On August 19, the U.S. committed to providing 35 million dollars in aid to Ethiopia after their devastating drought and recent floods. The announcement came from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Ethiopia Mission Director, Leslie Reed, on World Humanitarian Day. Aid will go toward immediate humanitarian emergencies to help Ethiopia adapt to the threat of climate change and supporting the country’s developmental progress.

In 2015, Ethiopia was hit by the worst drought in decades. More than 10 million people were estimated to need humanitarian assistance, according to OXFAM. The severity of the drought was aggravated by El Niño, which periodically warms the Pacific region and affects climate patterns all over the world. The World Meteorological Organization reported that the current El Niño is one of the strongest recorded.

The drought has impacted 85 percent of Ethiopia’s population that engages in agricultural production. The dry spell destroyed farming livelihoods and escalated food prices, food insecurity and malnutrition.

Due to the effects of La Niña, flash flooding has caused further damage in Ethiopia. According to Ethiopia Drought Response Situation Report No. 3., there have been an increased number of cases of waterborne diseases due to poor sanitation and hygiene. The number of people displaced has reached 631,508, according to the report. While a portion of this number is due to conflict, 47 percent were displaced from March to June solely due to the floods.

On August 12, the Ethiopian government asked for $612 million for immediate food aid through December of 2016. Since October 2014, the U.S. has contributed 774 million dollars in aid to Ethiopia. The funds have provided clean drinking water, food for nutrition, malnutrition treatment and health services.

USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) was sent to Ethiopia in March 2016 and has been working with the Ethiopian government to provide technical assistance, administer humanitarian assessments and bring aid to Ethiopia. DART provided four million dollars worth of drought resilient seeds for 226,000 families to grow food.

Other international humanitarian organizations are also contributing to relief efforts. Concern Worldwide and Goal Global worked to stabilize Tigray, a region in northern Ethiopia severely impacted by the drought. The aid groups provided supplementary food to women and children experiencing malnutrition.

In order to withstand this ongoing emergency, Ethiopia will need support from the international community. Although El Niña rainfall is predicted to last through until December, the country will need support in adapting to the harsh effects of climate change in the future.

Erica Rawles

Photo: Flickr


Ripped apart by rivers, drenched by monsoons and floating just above the sea, Bangladesh is like the toe that the Himalayas are using to test the waters of the Indian Ocean. All of this exposure to water leads to yearly flooding, an immense challenge for the developing nation of 156 million. From crop loss to infrastructure damage, the costs of flooding are massive hurdles to poverty reduction; the floods in 2004 costed the country seven billion dollars. Perhaps the most insidious impacts of the floods is their disruptive effects on education in Bangladesh.

Founded in 1998, the Bangladesh nonprofit Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, recognized how the floods prohibited students from making it to school and decided to bring the school to them. They achieve this by bringing boats up the flooded waterways, which serve as both school buses and schools.

A fleet of 22 boats sail up the swollen rivers stopping to pick up children before they dock and class begins. Each boat takes around 30 children and has a small library and access to the world’s largest library through computers hooked up to the Internet and powered by solar panels.

With primary school attendance around 80%, increasing access to education is high on the agenda. The boat schools provide classes to an estimated 1,810 children. Although many more remain in need, Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha reaches some of the most vulnerable.

What’s more, the boat schools provide critically-needed adult education that focuses on sustainable agriculture, healthcare and climate change adaptation. These programs holistically target the restraints that keep them in poverty.

For example, the climate change workshops help farmers develop production methods, such as floating vegetable gardens and raising fish and ducks, that can endure longer flooding periods and raising sea levels, both of which are effects of a changing climate. The lessons on sustainable agriculture help farmers to reduce erosion and pollution, and increase yields. These programs work together to clean the environment, increase access to food and boost incomes. Healthcare, Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha’s other focus, brings medicines and doctors to rural parts of the country that have no access to clinics, keeping the populations healthy throughout the year.

What is even more important is that the success of the floating school model appears to be scalable. Many other parts of the world face similar issues that climate change will exacerbate. Cambodia, Nigeria, the Philippines, Vietnam and Zambia are all testing this innovative development strategy. The humanitarian arm of the United Nations that focuses on children and mothers, UNICEF, praises this method as “having a transformative impact upon education and communities in flood-prone regions.”

– John Wachter

Sources: Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, World Bank BBC, UNICEF 1 UNICEF 2
Photo: Tenders On Time

Flooding Disaster in MozambiqueThe nation of Mozambique experienced one of the worst floods in recent history due to extremely high amounts of rainfall throughout the month of January. Flooding in Mozambique damaged the province of Gaza. Over 250,000 have been affected by the floods, with 150,000 people forced out of their homes in the province and over 100 killed.

While the victims of flooding in Mozambique are dealing with destroyed homes and families, the natural disaster has been exacerbated by the outbreak of cholera. There have been over 250 cases so far, fortunately, no cases have proved fatal. Mozambique has experienced problems with cholera for years, so their response has been effective thus far. However, the potential for more flooding means that they must remain vigilant.

The complete rebuilding effort is estimated to cost over $30 million, according to The Humanitarian Country Team in Mozambique, an organization comprised of NGO and UN officials. UNICEF itself seeks $6.8 million from this fund to pay for projects to improve the welfare of children and those around them, like building clean water pumps and constructing new homes.

According to Jesper Morch of UNICEF, “emergency supplies and funding has been depleted…we urgently need additional funds if we are to help many children and families recover.”

Jake Simon

Sources: news24, UNICEF, Al Jazeera
Photo: Times Live

mozambique flood
Heavy rains last month have caused a destructive flood in the southern part of Mozambique. The forecast predicts more heavy rain and a high risk of continued flooding. On February 11, the U.N. Emergency Humanitarian Fund has allocated $5 million to distribute life-saving resources and assistance to more than 150,000 people displaced by the flood.

The flood during this rainy season has killed 150 people and destroyed hundreds of homes and crops. The funds from the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), managed by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), will be used to provide essentials such as food and shelter, medical care, and water and sanitation.

The large scale of the disaster calls for more aid and funding, however. OCHA has announced that $10 million has been allocated for the emergency in a news release. For now, $2.3 million will be distributed to the World Food Program, over $1 million to UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration and $820,000 to a joint UNICEF/U.N. Population Fund/WHO project.

This allocation is only the first step. CERF aims to solicit $30.6 million from the international community to continue the flood relief efforts, ensuring a quick recovery.

– Pimrapee Thungkasemvathana

Source: UN
Photo: Business Recorder