Over the last 50 years, the number of natural disasters globally has increased by a factor of five, driven by climate change, more extreme weather, and improved reporting. This is being felt in Australia, where the number of bushfires, floods, cyclones and other natural disasters is set to increase further.


At the same time, the volume of data in the world is increasing exponentially: according to the UN, the world’s capacity for storing information has roughly doubled every 40 months since the 1980s.


For emergency responders this makes the need to quickly filter through data critical as agencies navigate increasingly frequent and intense disasters, they must also traverse masses of information to bolster their situational awareness.


For Australian disaster management organisations, Dataminr’s First Alert is fast becoming an important solution to this increasingly complex challenge.


Dataminr first alert: A solution


Dataminr’s First Alert AI platform provides customers with real-time alerts on emerging and evolving events specific to their region and interests. Using publicly available information from sources including social media, weather systems, and news reports, Dataminr’s AI scours troves of data to ensure customers receive the information required to save lives.


“Emergency organisations see us as a leader in providing the information they need to know, thanks to our highly specialised AI alerts,” Tracey Gosling, Asia Pacific VP for Dataminr, explained to The Mandarin.


While responding to rapidly changing disasters, it is important to collate and comprehend the information coming in.


“What our customers talk about is the fact that they’ve got these rich videos, photos and imagery as their personnel respond to events,” Gosling said. “The open-source information they access gives them an invaluable, accurate understanding of what’s happening on the ground, enabling them to make critical decisions such as whether more personnel or evacuations are needed.”


Early alerts are critical


When it comes to emergencies such as bushfires, time is of the essence. Receiving early alerts can help activate a quick response that limits the extent of the fire and ensures people are evacuated as soon as possible.


As Australia is made up of large regions with many remote areas, there is a risk that public alerts could be delayed, hindering organisations’ real-time situational awareness. However, with the over one million data sources accessed by First Alert, early detection is still a possibility.


First Alert cross-correlates official statements from organisations such as the Bureau of Meteorology with sensor data and eyewitness accounts on social media. This provides the earliest information on fire detection.


“There are billions of sensors out there,” Gosling explained. “In emergency terms, these are sensors that can detect floods, fire, waves, ocean movement, air quality and more.”


With the best and earliest information, responders can begin planning and collaborating efficiently and effectively – even in large metropolises such as New York City.


“Dataminr is a critical bellringer service,” Ben Krakauer, former assistant commissioner at the New York City Office of Emergency Management, explained. “We’re able to start our inquiry and our investigation of that incident earlier, and as a result keep our partners informed earlier, keep the public informed earlier, and get resources out to the scene more quickly.”


Analysing the response in real time


Ensuring the public is alert and understands the severity of a situation is important for effective emergency response. With access to real-time information, responders can determine if the public is heeding warnings and reacting to danger.


“In a fire situation, it’s particularly dynamic,” Gosling said. “We’ve had examples where you’ve literally got a video posted by a member of the public fleeing the fire.” If information suggests the public is not responding in a way that helps responders, communication and messaging can be adjusted as needed.


Similarly, post-incident analysis can be supported by First Alert, Gosling explained. “Clients are able to review the information available, how they responded, and almost replay the event to determine what improvements could be made.”


Providing insight for Australia’s emergency responders


In the upcoming 2024 National Disaster & Emergency Management Conference, held from July 22 to 23 on the Gold Coast, emergency management agencies will gather to focus on key questions to improve responses in Australia: How do we navigate the current climate challenges to enhance resilience? How can we introduce innovative approaches to community risk reduction? What does interagency collaboration and communication look like in the near future?


Data, AI and private sector partnerships are all important avenues to explore as emergency responders seek answers to these questions. Collaborating with organisations like Dataminr will help agencies harness the data at their fingertips and better respond to the evolving and growing number of disasters we face.


Do you recall the film “Jaws”? I watched the first one in the 1980s. After watching it I couldn’t get into the ocean without dread of what was lurking beneath the surface. But it wasn’t until about 7 years ago that I began watching videos from TheMalibuArtist, who captures the everyday life of sharks using drones. My terror transformed into curiosity and admiration for these incredible animals that call Southern California home. As an aerial custodian of sharks, The Malibu Artist captures data about sharks that has literally changed my feelings about the ocean. So it wasn’t the drone flying above us during a family picnic that initially piqued my interest in the potential of drone technology; instead, it was sharks. I didn’t know it then but I’d end up working with Wing, a subsidiary of Alphabet, one of the world’s leading drone companies in my role as the Chief Strategist and Director of Inclusive Technology, Business, and Leaders at Alphabet (Google).


As fascinating as sharks are, what’s even more compelling to me are the examples of drone use that are creating opportunities to access resources, knowledge and skills that are literally changing the direction and opportunities of people’s lives. Consider this real scenario: a woman in a remote village, surrounded by harsh terrains, is about to deliver a baby and faces complications. Medical devices and medicines are hours away. In this critical moment, a drone flies over these obstacles, delivering life-saving supplies immediately. Having had a baby myself a few years ago, I can’t imagine the stress for a mom facing harsh physical and medical barriers. This is the power of drone technology. Zipline, a drone company that operates in North America, Africa and Asia, was able to reduce maternal deaths by 51% due to postpartum hemorrhaging in hospitals by enhancing their blood management systems through drone delivery of blood in Rwanda.


