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Irregular Migration: Causes and Looking Forward
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), there were more than 100 million irregular migrants around the world in 2018. One of the aspects of irregular migration that people most widely recognize and talk about is which factors drive people to leave their homes in the first place. In recent years, the ongoing civil wars in Libya and Syria, as well as violent conflict in Central America linked to drug cartels, have often made the headlines in this regard, and many likely think of such factors as the primary drivers pushing people to migrate outside of the normal legal and bureaucratic channels. While many of these people have to leave their homes due to armed conflict, many more find themselves moving due to a lack of economic opportunity or due to environmental factors. Such factors are ones that the international community can and should be addressing through humanitarian aid.

What to Know

Without greater attention to these root causes, millions will likely have to leave their homes in search of physical and economic security, leading to greater irregular migration waves that countries have challenges handling. This can also fuel exploitation and benefit criminal networks taking advantage of people forced to migrate irregularly or who have experienced displacement. Many persons who experience displacement due to non-conflict factors will also fall into the category of internally displaced people or IDPs. IDPs do not have the same legal status as refugees, and, as a result, often have fewer institutionalized resources and services addressing their needs and the challenges they face.

As of 2018, only 40 countries had involvement with the Expert Group on Refugee and IDP Statistics, or EGRIS. EGRIS works on international research into methods for tracking refugee statistics and possible recommendations to address the number of IDPs. While this exposes the need for serious reform around internally displaced people and how to address their plight, it also means that until countries adopt a more accessible and universal legal approach, fighting the root causes that lead to displacement must be a priority.

IDPs and Disaster Prevention

While ending conflicts driving displacement is a high-profile issue, more IDPs would benefit if a greater focus were to go toward disaster relief. According to data from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center’s 2019 Global Report on Internal Displacement, the number of people that disasters displaced increased each year from 2008-2018.

While disaster prevention is at times difficult and the effects of environmental challenges may only undergo reversal or mitigation on a large time scale, countries can deal with the fallout from disasters through humanitarian aid and relief efforts concentrated on rebuilding communities and compensating for losses. However, such efforts must give equal thought to establishing long-term physical and environmental security in the areas dealing with the fallout from disasters. Without long-term investment focused on growth and rejuvenation, areas that are past sites of disasters will continue to be the point of origin for IDPs. A greater focus on disaster relief also allows NGOs and nonprofits more room for involvement since disaster relief is an area where many consider these groups legitimate actors and encourage their participation.

Solutions

In 2016, USAID launched a five-year plan and a call to action to help irregular migrants in East Asia and the Pacific. The first year, $12 million went to strengthening collaboration across the borders of “source, transit and destination countries.” USAID is working to reduce human trafficking, which irregular migrants often fall victim to due to the lack of resources to protect them. Similar to EGRIS, USAID is collecting data to help discover even more effective ways to help irregular migrants. In its first year working in Cambodia, direct assistance went to 250 victims of human trafficking. Furthermore, in the vein of disaster relief, 5,400 deportees from Thailand received emergency assistance from USAID; 140 of those deportees were also victims of human trafficking.

By reframing the narrative around irregular migration and displacement to better reflect the root causes that contribute to the issue, the nonprofit and aid sectors can create better policies that will not only treat the symptoms of migration and displacement but ultimately reduce the push factors that lead to irregular migration in the first place.

– Matthew Cantwell McCormick
Photo: Flickr

Clara Lionel Foundation
While people may best know Rihanna for her music, she has also used her fame and influence to become a powerful force for global change. In 2012, she launched the Clara Lionel Foundation. This philanthropic organization works to strengthen vulnerable communities in Africa and the Caribbean. Here are a few ways the Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) has fought against global poverty.

Emergency Response

Every year, natural disasters around affect over 200 million people worldwide and push 26 million into poverty. In the wake of a natural disaster, donors and organizations often rush to provide support and resources to impacted areas. However, after donors eventually lose interest, these regions are left helpless; furthermore, numerous organizations trying to help can become ineffective if they do not communicate with each other.

