What we’re watching: Weekly disaster update, December 5

Ash cloud from Mount Semeru, Dec. 4, 2022. Source: BPBDLumajang 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, 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 Dec. 5, 2022.

New or Emerging Disasters

Volcano Eruption – Indonesia: A year after the 2021 eruption of Mt. Semeru in East Java, the volcano erupted again on Sunday, Dec. 4 at 2:56 a.m. local time. No deaths have been reported but about 2,000 people have evacuated. Residents were told to stay at least 10.5 miles away as ash has deposited over villages within 7.4 miles. Ash makes clean-up challenging and often leads to respiratory illnesses. The government has already distributed 20,000 masks. According to Japan’s Meteorological Agency, the plume shot nearly 10 miles into the air.

Heavy Rain/Floods/Landslides – Brazil: Heavy rain in late November led to extensive flooding and landslides in five states in Brazil. In Paranà, Civil Protection reported that, as of Dec. 2, 7,528 people were affected and 647 homes were destroyed by flooding, 500 of them in São José dos Pinhais. More than 1,000 people are displaced. As many as 30 people were missing, and two dead after a landslide in Guaratuba. In Santa Catarina, 30 municipalities declared states of emergency, 16,350 people were affected and nearly 1,100 were displaced. As of Dec. 4, more than 4,000 people were displaced in Espírito Santo.

In Rio de Janeiro state, heavy rain has been falling since late November. In just 48 hours, Macaé recorded over 7.5 inches of rain. One person died and 85 people were displaced after a landslide in Conceição de Macabu. At least 16,900 people were affected across the state as of Dec. 4. In the state of Bahia, heavy rain led 16 municipalities to declare a state of emergency. At least 3,000 people were displaced in Prado City in late November, but this has grown to almost 10,000 people displaced and more than 65,000 affected.

Tornado Outbreak – Louisiana/Mississippi/Alabama: Severe storms led to a significant tornado outbreak, with the National Weather Service receiving reports of 22 tornadoes across North Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. A two-inch hailstone was reported near the site of the first tornado on Nov. 29, near Vaiden, Mississippi. Homes and outbuildings were damaged across the states, with 47 homes impacted in Mississippi alone. Combined with the outbreak earlier in the month, November has been classified as one of 2022’s most active twister months. The average of just over 50 tornadoes in November was more than doubled, with 107 tornadoes reported in the month this year.

Drought – Global: The World Meteorological Organization released its first State of Global Water Resources report “to assess the effects of climate, environmental and societal change on the Earth’s water resources.” The report indicated that 2021’s precipitation was influenced by La Niña and climate change. It found that there were more rivers with below-average water flow than above-average. The low flow was tracked in the Niger River, the Nile River, and throughout Russia and Central Asia. Some North American basins and China’s Amur River basin had higher than average flows. Tracking drought and water patterns are critical as 74% of natural hazard and extreme weather event disasters between 2001 and 2018 were water-related. Click To Tweet

Global Humanitarian Overview/UN Appeal – Global: The United Nations released the 2023 Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) on Dec. 1.

 “The GHO is the humanitarian community’s annual assessment of global humanitarian needs and resources required to respond to them. The aim of the GHO launch is to provide an overview of humanitarian needs and funding requirements in 2023, call for generous funding towards next year’s humanitarian appeals, and amplify the voices of affected people, particularly women and girls.”

The UN indicated that 230 million people in 70 countries around the world need assistance, totaling $51.5 billion for the 2023 appeal. This is the most ever requested and represents a 25% increase over 2022. Martin Griffiths, top emergency relief official at the UN said: “The needs are going up because we’ve been by smitten by the war in Ukraine, by COVID-19, by climate … I fear that 2023 is going to be an acceleration of all those trends, and that’s why we say … that we hope 2023 will be a year of solidarity, just as 2022 has been a year of suffering.”

Previous/Ongoing Disasters

Volcano – Hawaii: The largest volcano in the world – Mauna Loa – began to erupt on Nov. 28 (11:30 p.m. HST) for the first time in 38 years. A second Hawaii volcano, Kīlauea, is also erupting, allowing residents and visitors a rare opportunity to observe two eruptions at once. Lava, although slowing, has been moving toward Hawaii Route 200, a major highway that serves as a crucial connection between Hilo and Kona. This is the largest piece of critical infrastructure to be at-risk from the eruption.

In addition to the disasters listed above, we are actively monitoring the following disasters or humanitarian emergencies. For more information, see the relevant disaster profiles, which are updated regularly.

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.

The ERF team regularly monitors disaster-related news. This week the focus is on drought and the challenges the shrinking river basins, lakes and reservoirs are causing.

Think of this year’s drought as a sort of dress rehearsal to consider the drier, hotter future that scientists predict climate change has in store. Long-lasting droughts could alter the way we live. A recently-published study from Jesse Bell and his colleagues at the University of Nebraska Medical Center showed deaths among middle-aged white people in Nebraska ticked up during drought periods.

