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Healthcare in Nepal
Nepal remains one of the world’s poorest countries as well as one of the most prone to natural disasters. The country suffers from the effects of climate change and population increase, which further increases the damage caused by natural disasters. Landslides and floods are particularly common, especially during the monsoon season. These catastrophes kill more than 500 people a year. The healthcare in the country is often unequally distributed, with healthcare resources centralized around the country’s major urban centers. This unequal distribution hinders the quality and accessibility of healthcare provided in Nepal. Here are 10 facts about healthcare in Nepal.

10 Facts About Healthcare in Nepal

  1. The 1978 Alma Ata Declaration: In an effort to improve healthcare, Nepal was influenced by the 1978 Alma Ata Declaration. The declaration emphasized community-oriented preventive, promotive and curative healthcare services. Nepal also took steps to improve the lives of its citizens by establishing a network of primary healthcare facilities. In addition, the nation deployed community healthcare workers to provide healthcare at the community level.
  2. Life expectancy: As a result of improving healthcare in Nepal, life expectancy has seen a dramatic increase. According to the Nepali Times, life expectancy went up 12.3 years between 1991 and 2011. Currently, the country has the second-highest life expectancy in South Asia, largely due to the fact that the country has seen a sharp decrease is birth rate mortality. The Central Bureau of Statistics reported that 295,459 Nepalis were more than 75 years old in 2001 and in 2011 that number increased to 437,981.
  3. Accessibility: Most of Nepal’s healthcare resources are located in or around Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. This centralization leads to other areas of Nepal being neglected. In 2015, however, Nepal’s government formed a Social Health Security Development Committee as a legal framework in an effort to start implementing a social health security scheme. The program’s goal was to increase the accessibility of healthcare services to Nepal’s poor and marginalized communities. It was also aimed to increase access to people who live in hard to reach areas of the country. Problems, however, remain with financing the effort.
  4. Healthcare as a human right: In 2007, the Nepalese Government endorsed healthcare as a basic human right in its Interim Constitution. Despite this, only 61.8 percent of Nepalese have access to healthcare facilities within a 30-minute radius. Nepal also suffers from an inadequate supply of essential drugs and poorly regulated private healthcare providers. Statistically, Nepal also only has 0.67 doctors and nurses per 1,000 people. This is less than the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 2.3 doctors, nurses and midwives per 1,000 people.
  5. Lack of basic health facilities: Around 22 percent of Nepalis do not have access to basic health facilities. The groups who lack healthcare in Nepal tend to be the Dalits from Terai and Muslims. However, there has been a 19 percent increase in the usage of outpatient care by Dalits.
  6. Common diseases in Nepal: The top diseases in Nepal are ischemic heart disease, COPD, lower respiratory infection, diarrheal disease, stroke and diabetes.
  7.  Oral health: More than half of adults in Nepal suffer from bacterial tooth decay. Bacterial tooth decay can lead to chronic pain, heart disease and diabetes. Many in rural villages do not have access to tooth filling, toothpaste or water. There is a belief among some Nepalese that tooth extraction causes blindness.
  8. Maternal and child mortality rates: There has been a reduction in maternal and child mortality rates.  The rates have decreased from 539 per 100,000 to 281 per 100,000 live births in 2006, according to the DHS survey. The 5 and under mortality rate decreased in rural areas from 143 per 1000 to 50 per 1000 live births in 2009.
  9. Earthquakes: The earthquakes that hit Nepal in April of 2015 are one of the greatest natural disasters in Nepal’s modern history, destroying over 1,100 healthcare facilities. Possible Health.org, a global team of people committed to the belief that everyone deserves access to quality healthcare without financial burden, signed a 10-year agreement with their government partners to attempt to rebuild the healthcare system in the Dolokah district, which suffered the destruction of 85 percent of their healthcare facilities.
  10. Government corruption: While there are efforts to improve the lives of Nepalis, corruption exists, according to the Himalayan Times. The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Nepal 124 out of 175 countries worldwide. This corruption leads to a lack of resources dedicated to healthcare. The Nepali government only allocations 5 percent of its national budget toward healthcare, not enough to create significant improvements.

These 10 facts about healthcare in Nepal illustrate the challenges the nation has faced, as well as the progress that has been made. To help improve healthcare, the European Union provides continual support. In 2019, they gave 2 million pounds of assistance to the country. Moving forward, continued work by humanitarian organizations and the Nepali government is needed to continue improving healthcare in Nepal.

Robert Forsyth
Photo: U.N. Multimedia

Natural Disasters Shaping Global Poverty
When people discuss the causes of global poverty, natural disasters do not often come up, but there is a correlation between natural disasters and global poverty. This may be due to the fact that natural disasters tend to be completely out of human control, while human choice and behavior can either cause or greatly reduce other factors that contribute to poverty. However, natural disasters shape global poverty through post-disaster destruction and economic and societal instability. Geographical location and weather patterns, as well as vulnerability to natural disasters, are immensely pertinent to a society’s poverty rate.