As someone who works on and helps leaders and tech companies build inclusive and responsible innovation and technology, I am finding myself thinking more about drones as community entities and assets, rather than just robots flying in the sky delivering goods and services. And if what I am feeling has any truth in it, then it’s even more important to consider how drone technology can and should be designed, deployed and have impact through a responsible tech and AI lens. There are many definitions of responsible AI and tech these days, but here is one I propose for our purposes:


Technology designed and deployed with people, communities and contexts, enhancing life outcomes through knowledge, opportunity and resources, once unattainable.


Growing drone tech footprint


The aerial innovation industry is anticipated to skyrocket, reaching a valuation of $50 billion by 2030. A significant contributor to this growth is the commercial drone sector, projected to hit $127 billion by next year (2025), creating solutions to problems that might have not otherwise been possible. Given the expansion of the industry and the plethora of solutions drones can unlock to critical problems for people all around the world, it will be even more paramount that the drone industry continues to hone its skills in responsible AI and innovation.


AI: The Driving Force Behind Drones


While AI advancements are not solely responsible for the expanding drone market, they play a pivotal role. AI-powered algorithms enable drones to navigate complex environments, avoid obstacles, and perform tasks autonomously, minimizing human intervention. According to Prof Banafa, an expert in tech advancements, AI is expanding what drones can do and for whom in 4 ways:



  • Enhanced autonomy

  • Improved data processing

  • Adaptive behaviour

  • Increased safety


A Historical Perspective and Modern Applications


Since their inception for military use in the early 20th century, drones have continually evolved. Today, their applications are multifaceted, with the potential to revolutionize various sectors such as:


Delivery and Logistics: Enhancing last-mile delivery for rapid access to life-saving resources.


Agriculture: Enabling crop monitoring and precision agriculture.


Infrastructure Inspection: Assessing bridges, dams, and other large structures.


Photography and Videography: Facilitating mapping and surveying.


Public Safety and Emergency Response: Improving disaster response and public safety operations. Environmental Monitoring: Supporting wildlife conservation and pollution tracking. Despite the high impact of drones in these areas, public perception is dependent on the context in which they are used. But there are continued concerns about privacy, surveillance, military use and the lack of understanding about the range of drone applications.


How can we continue to advance drone technology through the lens of responsible innovation and AI?


Building on my premise that drones have and can have a substantial impact on communities and contexts, I propose three considerations for responsible innovation that should continue to be incorporated into the conceptualization, design, and implementation of drones. These considerations aim to ensure that drones serve as community assets and entities:


Participatory problem and solution definitions


Oftentimes technology is built for people, rather than with people. And we see the drawbacks of this approach, where technology can cause harm, misidentify solutions or create greater problems. Ideating with communities on where drones could in fact be an additive asset to addressing needs, problems and solutions, could create greater relevance, and more localized high impact integrations of drone technology.


WeRobotics Flying Labs Network


The WeRobotics Flying Labs Network exemplifies this approach by establishing “Flying Labs” in various countries. These labs empower local communities to use drones for projects addressing localized challenges, such as informal settlements, deforestation monitoring, and medical supply delivery. By building local capacity, these labs ensure community ownership and control over drone technology.


In Nepal, a Flying Lab partnered with local communities to map disaster-prone areas and create 3D models of villages. This data improved disaster preparedness and response plans, enhancing community resilience.


Data Ownership and Ethical Use When we look up in the air and see this robot taking in information about us, it can feel quite unsettling. Technology can feel like and be an extractive tool that takes people’s experience, behaviors and actions for its own use. One way to change this experience is by seeing drones as a collector of community based information that communities have ownership of. For example drones collect vast amounts of data about their environments to navigate effectively and serve specific needs. AI acts as the “brain,” processing this information, making decisions, and performing complex tasks autonomously. However, what data is most relevant to address a specific need or problem? How is this data contextually relevant and analyzed with societal knowledge? Meaningful insights will come from communities who understand the nuances of their needs and can be co-pilots on the impact drones could have for them. A drone company partnered with the community will be better positioned to develop innovative technology.


The DRONe Project


The DroNe Project (Descendants Recovering Our Names) is an insightful example of this. The DRONe project empowers young women from Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color to use drones to uncover graves in overrun cemeteries in Southern California. For these communities it means tracing their heritage, unearthing stories about their families and stitching together lost lineage. Partnering with DroneDeploy, this project helps communities reconnect with their heritage, demonstrating how drone data can foster recovery and connection.


AI Evaluation and Community Engagement


In the process of AI evaluating data collected by drones, it’s crucial to ensure that AI models are tested using data derived from community-based knowledge. This approach empowers drone operators to analyze AI decision-making processes from a community standpoint. While human oversight and accountability play a significant role, a community engagement approach to evaluating AI models in drone outcomes and impact centers around communities viewing drones as an extension of themselves. The AI “brain” of the drone is fueled by the knowledge and experiences of communities and contexts, enabling it to align with their needs and evolve alongside their mission.


PlantVillage is a non-profit organization based in Kenya that leverages AI and cloud computing to empower smallholder farmers in Africa to combat the effects of climate change, pests, and diseases. Their mission is to scale up climate adaptation for millions of farmers across Africa, Asia and the Americas and enhance their livelihood. They leverage community based knowledge, experience and feedback in farming to test how well their technological interventions are meeting needs. For example, Nuru is an AI-powered mobile app that diagnoses crop diseases offline. Farmers can take pictures of their plants, and the app analyzes the images to identify potential problems. This enables early detection and intervention, saving crops and increasing yields. Feedback loops are created with farmers to improve app functionality and efficiency. And in this way the community continuously sees their knowledge and experience informing how well the AI models are shaping what the app can do for them. Although this example is not drone specific, it does provide an illustration of how we can build technology that is in a relational and active process with communities, rather than simply being a static solution.


