Aid to Indonesia

Indonesia is no stranger to natural disasters; it has experienced a lot of destruction throughout the years. A major natural disaster occurs in Indonesia almost every year in the form of tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Christian organizations are planted internationally in order to minister and bring aid to those in need. World Vision Ministry is one such organization that has been in Indonesia since 1960. Here is a look at World Vision’s aid to Indonesia.

World Vision’s Foundation

World Vision in Indonesia is based on a vision of a world that is committed to the well-being of children. The organization strives to build thriving communities where peace and justice can prevail with security, opportunity and contentment. This is accomplished through its relief, development and advocacy work. World Vision has become one of the world’s largest charities with annual revenue reaching more than $1 billion. It has ministries in 90 countries, focusing on children.

In the 1970s, World Vision Indonesia initiated a community development approach that provides more integrated support toward the empowerment of the poor communities and their children. Its involvement improved basic education, health, income generation and basic infrastructure for Indonesia. In 1998, World Vision raised 14 million to aid the poor in Jakarta, Indonesia. As a global humanitarian organization, World Vision’s ministry is dedicated to continuous aid to Indonesia whether it be a food crisis or assistance to victims of natural disasters.

Programs to Empower

According to the ministry, World Vision introduced the Area Development Program (ADP) approach in the 1990s to create an effective and lasting transformation in the lives of people in poor communities. The organization describes the ADPs as nurturing an inclusive approach to tackle poverty across extensive areas, normally involving several villages and communities. World Vision’s aid to Indonesia through the ADP approach has led to more sustainable developments and impacts through longer intervention and lifetime concentrated programs.

Today, World Vision has a partnership with Wahana Visi Indonesia, which supports around 50 ADPs in aid to Indonesia’s North Sumatra, Jakarta, East Java, West Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi, East Nusa Tenggara, North Maluku and Papua. World Vision in Indonesia has helped to save lives in many ways, but it is most effective in its emergency response.

Emergency Relief and Support

World Vision has administered emergency relief support to those affected by natural disasters or communal conflicts for many years. In 1963, World Vision supported the victims of Mount Agung eruption in Bali and then provided aid to Indonesia in the resettlement of displaced people in West Kalimantan, Maluku among other sites in the 1970-80s. The ministry remained Indonesia in 1997 and 2009 following the drought from the El Nino weather phenomenon, severe economic crises, earthquakes and the major tsunami in Aceh province.

In December 2018, World Vision provided aid to Indonesia when the Sunda Strait tsunami struck Java and Sumatra, resulting in more than 300 deaths. The ministry distributed hygiene and household items to families who lost their homes and provided safe places for mothers to feed their young children.

Margie Siregar, Humanitarian Emergency Affairs Director with World Vision, spoke with NPR’s Ari Shapiro while she was in Jakarta, Indonesia. “We had 30 aid staff already in the place before the earthquake happened and now we are providing some public kitchen and children feeding,” Siregar told NPR. The workers of World Vision also provided the children with a child-friendly space where they could play and recover from the trauma. In Central Sulawesi, an estimated 460,000 children in four districts were affected according to World Vision Indonesia.

Combatting Poverty

Each fiscal year, World Vision raises around $20 million from donors and sponsors in various countries to combat poverty and bring lasting transformation in the lives of the children to facilitate their communities. In 2018, 86 percent of World Vision’s total operating expenses went to aid Indonesia by establishing programs that benefited children, families and communities in poverty.

Parents in Indonesia are being empowered to care for their children through education on child protection and disaster risk reduction thanks to World Vision’s aid to Indonesia. Those who are interested in aiding the families affected by the recent tsunami may donate to World Vision’s Indonesia tsunami relief fund.

Carolina Chaves
Photo: Flickr

According to National Public Radio (NPR), health researchers have reported that the number of new cases of Zika infections in Puerto Rico has risen to over 34,000 since 2015. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that the virus peaked during the summer months of 2016, with more than 2,000 new cases being reported per week.

Because Zika is a relatively new epidemic, individuals living in Puerto Rico have not yet developed any immunity to the virus. Therefore, the transmission of the disease has been rampant.

In more recent months, the number of Zika infections in Puerto Rico has decreased to around 200 new cases per week. However, it continues to remain a serious problem within the region. Researchers from the CDC have confirmed that the number of Zika infections in Puerto Rico has far surpassed that of dengue virus infections. Dengue is another disease most commonly spread by mosquitoes.

The Zika virus is transmitted via the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Pregnant women who become infected are especially at risk of the disease.  Those infected are likely to pass on the infection to the fetus during pregnancy, which can lead to serious birth defects. Additionally, sexual relations and blood transfusions can spread the virus. Common symptoms of Zika virus include fever, rash, headaches, muscle pain and red eyes.