The Danger of Natural Disasters

According to the World Bank, natural disasters force over 26 million people across the globe into poverty annually and cost the global economy around $520 billion every year. These disasters also reinforce the cyclical nature of poverty; they ruin progress that countries have made to reduce poverty and leave impoverished people completely vulnerable due to their inability to cope and recover after the calamity. The five countries with the highest Climate Risk Index ratings from 1998 to 2017 all have national poverty rates above 20 percent. Honduras and Haiti rank two and four on this index, respectively and are great examples of how natural disasters shape global poverty.

Hurricane Mitch

According to a Penn State University report, Honduras lost $3.8 billion after Hurricane Mitch in 1998. The agricultural economic sector dropped by 7 percent as both domestic and cash crops disappeared. According to Honduras Compassion Partners, the agriculture sector has dropped by almost 33 percent over the last 20 years. Adequate sanitation and clean water were rarities and are still not too ideal levels. The health and education system took a $33 million hit. Penn State University also reported that societal instability increased after the storm. The country saw a surge in gender inequality and sexual and domestic violence after the hurricane. Extreme weather is so influential to poverty rates because its devastation is multifaceted. Like in Honduras, natural disasters simultaneously strip individual necessities like food, shelter, security and sanitation and weaken socioeconomic resilience, that is, the ability for society as a whole to recover after a catastrophe.

Haiti

Another example is Haiti. The 2010 earthquake that ravaged the island nation cost the economy around $7.8 billion. The natural disaster affected all facets of life. A Global Foundation for Disaster Reduction and Recovery report revealed just how vast the consequences of a disaster like this can be:

  • Social sectors like water, food, sanitation, health and education suffered $553.3 million in economic loss.
  • Infrastructure sectors like housing, food, energy and transportation suffered close to $1.3 billion in economic loss.
  • Production sectors like agriculture, industry, retail and finance suffered $933.3 million in economic loss.

These figures do not even include the cost of damages, which more than double the total expense. Almost a decade later, partially due to more natural disasters, Haiti is still recovering from the earthquake. These calamities bombard all of the indicators of poverty and all of the variables that have the potential to lift an individual and a society out of poverty (i.e. food security, capital, sanitation, education, health care) in one fell swoop. The post-disaster consequences underpin the cyclical complexion of poverty. This is how natural disasters shape global poverty.

Direct Relief

Direct Relief is a non-governmental organization that provides relief from natural disasters in over 80 countries in Asia, Africa, South America, Central America, North America and Europe. To date, Direct Relief has provided $747,210,716 in international aid, given 160,038,758 doses of medicine and provided 3,531,448 pounds of medical supplies to victims of natural disasters. The organization distributes products such as emergency medical packs, cholera treatment kits, oral rehydration salts and hurricane prep packs. It also employs a hurricane prep map to supply aid to the affected countries. Direct Relief has been the largest provider of aid to Haiti since the 2010 earthquake.

Natural disasters and global poverty have a close relationship. The ability for one extreme weather event to negatively influence all of the factors that decide poverty makes it much more difficult for countries prone to these storms to end the cycle of poverty. More research and development on disaster preparedness and recovery are necessary to allow countries the opportunity to break the feedback loop. These disasters are stymying poverty reduction efforts in countries like Honduras, Haiti and even now in Zimbabwe which is suffering from severe drought. Response and preparation to natural disasters and climate tendencies need to be a higher priority in the strategy of mitigating global poverty.

Zach Brown
Photo: Flickr

 

10 Worst CyclonesThese top 10 worst cyclones in the world have devastated communities with lasting effects. A tropical cyclone is an intense spinning storm system with a low-pressure center that forms over warm water. All over the world, cyclones have created chaos and devastation. Once tropical cyclones develop sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour, they are classified as either hurricanes, typhoons or cyclones. The name of a tropical cyclone depends on the region in which they occur. Those that occur in the Eastern Pacific are hurricanes. Those that occur in Southeast Asia are typhoons. And those that occur in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific regions are cyclones. Here are the 10 worst cyclones in the world, from least to most severe.

