Environmental Hazards

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Environmental Hazards

Although there are many problems faced by the developing countries of the world, the two areas that are of most concern are food and water supply, as well as diseases.

Natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes and floods also pose great threats to the developing world, as they often do not have the resources to cope with such disasters.

Water: Water is essential for life and yet nearly one third of the population of the world do not have access to safe drinking water. Despite not being clean, this water is used, and so contaminated water contributes to many of the devastating diseases that are outlined in the next section.

It is often the rural areas of these countries that lack the clean water, and they are usually the areas furthest away from medical help if people contract diseases.

Aid agencies have establishing safe water resources as one of their primary targets when they give aid to a country.

Food: Food shortages are also common throughout the developing world.In particular are the countries of Africa such as Ethiopia and Sudan, where droughts wrecked the harvest and caused millions to die of starvation.

There are many life threatening diseases that affect huge numbers of people in the developing world. Three of the most common are:

Bilharzia: Threatens over half a billion people in the world. Transmitted in stagnant water by parasitic worms which originate from human waste and then grow within bilharzia snails before seeking a human host. They break the skin and enter the bloodsteam. The worms lay eggs within the human causing many internal problems, especially in the bladder.

Cholera: It is prevalent in unsanitary conditions and is caught by drinking water or eating food contaminated by the waste of people carrying the disease. The wastes contain the infective bacillus part of the disease, which causes diarrhoea, vomiting and cramps. All can lead to death through the loss of many vital body fluids.

Malaria: A disease carried by mosquitoes which threatens 40% of the population of the world. The main areas where malaria is found is in Central and South America (the Amazon Rainforest only); central and southern Africa: India and South-east Asia. Parasites are transmitted to the human's bloodstream during a mosquito bite. These live in the persons liver destroying blood cells, causing fever, and even death!

Earthquakes and Volcanoes: Natural hazards such as earthquakes andvolcanoes have Earthquakes and Volcanoes: Natural hazards such as earthquakes and volcanoes have a devastating effect on developing countries, as they tend not to have the resources available to cope with such disasters. Buildings are easily knocked down, medical services are poor and rescue efforts often come too late, especially to remote areas. A weak earthquake in a developing country can cause far more damage and destruction than a more powerful one in a developed country.

Floods: Early in 2000, the world saw how torrential rains and tropical storms could cause wide-spread and devastating flooding in a developing country: Mozambique. The flood waters rose so quickly that many people were stranded, forced to clamber into trees and wait to be rescued. But, as in many developing countries facing such a disaster, the country itself did not have the resources to cope.

International aid from countries such as South Africa (helicopters)and Britain (food, medicines and clothes) was required to try to help them get through the disaster.

Drought: Droughts reduce or destroy harvests and mean that water supply is severely limited. Countries in Africa, such as Ethiopia, have been badly affected by droughts, with hundreds of thousands of people dying from starvation or thirst.

However in developed countries the technology is available to enable water to be brought in from other parts of the country. Consequently when California experienced a three-year drought in the mid-1990's there were noserious problems.