Poverty and Environmental Hazards
Poverty and Environmental Hazards
Conditions in the environment that have a negative impact on the health and well-being of a population are known as environmental hazards. These can be natural events, such as an overabundance of insects that destroys crops; a weather pattern that causes a drought or flood; or a sudden, violent disaster such as an earthquake or volcanic eruption. Environmental hazards can also be human-caused problems such as air and water pollution, chemical toxicity, or a poor use of resources that brings about environmental degradation. These events can have an immediate, devastating impact, or they can have more extended consequences. A famine, for example, might cause hundreds of thousands of people to starve to death over a number of months, or exposure to pollution might be associated with long-term health effects over several generations.
THE EFFECTS OF ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS ON THE POOR
Throughout the world, the poor are more often and more severely affected by environmental hazards, including both daily pollutants and large-scale disasters. In a study published in the Annual Review of Public Health (vol. 23, 2002, http://publhealth.annualreviews.org/cgi/reprint/23/1/303.pdf), Gary W. Evans and Elyse Kantrowitz found that low-income Americans are more likely to be exposed, and exposed at higher levels, to pollutants and other risks in their homes, schools, and workplaces. For example, flaking, lead-based paint, which is a particular danger to children, is more prevalent in the poorly maintained, older houses of low-income neighborhoods than in newly constructed homes or those that are carefully maintained. In underdeveloped and developing countries environmental risks are generally many times greater because health and safety regulations are less stringent.
Natural disasters affect the poor disproportionately because they so often occur in rural regions and high-risk zones where poor people live out of tradition or necessity. In addition, high-income countries are often better prepared for emergencies than low-income countries. As researchers for the World Bank pointed out in "Natural Disasters: Counting the Cost," (March 2004), developed countries tend to have early warning systems and emergency response plans, as well as emergency medical care and insurance coverage. In low-income countries and remote areas, communication systems are less reliable, if they exist at all, making it difficult to implement early warning systems. After a disaster, victims must often wait for outside help from international organizations, and any money targeted for local development plans must be diverted to relief and rebuilding efforts, which is often a significant setback to human development projects.
WHICH AREAS ARE MOST VULNERABLE TO NATURAL DISASTERS?
In the e-book Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis (March 2005), researchers for the World Bank reported that more than half the global population, 3.4 billion people, are vulnerable to natural disasters, especially in Bangladesh, Nepal, the Dominican Republic, Burundi, Haiti, Taiwan, Malawi, El Salvador, and Honduras, where more than 90% of the population of each country is at risk of death from two or more hazards. The regions that statistically face the greatest risks are Central America, East and South Asia, parts of the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. In March 2004 the World Bank reported that two billion people had been affected by natural disasters since the mid-1990s. During the 1990s, 800,000 people were killed in disasters that resulted in direct financial losses of $63 billion annually, not including the cost of emergency relief, cleanup, and rebuilding.
THE NATURAL AND HUMAN-MADE DISASTER OF FAMINE
Famine is the phenomenon of large-scale starvation in a population because of a severe shortage of food or a lack of access to food. It can be caused by natural occurrences such as drought, flooding, or pestilence, or it can be the result of war, in which food is used as a weapon, or even unwise government policies. It is, overall, one of the most devastating events human beings can experience and one of the most dramatic and emotional from the point of view of spectators worldwide. For centuries, periodic famines were a more or less normal part of human existence, mostly because of crop failure. However, within the past 200 years or so famines have occurred as a result of economic and political manipulations. For example, the Irish Potato Famine of 1845 to 1849, which killed an estimated 500,000 to one million people, was caused by a combination of factors, including a naturally occurring potato fungus that ruined crops, Irish property law, and British import-export practices that had some Irish food producers actually exporting crops to England while the Irish were literally starving to death.
