What we’re watching: Weekly disaster update, September 6

Mississippi Department of Transportation made and installed signs at multiple water distribution sites for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and Jackson. Source: MDOT 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 Sept. 6, 2022.

New or Emerging Disasters

Earthquake – Afghanistan: Two earthquakes shook northeastern Afghanistan on Sept. 4 and 5. The stronger of the two quakes was magnitude 5.3, which struck in the province of Kunar on Sept. 4, killing at least eight people. The second earthquake occurred in Nangarhar province on Sept. 5 and was magnitude 4.6. Eastern Afghanistan is recovering from a devastating earthquake that killed more than 1,000 people on June 22.

Earthquake – China: A strong earthquake shook a mountainous area in southwestern China on Sept. 5, with the China Earthquake Networks Center estimating the quake was magnitude 6.8. The epicenter was in a remote area with many ethnic Tibetans in the southwestern corner of Sichuan Province. On Sept. 6, government agencies said the earthquake killed at least 65 people and injured more than 250. Authorities in Chengdu, Sichuan Province’s capital city, maintained strict COVID-19 lockdown measures despite the quake.

Typhoon – South Korea: On Sept. 6, Typhoon Hinnamnor, one of the most powerful storms to hit South Korea in years, made landfall with the regions of Jeju, Ulsan, Busan and Pohang among the hardest hit. The typhoon led to at least three deaths, leaving eight people missing and forcing around 4,600 to flee their homes. By the evening of Sept. 6, the typhoon pushed back out to sea and weakened.

Water Crisis – Mississippi: Failures to upgrade Jackson’s aging infrastructure over the past years have meant that residents of the majority-Black city have suffered service disruptions, recurring boil-water advisories and concerns over contaminants like lead and E. coli bacteria. The current water crisis stems from heavy rains that caused flooding and created water treatment and distribution issues at the city’s primary water-treatment facility, the O.B. Curtis Water Plant. The crisis has left more than 150,000 city residents without safe drinking water.

Bottled water distribution is underway, with various community efforts supporting the response.  Following a request from Governor Tate Reeves, President Joe Biden issued an emergency declaration providing public assistance, category B, for Hinds County. As reported by Vox, the roots of this crisis run deep and “are inextricably tied to white disinvestment from a majority-Black city.”

For more, see our Jackson, Mississippi Water Crisis disaster profile.

Wildfire – California: The Fairview Fire began on Sept. 5 near Hemet in Riverside County. As of Sept. 6, the fire had burned 2,400 acres and was 5% contained. The fast-moving fire forced hundreds of residents to evacuate and killed two people. Schools will be closed in Hemet due to the fire and possible power outages.

The Fairview Fire was one of several fires that began over Labor Day weekend. In the northern county of Siskiyou, the Mill Fire started on Sep. 2, killing two people and damaging or destroying at least 100 homes. Among the areas devastated was the Lincoln Heights area of Weed, a historically Black community founded by mill workers in the 1920s. As of Sept. 6, the fire had burned 4,263 acres and was 55% contained.

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

Previous/Ongoing Disasters

Flooding – Pakistan: New satellite images confirmed that a third of the country is underwater following severe monsoon rains resulting in devastating floods. As of Aug. 27, rainfall in the country is equivalent to 2.9 times the national 30-year average. Around 33 million people were affected by the floods, with more than 1.1 million houses damaged or destroyed and more than 733,000 livestock killed, a key source of sustenance and livelihoods. The flooding killed at least 1,325 people.

The World Health Organization has warned of significant public health threats, including the risk of further spread of water- and vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. On Aug. 30, the United Nations (UN) launched a $160 million emergency plan to reach 5.2 million flood-affected people. The country’s planning minister has said damages from the floods will be far greater than $10 billion.

For more, see our 2022 Pakistan Floods disaster profile.

Monkeypox – Global: As of Sept. 2, 2022, there are 53,027 cases in 100 countries. The highest number of cases have been found in the U.S. (19,961), followed by Spain (6,543), Brazil (5,037), France (3,558) and Germany (3,493). The cases continue to grow globally. Hong Kong recently reported its first monkeypox case, and the government is finalizing negotiations with a vaccine manufacturer for the first shipment of monkeypox vaccines. People who survived monkeypox describe devastating symptoms, frustration over finding care and their efforts to help each other.

For more, see our Monkeypox Global Outbreak disaster profile.

Humanitarian Crisis – Ukraine: As of Aug. 30, there have been more than 11.9 million border crossings from Ukraine since Feb. 24, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In their Aug. 24 Situation Report, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said, “Today, nearly 18 million people – 40 per cent of the country’s population – need humanitarian assistance and the situation is expected to deteriorate further in the winter months.”

