how to help people in FijiIn 2016, Cyclone Winston, the most powerful tropical storm on record in the southern hemisphere, ripped through the island of Fiji. Winston killed 44 people, destroyed 30,000 homes, and caused nearly $200 million in damages. Later that same year, Cyclone Zena caused significant flooding and damage to Fiji as well. Much of the country’s formerly well-developed infrastructure was damaged by these two storms, and efforts to find out how to help people in Fiji must be continued.

Before the devastation of the double cyclones, there was a good deal of work being done in Fiji to help impoverished communities on the islands. One of the most prominent groups doing this work was HELP International. Projects HELP committed to included anti-drug activism, financial responsibility courses and a multitude of physical education classes for children, especially those with disabilities. However, while only 40 percent of the population was directly affected by Winston and Zena, the most pressing issues remain the assistance and rehabilitation of the islands most dramatically impacted by the tropical storms.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is one of the most prominent groups working on how to help people in Fiji. In terms of immediate response, the FAO distributed 90,000 packets of seeds and more than 500,000 fresh planting materials in order to combat food insecurity.

Despite these encouraging signs, there is still much to be done a year after the cyclones devastated the islands. If you are trying to find out how to help people in Fiji, the Fijian government has established a plan to work the islands back to functionality, but foreign aid and investment will be needed.

A program called “Adopt a School” has been started by the Fijian government, with the express purpose of allowing concerned groups to establish and rebuild damaged schools. The “Help for Homes” initiative is a program partially funded by the government in an attempt to subsidize the rebuilding of homes for those who lost them in Winston and Zena.

However, the government is short roughly $97 million, and is relying on donors to fill the gap. The sugar industry, devastated by the storms, is facing similar rebuilding problems and requires similar levels of assistance. Though we cannot forget those affected here in the United States by Irma and Harvey, aid to those whose lives were destroyed by other storms in other countries should not be kept from all who need it.

Connor S. Keowen

Photo: Flickr

Flooding and extremely heavy rains have accounted for about 150,000 displaced people in Myanmar and the death of 27 people thus far. These extreme conditions were initially attributed to Cyclone Komen, which hit the region of southeast Asia, followed by intense rain.

These rains have lead to flooding, landslides and other disasters, which have completely destroyed specific regions in Myanmar. Heavy rains that have plagued the region in past weeks are unfortunately expected to continue over the next few weeks, furthering the disaster and mess that fills the region. There are images and videos of people using rafts and boats to maneuver through city streets, where cars were meant to be driven.

This is an issue of security for the government of Myanmar as well as private actors that are trying to assist displaced people in the region. Though the disaster occurred a few days ago, both government officials and members of other organizations such as the Red Cross predict that they will not able to reach any people caught in the disaster for days. Because the flooding and landslides are so intense and extreme, it is difficult for anyone on the outside to make their way into the disaster efficiently or safely. This also means it is near impossible for those stuck in the floods to make their way out to safety.

The extent of damage varies throughout the region. Not only have homes been washed away and roads completely submerged in water, but even bridges have been washed away and large buildings have collapsed. The United Nations has said there are about 140,000 people left from the flood and disaster currently living in camps in the region’s capital after managing to escape the horrible conditions.

These floods will have a detrimental long-term impact as well. Numerous crop fields, including about half a million rice paddy fields, have been flooded and destroyed. The economic toll of such destruction has yet to be determined.

There is hope that the extreme weather conditions will ease soon, thus making relief aid more readily available and able to enter the region to help those who are trapped.

Alexandrea Jacinto

Sources: CNN, BBC
Photo: BBC