Famines in modern times almost exclusively afflict the poor, and in general they afflict those who are the most poor with greatest frequency and most serious effect. Modern, developed countries have sufficient wealth and infrastructure that they do not suffer from famines except under the most extraordinary of circumstances. The most recent famine in a developed country was in the Netherlands in 1944, when an exceptionally difficult winter combined with the destruction caused by World War II caused at least 30,000 Dutch people to starve to death. Poorer, underdeveloped regions have suffered many famines since that time, however. People in these areas may have difficulty meeting their basic needs during the best of times, and when disaster strikes it can become impossible for them to find enough food to eat. This is especially true for the poorest members of these societies.
International relief organizations use a five-level scale to categorize the severity and magnitude of famines: food secure; food insecure; food crisis, famine; severe famine; and extreme famine. A famine that results in fewer than 1,000 deaths is considered a minor famine; one that results in one million or more deaths is a catastrophic famine.
Ethiopia: The "Face of Famine"
The Ethiopian famine in 19847#x2013;85 was the result of nearly all the contributing factors to famine—drought, war, politics, and pestilence—coalescing in a single country. By 1986 at least one million people had starved to death. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Ethiopia's famine was the international outrage it provoked and the public response it elicited, ushering in a period of international charitable donation that continues more than twenty years later.
WAR AND POLITICS IN ETHIOPIA
Engaged in a civil war with its northern province of Eritrea since 1960, Ethiopia was taken over in 1974 by a pro-Soviet military junta called the Derg. In the early 1970s the country had experienced a drought and subsequent famine, from which it had not fully recovered by the end of the decade. With the Derg focusing on insurgencies that had sprung up in all of Ethiopia's regions by 1976, government spending was directed toward increasing military power rather than addressing crop failure. By the late 1970s another drought was beginning, and by the early 1980s famine was inevitable. The war with Eritrea cut off relief supplies through the north, and anti-Soviet Eritrean rebels, backed by the United States, took control of all of Ethiopia's sea ports, further isolating the country's hungry citizens and damaging its economy. Further complicating matters was Ethiopia's agricultural economy, which had focused for many years on growing crops for export, especially coffee, rather than for its own subsistence.
IMAGES OF DEATH BROADCAST AROUND THE WORLD
By March 1984 the Ethiopian government appealed to the international community for aid, but Western leaders were reluctant to send money to a pro-Soviet country that was known for its military spending. In the summer of 1984 European countries had surplus crops, but none of the food was sent to Ethiopia. Then in October 1984, with 200,000 people already dead and eight million more at risk of starvation, a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation news crew in Tigray province in northern Ethiopia covered the story, taking photographs and footage of the dead and dying and broadcasting them to the world. One image in particular, of a little girl named Birhan Woldu who was apparently about to die, caught the public's attention and became known as the "face of famine." Although the girl survived and has become an international symbol for hope, the image of her emaciated face, delirious from hunger, motivated people around the world to donate to emergency relief funds for the country. According to BBC News Online's Kate Milner ("Flashback 1984: Portrait of a Famine," April 6, 2000, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/703958.stm), relief agencies received donations totaling nearly £5 million in just three days from the United Kingdom alone.
THE ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT'S SOLUTION
In December 1984 the situation had become completely chaotic. Although international aid was beginning to enter the country, Ethiopian leaders were intercepting the supplies, first to keep them away from insurgents in the regions fighting for independence, and second to divert them to their own soldiers. Thousands of starving Ethiopians—refugees from both the war and the famine—were fleeing to Sudan every day. The arrival of relief supplies in villages set off riots, with people desperate to get food for their children. In 1985–86 the government imposed a policy of resettlement, with the military forcibly moving those in the northern portions of the country south and relocating peasants into planned villages around such services as water, utilities, medical care, and schools. However, the services promised by Ethiopian leaders were rarely provided, and food production throughout the country actually declined. In 1985–86 Ethiopian crops were hit with a wave of locusts, which destroyed much of the harvest.