10 Worst Cyclones in the World

  1. Bangladesh Cyclone of 1942 (Bangladesh, 1942)
    Coming in as the least severe of the list is the Bangladesh Cyclone of 1942. The cyclone struck the eastern coast of Bangladesh Oct. 16 with 70 miles per hour winds, causing a 20-foot storm surge. The cyclone led to the deaths of 61,000 people and destroyed at least 3,000 homes in the afflicted areas.
  2. Cyclone Nargis (Myanmar, 2008)
    On May 2, 2008, Cyclone Nargis made landfall in Myanmar, moving across the southern region of the country over two days. Cyclone Nargis particularly devastated the Ayeyarwady Delta region of Myanmar. The United Nations approximated the cyclone affected 2.4 million people. As a result of the cyclone, 84,500 people died, and 53,800 went missing.
  3. Cyclone 02B (Bangladesh, 1991)
    Cyclone 02B, commonly referred to as the Bangladesh Cyclone of 1991, made landfall onto the southeastern coastal region of Chittagong on April 29, 1991. The cyclone devastated Bangladesh, killing more than 135,000 people, and rendering 10 million people homeless. Plus, one million cows died as a result of the cyclone. More importantly, the cyclone devastated the country’s crops. As a result, many survivors of the cyclone would end up facing a risk of starvation. Cyclone 02B resulted in more than $1.5 billion in damages.
  4. Chittagong Cyclone (Bangladesh, 1897)
    In 1897, the Chittagong Cyclone devastated the town of Chittagong in Bangladesh, killing 175,000 people, and destroying more than half of the buildings in town. Unlike some of the other cyclones on this list, there is not much data or news coverage available on the cyclone.
  5. Great Backerganj Cyclone (Bangladesh, 1876)
    Also known as the Bengal Cyclone of 1876, the cyclone occurred Oct. 31, 1876, in Bangladesh, leading to the deaths of an estimated 200,000 people. Forming over the Bay of Bengal, the cyclone made landfall at the Meghna River Estuary. Combined with an already high tide, the Cyclone caused a 40-foot storm surge that devastatingly flooded low lying coastal areas. The high tide and storm surge made the effects of the Cyclone deadly in particular; an estimated 50 percent of deaths from the cyclone resulted from starvation and disease associated with the flooding.
  6. Backerganj Cyclone (Bangladesh, 1584)
    Occurring in 1584, the Backerganj Cyclone formed in the Bay of Bengal and struck Bangladesh. Creating destruction in Bangladesh, the cyclone caused an estimated 200,000 deaths.
  7. Coringa Cyclone (India, 1839)
    The port city of Coringa was struck by a disastrous cyclone Nov. 25, 1839. The cyclone brought heavy winds and produced a 40-foot storm surge, causing havoc throughout the city. The cyclone killed 300,000 people and completely demolished the port, destroying around 20,000 ships. Coringa has never fully recovered from the damage of the cyclone and is now a small village.
  8. Haiphong Cyclone (Vietnam, 1881)
    Next is the 1881 Haiphong Cyclone of Vietnam. On Oct. 8, 1881, the Haiphong Cyclone struck into the Gulf of Tonkin, setting off a course of tidal waves that flooded the Northeastern city of Haiphong. The flooding devastated Haiphong and led to the widespread destruction of the city. The Haiphong Cyclone led to an estimated 300,000 deaths. However, more are thought to have died afterward from starvation and disease, as a result of the flooding.
  9. Hooghly River Cyclone (India and Bangladesh, 1737)
    One of the deadliest natural disasters in all of history, the Hooghly River Cyclone, also known as the Calcutta Cyclone, devastated the Indian city of Calcutta, as well as the surrounding regions. The cyclone made landfall just south of Calcutta in the Ganges River Delta, creating a 30-40 foot storm surge, and bringing an approximated 15 inches of rain over six hours. The cyclone devastated the city of Calcutta, destroying the majority of buildings and structures, mostly made from wood and having straw roofs. Many existing brick structures were also damaged to a point beyond repair. The cyclone led to the deaths of 300,00 to 350,000 people. While most data focuses on Calcutta, it is also thought that villagers in East Bengal and Bangladesh died as a result of the cyclone. Additionally, the Hoogly River Cyclone destroyed 20,000 vessels.
  10. Great Bhola Cyclone (Bangladesh, 1970)
    The most severe cyclone on the list is the deadliest tropical cyclone ever, Great Bhola Cyclone. It completely devastated Pakistan (then East Pakistan). The cyclone started out as a depression in the Bay of Bengal Nov. 8, 1970, and quickly intensified into a tropical cyclone with 85 to 90 mile-per-hour winds by Nov. 11. The cyclone further intensified and moved north by November 12th, bringing with it 140 mile-per-hour winds and a 20-foot high storm surge. Unfortunately, while meteorologists did know of the impending cyclone, they had no way of notifying most people living within the islands of the Ganges River Delta and the coastal plain; thus, most people didn’t even know that it was coming. The cyclone killed between 300,000 to 500,000 people, making it the deadliest cyclone ever, as well as one of the deadliest natural disasters in history. The cyclone resulted in more than $490 million in damages, and 85 percent of homes were either damaged or destroyed.

These are the 10 worst cyclones to have occurred within recorded history. They are also among the deadliest natural disasters of all time and have created mass destruction. To this day, communities like Coringa, have yet to fully recover from the damages of the disaster. Hopefully, with the development of new technologies, more investment into foreign aid, and support for building more cyclone-resistant infrastructure, cyclones will be easier to track and people will be warned in advance.