Conclusion


The drone industry, powered by AI, is creating precision social change. It’s not just a technological revolution, but perhaps a revolution in how people are able to live life, solve problems, and find the otherwise impossible. By focusing on participatory problem solving, data ownership and responsible AI model testing, we can ensure that drones become invaluable community assets that enhance quality of life, experience, and outcomes.


In the first months of Russia's war on Ukraine, a decentralised, bottom-up and largely ad-hoc humanitarian response developed, which soon turned into an effective civic ecosystem aiding in the war effort and a forward-thinking recovery process. Roch Dunin-Wąsowicz, Karolina Czerska-Shaw and Inara Zeynalova explain how businesses and entrepreneurs operating in the transnational space between Ukraine and Poland are reshaping how business is conducted amid global turbulence.


The transnational space between Poland and Ukraine has become a crucial setting for pioneering new business practices, relationships and solidarities on the frontlines of the Russian-Ukraine conflict. Our study finds that these developments are central to the ongoing widespread civic mobilisation in the area, which includes humanitarian assistance, reconstruction efforts and military support. Entrepreneurs and businesses have been both novel and indispensable contributors. This emerging civic ecosystem is unified by a shared goal of Ukrainian sovereignty and marked by a network of diverse social actors, among them NGOs, international organisations, civilian volunteers, cultural institutions, religious organisations and scouting associations.


Partially Ukrainian-run businesses operating in Poland have provided mass humanitarian aid in the form of financial support, donations of products and services, coordination of assistance and participation in relief activities. These businesses have acted alongside traditional civil society actors, the state and international humanitarian organisations. The effectiveness of their efforts hinged on their using their know-how to take on vital roles in supporting humanitarian operations.


Since then, businesses and enterprises have been directing substantial financial and material assistance into Ukraine by supporting civil society organisations, municipal departments, military units and other businesses operating at the frontlines.


Personal networks


Throughout the first year of the invasion, however, businesses operating in Poland pivoted their focus from humanitarian to development aid and various recovery initiatives. This includes helping the physical reconstruction of Ukraine, employing more Ukrainian workers domestically and abroad, and training Ukrainian employees and officials. This shift had been accompanied by a commitment to peace efforts, understood by our respondents as the provision of military support.


All study respondents reported providing some form of informational assistance or equipment to the Ukrainian armed forces. While most businesses cannot officially disclose their military aid contributions, there is undeniable support for the army coming from business networks. This direct provision of developmental and military assistance often relies on personal networks, aimed at targeted delivery. This necessitates a precise understanding of the required assistance and the intended recipients to avoid waste and combat corruption, ensuring that support remains effective and accountable.


This personalised delivery is partly due to abuses of power within institutionalised or formal channels seen in Ukraine. Nonetheless, supporters of Ukraine emphasise the importance of cultivating personal connections in business and aid efforts, indicating that such informality is crucial for building trust and circumventing corruption. This approach also highlights the cultural nuances of doing business and conducting philanthropic activities within the post-communist space. As one interviewee noted, “The first thing I learned in Ukraine is that you won’t achieve anything by just writing emails… They need to see you, hear you speak, and understand how you behave.”


Corporate social responsibility


Our study also found that transnational corporations are increasingly integrating long-term planning in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, embedding aid efforts into their operations, ethos and corporate identity. Several large-scale companies, including Nokia, IKEA, Shell and others, have shifted from traditional strategic business management to leveraging their CSR departments for humanitarian support of Ukrainian refugees in Poland, as well as for their Ukrainian employees.


Corporation workers are pushing the boundaries of typical CSR strategies, in a capacity that is yet to be seen in other zones of conflict. In 2022, this support encompassed sponsoring the relocation of employees and their families to Poland or, in some cases, just their families (since men are not permitted to leave Ukraine). Employee volunteerism, sponsored by these companies, played a crucial role during the initial phases of the war, aiding local NGOs in maintaining reception centres and material goods drop-off points.


As the war continues, an interpersonal and informal dynamic is driving CSR departments to continue their humanitarian and developmental support efforts. This dynamic is powered by the direct involvement of Ukrainian and Polish employees in the support effort. Our research shows these CSR programs often rely on individuals within corporations who become the motors behind the mobilisation due to personal connections and affinity to the cause of Ukraine’s sovereignty. This trend is visible particularly when comparing with big business’ lacklustre support in other areas of conflict.


In contrast, other companies, from investment firms to smaller for-profit businesses with socially oriented goals, show less inclination to continue deliberate support initiatives. They often opt for social entrepreneurship or impact investment – although almost never using these terms – particularly by investing in Ukraine’s workforce and revenue and including refugees in operational decisions. Additionally, they focus on the integration of vulnerable populations, development of deprived areas and work with social services.


Social entrepreneurial management models have a unique organisational structure; there is an emphasis on horizontal, collaborative work and the inclusion of those who are on the receiving side of social objectives. There has been an explosion of these types of organisations targeting humanitarian and recovery efforts from Poland, employing or being run by the end-users, mainly Ukrainian women refugees in Poland. One such example includes a profit-based restaurant in Kraków, Ciepło, managed and staffed by Ukrainian women with refugee experience. The restaurant also powers the NGO ‘Zero Camps’, a hostel for Ukrainian refugees. These efforts positively contribute to civic goals in Ukraine, often without a formal commitment to social justice or social impact.


Lessons from the frontlines


Over the past two years, cooperation and mobilisation of business and enterprise between Poland and Ukraine have fostered strong networks and trust, aimed at achieving civic goals. This intense collaboration has yielded valuable practices and highlighted challenges that future stakeholders can learn from.


