Humanitarian Exchange articles tagged:Environment

In eight out of the past ten years, there has been drought somewhere in the Horn of Africa, affecting nearly 70 million people. Indeed, the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia suffer from water scarcity on an almost annual basis. In this context, water trucking has played a pivotal role in addressing basic water needs. It is a coping mechanism during ‘typical’ dry seasons, based on existing private sector water trucks and vendors who sell water to those who are able to pay for it. In times of drought, direct water trucking is a common relief…
After three decades of bitter conflict, humanitarian operations in Afghanistan remain fraught with difficulties and risks. In the early days of the conflict, humanitarian organisations worked in Kandahar and elsewhere in the south with much freedom of movement. However, the death of an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) water engineer travelling between Kandahar and Uruzgan in March 2003 signalled a sea change in operational security and humanitarian access in the south, and perhaps Afghanistan as a whole. Conflict intensified over the decade that followed, and security incidents affecting NGOs (mostly at the hands of the armed opposition) increased…
The conflict in Darfur has greatly accelerated the processes of environmental degradation that have been undermining subsistence livelihoods in the area over recent decades. The implication of this is that environmental drivers of conflict have worsened as a result of the current crisis. An understanding of the physical and social processes involved must inform humanitarian programming, recovery planning and peace processes at local and national level so that this accelerated environmental degradation may be slowed and its impacts mitigated. The debate over the environment in Darfur illustrates the complexity of a conflict that has numerous levels. The lowest level of…
Climate change is projected to increase the likelihood and severity of a wide range of extreme weather events, many of which particularly affect urban area. Given urban areas’ high population densities, often including high concentrations of vulnerable people, increasing urban disaster risk should be a key concern in discussions of the adverse impacts of climate change.  This article presents two specific examples of increasing risks due to climate change in urban environments, and illustrates how Red Cross/Red Crescent societies address these concerns. The first case is the increasing risk of heat waves, illustrated by the 2003 heat wave in Western…
In 2003, 13 million Ethiopians required exceptional food assistance just to survive. Despite 30 years of food aid, the country’s food security has steadily worsened, and relief food aid has become an institutionalised response. Thus the common refrain: if food security is getting worse, is food aid the right way to address food insecurity in Ethiopia? The question is, however, flawed. We need instead to ask how food aid is being used. Relief food aid, while effective in saving lives and relieving short-term hunger, cannot achieve sustainable food security. Food aid, when well targeted and linked with other development inputs,…
The idea of considering the environment as part of humanitarian assistance might seem illogical. The midst of a humanitarian crisis may not look like the best time to start trying to hug trees; trying to combine environmental action with humanitarian aid could jeopardise both. Still, not considering the environment during a humanitarian crisis risks a number of significant negative outcomes. The environment is a major contributing factor to the origins of most humanitarian crises. Failing to consider the links between the crisis and the environment means that humanitarian aid will be based on an incomplete and incorrect understanding of the…
The Environmental Response Network (ERN) is a project of Green Cross UK. It has grown out of a three year project to test the feasibility of establishing an environmental resource related to disasters. It is expected to become operational in the summer of 1999. The overall objective of the ERN is to offer a resource comprising environmental expertise, information and training related to disasters in order to: help integrate environmental considerations into emergency preparedness and response mechanisms; promote sustainable long-term reconstruction following a disaster; link environmental knowledge and expertise to the decision-making process in disaster management. The ERN will support…
For rural populations in developing countries, the natural environment is intimately linked to economic welfare. Populations are dependent on their surroundings for water, food, shelter and medicine. Refugee influxes intensify normal ‘green’ environmental problems - those associated with over-exploitation of rural natural resources due to poverty, rising populations, weak property rights and inappropriate management. Refugee impact on the environment Refugee settlements often occur in environmentally sensitive areas. In Africa, refugees have therefore usually been settled in semi-arid, agriculturally marginal areas, or (as in the case of the Rwandese in Zaire) near national parks or forest reserves. Refugee camps tend to…
In February, the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development published its annual report. In addition to providing a comprehensive review of the distribution and allocation of the major donors’ development finance, it also promotes a new development paradigm to guide aid expenditures into the next century. In view of the importance of the DAC, and its direct relevance to agencies working in the relief and rehabilitation field, we summarise these financing and policy trends and assess their implications for future policy and practice. Human Security and Sustainable Development: A New Aid Paradigm? The DAC…
In 1987, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution designating the 1990s as the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR) and the Decade formally began on 1st January 1990. The Decade is now almost half way through and in just a few weeks time a large international conference will take place at Yokohama, Japan, and this will form an important component of a mid-term review of the Decade (see Conferences section, in PDF). Despite the Decade having almost reached its half-way stage, many personnel within NGOs involved in disaster mitigation and relief activities seem to be barely aware of…

Find an Issue

Standard Login