NamibiaNamibia gained its independence from South Africa in 1990. However, it is still dealing with the result of socioeconomic inequalities that came from the apartheid system during colonization. The government has achieved the UNDP Millennium Development Goal of cutting its poverty rate in half, but has unfortunately failed to eradicate hunger in Namibia.

Namibia has a Global Hunger Index (GHI) of 31.4, as reported by the International Food Policy Research Institute. This shows an alarming level of hunger in Namibia. What makes it more serious is the fact that Namibia has the lowest percentage reductions in GHI scores since 2000. Though child stunting, child wasting and child mortality have declined, undernourishment has increased to 42.3 percent. The factors that lead to hunger in Namibia include frequent droughts and flooding, putting pressure on the country’s agricultural and livestock production.

Chronic droughts, lack of agricultural land and water shortages result in crop failure. This means that agricultural production is severely low, even though about 70 percent of the population depends on the agricultural sector for their subsistence.

15.8 percent of Namibia’s population lives on less than $ 1.25 per day. Its economy is largely dependent on extraction and limited processing of minerals like diamonds, gold and zinc. It is also one of the largest producers of uranium in the world. However, only 10 percent of the labor force is employed in the mining sector.

Poverty is the most important of the causes of hunger in Namibia, limiting access to food. Another problem is that Namibia is heavily reliant on food imports (60 percent of all its food requirements), which means it is subject to high prices. The proportion of food insecure individuals was estimated at 25 percent in 2016.

Recently, the World Food Programme and Namibia’s National Planning Commission launched a five-year Country Strategic Plan (CSP) with an aim to end hunger in Namibia. The CSP is aligned with the Fifth National Development Plan and the Zero Hunger Roadmap, meant to achieve two strategic wins: enabling the vulnerable population to meet their food and nutrition requirement and ensuring government policies and programme designs are more informed of hunger issues. The support includes implementation of food-based safety net programmes, food management and monitoring system as well as capacity development to sustain the improvements and achieve zero hunger in Namibia.

Tripti Sinha

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Sri Lanka
As a country that endures two monsoon seasons and is surrounded by several bodies of water, Sri Lanka is particularly vulnerable to floods. The country’s floods do not just damage physical property, but also pose a threat to Sri Lankans’ health. Most of the common diseases in Sri Lanka are so due to the danger the floods pose.

The floods that affect Sri Lanka leave the nation’s people with damaged homes and an excess of unsanitary water. With the contaminated floodwater lingering around, more mosquitoes are likely to come, thus increasing the risk of dengue fever. Due to severe flooding that occurred this past May, affecting more than 600,000 people, many are now concerned that dengue cases will increase.

Based on statistics, they have a valid reason to worry. In the past seven months alone, there were already 80,732 dengue fever cases reported in the nation. This number tremendously exceeds the number of cases the country had seen from 2000-2016. While there are four different types of dengue fever, DENV-2 is the one that is mostly spreading throughout the nation right now.

Besides dengue fever, there are other common diseases in Sri Lanka that pose an increased threat due to flooding. One of these diseases is cholera. With 172,454 reported cases in 2015, cholera remains an issue in today’s world. The abundance of contaminated floodwater increases the risk of Sri Lankans contracting cholera.

In response to the recent flooding crisis, Australia is giving the World Health Organization money to establish programs that focus on dengue fever in Sri Lanka. The World Health Organization is also working with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health to assist with any medical issues related to the flood. The World Health Organization is supplying the nation with more beds in an effort to provide more people with medical assistance.

Although the people of Sri Lanka struggle from the aftermath of monsoons, they, fortunately, receive help from others.

Raven Rentas

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Cambodia

In 2011 heavy rain caused one of the worst floods in the history of Cambodia. The severe weather inundated 70 percent of the country leaving a lasting impression that is still felt today. In addition to the sheer destruction of communities and loss of human life, one of the worst backlashes was the wiping away of fields of crops resulting in widespread malnutrition and hunger.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), “Cambodia produces a surplus of paddy rice for export, household access to sufficient and nutritious food remains a serious challenge.” This problem directly correlates to the high level of poverty in the country. About 90 percent of the poor population in Cambodia live in rural areas. These individuals are the most affected by hunger.

Currently, two-thirds of the country’s 1.6 million rural households face seasonal food shortages each year. The practice of farming in Cambodia is traditional and with that comes along the problem that productivity is very low because it takes longer and it’s a more tedious practice of farming.

The numbers in regards to rates of malnutrition in Cambodia are extremely high, almost 40 percent of children under five are chronically malnourished and suffer from stunting. Within that 40 percent over 28 percent are underweight. Children aren’t the only ones suffering from malnutrition and hunger as one in every five women is underweight.

