What we’re watching: Weekly disaster update, April 18

Flood damage in KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa on April 13, 2022. (Source: KZN Provincial Gov't via Twitter)

We know all too well that disaster can strike at any time, in any place in the world. Some disasters make headlines; others do not. Here at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP), we keep an eye on the status of disasters worldwide and compile a list of the ones we’re tracking weekly, along with relevant disaster-related media coverage.

Here’s what we’re watching for the week of April 18, 2022.

New or Emerging Disasters

Flooding – South Africa: Heavy rains and flooding hit the KwaZulu-Natal province, including the vital port city of Durban, on April 13. Authorities predict the disaster to be among the country’s worst, with 443 people confirmed dead and 63 missing. Some areas recorded daily rainfall totals over 6 inches (160 millimeters). The South African National Defence Force has activated 10,000 troops to assist with cleanup and transporting humanitarian aid. A provincial official estimated the overall infrastructure damage at more than $684.6 million (ZAR 10 billion).

Tropical Storm – Philippines: Tropical Storm Megi (known locally as Agaton) hit the country on April 10, badly affecting villages around Baybay city in the central Leyte province. The death toll from the resulting landslides and floods has risen to 167, with 110 people missing and nearly two million people affected. Megi, the first storm to hit the Philippines this year, had sustained winds of up to 40 mph (65 kph) and gusts of up to 49 mph (80 kph). According to the country’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), 346,602 people are displaced and 10,402 homes are damaged.

Tornadoes – U.S. South: Another week of severe storms caused damage in multiple states across the South. A tornado that damaged 61 homes and injured 23 people in Bell County, Texas, on April 12 has received a rating of EF-3 with peak winds of 165 mph. At least seven tornadoes touched down on April 13 in Louisville, Kentucky, and around the state. Damage from an EF-0 tornado in rural Greene County, Alabama, has made finding safe and affordable housing for displaced residents a challenge.

For more, see the Southern U.S. Tornadoes – Spring 2022 disaster profile.

Previous/Ongoing Disasters

Humanitarian Crisis – Ukraine: As of April 17, more than 4.9 million refugees have left the country since Feb. 24, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). As of April 13, United Nations (UN) agencies and humanitarian partners have reached more than 2.5 million people with life-saving assistance. The Ukraine Flash Appeal is 67.9% funded as donor support continues to increase. However, there are still funding gaps.

Up to 30% of agricultural fields will not be used to plant wheat, barley, sunflowers and corn this year. The Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance says the Ukraine crisis risks moving up to 1.7 billion people globally into poverty and hunger.

According to Candid, 684 grants worth $886,052,533 have been granted so far, with an additional 149 pledges worth $580,130,100. Funders can share their grants data with them by emailing egrants@candid.org.

For more, see the Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis disaster profile and Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Recovery Fund.

Worldwide – Coronavirus: 

Key facts as of April 18:

  • Worldwide, cases have surpassed 504 million.
  • There have been more than 456 million recoveries and over 6.2 million deaths.
  • The highest number of cases are in the U.S. (82.3 million), followed by India (43 million), Brazil (30.2 million) and France (27.7 million).
  • Worldwide, 65% of the global population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This number drops to only 15.2% in low-income countries.

Other notable news:

  • In the April 12 Epidemiological Update, the World Health Organization said: “Globally, during the week of 4 through 10 April 2022, the number of new COVID-19 cases has continued to decline for the third consecutive week, with a 24% decrease as compared to the previous week.”
  • Humanitarian contexts continue to cope with the pandemic’s secondary impacts. Simultaneous crises of the pandemic, climate change and the Ukraine crisis make food insecurity a critical concern.

For more, see the COVID-19 Coronavirus disaster profile.

Complex Humanitarian Emergency – Mali

Many places worldwide are experiencing emergencies caused by conflict, climate change, drought, famine, economic challenges and other conditions that combine to create a complex humanitarian emergency (CHE). CDP maintains complete profiles on several CHEs, which can be found on our website.

The main drivers of the humanitarian crisis in Mali are chronic poverty, sociopolitical crisis, conflicts and climate change. In the past year, the situation has worsened due to increased intercommunal violence and attacks by non-State armed groups. There has been a sharp rise in displacement since January 2022 due to armed attacks and a rise in intercommunal violence in northern and central Mali.

The country’s 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), compiled by The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), targets 5.3 million people for assistance. The HRP focuses food security activities on responding to urgent food needs, livelihoods support and capacity building to improve response to socioeconomic and climatic shocks.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification acute malnutrition analysis of Mali revealed that “over 1.2 million children under the age of five will likely be acutely malnourished through August 2022, due to high levels of food insecurity and diseases.”

Conflict plays a significant role in increasing food insecurity as Jihadist groups and militias often keep people from herding animals, attending markets and accessing fields. The economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic also worsened the situation as remittance inflows decreased.

U.S. Midwest Low-Attention Disasters

The Midwest is regularly faced with low-attention disasters that affect people across the region. CDP’s Midwest Early Recovery Fund (ERF) effectively funds efforts that catalyze equitable disaster recovery.

These are some of the latest disasters the ERF team is monitoring:

  • A tornado with winds of more than 110 mph struck Taopi, Minnesota, on April 12. The City Clerk said of Taopi’s 22 homes, at least 10 are beyond repair.
  • The National Weather Service confirmed eight tornadoes touched down in Iowa on April 12, the state’s third tornado outbreak in five months. Mitchell, Cerro Gordo, Worth and Winneshiek are among seven North Iowa counties included in Governor Kim Reynolds’ disaster proclamation issued on April 13.
  • In Nebraska, a wildfire burned 35,000 acres across a 22-mile stretch in Furnas and Gosper counties. The fire began on April 7 and was 50% contained as of April 11.
  • Funding spotlight: A bill signed into law by President Joe Biden last month granted a minimum 90% federal cost-share for any emergency or major disaster declaration occurring between Jan. 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2021. Iowa communities are among those that will benefit.

What We’re Reading

  • Groundbreaking poll pinpoints the number of Americans who have experienced extreme weather – News Break: “A new poll conducted by Gallup shows that one in three adults in the U.S. reported being personally affected by an extreme weather event over the last two years.”
  • Federal Agencies Pledge to Provide Funding More Equitably to Disadvantaged Communities – Route Fifty: The Biden administration unveiled plans by all federal agencies to eliminate systemic racism from the way they operate. “FEMA said it will create pilot programs aimed at providing more help to disadvantaged areas to mitigate the damage caused by natural disasters.”
  • US indigenous communities to receive $46m to address global heating – The Guardian: The funds are part of a five-year investment plan in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, intended to improve climate resilience and adaptation in tribal territories.
  • California utility to pay $55 million in massive wildfires – NBC News: Pacific Gas & Electric has agreed to pay the sum to avoid criminal prosecution for two major wildfires sparked by its aging power lines. The company will also submit to five years of oversight.
  • East and Horn of Africa prep for worst drought in decades – AP: “The Intergovernmental Authority on Development said rains will likely fail for a fourth consecutive year, triggering fears of increased cases of malnutrition, threats to livelihoods and severe risks for 29 million people in the region.”

In their efforts to suppress wildfire activity, the city of Sacramento is turning to an unconventional but effective, affordable and cute solution – goats.