Posts

Natural Disasters in the Philippines
Every year, hundreds of natural disasters are reported worldwide. In 2019, 409 natural disasters occurred, many in the Asian Pacific region. Natural disasters in the Philippines are quite common and they pose great difficulties for islands with large populations and vulnerable infrastructure.

Geography of the Philippines

The Philippines is one of highest-risk countries for natural disasters. The nation’s location exposes it to storms that lead to floods, mudslides and typhoons. Additionally, the presence of offshore trenches such as the Manila Trench puts the Philippines at risk for tsunamis. Unfortunately, the list does not end there. The Philippines is also on top of the Ring of Fire, a path in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where there is a high risk for earthquakes and active volcanoes.

Infrastructure

The Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands, which poses many challenges to improving infrastructure. Natural disasters also disproportionately impact infrastructure in poverty-stricken areas. That being said, in the past decade, the Filipino government made strides to improve infrastructure and make the nation more disaster-ready.

In 2020, nearly a quarter of the Filipino government’s budget was allocated for infrastructure. President Rodrigo Duterte hopes to allocate 6% of the nation’s GDP to infrastructure by 2022. His “Build, Build, Build” program has played a large role in this increase of funds, which will be allocated to projects such as the Manila subway and other modes of transportation, water resources and energy.

The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) has outlined $2.5 million in funds being used for infrastructure projects in the Philippines. GFDRR focuses on understanding and reducing disaster risk, strengthening governance and improving recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction. GFDRR currently has three active projects in the Philippines. First, the “Support to the Sustainable, Inclusive, and Resilient Tourism Project” is set to be complete in June 2021. The second project is “Philippines Disaster Risk Financing,” scheduled to be complete in August 2020. Finally, the “Support to the Earthquake-Resilient Greater Metro Manila Program” is set to be complete in September 2021.

Poverty Reduction

According to the World Bank’s October 2019 report, the Philippines is expected to sustain its progress in poverty reduction. The Philippines’ GDP growth was roughly 5.8% in 2019 and is expected to reach 6.2% by 2021. Many believe this growth is tied to transportation infrastructure among the Filipino islands. According to the 2013 Philippines Human Development Report, economic integration will be key to creating sustainable growth throughout all of the Filipino islands and reducing poverty in rural areas.

The main production sectors in the Philippines are electronics assembly, garments, footwear, pharmaceuticals, food processing, petroleum refining and fishing. Agriculture is also a significant sector; however, self-employed farmers are the most susceptible to geographic hardships from natural disasters. Additionally, many farmers struggle due to a lack of insurance, inadequate post-harvest facilities, inadequate irrigation techniques and limited access to the market as a result of poor transportation services.

To address these problems, the Philippine Development Plan for 2017-2022 plans to expand economic opportunities for those engaged in the agricultural sector, especially small farmers. This plan aims to get rid of irrigation fees for small farmers, pass the National Land Use Act to protect important natural lands, implement the Agrarian Reform Program to distribute land to landless farmers.

Conclusion

The Philippines is still considered at third world country according to its GDP, human development index, life expectancy and infant mortality rate. However, while the Philippines still has many structural issues inhibiting its growth, its progress over the last decade has been momentous. Equipping islands to handle natural disasters in the Philippines and supporting farmers are two key ways the country can reduce poverty and improve livelihoods.

Danielle Forrey
Photo: Flickr

Catastrophic TsunamisWhen they strike, catastrophic tsunamis claim numerous lives and cause horrific damage. A tsunami occurs when energy is transferred from the earth into water, resulting in large waves reaching heights of hundreds of feet. They can be triggered by earthquakes, landslides or volcanic eruptions. Moreover, tsunamis travel up to 500 miles. And most tsunamis occur within the Pacific Ocean. While this natural disaster only occurs twice a year on average, the impact is colossal. Listed below are 10 famous tsunamis that everyone should know about.

