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Humanitarian Aid to Costa RicaCosta Rica, a country located in Central America, has received aid from the United States due to recent natural disasters. This aid has been quite positive and has helped Costa Rica recover from hard times.

The most recent humanitarian aid to Costa Rica from the United States was a donation of $150,000 from the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance to help with storm relief on October 12, 2017. Tropical Storm Nate caused destruction in its path through Costa Rica; 11 people were killed, thousands more were injured and 11,500 people had to use shelters. Costa Rica said that this money will be used to pay for helicopter flights to distribute food, transport and medical care to those in need. This is important since Costa Rica has many remote communities, which means air travel is required to provide the necessary personnel and materials.

This is the largest donation of humanitarian aid to Costa Rica since November 2016, when the United States Southern Command provided relief. The U.S. Southern Command is “responsible for providing contingency planning, operations and security cooperation in its assigned Area of Responsibility,” and one of these Areas of Responsibility is Costa Rica. This is the fifth time that the Southern Command has provided humanitarian aid to Costa Rica.

This project was named Operation Pura Vida, which translates to “simple life” and means a lot to the people of Costa Rica, since “pura vida” is a way of life for them. The Southern Command provided 16 doctors, nurses and dentists who work with 30 Costa Rican physicians to provide free medical care to the people of Telire. Telire is a remote community in the Talamanca mountain range, so helicopters are necessary to reach this area.

Costa Rica has faced some troubling times recently, but the United States has helped use its abundant resources to help those that need it most.

– Scott Kesselring

Photo: Flickr

In August of 2016, Typhoon Lionrock struck the northeast region of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). The massive flooding washed away over 30,000 homes, took the lives of hundreds of people and destroyed thousands more lives. The aftermath of the typhoon also left food sources more depleted than they already were. Humanitarian aid to North Korea came in truck-loads, providing shelter relief, food, non-food items and health care supplies to residents.

According to the 2016 Global Hunger Index, 41 percent of North Korea’s residents are undernourished. Along with that, 70 percent of the population relies on food aid. The communist country, unfortunately, has a recurring issue with hunger. In the 1990s, North Korea faced its most deadly famine that resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Since the decade-long famine, the United Nations has reported that humanitarian aid to North Korea has been able to relieve some of the hunger problems, yet natural disasters continue to jeopardize the progress. The flooding North Korea faced from Typhoon Lionrock was declared “the worst disaster” the country had seen since World War II. Without humanitarian aid, the affected parts of the country would be left in ruins.

The United Nations World Food Program was one of the first organizations to enter the country on an emergency food assistance operation. They delivered food to more than 140,000 survivors. The Red Cross also joined in the efforts by providing water purification supplies along with tools and tents to build shelters.

Altogether, the U.N. and NGOs contributed $43.78 million in funding in 2016. Almost $35 million was spent on nutrition and food while the remainder was spent on sanitation services and various other aid-functions.

In September of 2016, as a response to the recent catastrophe, the U.N. and the North Korean government came to an agreement called the United Nations Strategic Framework (UNSF). This framework’s strategy, which was officially put into place in January 2017, is to reduce the need for humanitarian aid by solidifying investments into communities to better prepare them in responding to disasters such as Typhoon Lionrock. This is a five-year plan prioritizing food and nutrition security, social development services, resilience and sustainability and data and development management.

The framework’s overall strategy theme is “sustainable and resilient human development.” It will develop a new kind of approach to recovery and rehabilitation of North Korea. Within the four priorities, UNSF seeks to pursue environmental sustainability, increase the resilience of North Korean people and localize new Sustainable Development Goals in accordance with what is currently happening in North Korea.

For example, there will be plans put in place to know how to respond if another typhoon strikes. As North Korean residents will be more prepared for future disasters, they will rely less on humanitarian aid.

According to the framework, humanitarian aid to North Korea will reduce by 2021. In the meantime, as the country now faces a serious drought jeopardizing its renewing crops, humanitarian aid to North Korea will continually be a hopeful source.

