What we’re watching: Weekly disaster update, September 12

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 Sept. 12, 2022.

New or Emerging Disasters

Earthquake – China: According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake hit China’s Sichuan province on Sept. 5. The China Earthquake Networks Center said the quake measured 6.8. On Sept. 12, authorities said the death toll rose to 93 as the search for survivors continued for 25 missing individuals. The earthquake also affected Chengdu, the provincial capital, where residents were under strict zero-COVID-19 controls, meaning they were not allowed to leave their buildings. Sichuan province has also endured its worst heatwave in 60 years this summer.

For more, see our 2022 China Earthquake disaster profile.

Earthquake – Papua New Guinea: On Sept. 11, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck about 41 miles (66 kilometers) east of the town of Kainantu in the country’s east. Papua New Guinea’s police commissioner said the death toll has risen to seven, adding that it occurred deep below ground, limiting damage. The regional power grid, internet cables, roads and highways had been damaged. There are reports of moderate to heavy damages to dwellings made from light materials and minor to moderate structural damages to multi-story buildings in communities around the epicenter.

Landslide – Uganda: Heavy rains triggered landslides in the Kasese district in western Uganda on Sept. 7, killing at least 16 people. Kasese district is prone to landslides because it sits in the foothills of the Rwenzori mountains that straddle the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. The landslides damaged at least 20 homes and affected nearly 1,200 people. In August, several parts of the country were affected by separate flooding and landslide events.

Tropical Storm – California: After bringing deadly impacts to Mexico as a hurricane, Tropical Storm Kay brought nearly a year’s worth of rain and flash flooding to southern California over the weekend. The storm marked the closest approach to southern California from the Pacific in the last 50 years. The rains from Kay were a relief for firefighters battling the Fairview fire near Hemet, with the extra moisture saturating the area. Kay reached Category 2 hurricane intensity when it passed Mexico, killing three people in Guerrero and the port of Acapulco and damaging houses.

Previous/Ongoing Disasters

Flooding – Chad: Chad’s heaviest seasonal rainfall in over 30 years has left parts of the capital N’Djamena navigable only by boat. Floods are not uncommon during the country’s rainy season, but this year, the rains came early and were more abundant. More than 340,000 people have been affected by unprecedented flooding, and more than 6,600 acres of crops (nearly 2,700 hectares) have been damaged. The country is also enduring a complex humanitarian emergency. Donors have provided only 34% of the funding required for Chad’s Humanitarian Response Plan in 2022.

Flooding – Pakistan: Floodwater across the country now covers around 100,000 square miles – an area larger than the size of Britain – with more floods expected in the coming weeks. A food crisis may be on the horizon. Pakistan’s cotton and rice crops have been devastated, and the floods could disrupt the country’s wheat planting season this fall. In addition to food insecurity concerns, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif says the floods will likely reduce the country’s gross domestic product by 2%. As of Sept. 9, the floods had fully or partially damaged 1.7 million homes.

For more, see our 2022 Pakistan Floods disaster profile.

Monkeypox – Global: As of Sept. 9, 2022, there are 57,527 cases in 103 countries. The highest number of cases have been found in the U.S. (21,893), followed by Spain (6,749), Brazil (5,726), France (3,785) and Germany (3,530). The cases continue to grow globally. The rush for monkeypox vaccines and treatments has been focused in the U.S. and Europe, where supplies of shots have been limited or almost run out. More than 100 countries now report monkeypox cases, and most have had no vaccine or treatments.

For more, see our Monkeypox Global Outbreak disaster profile.

Humanitarian Crisis – Ukraine: As of Sept. 6, there have been more than 12.3 million border crossings from Ukraine since Feb. 24, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Active hostilities in the eastern and southern parts of the country have damaged some humanitarian assets and caused civilian casualties.

Ongoing damage to civilian infrastructure, including in Mykolaivska oblast, increases the challenge of preparing for winter. According to the REACH Initiative, the war has affected 345 objects of critical heating infrastructure, meaning “preparations for the 2022/2023 winter season may be complicated in Ukraine, especially in areas affected by the conflict.”