10 Most Catastrophic Tsunamis

  1. Indian Ocean
    In 2004, the world saw one of the most catastrophic tsunamis in the Indian Ocean. A magnitude 9.1 earthquake caused the ocean floor to rise a shocking 40 meters, with waves rising heights of hundreds of feet. Consequently, the fault line covered 900 miles and touched the shores of India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia. Unfortunately, this tsunami led to the death of approximately 230,000 people and caused $10 million worth of damage.
  2. North-Pacific Coast, Japan
    One of perhaps the most catastrophic tsunamis hit the North-Pacific coast of Japan in 2011. After a 9.1 earthquake occurred just miles off the coast, an alert went out warning locals to find safety. This was the largest earthquake in Japanese history and the fourth largest in the world. Moreover, local nuclear power plants worsened the situation, as one plant cooled down and melted from the water. Ultimately, this led to four days of continuous radiation that required two weeks of clean up.
  3. Portugal and Morocco
    In 1755, an unexpected earthquake hit Lisbon on All Saints Day. Consequently, most people were in church when the tsunami arrived. The waves killed between 60,000 to 100,000 people along the coasts of Portugal and Morocco. Shockingly, some of the debris from Lisbon traveled as far as the Caribbean. As one of the most catastrophic tsunamis in European history, this disaster remains a pivotal point in European history, as seen in subsequent artwork and philosophy of the time.
  4. Messina, Italy
    In 1908, the small town of Messina suffered a 7.5 magnitude and subsequently a tsunami. With waves as high as 40 feet, this tsunami devastated the land of the agricultural community. Thus, many people relocated after the disaster. Most people immigrated across Italy, however, some traveled as far as the U.S.
  5. Krakatau, Indonesia
    While earthquakes usually cause tsunamis, a volcanic eruption caused the tsunami of 1883 in Indonesia. The eruption of the Krakatau Volcano led to a tsunami, with waves extending as high as 98 feet. Surges from the tsunami lasted approximately 29 to 30 hours and reached as far as New Zealand.
  6. Southern Chile
    In 1960, the world’s largest earthquake occurred in the southern part of Chile. At a magnitude of 9.5, this earthquake had a global impact. Accordingly, waves from the resulting tsunami traveled as far north as the U.S., causing $23.5 million worth of damage in Hawaii. And in Japan, more than a day after the earthquake, tsunami surges caused 139 deaths. Overall, this tsunami left an estimated 2 million homeless in Chile.
  7. Sanriku, Japan
    Once again, Japan finds itself on the list of most catastrophic tsunamis. In 1896, an atrocious earthquake rocked Sanriku, Japan. Having had several minor earthquakes earlier that day, locals did not anticipate a tsunami. However, after an 8.5 magnitude earthquake rocked the surface, tsunamis waves crashed into the shore. At the time, no preventative measures were available to warn locals of the incoming tsunami and the disaster claimed 22,000 lives.
  8. Central Chile
    Like Japan, Chile commonly experiences from tsunamis. In 2010, an earthquake spanning 62 miles ruptured in central Chile. Approximately 12 million people felt the ground tremble. Shortly thereafter, a tsunami struck. This tsunami damaged, if not destroyed, 370,000 houses and 4,013 schools.
  9. Arica, Chile
    In 1868, Arica, Chile (then Peru) experience a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami. Subsequently, Chile makes the most catastrophic tsunamis list for the third time. Three naval ships were docked at the port city, of which only two crew members survived. Thirteen hours after the initial incident, waves hit New Zealand and caused damage to local harbors.
  10. Mount Unzen
    Like the case of Krakatau, this tsunami began when Mount Unzen erupted in 1792. Consequently, this led to an estimated 15,000 deaths. Interestingly, in 1990, the mountain began to release ashes.

While stories of catastrophic tsunamis seem frightening at first, there are preventative measures being implemented. For instance, starting in 2004, the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System has installed sensors in the ocean floorboards. Run by the Intergovernmental Coordination Group and Unesco, IOTWMS sensors detect incoming tsunamis and alert officials.

In addition, as scientists conduct more research on the history of tsunamis, they can better predict the likelihood of tsunamis in specific regions. Ultimately, while tsunamis are a powerful force, there is hope for improved prevention strategies in the future.

