NHSA), the satellite and finally the Nigerian Meteorological Agency.

According to Timothy Olalekan Williams, Africa director for the International Water Management Institute, the goal of the application is to provide four to five days in advance a significant warning about the height of the river. Hence, the government together with the disaster management agencies will be able to take precautionary measures.

In fact, according to the National Emergency Management Agency, in 2012, floods killed 363 people and displaced close to 4 million individuals. Due to the 2012 floods, a total of 1,337,450 houses were destroyed, of which the 73 percent consisted of traditional Nigerian dwellings. As an illustration, some houses are constructed with iron and low-cost materials, while others are made of mud, as well as bricks.

The 2012 Nigerian floods, which remain the worst in five decades, have affected the river Niger and the river Benue. The NHSA continues to warn individuals who live close to rivers in Nigeria to immediately relocate and find safer dwellings especially in light of continued climate change.

So far this year, 14 have been killed and 208 have been injured as a result floods. If there is a continuous rainfall, then the flooding experience will be the same as in 2012. The Nigerian Meteorological Agency plays a key role in alerting the news about upcoming floods via newspapers, radio and television. Smartphones also go a long way in helping to ensure access to this vital information.

In simple terms, among Nigeria’s activities for a proper flood risk management action plan, the mobile application for flood forecasting satisfies its emergent needs. It offers an early warning system that aims to strengthen people and make them act in a proactive way.

Eliza Karabetian-Nikotian

Photo: Flickr