Cyclone Nargis hits Myanmar: IOM Responds with Medical Care and Shelters
When the tropical cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar in May 2008 it left death and destruction in its wake: 130,000 people were dead or missing and 2.4 million displaced and in need of humanitarian aid. IOM together with other relief agencies moved quickly to assess the vast needs of the survivors in the already impoverished delta and started providing medical treatment. As IOM had been operating in Myanmar since signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Health in 2004, the Organization already had over 200 local staff on the ground working on grassroots migrant health projects in Mon State before the cyclone hit. Its large presence, which was reinforced by additional local and international staff and emergency experts, allowed IOM to implement its rapid response. IOM also started shelter programmes to repair and reconstruct houses, set up a referral and evacuation system as well as medical clinics in areas such as the townships of Bogale, Mawlamyinegyun and Pyapon where health infrastructure had been completely destroyed or severely damaged.
Six months after the cyclone, IOM continued to deliver medical treatment to the affected communities and to provide health education and psychosocial support while conducting further needs assessments. By the end of the emergency phase in November 2008, over 774 villages had been reached with emergency aid including medical treatment, 71,048 patients treated by IOM medical teams, 348 cases referred and evacuated for medical care and emergency shelter had been provided to more than 50,000 households.
After Typhoon Reming Devastates Bicol (Philippines): Rebuilding Community Resilience
Approximately one year after Typhoon Reming devastated the Bicol Region in the Philippines in November 2006, IOM followed up the emergency assistance with disaster risk reduction and community stabilization strategies through the IOM USAID Bicol Core Permanent Shelter and Community Revitalization Assistance Project. The project set out to benefit 826 survivors of the typhoon.
IOM's Community Service Working Groups (CSWGs) developed this project not only to create much needed job opportunities, but also to empower local communities in coping with disasters. Moreover, to strengthen social cohesion and local ownership of the project, non-beneficiaries as well as beneficiaries were involved in the construction of typhoon- and earthquake-proof houses. From project orientations to coordination meetings to sourcing, delivery and warehousing of building supplies and to the actual construction of the houses, in both Albay and Camarines Sur, beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries alike were trained and worked side by side. The development needs of this environmentally vulnerable community form an essential component of this programme, for example the establishment of commercial construction companies and hollow block factories after the end of the project was envisioned.
Legal clinics in the Camarines Sur sites safeguard the beneficiaries' rights and provide general legal assistance as a means to strengthen the rule of law. Other pro-active IOM services accompanying this whole reconstruction process include orientations, consultations, trainings and event preparations, medical missions and food security & livelihood enhancement exercises such as vegetable seed distribution and organic farming seminars.
Severe Floods in Mozambique: Applying Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies
Mozambique was struck by severe floods in late 2007 and early 2008. While the affected communities are still receiving assistance in the form of infrastructure rehabilitation, the focus is shifting towards establishing mechanisms to mitigate the effect of future natural disasters. An estimated 34,000 people in 54 districts across the country are vulnerable to seasonal flooding. Mozambique is also potentially vulnerable to cyclones, drought and earthquakes.
The European Commission (DG ECHO) has funded IOM to increase the availability of primary health care to flood displaced populations and host communities through the rehabilitation of three health centers and the construction of seven first aid posts in the districts of Mutarara and Morrumbala. All ten sites are 100% completed and the three medical clinics are in full operation. With the support of Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), IOM has also built 40 transitional shelters in Murrumbala resettlement areas and an additional 40 transitional shelters in the Mutarara resettlement areas. These shelters are provided to certified vulnerable households who have no other means by which to either build or pay for a house themselves.
Meanwhile, IOM is collaborating with other UN agencies in a joint programme to strengthen disaster risk reduction strategies and enhance the emergency preparedness of communities. In this regard, IOM has undertaken activities to support capacity building and provide technical assistance to existing community radio stations in areas affected by natural disasters, and to develop disaster preparedness programming material for dissemination by community radio.
Floods in Nepal's Koshi River Valley: Camp Coordination and Camp Management
More than 70,000 people were displaced from their homes when the Koshi River flooded in September 2008 which prompted the activation of the cluster system with IOM as the global lead for Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) in natural disasters. Displaced persons are now living in 40 camps in the area.
