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Identify a disaster event of your choice and two most vulnerable groups Essay

Vulnerable groups refer to the group that experiences a higher risk than the general population in case of occurrence of a disaster. The most vulnerable groups are older people and children under the age brackets of 5 years (Elliott & Pais, 2010, p. 1189). These groups cannot be in a position to resist and cope with disaster such as drought. When drought strikes any country, all family members can feel the impact, but children and older people are more likely to face the consequences (Hayes, Svoboda, Wall, & Widhalm, 2011, p. 485). This is due to the fact that they are not able to look for employment compared to other community members. In addition, children always require food for their body development; therefore, in case of drought they are more likely to have havoc time while trying to endure this situation. This is also similar to older people as they cannot be in a position to work and they end up living in home without any food.

A good example of a drought disaster is the prolonged drought that was experienced in Somalia in 1999 mainly affecting the lives of older people and children. Statistics shows that approximately 280,000 children under the age of 5 years died due to this devastating drought (Elliott & Pais, 2010, p. 1189). Moreover, about 100,000 older people were registered dead and others were weak to an extent they became emaciated. This is the most known humanitarian crisis that killed large number of people and others were left helpless. The fact that older people and children cannot move to longer distance to search food, they are more likely to face challenges. It is recorded that older people and children were starving because of lack of food and water. When this prolonged drought occurred in Somalia, farms were not in a position to support any plants as there was scarcity of water. This directly affected the lives of people especially these two vulnerable groups as the place was dry and could not support farming (Lindley, 2014, p. 40).

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When there is a prolonged drought, all granaries end up being empty and people are hit by devastating hunger. On the other hand, when there is hunger even the lactating mothers cannot be in a position to feed their children. This means that children will starve and they end up dying. Various organizations are set aside to help these vulnerable groups in case of disaster. Humanitarian actors are one of these branches that cater for the vulnerable groups in case of disaster such as drought. For instance, they have the responsibilities of taking care of these vulnerable groups and providing basic needs for them to survive and cope with these problems (Lindley, 2014, p. 40). In addition, older people are believed to face various challenges in case of emergencies that are related to mobility, visual and aural impairments. This has a serious impact on their ability to access mainstream humanitarian services.

There are many claims that the needs of older people and young children are not being catered for in the humanitarian system’s response to emergencies and disasters around the globe (Bhorat, 2001, p.104). This means that they are not targeting the most vulnerable groups within populations that are most affected by emergencies. The fact that both older people and children under the age of five years are highly sensitive to shocks associated with humanitarian crises, it is essential for humanitarian system to be capable of delivering adequate assistance (Coston, 2004, p.76).

Essentially, these two vulnerable groups both face a range of specific risks associated with their age, including access to adequate health care. Due to the fact that people have different healthcare, nutrition, livelihoods and general protection needs as they grow older, it is essential for humanitarian actors to deliver adequate assistance in case of drought occurrence (Ferris, 2011, p.267). This will help to minimize the death of children and older people. When the needs of older people and young children are not being catered are required the situation constitutes a breach of the humanitarian principle of impartiality (Davies & Glanville, 2010, p.78this reflects the necessity for humanitarian system to act accordingly.

Humanitarian principles regarding solving of drought international disaster

Humanitarian principles are used in management of drought as an international disaster with children and older people as the most vulnerable in this disaster. Children and older people are affected by the disaster which needs humanitarian’s assistance which include Red Cross and the United Nation in order to solve this disaster. With the hazard and disaster being declared as international it requires humanitarian assistance in order to solve this global problem (Zielinski, 1994 p. 209). The following humanitarian principles are discussed as they key successful factors of solving this global problem of drought in the case study of Somalia drought which happened in September 23 1999.

The principle of Humanitarian imperative implies that various non governmental organizations, international Red Cross society and the Red Crescent movement are the key factors to solve the drought problem. Drought affected people have the right to be helped since they are humans and their rights must be respected (Zielinski, 1994 p. 209). Humanitarian assistance should be adequately provided whatsoever and in good time so as to reduce the chances of old people and children suffering. Deaths which are caused by droughts should be avoided by the humanitarian groups which should assist the affected by giving them food, shelter, clothing and other basic need. Climate changes result to drought and thus environmentalists’ activists are fighting for the rights of the environment which will reduce drought cases and other natural hazards and disasters which occur globally (Zielinski, 1994 p. 209).

Humanitarian assistance is highly required according to the rights of humanity and should be at the right time in order to reduce the adverse effect of the drought disaster for example the drought that affected Somalia people in September 23 1999.

