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Humanitarian Assistance

Women, Environment, and Sustainable Development


Pandey, Shanta. 1998. “Women, Environment, and Sustainable Development.” International Social Work 41 (3): 339-55. 

Author: Shanta Pandey


“In developing countries, poor populations, especially women and children, are disproportionately concentrated in ecologically degraded, fragile, and marginal lands (Durning, 1989). A wide range of development programs have been launched to promote social and economic development of rural areas. These programs are in the form of reforestation, irrigation and drinking water improvement, innovative farming techniques, primary health care facilities and health education, and training and human capital development. People’s participation, especially women’s, in these development programs is crucial for their success. Much has been written on the failure of states and development projects to engage rural people, especially rural women, in these rural development initiatives (Mayoux, 1995). This paper reviews several case studies conducted in Nepal and identifies some of the factors that contribute to the participation of rural people, especially rural women, in forest resources management programs. The paper also discusses social workers’ role in promoting participation and sustainable development” (Pandey, 1998, 339).

Topics: Civil Society, Development, Economies, Economic Inequality, Poverty, Environment, Climate Change, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Women, Humanitarian Assistance, Infrastructure, Energy, Transportation, Water & Sanitation Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Nepal

Year: 1998

How Women’s Concerns Are Shaped in Community-Based Disaster Risk Management in Bangladesh


Ikeda, Keiko. 2009. “How Women’s Concerns Are Shaped in Community-Based Disaster Risk Management in Bangladesh.” Contemporary South Asia 17 (1): 65–78. doi:10.1080/09584930802624679.

Author: Keiko Ikeda


This article elaborates on how concerns regarding gender in community-based disaster risk management are shaped through interaction between local agents of development and communities in Bangladesh. As women and men have different experiences in disaster, gender concerns should be fully addressed by the community and integrated in the action they take up to reduce disaster risks. The term 'local agents of development' refers to individuals engaged in implementation of development policy in their own community. Recent trends in community-based disaster risk management policy seek what is called a 'whole community approach' engaging various stakeholders such as traditional village elite, 'local civil society' and leaders of community-based organizations - mostly poor villagers supported by non-governmental organizations. Within the context of the historical evolution of community development approaches in Bangladesh, this is quite new in terms of bringing together traditional leaders and poor target groups including women's groups. By drawing from the experience of women and focusing on the functioning of local agents of development during the flood of 2004, the author aims to assess the gaps between the primary concerns of women and those taken up in the risk-reduction action, to see whether, why, and when they have widened or been bridged.

Keywords: disaster management, gender, participation, local elite, Bangladesh

Topics: Development, Environment, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Women, Men, Gender Analysis, Humanitarian Assistance, NGOs, Political Participation Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Bangladesh

Year: 2009

Women’s Empowerment for Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Response in Nepal


Dhungel, Rajesh, and Ram Nath Ojha. 2012. “Women’s Empowerment for Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Response in Nepal.” Gender & Development 20 (2): 309–21. doi:10.1080/13552074.2012.687220.