Although the fact and figures on hunger in Cambodia are alarming, aid is being provided. In December 2015, Action against Hunger with the help of Google launched Nutritional Resilience, a project that takes an integrated, multi-dimensional approach to implementing sustainable solutions to undernutrition.

The WFP is also helping by working with the Royal Government of Cambodia reaching over 1 million food-insecure people annually in the rural areas through its 2011-2016 Country Program which includes providing food-based safety nets in the sectors of education, nutrition and livelihoods.

Mariana Camacho

Photo: Flickr

Sri LankaRecently, many acres of Sri Lanka have been deluged by torrential rains from a slow-moving tropical depression in the Bay of Bengal. 22 of the nation’s 26 districts have suffered heavily from flash flooding and landslides. Officials say this is the worst flood to hit Sri Lanka in over a quarter of a century, and with the monsoon season set to arrive within the next few weeks, there will be no chance of a reprieve. International aid in Sri Lanka is sorely needed to help house and feed displaced persons.

According to Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Center, 82 people have been killed and over 500,000 have been displaced by the flooding and landslides. The death toll could rise even higher as 118 people are still missing, according to the Press Trust of India.

Displaced persons are being housed in 594 temporary camps across Sri Lanka, according to a press release by Sri Lanka’s Red Cross.

The UN’s Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka has met with President Sirisena. Together, they discussed the emergency provisions needed to provide life-saving aid in Sri Lanka.

The UN released a statement, saying: “We met the president this morning for a briefing on emergency response and coordination. We remain committed to assist all the affected people.”

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has deployed 10 medical teams with supplies in the areas of Kolonnawan, and Kaduwels MOH divisions and the Columbo Municipal council area have been given medical supplies, according to the World Health Organization.

However, it seems the Red Cross has taken the lead in the effort to provide aid in Sri Lanka. As soon as the landslide occurred, the Sri Lankan Red Cross Society’s Kegalle Branch deployed its Disaster Response Team to Aranayake.

Shortly after their arrival, Red Cross officials coordinated with government authorities in search and rescue efforts, as well as in creating temporary camps where they have provided food, first aid and psychological support to survivors.

In Gampaha, one of the worst affected districts in Sri Lanka, Red Cross volunteers provided evacuation via boats and first aid support to people stranded in Biyagama.

The predominant presence of the Red Cross is notable since they have been previously denied access to victims of displacement in the region. In 2009, the Sri Lankan government denied the Red Cross and many other NGOs access to civilians in refugee camps following the Tamil Tiger rebels’ final battle.

Veronica Ung-Kono

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

On August 2, a landslide and flooding in Nepal killed approximately 156 people. It completely covered a main highway leading to China with 20 feet of debris, blocked a major river and damaged hydro power stations, causing a 10 percent power loss across the nation. The Nepal Red Cross Society said that this recent two kilometer-long landslide was the worst in the nation’s history.

As a result, experts are encouraging the Nepalese government to map out hazard areas and include natural disaster planning in its economic and development plans for the country. Experts also agree that an early warning system could have avoided the large death toll.

Almost 80 percent of Nepal’s residents live in rural areas and 25 percent of the total population lives on less than $1.25 a day. About 3.5 million people are food insecure, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. As a result, the impoverished in Nepal are among the most severely affected by natural disasters because their resources are so greatly limited.

The United Nations Development Programme explains “the poorest of the poor, who largely rely on agriculture, typically live on steep slopes under the constant shadow of landslides, or in low-lying flood-prone areas…have virtually no resources with which to bounce back after a weather-related calamity.”

Typically, communities that live in poverty also live in high-risk areas and, because of poverty, cannot afford to move to a safer location before or after a disaster.

Despite over 3.6 million people being affected by flooding, the New York Times writes, “Villagers continue to return to their ancestral homes where they at least have access to fertile land and water, which enables them to make…a living.”

There have been 4,511 deaths and over 18,000 homes destroyed in Nepal within the past three decades, according to a 2013 Natural Disaster report by the Nepalese government. Seventy-five people have died in separate floods in Nepal within the past year.

Yadav Prasad Koirala of the Department of Natural Disaster Management stated, regarding the August 2 landslide, “We have names of 159 people who are believed to be missing and buried, but there could be even more people.” Furthermore, lack of official records may mean the death toll is even higher.

A local resident of Mankha who was injured during the landslide expressed fear that the people in his village were all killed. “There are nearly 100 people in the 60 houses in my village and 20 more people in the neighboring village who were buried by the landslide. All of them are likely dead.”

The ministry of home affairs reports 300 deaths and 3 million dollars of damages per year because of landslides and floods. Although landslides are common in Nepal, with 14 major events since 1967, the recent landslide was unique because it was the first to occur in an area with major infrastructure.

