Poverty in Jamaica
Even though Jamaica is now a predominately middle-class nation, poverty still resides in the more rural areas of the country where crime, lack of education, unemployment and natural disasters are common. As a way to combat these issues, the Wesley Foundation sends missionaries to alleviate poverty and make an easier life for civilians.

Why is There Poverty in Jamaica?

There are 14,000 Jamaican citizens living in extreme poverty, and in 2015, it was estimated that the unemployment rate in Jamaica was 13.5 percent. Unemployment runs high throughout the country, with some of the only jobs available being farming, fishing and tourism-based positions — the latter of which bringing in the most income.

Poverty also stems from high youth crime rates. Children living in poverty in Jamaica are often orphaned, a status which makes them targets for gangs and street violence. Jamaican children also face unequal opportunities in receiving secondary education. The high cost of secondary education makes a lot of children living in rural areas of the country unable to attend school, especially paired with the region’s frequent lack of adequate school supplies and teachers. These occurrences make it even more difficult for children living in poverty in Jamaica to receive a proper education.

According to The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, Jamaica is the third most unprotected country from natural disasters in the world. The country is affected by hurricanes, flooding, landslides and earthquakes. The development of towns in environmentally sensitive lands has increased with the growth of population and urban poverty, which makes an even larger number of people affected by natural disasters.

What is the Wesley Foundation Doing?

In an interview with University of Georgia student, Madison Fields, she recounts how she spent her sophomore spring break with the Wesley Foundation helping fight poverty in Jamaica in March 2018. The Wesley Foundation is an Christian organization that helps mold college-aged students to become closer to Christ through their efforts on different college campuses.

Fields and the other missionaries spent their time in Mandeville, Jamaica where they built sidewalks for students and teachers at Youth With a Mission (YWAM). YWAM is a Christian-based organization that provides learning facilities for children in different parts of the globe.

A Foundation of Sustainable Solutions

Fields said that the YWAM school in Mandeville is located at the base of a mountain — a spot where heavy rain runoff collects and causes major flooding, and students and teachers were often injured from walking to school in the deluged grass. To solve this issue, Fields and the other missionaries dug up the grass, mixed concrete with shovels and carried buckets of mixed concrete and water up a hill to where the school is. “The sidewalks definitely helped the teachers and kids walking from building to building,” Fields said. “It helps especially when it rains because it provided a sturdy area for them to walk on that doesn’t get washed away.”

The Wesley Foundation also helped subside poverty in Jamaica by contributing to “Homes for Help” — volunteers built a home for a single mother and her children, and renovated the roof of a school to withstand tropical storms. “The base was a concrete slab they originally had to put their pigs in but we used it to build the house,” Fields said. “And then at a school, we painted the roof with roof compound to keep it from weathering too bad and make it last longer.”

Through sustainable efforts such as these, the Wesley Foundation should continue to pave the way in creating positive global impact.

– McKenzie Hamby

Photo: Pixabay

Reasons for Indonesia’s Resilience
Indonesia is a beautiful country home to over 18,000 islands, the komodo dragon, jungle elephants, beautiful beaches and incredible volcanoes. Its beauty brings tourism and natural resources, but there is still high poverty rates that the Indonesian government is determined to decrease. Despite challenges of poverty and natural disasters, here are the main reasons for Indonesia’s resilience.

Indonesia Learns from the Past

Indonesia is particularly exposed to natural disasters such as volcanoes, flooding earthquakes and tsunamis. Over the last ten years Indonesia has undergone multiple earthquakes with over a 6.0 magnitude. Of the more recent earthquakes, the most devastating was one that hit Sumatra at the end of September 2009 with a 7.6 magnitude that caused over a 1000 casualties.

The history of natural disasters coupled with a high risk of more to come has fortified the Indonesian government to be ready for any future events. In April of 2012, Indonesia’s National Tsunami Warning Center alerted the Banda Aceh community of a tsunami threat.

Luckily the earthquake did not create a tsunami, and the alarm went off as intended, but misunderstood and confused procedures lead to panic and disorder. However, events like these contribute towards finding the holes, implementing solutions and ultimately, fixing the problems. Many locations like Banda Aceh have now marked evacuation routes and built safety shelters.