– Nicholas Bykov
Photo: Flickr

Resiliency in Sint Maartin
Located in the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean, Sint Maarten and St. Martin comprise one small island of fewer than 80,000 people. The northern part of the island, St. Martin, is a French territory, while Sint Maarten, the southern portion, is a former Dutch colony that gained independence within the Dutch Kingdom in 2010. The local island economy centers around tourism, as the island draws more than one million tourists every year to its scenic beaches and resorts.

In September 2017, Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 hurricane with winds up to 182 miles per hour, devastated the once serene and lively island. Responsible for 14 fatalities, Irma destroyed infrastructure and left residents without electricity, running water and telecommunications. Nearly two years after Irma hit the shores of the dual-country island, here are five facts about the resiliency in Sint Maarten.

Five Facts About Resiliency in Sint Maarten

  1. Irma took a massive hit on the island’s economic powerhouse: tourism. Since more than 99 percent of employees work in the service or industry sectors, many locals faced unemployment due to the destroyed restaurants and shops, the drastic drop in tourism and devastated resorts.
  2. Hurricane Irma caused as much as $3 billion in damages. Collapsed infrastructure, roofless buildings and homes and a deserted airport are all signs of how much physical damage Irma caused. However, some see reconstruction as an opportunity for new and improved resorts and tourist attractions, which will hopefully boost the tourism economy again, attracting millions of cruisers and destination vacationers who can revitalize the tourism-dependent economy.
  3. Improvements to Sint Maarten surpass improvements to St. Martin. This Caribbean island is unique in that both the Dutch and French governments preside over their half of the island. The relief responses of the European nations differ greatly and the results are visible, as the Dutch side rebuilt quicker than the French. The Dutch government also offered $650 million for relief and recovery efforts, which the island eventually accepted. However, residents report lacking basic necessities, even after the interim government accepted the sum.
  4. Prime Minister Leona Romero-Marlin has a seven-year recovery plan. This plan estimates $2.3 billion to recovery for the island. After two years, that included emergency, immediate and short-term needs, and the next five years include plans for recovery, resilience and development. Examples of disaster mitigation include improving emergency response coordination, involving the community in climate-change adaptation curriculum, awareness campaigns and emergency drills at all levels of society.
  5. The island still has access to the sea, a connection to nature and a feeling of home and community. Although residents withstood a terrifying storm and face the fear of uncertainty for the future, Sint Maarten/St. Martin is still home to thousands of residents who know and appreciate the natural beauty and deep-rooted connection to the island. Hurricane Irma brought together the local community, uniting residents to aid each other in rebuilding the place they know as home. The eye of the storm has long passed, but locals have a long way before returning to a sense of normalcy they had before the 2017 hurricane.

Almost two years since the winds and rains of Hurricane Irma transformed the once welcoming island into a deserted entity flooded with water and rubble, the remaining residents remain to show the resiliency in Sint Maarten to rebuild their homes and return the island to its former beauty.

– Keeley Griegor
Photo: Lionel Chamoiseau

Top 10 Facts about Living conditions in the Philippines
The Philippines is a country that is home to over 100 million people, all of which reside in more than 7,017 country’s islands.

As of late 2015, it was estimated that 21.6 percent of the population in the Philippines lives in poverty. This percentage has been reduced from 26.6 percent back in 2006, and many other changes have been made to improve the living conditions in the country. Other goals are also set to reduce the poverty number further. In the text below, these goals and changes are described.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in the Philippines