BAND AID AND LIVE AID
On October 23, 1984, BBC journalist Michael Buerk reported on the famine from Ethiopia. Among his television audience was Irish pop singer Bob Geldof of the post-punk-era band Boomtown Rats. That night Geldof telephoned another British pop musician, Midge Ure of the band Ultravox, with a plan to record a song about the famine and donate all the proceeds to relief efforts. Just over a month later, on November 25, more than forty of the United Kingdom's most famous pop musicians—including U2's lead singer Bono, who would go on to become one of the most visible celebrities to campaign for poverty relief—were assembled under the name Band Aid in a recording studio to produce the single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Released on December 3, the song became the best-selling single in UK history at the time and generated about $13 million for Ethiopian famine relief.
In the summer of 1985 Geldof and Ure organized Live Aid, a worldwide concert with venues in London, Philadelphia, Sydney, and Moscow that featured some of best-known pop musicians of the time and was broadcast in 100 countries to an estimated 1.5 billion viewers. The concerts raised approximately $245 million for famine relief and ushered in a new era of charity events with celebrity participants that continues into the twenty-first century. For his efforts, Geldof was knighted in England and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" was re-recorded by different sets of popular singers once in 1985 (Band Aid II) and again in 2004 (Band Aid 20), with the proceeds going to poverty relief through Geldof's organization, Band Aid Trust.
ONE FAMINE ENDS, ANOTHER BEGINS
In early 2006 the entire Horn of Africa region, which includes Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Djibouti, was in danger of experiencing another food crisis. According the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), as of January 2006 an estimated eleven million people in these countries were at risk of starvation because of drought and ongoing violent conflict. The FAO reported that at least eight million people in Ethiopia, 2.5 million in Kenya, two million in Somalia, and 150,000 in Djibouti were expected to be dependent on food aid at least through the summer of 2006 ("Millions of People Are on the Brink of Starvation in the Horn of Africa," January 6, 2006, http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000206/index.html).
NATURAL DISASTERS OF 2004–05
The years 2004 and 2005 saw three natural disasters so devastating that they shocked the world. All of them had an especially powerful impact on the poor. One was in a high-poverty area that was also a popular tourist destination for the wealthy; the second was in a desperately impoverished zone with treacherous terrain and little outside contact; and the third, in one of the world's richest nations, exposed a long-ignored underclass. These disasters and their impact demonstrate how natural catastrophes tend to push those who are already struggling to get by deeper into poverty.
On December 26, 2004, an undersea earthquake with a magnitude of more than 9.0 on the Richter scale (a measure of an earthquake's magnitude) occurred in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. Unlike most earthquakes, which last several seconds, the Sumatra earthquake lasted nearly ten minutes and briefly shook the entire planet, triggering other, less powerful, earthquakes around the world and a massive tsunami (a series of rolling tidal waves) that devastated twelve countries in and along the Indian Ocean and caused deaths as far away as South Africa. The earthquake was so powerful that scientists say it caused the Earth to shake on its axis and slightly altered its rotation. The exact number of dead will never be known, but some estimates put the death toll at nearly 300,000. The countries directly affected include Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Somalia, Myanmar, Maldives, Malaysia, Tanzania, Seychelles, Bangladesh, South Africa, Yemen, Kenya, and Madagascar. (See Figure 8.1.) Thousands of tourists, enjoying the region's spectacular beaches, were among those killed. In all, the earthquake and tsunami together are believed to be one of the deadliest and costliest natural disasters on record.
The affected areas included some of the poorest in the world. In the Indonesian provinces of Aceh and Nias, one-third of the population lived in poverty before the disaster struck, and a year later, nearly 50% of those who had survived the disaster were dependent on food aid. Aceh also has a history of violent conflict, with Acehnese separatists periodically rebelling against the Indonesian government in uprisings that intensified the poverty and general instability that prevailed in the region before the tsunami occurred. Indonesia suffered the most casualties in the tsunami, with more than 100,000 people dead, another 100,000 injured, and as many as 700,000 displaced. Sri Lanka, where the tsunami killed an estimated 38,000 people, injured 15,000, and displaced 500,000, has also been engaged in a twenty-year civil war, in which more than 64,000 people have been killed and 800,000 displaced (World Bank, "Sri Lanka Country Fact Sheet," July 2005). According to the World Bank report, nearly one-quarter of Sri Lankans lived in poverty in 2005.