Humanitarian Neutrality is a key humanitarian principle according to the rights of humanity. Humanitarian agencies must not cause more harm to the affected individuals and should instead help assist them whatsoever in reducing the effects of the disaster. The assistance should be done equally, justly and fairly not based on the political, religious, racial, or any other ideological difference (Humanitarian Studies Unit, Transnational Institute, & European Commission Humanitarian Office, 2001 p. 456). The humanitarian agencies should remain non partisans and should be fair when helping the affected groups for example the Somalia people who were affected by the drought in 1999. Neutrality involves agencies which are open and are transparent in nature thus assisting everybody regardless of the ideological differences involved. The government should be involved in helping its people first and should be neutral in dealing with the hazard. Neutrality involves use of the government and any other useful aspect in dealing with the drought dealing with the drought disaster for example the Somalia drought of 1999 where the government first helped its citizens.

Humanitarian Impartiality principle asserts that assistance should be delivered to all those people who are suffering since it is their right to be assisted. Human rights should not be violated and should therefore be respected and the children together with the old people receive the aid neutrally. The principle suggests that the people should be helped with enough resources and none of the people should be discriminated whatsoever (Humanitarian Studies Unit, Transnational Institute, & European Commission Humanitarian Office, 2001 p. 456). The government should be responsible for the assistance to be delivered in the most impartial way possible. The Somalia people were greatly helped by the United Nation and the Red Cross society since the disaster was well known globally. The government should be responsible for the well being of its citizens and should assist them impartially when need arises.

In addition, the principle of Do no/less harm suggests that the humanitarian organizations should not do any harm to the affected people. The humanitarian agencies should not do more harm to the people affected and should assist them in order for the effects to remain minimal (Pictet, 1985 p.123). This is what happened in Somalia where aid came very fast so as to make sure that minimal suffering happened. Aid creates jobs and provides income in form of taxes and thus should be respected. Humanitarian organizations should be supportive to provide solutions for both long term and short term effects of the drought disaster. The root cause of the disasters should be analyzed and researched such that many people can avoid dying as a result of drought disaster thus making it less harmful and affective.

Humanitarian Accountability is another main humanitarian principle. The principle is defined as a process which a given organization takes an obligation to respond to so as to balance the requirements of the stakeholders during its process of making decisions and should be according to the terms of the obligation. There are four stakeholders involved in the process of humanitarian accountability which include the people benefiting, the national and regional authority, the given donors and the humanitarian aid agencies (Pictet, 1985 p.123). The Somalia governed found many donors and humanitarian agencies came in to fund in order to end the well known disaster. There should be coordination and good communication strategies as a result of those accountability requirements and obligations (Pictet, 1985 p.123).

Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP) is an international self-regulatory both that has the mandate of improving the accountability of all the humanitarian actions to people affected by crisis such as drought. Its purposes are to attain and achieve the highest quality and accountability of their entire work. For instance, they place and respect the rights of vulnerable people with high priority. In order to provide an objective and logical approach that is used to verify HAP members, there was development of standard in Humanitarian accountability and quality management (Pictet, 1985 p.123). It has the responsibility of improving and recognizing the accountability and quality of humanitarian programs (Pictet, 1985 p.123). Through an independent verification process, HAP can certify all agencies that are compliance with the HAP standards (Pictet, 1985 p.123).

Participation of affected populations, in particular women and children is another major humanitarian principle that indicate that the aid given should be sustainable in order to cater for both short and long term requirements by the people. The affected people’s rights should be respected and should be included in decision making policies which affect their lives (Crowe, 2013 p.98). Participation is the main key factor in decision making where it should be inclusive of men, women and children. Participation includes various parties, objectives of the participants, how to participate and who to participate (Crowe, 2013 p.98). The Somalia people were helped by the agencies and discrimination was not rampant since the disaster had greatly affected many people which included small children and old people who had started suffering deaths.

Essentially, the principle of respect for culture and custom suggests that the cultures and customs of the affected people should always remain respected. Human rights should be maintained in dealing with the drought cases and thus the affected people should be well treated and their rights maintained (Crowe, 2013 p.98). The humanitarian agencies should be made aware of respecting the local people’s culture and custom even as they assist them and find the solutions of the drought disaster which was the case in Somalia drought which was a national disaster. Cultural aspect is a key factor which should be respected since the culture of the local people is very important and should be maintained even in dealing with the international disaster. Humanitarian agencies should learn the culture of the pole since some cultures and customs are very sensitive and delicate to maintain and thus need to be respected whatsoever (Crowe, 2013 p.98). This is a key principle in the list of humanitarian principle and should therefore be respected and followed to the letter.

Demonstrate an awareness of actions or lack of actions by humanitarian actors in addressing the needs of the ‘vulnerable groups’

Many places in the world today are prone to drought and famine. This affects mostly the vulnerable groups which is the elderly and children who are below five years. However, drought does not affect people equally but rather older people and children below five years are the most affected. Humanitarian actors have the responsibility to address the needs of the vulnerable groups. For instance, the Horn of Africa is prone to the issue of drought and famine. The humanitarian agencies have showed efforts in addressing the issue of persistent food insecurity through establishing Food Security Programme (FSP) (United Nations, 2006, P.211). Due to the fact that most of the people affected by drought are from the rural areas, the humanitarian actors try to encourage the people to increase agricultural productivity in these areas in order to solve the problem of long-term food insecurity.