– Brianna Summ

Photo: Flickr


All of the world’s 10 poorest countries by GDP are in Africa. These countries generally have poor government infrastructures and corrupt officials. They are wracked with violence and disease. Climate change severely affects the rural areas. However, anti-poverty strategies have already been successful. Thanks in part to efforts by the U.N., the number of people living in extreme poverty has been cut in half over the past 27 years. Here is a list of and facts about the world’s 10 poorest countries and the efforts to reduce poverty in them:

  1. Madagascar is exposed to droughts brought on by climate change. After multiple poor harvests, roughly 450,000 people suffer severe food shortages. The country has the fourth-highest child malnutrition rate in the world. Freedom from Hunger and the World Bank Fund combat poverty in this country through micro-loans and safety net programs.
  2. Eritrea is still recovering from a revolution in which it gained independence from Ethiopia. The country is in self-imposed isolation, causing economic stagnation. A harsh military conscription keeps young men and women in military camps and out of work. Eritrea has rejected recent U.N. humanitarian aid offers.
  3. Guinea is very oil-rich, but while corrupt officials amass vast capital, the government spends an estimated 17 percent of its oil revenue on health and education. Meanwhile, infant mortality rates are high, and roughly 40 percent of young children go without education. The first democratically elected President Conde has stated that he plans to focus on fighting corruption to solve these problems.
  4. Mozambique is still dealing with the impacts of a 16-year civil war. Fifty percent of the population is below the poverty line. Poverty is highest in rural areas, where as many as 45 percent of people suffer from chronic malnutrition. Poverty reduction programs in the country have been successful by focusing on agricultural aid and educating farmers in agricultural development.
  5. Malawi was hit hard by the AIDS epidemic, which orphaned over a million children. Climate change severely hurt the nation because it relies heavily on subsistence farming. Food shortages are common, and 47 percent of children suffer from stunted growth. President Mutharika has made steps to fight agricultural insecurity by investing in agriculture and individual farmers.
  6. In Niger, corruption and political apathy allow for Boko Haram and bands of cattle rustlers to terrorize local communities that are already plagued by drought. The country has a 70 percent illiteracy rate. To address this, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Nigerian government have made steps to improve schools in the country.
  7. Liberia suffered heavily during the Ebola crisis. The quarantined zones designed to combat the virus hurt trade and stopped farmers from working together. During the epidemic, countless farm plots had been abandoned, leaving much of the population with food insecurity. USAID continues to work with the Liberian government to combat poverty and the impacts of the Ebola virus.
  8. In Burundi, political violence is rampant. Hundreds of people were killed during the fallout of the latest election and nearly 245,000 have fled the country. The country is at the top of the global hunger index, and violence increases malnutrition rates. The EU, Burundi’s biggest humanitarian aid donor, has cut aid, hoping it will force the government to do more to end the bloodshed.
  9. The Democratic Republic of Congo is still recovering from a civil war that revolved around natural resources. As a result, the country suffers from widespread disease and malnutrition. Poverty levels are at 64 percent. The U.N. estimated that there are 2.3 million refugees living in the country. The U.N. has recently taken steps to bring humanitarian aid to refugees and bring investors into the country.
  10. In the Central African Republic (CAR), ethnic violence is widespread, displacing millions. Because of this, the CAR has the world’s highest malnutrition rates, despite its fertile soil. According to the U.N., nearly half the population is in need of humanitarian assistance. The U.N. has asked for and recently received nearly $400 million to combat starvation and poverty.

While poverty, starvation and violence are prevalent in these countries, major improvements have been made in the world’s poorest countries. Sub-Saharan Africa has seen a 20 percent increase in primary school attendance. From 1995 to 2003, advanced medical techniques saved 7.6 million people from the AIDS virus. Child mortality has been cut roughly in half despite a boom in global population. This is all thanks to foreign aid, which has been proven effective. Nevertheless, it is clear there is a long way to go toward ending global poverty. This is why it is so important that global leaders remain strong in their fight against poverty.

Bruce Truax

Photo: Flickr

Nepal's Earthquake Relief Aid
In April 2015, Nepal experienced a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake. The disaster killed over 4,300 people and damaged many historic cultural sites. Yet over a year after the earthquake, much of the country finds itself still in ruins. Outside of the capital Kathmandu, many homes and public spaces lie in virtually untouched rubble.

Those who have experienced natural disasters such as Indonesia’s 2004 tsunami or Haiti’s 2010 earthquake note that it is common for aid-funded projects to not begin until a year after the disaster. This is because investors prefer to wait until the estimated costs have been assessed before beginning projects. With this in mind, here is a summary of aid given by some countries with the hopes that it will help with Nepal’s earthquake relief soon.

United Kingdom: The United Kingdom initially donated 5 million pounds to Nepal’s earthquake relief fund. Three million pounds were given to what is known as the Rapid Response Facility. This money is for use on the ground in addressing more immediate concerns such as water and shelter. An additional two million pounds was given to the British Red Cross to send British citizens as a form of follow-up aid.

