In this Guardian opinion piece, Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., writes that the U.N. “must face up” to a cholera outbreak allegedly brought to Haiti by peacekeeping troops in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake. “More than 500,000 have been infected, and the disease — which Haiti has not had in more than a century — is now endemic to the country and will be killing people there for many years to come,” he writes.
Water and Sanitation
The U.N. on Sunday released its Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan 2012, asking for $447 million in humanitarian assistance targeted toward four million vulnerable people in the country, Reuters reports (Fuchs, 12/18). A statement from the U.N. Inter-Agency Standing Committee said more than half of those at risk will be “severely food insecure” in the coming year, Agence France-Presse notes.
AlertNet examines how water shortages in Nepal are impeding women’s hygiene in the country. The news service profiles the village of Paudiyalthok in the country’s Panchkhal Valley, about 25 miles east of the capital Kathmandu, where “a lack of reliable water sources is affecting many aspects of [residents’] lives, and women are bearing the brunt of changing weather patterns.”
“The question of who is responsible for Haiti’s cholera epidemic — the first that the Caribbean nation, the western hemisphere’s poorest, has seen in a century — has raised tempers since the first case was detected in October 2010,” TIME reports in an article examining a lawsuit filed against the U.N. claiming it is responsible for bringing the disease into the country and seeking damages for cholera victims and their families.
In this Huffington Post opinion piece, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) writes about access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation among the world’s poor, stating, “As America prepares for the holiday season … I hope that Congress will give a gift of life, health and hope by helping people around the world with something that most Americans take for granted: safe drinking water.”
“The United Nations said on Friday it was seeking $268 million for aid efforts in Zimbabwe next year, with half the money to be used to buy food for more than 1.4 million people facing shortages” in 2012, Reuters reports. “The humanitarian situation in the country has continued to improve over the past couple of years. However, challenges still exist such as food insecurity” and lack of access to safe water, which has led to cholera and typhoid outbreaks, Alain Noudehou, country head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said, the news service notes (12/9).
Heavy rains and flooding in Kenya, which have affected more than 40,000 people and caused at least a dozen deaths, are “complicating efforts to reach thousands of people made homeless by the flooding, an official of the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) told IRIN.” Nelly Muluka, KRCS public relations and communications officer, said on Monday that in some areas “there is the danger of waterborne diseases breaking out after latrines and boreholes were submerged and in other areas, water pipelines have burst,” according to IRIN. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) said those affected by flooding “urgently require relief aid such as food, mosquito nets, tents, blankets, cooking utensils and medicine,” the news service writes, adding, “Teams comprising government, KRCS and U.N. officials are involved in rapid assessments of the flooding situation, a humanitarian official, who requested anonymity, told IRIN” (12/6).
“United Nations aid agencies said Friday more than five million Pakistanis are in need of humanitarian assistance following the floods earlier this year,” with nearly half of those being children, the VOA “Breaking News” blog reports (11/26). “UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado said the most urgent risks to children are those related to safe water and malnutrition, with malnutrition rates in the affected areas already found to be high before the floods began,” according to the U.N. News Centre (11/25).
Jason Nickerson, a respiratory therapist and doctoral candidate in Population Health at the University of Ottawa, in this Global Health Hub post, recounts recent controversy surrounding “the health and humanitarian response to the earthquake and cholera outbreaks” in Haiti, noting tension “between the provision of [a cholera] vaccine as opposed to spending…
In this CNN opinion piece, Jenna Davis — a faculty member in Stanford University’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, where her research and teaching focuses on water, sanitation and health, and a former member of the U.N. Millennium Task Force for Water and Sanitation — reports on what she calls a “global sanitation crisis,” writing, “More than 40 percent of the world’s population does not have access to a toilet. These 2.6 billion people, most living in low- and middle-income countries in Asia and Africa, face the daily challenge of finding a bush, train track or empty lot where they can urinate and defecate in relative privacy.”