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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been proposed as a replacement for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which expire at the end of this year. Poverty eradication is still the greatest global challenge facing the world today, and the SDGs will help governments and NGOs to keep their focus aligned in the right direction.
The MDGs are 8 international development goals which were adopted in 2000. They set an expectation, agreed to by member countries of the United Nations to meet the needs of the worlds poorest but they have been met with varying levels of success. For example, the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day has halved. However, the net enrolment rate for primary education has only increased from 88% to 90% since 1990, still falling short of the MDGs target of 100%. Under-fiver mortality rates have also dropped from 99 per 1000 live births in 1990 to 53 in 2012, but not as far as set by the MDGs. Emissions of CO2 have continued to grow despite MDG 8 calling for all countries to ensure environmental sustainability. Despite their varied success, the MDGs have been a good focal point upon which NGOs and governments can base their policies and overseas aid programmes. They also provide a commitment to ending poverty and improving lives that NGOs can hold governments accountable to.
On Saturday April 25 just before midday an earthquake measuring 7.8 centred near Kathmandu approximately 15km below the surface shook Nepal and was felt throughout the region. In the days since this initial quake aftershocks have continue with at least 64 recorded in the following 4 days. More than 4000 people have lost their lives, and this number is expected to rise. Well over 8000 are known to be injured and as rescue and recovery efforts continue the UN are predicting that upwards of 8 million could be affected.
Much of the city of Kathmandu has been destroyed and the full extent of damage in the villages is yet to be established. Nepal is the heart of the Himalayas, and normally difficult access to more remote regions has only been made more challenging with disrupted communication and transportation systems.
Survivors are camping on the edges of Kathmandu city and initial aid and relief response is in action with some organisations distributing prepositioned supplies. Relief agencies are working together with Nepalese government and those with expertise in disaster relief have trained personnel on standby ready to act once needs have been assessed. A number of aid organisations have local teams in country coordinating efforts. Local churches are seeking to coordinate how they can best respond to this crisis. Read more about the response of churches here.
It has been nearly a month since Tropical Cyclone Pam tore through the archipelago of Vanuatu, affecting an estimated 166,000 people. 75,000 of those left homeless in need of emergency shelter and 100,000 requiring supplies of clean drinking water.
Emergency relief has been able to reach all of the 22 island affected by Pam despite major logistical challenges raised by the spread of the islands. There is a long chain of transportation including shipping, driving by 4x4 and, in some cases, supplies need to be walked to isolated villages. Aid workers have been impressed by the resilience of people rebuilding their lives, however many are still in need of essentials.
Major emerging issues are concerned with long-term food security and water cleanliness. As a population that mainly relies on subsistence farming, the loss of about 75% of crops and 50% of animals will drastically affect the population of Vanuatu. The UN estimates that $29.9million is needed to cover the needs of the people for the next 3 months. So far, about $6.4million has been pledged through the UN Flash Appeal. This is an emergency response plan concerning 5 main humanitarian issues; lack of safe drinking water, insufficient access to food, need for emergency shelter, need for medical facilities and supplies and insufficient access to people in need. The UN has already started providing families with seed kits. Replanting of crops is a priority in order to minimise long-term reliance on donated foods.