Given what we have discussed this semester and this week’s reading, discuss your thoughts on the evolving causes of crises. How do you see the described changes impacting humanitarian aid? How would you prepare and respond to this changing landscape?

Readings

Planning from the Future

example from one of my classmate paper below:

This week’s reading was rather harrowing. It exposed the apparent futility and inefficiencies of managing complex conflict-driven humanitarian crises. One statement from an NGO that stuck out to me was “What are we doing? We provide food baskets so that when Syrians are killed by barrel bombs, they aren’t hungry” (Howe, 2016). The current state of international humanitarian aid is reminiscent of the Greek story of King Sisyphus, who was condemned to push a boulder up a hill only for it to roll back to the bottom as it neared the top. The conflict in Syria has been bloody, with 75% of deaths attributed to civilians not directly involved in the conflict, including 20,000 children (Howe, 2016). The incidence of violence surrounding many recent crises has become a hallmark of disasters.

I predict that the complexities involved with conflict will begin to affect the way we approach humanitarian disasters. Specifically, I think that we will start to see an increase in the incidence of armed/militarized humanitarian response. Without adequate protection for responders, the provision of aid is a difficult sell in areas wrapped with conflict. Although they are somewhat unrelated topics, we are seeing a similar shift in schools where it is becoming more common to have an armed School Resource Officer or armed administrators and teachers to deal with potential assaults. As aspiring emergency management professionals, we should engage in discourse regarding security and aid in conflict to address these realities proactively. Although Howe (2016) stated that humanitarians feel as though it is not their job nor place to actively address violence or local politics, the feelings might change to address the sources of crisis instead of alleviating the symptoms. The international community could be a powerful incentivizing force, even if it does not engage directly in conflict.

As climate change and other human-caused ecological conditions morph, there will be more natural disasters and people affected by them, which we discussed in class. In addition to the conflict in Syria, there are ongoing humanitarian crises in Yemen, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Palestine, Sudan, Myanmar, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, and Venezuela (SIDA, 2019). Keep in mind that those countries are just the high-profile incidents – other areas fall below the radar of large-scale intervention. Last year, only 60% of the world’s humanitarian needs were addressed by the international community (SIDA, 2019). Instead of focusing primarily on response to these events, humanitarian organizations should concentrate on developing preparedness and mitigation strategies in vulnerable areas to supplement government work. For example, my final paper discussed the earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi. The warning systems failed to alert citizens adequately and were in disrepair (Singhvi, Saget, & Lee, 2018). If an NGO had identified these issues before the disaster and worked to educate citizens on actions to take in response to earthquakes in a coastal region or had donated funds to repair the detection buoys, many lives could have been saved.

If the world can only address 60% of needs, then maybe capacity isn’t the issue; perhaps it’s the approach we are using. There is a disproportionate amount of effort directed at the response phase of a disaster or humanitarian crisis. The mindset leaves little space for the implementation of effective mitigation and long-term recovery strategies.Once this is recognized and addressed, I think that that it could reduce the incidence of conflict and improve societal stability following a disaster. If I go into international response, I will encourage more NGOs to develop branches that focus on those two aspects, which will, in turn, reduce strain during the response phase.

Howe, K. (2016, January). No End in Sight: A Case Study of Humanitarian Action and the Syria Conflict [PDF]. Retrieved from https://bblearn.philau.edu/webapps/blackboard/execute/content/file?cmd=view&content_id=_379450_1&course_id=_20821_1

Singhvi, A., Saget, B., & Lee, J. C. (2018, October 3). What Went Wrong With Indonesia’s Tsunami Early Warning System. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/02/world/asia/indonesia-tsunami-early-warning-system.html.

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). (2019, March 20). Ongoing humanitarian crises. Retrieved from https://www.sida.se/English/how-we-work/our-fields-of-work/humanitarian-aid1/ongoing-humanitarian-crises/.

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