An estimated 1.7 million people need winterization assistance before the upcoming colder temperatures in Ukraine. UNOCHA’s winterization plan targets “internally displaced persons (IDPs) and people living in sub-standard housing with critical interventions that can ensure warm, safe and dignified living conditions.” In their overview of winterization needs and response, ACAPS identified drivers of need, including winter temperatures reaching -14 degrees Fahrenheit (-25 degrees Celsius), infrastructure damage, gas supply reductions and displacement.

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. 6:

  • Worldwide, cases have surpassed 610 million.
  • There have been more than 588 million recoveries and more than 6.5 million deaths.
  • The highest number of cases are in the U.S. (96.64 million), followed by India (44.46 million), France (34.59 million) and Brazil (34.52 million).
  • Worldwide, 7% 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:

  • On Sept. 1, the Centers for Disease and Control approved reformulated versions of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines that will provide Americans access to updated COVID-19 booster shots.
  • Chengdu has become the latest Chinese city to be locked down, with around 21 million people ordered to stay indoors. On Sept. 1, the city recorded 157 new infections. China’s COVID-19 policies require cities to enter strict lockdowns even if a few cases are reported.

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:

  • Severe storms in parts of the Midwest and the South were blamed for the deaths of three people, including two children in Michigan and Arkansas and a woman in Ohio. The storms knocked out electrical service to hundreds of thousands of homes in Indiana and Michigan.
  • In Nemaha County, Nebraska, recovery continues from the 2019 floods. Reconstruction projects continue, including a waterline connection between the towns of Peru and Auburn. The Northeast Nemaha County Long Term Recovery Group continues to support and seek funds for infrastructure projects.

Complex Humanitarian Emergencies – Mali

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.

In August 2022, France concluded its almost decade-long mission against jihadists in the country, and there are concerns that other groups, including mercenaries, could fill the void. Mali’s relations with the French have steadily deteriorated since the Malian military took power in an August 2020 coup.

Tensions have also been rising between Mali’s ruling junta and the UN’s peacekeeping operation, MINUSMA, since the junta arrested 49 soldiers from Côte d’Ivoire, who they called mercenaries. Still, MINUSMA insisted they were deployed to support their mission.

Troop rotations in the peacekeeping mission have now resumed. However, a UN independent expert on the human rights situation in Mali said, “The deterioration of the security situation in Mali has a considerable impact on the protection of human rights and the humanitarian situation.”

According to the conflict monitoring organization ACLED, 2022 is on track to be the deadliest year for Mali since the Sahel crisis began more than a decade ago. The current crisis began when a Tuareg separatist group backed by Islamist militant groups in Mali’s north rebelled and then-Malian president Amadou Toumani Touré was deposed in a coup in 2012. Since then, militancy has spread across the region. ACLED says an important dimension of the ever-worsening crisis is the scale of atrocities against civilians perpetrated by Malian state forces, Russian Wagner Group mercenaries, Burkinabe state forces and jihadist militant groups.

Around 1.8 million people are estimated to experience acute food insecurity between June and August 2022. As of April 30, 370,548 IDPs have been registered, and around 54,000 people are newly displaced in the Ménaka region following armed violence. Humanitarian assistance is also needed for IDPs in the Bandiagara region. As of July 21, donors had funded only 22% of Mali’s Humanitarian Response Plan.

What We’re Reading

Four countries, six years, 7,000 miles: one Afghan family’s journey to the US – The Guardian: More than 76,000 Afghans have been resettled in the U.S. since August 2021, including the Amiri family whose story is featured. New data released by the International Rescue Committee shows that newly resettled Afghans are set to contribute $1.4 billion to the U.S. economy in their first year of work.

Global food crisis sees 150 million more women than men going hungry — and ‘it’s going to get worse’ – CNBC: According to a report released by the humanitarian organization CARE, of the estimated 828 million people globally who were affected by hunger in 2021, around 59% were women. In Somalia, for example, men reported eating smaller meals while women reported skipping meals altogether.

Climate Change Is Bankrupting America’s Small Towns – The New York Times: “Rather than bouncing back, places hit repeatedly by hurricanes, floods and wildfires are unraveling: residents and employers leave, the tax base shrinks and it becomes even harder to fund basic services.”

The Vital Role of Individual Giving in Disaster Funding – The Center for Effective Philanthropy: Individual donors help fill gaps, says Regine Webster, CDP’s Vice President. She suggests donors can have a transformative impact by responding to local and low-attention disasters, giving before and after a disaster and giving to community-based organizations that serve marginalized communities.

Growing an 846-pound pumpkin for nearly a decade is impressive, but one Nebraska man did even more by hallowing out the massive squash and eclipsing the world record for the “longest journey by a pumpkin boat.”