According to Candid, 1,456 grants worth $1,413,495,133 have been granted so far, with an additional 190 pledges worth $768,234,480. 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 Sept. 12:

  • Worldwide, cases have surpassed 613 million.
  • There have been more than 592 million recoveries and more than 6.5 million deaths.
  • The highest number of cases are in the U.S. (97.09 million), followed by India (44.50 million), France (34.71 million) and Brazil (34.57 million).
  • Worldwide, 8% of the global population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This number drops to only 21% in low-income countries.

Other notable news:

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.

This is one of the latest disasters the ERF team is monitoring:

  • Wildfires in the Montana area continue to grow despite a cold front that brought some temporary relief. Temperatures are expected to warm again through the first half of the coming week to a few degrees above seasonal averages.

Complex Humanitarian Emergencies – 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, and what CDP considers Level 1 CHEs are profiled in this weekly blog post and tracked.

The humanitarian situation in Colombia remains complex and has significantly deteriorated in the last year. The main drivers are the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the escalation of violence with increased population displacements, the steady flow of migrants and refugees from Venezuela and the impact of climate change-fueled disasters.

Reuters reports that Colombia’s new president has started efforts to restart peace talks with the left-wing guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army. However, other non-state armed groups continue to carry out targeted attacks, contributing to instability and displacement.

Venezuelans fleeing their country remains one of the largest external displacement crises globally. Around 5.2 million people in Colombia were living in displacement as a result of conflict and violence at the end of 2021.

Colombians and Venezuelans have significant risks of exposure to gender-based violence (GBV) in Colombia. A study from the Women’s Refugee Commission, CARE Colombia and a national partner, CORPRODINCO, found that “As a complement to core aspects of GBV case management, CVA [cash and voucher assistance] may strengthen survivors’ capacities to recover, and enable access to services.”

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the agricultural livelihoods of both migrant and host communities have been eroded. Around 7.35 million people in the country need food security assistance. Cash assistance, agricultural inputs and training are recommended. Flooding in Colombia continues to damage infrastructure, disrupt livelihoods and cause casualties.

What We’re Reading

Somalia is on the verge of famine while the world looks away – The Washington Post: The warning signs have been there. Through the summer, UN agencies and aid organizations raised the alarm, cataloging widespread hunger and decrying a lack of international support. Martin Griffiths, the UN humanitarian chief, said last week, “Famine is at the door, and today we are receiving a final warning.”

Climate change leaves Iraq’s ‘breadbasket’ with less water, wheat, and farmers – The New Humanitarian: Iraq’s rainfall last year was so low it marked the second driest season in four decades. The International Organization for Migration says more than 34,000 people are displaced from south and central Iraq due to climate change.

“It’s destroying me”: Storm after storm, climate change increases strain on Texans’ mental health – The Texas Tribune: “Tens of thousands of coastal Texas residents have survived repeated extreme weather events including Hurricane Harvey. For many, it has taken an emotional toll, and researchers warn that climate change could be ‘catastrophic’ for our mental health.”

The Last Days of Isle de Jean Charles: A Louisiana tribe’s struggle to escape the rising sea – NOLA.com: Isle de Jean Charles has lost most of its surrounding land area over the past 60 years due to sea level rise, erosion, subsidence and oil/gas exploration. The Jean Charles Choctaw Nation was to be the focus of the first federally funded relocation of a community threatened by climate change, but it has been a challenging process.

As Wildfires Grow, Millions of Homes Are Being Built in Harm’s Way – The New York Times: Research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the U.S. Forest Service shows around 6 million more homes in the West were located in fire-prone areas near forests in 2020 than in 1990. Options exist for protecting existing homes, but they can be expensive.

Queen Elizabeth II died at the age of 96 on Sept. 8. Her death immediately revived criticism of Britain’s legacy of colonialism but also led to tributes and mourning around the world. National Geographic shared rare photos from their archives of her 70-year reign.