Update info

Updated every Friday.

Friday, April 26, 2013

April 26, 2013

What happened this week?

Honduras. Continuous earthquakes have caused houses to become inhabitable
As reported in the previous Disasters This Week, Honduras has been experiencing continuous earthquakes for the past several weeks. The result of this seismic activity has now caused 49 homes to become inhabitable and left one school inoperable. 

Mexico. An intense storm in Oaxaca took the life of one person and left 50 buildings damaged
A four hour heavy downpour accompanied by hail, in the city of Oaxaca, overflowed two rivers and caused the death of a person. Also 50 buildings (dwellings and business) were damaged and 10 vehicles were washed away, reported Manuel Maza Sanchez, director of the Civil Protection State of Oaxaca (IEPCO).

USA. Drought divide is taking shape across the United States
The nation is seeing a sharp divide between dry and wet as summer approaches: While the eastern USA is almost entirely drought-free, drought continues to persist and intensify in much of the country to the west of the Mississippi River. Nationally, 47% of the contiguous U.S. is in a drought.
Read more

What's new in Disaster Risk Reduction?

Ecuador. The Emergency Operations Committee (COE, acronym in Spanish) of Esmeraldas requests a provincial declaration of emergency
The COE of Esmeraldas, decided to request the National Secretariat for Risk Management for the declaration of emergency in the province. Said request was due to flooding and landslides occurred in the recent weeks, which has left 16 dead overall, dozens of families affected and damaged, and extensive losses in crop land. Guillermo Prado, Director of Risk Management of Esmeraldas, noted in a meeting that unfortunately the families affected by floods are the result of inadequate risk settlement in places and that they (the government) should put an end to this situation.
Read more

Colombia. Entities of the National System for Risk Management review progress in gender equality and disaster risk management in Colombia
On Tuesday April 23 at the main office of UNDP Colombia, policy decisions of the High Council for Gender Equality, the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management, among others, met to define the strategies to be implemented to comply with the incorporation of a gender perspective in policies, plans and decision processes, on disaster risk management.
Read more

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day 2013 Special Edition


The Face of Climate Change: Why can’t we talk about the environment, disaster risk reduction and development without talking about climate change? 
By Pablo González

As we celebrate Earth Day, we remember the fundamental environmental concerns that prompted millions of Americans to demonstrate for a healthy and sustainable environment on that day of April 22, 1970. Their concerns then are our concerns today, as population growth and patterns of increasing consumption result in increasing pressure on our ecosystems and the resources and services they provide. Competing uses of land and water, in a changing climate, combined with growing inequity in the access to and use of natural resources are responsible for recurrent droughts and floods, landslides and mudslides that affect millions of people in the Americas every year. With about 80% of the population living in urban areas in the Americas and a trend that may take us to a 90% urban population by 2050, the situation can only get worse if we do not act now.

In concert with this year’s Earth Day theme, The Face of Climate Change, I was asked to write about the impacts of climate change and community-based risk management and adaptation. However, I feel compelled to question why we can’t talk about the environment, disaster risk reduction and development without talking about climate change? Is change not an intrinsic element of climate and the environment? What is the real issue here?...
Read more

Where do we go from here? 
By Ruben Contreras Lisperguer

Despite the evidence provided by the UNFCC that some of the changes currently taking place in the Climatic System do not fit into natural patterns and can be attributed to the human emissions of different chemical compounds to the atmosphere, there are many natural long cycle variations (thousands or million years) in the global climate system that the scientific community still is not aware or are poorly understood (i.e. Solar activity variability impacts over the global climate system). Climate variability and change has an astounding grade of complexity, much of which remains poorly understood...
Read more

Urban overgrowth: The next great development challenge
By Judith Hermanson

Cities are becoming exponentially bigger by the day. As a result, the development problems and the danger of large-scale human tragedies are growing with them. Many people look to the influence of climate change. But should we pay more attention to the phenomenon of rapid urban growth?
Climate Change Series: Adapting To A New Reality
by Brian Helmuth, Larry Atkinson and Pablo Suarez

Even if we drastically cut carbon emissions, we still have to face the realities of a changing climate. So, while we have to think about reducing greenhouse gasses, now and in the future, we also have to begin implementing strategies to adapt to this new world of increasingly extreme and, to some extent, unknowable weather and climactic conditions. We need to adapt our cities, our farms and our way of life. We also need to understand how climate change will impact the plants and animals our ecosystems depend on.