India: India’s contribution to Nepal’s earthquake relief fund was coined Operation Maitri. The operation consisted largely of evacuating over 1,000 citizens and stranded tourists. They also dispatched many emergency supplies to Kathmandu. India’s aid position is unique because they have the ability of relatively easy ground transportation.

United States: In the year since the earthquake, the U.S. donated $130 million for Nepal’s earthquake relief. The initial Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) focused on providing first response services, especially search and rescue efforts as well as protecting human rights. Since then, USAID has continued to help recovery efforts by supporting temporary schools, training people for new construction projects and providing damaged farms with tools to help them get back on their feet.

Global Organizations: The U.N. pledged $15 million from its emergency response fund. This money is to be used on behalf of the international community, and the U.N. hopes to work with the Nepalese Government to best distribute aid. UNICEF and the World Food Program have both provided supplies such as food, medical supplies, and tents for shelter. They will also provide support in the form of people on the ground who hope to keep relief efforts running smoothly.

Lots of aid money has been supplied to help with Nepal’s earthquake relief, yet the rebuilding process has barely begun. Now that the chaos of the immediate aftermath of the disaster has subsided, Nepal and the rest of the world hope that global aid can begin to rebuild all affected areas.

Nathaniel Siegel

Photo: Flickr

El Nino

In response to the El Niño weather phenomenon, The Elders have asked that world leaders take initiative in filling the $2.5 billion gap in funding. This funding is necessary to alleviate the global effects of El Niño on poorer communities.

The Elders and their Cause

The Elders are a group of activists and advocates brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007. They work together, using their influence and experience, to promote human rights, peace and justice on a global scale.

Their attention has turned toward the problem of human-induced climate change due to the effects of the El Niño weather event. This year brought the strongest El Niño yet, which led to numerous droughts and severe flooding in many areas.

While the weather pattern itself is over for the year, the aftermath is still very much present and widespread. A lack of water in many areas caused extensive crop loss and increased food prices.

Food shortages are running rampant in eastern and southern Africa as over 26 million children lack food security and 1 million suffer from severe malnutrition.

Food shortages, however, are not the only concern. El Niño also warms bodies of water, which in turn contributes to the spread of the Zika virus, a virus transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

All of the issues associated with El Niño could lead to mass migration as communities are forced out of their regions by uninhabitable weather and poor health conditions.

Aid Options

The Elders have recommended two steps that governments can take to aid victims of El Niño.

The first step is to financially assist governments of climate-vulnerable countries by developing contingency plans and creating safety measures in the event of another climate-related crisis.

The second step is to create and agree upon a “concrete road map” at the United Nations Climate Conference. This road map will hopefully lead to funding the $100 billion annual commitment to climate action in developing countries by the year 2020.

The current climate crisis requires immediate aid but The Elders believe that El Niño also needs a long-term response.

Kofi Annan, chair of The Elders, addressed the most recent El Niño event in a letter to all world leaders.

“I am confident that your country will play its part in ensuring that the world’s most vulnerable people are protected now and into the future,” said Annan.

This sentiment reverberates to those struggling through El Niño’s devastation and serves as a reminder that global solutions require global support.

Jordan R. Little

Photo: Flickr

Poverty_AidThe 2015-2016 El Niño was only the third ‘Super’ El Niño in recorded history. Experts fear this event’s impacts may have been further worsened by global warming. Those impacts have fallen disproportionately on some of the most impoverished areas of the world, and aid is needed to address the El Niño environmental poverty crisis now affecting millions of people.

El Niño, an array of global changes in climate patterns due to the warming of surface waters in the Equatorial Pacific, is not an uncommon event. Typically it is expected every three to seven years. However, the 2015-2016 El Niño produced record-level climate events, unprecedented even in an El Niño year.

In the 2015 northern Pacific hurricane season 25 level four and five hurricanes developed. The previous annual record was only 18. Meanwhile, Eastern Africa is experiencing its worst drought in 60 years. Globally, 2015 temperatures were at a record high resulting in El Niño and global warming pushing climate patterns in the same direction.

El Niño has had a dire impact on the global poor, with many of the hardest hit areas having insufficient infrastructure to confront the damage. Oxfam notes that the current El Niño cycle has placed 60 million people in danger of hunger.