Photo: Flickr

Relief Efforts in Indonesia
On September 28th, 2018 Indonesia was hit with a 7.4 magnitude earthquake; three days later and as a consequence of the earthquake, a massive tsunami devastated the Central Sulawesi province in Indonesia. Palu and Donggala were amongst the areas worst hit in the province. On October 21st, 2018, the death toll sat at 2,113 people. In fact, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman, Sutopo Nugroho, stated that 1,300 people were reported missing, 223,751 people were displaced from their homes and communities and 4,612 were reported injured. Relief efforts in in Indonesia began almost immediately and are still underway today.

Need for Relief

Fall 2018 wasn’t the first time relief efforts in Indonesia have been needed. Back in 2004, the country faced another devastating tsunami, known famously as the “Boxing Day Tsunami” — the deadliest recorded tsunami in history. Indonesia geographically sits in the “Ring of Fire” — a horseshoe-like basin that sits in the pacific ocean — that is notorious for earthquakes and volcanic activity due to its high tectonic movement. As a result of this proximity, the country faces constant natural threats.

The government of Indonesia has accepted foreign aid in hopes of accelerating recovery and relief efforts. Twenty-six countries have reported to offer help, and different organizations have stepped in as well. Three of which are stated below:

The Australian Council for International Development

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) works closely with the Indonesian government and local partners to mobilize search-and-rescue and medical teams, and provide food, shelter and clean water.

ACFID has also made sure to create safe spaces for children — especially those missing parents and guardians. Keeping in mind the psychological effects of this disaster, the organization has offered psychosocial support to affected inhabitants.

Malteser International

Malteser International aids Indonesia by providing health facilities with medical equipment and medicine. The organization has made emergency funds available to help deliver relief materials.

Malteser International is dedicated to making sure that the affected have access to clean water in order to avoid the spread of disease. Unfortunately, the group finds it challenging to transport clean water to remote areas due to the destruction of roads and infrastructure.

The World Bank

The World Bank — perhaps offering the largest aid — has declared a $1 billion relief fund available to the Indonesian government. Based on scientific, economic and engineering analyses, the World Bank has estimated the physical loss in Sulawesi at $531 million with $181 million of that for residential housing, $185 million for nonresidential and $165 million for infrastructure.

The fund is piloted by a $5 million grant for technical assistance to ensure that the reconstruction is planned out and executed with efficiency and accuracy. It could offer cash transfers to 150,000 of the poorest families affected, which will support the local economy and employment levels during the recovery process.

The relief efforts in Indonesia are extensive, but the donations from these three organizations will go far in helping Indonesia get back on its feet and ensure that the inhabitants impacted by this natural disaster are taken care of safely and effectively.

– Mary Spindler

Photo: Pixabay

earthquake
On September 28, 2018, the poverty-riddled country of Indonesia experienced a deadly natural disaster. A 7.5 earthquake followed by a tsunami that produced waves of up to 6 meters tall hit the city of Palu killing hundreds. As search efforts to find survivors continued, many news outlets have called into question the effectiveness of Indonesia’s early disaster warning system.

The Tsunami in Indonesia

BBC News reported that a system of 21 buoys used to trigger the warning system based off of the data that they receive was inactive during the time of the tsunami. Gifted to Indonesia by a few generous countries after the last natural disaster, the buoys had either been vandalized or stolen. With a strict budget in place, Indonesia hasn’t been able to afford the cost of replacing the buoys or maintaining the remaining system they currently have in place. As a result of the unreliable warnings in regards to the size of the waves, many have perished.

When a natural disaster hits a country that already has problems with its infrastructure due to poverty, like Indonesia, it often causes far more deaths and inflicts a lot more damage. BBC News compared similar natural disasters in three countries and found that impoverished areas are more susceptible to the effects of natural disasters.

The Hurricanes in Puerto Rico

In 2017 Puerto Rico suffered back to back hurricanes that left the country with even fewer resources than it had before. With 40 percent of its population living below the poverty line, the ailing country was already crippled by debt, experiencing a lack of electricity and facing school shutdowns. Given the state of Puerto Rico’s poverty crisis prior to the disaster, the country was ill-prepared for the effect the hurricane would have on its crumbling infrastructure.

