Topic: Natural disasters

This is why I work for Oxfam

Yolette Etienne, the Oxfam GB country director in Haiti, in an extraordinary interview with Jon Snow of Channel 4 News, matter of factly discusses burying her mother in her garden before rejoining the relief effort. For regular updates (audio, video, text), links etc from the relief effort, go to this website set up by some tech […]

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Why is humanitarian work so hard in cities?

By chance, the day before the Haiti earthquake, we were having a discussion at Oxfam about why, when it comes to feeding programmes, disaster relief etc urban work tends to be both harder and less attractive to NGOs than doing equivalent things in rural settings. This reflected an increasing conviction that we need to do […]

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How archaeology holds the key to climate change adaptation in Bolivia

Climate Change is giving Bolivia a rough ride. One of the poorest, most unequal, and most biodiverse countries in Latin America, it has been buffeted by ‘natural’ disasters in recent years and is home to 20% of the world’s tropical glaciers, which are melting faster than most experts thought possible. Bolivia is also home to […]

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Eight introductory powerpoints on development – please plunder

I recently gave a two week introduction to development (undergrad level) at the University of Notre Dame, consisting of eight 45 minute lectures – here are the powerpoints for anyone wanting to nick them. Each lecture includes a brief illustrative video clip of campaigns, social movements etc. Subjects covered are: Risk and Vulnerability; The Global […]

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25 years after the Ethiopian famine, what have we learned?

It’s 25 years since the Ethiopian famine and the region is again being flayed by drought. Expect lots of media coverage, at least some of it along the lines of ’why did we bother? Nothing’s changed.’ Not so. Band Aids and Beyond, an Oxfam briefing paper published today, summarizes what’s been learned since then and […]

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Can we say climate change 'causes' extreme weather events?

Every time a flood, cyclone or drought makes it into the media, my colleague John Magrath is asked whether climate change is to blame. In a valiant attempt to avoid the researcher’s reflex but annoying ‘it’s more complicated than that’ response, he has produced this briefing. ‘There’s a natural tendency to blame major disasters solely […]

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Jasmine Rice in the Weeping Plain: successful adaptation to climate change

Lured by its wonderful title, I’ve just been reading a new briefing about some successful adaptation work in Northeast Thailand. Here’s a summary: In 2007, farmers in Yasothorn Province, north-east Thailand, experienced the longest dry spell during a rainy season in decades. Yasothorn, one of the 10 poorest provinces in the country, is part of […]

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Up to our knees in Climate Change in Bangladesh

Wading through tidal salt water pouring across a rapidly eroding road in an area of the coast that had never previously seen anything on this scale, climate change has never seemed so immediate. In May, Cyclone Aila breached the embankments and produced a humanitarian disaster, killing hundreds and affecting some 5 million Bangladeshis. Three months on, […]

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What has climate change done to the seasons?

Yesterday, Oxfam published Suffering the Science, a powerful synthesis of the science and the human havoc that climate change is already wreaking. The thing that caught my eye was ‘What Happened to the Seasons?’, an input paper by my colleagues Steve Jennings and John Magrath bringing together evidence from 15 countries on how seasons are […]

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28 days later: the human face of climate change and natural disaster in Bangladesh

On 27 April Mostafa Rokonuzzaman, a young farmer from the village of Tepakhali in south-western Bangladesh, spoke in one of the first public hearings on the impacts of climate change – the hearings revealed a litany of seasonal disruption, including extreme heat, failed rains and warmer winters, all with impacts on their rainfed crops and […]

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The human impact of climate change – 300,000 deaths per year, 2 in 3 of us already affected

A new report pulls together the current evidence on the current and projected human impact of climate change. It’s not pleasant reading. Headline numbers: Every year climate change leaves over 300,000 people dead. This will rise to roughly half a million in 20 years. 325 million people are seriously affected, and economic losses amount to […]

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Natural disasters will hurt 50% more people by 2015. Why? Climate Change + Inequality

There has been some striking progress in reducing the death toll from natural disasters in recent decades. While Cyclone Sidr killed around 3,000 people in Bangladesh in 2007, similar or weaker storms killed 100 times that number in 1972 and 45 times more people in 1991, largely because governments and local communities have since taken […]

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