Topic: Natural disasters

Those who emit the least greenhouse gases will be hit the hardest

Life (and climate change) really isn’t fair. The Huffington Post covers some new research that identifies the regions most vulnerable to future climate change. The researchers then compared the global map of climate vulnerability to a global map of carbon dioxide emissions. The countries that have contributed the least to carbon dioxide emissions are will be […]

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Natural and man-made disasters in 2010 – the insurance bill

A long time ago, when I was flirting with journalism, I got a really disturbing job on an FT publication called ‘World Insurance Report’ (presumably now defunct). I had to compile their ‘world loss log’ – a summary of all the major disasters of the previous fortnight, and the likely implications for insurance pay-outs. I scoured […]

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The reality of climate change: floods, migration and nostalgia – guest blog from Bangladesh

What’s the point of running a blog if you can’t indulge in a little nepotism? Last year, I went with my son Finlay (18) to visit Bangladesh and look at the impact of climate change: rising sea levels are leading to ever-greater damage from the region’s cyclones, as we saw in the community of Koyra […]

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Social Protection for Cows?

Cows, camels and goats are a crucial store of value in many countries. They provide meat, milk and clothing, they can be a quasi currency and can be passed on to children. In some countries, they are used as a kind of high interest revolving loan – you borrow a pair of breeding animals, look […]

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Channel 16: a new crowdsourcing initiative on disasters and conflict

This is exciting – a new crowdsourcing initiative on humanitarian emergencies that combines wikipedia, youtube and Ushahidi to dig deeper, be more user-generated and more linked to taking action than standard media coverage. It’s called Channel 16, and here’s the blurb: “Named after the broadcast frequency of an international distress signal, Channel 16 creates a […]

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Locked latrines, meat offsetting and development apps

I just spent an enthralling couple of days at a get together of Oxfam GB’s country directors (CDs). A combination of group discussions and speed-dating as I talked to as many as possible of the incredibly impressive people who are on Oxfam’s frontline, lobbying ministers and officials, consulting poor communities and doing (lots of) management stuff. […]

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What are African countries already doing to adapt to climate change?

While climate change negotiators seem to be wading through metaphorical cement, national governments have no choice but to get on with adapting to current and future climate change, as far as they are able. A recent review of 10 African countries’ adaptation plans by IFPRI shows some patterns to the response. (The countries were Burundi, […]

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Should emergency relief be used to build mosques and churches?

Should Oxfam’s emergency relief money be used to build mosques? That was the fascinating question that cropped up in a recent internal discussion on faith and development. And it’s not a purely academic one. In Aceh after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, Oxfam said no to one request.  But two years later, after the big Java […]

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How to insure crops with a mobile phone – an experiment from Kenya

For technophiles everywhere, an uplifting story from a recent issue of The Economist: ‘One of the things holding back agriculture in developing countries is the unwillingness of farmers with small plots of land to invest in better seed and fertiliser. Only half of Kenyan farmers buy improved seed or spend money on other inputs. Many […]

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How do you help people cope with shocks? A liquid brainstorm with Robert Chambers

At an IDS seminar last week, part of its excellent Crisis Watch initiative, Steve Wiggins from ODI argued that his research on the food price crisis shows that during an actual shock, state initiatives are much less important to poor people than their own social coping mechanisms as individuals, communities or through local institutions like […]

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Haiti Reconstruction: Two cheers (and one big boo) for Paul Collier’s plan

Oxford economics professor Paul Collier is the policy entrepreneur’s policy entrepreneur. The man who coined the phrase ‘bottom billion’ has an unparalleled ability to reach decision makers with cogent, timely and well written arguments. Paul has a long-standing connection with Haiti – he was previously Ban Ki-Moon’s special adviser on the country, (read his January […]

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Reconstruction in Haiti, what do we know from previous disasters?

The Haiti operation is moving rapidly from rescue to reconstruction . What major challenges can we expect to emerge? What sort of policies have delivered results after previous earthquakes? One of the best sources on this is Responding to Earthquakes 2008: Learning from earthquake relief and recovery operations, by the ALNAP network.  Here are some […]

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