Humanitarian Exchange articles tagged:Natural disasters

For decades, development and humanitarian architects have stressed the importance of an enabling approach to reconstruction that recognises the central role that affected people play in rebuilding their homes in the wake of disaster. Yet this rhetoric has seldom translated into action, and shelter responses are typified by the provision of inadequate, inappropriate and badly built shelters to a small proportion of the affected population. The success of a shelter response tends to be measured by the number of units provided, and there is pressure to help as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Agencies are prompted to…
Koenraad Van Brabant, outgoing HPN Coordinator, interviews Christina ter Braak, MSF-Holland, Uzbekistan Koenraad Van Brabant Christina, how does a young woman from Holland end up working in Uzbekistan? Christina ter Braak My first six-month stay in Uzbekistan was in 1996, teaching Dutch and English at Tashkent University. After my Bachelor’s degree, I did a Master’s in development studies. For my thesis – on unemployment in Uzbekistan – I spent another three months there doing research; every single person I spoke to had an opinion on the subject. Subsequently, I applied for a job in the Tashkent office of Human Rights Watch (HRW), and was invited for recruitment tests in New York. But the reply…
From Iran to western China, Central Asia is suffering its worst drought in decades. One of the states hardest-hit has been Afghanistan; poor and conflict-ridden, it is also the least able to cope Afghanistan is in its third year of severe drought, compounding the effects of conflict and international isolation. Precarious security conditions and problems of access make needs difficult to assess, but it is clear that the food crisis in much of the country has become acute. Millions of Afghans have little or no access to food, and require international humanitarian food aid. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands more have been forced from their homes, congregating in camps in Afghanistan or across…
Evidence of the particular vulnerabilities of LGBTI people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) has been documented in several emergency and disaster situations. For example, men who have sex with men (MSM) in Haiti were denied food aid after the 2008 earthquake because ration schemes were targeted only at women, and these men had no women registered in their residences; transgender people reported being denied entry to IDP camps after the floods in Pakistan because they did not possess proper government ID that matched their appearance; and aravanis (feminine, male-bodied, gender-variant people) routinely faced discrimination in access to housing, medical…
How do humanitarian responders and the organisations they work for take conflict into account when responding to rapid-onset emergencies? In what ways do the actions of humanitarian agencies exacerbate conflict? These were some of the questions a group of NGOs working together in the Conflict Sensitivity Consortium[1] (CSC) set about answering in a commissioned report published by HPN in October 2011.[2] The research looked at the organisational frameworks and emergency manuals used by international NGOs, system-wide tools and standards such as the Sphere Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in humanitarian response and the HAP 2007 Standard in Humanitarian Accountability and…
The response to the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010 was rapid and multi-sectoral, bringing together UN agencies, international military forces and government and non-governmental actors. Physical rehabilitation (primarily physiotherapy, occupational therapy and prosthetics and orthotics) provided vital assistance to the large numbers of people injured during the earthquake. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) adopted in 2008 requires states to ensure that people with disabilities have access to mobility devices, and to ensure the protection and safety of disabled people in situations of risk, including armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters. This article discusses…
Action contre la Faim (ACF) has been implementing cash-based interventions since the late 1990s. ACF’s main focus is the treatment and prevention of acute malnutrition, and it has used cash-based responses to pursue this objective, including using vouchers to increase access to fresh foods (vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat, milk and fish). Fresh food vouchers (FFV) have provided households with complete food baskets, or have been used to supplement staple foods with fresh micronutrient-rich foods. FFV programmes also support local markets and traders. Fresh food vouchers can be used in slow-onset as well as acute crises to provide short- or longer-term…
The challenges of responding to the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti in January 2010 were huge and varied, prompting agencies to think and act creatively. Christian Aid’s partners distributed cash to people affected by the disaster two weeks after the earthquake struck. Some Christian Aid partners chose to respond with cash, rather than with goods in-kind, as they recognised the diverse needs of those affected, the flexibility of cash to meet those needs, the importance of preserving people’s dignity by transferring choice to them and the need to support local markets. The cash response Initial assessments highlighted the enormous range of…
The earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010 was the most destructive ever to hit the island. Over 215,000 people were killed and more than 1.3 million displaced from their homes. With the destruction of the seaport, the immediate focus of the international aid response was the Toussaint Louverture International Airport (MTPP) in the centre of the capital, Port au Prince. The world responded immediately with a massive airlift. US Air Force Special Tactics Team members from the 1st Special Operations Wing re-established tower control services a mere 18 minutes after arriving at the airport, and immediately began receiving humanitarian…
Nepal loses an average of two lives a day due to natural disasters. These disasters include floods, landslides, drought, hail, avalanches, glacial lake floods and earthquakes. According to the EM-DAT 2009 database, earthquakes and floods are the biggest hazard in terms of mortality, affected populations and economic losses – and this in a country recovering from conflict, with a rapidly increasing, and increasingly urban, population, poverty and poor economic growth. While flooding poses an annual problem, a mega-earthquake – which could occur at any time – will kill more than 100,000 people just in the Kathmandu Valley, seriously injure another…
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