First, the mobilisation of humanitarian help has been decentralised or fragmented, impacting civil society and business practices alike. Businesses have adopted bottom-up, post-Fordist mobilisation approaches.


Second, trust is crucial in wartime, and informal, bottom-up networks have facilitated the fast and efficient transfer of goods and services, often bypassing perceived corruption in formal institutions.


Third, conducting business in post-communist regions often relies on informal, personal relationships and direct communication methods, which are essential to understand before entering these markets.


Lastly, there have been exemplary instances of synergy between Polish and Ukrainian business actors entailing not only transnational supply chains but genuine business operations across borders amid conflict. Since 2022, Poland has become key for Ukrainian businesses and entrepreneurship in the European Union. Forced Ukrainian migrants who settled there are overwhelmingly highly educated and motivated to work, and they give back to their country. These businesses can be potential global leaders in formulating resilient contingency practices amid increasing geo-political turbulence.


Conclusions


Our research shows that businesses and entrepreneurs at the forefront of Russia’s war on Ukraine have significantly reshaped the mobilisation and delivery of humanitarian aid. This shift not only led to the fragmentation of traditional aid but also introduced innovative methods for distributing aid and implementing developmental assistance. Businesses are increasingly engaging independently in initiatives hitherto almost always led by state or international bodies, including rebuilding infrastructure and supporting Ukraine’s defence measures.


Entrepreneurs and businesses operating between Poland and Ukraine have become deeply embedded in complex networks and partnerships, fostering distinct business practices tailored to these unique circumstances. This integration underscores the adaptive and collaborative nature of business in a geopolitical crisis. These activities extend beyond conventional corporate social responsibility or charity, becoming ingrained in the fabric of everyday business operations and driving social entrepreneurship with civic objectives.


Our study helps to understand the evolving role of business actors in a landscape traditionally dominated by state, international organisations and civil society, illustrating how they contribute to civic goals and redefine business practices on the frontlines of conflict.



  • Start Date: 09 Oct 2024

  • End Date: 09 Oct 2024

  • Event Code:TVG045

  • When: 9th October 2024, 19.30 - 20.30

  • Where: Zoom Webinar

  • Speaker: Alia Gharaibeh, Regional Director Middle East, HELP Logistics


Thames Valley Group are privileged to have secured Alia Garaibeh, Regional Director for the Middle East how the HELP Logistics team, part of the Swiss Based Kuhne Foundation, is contributing to the thought leadership that is shaping future humanitarian supply chains.


Humanitarian actors today face a multitude of operational and environmental risks that can result in supply chain disruptions. Building resilient supply chains is key to ensuring the availability of life-saving commodities and begins with understanding the operating environment and the contextual factors that make them susceptible to disruptions.


In this talk, Alia Gharaibeh introduces the tools and methodologies developed by HELP Logistics for the benefit of the humanitarian community. Including the Supply Chain Resilience (SCR) tool, an approach to simulate potential disruptions to humanitarian supply chains that can empower organizations to enhance supply chain resilience proactively.


These insights inform the creation of data-driven supply strategies that offer a roadmap for organizations to mitigate risks, reduce disruptions, and ensure aid reaches vulnerable populations, even in the most challenging environments.


HELP Logistics is a subsidiary company of the Kühne Foundation. Since 2016, HELP Logistics has established four regional offices; Singapore (Asia), Amman (Middle East), Nairobi (East Africa) and Dakar (West Africa). From these centres, dedicated supply chain and logistics experts partner with a range of government, academic and professional institutions.


Alia Gharaibeh is a seasoned professional with a master’s degree in industrial engineering and over 15 years of managerial experience in leading regional and international organisations in the Middle East. She is the first SCM ITC-certified Supply Chain Manager in Jordan, a prestigious certification granted by the International Trade Centre and the United Nations.


With her extensive background in shipping and retail, Ms Gharaibeh founded her own business consultancy company, providing valuable advice and training to Jordanian SMEs. She has also played a pivotal role in implementing national capacity-building projects for USAID. As a lecturer at the German Jordanian University (GJU), she mentored aspiring logistics professionals and imparted knowledge on supply chain, logistics, and operations management.


Ms Gharaibeh's exemplary leadership skills have been recognised through invitations to prestigious fellowships, including the Arab American Business, John Smith Rule of Law (UK), Common Purpose (UK), and Vital Voices (US). Over the past eight years, she has actively contributed to the humanitarian sector through technical assistance and capacity building initiatives. As the Middle East Regional Director of HELP Logistics, she continues to advance supply chain management in the region significantly.


For more details please visit: https://ciltuk.org.uk/Events/Event-Details/dateid/5331


Not every humanitarian crisis makes the front page, but it doesn't mean they're any less urgent. Here are eight "forgotten" humanitarian crises you should know about as the summer fast approaches.


There is no shortage of humanitarian emergencies across the globe. But for many crises, the issues remain long after the news cameras leave - if they ever show up in the first place.


These are the stories that fell off the front page as they became more complex. These are the stories that quickly became forgotten because not much was changing on the ground and newer emergencies took their place. These are the stories that have yet to make the front page at all. More importantly: They are, in the end, emergencies that affect millions of people. Based on humanitarian data from UNOCHA’s 2024 Global Humanitarian Overview, here are 8 forgotten humanitarian crises that you should know about.


What is a humanitarian crisis?


First, let’s get on the same page with one key definition. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) defines a humanitarian crisis as “a singular event or a series of events that are threatening in terms of health, safety or wellbeing of a community or large group of people."