  1. In the Philippines, bottom 10 percent of the population survive on the annual income of $1,641. The average annual income of Filipino families is about $5,000 a year and these families spent a little over $4,000 on needed expenses in a year. That is nearly three times the annual income of the poor families.
  2. Those with more family members are more at risk of poverty in the Philippines. They have to make more money to survive in a nation that is flooded with inflation, lacks income equality among different sectors and lacks jobs in general. An estimated four out of 10 people that are poor have jobs but they are usually paid less due to the lack of a proper education.
  3. Being a nation that consists of islands surrounded by water, the Philippines is always at risk for environmental threats and natural disasters. The country is prone to tropical storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding and volcanic eruptions. Luckily, government officials have the help of USAID and different nongovernmental organizations that aid the country in efforts to reduce the impact of these disasters.
  4. In some areas, only about 30 percent of children complete their education. This can be mostly credited to a lack of financial funds in the household. Some children have to drop out of school to help the family financially by working in menial labor jobs. This prevents them from securing a higher paying job in the future.
  5. The country is currently going through a record high inflation crisis that is greatly affecting the cost of food. The Philippines has an inflation rate of 6.4 percent, the highest in 90 years as noted by Reuters. This inflation has caused the cost of food prices to rise by 8.5 percent. As an example, in order to afford 25 kilos of the cheapest rice, families must secure $60 of their monthly household budgets.
  6. The Philippines is one country that utilizes child laborers for some of its industries. While the Philippines hasn’t outlawed the use of child labor, it has taken moderate steps to ensure the safety of child workers in certain fields and completely abolishing the use of child labor in others. In 2017, the government made crucial changes to the employment and working guidelines of children in the agriculture sector.
  7. There is a large crisis on the island of Mindanao, one of the three largest islands of the country, where two feuding groups of people have left the island in complete disarray. The battles between them left communities damages and displaced many people that left the war-torn area or have had their homes destroyed. The effects have caused the island to become one of the most poverty-ridden areas in the Philippines.
  8. Those facing poverty conditions in the Philippines sometimes have no access to electricity, water and proper sanitation facilities, just a few of the basic necessities human beings need. They are also expected to have less access to things like health care and education, which plays a dominant role in one’s ability to get out of the life of poverty. Lack of education is often a large determinant in a household’s financial instability.
  9. The country has strict laws involving the incarceration of children. With the rising cost of food and the number of children suffering from malnourishment, many are turning to a life of drug-related crimes to make ends meet. These children are often caught and punished severely at the hands of the Philippines’ criminal justice system. Children often go through different forms of torture and endure lack of food and adequate accommodations.
  10. The government is implementing a long-term solution to tackle the poverty conditions people are facing. The plan is set to reduce poverty to at least 15 percent by the year 2022. The strategy is set to focus on creating new and higher-paying jobs, prioritize health care and help the poverty situation on Mindanao to open up valuable resources.

Poverty-reducing efforts have been made by the government to decrease the number of those that suffer from poverty in the Philippines.

In order to ensure the end to the vicious cycle, the country needs to consider education reform to better educate the youth of the country and keep them out of the corrections system.

They will also need to put an end to the feud in Mindanao if they have any hope in securing the funds to turn their poverty reduction dreams into a reality.

– Catherine Wilson
Photo: Flickr

Florence
It’s no coincidence that there is a new natural disaster in the news every day around the world — the earthquake and tsunami that just hit Indonesia; Typhoon Mangkhut in East Asia; Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas; monsoon flooding in Bangladesh; and Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle are just a few of the storms that saturate our daily media sources.

Scientists agree that rising sea levels and sea temperatures as a result of climate change are increasing the frequency and intensity of such disasters. Research shows that climate-change-related natural disasters will disproportionately affect the world’s poorest countries and citizens. These environmental events are just one example of the many ways that sea changes are hurting the world’s poor.

Rising Sea Levels Hurt Agriculture

According to a 2015 World Bank report, “agriculture is one of the most important economic sectors in many poor countries. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most sensitive to climate change, given its dependence on weather conditions: from temperature, sun and rain, through climate-dependent stressors (pests, epidemics, and sea level rise).” This effect is felt by farmers — usually the poorer citizens of poor countries — who find their livelihoods threatened by natural disasters and the heavy flooding that wipes out their crops.

When agriculture suffers, the price of food skyrockets. This change then leaves families who already struggle to acquire adequate nutrition in an even more dire situation. Statistics show that poor families already spend a huge percentage of their income on food, and the World Bank predicts there may be 73 million people pushed into extreme poverty by 2030 from the rising costs of food alone.

Rising Sea Temperatures Breed Disease

The World Bank report says a small rise in sea temperatures “could increase the number of people at risk for malaria by up to 5 percent, or more than 150 million more people affected. Diarrhea would be more prevalent, and increased water scarcity would have an effect on water quality and hygiene.”

People who don’t have access to clean water, generally people living in poverty, would be at the greatest risk of developing diseases and they often lack the resources to treat infectious or bug-borne diseases once a family member is infected. The report, which called for climate-informed development, concludes by saying that poverty reduction and climate change can’t be treated separately, as the two go hand-in-hand.

Refugees

There are over 1600 confirmed deaths in Indonesia after an earthquake and tsunami hit the island of Sulawesi on October 5th, 2018. In fact, the U.N. stated that over 190,000 people are in need of urgent help — aftershocks have caused the destruction of 2,000 homes due to mudslides and makeshift refugee camps are being set up. At the most basic level, these events are pushing already poor people into extreme poverty through the destruction of their homes, forcing them to resettle elsewhere.

A 2017 Cornell study found that rising seas could cause 2 billion refugees by the year 2100 (these are truly climate change refugees).  This means that around one-fifth of the world’s population will be made homeless by climate change. The effects will be felt most strongly by people living on coastlines, and those in the world’s poorest countries will suffer the most.

As the seas warm and rise, research shows that the frequency and intensity of these disasters will rise as well, forcing more and more people to abandon their homes.

Sea Changes and the Poor

Rising sea temperatures are a result of global warming’s effects on ocean habitats and the human communities that depend on them.

