Rain: a natural disaster and the poor suffer most!

For the past two weeks we have been inundated with pictures and words from Queensland and specifically Brisbane about the flooding there. How tragic it is for the residents who have seen their homes and belongings swept away; of course, worse still for the families of the people who have lost their lives. The news editors for television, radio and print have ensured that every time we turn on, we are exposed to the tragedy.

Rain has been falling in biblical proportions across the globe, resulting in death and destruction.

I began a little bit of research – Today we here that “More than 420 people have now been killed by flooding and mudslides in south-eastern Brazil, officials say”. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-12180079).

I read about flooding in Sri Lanka – a huge area of the island has been battered by rains for the entire month; nearly 1.8 meters of rain, (1.65m is the annual average rainfall) killing 23, making in excess of 325,000 homeless and destroying 21% of the country’s rice crop.

Also, as many as “an estimated 18,000 children will die this year – 50 a day – in drowning accidents in Bangladesh, one of the most flood-prone parts of the world, according to the International Drowning Research Centre in Bangladesh (IDRC-B)”.

I was unaware that “the best scientific evidence available has taught us that 1.2 million people around the world die by drowning every year” (http://www.ilsf.org/index.php?q=en/drowning/facts).

Natural disasters hit communities hard but they have a much greater impact on the poor than the rich. Brisbane houses have been battered and damaged, but the death toll remains relatively low. In Brazil, the poorest people build houses without foundations on mountainsides that are prone to being washed away by deadly mudslides. Brisbane will rebuild – even though we were told by the state principal that the “building will need to be on a post-war scale”. Who is going to pay for re-builds in Sri Lanka or Brazil? Maybe the same people who promised a year ago that Port-au-Prince would be rebuilt too. The Haitians are still waiting.

There is no hierarchy of tragedies – an individual’s suffering is a personal catastrophe, but perhaps the news editors – or perhaps censors – should put news from around the world into perspective.

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About equalityedge

I run Equality Edge and its unique and creative "Working with Difference" project. It supports employers and managers in gaining a competitive and cost saving advantage from meeting equality and diversity best practice obligations. Coaching and workshops are used to deliver organisational, team and leadership development, assisting in improving communication and the understanding of the impact difference has on workplace behaviour.
This entry was posted in discrimination, Equality & Diversity, inequality, poverty and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Rain: a natural disaster and the poor suffer most!

  1. Unfortunately there seems to be no level playing fields in how tragedies get reported …as if human life has different value depending on where and who you are. The real question is if the responsibility for this lies with news editors or us the general public whom the news is aimed at?
    Happy new year!

  2. Marc Brenman says:

    Hi Michael, there are many issues here. These include the idea that the poor build where they can afford to, which can include floodplains and steep hillsides. The Bangladesh example raises the question of why people keep rebuilding in exactly the same way in exactly the same threatened places, generation after generation. Do the people not learn, or can they not afford to build better or higher or in a more resilient way? And one can ask what international aid organizations (and the countries’ own governments!) have contributed to long term solutions. Haiti shows these factors at work in the worst way. NPOs and NGOs have been working hard there since the 1950’s, and have accomplished exactly nothing. Hospitals and clinics were built, but not in an earthquake resistant way. The people were never taught, or refused to be taught or implement, how to prevent the spread of cholera by digging pit toilets 50 meters away from sources of fresh water. It’s time to re-evaluate these situations. To that end, I have written a paper on evaluation of international humanitarian operations. Let me know if you’d like a copy. Marc Brenman, mbrenman001@comcast.net

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