Earlier this year, rains broke the drought in the Horn of Africa. However, that’s not the end of the story. Overlapping crises have plagued Somalia for decades, including climate change and conflict, and while the country managed to avoid a famine at the beginning of this year, hunger remains a persistent issue for millions, further compounded by ongoing military actions and flooding caused by this year’s fall rains. A scale-up in humanitarian aid in 2022 and 2023 helped to avoid catastrophe in Somalia, but 6.9 million Somalis still require humanitarian assistance. The UN has requested a budget of $1.7 billion to meet just under 75% of this need.


2. Burkina Faso


Per the UN, Burkina Faso is facing its worst humanitarian crisis in history, with one out of every four Burkinabè requiring humanitarian assistance (a total of 6.3 million). The country has faced an upsurge of violence that has escalated throughout the Sahel region (including Chad and Niger - more on each country below), and an attempted coup from last year is still fresh in recent memory. Non-state armed groups have cut off access to certain areas of the country, affecting nearly 1 million people living in these regions of Burkina Faso, who are left without food and other basic services. An additional 1.76 million Burkinabè have been internally displaced by violence.


3. Chad


Bordering six countries across the Sahel and central Africa, Chad has faced a growing humanitarian crisis largely out of the public eye. Armed groups in the region (see Burkina Faso, above, and Niger, at number 5) have also brought violence to the country, which is also a key host community to refugees - especially in the wake of renewed conflict in Sudan. Health emergencies and the climate crisis have worked with these circumstances to leave an estimated 5.8 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.


4. Haiti


We’ve seen the occasional headlines from Haiti - including the assassination of president Jovenel Moïse in 2021 and the magnitude-7.2–earthquake that hit the country later that same summer. The country, which had all but eradicated cholera, is now one of the centres of a global cholera outbreak. Beyond this, the country faces ongoing violence in Port-au-Prince, consistent inflation, and is now one of the top five food-insecure countries in the world. For the first time in the country’s history, a large portion of its population is at risk of famine, and 5.5 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance at the turn of the year.


5. Niger


Situated between Burkina Faso and Chad, Niger has also faced a growing crisis that escalated with a successful coup d’etat in 2023. The UN estimates 4.5 million Nigeriens require humanitarian aid, but can only afford to reach a little more than half of those people - and that’s if its budget for 2024 is met. This represents a 15% increase in need compared to previous years (and growing), particularly in the Diffa, Maradi, Tahoua, and Tillabéri regions, which are facing violence, hunger, climate change, and various public health crises.


6. Lebanon


Over the last few years, an economic and financial crisis in Lebanon has led to issues of insecurity and instability for the country, including its large population of Syrian and Palestinian refugees and migrants. Inflation rates have left an estimated 3.8 million people - over two-thirds of the country’s population - in need of humanitarian assistance to meet their most basic needs, including hundreds of thousands of refugees living in informal tented communities without adequate clean water and sanitation services.


7. Central African Republic


The Central African Republic crisis entered its thirteenth year in 2024 - an inauspicious milestone for a protracted conflict that remains one of the world’s forgotten humanitarian crises. Over half of the country’s population - 3.4 million people - require humanitarian assistance. As the UN writes: “In the past five years, there have never been as many people in humanitarian distress in the Central African Republic as today.” As the conflict continues without any signs of letting up, this will continue to erode services and options for millions of Central Africans who will become more and more vulnerable in the process.


8. The Rohingya


Six years in, the Rohingya crisis has no end in sight. Nearly 1 million stateless Rohingya Muslims are unable to return to their homes in Rakhine State, Myanmar, which has experienced further conflict and crisis since 2021. They have spent almost seven years living in temporary shelters in neighbouring Bangladesh, facing seasonal disease outbreaks, floods, and fires. While basic needs are being met, between funding shortages and crisis fatigue, they still face an uncertain future.


Concern's response to humanitarian crises


Emergency response is part of Concern’s DNA. Last year alone, Concern responded to 76 emergencies in 23 countries, reaching 16.4 million people. Not each of these emergencies was a full humanitarian crisis, but many of them represent smaller shocks that set many people further and further behind in the middle of a larger crisis. In each context our goal remains the same: fulfil our humanitarian mandate.


When an emergency strikes, we seek out the poorest and hardest-to-reach communities to meet their immediate needs, and work with them to design innovative, fast and effective responses. We stay with them to help rebuild their lives and to ensure that they are better able to cope with future crises. Your support allows us to do this vital work.


Public knowledge of the entire phenomenon of disasters is abysmal in most of the world, and more so in India, where less informed citizens tend to take this as something inevitable


Disasters have always been a part of life progression and were, in earlier years, taken in stride as something inevitable; in many cases, they were simply divine intervention. Two phenomena have boosted the potential of disaster-related events in recent years. First is climate change, which has set off unpredictable weather patterns, a surfeit of rainfall that does not have avenues to run off, resulting in floods, or extreme temperatures that result in intense heat or heavy snow.


Glacial lakes are forming more frequently, posing a threat to the ecosystems in the lower areas. The phenomenon of disasters emerging from climate change is almost endless and touches numerous domains, including food security, water scarcity, sowing and cropping patterns, and the major impact on infrastructure in all domains of national development efforts.


The second phenomenon adversely affecting human security is unguided and unplanned development, which touches the domains of transportation, energy production, urban progression, tourism, and the like; all these are things that are supposed to bring comfort to society, contribute to higher earnings, and overall improve the quality of life.