It is hard to imagine the struggle an average American has to go through to recover from a natural disaster, but in a country with a much higher poverty rate and lower standards of living, it is even more difficult.

The concept of risk vulnerability is well established in social sciences, and it has been recognized by several academics that the poor are endangered more by natural disaster than wealthier people. The poor people of Nepal are certainly among the most vulnerable in the world to these natural disasters.

– Christopher Kolezynski

Sources: Global Issues, Circle of Blue, New York Times, NDTV
Photo: Poleshift

After intense rain, flooding in Paraguay has destroyed crops, destroyed homes, and blocked roads. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated so far, most of which are sleeping in improvised tents and makeshift settlements. Those most affected by the flooding are people living near the Paraguay and Paraná Rivers. The National Secretariat for Emergencies estimates that the level of the Paraguay River is likely to rise by another 3 inches in the next week.

President Horacio Cartes expresses his concern for his citizens and his determination to support everyone, saying, “We won’t be happy or satisfied as long as we’re going through this situation.”

The Paraguayan government has spent more than 3 million on food aid to assist the people affected by the flood.

Governor Carlos Silva stated Friday that the United Nations and Red Cross experts have evaluated the situation, and the International Federation for the Red Cross has already dedicated 275,000 Swiss francs through their Disaster Relief Emergency fund. The governor believes that aid from other countries will be sent soon as well.

The flooding in Paraguay has also affected Brazil and northern Argentina. In Brazil, 11 people have already died, and 560,000 people have been affected in some way. In North Argentina, in the province of Misiones especially, roads and bridges have been damaged, and thousands have been cut off from the rest of the world. In both locations the heavy rainfall is expected to continue.

In this particular region of South America, flooding is frequent, and similar intense flooding happened just last year, lasting for almost 2 months. In central and southern Chile, although a bit further away from the other region, is also being negatively affected by flooding

Flooding has become all too common in recent years, and scientists believe it is due to rising sea levels from global climate change. When sea levels rise globally, areas with rivers are more susceptible to flooding.

Although people in developing countries carry a smaller carbon footprint than those in developed ones, flooding and other natural disasters negatively affect the poor at a higher and more dangerous rate.

The lower quality of infrastructure, inadequate health care and the inability to recover from unexpected situations result in a similar disaster affecting the poor much more severely than the rich. In 1998, when Hurricane Mitch hit Honduras, poor households lost 15%-20% of their assets, while the richer population only lost about 3%.

Another way flooding effects poor areas unequally is through the economy afterwards. In poorer populations, citizens rely on farming and tourism as two main sources of income. With massive amounts of flooding, both are likely to be damaged.

The flooding in Paraguay is expected to continue throughout this next week, and the full damage of the floods will not be known until it completely stops.

– Courtney Prentice

Sources: BBC News, The New York Times, USA Today, Floodlist, The Nature Conservancy, The Economist
Photo: Plus America

Solomon Islands Diarrhea Outbreak
The nation of Solomon Islands is facing a new and deadly threat after flooding destroyed delicate water infrastructure. The Solomon Islands diarrhea outbreak has already killed 18 people and threatens to claim more lives if measures are not taken soon.

Solomon Islands was decimated in early April by a series of destructive floods. The small nation, located north and east off the coast of Queensland, Australia, saw 60,000 of its residents made homeless by the storms—over 10 percent of its population.

The flood’s direct damage to human life was great enough, but two months later, outbreaks of diarrhea in late May and early June are extending the death toll. The rotavirus, a deadly and highly-contagious virus transmitted by vomit and fecal matter, has claimed victims in six of Solomon Islands’ ten provinces.

The virus is communicable by food, drink and, depending on the sick person’s hygiene, basic physical contact. Those who contract the virus show symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea within 1-3 days of infection.

Though upward of 20,000 children were vaccinated against the rotavirus following April’s flooding, the contamination of Solomon Islanders’ water supply was complete enough that over 1,000 cases of extreme diarrhea have been reported in the past two weeks. Most of the infected are young, and all 18 of the reported deaths have been children under the age of 5.

Rotavirus causes intense diarrhea, which in turn leads to severe dehydration. If untreated, this dehydration can kill. At a certain point, children simply stop drinking water despite their desperate need for it, and proper medical intervention is required to save a child’s life.

Fortunately, UNICEF is fighting the Solomon Islands diarrhea outbreak with two very basic tools: soap and information. The soap is distributed in the hardest-hit areas, and colorful, hand-shaped information cards are also given out. These cards not only emphasize the importance of hand-washing by their shape, but they also contain valuable tips for staying safe and healthy during the outbreak.

Instructions for preventing the spread of the rotavirus include washing hands for at least 10 seconds after using the toilet, before handling or eating food and after caring for or coming into contact with any infected individuals.

