What we’re watching: Weekly disaster update, May 2

Civil Defense Colombia carry out search and rescue operations after a landslide in Cundinamarca, Colombia. (Photo: Civil Defense Colombia 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 May 2, 2022.

New or Emerging Disasters

Flooding – Colombia: Heavy rain led to landslides and flooding in the Cundinamarca department in central Colombia. At least eight people died, and another four were missing. The Governor of Cundinamarca, Nicolás Garcia, declared a state of emergency for the department. Since March 15, 85 municipalities out of 116 in Cundinamarca have been affected by severe weather resulting in more than 3,000 homes damaged and more than 21,000 people affected.

Previous/Ongoing Disasters

Wildfires – New Mexico: The Calf Canyon Fire and Hermits Peak Fire merged into what has become the largest active wildfire in the U.S. Thousands of residents of northern New Mexico were told to evacuate on May 1. Hundreds of properties have been damaged since the fire began on April 6. As of May 1, the fire burned nearly 104,000 acres and was 30% contained. Cooks Peak, another fire located north of Ocate, had burned more than 59,000 acres as of May 1 with 69% containment.

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

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. According to the latest figures from the country’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), 214 people have died, nearly 70,000 people remain displaced and 19,540 homes were damaged. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the World Food Programme (WFP) conducted a rapid needs assessment in Leyte province. Affected people expressed needs for food, water, non-food items, mental health and psychosocial and livelihood support.

Humanitarian Crisis – Ukraine: As of May 1, more than 5.5 million refugees have left the country since Feb. 24, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). As of April 21, United Nations (UN) agencies and humanitarian partners have reached more than 3.4 million people with life-saving assistance. The UN and humanitarian partners issued the revised Flash Appeal and Regional Refugee Response Plan on April 25. According to UNOCHA, “Nearly $4.1 billion is urgently needed to meet the needs of 17 million people inside and outside Ukraine.”

According to Candid, 763 grants worth $974,791,327 have been granted so far, with an additional 155 pledges worth $680,991,871. 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 May 2:

  • Worldwide, cases have surpassed 513 million.
  • There have been more than 467 million recoveries and over 6.2 million deaths.
  • The highest number of cases are in the U.S. (83 million), followed by India (43 million), Brazil (30.4 million) and France (28.6 million).
  • Worldwide, 65.4% of the global population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This number drops to only 15.7% in low-income countries.

Other notable news:

  • A recent poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows Black and Hispanic Americans remain far more cautious in their approach to COVID-19 than white Americans.

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

Complex Humanitarian Emergencies – Chad

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.

Chad is enduring a prolonged humanitarian crisis due to growing insecurity in the country and region and socioeconomic, health and climate-related challenges in the context of political transition.

The country’s 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) requires nearly $511 million to reach 3.9 million people, including internally displaced, returnees, refugees and vulnerable people living in host communities.

In 2022, around 1.67 million children under five will suffer from acute malnutrition. During the lean season of June to September 2022, a marked deterioration in the nutritional situation is expected. This is the third consecutive year of severe food insecurity in Chad and the worst lean season of the last 10 years.

The HRP prioritizes food security, nutrition and health emergencies. It also addresses the impacts of climate change. Donors have funded only 7.2% of the plan.

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 caused widespread damage when it tore through parts of Sedgwick and Butler counties in southern Kansas on April 29. The National Weather Service (NWS) gave the tornado a preliminary rating of EF-3. More than 1,000 buildings were affected in the city of Andover in Butler County. There were no reported fatalities or critical injuries reported from the tornado. However, three University of Oklahoma meteorology students were killed in a crash when their car hydroplaned as they returned from storm chasing in Kansas. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly declared a State of Disaster Emergency for the hardest-hit areas.
  • In North Dakota, Governor Doug Burgum declared a statewide emergency for flooding and utility infrastructure damage caused by a winter storm last weekend. The governor also declared a disaster for areas impacted by record snowfall during the April 12-14 blizzard.
  • Dry conditions and high winds have created dangerous conditions that resulted in several wildfires across Nebraska in April. This map shows where recent fires have burned in the state.

What We’re Reading

  • Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2022 – United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction: This report explores how structures are evolving to address systemic risk better. Under current trends, the report says annual disasters are forecast to increase by 40%.
  • Donors pledge close to $1.4 billion for Horn of Africa drought response – UNOCHA: The pledges will support the humanitarian and development response to the drought in the region that has left more than 15 million people severely food insecure across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.
  • Tigray’s health system ‘totally collapsed’, say health workers – The New Humanitarian: After nearly 18 months of conflict between the federal government and Tigray rebels, the health care situation in Tigray is harrowing. Frontline staff is doing their best with limited medical supplies and food.
  • After five record crops, heat wave threatens India’s wheat output, export plans – Reuters: The decrease could curb Indian exports of the staple crop following the country’s warmest March in 122 years, with the maximum temperature rising to 91.58 degrees Fahrenheit (33.1 Celsius).
  • Massive wildfires helped fuel global forest losses in 2021 – The Washington Post: “Fires accounted for more than a third of the world’s tree cover losses last year — the largest share on record.”
  • Millions of Americans own forestland at high risk of wildfire. Protecting it is a daunting task. – NBC News: “The Biden administration is investing in protecting at-risk private property from wildfires, but the challenge outweighs the resources, and the clock is ticking.”

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival returned last week, and 20 refugees got the chance to learn the samba and participate in the festivities.