In After the Tsunami: Rapid Environmental Assessment (2005, http://www.unep.org/tsunami/tsunami_rpt.asp), the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) estimated damage to the region at more than $10 billion. Every living creature was affected, including the wildlife in ecosystems that were destroyed. Many mangrove forests, coral reefs, sand dunes, and sea grasses were devastated, even while serving as a buffer against the strongest impact of the waves and preventing even more destruction. Fishermen lost their boats, fishing equipment, and livelihoods. Farmers lost the farm animals necessary to their survival and lost rice, fruit, and vegetable crops to saltwater contamination.
Many more women than men were killed, as many men were out fishing on the sea, where their boats managed to survive the waves, or were working in the fields or selling crops at inland markets. The women and children, by contrast, were either at home or on the beach awaiting the fishermen's return. An Oxfam survey in Indonesia found that in the four villages surveyed in the Aceh Besar district, male survivors outnumbered females three to one. In the North Aceh district, women made up 77% of the dead. Oxfam has noted that this disproportion of men to women could have significant socioeconomic consequences in these societies, causing long-term demographic changes and potentially altering women's home, work, marriage, childbearing, property ownership, and education patterns, possibly over the course of generations.
Northern Pakistan Earthquake
On October 8, 2005, an earthquake with a magnitude of about 7.6 on the Richter scale hit South Asia. Damage and casualties were recorded over an area of 11,500 square miles. According to the ReliefWeb organization in Pakistan: A Summary Report on Muzaffarabad Earthquake (November 7, 2005), more than 80,000 people were killed, 200,000 were injured, and four million were left homeless. The earthquake set off a series of landslides that buried entire villages and blocked roadways in the mountains, impeding rescue efforts. Damages were estimated at $5 billion. Afghanistan and northern India suffered some damage from the earthquake, but Pakistan by far sustained the most, particularly the Pakistan-controlled portion of Kashmir, whose capital city, Muzaffarabad, was completely destroyed.
According to the UNDP's Pakistan National Human Development Report 2003 (2003, http://www.un.org.pk/nhdr/nhdr-pak-2003.pdf) Pakistan fares worse than other South Asian countries in human development indicators. In 1998 Pakistan's rate of infant mortality was ninety-one per 1,000 lives births, and its child mortality was 120 per 1,000. Between 1990 and 1996, 30% of Pakistanis had access to sanitation. In 1997 primary school enrollment was 62%. (See Table 8.1.) In 1999 the literacy rate was 46.4%. Sixty percent of Pakistan's health problems in 2003 were attributable to three factors: communicable infectious diseases, reproductive disorders, and malnutrition—all directly related to high levels of poverty.
Stockpiles of food that had been stored for the winter were destroyed in the rubble, and because of the post-quake landslides, the remote Himalayan villages became even more isolated. Relief efforts were complicated further because certain areas of the northwestern frontier province in the Pakistani-controlled region of Kashmir are part of the "forbidden tribal belt" (Reuters Foundation's AlertNet, "World Vision Aids Pakistan Victims in Forbidden Quake Zone," March 1, 2006). These areas are ruled by tribal leaders, who forbid outsiders to visit; in fact, the only maps of the region were created by a British army officer in 1888. With more than 13,000 families in these villages in desperate need of help after the earthquake, tribal leaders contacted a trusted Pakistani aid organization which managed to send help to the area. Other aid organizations were warned not to enter the area because of the possibility of armed attack.
By March 2006 millions of people in the mountains were still living in tents, with no water, electricity, or communications systems. Snow in the high elevations and heavy rains in the valleys hampered relief efforts, as helicopters were grounded and roadways blocked. The U.S. military organized a 1,000-person relief effort in and around the city of Balakot, which had been largely destroyed. In February 2006 the World Health Organization reported that the region was seeing many cases of acute respiratory infection, acute diarrhea, fevers, and earthquake-related injuries ("Health Situation Report #34," February 14-28, 2006). There have also been reported cases of measles, meningitis, and acute hepatitis.
