What we’re watching: Weekly disaster update, August 8

A home destroyed by the flooding in Kentucky. (Photo credit: Save the Children)

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, 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 Aug. 8, 2022.

New or Emerging Disasters

Flooding – Uganda: Unprecedented heavy and prolonged rainfall on July 30 and 31 led to flash flooding in eastern Uganda. The water exceeded the banks of two rivers and submerged homes, shops and roads in the city of Mbale. The impact of extreme weather events in the country has been worsened by clearing land for farms and homes. According to the latest reports, 29 people died, with 23 in Mbale, which is among the most affected areas. Approximately 4,000 households have been affected, and more than 5,000 people have been displaced. Through July, more than 80,000 people in Uganda have been affected by disasters.

Flooding – Gambia: The west African country recorded its heaviest rainfall in more than 30 years over the July 30 weekend leading to flooding. The highest rainfall measured was 10.87 inches (276 millimeters) at Banjul International Airport. The National Disaster Management Agency executive director said two children died, and around 13,000 households were affected by the floods countrywide.

Previous/Ongoing Disasters

Flooding – Kentucky: Rainfall estimates show that 14 to 16 inches of rain fell in eastern Kentucky during five days, beginning on July 27, resulting in record flooding, extensive damage and loss of life. At least 37 people died due to the flooding, and two remained missing as of Aug. 5.

In addition to food and shelter, water and protection from the heat are among the immediate needs. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced eight cooling centers were opened in eight eastern counties. With water delivery infrastructure destroyed by the flooding, portable and potable water has become vital.

On July 29, President Joe Biden approved a disaster declaration for Kentucky, providing federal aid to support recovery efforts. In addition to Public Assistance, Individual Assistance has been made available for individuals and households in eight affected counties. On Aug. 8, President Biden will travel to eastern Kentucky to visit families affected by the recent flooding and to survey recovery efforts.

For more, see our 2022 Central Appalachia Floods disaster profile. On Aug. 4, we hosted a webinar on the eastern Kentucky flooding and a recording is available on our website.

Flooding – Missouri: Record rainfall led to flooding in St. Louis and other parts of Missouri on July 26, followed by another round of rain on July 28. Roughly 25% of the St. Louis area’s normal yearly rainfall came down in about 12 hours. Authorities said two men drowned in the first storm. Missouri Governor Mike Parson requested President Joe Biden issue a major disaster declaration. The Governor’s office said on Aug. 4 that more than 750 homes and 130 businesses in the St. Louis area had sustained significant damage.

Wildfire – California: The McKinney Fire began on July 29 in the Klamath National Forest in northern California. As of Aug. 7, the fire was 40% contained and had burned 60,271 acres making it the state’s largest wildfire this year. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The fire has killed at least four people. Heavy rains on Aug. 2 helped slow the fire’s growth but also triggered flooding and mudslides in burned areas. California Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency on July 30 for Siskiyou County, saying the fire destroyed homes and threatened critical infrastructure.

For more, see our 2022 North American Wildfires disaster profile.

Monkeypox – Global: As of Aug. 5, 2022, there are 28,220 global cases in 88 countries. The highest number of cases have been found in the U.S. (7,509), followed by Spain (4,942), Germany (2,887), the United Kingdom (2,859) and France (2,423). The cases are growing quickly.

On Aug. 4, the Biden administration declared the monkeypox outbreak a national health emergency, signaling that the virus now represents a significant risk to Americans. Gay rights activists and some public health officials have been asking for an emergency declaration for weeks, and experts fear containment may no longer be possible.

While medical professionals say they are ready for mass vaccination processes, vaccine shortages hamper vaccination efforts. Some advocates say the perceived lack of governmental urgency in addressing a public health crisis that impacts queer communities now resembles what gay men were experiencing decades ago in response to HIV/AIDS.

Critics also say the name “monkeypox” plays into racist stereotypes about Black people, the African continent and LGBTQ people while observing that it falsely suggests monkeys are the primary source of the virus. However, it is unlikely the name will be changed anytime soon.

For more, see our Monkeypox Global Outbreak disaster profile.