The Clara Lionel Foundation’s climate resilience and emergency preparedness plan proactively helps vulnerable communities prepare for environmental disasters. Rather than focusing on reactionary rebuilding, they can get ahead of future problems. In 2018, the organization worked to strengthen existing infrastructure in the Caribbean to withstand future disasters and eliminate the need for extensive rebuilding.

The Foundation recognized that women’s health centers often go unincluded in typical emergency response assistance initiatives. Therefore, it partnered with the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Engineers Without Borders to improve access to reproductive health clinics in vulnerable Caribbean areas.

Additionally, the CLF issued a $25 million grant for emergency equipment at the beginning of the 2018 hurricane season. This money helped ensure that relief organizations could distribute these supplies whenever necessary. The aim of this proactive emergency response model is to turn the Caribbean into the world’s first climate-resilient zone, a strategy that could eventually scale up and adapt to protect other vulnerable communities around the world.

Global Education

The Clara Lionel Foundation has worked since 2016 to provide access to education for vulnerable children in the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa, focusing on Malawi, Barbados and Senegal. CLF partners with the Campaign for Female Education in Malawi to support girls’ secondary education. They provide financial assistance and transportation. CLF also provided paid internships for secondary school graduates to become trained HIV testers. This initiative created employment opportunities and helped to address a prominent health crisis. In Senegal, CLF invests in repairing and constructing classrooms for children who lack a safe place of education.

In 2016, Rihanna and the CLF joined the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to advocate the importance of accessible education. As the GPE Global Ambassador, Rihanna visited impoverished schools in Malawi and encouraged world leaders to increase support for global education initiatives.

COVID-19

As communities worldwide face the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clara Lionel Foundation has stepped in to help. The foundation donated $6.2 million in partnership with Jack Dorsey and the Shawn Carter Foundation to help marginalized communities in the U.S., Africa and the Caribbean fight COVID-19. This funding fueled frontline organizations such as Direct Relief, Partners in Health, the International Rescue Committee and the WHO’s COVID-19 Response Fund. CLF’s donation allowed for increased testing capacity, more personal protective equipment and the development of medical facilities equipped to handle the virus.

Through the Clara Lionel Foundation, Rihanna uses her fame to be an advocate, ally and role model in the fight against global poverty. Her actions have transformed the lives of many vulnerable people throughout the world. Rihanna and CLF will continue to have a wide impact as others hopefully adopt her philanthropic spirit.

– Allie Beutel
Photo: Flickr

Artificial Intelligence and Disaster ResponseNatural disasters are a phenomenon that affects countries around the world. The World Health Organization reports that more than 160 million people are affected by natural disasters annually. Estimates from the World Bank also suggest that 26 million people are forced below the poverty line annually due to natural disasters. Technological advancements with artificial intelligence (AI) aiding natural disasters may help countries with their response to such catastrophic events and help reduce these detrimental effects.

Natural Disasters Contributing to Poverty

Across the globe, poorer communities are more negatively affected by natural disasters than wealthier communities. Natural disasters have the potential to cause a major loss of income due to damage to infrastructure, crops, or a decrease in demand and tourism. This loss of income is more significant for those in the low-income category as they have fewer resources to begin the rebuilding process, potentially causing long-term poverty.

History shows that major natural disasters widen income inequalities. After the 2011 floods in Australia, low-income individuals lost an average of $3,100 AUD ($2,141 USD) per year. This lower income was typically maintained for five years after the natural disaster. Contrastingly, middle and high-income individuals gained over $3,300 AUD ($2,280 USD) annually for those five years. This was because emergency aid was more oriented to businesses rather than households, and the wealthy are more likely to own businesses. This example illustrates how low-income individuals are more vulnerable to being pushed into poverty due to a natural disaster.

The U.N. reports that, globally, the largest loss of life due to natural disasters occurs in poor communities. This may be a result of the fact that low-income individuals tend to live in geographical areas that are more prone to natural disasters. Additionally, those who are low-income tend to live in poorly constructed, fragile housing. This was observed in 2010 when an earthquake hit Haiti, where the largest loss of life was in a fragile and over-crowded housing facility, located in a poor community.