Hurricane Katrina: Exposing the Worst in the World's Richest Nation
On August 29, 2005, one of the strongest, costliest, and deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history made landfall on the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. More than 1,800 people were killed, the Gulf Coast was devastated, and nearly 90,000 square miles of land were declared a federal disaster area. The damage was estimated
|Pakistan's human development compared with India and Sri Lanka, by selected characteristics, selected years 1992–99|
|Pakistan||India||Sri Lanka||Low income countries|
|aGNP is Gross National Product.|
|bFor the year 1996.|
|cHuman development index (HDI) is a summary measure of human development. It measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development: (1) a long and healthy life, as measured by life expectancy at birth, (2) knowledge, as measured by the adult literacy rate (with two-thirds weight) and the combined primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrollment ratio (with one-third weight), and (3) A decent standard of living, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. Calculation of HDI is an evolving methodology, and comparisons should not be made between years (when methods might have varied) but can be made between countries.|
|source: Akmal Hussain, with A.R. Kemal, A.I. Hamid, Imran Ali, Khawar Mumtaz, and Ayub Qutub, "Table 5. Pakistan's Human Development Compared with India and Sri Lanka," in Pakistan National Human Development Report 2003: Poverty, Growth, and Governance, United Nations Development Programme, 2003, http://hdr.undp.org/docs/reports/national/PAK_Pakistan/Pakistan_2003_en.pdf (accessed April 10, 2006). Data from World Bank, World Development Report 2000/2001: Attacking Poverty, and from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Human Development Report 2002.|
|Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births)||Year 1998||91||70||16||68|
|Child (under 5) mortality rate (per 1,000)||Year 1998||120||83||18||107|
|Prevalence of child malnutrition (% of children under 5)||Years 1992–98||38||38|
|Life expectancy at birth (years)||Year 1998|
|Access to sanitation (% of population)||Years 1990–96||30||16||52||24|
|Net enrollment ratio at primary level (% of relevant age group)||Year 1997||62b||77||100||76|
|Public expenditure on education (% of GNPa)||Year 1997||2.7||3.2||3.4||3.3|
|Average annual population growth rate (%)||Years 1990–99||2.5||1.8||1.2||2.0|
|Total fertility rate (births per woman)||Year 1998||4.9||3.2||2.1||3.1|
|Contraceptive prevalence rate (% of women ages 15-49)||Years 1990–98||24||41||24|
|Human development index (HDI)c|
|Human development index||Year 2002||0.499||0.577||0.741|
at $75 billion. Much of the city of New Orleans lies below sea level and is protected by a system of levees, which were breached by the rising water, and more than 80% of the city was flooded. Residents trapped in their homes climbed to their attics, then to their roofs, but many drowned.
In the aftermath of the storm, much of the world's attention was focused on two factors. First, the administration of President George W. Bush and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) came under scathing criticism for their handling of the crisis. Critics charged that the preparations for the storm were inadequate, that warnings about its danger were ignored or came too late, and that rescue efforts were uncoordinated and often ineffective. Second, the catastrophe highlighted the extreme poverty of many of the residents in the areas hardest hit by the storm, many of whom did not own cars with which to escape or even have telephone service. Because many of the residents of the devastated areas were African-American, the exposure of their poverty and the feeble response by FEMA engendered charges of racism and brought to light issues of racial inequality that still persist in the United States.