China managed to lift 700 million of its people out of poverty due to progressive economic development. However, the chances of disasters also increased alongside this development. Train and air crashes, landslides, industrial fires, chemical leakages in manufacturing hubs, bridge and tunnel collapses—all these form just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.


Public knowledge of the entire phenomenon of disasters is abysmal in most of the world, and more so in India, where less informed citizens tend to take this as something inevitable. However, many governments in developed societies conduct research and apply technologies to first prevent and then mitigate disasters if they occur.


On occurrence, the response to them has an organised approach with earmarked, well-trained human resources and material that can ensure timely relief, rehabilitation, compensation, and building back better what is lost. In a nutshell, the entire concept of Disaster Management (DM) has a defined process called the DM cycle, which commences with measures of prevention and mitigation against potential identified disasters.


The cycle also includes capacity building as part of preparedness. Thereafter comes response, or the means to extend relief and rescue, save lives and livelihoods through trained human resources, modern machinery, and technology; search and rescue forms an important aspect of this. Following this comes the stage of recovery from the disaster after a proper assessment of the damage and destruction, which will also indicate the need for additional resources to build back better and create a more disaster-resilient environment in the affected area.


In India, we were late in waking up to the need for a more professional approach to DM. That is because development was slow, urbanisation was comparatively low, and academic information on the subject was nonexistent. As is the usual experience of nations embarking on an ambitious mission of development after 1991, DM was the last thing on the mind of the then government, and academia was insufficiently influential to urge its adoption. It was therefore left to three events and a few personalities to trigger the need for the professionalisation of DM in India.


These events were the Odisha super cyclone of 1999, the Bhuj earthquake, and the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 (over 10,000 fatalities each). While the National Disaster Management Act was passed by Parliament in December 2005, the Gujarat government had taken proactive steps to pass a similar act at the state level, raise a State Disaster Management Force (SDRF), the Gujarat Institute of Disaster Management (GIDM), and set up a State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA).


All this happened under the then-CM of Gujarat, Narendra Modi. The replication of the creation of institutions at the national level saw the setting up of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), and the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM). In effect, these three institutions formed and continue to progress the three essential aspects of the DM domain in India; policy, response, and ‘knowledge and research’ proliferation. As part of the recognition of its rise as an area of increasing challenge, DM, which earlier existed under the Ministry of Agriculture, was placed under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), and a DM Division was created under an Additional Secretary.


The wisdom of creating a policy making body such as the NDMA, with an expanded responsibility for multiple vistas of DM, has continued to pay dividends, especially since disasters have increased in quantity and intensity. In 2009, NDMA came out with the National DM Policy and subsequently helped with the adoption of the National Platform for Disaster Risk Resilience, or NPDRR, a platform for learning and knowledge exchange, review of progress made in the field of disaster management, appraisal of the degree to which the DM progression has been implemented by states and UTs, and giving direction and advice on the matter. Thus far, three sessions of NPDRR have been held and are well documented in content, analysis, and advice. It’s a platform valid until 2030 and can be reformatted for optimum delivery on knowledge exchange and management, which are among the premier issues at stake in DM.


In 2019, the National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) was released, which, along with the various hazard specific guidelines, forms the bedrock of the response. The same is now under review. Each ministry of the Government of India and various institutions are required to have their DMPs vetted by the NDMA. Each state, UT, and district is required to evolve and notify its disaster management programme.


It is relatively unknown that the Chairman of the NDMA is none other than the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India. In 2016, at the Asia Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Resilience (DRR), the PM gave a unique code for ensuring better and more optimum disaster risk resilience DRR. Commonly called the PM’s Ten Point Agenda for DRR, it has virtually become an international mantra and can always be accessed at the NDMA website at the link . Among the points that are covered in this seminal advice are gender sensitivity, coverage of risk for all, risk mapping, leveraging technology, creating a network of universities, exploiting social media and mobile technology, and ensuring international cooperation in DRR.


From a knowledge angle, what the public must know are three things. First, the Indian Government recently gave the highest priority to DRR, and in that, to Early Warning (EW) technologies related to disasters, and to disaster risk financing. This was while India was leading the G20 group in 2023. It formed the 13th vertical among the domains to be addressed by the G20. Three meetings of the DRR Working Group were held in Gandhinagar, Mumbai, and Chennai, and its findings were included in the declaration of the G20 Summit in September 2023. Due to India’s leadership in the field of DRR, the successor nation, Brazil, is now following up keenly to make DRR a key component of the G20 group.


Another point is that one of the most potent EW systems for disasters, where technological warnings can be assessed, has been adopted in India. Mass public warnings and advisories to individuals through their mobile sets are being generated for cyclones, lightning, heat waves, and floods. During Cyclone Biparjoy, 32 million messages on mobile sets were generated, resulting in a well-prepared community and administrative response. The system is constantly under improvement and goes by the name Common Alerting Protocol (CAP). CAP alert origination tools are software programmes designed to allow authorities to create alert and warning messages in a consistent format for routing to multiple alerting systems. More on this will be heard in the near future as the technologies are refined.


Lastly, the Ten Point Agenda mentions international cooperation as one of the areas for emphasis. There is no better example of this than the number of times the NDRF (16 units of 1100 men each) has had its teams fly abroad to provide relief to suffering communities. The Nepal earthquake of 2015, Japan’s triple disaster of 2011, and the Turkey earthquake of 2023 come to mind. The Indian Armed Forces are known for their proficiency in the conduct of international HADR operations. In 2023, 60 Parachute Field Hospital of the Indian Army did a yeoman medical mission in Turkiye, setting up self-contained surgical facilities and ensuring full gender sensitivity by taking six lady medical officers in the contingent.