Puerto Rico’s disaster relief efforts have been both challenging and expensive given its previous state of affairs. The U.S. has offered $2 billion to fix Puerto Rico’s electric grid, but in order to fix the damage done before and after the hurricane, it would take $17 billion. Further financial resources would have to be given to restore Puerto Rico’s infrastructure and help it to withstand natural disaster threats in the future.

The Earthquake in Haiti

Before the 7.0 magnitude earthquake disrupted Haiti back in 2010, 72.1 percent of the Haitian population was living on $2 a day in cities with poorly constructed cramped housing. Dwindling funds in Haiti were met with cost-cutting measures that led to faulty building codes. The soil-based land on which Port au Prince was built was at the epicenter of the earthquake, which also contributed to the city’s imminent collapse. With a stronger magnitude earthquake than Haiti, China lost 87.5 thousand people while Haiti lost 230 thousand citizens.

The earthquake in Haiti made quick work of the poverty-stricken area of Port au Prince. Haiti received $13.5 billion in aid relief after the earthquake, but with the money, came the unforeseen side effect of disease. After stationing soldiers on the ground to provide relief after the earthquake, toxic waste was spilled into a Haitian river causing a severe outbreak of Cholera which has killed an additional 9,000 people over the last four years. Additional relief funds will need to be provided to treat the epidemic.

When natural disasters strike areas that have been weakened by poverty, it leads to more damage, more lives lost and far more money needed to fix the situation. In many of these instances, measures could have been taken to prevent mass casualties, especially in areas where natural disasters pose a significant threat. Investing in long-term infrastructure solutions and natural disaster prevention instead of just throwing funds at a problem for an immediate fix in poverty prone areas will save more lives.

Catherine Wilson
Photo: Flickr

blood donation rates multiplied in haitiAfter the devastation of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, health challenges greatly increased. Thousands of men, women and children were seriously injured or their livelihoods were threatened following the disaster. The National Blood Transfusion Center (NBTC) located in Port-au-Prince was destroyed, which reduced monthly national blood collections by over 46 percent.

The NBTC was responsible for the majority of blood collections as well as screening all of Haiti’s blood donations for transfusion-transmissible pathogens. Many of the men, women and children in critical conditions that were waiting for blood transfusions were thus unable to get the treatment necessary to survive. Organizations such as the Haitian Red Cross relied on foreign aid in order to collect a blood supply to help as many patients as possible.

Rapid efforts were put into place to actively repair damages and increase the scale of blood donations following the earthquake. By 2014, blood donation rates had multiplied in Haiti. Before the earthquake, blood collections were 52 percent in Port-au-Prince, which is the largest city in Haiti. As part of the recovery plan, Haiti’s Ministry of Health (MSPP) created the National Blood Safety Program (NBSP) in order to increase blood collections in outer regions of Haiti, hoping to decrease focus on the Port-au-Prince area, as this was where most of the damage was received.

Expanding the blood transfusion posts, where blood donations were completed and blood stored, was also a goal of the NBSP, as this would also encourage more active participation in blood donations throughout the entirety of Haiti. Prior to the 2010 disaster, Haiti was one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere. This was only exacerbated following the destruction. Building blood transfusion posts, recruiting donors and obtaining healthy blood were intense challenges faced by health and humanitarian efforts.

However, with the collaborative efforts of MSPP and the Haitian Red Cross, as well as generous donations from international relief agencies, the NBSP saw their efforts paying off within years. By building a greater geographic area for all participants to access transfusion centers, blood donation rates multiplied in Haiti. By 2012, annual blood collections exceeded pre-earthquake levels and continued to increase. By 2014, collections were 36 percent higher than in 2009. Both the international community and local community within Haiti understood the necessity for blood transfusions in the country, and volunteers rose to the occasion.