Authors: Rajesh Dhungel, Ram Nath Ojha


English Abstract:
It is generally accepted that women overall are more vulnerable to disaster risk and have specific needs during a crisis. But in Nepal, social taboos and norms restrict women's freedom to express their needs to humanitarian workers in times of crisis, as these are normally strangers to the community deputed by humanitarian agencies or state agencies. These norms are deep-rooted in Nepal and other South Asian countries, and they increase the vulnerability of women to disaster risks, be they natural or man-made. In this context, starting in 2008, the Disaster Risk Reduction and Humanitarian programme (DRR-HP) in Nepal has introduced Women's Empowerment as a key component of community-based disaster risk reduction interventions in different DRR-HP projects. Altogether, 42 Women's Empowerment Centres (WECs), each with 30 women participants, have been supported to lead DRR and emergency response work in their local communities. The WECs have become a successful way of reducing socio-economic and physical vulnerability in the community, as well as an important means of strengthening women's empowerment and leadership.
French Abstract:
Il est généralement accepté que les femmes sont globalement plus vulnérables face aux risques de catastrophe et ont des besoins particuliers durant une crise. Cependant, au Népal, les tabous et les normes sociaux limitent la liberté des femmes à exprimer leurs besoins aux travailleurs humanitaires en temps de crise, car ces derniers sont en général des étrangers pour la communauté, délégués par des agences humanitaires ou des organismes de l’État. Ces normes sont profondément ancrées au Népal et dans d'autres pays sud-asiatiques, et elles accroissent la vulnérabilité des femmes face aux risques de catastrophes, naturelles ou causées par l'Homme. Dans ce contexte, à partir de 2008, le Programme humanitaire et de réduction des risques de catastrophe (Disaster Risk Reduction and Humanitarian programme (DRR-HP)) au Népal a introduit l'autonomisation des femmes comme un élément clé des interventions communautaires de réduction des risques de catastrophe dans différents projets du DRR-HP. Ce sont 42 « Centres d'autonomisation des femmes » (CAF) en tout, chacun comptant 30 participantes, qui ont été aidés à mener des activités de RRC et d'intervention en situation d'urgence au sein de leurs communautés locales respectives. Les CAF sont devenus un moyen efficace de réduire la vulnérabilité socio-économique et physique au sein de la communauté, ainsi qu'un important moyen de renforcer l'autonomisation et le leadership des femmes.
Spanish Abstract:
Se acepta por lo general que las mujeres son más vulnerables ante los riesgos de desastres y tienen necesidades específicas durante una crisis. Pero en Nepal los tabús y las normas sociales cohíben a las mujeres para expresar sus necesidades a los trabajadores humanitarios en momentos de crisis ya que a menudo las organizaciones humanitarias o agencias gubernamentales los envían pero son personas completamente extrañas para las comunidades. Estas normas tienen una larga tradición en Nepal y en otros países de Asia del Sur y aumentan la vulnerabilidad de las mujeres ante los riesgos de desastres, sean naturales o provocados por el ser humano. En este contexto, a partir de 2008, el Programa Humanitario de Reducción de Riesgos ante Desastres (DRR-HP por sus siglas en inglés) en Nepal incorporó el Empoderamiento de las Mujeres como un elemento clave en diversas acciones del componente Reducción Comunitaria de Riesgos ante Desastres (CBDRR). En total se han apoyado 42 Centros para el Empoderamiento de las Mujeres (CEM), cada uno integrado por 30 mujeres que realizan labores de DRR para enfrentar emergencias en sus comunidades. Los CEM se han convertido en recursos efectivos para reducir la vulnerabilidad socioeconómica y física en las comunidades y para fortalecer a las mujeres y sus liderazgos.

Keywords: Women's Empowerment Centre (WEP), Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), vulnerability, Nepal

Topics: Environment, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Women, Humanitarian Assistance Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Nepal

Year: 2012

The Gendered Politics of Firewood in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement in Uganda


Mulumba, Deborah. 2011. “The Gendered Politics of Firewood in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement in Uganda.” African Geographical Review 30 (1): 33-46.

Author: Deborah Mulumba


This paper examines the environmental destruction that arises from sudden location of refugees in rural settlements in Uganda. It highlights the gendered biases created when women are forced to traverse long distances to gather firewood. In doing so, the paper seeks to improve the provision of humanitarian support to refugee populations and the physical environment in their settlements. The research design was exploratory, descriptive, and largely qualitative even though small amounts of primary quantitative data were collected from a sample of 100 women and 30 men. Results of the data analysis show that refugee settlements have a negative effect on the environment in and around refugee settlements due to the excessive cutting of trees needed for firewood and charcoal. Moreover, the data show that women refugees, whose gender role it is to collect firewood, had to travel long distances in search of fuel wood, a process that exposed them to exploitation and domestic violence. The paper concludes with some recommendations including the provision of fuel energy and the adoption of environmental strategies that can conserve the ecosystem in and around refugee settlements.

Keywords: women, refugees, gender, environment, firewood, refugee settlement, Uganda

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Refugee/IDP Camps, Domestic Violence, Environment, Gender, Women, Humanitarian Assistance, Energy Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2011

A Grounded Theory Investigation Into the Experiences of African Women Refugees: Effects on Resilience and Identity and Implications for Service Provision.


Sherwood, Katie, and Helen Liebling-Kalifani. 2012. “A Grounded Theory Investigation Into The Experiences Of African Women Refugees: Effects On Resilience And Identity And Implications For Service Provision1.” Journal of International Women’s Studies 13 (1): 86-108.

Authors: Katie Sherwood, Helen Liebling-Kalifani


The current study aims to explore African women’s experiences of violence during conflict. The research was undertaken in 2009 in part fulfilment for a Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology. Previous research on women refugees’ experiences has focused on the negative impact on psychological functioning despite indications that they show great strength and resilience. Using qualitative methods the study sought to identify the impact of violence on mental health as well as develop a greater understanding of the roles of resilience, coping and identity. Women from Somalia and Zimbabwe who attended a refugee centre in the UK were interviewed; analysis of the results identified a relationship between resilience, access to rights and support and identity. It also recognised cultural and societal influences and experiences in the United Kingdom as contributing factors. Findings support the move toward a more holistic model of understanding refugee women’s experiences. However, the study also reveals the importance of support and treatment assisting women to utilise their resilience in reconstructing their identities from traumatic events and recovery process.