The authors of an article about how poor countries and fisheries are the most negatively impacted by warming seas found that, “despite having some of the world’s smallest carbon footprints, small island developing states and the world’s least-developed countries will be among the places most vulnerable to climate change’s impacts on marine life.”

Actions for the Future

Andrew King, a climate researcher at the University of Melbourne in Australia and the author of a study from the AGU on global warming, argues that: “The results are a stark example of the inequalities that come with global warming…the richest countries that produced the most emissions are the least affected by heat when average temperatures climb to just 2 degrees Celsius [3.6 degrees Fahrenheit] while poorer nations bear the brunt of changing local climates and the consequences that come with them.”

There are ideas for how to better protect these places in the future to be prepared for these sea changes. Long term, the solution will be tackling climate change head-on.

-Evann Orleck-Jetter

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Disaster Relief Nonprofits
In 2017, 318 natural disasters were recorded worldwide with repercussions in at least 122 countries. These disasters killed over 9,500 people and affected 96 million. The majority of those affected by natural disasters reside in India and Sierra Leone.

Natural Disasters and Poverty

According to the World Bank, natural disasters force 26 million people into poverty annually and can erase years of poverty reduction progress. The estimated effects that natural disasters can have on welfare in most countries is equivalent to a loss of $520 billion per year in consumption.

Natural disasters and poverty are linked together as impoverished populations are unequally affected and have an inability to subsist. The poor are more likely to be exposed to natural hazards due to climate change. Furthermore, those affected lose a portion of their income and are often unable to receive aid from the government and financial systems.

An example of the disproportionate burden of natural disasters endured by the poor is Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar. Following the cyclone in 2008, at least 50 percent of poor farmers were forced to sell land as means to pay off debt after the storm. The cyclone’s social and economic consequences still exist 10 years later.

President Jim Yong Kim of World Bank Group said: “Storms, floods and droughts have dire human and economic consequences, with poor people often paying the heaviest price. Building resilience not only makes economic sense, it is a moral imperative.”

In order to rebuild a country after a natural disaster, there must be an immediate response from governments and disaster relief programs. Those affected need access to resources like food, shelter and medical care. Various disaster relief nonprofits are working to lessen the burden of the impacts of natural disasters around the world.

Top 10 Disaster Relief Nonprofits

  1. The International Red Cross (IRC) acts as the globe’s largest humanitarian network, delivering instant aid with trained disaster responders and relief supplies. By supplying water containers, shelter tools and cooking kits, IRC helps 100 million people who are affected by natural disasters every year. To date, IRC has also reunited over 9,900 families separated by natural disasters.
  2. All Hands and Hearts is one of the world’s leading disaster relief nonprofits. After All Hands and Happy Hearts merged into one group, they began working nationally and internationally to provide disaster relief. The group created the “Smart Response” method to acknowledge the immediate and long-term effects of natural disasters. Over 35,000 volunteers act as first responders to rebuild disaster-resilient homes and schools for affected communities.
  3. Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) provides emergency response medical aid to communities affected by natural disasters, epidemics and conflict. Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, MSF began treating those injured within minutes. MSF offers long-term care to affected populations and distributes medical disaster kits to countries even before they arrive on the ground.
  4. Samaritan’s Purse is a non-denominational evangelical Christian organization that works with ministry partners to meet the urgent needs of crisis areas. Samaritan’s Purse distributes staple food kits, relief essentials, emergency medical care and, when needed, constructs traditional shelters for families in recovery.
  5. Active in over 80 countries, Direct Relief International improves the lives of those affected during emergencies by providing shelter, water, food and medicine. Direct Relief tailors medical aid to the location’s circumstances while prioritizing search-and-rescue, emergency medical services and logistical flexibility.
  6. Currently responding to the global food security crisis, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) also responds to global disasters, funding relief kits, shelter and food to disaster-hit areas. MCC works to rebuild homes, provide employment, help individuals cope with trauma and prepare for future natural disasters. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, MCC educated populations on secure building construction.
  7. REACT International is a nonprofit organization consisting of volunteers who work to increase local resources in an effort to expand disaster relief work. REACT teams use communication technology to provide first-aid, special equipment and tend to other needs of the community.
  8. AmeriCares has three main courses of action: Ready, Respond and Recover. This group tries to anticipate need based on vulnerable areas and have supplies on hand so that they can respond as quickly as possible. Responders work with government and health sectors to prepare local hospitals and position medical supplies. AmeriCares remains in the affected location as long as necessary to help the health system recover and prepare for future disasters.
  9. Since 1988, International Relief Teams (IRT) has been mobilizing volunteers to provide immediate and long-term relief, medical supplies and funding to partner organizations. In the last 30 years, IRT has deployed 420 disaster relief teams, distributed over $100 million in emergency supplies and assisted families in 95 global disasters, including the Armenian earthquake in 1988.
  10. ShelterBox puts families first and believes that no family should be without shelter. They provide emergency shelter and tools to lessen the impact following a disaster and enable a faster recovery for families.