As of 2017, over 1,000 confirmed cases of reported Zika infections in Puerto Rico were among pregnant women. Doctors at the High-Risk Clinic at the University of Puerto Rico have treated some of these infected women. They witnessed at least 14 cases of babies born with severe brain damage.

Notwithstanding, some babies may not begin to show signs of defects or abnormalities until several years after birth. This calls for babies to be closely monitored by health professionals for up to four or five years after birth.

The CDC has listed different recommendations for preventing contraction of the disease. These recommendations are especially important because of the lack of a vaccine for the disease. Some of their recommendations include wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when mosquitoes are around, ridding homes of any standing water and using insect repellents registered by the Environmental Protection Agency. They especially advise against pregnant women traveling into Puerto Rico or any other areas where the virus is present.

Lael Pierce

Photo: Flickr

Food for Peace, the Past, Present and Future
In 2013, NPR reported that “a political war” was brewing over the Food For Peace Act.

Food for Peace, which has been the United States’ primary program for overseas food assistance, is estimated to have benefited 3 billion people in 150 countries.

The program began as a way for the United States to put its surplus foodstuffs to good use across the globe, and has since modernized into a competitive process in which the American government purchases commodities from US farmers (through a competitive process) and then allocates them to needy populations worldwide.

Or at least, most of those commodities are redistributed. There is a portion of that food that is deemed “non-emergency” and placed into the hands of non-profits that are able to sell it for profit. Being non-profit companies, these profits are intended to then be funneled into development initiatives.

In 2013, this tactic of redistribution was the subject of hot debate. Many critics, including Oxfam America told NPR that it was “a horribly ineffective way to pay for local development projects” and that “according to some calculations, at least a third of the money is wasted.”

Fast forward 2 years later and the war seems to be over. Those who called for reforms, like Oxfam America, were victorious. Food for Peace has recently undergone a fine-print makeover intended to streamline the United States’ role as a pipeline that brings nutrition to starving populations.

Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are leading the charge:

“With limited aid available it is our responsibility to ensure American resources are used in the most effective manner possible,” said Senator Corker. “These necessary reforms will allow us to better promote stability around the world by delivering lifesaving food to those in need more quickly and at a lower cost.”

Senator Coons added that “Our current system for acquiring and distributing food is inefficient and often hurts the very communities it is trying to help.”

So, what will these reforms look like?Food_for_peace

They begin with a more cost-effective method of food procurement. This means that while the current program requires that 100 percent of food be produced in the United States, the reforms would allow US produced commodities as well as regionally produced ones (from places such as Latin America) to be considered for the program.

It will also expand the definition of “commodities” to include vouchers and even cash transfers, which have seen remarkable success in poverty reduction in Randomized Control Trials in Africa.

The reforms will also reduce the number of goods that must be shipped on American-flagged vessels (it is 50 percent currently) which will cut shipping costs an estimated $50 million annually.

For those concerned over how this will affect American shipping interests, a press release has estimated that this would have no tangible effect on the US shipping sector, as only .86 percent of US exports are channeled through Food for Peace.

Finally, the Food for Peace Reforms will deal a fatal blow to the “monetization” aspect—or the portion of food that is given directly to nonprofits–by eliminating this aspect of the program completely.

This comes on the recommendation of the Government Affair’s Office (GAO) who launched an investigation into “monetization” in regards to Food for Peace in 2011. The GAO found that monetization is “an inherently inefficient way to fund development projects and can cause adverse market impacts in developing countries.”

This is at odds with the 2013 claim that it is this program that ensures the continuance of aid assistance regardless of who sits in the oval office.

“If we remove the conditions about how the money should be spent, that money may never be available for those crises, at a key time when we need it,” said Jeffrey Grieco, chief of public and international affairs at International Relief and Development (IRD).

Regardless of the attitude towards monetization, which is likely to spark yet another war in Congress to match the 2013 conflict, these reforms are estimated to release $440 million in funds that could be used to feed 12 million more people. The gains of monetization would have to be at least that strong to hinder this reform bill’s progress through Washington.

Emma Betuel

Sources: Senate, GAO, NPR
Photo: Google Images, Flickr

In 1940, about 11,000 people lived in Qatar. Today, nearly two million men and women of every ethnicity and income reside in this state, living at the mercy of imported food.

However, Qatar sits comfortably as the largest global exporter of liquefied natural gas. A majority of residents are foreign workers, with no more than 13% native Qataris. As a result, this 13% – fewer than 300,000 – became very wealthy in the past two decades.

Justin Gengler, an American professor at Qatar University, calculated the annual income for each citizen at $180,000.

Skyscrapers now dominate the Qatar skyline – monuments to Qatar’s rapid economic growth. This rising urbanization, however, contrasts sharply with the declining food supply.

