Hello! It’s 2014 and the Humanosphere podcast is back.
This week, Tom Paulson and I look back at the previous year: What global health stories were most popular? Which ones were neglected and less attention-grabbing but really important? What’s Humanosphere’s outlook for this year?
Then we move on to an interview I recorded last month with Jeremy Konyndyk, the Director of USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, about the Philippines. By that point, several weeks had elapsed since Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons (hurricanes) ever witnessed, hit the island nation. The storm killed thousands and displaced millions (although Konyndyk says there are not millions of homeless people, just millions with damaged homes).
Konyndyk, who is overseeing much of the US government’s aid response to the disaster, says there’s reason to be optimistic. My reference point in our interview was the earthquake in Haiti. Konyndyk says a more robust government and economy means Filipinos are on track to recover from the storm more quickly and strongly than Haitians.
But from the destruction of coconut trees critical to livelihoods to “no build” zones along the coastlines, where the poor had been building homes anyway, some thorny issues remain.
And I ask him whether USAID, which critics say bungled much of the Haiti recovery, is doing business with more local contractors and producers. Moreover, can the taxpaying public be truly confident that our government’s recovery assistance to Filipinos is properly managed and successful? Listen and find out.