Disaster in Haiti continues unabated with long term medical effects

By Allyn Gaestel

11 February 2010 [MediaGlobal]: One of the smaller towns devastated by the 12 January 2010 earthquake in Haiti is Petit Goave, located 42 miles southwest of the capital Port-au-Prince. The emergency situation continues in this town of 12,000 people, with daily aftershocks and deaths from infections and diseases exacerbated by unstable living conditions.

Many people are living in makeshift tents in the open spaces of the town and the roads. Temperatures drop at night, and many people, sleeping on the ground, are contracting bronchitis as well as developing skin rashes and conjunctivitis from the close quarters in densely-packed living areas…Read more

Congo-Kinshasa: Sexual Violence Exacerbates National Aids Epidemic

By Allyn Gaestel

AllAfrica

11 February 2010

Sexual violence used as a weapon of war in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo continues unabated as more than a decade of conflict in the area drags on. This week the world has again turned its eyes to this ongoing issue, as new figures released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) stated that over 8,000 women were raped in the region in 2009….Read full article

Haitian diaspora engaging with long-term reconstruction emphasize the need for leadership

By Allyn Gaestel

5 February 2010 [MediaGlobal]: Following the 12 January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, organizations and institutions have focused on immediate relief for the victims and survivors of this disaster. As time passes, however, organizations are thinking ahead to the long-term rebuilding and reconstruction of the country.

One phrase repeatedly used by commentators on Haiti, including John Holmes, United Nations Undersecretary General on Humanitarian Affairs, and Paul Farmer, UN Deputy Special Envoy to Haiti is “build back better.” Those who have been involved with Haiti over the years are aware of the economic and social difficulties the country has faced, and they now hope to leverage the international attention currently focused on Haiti to make significant improvements across numerous sectors for the development of the country…Read full article

Afghan women leaders emphasize women’s role in security and development at London Conference

By Allyn Gaestel

30 January 2010 [MediaGlobal]: The Afghan government and the international community, consisting of representatives from 65 states and the United Nations, convened in London on 28 January 2010 to discuss plans to stabilize and develop the country. One Afghan woman was on the official conference program and spoke, representing the views of the often-unheard female half of the Afghan population.

Her name is Arezo Qanih, and she is the Program Officer for the Educational Training Centre for Poor Women & Girls of Afghanistan (ECW). Outside of the official conference proceedings Qanih participated in numerous surrounding events with four other Afghan women leaders. Orzala Ashraf, Mary Akrami, Wazhma Frogh, and Selay Ghaffar are all civil society leaders engaged with the promotion of women’s development and rights in Afghanistan across several sectors, including legal reform, education access, health services, and domestic violence…Read full article

Influx of IDPs And Refugees in Yemen Strains Local Economies

Allyn Gaestel

28 January 2010

As Yemen faces increasing movement of refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs), local host communities are struggling to maintain their already fragile economic stability.

Refugees have been migrating to Yemen from Somalia and the horn of Africa since the collapse of Mohamed Siad Barre’s regime in Somalia in 1991. Somalis make up the greatest proportion of refugees in Yemen with a population of 158,180 according the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Agency (UNHCR) in Yemen…Read full article

Local Haitian communities take initiative in responding to earthquake

By Allyn Gaestel

24 January 2010 [MediaGlobal]: The 12 January earthquake in Haiti caused huge destruction in the country, as is well chronicled in the international media. But the coverage has focused on Port-au-Prince, the capital city, where 30 percent of the city was leveled and an unverified number of people died. However, small towns have also been severely affected and international humanitarian organizations have been slow to acknowledge and address the needs of the more isolated areas. In their absence, local governments and community organizations have attempted to deal with the crisis independently, but many towns lack the infrastructure to deal with the enormous social and physical changes that have occurred…Read full article

World Cup in South Africa poses potential for public health risks and reforms

By Allyn Gaestel

16 January 2010 [MediaGlobal]: South Africa will be hosting the 2010 World Cup this summer, and as the country prepares for an influx of tourism, sex worker advocates and public health groups are mobilizing for new health policies. HIV and AIDS pose as significant health risk to South Africans and tourists. The country has one of the highest HIV rates in the world at 18.1 percent. A coalition formed between the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) and South Africa’s Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Task Force (SWEAT) is working to decriminalize sex work during the tournament, with the potential of extending legal reform beyond the tournament into a long-term national strategy…Read full article

Haitians mobilize as the international community scrambles to bring humanitarian assistance

By Allyn Gaestel

15 January 2010 [MediaGlobal]: As the window closes on the timetable for emergency rescue for victims of the 12 January earthquake in Haiti, the greater humanitarian disaster surrounding the destruction is becoming clearer. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the importance of the first 72 hours following the disaster. But already much of that crucial time has been spent attempting to assess the situation. The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) suffered the collapse of its headquarters. Approximately 150 peacekeepers are still missing and 36 staff members are confirmed dead. Much of the focus of the United Nations had been on this internal tragedy and the logistical difficulties of losing track of the majority of the UN presence. Meanwhile the fate of millions of Haitian civilians affected by the earthquake remained “sketchy” according to Ban…Read full article

Gaza residents build environmentally sound homes under Israel’s blockade

By Allyn Gaestel

6 January 2010 [MediaGlobal]: A year after the January 2009 conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza strip, local residents still face steep impediments to development. With much of the infrastructure in shambles, many residents live in tents on their land as sanctions and a blockade on the Gaza strip dating to 2006 have prohibited the importation of construction materials necessary to rebuild homes and other structures. However, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has found a viable solution to the pressing limitations by building structures from compressed earth block (CEB) in order to meet the housing needs of displaced citizens…Read full article

Local communities combat desertification in Northern Mali’s Lake Faguibine Region

By Allyn Gaestel

17 December 2009 [MEDIAGLOBAL]: The Lake Faguibine region in Northern Mali was once a thriving water system. Communities were built around the source, with agricultural and pastoral lifestyles dependent on the natural resource. However in the past hundred years the lake has experienced fluctuations of drought, completely drying up in 1914, 1924 and 1944, and remaining at drastically low levels since the 1970s.

In the past 40 years droughts have led to hundreds of thousands of human deaths and the loss of millions of livestock. Climate change has already had a visibly disastrous impact on this area and without local and global mitigation efforts the situation can only worsen…Read full article