Water Quality in Nauru

Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, Nauru struggles to find secure potable water sources. The island has no rivers and the groundwater is limited due to increasing salinity and contamination, problems that make rainwater collection and desalination plants the only reliable sources of water for almost 10,000 Nauruans. As a result, the water quality in Nauru has suffered.

Utilizing Rainwater

People in Nauru can take advantage of rainwater thanks to a system installed on the roofs of domestic and commercial buildings. A structure of tubes directs rain towards a small tank in which Nauruans store water, which can later be used for drinking and cooking.

However, between rainy seasons groundwater is the major source of water on the island. Unfortunately, the low water quality in Nauru means that groundwater is clean in few areas.

In the remaining areas, groundwater quality in Nauru is affected by wastewater disposal from houses, shops, commercial buildings and the refugee camp. In addition, some zones have an increasing salinity rate, which makes the water inadequate for human usage.

To resolve this problem, Nauru’s administration launched an expansion of the national water storage capacity in order to improve the water supply. The project consists of building more water tanks which will prevent water shortage during periods of drought. This solution also protects the environment since the desalination plants are energy-intensive and use fossil fuels for power.

Desalination Plants

Nauru’s secondary source of water are the four desalination plants throughout the island. However, the desalination plants require high quantities of energy for power. The desalination process is also expensive and affects the beach environment.

In 2014, water quality in Nauru took a remarkable turn with the development of a project by the Nauruan government to install a solar PV system and desalination plant. It is expected that this project could produce 100 cubic meters of safe water per day. In addition, the PV system will generate 1.3 percent of the energy demand in the island, doubling the existing energy production of solar energy. With these advantages, the project would also reduce water delivery to only three weeks.

Refugee camp

Nauru has a refugee camp that holds about 400 refugees that tried to enter Australia by boat. This camp requires water and other basic necessities such as shelter, food and clothes. As a result, when people in Nauru face water shortage, refugees also experience the same difficulty.

The camp often faces water shortages, resulting in serious water restrictions.

The PV system desalination plant and the new storage tanks that the Nauruan government is planning to implement are good solutions to addressing water quality and supply in Nauru for both citizens and refugees alike.

Dario Ledesma

Photo: Flickr

The Syrian conflict and ensuing refugee crisis continues to reach new heights, as Lebanon received its one millionth refugee. The nation of about 5 million people is now holding the equivalent of an additional fifth of their population. Resources continue to be strained and worries are raised over a sectarian conflict spreading in the region. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that Lebanon now has the highest refugee population per capita worldwide.

Unfortunately, the refugee influx into Lebanon has left no signs of slowing up. The UNHCR has recorded that the refugee influx has increased exponentially over the course of the conflict and has found that 2,500 new refugees are arriving in Lebanon every day. Until the end of the violence in Syria, it is not known when this crisis can become manageable.

Across all countries, the United Nations has recorded 2.58 million refugees, with extensive populations in Jordan and Turkey as well as Lebanon. The nations of Europe are starting to become more involved in the refugee process, taking some pressure off the limited resources in the Middle East. There remains little talk over peace negotiations between the two sides in the conflict.

World Bank estimates say that Lebanon has lost $2.5 billion in economic activity over the course of the Syrian conflict. As a result of this lost economic activity, 170,000 Lebanese are projected to be driven into poverty by the end of 2014. Meanwhile, 400,000 child refugees are starting to go into public school, but the current infrastructure will be hard-pressed to meet this population’s needs. Lebanese schools have taken in 100,000 refugees, but according to their ability to accept anymore will be “severely limited.”

Some outside groups have attempted to bolster the relief efforts for these refugees. Malala Yousafzai announced efforts to raise $500 million for the education of refugees in Lebanon. Also, the United Nations has appealed for $1.89 billion for this year in efforts to raise awareness. However, that initiative still is trying to get off the ground, as only $242 million has been raised so far.

The struggles of Syrian refugees has been written about extensively, yet, even as one of the most pressing humanitarian crises of the present day, it still seems to have had an underwhelming response from the world at large. Organizations like the Borgen Project encourage and advocate for these refugees but, while the West is beginning efforts to alleviate the refugee crisis, there is still too much being left by the wayside for the Syrian people.

– Eric Gustafsson

Sources: United Nations, CNN, Forbes
Photo: Flickr

The civil war in Syria is entering its third year, having displaced more than 3 million people. Most of these people leave all of their belongings behind, fleeing the country without crucial resources. Refugees find themselves entirely dependent on others, relying on the UN Refugee Agency, foreign governments, and other aid organizations to survive without employment or permanent housing.

While the prospects in refugee camps may seem bleak, some Syrian refugees have managed to attain financial independence by utilizing particular skills. Diar*, a young man who arrived at Iraq’s Domiz Camp last July, opened a tailor shop that served refugees and the surrounding community. He ran his own tailor shop for years in Damascus, helping his younger siblings go to school with his income.

When two explosions forced him to leave Syria and abandon his shop, Diar decided to bring his pressing machine with him in case he could use it as a source of income.

As one of more than 90,000 Syrian refugees living in the Kurdish region of Iraq and 31,000 living in Domiz alone, Diar recognized a potential market and used his family’s small camp space to create a new tailor shop.