Keywords: women, refugees, trauma, africa, gender based violence

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender-Based Violence, Health, Mental Health, Trauma, Humanitarian Assistance, Context-Appropriate Response to Trauma, Rights, Violence Regions: Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, Northern Europe Countries: Somalia, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe

Year: 2012

In War’s Wake: Contextualizing Trauma Experiences and Psychosocial Well-Being Among Eritrean Youth


Farwell, Nancy. 2003. “In War’s Wake: Contextualizing Trauma Experiences and Psychosocial Well-Being Among Eritrean Youth.” International Journal of Mental Health 32 (4): 20–30.

Author: Nancy Farwell


This study examines war trauma experienced by Eritrean youth, their psychological symptoms and contextual actors related to their psychosocial well-being in the postwar environment in Eritrea. The youth offered retrospective accounts of trauma experiences in semi-structured interviews that included open- and closed-ended questions and the administration of the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire. Among the ninety-seven youth in this school-based sample from four regions of Eritrea, exposure to trauma and economic hardship were significant predictors of psychological distress. Refugee status did not predict lower symptom levels, a factor related to the stressors encountered in exile as well as to the earlier war events that forced the youth and their families to flee their country. For many youth, grief over the loss of parents and close relatives was not resolved. The youth were generally positive about the future, both personally and in the context of a free and independent Eritrea. This article suggests that the intrapsychic post-traumatic stress disorder framework may be too narrow for conceptualizing war trauma, which is essentially psychosocial in nature, and deeply contextualized in a community's socioeconomic and political realities of conflict and its aftermath. Expanding this knowledge base is important order to ensure that practitioners and policy makers can effectively assist youth and their families with the postconflict tasks of healing and reintegration, essential elements of building a lasting peace.

Topics: Economies, Poverty, Gender, Girls, Boys, Health, Trauma, Humanitarian Assistance, Context-Appropriate Response to Trauma, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Eritrea

Year: 2003

Aid Partnership in the Bougainville Conflict: The Case of a Local Women’s NGO and Its Donors


Makuwira, Jonathan. 2006. “Aid Partnership in the Bougainville Conflict: The Case of a Local Women’s NGO and Its Donors.” Development in Practice 16 (03–04): 322–33. doi:10.1080/09614520600694927.

Author: Jonathan Makuwira


This article documents lessons learned from a study of aid partnerships in post-conflict development and peace building in Bougainville. It examines how donor agencies, in this case the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) through the International Women's Development Agency (IWDA), contributed to the successes and failures of the Leitana Nehan Women's Development Agency (LNWDA). Although the donors contributed to the organisational development and capacity of the LNWDA, the balance of power remains unequal. Furthermore, the deployment of an intermediary body in the partnership exerts considerable pressure on the LNWDA, because it has to deal with multiple demands for accountability, which affect the impact of its own work on the ground. It is argued that in order to enhance the impact of their assistance, donor agencies need to develop a framework in which partnerships are sustained through mutual and less demanding accountabilities.

Topics: Development, Gender, Women, Humanitarian Assistance, NGOs, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict Regions: Oceania Countries: Papua New Guinea

Year: 2006

Body and Soul: Forced Sterilization and Other Assaults on Roma Reproductive Freedom in Slovakia


Zampas, Christina, et al. “Body and Soul: Forced Sterilization and Other Assaults on Roma Reproductive Freedom in Slovakia.” 2003. New York: Center for Reproductive Rights.

Authors: Christina Zampas, Ina Zoon, Sneha Barot, Barbora Bukovska


“In late 2002, the Center for Reproductive Rights in collaboration with Poradňa pre občianske a I’udské práva (Centre for Civil and Human Rights, hereinafter Poradňa), a Slovak human rights organization, and Ina Zoon, an expert consultant on minority rights issues, conducted a human rights fact-finding mission involving in-depth private interviews with more than 230 women in almost 40 Romani settlements throughout eastern Slovakia, the region with the highest concentration of Roma, on topics including sterilization practices, treatment by health-care professionals in maternal health-care facilities and access to reproductive health-care information. We also interviewed Slovak hospital directors, doctors, nurses, patients, government officials, activists, and non-governmental organizations regarding these same issues. Our research has uncovered widespread violations of Romani women’s human rights, specifically reproductive rights, in eastern Slovakia that include the following:
• coerced and forced sterilization;
• misinformation in reproductive health matters;
• racially discriminatory access to health-care resources and treatment;
• physical and verbal abuse by medical providers; and
• denial of access to medical records.