Disaster management in India has come to stay as a domain of serious professional involvement. The NDMA, NDRF, and NIDM, along with some outstanding involvement of the SDMAs, SDRFs, and different other entities at the district levels too, are focused on ensuring the maximisation of knowledge about this all-important field through a series of write-ups in print and digital media. The idea remains the same: save more lives and more livelihoods through a professional approach to disaster management.


"We need to turn waste into gold. Segregation of waste should be done in every home. We need to educate people on how to separate organic and inorganic waste. If we work in synergy, we can work wonders." Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar


In India, half the waste produced by households is wet waste, often destined for landfills where it contributes to environmental degradation. Similarly, vast quantities of floral offerings from places of worship end up polluting water bodies and posing health risks. However, these under-utilised resources hold tremendous potential. The Art of Living, under guidance from the world renowned spiritual leader and humanitarian, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, is tapping into this potential to foster a cleaner and healthier environment.


Holistic Approach to Waste Management


The Art of Living has initiated a revolutionary change by setting up waste separation facilities and management plants at major places of worship and urban centres across India.


Beyond waste management, this initiative promotes economic independence among community members. Unemployed youth are trained in the operation and maintenance of waste management machinery, enabling them to become environmental entrepreneurs.


Comprehensive Strategy


The organisation's strategy begins with a comprehensive assessment of the required facilities, considering factors such as the volume of solid waste generated, including peak demands. Following agreements with the place of worship authorities or the city's municipal corporation, the project's capital funding is secured. The civil infrastructure for the composting unit is built and waste collection and segregation facilities are established. Training is provided to staff for machinery operation and maintenance.


Implementation Steps


• Waste Collection and Segregation: Collected waste is brought to the site and undergoes a rigorous segregation process.


• Composting of Floral/Wet Waste: The floral and wet waste is processed in the composting unit.


• Marketing Organic Compost: The resulting organic compost is made available for sale.


• Sustainable Project Funding: The proceeds from compost sales contribute to the project's sustainability.


Impact


• 42,00,000+ kg of waste processed annually across India


• 3,60,000+ Biodegradable spoons and plates produced from areca nut leaves


• 67,000+ Students involved in waste conversion into bio-manure across 17 states in India


• 44,000+ Cleanliness drives conducted


• 1,000+ Waste pickers trained in waste segregation across 15 states in India


• 18 Composting plants installed in large temples and urban cities across India


• 5 Municipal waste management projects active in Chennai and Delhi.


• 4 Composting plants setup in New Delhi under New Delhi Municipal Council


• 1,000 kg/day Composting capacity in Delhi


• 500 kg/day Composting capacity in Chennai


• 5,12,000 kg of garbage removed during the Clean Yamuna campaign.


• 43,980 Cleanliness drives conducted successfully


Broader Environmental Initiatives


The Art of Living's commitment to environmental care extends beyond waste management. Initiatives include large-scale tree plantations, natural farming to preserve soil quality, and the rejuvenation of rivers and their tributaries. These efforts have led to significant impacts:


Revolutionising Waste Management in Rural India


Untreated waste is a significant source of accumulating pollution and poses a serious health hazard in rural areas, lacking adequate infrastructure for efficient disposal. Over the years, numerous methods have been developed to not only treat waste but also convert it into an alternative energy source.


The Art of Living's expansive outreach includes health and hygiene camps (5H Program), medical camps, stress relief workshops, and the construction of houses, toilets, borewells, and water body rejuvenation. This comprehensive approach ensures that the community's overall well-being is addressed alongside waste management.


Key Initiatives and Impact


• Health and Hygiene Camps: Conducted 49,500 hygiene camps in 52,212 villages.


• Waste-to-Energy Projects: Generated 150KW/day of electricity and gathered 336 kg/day of compost from a single biogas plant, yielding an income of Rs 4,29,240 per year.


• Environmental and Health Benefits: Reduced CO2 emissions, increased soil fertility, and achieved a 72% reduction in malaria cases due to biogas plant and coal briquette installations.


By turning waste into a valuable resource and providing comprehensive community support, The Art of Living is paving the way for a cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous future for rural and urban communities. This holistic approach exemplifies how effective waste management can drive positive change and sustainable growth.


Hurricane Beryl, an early-season storm super-charged by abnormally warm ocean temperatures, hammered several Caribbean islands before hitting Texas. At least 11 people are dead.


Grenada’s Carriacou island was “flattened” when Beryl made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane. It was also the strongest storm to impact Jamaica in more than 15 years.


Several charities are actively distributing aid. If you’d like to help victims, click here.


In the latest episode of a resurgence in conflict and violence in eastern DR Congo, hundreds of thousands of people have been forcibly displaced as civilians, civilian infrastructure and NGO staff and assets are increasingly targeted. The involvement of neighbouring countries through their proxy support to non-state armed groups, the presence of several national and regional armed forces, and more than 120 armed groups represents an over-militarization of the region and adds a layer of complexity to the conflict in DR Congo which, if not contained, could lead to a regional escalation.


While North Kivu has been plagued with conflict for over two decades, the current situation has drastically deteriorated, triggering a catastrophic protection crisis. Parties to the conflict now regularly use heavy artillery including mortar, grenades and bombs, and deliberately target civilians, including internally displaced persons (IDPs). IDP sites in Sake and Goma were shelled in February 2024, and commercial boats on Lakes Kivu have also been targeted since March 2024. On 3 May 2024, at least 18 civilians were killed – most of them women and children –and 32 were wounded in attacks on IDP sites near Goma. And on 30 June, two aid workers were killed and several injured in an attack on an aid convoy near Butembo.