While the climate changes associated with El Niño are fading as it comes to an end, the livelihood-related damage it has caused continues to wreak havoc on the security of impoverished communities.

In areas like Eastern Africa, the failure of crops and the death of cattle will require substantial recovery efforts. As wells go dry, it is not uncommon for drought-displaced families to spend months on end sleeping on the floor of relief centers.

The El Niño environmental poverty crisis reaches across the globe.  Environmental poverty as a result of drought has put 1.5 million Guatemalans in need of food assistance. 3.5 million people are struggling for food in Haiti, where El Niño amplified the preexisting conditions of a 2014 drought. 15 percent of the population in Honduras and three million in Papua New Guinea are at risk for the same reason.

With these figures representing a mere fraction of the countries and communities suffering due to El Niño, the need for support is expansive. Thankfully, significant action is being taken by the international community and significant aid is being mobilized.

The European Union has contributed 125 milllion euros to areas affected by El Niño, dispersing the aid throughout Africa, Central and South America and the Caribbean. This record-breaking contribution from the EU towards the El Niño crises will fund emergency actions.

USAID has relied on early tracking of El Niño-related crises to make their relief actions as effective as possible. They are using in place mechanisms designed to push emergency funds into relevant development programs, while also adjusting existing development programs to accelerate recovery. USAID is focusing their humanitarian aid on the most affected areas, addressing, and often mitigating disaster.

Finally, technological aid has also been a source of relief. Partnerships like UNICEF and the Ethiopian government have allowed satellite technology to be implemented to better locate well-sites and map drought-affected areas.

The combination of technological, financial, and humanitarian aid has been instrumental in addressing the environmental poverty spurred by the 2015-2016 Super El Niño. While these environmental conditions have been disproportionately destructive to the poor, these mechanisms continue to work to mitigate the effects of the El Niño environmental poverty crisis.

Charlotte Bellomy

Photo: Flickr

Does the US Have an Obligation to Give Money Abroad?
Well, do we? This question is commonly debated among politicians, intellectuals and average U.S. citizens. Is it correct to only focus on our own citizens, or should we help other countries through aid, health services and advice? This article will explore common sentiments toward and factual evidence about the effectiveness of foreign aid.

Before considering moral obligations, we should consider how much foreign aid the United States gives to other countries. The United States gives less than 1% of our $4 trillion budget to foreign aid. The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a poll where Americans were asked to guess how much the United States spends on foreign aid. On average, respondents guessed that 26% of the budget went to foreign aid.

About one-third, or $5.3 billion, of foreign aid goes to health. About $3.1 billion goes to HIV/AIDS projects. About one-sixth, or $2.7 billion, of foreign aid goes to economic development, such as building infrastructure. Another $2.7 billion goes to humanitarian assistance or helping refugees.

Among developed countries, the United States gives one of the lowest percentages of gross national income (GNI) to foreign aid. The United States gives about 0.2% of the GNI to foreign aid. Some developed countries, such as Sweden, Norway and Luxembourg, give about 1% of their respective GNIs to foreign aid.

In sum, most Americans think that we give more money abroad than we do. Additionally, the United States gives a small percentage of its GNI to foreign aid when compared to other developed countries. Does this mean that, according to public opinion and government policy, we do not think we have much of an obligation to give money abroad?

Some people argue that the United States should focus on helping its own citizens before helping people abroad. What they don’t seem to understand is that the two can occur simultaneously. The United States can focus on helping the poor both domestically and internationally.

It is also important to consider that the poorest people in America are significantly better off than most. A person in the bottom 5% of the American income distribution is richer than 68% of people in the world. This may mean that we have more of an obligation to donate abroad than we currently do.

Still, some people may think that the problem is too large to fix; they might think that the United States cannot make a significant difference.

Global poverty is a substantial issue. However, the United States has helped to improve the living conditions of people globally. For example, more than 3 million lives are saved every year through USAID immunization programs. As a result of USAID’s population program, more than 50 million couples use family planning. These are only a few examples of how U.S. foreign aid has helped reduce global poverty and related issues.

Some may argue that foreign aid will not benefit the citizens if it is given to corrupt governments. This implies that we do not have an obligation to give to corrupt countries.

Even if a country is corrupt, this does not negate a moral obligation to help disadvantaged people. Furthermore, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. governmental organization, helps identify countries that are committed to good governance, economic freedom and investments in their citizens. This changes the way that the United States gives foreign aid. The United States can strive to give money abroad without supporting corrupt governments.