Fighting Poverty

At 10.2 percent, Indonesia’s poverty rate is the lowest it’s ever been. With a population of about 261 million, the fourth largest in the world, Indonesia still hosts over 26 million people living below the poverty line. However, the nation’s standard of living and social assistance increased over the last twenty years.

In particular, the poverty rate dropped about 5 percent over the last ten years. The National Development Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro acknowledged the need for further improvement and hoped to see the rate drop to under 10 percent in the near future.

Growing Tourism and Economic Strength

With so many beautiful attributes, it’s not hard to believe that Indonesia’s tourism rose from a little over 12 million tourists in 2015 to over 14 million in 2017. The growing tourism industry goes a long way towards helping Indonesia make comebacks.

Even when the worldwide slowdown hit after 2011, Indonesia still received an increasing number of foreign tourists — 7.65 million in 2011, 8.04 in 2012 and 8.8 million in 2013. 

Indonesia has the tenth largest economy in the world for purchasing power. The nation’s gross domestic product grew from $861.3 billion in 2015 to $932.3 billion in 2016.

This bounce-back occurred after a dip in the GDP output but was still an overall increase. The government is still looking for ways to strengthen the economy, such as outing corruption by strengthening the legal framework or improving infrastructure by decreasing fuel and electricity subsidies.

Looking at the Long-Term Goal

Powerful changes, such as those listed for the building economic strength, will help to make Indonesia more attractive for foreign investment. However, some changes — such as cutting fuel subsidies — can result in a short-term struggle causing many citizens to become dissatisfied.

If the country can make it past the initial difficulty, the eventual removal of the subsidies will lead to long-term gain. Indonesia’s ability to recognize what sacrifices will lead to longevity is one of many reasons for Indonesia’s resilience, and a hopeful sign for the future. 

– Natasha Komen
Photo: Flickr

Agriculture in NepalNepal is a very small country that is found landlocked between India and China. There is evidence that Nepal has been populated in the mountainous regions for as long as 9,000 years. The estimated population of Nepal is 26.5 million and is one of the poorest countries in the world with nearly one-third of the population below the poverty line.

Agriculture in Nepal is central to the economy of this country. Nearly 80 percent of the population relies on agriculture in some way, but there is not enough production to support the population. There is a chronic issue of child malnutrition and an estimated 50 percent of Nepal’s children are affected by stunting. This rate is even higher in the mountainous regions.

Regional Variance of Agriculture in Nepal

There are three major climatic regions in Nepal, with each providing unique crops. The best crop-yielding area is Terai, which borders India. This area has a subtropical climate that supports the production of rice, wheat, barley, oil seeds, jute, tobacco, indigo and even opium. This area is a large crop-producing area but is compromised heavily by the changing climate, which is causing crop yield to be erratic.

The hill regions are crucial to agriculture in Nepal with the farmers being able to produce different crops during different seasons. These farmers of the hill regions can produce rice and maize in the summer and wheat, barley, mustard and vegetables in the winter. This region is also affected by increasing climate change.

The mountainous regions of Nepal have always been a harsh environment for the production of agriculture in Nepal. This area is limited to the crops of potatoes, barley and buckwheat. The harsh conditions cause the farmers to rely on livestock as a key source of income and agriculture in Nepal. Livestock is the main producer of yogurt, cheese, ghee and eggs. These farmers are known to raise Yaks that provide meat, milk and wool as a source of cash.

Efforts to Boost Production

Nepal’s government has made efforts to improve the production of agriculture in Nepal but has had minimal success. Nepal has many water sources but efforts to provide farmers with irrigation systems have proven inadequate. Nepal’s government introduced chemical fertilizers in the 1950s, which did create a small increase in agricultural production.

The lack of transportation in the mountainous regions has been a major obstacle for exports and the government has provided little improvement in this area as well. In the 1980s, Nepal’s government efforts to increase production began to improve exports with Nepal becoming one of the largest exporters of rice. However, now Nepal has a major food insecurity for its own population.

Food insecurity in Nepal has been exacerbated by changing climate, deforestation and the strike of a 7.8-magnitude earthquake in 2015. Deforestation is eroding topsoil and damaging water sources. The 2015 earthquake caused an estimated 8,699 deaths and a massive rebuilding project. More than 500,000 homes and 1,300 governmental buildings were destroyed, which has had a devastating impact on agriculture in Nepal.