Listed above are only a few nonprofit organizations making an effort to relieve communities of as much suffering as possible after a disaster. Though there are many more disaster relief nonprofits dedicated to providing aid, this list highlights some of the support is available after a disaster. For a more comprehensive list of disaster relief nonprofits, take a look at The Humanitarian Travel website.

Since natural disasters can have catastrophic effects, the issue is being taken seriously as various improvements are being made annually. In order to successfully rebuild communities, it is crucial to support disaster relief nonprofits with a long-term impact and policies in favor of foreign aid.

– Diane Adame

Photo: Flickr

 

 

Samoa aid
A common misconception suggests that the United States has nothing to gain from providing aid to other countries. Some people might support the international affairs budget out of a desire to help save humanity, but there is more to providing foreign aid than that. For example, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Samoa when it helps increase exports and prevents damage to the island caused by natural disasters. The funding that goes towards programs overseas is not a one-time donation. Samoa will be given the tools necessary to build a self-reliable community and in turn, Samoa’s improved contribution to the global market promotes economic growth in the United States, too.

Samoa has repeatedly been victim to natural disasters that have stunted its economic growth. Tsunamis can destroy crops and natural resources, negatively impacting Samoa’s involvement with foreign trade. Since it is part of the Asia Pacific region, which has experienced significant economic growth, the destruction of Samoa’s natural resources interferes with export shipments going to the United States.

An estimated $180 billion in damages and lost resources occurs every year due to natural disasters. Within the past 20 years, $93.2 billion was spent on relief while only $13.5 billion was put towards disaster prevention. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Samoa by minimizing damage to the environment and saving potential exports.

To combat tsunamis and the rising sea levels, USAID encourages communication among countries in the Asia Pacific region with the use of the Pacific Disaster Center’s warning system. It compiles information from weather radars to notify Samoa when storms are headed in its direction. The Secretariat of the Pacific Community helps protect agriculture, while USAID lets stakeholders know when there is a particularly strong harvest.

In recent years, the Strategy for the Development of Samoa (SDS) announced plans to help preserve natural resources and vulnerable species. This includes replanting trees that bear fruit and restoring marine ecosystems. So far, USAID has dedicated $96 million to the entire Asia Pacific region.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Samoa because it depends on Samoa’s agricultural and fishing industries. These are also two of the largest sources of income within Samoa. When help focuses on protecting crops and fisheries, Samoa increases its ability to participate in the global market.

Foodstuffs make up 40 percent of what the U.S. imports from Samoa, and nearly a quarter comes from its fish. In total, $6.76 million worth of product is sent to the United States. In addition to helping Samoa’s environmental plans, the SDS seeks to grow the country’s economic involvement through boosting productivity in the business sector. This will have a positive impact on trading with the United States.

Many other goals outlined in the SDS are designed to help Samoa and the countries that do business with it. Farmers are receiving materials to improve their harvests and hopefully reach a 20 percent increase in crops grown within Samoa.

Higher employment rates in the businesses that produce exports are predicted to help the agricultural and fishing industries. Also, financial services are looking to improve the performance of small business owners. Samoa can maximize the number of resources saved from natural disasters when all companies follow the correct protocol in the event of an emergency.

Foreign aid is an investment. The United States’ efforts to promote a thriving economy in Samoa will be returned in the form of better trade opportunities. Natural disasters and low production rates affect more than just Samoa. Thus, it is in the interest of other countries, such as the United States, to provide foreign aid to Samoa.

Sabrina Dubbert

Photo: Flickr

Food and Water Shortages in the Dominican RepublicNatural disasters are causing food and water shortages in the Dominican Republic, but the non-profit organization SERV International brings dry food goods and water filters to provide citizens with the basic necessities they need after severe storms hit.

Natural Disasters Bring Food and Water Shortages

Between 1980 and 2008, 40 natural disasters have affected 2.65 million people in the Dominican Republic, according to the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery.

Hurricane season for the Caribbean Islands lasts from June to November, according to the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery. Hurricanes bring heavy rains and high winds that can cause damage to infrastructure and crops. Flash floods and landslides are common aftereffects of these destructive storms.

Because agricultural jobs employ more than a fifth of the citizens in the Dominican Republic, the devastation of crops due to natural disasters not only destroys food for people to eat but also causes a loss of jobs. One of their most valuable crops, sugarcane, is the most affected by natural disasters, according to The World Bank.

Hurricanes and other tropical storms can also destroy pipes and sewage systems, leaving behind water polluted by fecal matter, which is where cholera thrives. The CDC defines cholera as an infectious bacterial disease that is contracted from drinking contaminated water. Side effects of this disease are vomiting, diarrhea and possible death. As of June 18, there have already been 56 confirmed deaths from cholera in the Dominican Republic this year.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, prolonged droughts are also frequent hazards that can cause food and water shortages in the Dominican Republic. UNICEF warns that droughts make finding clean water difficult and could potentially lead to malnutrition.

