Underdevelopment and Poverty in Africa Need to be Countered to Reduce Disaster Vulnerability

The UN special humanitarian envoy for the Horn of Africa, Kjell Magne Bondevik, has urged governments and aid agencies to address the issues of underdevelopment and poverty, which exacerbate people’s vulnerability during natural disasters, such as the prolonged drought that has destroyed the livelihoods of millions of people in eastern Africa.

Some 40,000 Sri Lankan Wells, Each Serving Several Families, Were Destroyed or Contaminated by the Tsunami

Scientists from the United States, Sri Lanka, and Denmark found that the tsunami poured large quantities of seawater and other contaminants into the wells as well as into the aquifers. Efforts to restore wells have sometimes been counterproductive because excessive pumping may have allowed more seawater to enter the aquifers from below and caused many wells to collapse.

United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund Disburses $32 Million for the World's Most Under-funded Emergencies

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland said the beneficiaries of the CERF funds would be Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, as well as the African states of Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, the Republic of Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Global Warming May Trigger Greater Seismic Activity

The melting of glaciers driven by global warming portends a seismically turbulent future. When glaciers melt, the massive weight on the Earth's crust is reduced, and the crust “bounces” back in what scientists call an "isostatic rebound.” This process can reactivate faults, increase seismic activity, and lift pressure on magma chambers that feed volcanoes.

Three Meetings in June 2006 Underscore UN Efforts to Improve Early Warning and Mitigation of Natural Disasters

The UN brought together 130 international experts from 20 countries in a Bangkok, Thailand, workshop to help set up a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean, in a bid to avoid a reply of the December 2004 tsunami. Presumably, many of the more than 200,000 people who perished could have been saved had they received advance warning of the incoming waves.

Maintaining Robust Mangrove Forests Protects Coastlines

MangroveA United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report released July 17 found that 16 Pacific nations, including American Samoa and Fiji, could lose more than half their mangroves by 2100.

Friction Over Resources Rises in Aceh

Provincial management of natural resources and lack of transparency in assistance to conflict victims are causing disputes between Acehnese and central government leaders.

Poor Survivors of Katrina Remain Scattered

Louisiana children displaced by Hurricane Katrina number more than 125,000. Part of the American underclass, they and their families now live in tiny Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailers that have been placed in remote fields with few dependable services and resources.

Aceh Reconstruction Remains Painfully Slow

The speaker of the Indonesian parliament, Agung Laksono, expressed dismay at the slow pace of post-tsunami reconstruction in Aceh. As of April 2006, only 19,483 housing units had been completed in Aceh, while 21,997 were under construction.

Hurricane Katrina Demonstrated the Weaknesses of U.S. Flood Insurance

Nearly half the people whose houses were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina did not have flood insurance, yet the federal flood insurance program did not have enough funds to pay claims worth about $25 billion by those who were insured.
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