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The Office of the United Nations Research Center for Disaster Reduction says that the double burden of disease and hurricanes has disrupted education and reinforced the vulnerability of children and women.
A study on the impact of COVID-19 UNDRR (United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction) in five areas, including the Indian Sundarbans, has shown that the epidemic and its methods have not only caused tragic consequences for all communities. but also reinforce existing risks.
A report entitled ‘Understanding and managing cascading risks and the system: studies from COVID-19’ recently published contradictory findings from five case studies around the world.
As well as looking at the view of the many dangers in the Indian Sundarbans, the study looks at the fragile situation in Cox’s Bazar of Bangladesh; challenges for all parties at the national level in Indonesia; densely populated, urban area of Guayaquil, Ecuador; and rural and urban and national and international connections in the maritime region, Togo.
In the Sundarbans, people had to face the double load of COVID-19 and hurricane Amphan. The first months of the COVID-19 eruption from March to May coincided with the worst Amphan hurricane of May 20, 2020, with a constant wind speed of 170 km / h, with a maximum speed of 190 km / h. and hurricanes up to 5 meters. It caused $ 13 billion in damage, thus the deadliest hurricane ever recorded in the northern Indian Ocean (State IAG, 2020).
“The impact of two simultaneous accidents is reflected in the economic downturn in all sectors, actors and scales as reported at workshops, media and literature. The vast majority of people in this area depend on natural resources for their livelihood (fishermen, crab collectors, beekeepers, beekeepers, farmers, etc.). As a result of the measures to prevent COVID-19, restrictions on access to these natural resources, which were themselves affected by the storm, ”said the study.
Studies have shown that school closures as a means of preventing COVID-19 have caused educational disruption. “While current poverty has been a barrier for families to pay for access to online education, unstable internet connection in remote areas has been another obstacle. When these barriers are compounded by further economic stress as a result of this epidemic and hurricane, the educational crisis was highlighted (Save the Children, 2020), ”notes the study.
Incidents of forced marriage among young girls increased during the school holidays and after the cyclone and due to economic stress and educational disruption, many families included their children, especially young boys, as child laborers, adds the book.
The impact of the epidemic has been not only on children but also on women. Many women were also required to work in the fields in addition to other available occupations; to perform work performed by hired personnel.
“Similar impacts on women’s hygiene and safety have been reported by residents as restrictions on access to sanitation services, caused by infrastructure damage and overcrowding, forcing some women to turn to open defecation, which was also compounded by movement restrictions imposed by COVID-19,” the study said.
Investigators have suggested that the twin effects of the COVID-19 and Amphan epidemics have led to short-term financial losses that worsen child marriage and human trafficking, which could have long-term consequences.
Sumana Banerjee, Oceanographic School of Studies, University of Jadavpur, who participated in the study, said hurricanes were common in the Indian Sundarbans but the recent occurrence of Cyclone Amphan between the frontiers of the epidemic had re-established awareness of the danger. “Despite the relatively low coverage of COVID-19 between March and May 2020, the Sundarbans of India faced many challenges in all sectors due to their connectivity and its potential vulnerability, which combined with the impact of the hurricane led to an increase. the impacts and decline of those sectors in all sectors. ” Ms. Banerjee added.
Research has shown that the biggest impact on the region’s short-term and long-term decline is due to the economic stress caused by the closure.
“The closure caused by COVID-19 has affected equally affected poor families in the region. One study found that 88 percent of household income was poor on average and 63 percent of weekly income was lost due to COVID-19 (Guptas et al., 2020). Not only did it exacerbate poverty but it also pushed some people out of it. Declining incomes due to unemployment have forced people to cut back on food and eat less, which has hampered their food security (Gupta and others, 2020), ”the report said.
Michael Hagenlocher, lead author of the report and senior scientist at UNU-EHS (United Nations University – Environment and Human Security, reminds us of the importance of better understanding social interactions and the inherent disabilities.
“Prior to the epidemic, it was widely known that disasters, such as floods, droughts, or outbreaks of disease, could have a devastating effect on communities around the world. Only when COVID-19 began to spread and affect our daily lives, the true extent of how dependence on our highly connected world causes degrading effects within and across society began to become fully realized, ”he added. Hagenlocher.