Slovakia is scheduled to become a member state of the European Union (EU) in 2004. This membership confers economic benefits as well as political and social responsibilities on members in accordance with the aquis, the EU’s legal framework. Overshadowing this historic moment, however, is the Slovak government’s continued denial of the human rights of minority Romani women.
Discrimination against the Roma is historically based, stretching back several centuries. In modern times, persecution of the Roma was enforced under the Nazi regime through, among other things, a policy of forced sterilization. This practice was continued during communist times in Czechoslovakia, when Romani women were specifically targeted for sterilization through government laws and programs that provided monetary incentives and condoned misinformation and coercion. The Slovak government claims these programs were dismantled following the fall of communism in 1989. However, our fact-finding reveals that serious human rights violations continue despite the official change in the most obviously problematic law. Indeed, our fact-finding clearly indicates that discrimination against Romani women remains deeply and disturbingly entrenched in Slovak society. Government officials and health-care providers today openly condone attitudes and practices that violate the bodily integrity, health rights and human dignity of Romani women in need of reproductive health-care services. Romani women are particularly vulnerable to multiple forms of discrimination because they bear the double burden of both race and gender stereotypes.” (Zampas et al. 2003, 14)

Topics: Gender, Women, Health, Reproductive Health, Humanitarian Assistance, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Europe, Central Europe Countries: Slovakia

Year: 2003

Governing Mobility through Humanitarianism in Somalia: Compromising Protection for the Sake of Return


Horst, Cindy, and Anab Ibrahim Nur. 2016. “Governing Mobility through Humanitarianism in Somalia: Compromising Protection for the Sake of Return.” Development and Change 47 (3): 542–62. doi:10.1111/dech.12233.

Author: Cindy Horst


This article aims to contribute to an increased understanding of the importance of migration in humanitarian and ‘post-humanitarian’ contexts, by exploring the interlinkages between protection and displacement. It argues that the strategies by which conflict-displaced populations protect themselves are largely based on mobility. Yet, humanitarian approaches to displaced populations do not take sufficient account of the mobility needs of those they assist. Furthermore, the actual location at which aid is provided is affected by funding realities and donor priorities. This article discusses the case of protracted displacement realities of Somali refugees and internally displaced people in Kenya, Somaliland and south-central Somalia. Based on in-depth semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions with humanitarian aid workers and displaced people, the article offers an analysis of the recent ‘stabilization discourse’ that fuels programming directed at the return of displaced Somalis. The authors argue that humanitarian protection is compromised by immobile aid practices and by humanitarian programmes that are guided by states’ interest in refugee return.

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Forced Migration, IDPs, Refugees, Gender, Women, Humanitarian Assistance Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya, Somalia

Year: 2016

Stress, Mental Health, and Burnout in National Humanitarian Aid Workers in Gulu, Northern Uganda


Ager, Alastair, Eba Pasha, Gary Yu, Thomas Duke, Cynthia Eriksson, and Barbara Lopes Cardozo. 2012. “Stress, Mental Health, and Burnout in National Humanitarian Aid Workers in Gulu, Northern Uganda.” Journal of Traumatic Stress 25 (6): 713–20. doi:10.1002/jts.21764.

Authors: Alastair Ager, Eba Pasha, Gary Yu, Thomas Duke, Cynthia Eriksson, Barbara Lopes Cardozo


This study examined the mental health of national humanitarian aid workers in northern Uganda and contextual and organizational factors predicting well-being. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 376 national staff working for 21 humanitarian aid agencies. Over 50% of workers experienced 5 or more categories of traumatic events. Although, in the absence of clinical interviews, no clinical diagnoses were able to be confirmed, 68%, 53%, and 26% of respondents reported symptom levels associated with high risk for depression, anxiety disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), respectively. Between one quarter and one half of respondents reported symptom levels associated with high risk regarding measured dimensions of burnout. Female workers reported significantly more symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and emotional exhaustion than males. Workers with the United Nations and related agencies reported fewest symptoms. Higher levels of social support, stronger team cohesion, and reduced exposure to chronic stressors were associated with improved mental health. National humanitarian staff members in Gulu have high exposure to chronic and traumatic stress and high risk of a range of poor mental health outcomes. Given that work-related factors appear to influence the relationship between the two strategies are suggested to support the well-being of national staff working in such contexts.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gender Analysis, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Humanitarian Assistance Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2012


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