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Updated every Friday.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Special Edition: From relief to development


International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development - Report of the UN Secretary-General. The present report is submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 73/136, in which the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to continue to improve the international response to natural disasters and to report thereon to the Assembly at its seventy-fourth session. The period covered in the report is 1 January to 31 December 2018. The report provides an overview of progress made in this regard and outlines related trends, challenges and thematic issues. It concludes with recommendations for further improvements... Read more.

Strengthening Disaster Preparedness in the Caribbean. Disaster preparedness and management agencies are using better tools and improving their effectiveness in every country in the region. But Dorian has shown us that adapting to climate change also requires a concerted response from the international development community, since the scale of preparedness, relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts countries and communities need to carry out are beyond the scope of national and regional budgets....Read more.

Interesting Facts

Danger still lingers two years after Colombia's deadly Mocoa landslide. Two years after a mudslide that killed more than 300 people in the Colombian rainforest town of Mocoa, local authorities are struggling to get the funds to resettle tens of thousands of residents living in areas at risk of flooding. Torrential rains on March 31, 2017, triggered a deadly torrent of mud, debris and rocks, and caused rivers to burst their banks, washing away entire neighbourhoods...Read more.


The earthquake of September 19th in schools in Mexico City.
Three weeks after the earthquake, the authorities of four Regions (Juarez, San Lorenzo Tezonco, San Miguel Teotongo and Centro) summoned the school supervisors to meet. The first proposal given by the government was to install prefabricated classrooms, but days later the authorities reported that there were no resources for it and that they should seek other solutions ...Read more.


How an Architect Who Designs ‘Half-Houses’ Rebuilt a City. Elemental was asked to devise a rebuilding plan for the city in 100 days, working alongside engineers and consultants. Half-houses were built, but later on; first came a robust (though compressed) public dialogue that changed assumptions about what “disaster recovery”...Read more.

How the Waste and Recycling Industry Prepares for Natural Disasters. When a natural disaster is on its way, the first thing haulers and municipal solid waste (MSW) departments do is put safety first. From checking in with employees to alerting local communities of safety tips and service changes, precautions are taken to prepare not only waste and recycling industry workers but the members of communities that may be affected by natural disaster-related dangers and service disruptions...Read more.



Policy Developments and Outlook



FONDEN: Mexico’s National Disaster Fund Every year, federal and state governments in Mexico spend close to US$1.5 billion on reconstruction of public assets and low-income housing after natural disasters. In 2010 alone, major floods required over US$5 billion, mostly for local assets. In response to the continued need for ex post budget reallocations the Government of Mexico (GoM) established the Fund for Natural Disasters (FONDEN) in 1996. Its original mandate was to provide adequate financial resources for federal and state reconstruction efforts without compromising committed government spending...Read more.



Climate Disasters Are Getting Worse. Here's How Developing Countries Are Insuring Against Them. To help countries cope with disaster, new tools have emerged over the last decade, including sovereign parametric insurance. Though currently underutilized, this kind of insurance has a key role in helping countries manage the risk of climate-related and other disasters, particularly when the risk is pooled among many nations. Climate disasters will happen—the only question is whether developing countries will have the tools they need to recover and rebuild, ideally with greater resilience...Read more.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Special Edition World Tsunami Awareness Day


   



About World Tsunami Awareness Day. In 2019, the World Tsunami Awareness Day will promote Target (d) of the "Sendai Seven Campaign" which focuses on reducing disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services. Over 700 million people live in low-lying coastal areas and Small Island Developing States exposed to extreme sea-level events including tsunamis (IPCC).. Read more






Onagawa's spirit of togetherness: lessons from the 2011 tsunami The date for the annual celebration was chosen in honour of the Japanese story of Inamura-no-hi, or the “burning of the rice sheaves”. The story comes from an earthquake that shook the region in 1854, when a farmer set fire to his entire harvest to warn villagers of the tsunami when he saw the tide receding. The villagers fled to higher ground and later planted trees as an embankment for the future.. Read more





World Tsunami Awareness Day. Tsunamis are rare events, but can be extremely deadly. In the past 100 years, 58 of them have claimed more than 260,000 lives, or an average of 4,600 per disaster, surpassing any other natural hazard. The highest number of deaths in that period was in the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004. Read more



Interesting Facts


What are Tsunamis?. Tsunamis are ocean waves triggered by large earthquakes that occur near or under the ocean, volcanic eruptions, submarine landslides, and by onshore landslides in which large volumes of debris fall into the water. Scientists do not use the term "tidal wave" because these waves are not caused by tides. Tsunami waves are unlike typical ocean waves generated by wind and storms, and most tsunamis do not "break" like the curling, wind-generated waves popular with surfersx... Read more