Blood donation rates multiplied in Haiti due to other efforts as well, outside of building new facilities. In 2012, Haiti initiated a new plan to continue attracting volunteers for blood donations. The country aimed to increase the percentage of voluntary blood donors to 85 percent and regular donors to 40 percent. It also sent mobile blood drivers around Haiti to network with the community and discuss the importance of blood donations. Incentives were given out, like t-shirts, books and stickers, to attract locals to the idea.

Using technology to network also became an important driver. The Haitian Red Cross Society hosts a biweekly radio show to educate listeners on the subject and encourage life-saving behaviors. Particularly on important dates such as Blood Donor Day, the National Blood Transfusion Center produces messages on the radio and through text for people to donate blood, which can help compensate for limited stocks at different moments in time.

These combined efforts have clearly exemplified the dedication that Haiti has to reaching its goal of 100 percent donation rates in upcoming years. Its work has set an example for nations worldwide that have suffered from similar problems in obtaining efficient blood collections to treat those in need.

– Caysi Simpson

Photo: Flickr

Strong_El_Niño_Season_Prompts_Necessary_MeasuresFear has been renewed over El Niño, a climate event that is known to generate disastrous impacts.

The United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) are scrambling to coordinate with regional offices to discuss disaster preparedness strategies for the upcoming El Niño season.

According to National Geographic, El Niño “is a climate pattern that occurs when the surface waters of the Pacific Ocean become unusually warm.” The warming trend is caused by “weakened trade winds” that allow for warm water to displace cool water that is otherwise normally found in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

El Niño is often characterized by torrential rain, as evidenced by Hurricane Patricia late last month. It is important to note that it is also associated with crippling droughts, such as what is occurring in Ethiopia.

One of the regions that are bracing for El Niño is found east of Australia in a chain of islands know as the Pacific Islands.

“These coming months have the potential to be the most testing period in the history of the Pacific Islands,” said Magareta Wahlström, head of the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), approximately 4.5 million people across 11 countries are under El Niño watch.

The effects of the climate pattern are far reaching. It can have calamitous affects, resulting in destroyed infrastructure and human displacement. Because El Niño occurs near impoverished geographic locations, the need for preparation is imperative.

“The El Niño phenomenon is a major concern to global public health as it has the potential to exacerbate health risks associated with extreme weather in different parts of the world,” stated a WHO status report issued recently on Health Preparedness for El Niño Event 2015-2016.

The two agencies are working directly with the Ministries of Health, providing advice on risk management as well as constructing contingency plans. Additionally, they are looking at the best ways to rebuild after disaster occurs.

While the U.N. and WHO are collaborating with regional offices, they are also operating at an international level, finding solutions to improve emergency response as well as raising awareness on the issue.

Alyson Atondo

Sources: National Geographic, UN 1, UN 2
Photo: Wikimedia

global_earthquake_preparedness
It’s commonly thought that the bigger the natural disaster, the greater the death and destruction, but that’s hardly the case. The 2010 Haiti earthquake that killed 160,000 people registered at 7.0 while the Japan earthquake that occurred a year later and registered at 9.0 killed only 15,893 people.

Why did the much larger quake have a significantly lower death toll? The answer is preparation. Japan is a rich, modernized country with advanced infrastructure and a stable economy.

It predicted and planned for the quake. Haiti was caught off guard and lacked sufficient medical supplies, shelter and clean water. The country’s poor infrastructure led to a mass collapse of buildings, trapping and injuring more people than a 7.0 earthquake would normally achieve.

How can countries around the world participate in global earthquake preparedness?

After Japan experienced its largest earthquake in 2011, known today as the Great East Japan Earthquake, it has taken great measures to make the country resilient to quakes. 90 percent of housing is earthquake resistant, and companies are encouraged to keep enough food and water onsite to sustain employees for at least three days.

Earthquakes are especially dangerous because they often trigger other natural disasters. Fires, floods, landslides and tsunamis are common earthquake side effects. Countries can minimize these risks by recognizing and avoiding faultlines, unstable terrain, highly flammable building materials and dangerously-fluctuating water levels.

“The world has already shown great progress in saving lives by improving weather forecasting, setting up early warning systems and organizing evacuations,” Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General, told the Yomiuri Shimbun.

