Top 3 USA Disaster Relief Efforts
When disaster strikes anywhere in the world, the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance exercises their essential role in providing relief to those in need. Each year the OFDA responds to around 65 disasters in over 50 countries gaining funding and partnership from USAID and other government agencies. This important role that the United States plays in other countries has saved countless lives and aided in disaster relief for a plethora of countries and cultures across the globe. Three of the top efforts made by the OFDA in 2015 include the flooding in Burma Myanmar, a powerful earthquake in Nepal, and the outbreak of the Ebola Virus in West Africa.

Flooding in Myanmar (Burma)

Large amounts of flooding in Myanmar have forced around 500,000 people to flee their homes in search of safety. USAID was able to successfully supply $50 million in humanitarian funding for those affected. The USAID Office of Food for Peace is providing $8.4 million in emergency food assistance to combat the added struggle of malnutrition many are now facing. The OFDA’s $7.3 million funds health care, protection, shelter, water sanitation and basic hygiene needs. This money helps those still struggling in Myanmar as well as those who have fled the country and are forced to build new lives from the ground up.

Earthquake in Nepal

When a 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook Nepal in an area just north of Kathmandu, USAID sprung into action in a big way. Around 6 million people were affected, not only in Nepal but also reaching into China, India and Bangladesh. With more than 9,000 killed and another 25,000 injured, the U.S. supplied $130 million to help the survivors. Within hours of the earthquake hitting, a Disaster Assistance Response Team deployed to organize the disaster relief effort. The USAID hospital preparedness project worked with 11 major hospitals, the largest of which was successful in treating 700 patients and executing 300 surgeries within the first 24 hours after the quake.

Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

As of Oct. 9, 2015, there were 28,429 confirmed cases of Ebola with another 11,297 in estimated deaths from the disease. In order to contain the spread of the disease and help those afflicted with it, the U.S. was able to provide $2,320,249,091 to West Africa. The progress has been outstanding with the WHO reporting no new cases of the disease from Sept. 28 to Oct. 4. This marks the first time since March 2014 that a week has passed with no reported cases of Ebola. The achievement of this success came from the massive amount of aid that funded food security, health services, technology, economic crisis mitigation, global health security agenda and other functions of disaster relief.

Aaron Walsh

Photo: Flickr

cyclone phailin
On July 11, 2014, the World Bank, the government of India and the government of Odisha signed a $153 million loan assistance deal for the Odisha Disaster Recovery Project. The project aims to restore and improve housing and public services, as well as bolster the Indian and Odishan governments’ ability to respond to crises, and is a direct response to the cyclone that hit the country in the fourth quarter of 2013.

The project, which will be implemented over the course of five years, will impact the coastal areas of Ganjam, Khordh and Purj, all of which suffered massive damage. Additionally, around 350,000—the total population of Berhampur—will benefit from the project.

Cyclone Phailin struck on October 12, 2013, on the coast of Odisha near Golpapur. The cyclone affected over 13 million people and was the strongest on the Indian coast in over a decade. The state government responded quickly in tandem with the National Disaster Management Authority to evacuate over one million people. The effort led to the loss of only 44 human lives. The NDMA was founded after a similarly intense cyclone hit in 1999, when over 10,000 lives were lost.

In the wake of Phailin, the World Bank undertook a Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment with the Asian Development Bank. The damage is estimated to cost $1.45 billion with reconstruction for housing at nearly $500 million. According to a World Bank press release, the sectors included in assessment were, “housing and public buildings; roads; urban and rural infrastructure; agriculture; livelihood; energy/power and forest and plantations.” The World Bank will first seek to repair housing along the coast.

Assistance will also be distributed to include improvements to urban infrastructure, especially in Berhampur where over 40 percent of citizens live in 200 slums across the city. The project will seek to improve quality of life by remodeling drainage systems so they are more effective.

But another important aspect of the project is the focus on ways to mitigate future risk. Funds will be allocated to improve preparedness and disaster response time. The World Bank will ensure effectiveness by hiring technical experts in risk managements, hydro-met systems and remote sensing. The World Bank hopes to continue using state-of-the-art technology in their aid efforts.

– Andrew Rywak

Sources: Business Standard, Orissadiary, World Bank
Photo: CNN