How large can a tsunami be in the Caribbean?. "It's been a long time since a big earthquake and tsunami have hit the region, but almost 3500 people have lost their lives in the past 500 years from tsunamis in the Caribbean," said von Hillebrandt-Andrade. "The vulnerability is just huge because so much of our population and infrastructure is located right along the coast.".... Read more


Historical Tsunamis Worldwide. The list below shows a selection of major tsunamis with notable scientific or cultural impact that have happened in recorded history... Read more





Policy Developments and Outlook



DNR Releases New Maps to Help Residents Walk to Tsunami Safety. “We’ve seen around the world how devastating tsunamis are for coastal communities,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, the elected official who leads DNR. “In the event of a tsunami, nothing is more important than knowing where to go to be safe and how long it will take to get there. That is why Department of Natural Resources’ geologists are making this life-saving information easily accessible for everyone who lives, works or plays along Washington’s coast.”... Read more



EDUCATIONAL MATERIAL: Earthquake and tsunami textbooks and teacher guides, The tsunami textbooks are divided into four levels. Pre-Elementary school, 2nd to 4th grade, 5th to 8th grade and High School. These levels correspond to the school levels found in Chile: the first level is similar to pre and kindergarten, the second and third level correspond to the first eight years of school and the fourth level to High School. Each text book has its own teacher guide. Read more

Friday, November 1, 2019

November 1st, 2019

What happened this week?




Longer, More Frequent Fire Seasons. new analysis of 35 years of meteorological data confirms fire seasons have become longer. Fire season, which varies in timing and duration based on location, is defined as the time of year when wildfires are most likely to ignite, spread, and affect resources. In the map above, areas where the fire season lengthened between 1979 and 2014 are shown with shades of orange and red. Areas where the length of the fire season stayed the same are yellow. Shades of blue show where the fire season grew shorter. Gray indicates that there was not enough vegetation to sustain wildfires...Read more.




Interesting Facts

Is Earth on fire? Wildfires have been making headlines again this month, with multiple fires burning in Lebanon and California, but these are just some of the many fires 2019 has seen. Fires in the Amazon sparked a global outcry this summer, but fires have also been blazing in the Arctic, France, Greece, Indonesia as well as many other areas in the world. Quantifying and monitoring fires is important for the ongoing study of climate because they have a significant impact on global atmospheric emissions, with biomass burning contributing to the global budgets of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide.... Read more






A Forest Expert Team In Spain Fights Fire With Fire — Literally. Fires in California and the Amazon rainforest have grabbed attention, but large areas of Europe's forests also were consumed this summer. Blazes nearly the size of the one in Catalonia tore through Spain's Canary Islands, the south of France and the Greek islands of Evia and Samos. 
"We need to learn to live with fire, the same way we do with tornadoes or snowstorms", says Marc Castellnou, chief analyst for a special forest unit of Catalonia's fire services, known by its Catalan initials GRAF... Read more



What California Stands To Learn From Indigenous Fire Management Practices. For 13,000 years, many Indigenous tribes, including the Hupa, Karuk, Miwok, and Yurok lit controlled fires across northern and central California. This created a mosaic of habitats with a high diversity of species that California is known for today. Through multiple progressions of these practices, many species, such as acorns and huckleberries became associated with these deliberate, low-intensity fires. Despite their fire resistance, they are ill-equipped to tolerate the high-intensity nature of modern wildfires in California... Read more


Policy Developments and Outlook


Fire in Yellowstone. Fire has been a key factor in shaping the ecology of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Native plant species evolved adaptations so they survive and, in some cases, flourish after periodic fires. Fire influences ecosystem processes and patterns, such as nutrient cycling and plant community composition and structure. Fire regimes in the western United States changed with the arrival of European and American settlers, whose livestock removed grassy fuels that carried fires and whose roads fragmented the continuity of fire-carrying fuels. Most naturally occurring fires were suppressed to the extent possible. The National Park Service aims to restore fire’s role as a natural process in parks when and where this is feasible... Read more





Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Special Edition on Risk Management: Science, Data & Technology


A New View of Disaster Risk and Reduction: An Interview with Roger Pulwarty, Senior Scientist at NOAA. The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction recently released the fifth edition of the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR19). The report highlights the increasingly complex interaction between hazards, and provides an update on how risk and risk reduction are understood in practice. GAR19 also highlights how the latest Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) framework integrates into global goals such as the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To better understand the scope and significance of this report, New Security Beat sat down with Roger Pulwarty, Senior Scientist at NOAA, and a lead author of the GAR19... Read more.


