BALTIMORE, Dec. 1, 2015—Lutheran World Relief, an international NGO working in 35 countries to develop sustainable solutions to poverty and food insecurity, marked #GivingTuesday by releasing its 2016 Early Warning Forecast of regions it is monitoring for potential humanitarian crises over the coming year.
The regions highlighted in the report are those that LWR is actively monitoring and, in many cases, is already in-country working to help mitigate the worst effects of a potential crisis, develop disaster response plans and strengthen community resilience, especially in the most vulnerable rural areas.
LWR President & CEO Daniel V. Speckhard noted that the interconnected nature of today’s globalized world means that humanitarian crises overseas will inevitably affect people in the U.S.
“Given these linkages and the rising vulnerability of global populations to both conflict and disaster, there is a vital need for an evolution in the way the international community thinks about humanitarian response that will have a lasting impact,” he said. “We need to move beyond short-term mobilization for the latest disaster or applying the Band-Aid approach to an emergency in an isolated ‘fragile’ state.”
“Instead, we need to approach recovery and resilience with a long-term time frame in mind, as well as a more holistic understanding of the importance of sustainable development. Breaking people out of the cycle of poverty will make them more resilient in the face of future disasters,” he said.
The countries and regions on the 2016 Watch List include:
- Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia
- Central America and the Caribbean
- Sahel Region of West Africa
- South Sudan
In addition, there are several countries and regions where LWR sees signs of hope:
- The Philippines
- Coffee and Cocoa production in Haiti, East Africa, Central America and Indonesia
Among the immediate challenges facing humanitarian community that are highlighted in the 2016 Early Warning Forecast:
The continuing refugee crisis, as the unprecedented migration we’re seeing shows no sign of abating. The Syrian civil war and terrorism wrought by ISIS is not only pushing out millions of refugees, but is destabilizing Northern Iraq. Refugee resettlement, complicated by security fears expressed by some communities and political figures, will be difficult.
What some are calling a “gorilla” El Niño is causing drought conditions in some places and will bring damaging rain and flooding in others. We must be prepared for disaster response. Food crises in Central America could spur migration.
The fuel blockade in Nepal has brought the post-earthquake rebuilding to a virtual halt. As winter approaches, isolated mountain communities will be cut off from supply deliveries, possibly auguring a second national crisis.
Drought and conflict have displaced more than 3.5 million people in the Sahel region of West Africa. Instability caused by the recent coup attempt in Burkina Faso, as well as terrorism-related incidents and threats in Mali and southeastern Niger will continue to be push factors for migration and make the lives of already impoverished people even more miserable.
The 2016 Early Warning Forecast can be downloaded at programs.lwr.org/2016-Early-Warning-Forecast.
Media Relations Manager
About Lutheran World Relief
Lutheran World Relief works to improve the lives of smallholder farmers and people experiencing poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America, both in times of emergencies and for the long term. With the financial support of US Lutherans and other donors, LWR strengthens communities through programs in agriculture, climate, and emergency support. LWR works with partners, supporters and technical assistance providers to achieve lasting results. For more information, visit programs.lwr.org.
If we have learned anything from living in our increasingly globalized world, it is that no community or no nation stands in isolation. For better or worse, we are all connected. This makes our existence on this planet simultaneously more creative, more dynamic, more complex and more dangerous. Inevitably, what goes on “over there” will somehow affect us “here.”
Anyone working in the humanitarian sphere has experienced this complexity first hand. It’s becoming ever more evident that linkages among global poverty, climate change, conflict and migration undermine political and economic security and trigger humanitarian emergencies that are more frequent and of a greater magnitude, and which are outstripping the ability of local and international aid agencies to respond.
Given these linkages and the rising vulnerability of global populations to both conflict and disaster, there is a vital need for an evolution in the way the international community thinks about humanitarian response and sustainable development.
We need to move beyond short-term mobilization for the latest disaster or applying the Band-Aid approach to an emergency in a seemingly isolated “fragile” state. In order to better foster global security and avoid the disaster in the first place, we need to approach recovery and resilience with a long-term time frame in mind as well as a more holistic understanding of the importance of sustainable development. Breaking people out of the cycle of poverty will make them more resilient in the face of the future disaster. It will make them less likely to flee their homelands for an uncertain future abroad. And it will strengthen their communities, ensuring they are not the next fertile ground for a terrorist movement to breed.
For the past 70 years, Lutheran World Relief has worked in some of the world’s poorest locales helping communities through some of the most complex emergencies, and our experience on the ground has given us a better idea of the complex relationships among poverty, human dignity and security. To that end, the global staff of LWR has compiled this 2016 Early Warning Forecast that includes the regions we are monitoring, the work we are doing in these areas and the steps we’d like to see the international community take to address some of these challenges.
Above all, we are calling on the international community to redouble its effort at both humanitarian response and building the resilient and inclusive development called for in the Sustainable Development Goals that were adopted in September 2015 by the United Nations. This effort should be aimed at empowering local civil society and communities in need to help them become more resilient to the new crises they will inevitably face, and to reaffirm the longterm commitment to sustainable development made by governments, businesses, as well as the faith-based and charitable community.
Ambassador Daniel Speckhard (rt.)
President and CEO