On the International Day for Disaster Reduction, we celebrate how people and communities worldwide are reducing their exposure to disasters. It’s also an opportunity to raise awareness of the risks faced by those living in countries prone to natural disasters.
Earthquakes, droughts, flooding, tsunamis and hurricanes can cause massive economic damage and loss of life, destroying homes, schools and hospitals. It is essential that communities are able to prepare for adverse weather events and receive education and training in effective disaster prevention strategies.
According to a report from the World Meteorological Organisation, the world five times as prone to natural hazards than it was in the 1970s due to the impact of climate change. Since 2009, the UN Refugee Agency estimates that 1 person every second is displaced by a disaster.
The world’s water systems are being severely affected by climate change. As the air becomes warmer, it can hold a higher water content, subsequently making rainfall patterns more extreme. Freshwater supplies are already under pressure from pollution, extraction, damming and dredging, and these water sources provide vital drinking water for humans and animals. Climate change puts added stress on the situation, causing extremes of drought and flooding. In turn, this leads to displacement and conflict.
Nearly half a million Rohingya Muslims have fled across the border to Bangladesh over the last month. During operations conducted by the Myanmar security services, hundreds of civilians were killed and thousands of homes burned to the ground. Families ran to safety with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.
When the Rohingya refugees arrived in the border town of Cox’s Bazar, they found camps already crowded with Rohingya families from previous outbreaks of violence. Tents are in very short supply and most people are forced to sleep in the open air. The monsoon rains have flooded Cox’s Bazar, leaving refugees knee-deep in a slurry of mud and human faeces. They have no shelter from the driving rains or the baking midday heat.
It’s essential that humanitarian agencies around the world invest in disaster reduction strategies that can easily be taught to that local communities who will use them. Wider measures to combat climate and mitigate its damaging effects are also essential for disaster reduction.
Human Appeal has a strong presence in many countries that are prone to natural hazards. We have provided emergency relief in Nepal after the 2015 earthquake, in Haiti following the 2016 earthquake and in Somalia during the 2017 drought and subsequent famine. For several years running, we’ve responded to severe flooding in Bangladesh.
With your help, we can provide food, shelter and clean water for the Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar who are currently experiencing terrible suffering, exacerbated by the torrential monsoon rains.
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