Capacity-Building Foreign Aid

USAID has developed programs to help Nepal’s government rebuild agriculture and help the population to rise above the poverty level. USAID’s Feed the Future Initiative works with Nepal’s government and local development partners to increase agricultural production, create access to markets and improve child nutrition. In just five years, the Feed the Future Initiative has helped more than one million people in Nepal by dropping the poverty level by 36 percent. This project has also decreased the estimated 49 percent rate of child malnutrition to 36 percent in 2016.

USAID has also implemented the Program for Enhancement of Emergency Response (PEER). This program trains Nepalese citizens in search and rescue of collapsed structures. Also, medical first-responders are being trained and hospitals equipped for emergencies. This program was developed in response to the disastrous earthquake of 2015.

The rebuilding of Nepal is a necessity to improve agriculture in Nepal and decrease poverty. Nepal’s government has acted to increase production, but Nepal is still in need of outside assistance. A National Adaptation Programme of Action has begun to help educate farmers on switching crops from wheat and rice to vegetables that can be grown in less time.

Higher yields can produce more income, but Nepal still lacks the ability to support the local population with current production. Agriculture in Nepal is in great need of assistance to reduce poverty and child malnutrition.

– Kristen Hibbett
Photo: Flickr

worst tsunami everOn the morning of December 26, 2004, an underwater earthquake with a magnitude of at least 9.1 occurred in the Indian Ocean near the coast of Indonesia. This was no ordinary earthquake, but was one that, due to its location in the ocean, would create a series of the most devastating tsunamis in modern history, destroying massive portions of the Indian Ocean coastline and leaving 14 countries devastated in its wake.

While not the largest tsunami ever recorded (that title goes to the 1958 Lituya Bay tsunami, which reached over 1,700 feet high), the sheer devastation caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami make it the worst tsunami ever. In its wake, the daunting waves left only disrepair and ruin, along with lessons for how to recover from such a hopeless situation and prevent it from happening again.

Because the Indian Ocean lacked an international system to warn the public about tsunamis, most victims were unaware of the approaching danger until it crashed into the shore. The devastating waves first hit India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. The four countries received the brunt of the tsunami, being positioned close to the earthquake. Indonesia was hit the hardest, with more than half of the estimated 230,000 deaths occurring on its shores.

Hours later, countries along the eastern coast of Africa, such as South Africa, Madagascar, Somalia, and Kenya, were hit by smaller tsunamis resulting from the same quake. Though casualties were lower, the less developed countries were hit the hardest, because they had little infrastructure in place to protect them from storms and few response systems available.

In areas like Somalia, recovery was slow due to a crippled government and high rates of poverty. Many citizens were left to fend for themselves in the aftermath of the disaster. The greatest problem in East Africa was the damage to infrastructure, which was underdeveloped in places like Somalia, leading to a large displacement of citizens. However, the important question here is not just, “What is the worst tsunami ever?”, but also, “How did the world recover?”

As with many catastrophes, the desolation caused by the 2004 tsunami was met immediately by the best humanity has to offer. The response to the disaster was unprecedented, with more than $6 billion in humanitarian relief sent to the 15 affected countries from around the world. Much of this went towards funding immediate shelter and food for those displaced, improving health systems to decrease the likelihood of disease spreading, revitalizing the affected economies and improving infrastructure. Though a major tragedy, the 2004 tsunami proved to be an example of how well-utilized humanitarian aid can change the world, with many affected areas showing few traces of the disaster by 2009.

In the aftermath of the disaster, experts wondered why the Indian Ocean tsunami had been uniquely devastating. It was largely due to a lack of an international warning system that monitored the Indian Ocean, leaving most victims with little time to evacuate. It was this lack of preparedness that led to the development of an international warning system in early 2005, created by Smith Dharmasaroja, the ridiculed scientist who accurately predicted the tsunami a decade in advance and cautioned that the lack of a warning mechanism could increase casualties.

The area that best encapsulates both the despair and triumph of the Indian Ocean tsunami is Banda Aceh, capital of the province of Aceh located on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. In the aftermath of the tsunami, Aceh was devastated. Very few homes remained, most having been swept away by the massive wave. The river that ran through the city was almost unrecognizable due to the immense flooding that had occurred.