With upfront help from the UNHCR, which provided him with the initial electricity and space to operate his business, Diar has managed to gain a loyal following. His customers laud his shop for its “quality and better service,” claiming that Diar has better prices than do businesses outside of the camp. Diar has also gained customers native to the region because of his competitive prices and good service.

Diar’s tailor shop may seem like an anomaly within the atmosphere of a refugee camp, but he is one of many business owners who have contributed to the camp economy in Domiz. Small-scale businesses are helping to reduce the demands on aid organizations by providing services for affordable prices. The businesses also help ensure that refugees do not lose their sense of autonomy after being forced from their own country.

While it is costly for the UNHCR to administer refugee camps, entrepreneurs are lessening the burden, using the help they receive from aid organizations to give back to their new communities.

* Name has been changed.

– Katie Bandera

Source: UNHCR The Guardian
Photo: The Guardian

The Universities Fighting World Hunger organization seeks to “create an academic hunger model that is suitable for replication or adaptation by universities around the world.” It is partnered with the UN World Food Programme and hopes to involve universities and to take action against world hunger through hunger awareness and education, fundraising, advocacy and academic initiatives.

In April, students at the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB) and members of Universities Fighting World Hunger sought to educate participants about the harsh realities that refugees face every day while living in a refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. The event was held on campus and was open and free to the public.

The annual event reenacted life in a refugee camp that harbors nearly 400,000 refugees mostly from neighboring Somalia. By using the bare bones of a camp, tents and a grill, and retelling true stories about refugee’s lives and daily activities, members of the organization hoped to spark interest and action. Participants were exposed to the extreme living conditions in a refugee camp including chronic food insufficiency. Members created fliers and pamphlets that outlined how individuals could get involved, answering many of the participants questions of “What can we do to help?”

– Kira Maixner

Source: Student Media at University of Alabama in Birmingham
Photo: Guardian

Dadaab Stories: By the People, For the People
A story is best told by someone who was there. Whereas many documentaries as made by directors and producers passionate about the cause they are filming for, there is a difference between an outsider shooting their subjects, and the subjects shooting themselves.

The organization FilmAid had initially begun to screen videos and films at refugee camps. These films were mostly educational, providing those living in refugee camps with important safety and health information. They also showed films for purely entertainment purposes in order to help lighten the mood and spirit at the camps. In 2011, however, the organization’s branch in Dadaab, the world’s biggest refugee camp in Somalia, began a special project entitled “Dadaab Stories” where it began to train the refugees to work the cameras themselves and have the chance to tell their stories from their perspective.

Dadaab was built in the 1990s to house 90,000 refugees. Today, it is the home to over 500,000 refugees. Describing life in a refugee camp is difficult; insiders know more and have been around longer than an outside film crew.

Ryan Jones, an American videographer who joined FilmAid’s project in 2011, said that the part of the appeal of the program that it strays from the usual model of “an American film crew coming into a camp and spending a short period of time there and shooting some kind of 90-minute doc we hope to get into Sundance.”

Refugees have made various videos such as an emergency response video regarding a cholera outbreak, a safety video for rape awareness, the camp’s orientation film, a music video for the local group Dadaab All Stars, and documentation of actress Scarlett Johansson’s visit.

In October of 2011, however, a kidnapping incident involving Doctors Without Borders created intense restrictions and security issues which prevented the FilmAid team from coming back to Somalia. Since then, the refugees have been trying to manage posting videos and have begun to make their camp-wide newspaper The Refugee available online.

This project has not only taught the refugees a new and unique skill they would otherwise not have the chance to learn, but it gives them a creative outlet to truly show the world what life in a refugee camp is like. They may not be making feature length films or Sundance-worthy documentaries, but their progress and work are so valuable that it could never be put into a simple award category.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source: Co.EXIST

Syrian Children Fed and Educated in Refugee Camps

While most reports about Syria the past week have discussed the casualties of what has been the deadliest month to record in the three-year long civil war, hope through education remains in the face of strife and depravity.

Of the thousands of children who have fled to Jordan and Iraq, some have been fortunate enough to continue their education. More recently as well, these children also began receiving consistent meals and snacks at their schools.

On March 24, the World Food Programme, a branch of the United Nations, began a special program to feed children attending schools in refugee camps. Their goal was not only to increase the children’s nutritional intake but to also ensure that they continue to attend school. In a matter of two weeks, World Food Programme has already seen a 20 percent increase in attendance throughout the camps they worked in.

World Food Programme partnered with five different schools; two schools in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan (run by UNICEF) which services 6,000 children and the Domiz refugee camp school and two schools in Al-Qaim, located in Iraq, reaching 4,500 children.

The main snack that is distributed is a date biscuit, an already popular and familiar snack in the Middle East. This version however is fortified with three minerals and 11 vitamins, providing students with 450 calories to help sustain them through their day.

With plans to help an additional 24,000 children in Zaatari and 1,500 throughout Iraq, World Food Programme would need to raise $780,000 to run the program through the end of the year. Aside from the millions of dollars needed to feed all refugees, and not just children attending schools, this particular project has hopes of being able to create a stable routine and lifestyle for children who have already encountered so much.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source: UN News Centre