The arid region cannot support the recent influx of foreign workers. Limited land and chronic water scarcity restricts agricultural growth and heightens fear of food insecurity. Qatar imports more than 90% of its food and desalinates nearly 100% of its water. Today, it faces an agricultural trade deficient of $1.2 billion.

Dependence on wealth from natural oil and gas cannot sustain the state, as it combats degraded soil, difficult climate, and a lack of irrigation water.

Robert Siegel of NPR reports, “The way the Qataris see it, it’s a fair match, paying for the best technology to triumph over the most adverse natural environment.”

The government established the Qatar National Food Security Program (QNFSP) in 2008. This initiative aims to promote self-sufficiency, by investing in agricultural technology. Ideally, this technology makes “optimal usage of scare resources.”

Technology ties the principles of growth and sustainability together. At the Ministry of Environment, Fahad Al-Attiya hopes to transform Qatar from a hydrocarbon-based economy to a knowledge-based one.

A seven acre farm sits 12 millimeters from Doha. Trees and several greenhouses form a protective ring around the farm, as harsh winds threaten the crops. The farm rests on the very limited source of fresh groundwater.

Nearly 60% of residents live in Doha, relying on desalinated water. Farmers, however, depend on aquifers. More than a century ago, water flowed freely. Today, farmers and consumers have overdrawn their aquifers and exhausted the water supply.

The QNFSP intends to equip farmers with more efficient irrigation technology, placing Qatari farms on par with those in more favorable climates. At this time, only one percent of total land is cultivated and farms declined by 30% in the past five years. However, by 2030, the state aims to produce 40% of its food domestically.

Around 50,000,000 cubic meters of water from rain and underground channels remains and though this can sustain the state for two or three years, it needs more long-term solutions.

The state continues to grow by 15% annually and consumes more water than any nation in the world. However, rainfall in Doha totals a mere 74 millimeters per year. Consequently, it must rely heavily on energy for the desalination for water.

With 300 days of sun, Qatar holds a competitive advantage: renewable energy.

Though the global economy values gas and oil, Qatar serves as a reminder to all: without access to water, the threat of food insecurity and poverty persists.

Ellery Spahr 

Sources: NPR, Ted Talks
Photo: QNFSP

NPR Makes a T-Shirt
Take a look at the shirt you’re wearing. Odds are it’s better traveled than you are.

National Public Radio’s (NPR) Planet Money recently published a multimedia series on the making of a T-shirt and its extraordinary journey through the world economy.

Believe it or not, your shirt and others like it are a wonder of the modern world.

The five part series follows a T-shirt from cottonseed to ink print. It would seem like a simple process, but the Planet Money special reveals the hidden complexity of a global enterprise.

Behind each of these cheaply produced shirts are multinational corporations and complex trade deals between nations — but, most of all, people’s lives. While the series takes a look at the entire process, it is the human connection that it seems most poised to drive home.

Although the chapters are mostly delivered through a dispassionate reportage, the deleterious effects of the garment industry in the developing world are likely to ignite the passions of most viewers.

Perhaps the most illuminating of these stories is that of Jasmine in Bangladesh.

More than 4 million people like Jasmine work in the garment industry in Bangladesh. Many of these people work for less than 35 cents an hour.

Cramped living and working environments, the absence of electricity and running water as well as disease make life extremely difficult. Jasmine, herself, lives in a small group home without running water and sends most of her earnings to her parents.

However, these hardships pale in comparison to the risk many of these workers face.

For instance, while the Planet Money team was filming, a major garment building in Bangladesh collapsed killing over one thousand workers. The online series shows difficult images of bodies tangled in the framework of the building.

Tragically, without the garment industry, NPR argues, Bangladesh would be worse off still.

In the end, the shirt they made traveled thousands of miles by air, by land and by sea. Even so, it’s total production cost just over 12 dollars. The cost in time, travel and human toil, however, is something a bit larger.

It is a complicated process with complicated results but for people in developing nations that make the goods that the developed world buys, the garment industry’s work is a double bind.

On the one hand, it sustains their entire nation and on the other, it does not sufficiently provide for, or protect, its workers. If nothing else, NPR has created a series that does not shy away from presenting a complex image of an industry, its products and its people.

Chase Colton

Sources: NPR, Al Jazeera

The Garifuna people of Honduras have an HIV infection rate of 4.5 percent – higher than any nation in the Western hemisphere, and five times higher than Honduras as a whole. Those affected by the virus are finding new and creative ways to fight HIV/AIDS in Honduras.

According to an NPR report funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the Garifuna are using traditional music and theater to raise awareness of HIV, and to combat stigmas surrounding the disease. Musician and singers perform traditional celebratory Garifuna songs to draw listeners, and then enact a play in which actors put HIV on trial.