Artificial Intelligence Improving Disaster Response

AI is skilled at analyzing and tracking weather patterns to help predict the course and severity of natural disasters. However, technology has previously struggled to accurately predict earthquakes. Geophysicist Paul Johnson has assembled a team to use machine learning to predict these natural disasters. Machine learning uses technology to track data and identify similarities and patterns that occur prior to an earthquake. AI technology will then be able to analyze these characteristics to preemptively detect earthquakes. Johnson’s team has successfully used AI to predict earthquakes in a controlled laboratory setting. This technology would allow the opportunity for civilians to evacuate prior to an earthquake, decreasing injury and loss of life.

The application of this technology will resultingly allow for improved personnel and resource management once the natural disaster is detected. AI technology can now use geospatial observations to identify locations where people may move to during the natural disaster. This will allow officials to accurately complete rescue missions and send supplies to people who have relocated.

This technology will also help model which areas will be most affected by a natural disaster. AI can predict which buildings and roads will sustain the most damage throughout the disaster. This knowledge allows officials to re-route resources and response personnel to more appropriate areas. AI modeling will result in faster response times and more strategic access to affected areas.

McKinsey and Co. is an organization that uses technology to aid disaster relief efforts as a part of its Change That Matters initiative. McKinsey and Company’s AI uses satellite data and an algorithm to assess the damages sustained to a certain area. This allows for the responsible distribution of resources to help rebuild vital community services such as schools and medical facilities.

AI and Poverty Relief

AI is a tool that can be applied to many areas of life. The use of technology and AI is crucial in predicting natural disasters and improving aid responses after the disaster. These abilities and their effects lead AI to have the potential to play a major role in decreasing the number of people who are forced into poverty due to natural disasters.

– Laura Embry
Photo: Pixabay 

Disaster Response in Nepal
Over the last several months the world has focused on South Asia in response to devastating earthquakes in Nepal, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. With the threat of a natural disaster always looming in this densely populated area of the world, it is important to take note of the methods of disaster response in Nepal that have had the most success.

U.S. disaster response has seen results in curbing the consequences of world crisis when steps have been taken to recognize potential threats and build resilience.

On April 26 of last year, Nepal was devastated by a massive earthquake that claimed the lives of more than 8,000 people and left millions homeless. Given the catastrophic results, it’s hard to imagine a worse outcome.

However, given Nepal’s location in what the U.S. Geological Survey has called “one of the most seismically hazardous areas on earth,” the results could have been far more dire.

With help from the United States and the UN Development Program, prior to the earthquake, Nepal took several steps to help curb the awaiting catastrophe by developing a Disaster Risk Reduction approach.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, those steps “ran the gamut from retrofitting buildings for seismic resistance; strengthening governance practices on matters of zoning and building codes; helping Nepal develop a more robust disaster response management capacity; creating better advance preparations for search and rescue to save more lives; and raising public awareness to the steps individuals can take to prepare themselves better.”

To that end, U.S. disaster response in Nepal was highly effective despite the devastation. By helping to foster a program of resilience, the U.S. mitigated a substantial portion of the crisis in Nepal.

USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team Leader, Bill Berger confirmed this when he said, “I expected a much higher death toll and much higher destruction.”

Outside of Disaster Risk Reduction, The U.S. government has also worked to bolster Nepal’s agricultural sector, which makes up nearly 40 percent of its GDP.

USAID’s Knowledge-Based Integrated Sustainable Agriculture and Nutrition (KISAN) in particular is working to increase agricultural productivity and improve nutrition.

As stated by USAID, some of the key goals of the project are:

  • Ensure sustainable agriculture production and post-harvest technologies and practices adopted at farm level in at least 45,000 hectares of land.
  • Strengthen the capacity of 200,000 agriculture extension workers, service providers, health workers and Female Community Health Volunteers.
  • Produce and ensure adoption of 1,000 tons of high-quality seed by farmers.

Achieving these goals will hopefully work to provide Nepal with the food security to better handle natural disasters in the future. USAID’s KISAN project serves as another important example of how the U.S. is committed to responding to disaster through building resiliency.

Daniel Liddicoet

Sources: CFR, USAID, USGS, USGLC
Photo: Flickr