What we’re watching: Weekly disaster update, May 9

Destroyed infrastructure in Afghanistan due to May 2022 floods
According to the initial report of the Badakhshan Disaster Management Department, five people died and 24 were injured as a result of recent floods. Crops and 200 livestock were also lost while a number of houses were completely or partially destroyed. (Source: Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority 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 9, 2022.

New or Emerging Disasters

Flooding – Afghanistan: Unseasonal and severe rainfall across the northwest and northern provinces on May 3 led to flash flooding affecting at least 485 families. The flooding killed at least 13 people and damaged more than 1,200 homes. Assessments are ongoing, and the number of affected people will likely rise. In 2022, more than 30,000 people have been affected by disasters in Afghanistan, including more than 5,000 people affected by flash flooding. Recurring natural hazards in the country combined with decades of war, chronic poverty and widespread food insecurity make the Afghanistan crisis one of the world’s largest and most complex humanitarian emergencies.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – Ebola Outbreak:  A third individual died on May 6, in the DRC’s 14th Ebola outbreak since 1976. The latest outbreak was declared on April 22, after a man died in Mbandaka, Equateur Province. His sister-in-law, a 25-year-old woman, was the second victim. This is the third outbreak in the province since 2018; 54 cases were reported in 2018 and 130 in 2020. The high vaccination rate from 2020 should help reduce the impact and help contain the disease. The last outbreak in the DRC was declared over in December 2021, after six deaths and eight confirmed and three probable cases were detected in North Kivu province.

Previous/Ongoing Disasters

Wildfire – New Mexico: The Calf Canyon Fire and Hermits Peak Fire in northern New Mexico merged into what has become the largest active wildfire in the U.S. and the second-largest wildfire in the state’s history. As of May 9, the fire burned 189,767 acres and was 43% contained. On May 3, President Biden approved a major disaster declaration for New Mexico (DR-4652-NM) in response to the wildfires. Fast winds on May 8 grounded firefighting aircraft and complicated work for firefighters.

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

Flooding – South Africa: On April 11-13, torrential rains triggered record floods and mudslides in the KwaZulu-Natal province. The disaster killed at least 435 people, displaced more than 40,000 people and damaged 12,000 homes. The flooding impacted more than 630 schools. The Government of South Africa provided aid to 3,000 affected individuals totaling more than $308,000 (5 million rands). The U.S. Agency for International Development  provided $100,000 in humanitarian assistance. Additionally, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies launched an emergency appeal of more than $8 million (8 million Swiss francs) to support the South African Red Cross Society. Among those affected are Malawian migrants who have received limited assistance.

Humanitarian Crisis – Ukraine: As of May 8, more than 5.8 million refugees have left the country since Feb. 24, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. As of May 5, United Nations (UN) agencies and humanitarian partners have reached more than 5.4 million people with life-saving assistance. On May 3, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Ukraine Osnat Lubrani announced that 101 civilians had been successfully evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged city of Mariupol and other areas in a safe passage operation.

According to Candid, 791 grants worth $1,047,281,397 have been granted so far, with an additional 157 pledges worth $679,970,680. 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 9:

  • Worldwide, cases have surpassed 517 million.
  • There have been more than 472 million recoveries and over 6.2 million deaths.
  • The highest number of cases are in the U.S. (83.5 million), followed by India (43.1 million), Brazil (30.5 million) and France (28.9 million).
  • Worldwide, 5% of the global population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This number drops to only 15.8% in low-income countries.

Other notable news:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine on health care and vaccination rates increase the risk of outbreaks of diseases in the country.

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

Complex Humanitarian Emergencies – Nigeria

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.

Twelve years into the humanitarian crisis in northeast Nigeria’s Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States, the needs remain severe. Insecurity linked to armed groups, including the terrorist group Boko Haram, has disrupted livelihoods and led to mass displacement. In a recent visit to the country, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the “enormous challenges” faced by the state of Borno need to be recognized by the international community.

In addition to insurgent activities in the northeast, the country also faces violence and robbery in the northwest, conflict over limited resources in the middle of the county and a refugee population in the south. Protection needs are daunting, especially for women and girls who lack protection and access to justice and services.

The 2022 Nigeria Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) addresses the most critical needs, such as access to food, water, health care services, and protection, especially for women and girls. Around 8.4 million people in the northeast states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe will need humanitarian aid in 2022, only slightly fewer than a year ago. The humanitarian community estimates that $1.1 billion are required to meet these urgent needs. Donors have provided only 6.2% of the requested funding through the HRP.

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 round of severe storms in Oklahoma produced damaging tornadoes and flooding last week. In the town of Seminole, around 60 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, a tornado damaged structures and led to power outages. The National Weather Service said it found damage from an EF-2 tornado in Seminole. Another tornado caused damage to homes and a school in Monroe. In eastern Oklahoma, towns, including Muskogee, experienced flash flooding.
  • Along the Red River, several state highways in North Dakota and Minnesota remain closed due to flooding. The massive floodwaters in northwest Minnesota have even created temporary new lakes. The North Dakota National Guard assisted in shoring up Bourbanis Dam in Pembina County, which is in danger of failing.
  • There have already been 35 tornadoes in Iowa as of April 20, about 25 more than the average number. More tornadoes will likely occur in the state in late May and throughout June, though how many more depends on La Niña.

What We’re Reading

  • Several States Face Significant Wildfire Danger in Coming Months – The Weather Channel: “The NIFC [National Interagency Fire Center] predicts the highest wildfire danger through May and into June is in southwest Arizona through New Mexico and into western Texas.”
  • Will massive Western wildfires leave more or less water in rivers? – Colorado Sun: “Scientists at Colorado State University and elsewhere in the West are poking and prodding for clues into how wildfire impacts water supply.”
  • What Does Tribal Land Stewardship Look Like? – Nonprofit Quarterly: “To understand Native land stewardship, it is important to recognize that it occurs within a context of repairing the ravages of colonialism.” A new report published by the First Nations Development Institute and authored by Mary Adelzadeh examines these themes.
  • Post-Disaster Mental Health and Wellbeing in Japan – Psychology Today: Two studies examine the lessons provided by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. “The overall lessons across both studies are nonetheless clear: Be prepared for catastrophe, work with the affected people on their terms, and aim to be open about and responsive to needs.”

Country music star Garth Brooks shook things up, literally, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, during a concert on April 30. A seismograph on the Louisiana State University campus recorded a small earthquake as Brooks performed the popular song “Callin’ Baton Rouge.”