Many Hondurans who are HIV-positive are reluctant to seek help, even though HIV clinics provide medical care and antiretroviral medication to patients at almost no cost. They deny having the problem because they fear judgment or ostracization, and for good reason. Lack of education has been a major contributor to high infection rates. Women infected with the virus report being rejected by family and unable to find work.

Widespread poverty and migration also contribute to new infections. In some areas it is socially acceptable to have multiple sexual partners. Testing facilities are not widely used, and communication between sexual partners is nonexistent in some cases.

Participants in the Garifuna theater group believe that theater, music, and other community activities are more engaging than books or pamphlets around such complex social and medical issues. Fighting HIV/AIDS in Honduras, especially among rural populations, is a challenge. But the creative approach is working well so far.

USAID and the Honduran government are funding theater groups like the Garifuna’s. A USAID official reported a decline in the rate of HIV infection among program beneficiaries: the 30 members of the theater group are living safer lives, and encouraging others to do so. The problem of HIV/AIDS in Honduras is not yet resolved, but community engagement through the arts is a step in the right direction.

– Kat Henrichs

Source: NPR

Aid to Haiti: What Lessons Can We Learn?A controversy with foreign aid does not always relate to misuse but the reality of the numbers and figures after the aid is delivered. A popular example of this has been the $9 billion in donations made to the Haitian government since the 2010 earthquake.

Last week, National Public Radio (npr) interviewed Jonathan Katz, the author of The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster. This new book focuses on the damages to both the Haitian government and its people due to communication issues, lack of coordination, and the general failure of donor countries to follow-through on their promises.

After reading the interview, it is important to keep in mind that foreign aid is not a waste. There have been thousands and thousands of completely successful large-scale and small-scale transactions and projects throughout the centuries. Governments, however, need to really sit down and review their policies. In this review, one would hope they would seriously consider making more use of direct aid. As Katz briefly touches on in his interview, there is the uncommon but possible option of paying victims of the earthquake (or any crisis) and removing the middleman. Perhaps not handing them a band of cash exactly, but focusing the energy and time spent on drafting contracts, debt relief plans, and the such to send volunteers and individuals who are willing and passionate about making small but immediate and tangible changes, such as Syrian-American Omar Chamma has been doing in Syria.

The transcript of the interview follows:

Aid pledged to Haiti — $9.3 billion worth from 2010 to 2012 — is about a third of all global health aid donated in 2012. What happened to the money that was supposed to go to Haiti?

Katz: Money did what money tends to do in most foreign aid situations. That is, rather than being a model in which a rich country gives a poor country a big bag of cash and says, “Here spend this on fixing things up from whatever the latest crisis was,” what actually happens is that very little of the money actually leaves the donor countries. First of all, you’ve got billions of dollars that are promised but just never delivered. You’ve got billions of dollars more that were sort of creative accounting. Donor nations say they’re providing debt relief, yet those debts were never realistically going to be paid back. So some of the money is sort of fictive.

So how much actually made it into Haiti?

Even among the real money, if you look at what was labeled as humanitarian relief, in the months right after the quake, that amounts to about $2.5 billion.
Ninety-three percent of that money either went to United Nations agencies or international nongovernmental organizations, or it never left the donor government.
So you had the Pentagon writing bills to the State Department to get reimbursed for having sent troops down to respond to the disaster.
If we’re talking about reconstruction, it’s really a misnomer to think that relief aid was necessarily going to have the effect of rebuilding a country in any shape or form.

So what was that money spent on?

Band-Aids. Literally bandages. Short-term relief. Tarps to put over your head. Food to fill emergency gaps in supply.
But food gets eaten. Tarps wear out. Band-Aids get pulled off. And ultimately, all that money is spent, but people aren’t left with anything durable.When you hear about all these billions of dollars [in aid donations], the imagination is that they’re going to go and rebuild the country after the earthquake. They were never intended to do so and, lo and behold, they didn’t.

There are often complaints after big disasters about waste and inefficiencies. Was the Haiti earthquake different from any other international disaster or is this typical?

What is interesting about Haiti is the extremes.
There are lots of places that have weak governments, but Haiti’s government is weak in a special way. It’s the product of so many years of aid going around the government and international efforts to undermine the government. Presidents being overthrown and flown out on U.S. Air Force planes and then reinstalled and then overthrown again. That left the Haitian government in such a weakened state.
Then the disaster itself was also so much more extreme. It was so concentrated. It hit the capital city. Whether your estimates for a death toll is in the 80,000 range or closer to the government’s estimate of 316,000 — in a city of 2.5 million people — it’s just an extraordinary number.
It was an incredibly horrific disaster. It hit the country right at its heart and destroyed a government that was already weakened.
But beyond that, the attitude that so many foreign aid groups have regarding Haiti is that you can basically come in and do whatever you want. So there was no accountability, no coordination.
People were just running around doing what they thought was best or what they thought was best for them. And it really created a mess.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source: npr