Global_Earthquake_Preparedness

Earthquake Preparedness for Rural Areas
The most devastating effect of earthquakes occurs when they strike under-developed rural areas. In the aftermath of disaster, victims are cut off from communication, water, medical attention and proper nutrition.

Water and Sanitation Kits, also known as WatSan-Kits, buy time for people in rural areas as they wait for emergency assistance. Depending on the type of WatSan-Kit, it may include basic hygiene, water tanks, water testing equipment, water purification units, latrine materials and a diesel pump.

One Kit can help as many as 10,000 people. The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement train countries to use WatSan-Kits.

Communication
A key factor in global earthquake preparedness is effective and thorough communication between emergency personnel and affected areas. Because organizations are usually more prepared and knowledgeable than the countries they’re helping, resentment and lack of understanding can severely impair progress.

Organizations should include their host country in every step of the process and explain the ins and outs of the operation, suggests Earthzine.

Earthquake Preparedness at Home
Preparation can occur at even the most basic level. Families can create personal earthquake emergency plans, such as teaching children where to go in the event of a quake and maintaining a full-stocked food storage.

Clean water, especially, is a must-have. Great Shakeout Earthquake Drills, established around the world by the Southern California Earthquake Center, provide training on earthquake preparedness.

Funding for Earthquake Preparedness
Finally, proper funding is vital to global earthquake preparedness. Many countries are too poor to afford proper building materials and emergency supplies, making donations very appreciated. One donation to Red Cross or another nonprofit relief aide can make a family’s house earthquake-resilient.

Sarah Prellwitz

Sources: Earthzine, Time, The Diplomat, CNN, Shakeout
Photo: Social Worker, Flickr

8164882223_104e12da94_k

From July to September of this year there’s been just one day of rain per month where “it should have been raining every other day,” Mr. Yasin, a local farmer in Ethiopia, told reporter Jacy Fortin of NY Times. His crops have since failed as this year’s drought in Ethiopia erodes away his land and his stability.

Reportedly caused by this year’s potent El Niño, the drought is beginning to take its toll on this country where 80 percent of the population works in agricultural productivity. Because of this, 40 percent of the country’s economic output is from the agriculture, which makes for a bad mix.

This drought is estimated to put 8.2 million people in need of food assistance; that nearly doubles the count before the drought began which was 4.55 million.

This year, however, is not the first time this country has faced a massive drought; in 2002, the GDP of Ethiopia dropped 2.2 percent as a result of widespread crop failure from a drought. Once before then the country had fallen to drought since there was a drastic famine that spurred massive aid to the area as a result.

Ethiopia’s government plans to outsmart the drought this year and has come up with ingenious precautions and early action initiatives to supplement its food aid assistance. In doing so, it hopes to establish a source to cling to throughout the drought’s duration.

Since July, the parliament has allotted $192 million in food aid, water transport and animal feed with the hopes of sustaining a viable option even with the effects of the drought. This plan was adopted because early warning systems in Ethiopia are capable of providing large windows of time before possible droughts occur.

Despite this domestic solution, more is needed to successfully pull through the crippling natural disaster. The conditions have forced the government to raise international funding requests by $164 million in order to fully assist all those in need.

Only about 43 percent of the total $596 million request has been met, but international aid does take time to fully take effect, so Ethiopian officials are expecting more soon. They also claim that the drought could last up to a year and estimate a staggering 15 million could be in need of food assistance in 2016.

For now the Ethiopian government must stress the importance of rationing food, and individuals must find new ways of providing monetarily and nutritionally for their families.

Emilio Rivera

Sources: NY Times, University of Notre Dame
Photo: Flickr

natural_disaster_in_Myanmar
Flooding and extremely heavy rains have accounted for about 150,000 displaced people in Myanmar and the death of 27 people thus far. These extreme conditions were initially attributed to Cyclone Komen, which hit the region of southeast Asia, followed by intense rain.