Humanitarian Crisis – Ukraine: As of Aug. 2, there have been more than 10.3 million border crossings from Ukraine since Feb. 24, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. As of Aug. 4, United Nations (UN) agencies and partners have reached 11.7 million people with life-saving assistance. On Aug. 3, the first shipment of Ukrainian food under an agreement with the UN and Türkiye was cleared to proceed from Istanbul to its destination in Lebanon, with the deal aiming to ease global food shortages. However, the World Bank says food prices could stay at record highs until 2024.

Nearly 370,000 people were newly internally displaced between June 23 and July 23, with further waves of displacement expected before winter.

As of Aug. 1, Ukraine’s Flash Appeal was 93% funded, which is astonishing given that most humanitarian emergencies are underfunded. It is crucial that funders take a “yes and” approach to their giving, meaning funds are not redirected from one crisis to another, and instead, giving is increased to meet the rise in global needs.

According to Candid, 1,378 grants worth $1,358,986,816 have been granted so far, with an additional 186 pledges worth $762,958,080. 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 Aug. 8:

  • Worldwide, cases have surpassed 589 million.
  • There have been more than 561 million recoveries and more than 6.4 million deaths.
  • The highest number of cases are in the U.S. (93.91 million), followed by India (44.16 million), France (34.07 million) and Brazil (34.01 million). This past week, France’s cases surpassed Brazil’s.
  • Worldwide, 67.2% of the global population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This number drops to only 20.2% in low-income countries.

Other notable news:

  • We are still learning about long Covid, including the symptoms, but plans are being made to address long Covid, with researchers saying it has the potential to be the next public health disaster in the making.

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

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:

Complex Humanitarian Emergencies –Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

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, and what CDP considers Level 1 CHEs are profiled in this weekly blog and tracked.

The DRC remains one of the most complex humanitarian crises in the world. The crisis is characterized by population movements, food insecurity, acute malnutrition, epidemics and protection issues. In 2022, 27 million people will need humanitarian assistance, 7.4 million more than the previous year.

The areas most affected by conflict and violence are the eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri. These provinces also host most of the country’s internally displaced persons (IDPs). Recent offensives by the M23 rebel group have led to further insecurity. The fighting has increased the seriousness of the humanitarian crisis, and aid groups are struggling to respond due to insecurity.

Human Rights Watch says martial law, imposed by President Félix Tshisekedi on the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri in May 2021, has been used to restrict civil liberties and crack down on peaceful critics. The country’s UN peacekeeping mission has become unpopular due to perceptions it has failed to protect civilians. Recent anti-UN demonstrations in the DRC’s east turned violent, resulting in 15 deaths. The UN admitted that some of its peacekeepers had opened fire, killing two people and injuring several others, with UN Chief Antonio Guterres saying he was “outraged.”

As of June 27, more than 17,000 displaced people were living in collective centers and with host families in the towns of Rutshuru and Kiwanja in the North Kivu province. Humanitarian activities in the region are dependent on improved security. More than 2.5 million people need assistance in North Kivu alone. Shelter and food are immediate needs, but there are concerns that people dependent on agriculture will not be able to access their fields, further exacerbating food insecurity. As of Aug. 4, DRC’s Humanitarian Response Plan was only 22% funded.

What We’re Reading

  • Horn of Africa Facing Unprecedented Food and Health Crisis – VOA: More than 80 million people in the greater Horn of Africa are facing a level of hunger not seen in decades. United Nations agencies warn that up to 20 million people are already on the verge of starvation.
  • Hunger affecting more women than men, new study finds – Women’s Agenda: The hunger gap between women and men is rising, with at least 150 million more women going hungry than men in 2021. A new report from the aid organization CARE says the gap is widening between the number of women going hungry compared to men.
  • World Bank data shows where food inflation is hitting hardest – Devex: Food price hikes far exceed overall inflation, with low- and middle-income countries getting hit hardest. According to the World Bank, Lebanon tops the list with 122% food inflation in real terms. Seven countries risk overlapping food and debt crises, including Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen.
  • Blockchain-Backed Aid Groups Could Be the Future of Philanthropy – CNET: Impact decentralized autonomous organizations, or impact DAOs, use crypto tools as a source for the public good and another way to support social causes. While promising, Impact DAOs are in their infancy and face barriers. Devin Mathias, CDP’s Senior Director of Development, says developing relationships with trustworthy local organizations is something Impact DAOs need to work on.
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