Drought now covers more than half of the continental U.S., and its ripple effects touch everything from the food we eat to the air we breathe to the water we drink. In one of the hardest hit regions, the Great Plains, there’s not much relief in sight. In Missouri, the drought is cracking home foundations. In Minnesota, it’s killing Christmas trees. Low water levels have shut down a hydroelectric plant in Iowa and stranded barges on the Mississippi River. Nationwide, winter wheat is in the poorest condition it’s ever been on record. In Kansas, the country’s top wheat producer, less than a quarter of the crop is in good shape. Nebraska and Oklahoma’s wheat looks even worse.”

Complex Humanitarian Emergencies – Central African Republic (CAR)

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 post and tracked.

Next year marks 10 years since the beginning of the civil war in the Central African Republic (CAR). New conflict after the 2020-2021 election set back efforts to establish a level of peace, including a smooth transition of power.

High levels of conflict continue to plague the country, increasingly affecting food, gas, poverty and other defining characteristics of the country’s success and achievement. Africa News says: “Despite mineral resources such as gold, diamonds and potentially even plenty of oil reserves, the World Bank estimates that 71 percent of Central Africa’s six million people live below the international poverty line of $2.15 a day.”

The government is pursuing relationships in India to help access some of the 470 mineral resources the World Bank says there are in CAR. Half of the country’s exports come from diamonds, but it also has the world’s largest reserve of iron ore.

A variety of humanitarian organizations helped 1.5 million people in need of protection and humanitarian assistance as of September 2022, on target for two million by Dec. 31, 2022. The number of people in need is expected to increase to 3.4 million in 2023.

The Humanitarian Needs Overview 2023 for CAR found that water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health and protection, and food security are the areas of highest need. Violence against civilians, including forced displacement and gender-based violence (GBV), has increased, even while political conflicts have diminished a small amount. Instead, rebels are targeting CAR’s economic engines, including a bombing of a cotton factory in Bossangoa on Nov. 27-28, 2022.

Humanitarian workers in conflict settings risk attacks from rebel forces, just as residents do. From January to October 2022, there were 151 incidents affecting humanitarian workers, resulting in 18 injuries and one death.

In early December 2022, the U.S. placed CAR on a watch list of countries for potential severe violations under the Religious Freedom Act. Additionally, the Russian-linked Wagner group (a private paramilitary organization), which is active in CAR, was one of several organizations designated as an entity of particular concern.

Acute food insecurity has increased in severity in 2022, and it’s predicted that the situation will worsen throughout 2023. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) states: “The severity of the food insecurity will be mainly due to the projected increase in imported and local food prices due to increased transport and petroleum costs, and low access to plant protection products and other chemicals needed for agricultural activities. This will result in limited household access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food.”

Currently, 2.7 million (44% of CAR’s population) are having high levels of acute food insecurity with two million in crisis (IPC Phase 3) and 642,000 in emergency (IPC Phase 4). These levels will increase from April to August 2023 to three million people and 49% of the population (2.2 million in crisis and 807,000 in emergency). CAR has one of the highest proportions of the population in the world who are critically food-insecure. Half of the areas of CAR that reported an increase in GBV are classified as IPC Phase 4.

As mentioned in last week’s profile on Cameroon, there is significant displacement in CAR due to violence. Internally, there are 505,000 internally displaced people and nearly 750,000 refugees in neighboring countries, including over 350,000 in Cameroon.

What We’re Reading

  • Lula faces stiff challenge to fulfill vow to reverse Amazon deforestation in Brazil – The Guardian: “Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s narrow victory over President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s October elections was hailed as the potential salvation of the Amazon, after four years of unbridled destruction which have brought the rainforest close to a tipping point, threatening the very survival of the Indigenous populations whose lives depend upon it.”
  • How India’s caste system keeps Dalits from accessing disaster relief – The New Humanitarian: “As climate change continues to bring worsening floods, droughts, cyclones and more to India, the government is being called upon to do more to protect against caste-based discrimination. A sweeping study released in September by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights warned that ‘climate apartheid’ was likely to hit Dalits and Adivasis the hardest, and outlined ‘systemic inadequacies and disregard in involving their participation in disaster/drought risk management.’ ”
  • Anti-Racism: When you picture Doctors Without Borders, what do you see? – MSF/DWB: This four-minute video highlights the traditional means of promotion that Médecins San Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has used for decades: one that is white savior-focused and disempowers recipients of service. The video contrasts this concept with the reality of who is working for MSF and promises to do better to showcase this in the future.
  • Key takeaways from the UN’s record-breaking tally for 2023 humanitarian needs – The New Humanitarian: More hunger, more displacement, more people in crisis, and a soaring price tag: Humanitarian needs and costs will once again shatter records in 2023, but available funding – and the system itself – isn’t keeping pace.

With his typical humor, Vu Le presents 12 gifts funders can give their nonprofit staff or grantee partners!