POVERTY BEFORE THE HURRICANE
Arloc Sherman and Isaac Shapiro report in Essential Facts about the Victims of Hurricane Katrina (September 19, 2005, http://www.cbpp.org/9-19-05pov.htm) that the hurricane-affected states of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama were in 2005 the first, second, and eighth poorest states in the country, respectively. More than one million of the 5.8 million people affected by Hurricane Katrina were poor before the disaster. Mississippi's poverty rate in 2004 was 21.6%; Louisiana's was 19.4%; and Alabama's was 16.1%. (See Table 8.2.)
|Poverty and income in U.S. states hit by Hurricane Katrina, 2005|
|Poverly rate||Rank||Median household income||Rank|
|Notes: According to the Census Bureau, American Community Survey (which the government uses for ranking states by poverty), the national poverty rate was 13.1 percent in 2004. According to another government survey, the Current Population Survey, it was 12.7 percent. In the 2000 census data, Alabama is ranked the fifth poorest state, while the ranks for Mississippi and Louisiana do not change. These state ranks exclude the District of Columbia.|
|source: Arloc Sherman and Isaac Shapiro, "Table 1. Poverty Especially High, and Incomes Especially Low, in States Hit Hardest by Katrina," in Essential Facts about the Victims of Hurricane Katrina, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, September 19, 2005, http://www.cbpp.org/9-1905pov.pdf (accessed April 10, 2006)|
|Alabama||16.1%||8th worst||$36,709||9th lowest|
|Louisiana||19.4%||2nd worst||$35,110||5th lowest|
|Population and poverty data for areas affected by Hurricane Katrina|
|[Numbers in thousands; census data from 2000]|
|All races||Black or African-Americana|
|All persons||Number poor||Percent poorb||Number below 50% of poverty line||All persons||Number poor||Percent poorb||Number below 50% of poverty line|
|a"Black or African American" includes some individuals who specified more than one race.|
|bPercentage poor equals column 2 divided by the population for whom poverty status is determined. This may not equal column 2 divided by column 1.|
|cIncludes counties eligible for assistance to individuals as well as a broader group of counties eligible only for assistance to public agencies. For Louisiana and Mississippi, this includes all counties in the state. For Alabama and Florida, only selected counties are included. FEMA is Federal Emergency Management Agency.|
|source: Arloc Sherman and Isaac Shapiro, "Population and Poverty Data for Areas Affected by Hurricane Katrina, from the 2000 Census," in Essential Facts about the Victims of Hurricane Katrina, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, September 19, 2005, http://www.cbpp.org/9-19-05pov.pdf (accessed April 10, 2006)|
|Hardest-hit states: AL, LA, MS||11,761||2,097||18.4%||973||3,671||1,208||34.4%||589|
|Federal disaster areas:|
|Counties eligible for any FEMA assistancec||14,194||2,417||17.5%||1,124||4,065||1,278||32.7%||624|
|Hardest hit-counties: eligible for aid to individuals||5,780||1,043||18.6%||493||1,909||625||34.0%||305|
|New Orleans metropolitan area||1,317||237||18.3%||120||496||159||32.9%||83|
|New Orleans city||485||131||27.9%||70||328||111||34.9%||59|
In New Orleans, 131,000 (27.9%) of the total population of 485,000 residents—and 111,000 (34.9%) of the city's 328,000 African-Americans—lived in poverty before Hurricane Katrina. (See Table 8.3.) As is shown in Table 8.4, the population of the flooded areas of the New Orleans metropolitan area tended to be nonwhite, poorer, and more likely to be renters than those in the areas that remained dry, and more than 200,000 households, or approximately 40% of the total, had no access to a car. In addition, 8% of households in New Orleans had no phone service (National Center for Children in Poverty [NCCP] at Columbia University, Child Poverty in States Hit by Hurricane Katrina, September 2005, http://www.nccp.org/media/cpt05a_text.pdf).
The NCCP further reported that in 2004, 38% of children in New Orleans lived in poverty (see Figure 8.2), as did 23% of children in Louisiana as a whole, 24% of children in Mississippi, and 21% in Alabama. (See Figure 8.3.) For African-American children in these states the situation was even worse: 44% of African-American children in Louisiana lived in poor families, as did 41% in Mississippi and 42% in Alabama. (See Figure 8.4.)
