Humanitarian Exchange articles tagged:Natural disasters

Affordable housing experts have long argued that housing is ‘both the stock of dwelling units (a noun) and the process by which that stock is created and maintained (a verb)’.[1] They have also advocated for ‘supporting’ rather than ‘providing’ approaches: enabling families to upgrade their own housing situation through improved access to and management of land, finance, services, materials, skills and labour rather than the provision of completed houses.[2] Over 30 years after Ian Davis described shelter after disaster as ‘a process, not as an object’,[3] process- oriented approaches to post-disaster housing are still rarely implemented on the ground.[4] From…
The humanitarian response to Typhoon Haiyan demonstrated that the concept of accountability to affected people (AAP) is firmly established on the agenda of humanitarian agencies.[1] It also showed that agencies could still benefit from better practical ways to achieve it in practice. Within the first month of the response, a number of major initiatives had been launched, including establishing an IASC AAP Coordinator position, building accountability activities into the work plan of the Humanitarian Coordinator and individual agencies deploying specialist staff and developing accountability activities. The operating context in the Philippines created genuine opportunities for enhancing accountability to affected people.…
The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)’s Task Team on Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) aims to promote a system-wide ‘culture of accountability’ within humanitarian organisations. A systems approach to AAP – including Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) – should, in theory, increase the impact of individual agency efforts, offer resource efficiencies and provide more coherent and accountable services to the people the system seeks to assist. The declaration of a Level 3 emergency in the Philippines in late 2013 presented an opportunity to test this theory in practice. Following the declaration, an AAP coordinator was deployed (the first such…
Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) made landfall in the Philippines on 8 November 2013. Just over a year on, this article reflects on what the World Health Organisation (WHO) – the co-lead for the health cluster alongside the Philippines Department of Health (DoH) – has learnt, how these lessons have influenced the response over time and what this means for responses to health emergencies in the future. The article is based on internal information from WHO’s own work, though it is hoped that the main findings will also be useful to other agencies. Responding to multiple disasters The first…
Typhoon Haiyan made landfall on 8 November 2013, cementing the position of the Philippines as one of the countries most at risk from natural hazards. Within days of the disaster the Emergency Relief Coordinator formally activated a system-wide level 3 (L3) response – a designation marking the highest level of humanitarian crisis. In responding to the needs of 14 million affected people, the Haiyan response became the first large-scale relief effort for a sudden-onset disaster since the Inter-Agency Standing Committee protocols under the Transformative Agenda were adopted, setting the parameters for improved collective action in humanitarian emergencies. Scaling up Accompanying…
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…
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