What we’re watching: Weekly disaster update, April 4

Tornado damage in Washington County, Florida on March 31, 2022. (Source: Washington County Sheriff's Office via Facebook)

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 4, 2022.

New or Emerging Disasters
Tornadoes – U.S. South: Severe storms moved across the south on March 30 and 31, producing multiple tornadoes and injuring several people. Seven people were injured, and damage was reported in the area around Springdale, Arkansas. At least two people were killed when a severe storm hit the Florida Panhandle. Research shows that tornado activity is shifting to the southeastern part of the U.S.

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

Earthquake – Ecuador: On March 26, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake was recorded in the province of Esmeraldas. As of March 31, at least 20,000 houses are estimated to be affected. Esmeraldas is among the poorest provinces in the country, with 45.6% of people living below the poverty line compared to the national average of 32.4%. The earthquake has increased the vulnerabilities and needs of the population, in particular children and families. According to CDP nonprofit partners on the ground, more than 2,000 people are affected and more than 1,400 displaced as of April 4.

Previous/Ongoing Disasters
Flooding – Australia: An intense low-pressure system brought heavy rains to Australia’s east coast on March 30, forcing thousands to flee their homes for the second time within weeks. Several towns in New South Wales received a month’s worth of rain in just six hours. In the city of Lismore water breached the levee height of nearly 35 feet (10.65 meters) for the second time in a month. The town of Byron Bay, a popular tourist destination, had its main street underwater for the first time in decades. At least 23 people have died since the flooding began in late February.

For more, see the 2022 Australian Flooding disaster profile.

Humanitarian Crisis – Ukraine: As of April 3, more than 4.2 million refugees have left the country since Feb. 24, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). As of March 30, around 10.5 million people have been forcibly displaced by the ongoing military offensive, approximately a quarter of Ukraine’s population.

Between Feb. 24 and March 31, United Nations (UN) agencies and humanitarian partners have reached more than 1.4 million people with life-saving assistance. As of April 1, the Flash Appeal is more than 51% funded as donor support continues to increase. However, there are still funding gaps.

Civilian causalities and attacks on non-military targets continue to increase. As of April 4, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 85 attacks on health care, leading to 73 deaths and 46 injuries. CDP’s response to this crisis is focused on humanitarian needs that arise, particularly among internally-displaced peoples and refugees.

According to Candid, 540 grants worth $667,728,963 have been granted so far, with an additional 122 pledges worth $653,512,350. 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: CDP maintains a profile updated weekly focusing on how philanthropy can help.

As of April 4, worldwide cases have surpassed 492 million. There have been more than 427 million recoveries, and, officially, there have been over 6.1 million deaths.

Around the world, the highest number of cases are in the U.S. (81.8 million), followed by India (43 million), Brazil (29.9 million) and France (25.9 million). Meanwhile, the number of week-over-week new cases worldwide has decreased slightly to 9.02 million as of April 4, compared to the uptick seen in recent weeks.

Worldwide, 64.5% of the global population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, though that number drops significantly to only 14.5% in low-income countries. Portugal has one of the highest shares of people inoculated against COVID-19 (95%). China has 88.3%, Canada is at 85.9% and Brazil is at 84.7%. The U.S. has only vaccinated 76.8% of its eligible population.

Complex Humanitarian Emergency – Colombia
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.

In Colombia, an increase in humanitarian needs is the result of several key drivers. These include growing socioeconomic needs due to COVID-19, expansion of non-state armed groups, increased impact of disasters, social unrest and integration of more than one million Venezuelan refugees.

According to ACAPS, humanitarian conditions in the country remain high. In 2021, 52,880 people were affected by mass displacement, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). An escalation of violence has been most visible on the Colombia-Venezuela border, where conflict between armed groups has been severe since January 2022. At least 3,860 people were internally displaced in the department of Arauca.

In 2022, at least 274,000 people have been affected by armed violence, while 64,600 people have been affected by natural disasters. Shelter, food, drinking water and medical care are ongoing needs for affected populations.

According to The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), “In 2022, the humanitarian response in Colombia will continue to focus on communities living in rural areas, as well as in hard-to-reach areas where hostilities persist, and areas with limited coping capacities, high impacts from disasters, recurrent transcontinental migratory flows, and dynamics of multiple causes for intersectoral impact.”

What We’re Reading

  • Thinning Antarctic ice shelf finally crumbles after heatwave – Reuters: The 463 square mile (1,200 square kilometers) Conger Ice Shelf collapsed completely around March 15. Scientists say the collapse shows the Antarctic system is sensitive to atmospheric changes, but the event itself is not a cause for concern.
  • What Does the Future Hold for Coastal Cities Following the Aftermaths of Climate Change? – ArchDaily: Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report that said without prompt changes, the world would reach an “irreversible” state. Several initiatives and responses are underway for reducing vulnerability in coastal zones.
  • Colorado wildfire demonstrates the end of ‘wildfire seasons,’ beginning of year-round fire – KUNC: A seasonal break from wildfires is disappearing in the West, as evidenced by the recent NCAR Fire near Boulder, Colorado. Drought and warmer weather are predicted to persist around the western U.S. this spring.
  • Smoke Study Raises Concerns About Health Effects From Future Wildfires – KPIX: A new study out of Princeton University predicts “the effects of climate change will make wildfires bigger and more frequent and air quality during those times could be three times worse by the end of the century.”
  • Floods drive high losses in 2021 as global insured nat cat bill hits $111bn: Swiss Re – Reinsurance News: “Data from Swiss Re Institute’s latest sigma report shows that floods accounted for 31% of global economic losses from natural catastrophes in 2021, yet just 25% of flood risk is covered by insurance.”
  • Active Atlantic hurricane season expected once again, AccuWeather forecasts – UPI: “AccuWeather’s forecast of 16-20 named storms is higher than the 30-year average of 14 per year, while the projection of six to eight hurricanes is about in line with the normal of seven.”
  • Are we there yet? Five key insights on localisation as a journey towards locally-led practice – From Poverty Power Blog: Localization, ensuring local people and communities have the power and agency to drive their own development, is one of the latest buzzwords in the aid sector. A recent report highlights positive examples of localization while unpacking the barriers and power imbalances that have stalled progress overall.

Astronomers have captured the most distant single star ever seen and because light takes time to travel through space, “scientists see this star as it appeared when its light began its journey 12.9 billion years ago.”