POVERTY IN THE HURRICANE ZONE SIX MONTHS LATER
In February 2006 Oxfam America declared in Recovering States? The Gulf Coast Six Months after the Storms (http://www.oxfamamerica.org/newsandpublications/publications/briefing_papers/recovering_states):
Six months after Hurricane Katrina laid bare the stark social and economic inequities present in the United States, little has changed. Despite the commitments of elected officials to confront deep and persistent poverty with bold action, and despite the investigative reports of the federal systems failure, the same people neglected prior to Hurricane Katrina and abandoned in its aftermath continue to be left behind today.
Oxfam reports that the most serious issue is the housing crisis caused by the disaster's displacement of between 700,000 and 800,000 people. Eric Lipton in "Trailer Dispute May Mean Thousands Will Go Unused" (February 14, 2006, http://www.civilrights.org/issues/housing/details.cfm?id1/440496) stated that of the 25,000 furnished mobile homes FEMA ordered, at a cost of $850 million, only 2,700 of them had been installed for use, while 55,000 families displaced from Louisiana alone remained homeless. More than 10,000 of the trailers had been shipped to a cow pasture in Hope, Arkansas, where they were reportedly sinking into the mud and some had been dismantled by thieves, because of a federal regulation stipulating that government-purchased temporary housing units not be allowed in the region of flood plains. Meanwhile, the Oxfam study found that low-income households had been largely left out of state and national plans for housing reconstruction: the federally run Small Business Association was not making loans for rebuilding available to low-income families, and the plans presented by the Mississippi governor Haley Barbour had placed restrictions on funds available for low-income senior citizens and families, as well as for the disabled.
|Households affected by Hurricane Katrina flooding, by geographic, economic, and demographic characteristics, 2005|
|Area||Total households||Average household income||Percent owner-occupied housing units||Percent renter-occupied housing units||Percent non-white population||Poverty rate||Estimated population with no access to a car|
|source: "Flooded Areas of the Metropolitan Region Tended to be Poorer, Have More Renters, and Be Predominantly Non-White," in New Orleans after the Storm: Lessons from the Past, a Plan for the Future, The Brookings Institute, October 2005, http://www.brookings.edu/metro (accessed April 10, 2006)|
|New Orleans metro||498,587||$49,167||61.5%||38.5%||45.2%||18.3%||201,176|
|Dry areas of metro||270,908||$53,108||68.9%||31.1%||35.1%||15.3%||77,505|
|Flooded areas of metro||227,679||$44,479||52.7%||47.3%||58.0%||22.1%||123,671|
|Dry areas of Orleans Parish||54,519||$55,316||46.7%||53.3%||55.0%||23.8%||28,019|
|Flooded areas of Orleans Parish||133,732||$38,263||46.4%||53.6%||80.3%||29.5%||105,152|
|Dry areas of Jefferson Parish||106,127||$47,698||68.4%||31.6%||39.4%||15.7%||30,963|
|Flooded areas of Jefferson Parish||70,107||$56,297||57.0%||43.0%||26.2%||10.1%||11,924|
|Dry areas of St. Bernard Parish||3,842||$42,917||78.1%||21.9%||18.1%||13.9%||1,225|
|Flooded areas of St. Bernard Parish||21,281||$44,867||74.1%||25.9%||15.2%||13.0%||5,725|
|Dry areas of Plaquemines Parish||6,462||$48,583||76.5%||23.5%||27.9%||16.8%||1,692|
|Flooded areas of Plaquemines Parish||2,559||$42,298||84.8%||15.2%||39.5%||21.0%||869|
|St. Charles Parish (no major flooding)||16,422||$55,247||81.4%||18.6%||29.5%||11.4%||3,071|
|St. John the Baptist Parish (no major flooding)||14,283||$46,075||81.0%||19.0%||49.0%||16.7%||4,080|
|St. Tammany (no major flooding)||69,253||$61,590||80.5%||19.5%||14.7%||9.7%||8,454|