Countries need to understand risk better for climate adaptation and resilience, says GFCS Head. Understanding of hazards, frequency, intensity and potential impacts is crucial for preparedness and long term development plans,” said the GFCS Director... Read more.


Interesting Facts




Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR19). Every two years, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) works with thinkers, practitioners, experts and innovators to investigate the state of risk across the globe: highlighting what’s new, spotting emerging trends, revealing disturbing patterns, examining behaviour, and presenting progress in reducing risk. The findings make up the 2019 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR2019)... Read more.







AI Competition for Disaster Response in the Caribbean Is Live. Azavea partnered with the World Bank and WeRobotics to create a dataset of aerial drone imagery of buildings across the Caribbean annotated with characteristics that matter to building inspectors. Many parts of the Caribbean contain houses and buildings that are not up to modern construction standards. Residents of these areas are especially vulnerable to risk from natural disasters... Read more.








Policy Developments and Outlook


Managing climate and disaster risk in fragile states. It is encouraging to see that over the last few years the political mood has shifted. Countries such as Sweden, Germany, UK and Netherlands are actively investing in studies and programmes that look at the impact of climate change and disaster in conflict affected states. The Global Assessment Report 2019 (GAR19) also has section on the need to increase investments in addressing climate change and disaster risk in fragile countries. Failure to do so is entirely compromising the global ambition to achieve the Sendai Framework, and especially Target E, which we need to hit by 2020. This growing consensus will hopefully drive more research on the impact that DRR and climate change adaption have on conflict prevention... Read more.


Strengthening Climate Risk Finance in the Caribbean for Rapid Assistance in Emergencies. WFP’s Caribbean Risk Financing Strategy aims to ensure that the most vulnerable populations in the Caribbean are better protected through social protection systems that are more shock-responsive due to predictable, rapid and flexible financing... Read more.


How big data assists in disaster relief and preparedness. Historically, public policies have proved ineffective in providing adequate help for disaster-stricken citizens. A year after hurricane Harvey in 2017, for example, residents are still in the midst of recovery despite $15.3 billion earmarked for relief efforts. With the emergence of new innovations, one wonders if legislators should give more thought to incorporating Big Data technologies into aiding in disaster prediction and relief... Read more.




Monday, August 19, 2019

World Humanitarian Day Special Edition


2019 World Humanitarian Day campaign: #WomenHumanitarians

World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is held every year on August 19th to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world.

This year’s campaign on Women Humanitarians supports the recognition that women deserve in the strengthening of global humanitarian response as well as in protection efforts under the international law.

We salute all humanitarian organizations and the men and women who sacrifice their time and put their lives and physical integrity at risk to help those in need of assistance all around the world. We especially salute women humanitarians in the Americas and recognize the efforts of the OAS Member States in working together to provide relief and humanitarian assistance in the face of disasters. The Disasters This Week Editor

Rebuilding the future: the role of humanitarian aid in climate resilience. Increased flooding, for example, is not just caused by storm surges and increased rainfall, but also by poor infrastructure. Food shortages following environmental disasters are not only caused by killed livestock and destroyed cropland but also poverty. Likewise, the likelihood of injury due to building collapse increases where there is a lack of education and a lack of access to communication technologies...Read more

Humanitarian assistance to be scaled-up for millions of Venezuelans in need. A collective effort to coordinate and intensify the ongoing humanitarian response, the plan aims to significantly mitigate the impact of the crisis on the country’s most vulnerable populations...Read more
National Preparedness Month. This NPM will focus on planning, with an overarching theme: Prepared, Not Scared. Be Ready for Disasters... Read more

Friday, August 16, 2019

16th August


What happened this week?

New mapping reveals Lost West Coast Estuary Habitat. A team of scientists applied new technologies and data to identify and estimate the historic reach of nearly 450 West Coast estuaries. Their results show that the estuaries historically extended far beyond where they exist now... Read more.

Interesting Facts

Scientists studied 2,500 coral reefs to figure out how to save them. An international group of scientists has surveyed more than 2,500 coral reef systems across 44 countries to determine how to save them in the face of damage caused by climate change and humans, according to a new study...Read more


Partners Respond to Ongoing Outbreak of Coral Disease in Florida. Here is a description of the problem, what NOAA and partners are doing in response to the problem, and how you can help... Read more.


Policy Developments and Outlook





The Sargassum Scourge. Floating on the open seas, sargassum provides a lush, vital habitat for marine life—what one oceanographer, Sylvia Earle, calls the “golden floating rainforest of the Atlantic Ocean.”...Read more.

Friday, August 9, 2019

9th August

What happened this week?


