We Need Help and We Need It Now | World

We Need Help and We Need It Now | World

We Need Help and We Need It Now is what you here on all news casts covering the disaster caused by Typhoon Haiyan . There are two things you can do to help Philippine victims of Typhoon Haiyan:  One, send money to an established international aid organization, like the Red Cross or World Vision; and two, ask the US government what is the evacuation versus rescue plan.

More than 2 million people are in need of food aid, according to the Philippine government after Typhoon Haiyan.  And that’s just food.  Other clusters of need include shelter, water and sanitation, and emergency medical care.  It is estimated that there are 600,000 people displaced, many of them homeless, hungry and thirsty.  They need rescue and part of that action plan should include the strategy for evacuation.

Days go by and people, many of them children, are still begging at the sides of roads for food and water, shelter, shoes, pain medication, any of the basics of life.  Just as strong among their calls for assistance is the plea for evacuation.

Corpses float, rot under buildings or lie in the streets.  Horrific, yes, for the survivors, but the threat to public health is just as dramatic.  Combine this with hunger, thirst and lack of sanitation and medical intervention and this makes for a public health crisis of acute disease and more death.

On the rescue front, the pace of intervention has been hampered by: continuing severe weather conditions; the damage to infrastructure like roads and airports; and under-resourced local Philippine jurisdictions who were not remotely prepared to deal with a storm of this historic magnitude.

As I write, British and American military continue to mobilize in the Pacific, sending personnel, supplies and equipment, including massive desalination machinery to provide potable water.  Other members of the international community continue to stream rescue teams to the area.

Though delayed, these efforts are starting to reach the Typhoon Haiyan victims.  But goes too slowly. News reports indicate that many of the fortunate ones have been evacuated to Manilla.  The privileged, the lucky-starred fly away, showing that it can be done and leaving those on the ground to wait and wait for assistance but not flight.

It is heart-rending to see so much desperation day after day in the news media.  There’s a drip, drip, drip of rescue when a flood of help as strong as the storm itself is what’s needed.  A humanitarian crisis of vast proportions is getting worse by the day.

As if death, disease, starvation and loss of loved ones were not sufficiently awful outcomes of this impossible storm, today there were reports of new dangers.  When the basics on not in place, like food and water, anarchy takes over.

Eight people were reported killed in one instance when the desperate looted a store that collapsed on them.  Store owners are taking matters into the their own hands to protect their inventories and properties from looters. Some of these looters may be evilly entrepreneurial. Most, we guess, are simply hungry and thirsty and looking to provide for their families.

The police can’t protect the public as most of them are helping their families and dealing with their own acute losses.

Where is the evacuation plan in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan?


The Beginning of Wood Stoves for Guatemala

The Beginning of Wood Stoves for Guatemala

My interest in building wood stoves began when my friend, Christian, told me that he wanted to build a masonry stove to heat his new home in the hills outside of Guatemala City. Unfamiliar with what a masonry stove was, I asked Christian to elaborate.  I listened intently to Christian explain this to me and then proceeded to do a Google search and watch YouTube videos on masonry stoves.

What I learned was a masonry stove is a large block of heat absorbing bricks with a small fire box inside to heat the bricks and radiate that heat slowly into the house. Since Guatemala is “the land of the eternal spring”, there isn’t much need for home heating of any type unless you live in the western highlands, or up in the hills like my friend. Guatemala is blessed with a lot of little microclimates and the weather in any area mostly depends on the altitude and air currents.

Wood stove

As I learned about the masonry stove, I kept asking myself how this technology could be applied to a much simpler, appropriate, and accessible heating tool. That’s how I learned about the rocket, gasifier, plancha, lorena, forno de lenha (in Brazil), and other wood stoves. There are many makes, models, types, and styles of wood fired cook stoves, as there needs to be. The question and the challenge is how to get the tools into the hands of the people that need them the most. For that reason, and to that end, we started the Wood Stoves for Guatemala. Little did we know of the exciting adventure that awaits us.