Health officials currently do not plan on bringing the rotavirus vaccine back to Solomon Islands. Instead, they predict that proper hygiene should be enough to put an end to the outbreak.

In the meantime, parents who notice signs of illness in their children are urged to bring them to a doctor right away. Doctors can provide a child with oral rehydration salts and zinc tablets, both of which help prevent dehydration and can reverse even severe cases.

However, this safety net may not be so reliable. Dorothy Wickham, correspondent for Radio New Zealand, reports that hospitals in Solomon Islands are becoming overburdened. Doctors may not be able to treat all of the children who are brought in, and epidemiologist Jennie Musto predicts the outbreak could last up to another month.

For now, both parents and aid groups are doing what they can to combat the outbreak and to keep their children safe.

– Patricia Mackey

Sources: World Vision, WHO, Australia Network News, 3 News, Radio New Zealand International, Pacific Scoop
Photo: Parade

The deluge Bolivia is experiencing since November 2013 has claimed 38 lives from nonstop flooding. Medicine, food and other supplies have recently been delivered. Humanitarian packages are meant to alleviate hunger and provide warmth while combating the disease that floods bring. Malaria and infections that result in diarrhea and topical infections have been reported.

The Ministry of Defense’s aid convoy and evacuation of the local populace in hard-hit regions cannot hinder the continued problems of the flood-filled country. One of South America’s poorest nations, Bolivia has taken a huge hit in infrastructure, roads and most importantly of all, homes. The continuing inundation has disrupted and displaced over 150,000 lives.

Beni, a region taking the brunt of the storm, has over 4,000 displaced families. Livelihoods of farmers have also taken a huge hit. Agricultural products such as corn and wheat are ruined by the torrential season.

Bolivian President Evo Morales has declared a state of emergency for his storm-stricken nation.The charismatic leader has otherwise high hopes and plans for Bolivia. In early January, Morales announced that he plans on building a nuclear reactor, the first in his country.

Before the start of the 2014, Bolivia launched Tupak Katara, its first telecommunications satellite, which was named for a national hero who combated Spaniards during colonial times. The satellite, according to Morales, represented the country’s movement away from foreign assistance regarding communications. Despite such claims, China aided the country in its venture.

Moreover, the coca leaf, the source of cocaine, has been an important platform in Morales’ presidency, particularly its removal from the international list of banned drugs. The coca leaf is a primary product in the livelihood of 40,000 Bolivians—a large part of Morales’ constituency. Since recently assuming the chairman of the Group of 77 nations, Morales vows to reinstate the coca leaf.

Among such accomplishments and claims is the never-ending stream of flooding, with weather reports stating that heavier rainfall will most likely continue for weeks to come. With climate change an ever-present feature in many countries, Bolivia, too, is far from unaffected.

– Miles Abadilla

Sources: BBC, Crossmatch Christian Post, Fox News, Fox News, Reuters, Thomson Reuters Foundation
Photo: The Guardian

Floods, Coffee and Disaster in Vietnam
A torrential season in Vietnam spelled disastrous for its citizens with flooded regions, killing many.

Vietnam is familiar with floods upon floods each year. The mid-November storm, named Podul, was the fifteenth storm to hit the country and resulted in 34 deaths, majorly caused by drownings. Evacuations in the south central coast of Vietnam number in the ten thousands as heavy rains raised water levels to .67 meters.

The numbers worsen as over 80,000 were left without homes and displaced in the ensuing floods.

Podul was a subsequent storm following Typhoon Haiyan, which ravaged the Philippines. The latter storm weakened as it passed through Vietnam but nevertheless took 14 lives. The recurrence of storms and floods often devastates the central region of Vietnam the most. The central region contains highlands that produce coffee, one of Vietnam’s primary exports.

Vietnam produces 17 percent of the coffee in the world and plays a large part in its economy. Over 60 percent of Vietnam’s population lived in poverty, but through the years, Vietnam’s transformation into the second largest coffee producer in the world has reduced to leaving 10 percent of its people in poverty.

Companies such as Nestle own processing plants located in Vietnam. Unfortunately, drying coffee beans for eventual export is hindered by the massive amounts of rain and resulting floods.

Flood regulation is a little better in Vietnam’s capital, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC,) as urban planners ensure the infrastructure can support the city during times of flooding, especially since HCMC is situated one meter above sea level. Outside the capital, however, the less urban regions remain vulnerable to floods.

Even if the dangers of stormy weather and rising water do not endanger the Vietnamese citizens, diseases from the water such as dysentery can prove fatal.

The Wall Street Journal reports that over 220 lives have been lost due to floods and storms since the beginning of 2013.

It is with hope that the advent of the New Year will not prove to be similar.

Miles Abadilla

Sources: Al-Jazeera, BBC News, BBC News Asia-Pacific, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal
Photo: India TV