And yet, despite this devastation, Banda Aceh was once again built into a flourishing city, one that is almost incomparable to its state in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. The city is not only a monument to the devastation caused by the worst tsunami ever, but also to the hard work and humanitarianism that assisted those in need and allowed the world to recover.

– Shane Summers

Photo: Flickr

The World Food Programme (WFP) is the world’s largest hunger-fighting agency, feeding more than 80 million people living in approximately 80 countries. A new fund aims to fight hunger while reducing disaster risk, particularly for disasters resulting from climate change. The FoodSecure Initiative serves as a proactive measure to fight hunger and reduce the impact of an increase in climate change.

With the Paris talks for climate change occurring this December and the recent passage of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there has been more attention focused on the impact of climate change on livelihood. People living in low-lying areas, such as the Mekong Delta region in Southeast Asia, areas of India and Bangladesh and the Nile Delta region are at the greatest risk for displacement as a result of rising sea levels.

As sea levels rise, individuals will be displaced, and so it is more imperative than ever that agencies, nations and international bodies prepare. Furthermore, climate change will also affect crop yields, water quality and rates of infectious disease. This will affect the progress development organizations have made in these areas and organizations will have to face a new set of circumstances.

The World Food Programme’s initiative is a collaboration between the WFP, the German Red Cross and the International Foundation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The fund hopes to implement programs that stop the chronic disaster-relief-disaster-relief cycle. WFP’s FoodSecure Initiative is a multi-year fund that is disaster-forecast based. Thus, funds will be released before disasters actually occur. Using a forecast-based system is cost-effective and reduces the negative impact disasters cause in vulnerable communities.

By utilizing a forecast-based system and addressing disaster relief before, during, and after the fact, the WFP hopes to instill long-term resilience in communities. It follows a three-window implementation plan in order to maximize its impact.

The FoodSecure Initiative has already completed several pilot projects in developing nations. These projects include the distribution of flood preparedness kits before flooding, training of farmers to grow drought-resistant crops and promotion of soil and water conservation in agriculture.

In order to give this fund its maximum impact, the WFP estimates that it will cost $400 million. Presently, the WFP uses 40 percent of its funds for building resiliency but this will not be enough as climate change worsens. As the FoodSecure Initiative works to obtain full funding, it has already begun projects in five countries: the Philippines, Niger, Sudan, Guatemala and Zimbabwe. Hopefully, the FoodSecure Initiative will get the funding it needs to make a difference for years to come.

Priscilla McCelvey

Sources: EPA, World Food Programme 1, World Food Programme 2
Photo: Flickr

Strong_El_Niño_Season_Prompts_Necessary_MeasuresFear has been renewed over El Niño, a climate event that is known to generate disastrous impacts.

The United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) are scrambling to coordinate with regional offices to discuss disaster preparedness strategies for the upcoming El Niño season.

According to National Geographic, El Niño “is a climate pattern that occurs when the surface waters of the Pacific Ocean become unusually warm.” The warming trend is caused by “weakened trade winds” that allow for warm water to displace cool water that is otherwise normally found in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

El Niño is often characterized by torrential rain, as evidenced by Hurricane Patricia late last month. It is important to note that it is also associated with crippling droughts, such as what is occurring in Ethiopia.

One of the regions that are bracing for El Niño is found east of Australia in a chain of islands know as the Pacific Islands.

“These coming months have the potential to be the most testing period in the history of the Pacific Islands,” said Magareta Wahlström, head of the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), approximately 4.5 million people across 11 countries are under El Niño watch.

The effects of the climate pattern are far reaching. It can have calamitous affects, resulting in destroyed infrastructure and human displacement. Because El Niño occurs near impoverished geographic locations, the need for preparation is imperative.

“The El Niño phenomenon is a major concern to global public health as it has the potential to exacerbate health risks associated with extreme weather in different parts of the world,” stated a WHO status report issued recently on Health Preparedness for El Niño Event 2015-2016.

The two agencies are working directly with the Ministries of Health, providing advice on risk management as well as constructing contingency plans. Additionally, they are looking at the best ways to rebuild after disaster occurs.

While the U.N. and WHO are collaborating with regional offices, they are also operating at an international level, finding solutions to improve emergency response as well as raising awareness on the issue.

Alyson Atondo

Sources: National Geographic, UN 1, UN 2
Photo: Wikimedia