Humanitarian actors have taken great concern to manage drought in most of the affected areas including Somalia. For instance, a Disaster Risk Management (DRM) focuses on food management and agriculture, thus reducing the challenge of food insecurity (United States, 2000, P.241). For the last few years approaches towards drought management have been fully initiated globally especially in Somalia as many humanitarian agencies have shown great effort. For instance, aid agencies launched multimillion-pound that was established to address the issue of drought in Somalia.

Humanitarian agencies is a fundamental aspect in regard to disaster management which recognizes the importance of valuing and protecting basic human rights including shelter, food, clothing and most essentially health and security. Traditional disaster management approaches did not integrate human rights as the most vital reason to ensure disaster management. Ultimately, vulnerable groups such as old people and young children need protection during disaster such as drought. For instance, during the event of drought and famine, these vulnerable groups tend to suffer more to due the fact that they cannot assess basic rights with ease. Humanitarian agencies in this case are essential as they intervene to safeguard human rights that might be violated by disasters such as drought and famine (Schuemer et al, 2009, p.477).

The global effort to fight disasters has been guided by international legal instruments that aim to ensure that human rights are protected and are considered paramount during disaster management. These instruments include the humanitarian law which aims to limit human suffering in an occurrence of a disaster (Shaw et al, 2013, p.19). For instance, humanitarian law requires reduction of human suffering in case of a drought through provision of aid in terms of food, medicine and shelter (Schuemer et al, 2009, p.476). However, humanitarian law tries to strike a balance between military necessity and humanity. The other international legal instrument that aims to strengthen the work of humanitarian work as a way of disaster management entails United Nations standards and international human rights. These legal instruments essentially aim to limit and reduce human suffering during the occurrence of a disaster such as drought. This aims to achieve this through effective provision of necessities including medicine, food and shelter.

In the case of drought and famine disaster, humanitarian agencies seek to protect human rights especially for susceptible groups such as children below five years and old people through provision of human necessities including food shelter and medicine. This fundamentally aims to reduce human suffering that is essentially caused by drought and famine. According to (Shaw et al 2013), old and young children from a poor community are likely to suffer during the occurrence of a drought disaster since it will be difficult for them to obtain basic rights especially food. Lack of basic human rights result to increased human suffering especially in times of disaster such as drought.

Humanitarian work is a right based approach to disaster management and places more emphasis on human rights of the community as central to development of the community despite disaster such as drought.

Humanitarian aid is an example of a human right based approach aims to ensure a participatory which aims to call for international effort in drought management. According to United Nations (2000), disasters such as drought require a humanitarian aid response and a participatory approach to limit human suffering. Two fundamental international spheres including sphere project and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) provides humanitarian actors guidelines that incorporate a human right based approach to the disaster management process.

According to United Nations (2000), these spheres provide a vital base for decision making, coordination and development of policies that aims to incorporate key non UN humanitarian partners and United Nations. The guidelines provide key principles and activities that should guide humanitarian agencies in situations of natural disasters such as drought. They aim to ensure food, health, shelter, security and medicine to the vulnerable groups in the community in the occurrence of a disaster. Ultimately, the guidelines indicate that the groups affected should be consulted and informed on the humanitarian aid operations to ensure their welfare as early as possible (Schuemer et al, 2009, p.478).


Drought is a major international problem and disaster which causes many deaths and starvation. Governments of the affected countries should ensure assistance to the citizens in order to reduce the mortality rate especially infant mortality. According to the millennium development goals (MDGs) poverty should be eradicated and everybody should be given food in times of drought. The national and regional authorities should be held responsible for the safety and protection of its citizens mostly the affected people and thus should control them and provide basic needs for the affected people by the drought disaster. Drought is an international disaster which should be solved radically and should involve all humanitarian agencies. Discrimination should not be encountered in the participation process where everybody should engage in the participation so as to reduce mental traumas and stigmas. Thus when solving the problem of drought, discrimination should be avoided. Drought especially in the eastern countries is rampant and thus long term solutions are being studied on how to end this problem.


  • Bhorat, H. (2001). Fighting poverty: labour markets and inequality in South Africa. Lansdowne, South Africa, UCT Press.
  • Coston, C. T. M. (2004). Victimizing vulnerable groups: images of uniquehigh-risk crime targets. Westport, CT, Praeger
  • Crowe, J., & Weston-Scheuber, K. 2013. Principles of international humanitarian law. Cheltenham , Edward Elgar.
  • Davies, S. E., & Glanville, L. (2010). Protecting the displaced: deepening the responsibility to protect. Leiden, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.
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