In Sunsari and Saptari IOM works in close partnership with the local and regional government, UN agencies and NGOs to monitor services in the camps including shelter, food, clothing, health and education services. IOM also conducted site assessments, partner coordination meetings, and semi-structured interviews with the affected populations to gauge needs, clarify roles, establish linkages, and coordinate interventions.
Furthermore, and in coordination with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), IOM is sponsoring two camp management trainings for relief workers in the flooded disaster areas of Sunsari and Saptari near the Indian border. Participants include staff from the World Food Program (WFP), the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), UNOCHA, UNICEF, the Nepali Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and local government officials.
Making Migration a Solution: Temporary and Circular Labour Migration Programme for Vulnerable Communities in Colombia
In addressing environmentally induced vulnerabilities, one strategy is to adapt existing migration programmes for the benefit of communities affected by environmental risks. One of the target groups of IOM’s Temporary and Circular Labour Migration (TCLM) programme between Colombia and Spain are people from high-risk zones of natural disasters. The scheme offers a livelihood alternative through temporary work abroad to families confronted with natural disasters, principally communities affected by the eruptions of the Galeras Volcano in Nariño, Colombia. The circular migration model supports migrants and their families in maximizing the impact of remittances and knowledge transfer to promote the area's recovery and enhance the community’s resilience to environmental factors. To make these investments sustainable, monitoring and technical assistance is being provided. » Read more on TCLM | Related Publication
Mauritius and Rodrigues: Reducing migration pressure from gradual environmental change
On islands such as Mauritius and Rodrigues, the meteorological impact of climate change could be disastrous, as a result of rising sea levels, altered precipitation patterns and fiercer hurricanes. IOM is implementing a pilot project to help mitigate the effects of climate change and environmental degradation on the population and minimize potential for forced migration. The project includes a national assessment, an exploration of new employment opportunities and job creation in the ecological sector (recycling, ecotourism, renewable energy, ecotourism, etc.) for vulnerable communities. It also aims to raise awareness of the consequences of climate change, including for migration, as well as of the employment opportunities in the environmental sector. Through training and information-sharing activities, the project builds capacities of national institutions to assist those who may wish to start an income-generating activity in one of these sectors. A combination of these measures is intended to contribute to both mitigating the impact of climate change and developing alternative sustainable livelihood options to reduce migration pressures in vulnerable areas. This is a pilot initiative with potential for replication at the regional level. » Read Assessment Report
Eastern Africa: Supporting pastoralist communities affected by drought
The human security of pastoralist communities living along the borders of Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda is under threat due to increased cross-border armed conflicts over resources. While drought is not uncommon to this region, a steady decline in rainfall has become the norm over the past two decades, a phenomenon likely related to the effects of climate change. Food insecurity is a real threat to an estimated 23 million East Africans this year, a result of poor harvests due to lack of rain and ongoing small-intensity inter-communal conflict. Along with its project partners, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), (UNEP) and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), IOM proposes to develop a regional preparedness strategy that aims to reduce drought-induced cross-border conflict among pastoralists in East Africa. This projects aims to reconcile the livelihood needs of pastoralists with cross-border security requirements.
Sudan: Ensuring sustainable return to South Sudan by integrating environmental factors
The monitoring of 4,905 villages shows that an overwhelming majority of the 1.9 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees who have returned to Southern Kordofan and Southern Sudan since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January 2005 continue to face insurmountable challenges accessing basic services and facilities. In Unity State, for instance, 77 per cent of the villages do not have access to safe drinking water because of broken hand pumps. In-depth analysis of village needs, environmental vulnerability mapping and land use mapping is helping IOM to assess the resources available locally for reconstruction and rehabilitation, to advise on crop seeds and tree varieties most suited to this ecological zone, and to identify areas in which water points and other structures can be built to avoid the risk of local inter-group conflict. The Organization has also advised on potential flashpoints over natural resource use between returnees, IDPs, resident sedentary farmers and nomadic and semi-nomadic pastoralist groups.