The Vision and the Mission

We all have heard about the numerous problems of the three stone fire; health and safety issues, extremely poor efficiency, indoor pollution, and many other issues. There has to be a better way to build a wood stove and I am determined to find it.

Professor Ashok Gadgil from UC Berkeley has done remarkable work designing and integrating fuel efficient stoves into several African cultures.  He sets the following parameters for a successful stove project:

  • The smartest scientific and most generous philanthropic efforts are worthless unless the end-users accept the stoves.
  • User preferences and behavior must drive the design.
  • The combination of fuel, stove, and cookware drives the efficiency. Each stove is a compromise among many design goals and different price solutions.
  • The stove builder must have access to a large number of stove designs to meet the diversity of fuels, cookware, foods, cooking methods, price points, and aesthetics.
  • The skill of the cook that is tending the stove is a learned skill.
  • The “perceived benefits” i.e. cooking time, cash savings, and/or labor savings to collect wood fuel must be made abundantly clear to drive the motivation to accept new cooking methods. Health and environmental issues are not a perceived benefit and should not be the primary focus.

With that in mind, we move from theory to practice. The biggest problem with many of the existing stove projects is that the primary focus is on the stove and not on the end user. After looking closely at what is already available here, and experimenting with several of our own designs, we have developed an attractive, cost effective, fuel efficient, and user friendly stove that meets all of the above criteria. In the next post, we will show examples of this stove and describe how it is utilized in the real world.


Lake Atitlan Guatemala Weather Forecast

Lake Atitlan Guatemala Weather Forecast

Our Lake Atitlan Guatemala Weather Forecast from the office of the Chief Meteorologist whose weather reports can be read weekdays http://www.lakeatitlantravelguide.com/ and in Guatemala City, Antigua Guatemala and Lake Atitlan reports on his first hand views of the local weather for Lake Atitlan.

“Beel Lesman” is a recognized historian of Lake Atitlan and in taking on the role of Guatemala Chief Meteorologist he helped predict many storms as they approached the highland of Guatemala. Most notable was Tropical Storm Betty which just turned north before slamming into Mexico.

June 15 – This is the best time of the year for visitors to Guatemala. What is technically considered the rainy season, although we have had clear skies, meteor showers at night, beautiful sunny weather, and crystal clear waters on Lake Atitlan. It is normal to have this type of weather (a break in the rains) a little later in the season.

It is called the Canicula. A period of time during the rainy season that is does not rain. Perhaps it is early this year, perhaps we will have two Caniculas, or perhaps the 13 Baktun Mayan calendar cycle is starting an entirely new weather pattern. Whatever you want to call it . . . it can only be described as PERFECT. This is the FAMILY holiday season.

We have loads of families with the kids out of school. Guatemala is the perfect family holiday destination. Easy flights from the US, inexpensive budget, and lots of fun activities for everyone.

Today we had some kayaking groups paddling in the morning, taking advantage of the great weather. This afternoon we took a group for a rock climbing session. Tonight we are sitting under the stars watching the meteor shower.

June 16 – More of the same. We hope all the summer visitors to Guatemala this June 2013 appreciate the unusually great weather and get out and enjoy the wonders of Lake Atitlan. Sunday is market day in Chichicastenango, and many people will be headed in that direction. We are going to get a head start on the fun by traveling to Chichi Saturday night. I

t is great fun and a very different experience to see the people arrive at the market on Saturday night, set up their stalls, and enjoy the company of friends. Come and join us. And Happy Fathers Day to all you Dads out there.

June 17 – The weather is holding on its perfect pattern of sunny skies and brief afternoon showers in isolated locations. We have more American families arriving today, with kids of all ages. Something about Lake Atitlan brings the child out in everyone. Act like a kid and wiggle your toes in the sand, giggle, and have a choco-banana. Enjoy life and forget about your worries at Lake Atitlan.