Other violations including arbitrary arrests and detentions, extrajudicial executions, forced recruitment, kidnapping and sexual violence are also committed with impunity. In April 2024 alone, more than 1,700 new cases of sexual violence were reported in IDP sites. We also know that most cases of sexual violence are not reported due to the fear of stigmatisation, exclusion, retaliation, rejection, and a culture of impunity.


2.8 million people are now displaced in North Kivu province, of whom over 540,000 are in and around Goma. A single offensive by a non-state armed group in June 2024 displaced over 350,000 people. People have been displaced multiple times: more than anything, they want peace, and they want to return home.


Despite staggering and growing humanitarian and protection needs, access to affected populations is increasingly constrained. Credible accounts indicate that parties to the conflict have militarised and established presence in and around IDP sites, thereby compromising their civilian character and posing serious risks not only to IDPs but also to humanitarian personnel. Humanitarian access is also constrained by bureaucratic impediments, roadblocks that have disrupted critical supply routes and disregard for International Humanitarian Law. As a result, many national and international non-governmental organisations have had no choice but to suspend operations in Mweso, Bambo, Sake and Kanyabayonga. This suspension has exacerbated the humanitarian situation and increased the burden on only a few organisations to deliver lifesaving assistance to affected communities. All this is happening despite coordinated peacekeeping and deconfliction initiatives designed to protect civilians and ensure unimpeded access to assistance.


“The situation is increasingly complex, and urgent action is necessary to address the escalating protection and humanitarian needs of conflict-affected populations, both in camps and rural areas. To allow this, all efforts must be made to de-escalate the conflict, and to ensure the protection of civilians as well as safe and unhindered access for frontline aid workers engaged in the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance’’ says IAWG Director Peter Burgess.


The planned withdrawal of the UN Integrated Peacekeeping Mission (MONUSCO) is likely to lead to a power vacuum, allowing non-state armed groups to consolidate and escalate their activities and subsequently leading to a surge in violence, human rights violations, and further population displacement. More than 80 percent of the IDPs in the country reside in areas protected by MONUSCO, raising the possibility of a humanitarian catastrophe in the event of a rushed and disorderly withdrawal.


The clock is ticking for civilians. As the crisis continues to be overshadowed by other humanitarian emergencies and despite the intensification of the conflict, political leaders and donor agencies across the world remain inexplicably disengaged from the tragedy that is unfolding.


We strongly urge all parties to the conflict to take concrete steps to protect civilians, especially women, girls and children, to guarantee immediate and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance, and to also guarantee the free movement, safety and security of humanitarian staff and assets, who should never be targets of violence. This includes demilitarising and withdrawing from IDP sites which provide a place of refuge for people already displaced by violence.


We also call upon the Government of DR Congo and the United Nations to ensure the meaningful and accountable participation of civil society, local actors, and INGOs, as well as representatives of affected populations, in all stages of the withdrawal of MONUSCO and the future reconfiguration of tasks. It is vital that the withdrawal takes place in a responsible and phased manner that does not create security and logistical vacuums, and which guarantees civilian protection, safety of humanitarian staff and access to humanitarian assistance.


Finally, we call on the UN Security Council to foster a stronger political dialogue towards de-escalation, addressing the growing involvement of neighbouring countries, and working through the Nairobi and Luanda processes, ensuring the meaningful participation of national and local actors.


Yemen is one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises – and children are being robbed of their futures.


What’s happening in Yemen?


Yemen remains one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world, with around 9.8 million children in need of one or more forms of humanitarian assistance.


After nine years of conflict, the national socioeconomic systems of Yemen remain on the edge of total collapse, while conflict, large-scale displacement and recurring climate shocks have left families vulnerable to communicable diseases outbreaks. Millions of children lack access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene services, and the country continues to experience regular outbreaks of cholera, measles, diphtheria and other vaccine-preventable diseases.


While the reduction in active conflict observed since April 2022 has led to a decrease in civilian casualties and distress across communities, the situation remains fragile without a sustainable political settlement.


How is the crisis affecting children?


Thousands of children have been killed or maimed since the beginning of the conflict, and thousands more have been recruited into the fighting. Years of conflict, misery and grief have left millions of people in Yemen in need of mental health and psychosocial services.


The ongoing humanitarian crisis has increased the vulnerability of children and women to exploitation, violence and abuse, child labour, killing and maiming, recruitment and use of children by parties to the conflict as combatants and in various support roles, domestic and gender-based violence, child marriage and psychosocial distress.


The conflict has exacerbated the ongoing malnutrition crisis in Yemen. Around 2.7 million children are suffering from acute malnutrition, including hundreds of thousands of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition – a life-threatening condition if not treated urgently. The damage and closure of schools and hospitals has also disrupted access to education and health services. More than 4.5 million children of school age do not attend schools, and those who go to school are forced to cope with overcrowded classrooms and overburdened and unequipped teachers.


What is UNICEF doing to help children in Yemen?


UNICEF is on the ground to save children’s lives, to help them cope with the impact of conflict, and to help them to recover and resume their childhoods. Conflict and violence have pushed more families into poverty and deprivation. UNICEF is helping treat severe acute malnutrition in children by providing essential therapeutic food and medical supplies.


Children are also being helped with victim assistance and education on mines and explosive remnants of war. Meanwhile, UNICEF and partners are rehabilitating damaged schools and establishing safe learning spaces.


Check here for the most up to date statistics on the situation in Yemen.