Archive for the 'blog' Category

Using technology to save lives

November 11th, 2009

We’ve written here before about the role that planning, data analysis and prediction can play in reducing the impact of natural disasters.

The EM-DAT database (a WHO initiative) is a huge repository of information about disasters that has been built up over more than 40 years, and Advance Aid has already been mining this data to help develop its business plan – if you can use historical data to predict where disasters are most likely to happen, you can certainly fine-tune your pre-positioning and warehousing strategy.

Now SciDevNet has produced a whole section of its website devoted to covering “Remote Sensing for Natural Disasters” .

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Drought + Rain = Floods. Pt 2

November 6th, 2009

The United Nations is warning that up to 750,000 people in Kenya, nearly half of them Somali refugees, could be caught up in flooding and landslides from heavy rains expected to peak in November.

The people most at risk are the 300,000 mainly Somali refugees in the Kakuma and Dadaab camps.  Kakuma is in northwestern Kenya and Dadaab in the east on the border with Somalia.   The overcrowded Dadaab complex of three camps was built to hold some 90,000 people but its population has swollen to three times that, in the process becoming home to more refugees than any other site in the world, according to the UNHCR.

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Climate change “will create 150 million refugees”

November 4th, 2009

There’s a lot of noise around at the moment about the causes of climate change. The American people have decided that it wasn’t their fault after all – more now believe that natural causes lie behind global warming than believe there is a human effect – and the ‘deniers’ seeming to grow in number even as the scientific evidence grows stronger by the month.

George Monbiot in The Guardian puts it all down to our fear of death. Another view is that the stronger the scientific evidence gets, the more certain it is that we are going to have to change our treasured lifestyles – lifestyles that have caused the problem in the first place. And it is this threat to our lifestyles that brings out the Inner Denier in everyone.

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AlertNet says it all

October 29th, 2009

There’s really not a lot that we could add to this story on Reuter’s AlertNet.

Local is more effective, say disaster relief experts

Briefly, the story says that local people respond quicker than aid agencies, who have to do the following before they can begin to provide assistance:

  • Carry out an assessment of needs
  • Get visas for staff and arrange their travel
  • Arrange exemptions from import duties on relief supplies (or pay the extra)

There are some good suggestions on how things could be done better, plus some interesting comments at the end from other contributors.  Well worth a few minutes of your time!

Drought + Rain = Floods

October 29th, 2009

First there was the drought, then the rains, and then floods.  That’s the real-life experience of people in Kenya as the pictures below show.  Just a few weeks ago Kenya was in the grip of a serious drought as the rains due earlier in the year had largely failed and there were doubts over whether the October/November rains would come either.

Kenya floods_Oct09

When Advance Aid was in Nairobi at the end of September the grass almost everywhere was brown and the Masai were bringing their cattle into the centre of the city in search of grass verges that might have been watered that the painfully thin cattle could feed on.

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African Union moves to protect IDPs

October 25th, 2009

On Friday last week the African Union (AU) adopted a new convention that will provide legal protection and assistance to millions of people displaced within their own countries by conflicts and natural calamities on the continent.  All good stuff, but will it be more than window dressing, and will it make any real difference to the lives of the IDPs?

IDP camp in Kenya

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Nobel and the Tragedy of the Commons

October 20th, 2009

River basin management is one of the most important and difficult environmental issues that we face as a planet.  Rivers are no respecters of borders and so management issues of rivers tend to ‘overflow’ county, regional and international borders.

Studying and understanding the ways that we manage common assets – rivers, the sea, the air around us – has been a large part of the life work of Elinor Ostrom who has just been awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics.

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Africa has 11 million displaced people

October 16th, 2009

According to a report published yesterday on IRIN, Africa hosts at least 11 million of the world’s 25 million conflict-affected internally displaced people (IDPs) and millions more are displaced annually by natural disasters.

For example, Sudan has an estimated 4-5 million IDPs, thanks to the recent civil war in the south, and violence in Darfur and the east.

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Statistics on development as you’ve never seen them before

October 16th, 2009

If you haven’t yet spent any time with TED, then you really should.  It is a fascinating and fantastic repository of 20 minute talks about great ideas.  And many of them are beautifully presented.

Here, for example, is Hans Rosling from 2006.  He has the most extraordinary way of presenting statistics that show the way that the world has developed over the past forty years.

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UN revises upwards its $74M Philippines appeal

October 14th, 2009

The sheer scale of the devastation caused by the cyclones that hit the Philippines continues to shock and amaze.  The cyclones left 648 dead, with many still missing, and affected more than six million people, some 300,000 of whom are still housed in makeshift evacuation centres.

Philippines kids_Small

Now the UN is to revise its appeal made on 7th October.  Initially it called for $74m, but now it says that this “was clearly not enough” and the UN is stressing that this number would be revised upwards when more detailed reports come in from the field.

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