As 2013 Comes to a Close…

Dear Supporters, Partners, Colleagues and Friends:
We’ve been reflecting back on 2013.
It was a year filled with many devastating events including the tornadoes in Moore,Oklahoma; the Western wildfires; Colorado floodsCyclone Phailin in India; the continued conflicts in Syria and Mali; and the food insecurities in The Sahel and Horn of Africa. The year closed out with one of the worst typhoons in history, Haiyan, which left 6,000 or more dead, caused billions of dollars in damages and destroyed tens of thousands of livelihoods in the Philippines. You can see a year of disasters captured in dramatic pictures here.
Sometimes the disaster news seems relentless.  This week alone brought stories almost every day about new disasters: On Dec. 26: an avalanche in Bulgaria killed a military pilot and floods in St. Vincent and the Grenadines claimed eight lives; on Christmas eve there was an earthquake in Edmond, Oklahoma; on Dec. 23 floods in Brazil claimed 20 lives and a Britain Christmas storm killed three people.  There’s even a site that reports on every disaster in every country – every day!  
We estimate that 81.5 million people were impacted by disasters CDP covered in 2013, and while many immediate needs were met following these events, the same number of people will now face issues of mid and long-term recovery: building homes, planting crops, getting kids back to school and healing from both physical and psychological wounds caused by the disasters.
Were there always this many disasters?  Or are we just getting better at reporting about them?  Or is there something going on with nature that is creating more disasters, with more intensity?  The answer is probably a little bit of all three.
Whatever the reason, the growing number of disasters pose new challenges to donors. Clearly we need to pay more attention in a more systematic fashion. Only getting engaged after a disaster hits isn’t sustainable – or effective.  And there aren’t enough philanthropic dollars available to cover all of the needs. After-the-fact ad hoc approaches result in too much unnecessary death and destruction and leave us no better prepared for the next disaster.
Throughout my travels this past year I found donors eager to talk about disaster philanthropy and determined to make their contributions more effective throughout the entire full arc of disaster planning, relief and the rebuilding of resilient communities.
We accomplished much in 2013 but there is so much to do.  We thank you for your interest and support this year and look forward to making much progress together in 2014.
Wishing you a healthy and productive 2014,

Robert G. Ottenhoff
President and CEO
Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Robert G. Ottenhoff