Mississippi Levee system breaks after major flooding. The former record was “The Great Flood of 1927,” which the Memphis Commercial Appeal called “the greatest flood in history.” According to The Advocate, this flood led to an upgrade to the nation’s flood control system. The flood destroyed levee systems in place and flooded 2,700 sq miles of land, which displaced more than 700,000 people in seven states, the U.S. Geological Survey said. ...Read more.


Weekend heavy rains damage Guatemala, Quetzaltenango, Retalhuleu and SacatepequezIn the village of Santo Domingo, San Martín Sacatepéquez, Quetzaltenango, a flash flood caused by the collapse of drains caused slight damage to a house, leaving 2 people affected and 1 homeless. Proceeded to coordinate with municipal personnel to clean the area and repair drains...Read more.

Interesting Facts

Severe Weather Safety Guide Flash Flooding. A reference guide from National Weather Service...Read more


Policy Developments and Outlook

Flood-resilience works in Castries South East. Much-needed relief is on the way to residents of Castries South East as local contractors bid to implement drainage and slope stabilization works... Read more


Farmers across Iowa and Nebraska are feeling the effects of climate crisis.  Some farmers are taking unusual and innovative measures to continue growing food. ... Read more

Friday, July 26, 2019

26th July


Interesting Facts

Resilience defines a community in wake of natural disasters. The hits just seem to keep on coming. For America's farmers, it feels like it's been one natural disaster after the next... Read more.

Remarkable Communities that Create Systems Change after DisasterA little less than two years ago, Judith Rodriguez was one of the roughly 50,000 people living in the mountain town of Cayey, Puerto Rico when it was devastated by Hurricane Maria. The deadliest storm to hit the United States, or its territories, since 1900 left a lasting impact on the island... Read more.

Policy Developments and Outlook

Canada embraces Dominica’s ambition to become the world’s first climate-resilient nation.  Canada and Dominica have had a strong development partnership for many decades. On Monday, Canada made a further contribution of CAD$3 million to the government of Dominica to support the operations of the Climate Resilience Execution Agency of Dominica (CREAD)... Read more. 


Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters:  In 2019, there have been 6 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. These events included 2 flooding events and 4 severe storm events... Read more.

Friday, July 19, 2019

July 19th

What happened this week?


Damming A Possible Solution To Drought Woes. 
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, has revealed that his ministry is considering building dams in some agricultural areas heavily impacted by drought conditions...Read more.


Warming climate intensifies summer drought in parts of U.S., study findsThe researchers found that in places with low moisture in the soil, such as the southern plains and southwest, higher temperatures brought about by climate change led to an increased "coupling" of land and atmosphere...Read more.


Interesting Facts

Climate change is very real, but so much of it is uncertain.  You start with the big picture of a warming planet, but as you zoom in you find ever more climatic and geological and biological systems interacting with one another—a complexity unfathomable for the human mind...Read more. 


Policy Developments and Outlook

Tropical Storm Barry tests Louisiana's multi-billion-dollar post-Katrina flood defenses. “It's the first time that it has been fully operational…that we've had all flood gates closed…all pump stations operational…so it was really a test”...Read more. 

Global Platform for disaster risk reduction 2019: Proceedings - Resilience Dividend: Towards Sustainable and Inclusive Societies
The world’s top disaster risk reduction thinkers and practitioners, policy makers, government officials and other stakeholders met to debate and discuss how to reduce disaster impact..Read more.

Friday, July 12, 2019

July 12th

What happened this week?

The science behind California’s two big earthquakes.  On the morning of July 4, a magnitude 6.4 rocked Southern California, fracturing roads and sending people fleeing to safety. But that wasn’t all the Earth had in store: Less than a day and a half later, a powerful magnitude 7.1 temblor shook the region...Read more.


Ridgecrest earthquakes caused damage to Earth’s crust seen from satellite. Damage to the earth’s crust from the magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 earthquakes that struck Southern California last week is visible in a kaleidoscopic satellite image released by NASA... Read more


Interesting Facts

What is an earthquake?, how are they measured?, how are they detected?, how can damage to buildings be reduced?, what are the recommendations to be followed before, during and after an earthquake? Mexico's national civil protection system points out that it is key that people living in risk areas live in houses designed responsibly and complying with anti-seismic standards, that residents know first hand the contingency and evacuation plans and have at hand a survival suitcase with documents, first aid kit, radio, flashlight, food and a whistle... Read more



California's governor says an earthquake alert system is on the way. Here's what you need to know. "The community here is going to rightfully expect that the state of California has their back, that the federal government has their back," Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a Saturday press conference... Read more



Policy Developments and Outlook

Earthquake insurance: Is it worth it? There’s no way of sugarcoating this: Earthquake insurance is expensive. It can double the cost of covering your home, adding an average of $800 a year in premiums... Read more