What is SERV International doing to help?

SERV International is a Christian-based organization that sends missionaries to deliver food and clean water to underdeveloped countries all over the world.

Katie Kasha, who is the daughter of the founder and CEO of SERV, talked to The Borgen Project about her experiences in the Dominican Republic in 2014 and 2015 after Hurricane Sandy had hit the previous year. “It all starts with food,” Kasha said. “As a result of going into communities and giving food, we have been able to build relationships and invest into those communities by planting wells and churches.”

Kasha and the rest of the SERV team have brought food to a small village called San Jose as well as a few other small sugarcane villages. Kasha described the food as a dehydrated blend of lentils, soy protein, potatoes, carrots and other vegetables.

Rachel Chapman, a sophomore at Brenau University, accompanied Kasha and the other missionaries on both trips in order to address the food and water shortages in the Dominican Republic. “When we got to the village the thing that was very interesting to me was that the people there were afraid of the rain and rainwater because of the storms they had experienced,” Chapman said. “I found it really ironic that water…the one thing needed to survive was the thing they were most scared of.”

“The villagers drank from a stone trough about 8 foot long and 4 foot deep,” according to Chapman. “There was a nasty lime green film covering the water and when you looked into the trough you could see the growth in the walls.” SERV brought water filters in hopes of providing the villagers with clean water. Chapman added that one water filter will last a family in the Dominican Republic for five years.

Kasha and Chapman will both return to the Dominican Republic in the future to continue giving out food to families and treating filthy water for those that have been affected by destructive natural disasters.

– McKenzie Hamby
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty in HaitiAs the poorest country in the western hemisphere, citizens of Haiti suffer many hardships. Here are 10 of the most important facts about poverty in Haiti.

Facts About Poverty in Haiti

  1. Haiti has high poverty rates.
    The first of the 10 facts about poverty in Haiti is in regards to the rate of poverty in the Caribbean nation. According to United Nations Development Program, 24.7 percent of Haitians live in extreme poverty, which is less than $1.25 per day. Even more, approximately 59 percent of Haitians live on less than $2 a day. However, the rate of extreme poverty has started to decline since 2000.
  2. Haiti has a large wealth disparity.
    Haiti is ranked fourth on the CIA World Factbook for income inequality. This measurement is based on the Gini coefficient, a ratio of highest to lowest incomes. For Haiti, this means that the top 20 percent of households hold 64 percent of the total wealth in the country.
  3. Haiti is prone to natural disasters.
    Haitian residents are all too familiar with natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes. Hurricane Matthew, a category four storm which struck Haiti in October 2017, killed 546 people and affected two million more. However, the consequences of the hurricane spanned over many months. In turn, the destruction of buildings and crops, a major source of income for Haitians, cost the country greatly.
  4. Haiti’s GDP growth has slowed.
    Haiti’s GDP growth slowed from 1.5 percent in 2016 to 1.2 percent in 2017. This is largely due to crop loss following Hurricane Matthew.
  5. Haitians suffer from energy issues.
    Haitians suffer from lack of or unreliability of electricity. According to USAID, the two key energy issues for Haiti are a broken electricity sector and a dependency on charcoal. This means that a large percentage of the population is without power and those who do have it have unreliable power. The issue remains at a standstill as a quarter of the population did not have power before the 2010 earthquake and that figure remains the same to this day.
  6. Haiti has poor leadership.
    Haiti has been led by a poor line of leaders since gaining independence from France. Pierre Esperance, director of the National Human Rights Defense Network in Haiti, said of the leaders in the L.A. Times, “They don’t really want to work for the Haitian people, to improve them. They work for themselves once they get to power. They want to steal money.”The country will need strong, dedicated leaders to better conditions, which it has never had before. However, the current president, Jovenel Moïse, has vowed to do just this. His plans include streamlining agriculture and addressing corruption.
  7. Many Haitians are malnourished.
    Approximately 100,000 children under the age of five are malnourished, while 30 percent of the overall population is considered food insecure. This means that citizens do not have ample access to nourishing food.
  8. Many Haitians do not have access to clean water.
    About one in two Haitians use unsanitary water, which has been proven to cause illnesses. In fact, about 80 percent of illnesses in developing countries are due in part to unsanitary water.
  9. Many Haitians lack an adequate education.
    Only 50 percent of children in Haiti attend school, making it more difficult to find employment in the future.
  10. Haiti has a large unemployment rate.
    In part due to the lack of education, many Haitians, about two-thirds, do not have formal jobs, resulting in unsteady incomes.

These important facts about poverty in Haiti have been prominent in Haiti for many years now. Though these issues are still severe, improvements have been made, including a leader who seems determined to better the lives of his citizens and a slowly declining poverty rate.

– Olivia Booth
Photo: Flickr