These rains have lead to flooding, landslides and other disasters, which have completely destroyed specific regions in Myanmar. Heavy rains that have plagued the region in past weeks are unfortunately expected to continue over the next few weeks, furthering the disaster and mess that fills the region. There are images and videos of people using rafts and boats to maneuver through city streets, where cars were meant to be driven.

This is an issue of security for the government of Myanmar as well as private actors that are trying to assist displaced people in the region. Though the disaster occurred a few days ago, both government officials and members of other organizations such as the Red Cross predict that they will not able to reach any people caught in the disaster for days. Because the flooding and landslides are so intense and extreme, it is difficult for anyone on the outside to make their way into the disaster efficiently or safely. This also means it is near impossible for those stuck in the floods to make their way out to safety.

The extent of damage varies throughout the region. Not only have homes been washed away and roads completely submerged in water, but even bridges have been washed away and large buildings have collapsed. The United Nations has said there are about 140,000 people left from the flood and disaster currently living in camps in the region’s capital after managing to escape the horrible conditions.

These floods will have a detrimental long-term impact as well. Numerous crop fields, including about half a million rice paddy fields, have been flooded and destroyed. The economic toll of such destruction has yet to be determined.

There is hope that the extreme weather conditions will ease soon, thus making relief aid more readily available and able to enter the region to help those who are trapped.

Alexandrea Jacinto

Sources: CNN, BBC
Photo: BBC

are natural disasters increasing frequency strength hazards
Are natural disasters increasing? Yes. Natural disasters are unpreventable occurrences that take place, ranging from mild to absolutely destructive. In recent years, it may seem as if these storms have increased from prior decades.

 

Natural Disasters: An Upward Trend

 

According to recent studies, it is true: the number of natural and geophysical disasters taking place each year is noticeably skyrocketing.

Geophysical disasters include earthquakes, volcanoes, dry rock-falls, landslides and avalanches. Climatic disasters are classified as floods, storms, tropical cyclones, local storms, heat/cold waves, droughts and wildfires.

In 1970, the average of natural disasters that were reported was 78; in 2004, this number jumped to 348. According to AccuWeather, since 1990, natural disasters have affected 217 million people every single year.

From 1980 to 2009 there was an 80 percent increase in the growth of climate-related disasters. Between 2001 and 2010, more than $1.2 trillion was lost to the increased rates of natural disasters. This was a dramatic rise, which between 1981 and 1990 had been roughly $528 billion.

With storms such as Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Irene, as well as the tsunamis and earthquakes that plagued Japan, a trend is apparent. But what is the cause of the horrific increase in disasters?

Scientists have concluded that the surges in climatic disasters is due to both man-made and natural elements. Contrary to popular belief, the sole cause of the increase is not attributed to global warming.

However, global warming has been increasing the temperatures of the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere. This contributes to the severity of the various types of storm rates rising – as the metaphysical makeup alters, so does the intensity.

Urbanization in regions that are prone to flooding has steadily increased the likelihood that more flash floods and coastal floods will take place. These floods result in mudslides and various injuries that add to the climbing statistics.

But how are humans helping to create typhoons, hurricanes, and earthquakes?

Human Contributions to Natural Disasters

 

A swell in population plays a large part in natural disasters. Some scientists theorize that natural disasters are not just necessarily increasing, but our methods of tracking them are improving.

With the ability to keep record of these disasters, scientists notice them more frequently than in the past. Limited means of keeping track of the natural disasters meant that the average could not be compared to previous accounts.

Through increasing population, more injuries or deaths occur, even with minor storms. Generally, tropical vacation areas are hot spots for climate tragedies. With hundreds to thousands of individuals clustered in one region, storms can wipe out more surface area in a shorter period of time.

Corresponding with the World Bank’s “Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis” reports show that over 160 countries hold more than one-fourth of their populations in regions of high mortality risks from one or more natural disasters.

Although natural disasters themselves have increased, the positive side is that deaths from these catastrophes have declined significantly. The advancement of technology has allowed for the predictions of climate-related disasters to better protect those in harm’s way.

– Samaria Garrett

Sources: Live Science, AccuWeather, Washington Post
Photo: Izi Smile