Intuitively, it seems as though the United States does have an obligation to give money abroad. The U.S. Government has the capability to give money abroad while still helping the impoverished in our country. The United States has already made significant strides in improving global health and alleviating poverty abroad. Presumably, the United States could help even more if we allocated more money to foreign aid.

– Ella Cady

Sources: Forbes, Giving What We Can, Millennium Challenge Corporation, NPR, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, USAID
Photo: The Daily Beast

global_aid
People living in extreme poverty see an improvement in their living conditions when they earn just a little extra money from farming or raising livestock.

This is according to Dean Karlan, founder of Innovations for Poverty Action, or IPA. The nonprofit researches and evaluates different programs fighting world poverty so as to inform its own poverty-combating program initiatives.

Karlan studied economics in graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is now a professor at Yale. He began researching poverty and started IPA in order to answer the question, “Does global aid work?”

Prior to starting IPA, Karlan was displeased with how little research existed on global aid programs and their effects. It was impossible to know precisely how much people’s lives were improving due to aid.

This is an ongoing debate, and today, two polarizing views on global aid prevail. Some believe that the U.S. and other nations need to invest more, while others think that enough money has already been wasted on a fruitless cause. Through IPA, Karlan is working to produce tangible evidence about global aid to dispel the second view and, in turn, combat poverty.

Karlan and his colleagues ran a five-year-long experiment with the poorest families they could find in six developing countries. The team divided the families into two groups. The control group received nothing, while the other group was given a hefty aid package for up to two years. The package included livestock (for raising), livestock training, food or cash, a savings account and physical and mental health aid.

After observing both groups for the duration of the study, Karlan and his colleagues concluded that families who were given aid, made a little more money and had more food to eat than the control group. Moreover, families continued to generate more income a year after they stopped receiving aid.

Karlan reports, “We see mental health go up. Happiness go up. We even saw things like female power increase.”

The measured effect of aid was quite slim. Incomes and food consumption rates in the study increased only by about five percent in comparison to the control group. It is hard to forecast the long-term impact since the families were only observed for a year following the experiment.

Nonetheless, the aid package still has an impact in the short term for the participating families and appears to have promising long-term effects. Giving families an extra boost is exactly what may enable them to begin climbing out of extreme poverty, albeit slowly.

“Moving poverty is hard,” explains Sarah Baird, an economist at George Washington University. “[But] the fact that [Karlan and his colleagues] were able to move it, and it was sustainable after a year, I think is important.” The study supports the conclusion that aid from charities and governmental programs do have a positive impact.

A little bit of money can go a long way for those in extreme poverty. At the very least, it offers hope, and makes a difference for the families who receive it.

– Lillian Sickler

Sources: NPR, American Program Bureau, Innovations for Poverty Action
Photo: Flickr

US-foreign-aid-percent-GDP.opt
Global aid, formally known as Official Development Assistance (ODA), continued to decline in 2012 as wealthy countries struggled with the global financial crisis. Global aid decreased by four percent in 2012, following a two percent decline in 2011.

Global aid totaled about $125 billion USD in 2012. Most of that came from members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC), which includes most of the world’s wealthiest countries: the United States, Japan, and much of Europe. However, contributions of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) are becoming increasingly important to poverty reduction and assistance efforts.

In 2012, Australia, Austria, Iceland, Korea, and Luxembourg increased their donations to global aid. Countries hit the hardest by the financial crisis, including Italy, Spain, Greece, and Portugal, decreased their contributions.

Donations can be measured both by total quantity of donation and percentage of gross national income (GNI). The US was among the largest donors in total monetary value, but did not reach the minimum threshold of 0.7% of GNI. Smaller countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark surpassed 0.7%. In some cases, donations from non-traditional donor countries such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey surpassed individual donations from DAC-member countries.

The percentage of OECD global aid dedicated to humanitarian causes has increased from 3.3 percent to 8.6 percent over the last two decades. Global aid is distributed to many different sectors, including economic development, social and administrative infrastructure, food aid, transportation, and agriculture.

Global aid distribution has also shifted in recent years. The share of aid going to sub-Saharan Africa, traditionally the largest beneficiary, decreased from 47.8% to 41.8%. Meanwhile, aid to South and Central Asia increased from 11.5% to 19.8%.

The OECD’s official report on global aid trends can be found here. Call your senator or representative and let them know that you’d like to see the US contribute more, not less, to global aid.

– Kat Henrichs

Source: IRIN
Photo: The Fact File