Sustainable Cities: Defining a development horizon, seeking to extend the limits of adaptability
By Alejandro Martínez and Pablo González

The concept of sustainable cities is not a new one. However, in the last twenty years, given the rapid urbanization processes and changes in consumption patterns in the Americas, urban planners, policy and decision-makers, as well as the international community have placed a high priority to this issue…
The cities of the Americas are experiencing dramatic changes, which are compromising their integrity, affecting negatively their functions.
Read more

Society Impacts & Adaptation
By the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The EPA has provided an outlook to better comprehend the impacts on society that the changing climate will produce in relevance to citizens of the United States. It focuses on the impacts on vulnerability and equality, concerning the geographical location and the inequality among citizens of the United States. Also in detail, it explains the impacts on economical activities and services e.g., the production of agriculture; the industry of tourism and recreational activities; and the industry of the housing market.

Climate Change: Is Latin America prepared for temperatures to rise 4 degrees?
By The World Bank Group

Potential increase of temperatures would specifically affect the regions of Latin America and the Caribbean and cause unavoidable damage to those living such areas. Regions in the Americas must adapt in order to maximize their resilience to the changes in climate. Offering a snapshot of the latest climate science, the report warns that global temperatures are on the path to a 4°C rise and current greenhouse gas commitments will not reduce this by much. Although, a sustained commitment to greener, more inclusive growth could help limit the rise to 2°C.

UNICEF: Climate food crisis a disaster for children
By Natasha Adams

The affects that the changing climate will have on the production of food. This is a disaster for millions of smallholder farmers, dependent on rain-fed agriculture and already struggling to feed their families. It is also a disaster for the urban poor – as dwindling harvests push up food prices, parents can’t afford to buy as much food, and children get less to eat.

Friday, April 19, 2013

April 19, 2013

What happened this week?

Ecuador. A flood alert has been issued in areas between Santa Ana and Chone
While some areas of Santa Ana and Chone already flooded, overflow alerts have also been issued for the Portoviejo river, on the villages in Manabi. The National Secretariat for Risk Management warned residents of possible flooding due to leakage of water from the dam Poza Honda, which is filled to capacity.
Read more

Colombia. Emergency in Risaralda caused by a storm of gale force winds
Over 300 homes were hit by a storm of gale force winds in Risaralda. Three injuries and one death have suffered from the effects of the storm. Pereira, La Virginia and Dosquebradas were the municipalities most affected by the rains with gale force winds that flooded and damaged homes, and also generated landslides in this area of ​​Colombia.
Read more

USA. The National Weather Service (NWS) confirms nearly 70-mile-long damage path from killer Mississippi tornado
The large and violent tornado that tore a destructive path across two counties in east-central Mississippi on Thursday, leaving one person dead and several others injured, was on the ground for nearly 70 miles, weather officials confirmed Friday. Gov. Bryant has declared a state of emergency for the impacted counties to expedite the tornado recovery efforts.
Read more

Honduras. Green alert could be indefinite by seismic activity
Authorities of the Permanent Contingency Commission (Copeco, acronym in Spanish) reported that seismic activity will continue registering in the country, which is why green alert has been issued and will remain in effect for 18 days, especially for the department of Atlantida. From April 10 to date, there have been seven earthquakes with magnitudes above normal. According to information from the National Seismograph Network and supported by the Department of Physics at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH, acronym in Spanish) grades in Richter scale for these recent days have been between 4.0 to 5.2 degrees.
Read more

What's new in Disaster Risk Reduction?

Guatemala. The government speed up housing reconstruction
Some 55 families who lost their homes during the earthquake of November 7, 2012 and living in shelters, are confident they will have their new homes before the onset of winter. For they have seen accelerated pace in the reconstruction. 
Read more

El Salvador. The National Civil Protection Commission approves $ 2.5 million for the Civil Protection and Disaster Mitigation Fund  (FOPROMID, acronym in Spanish) to strengthen the Fire Department
The National Civil Protection Commission chaired by the Minister of Interior, Ernesto Zelayandia in a special session, approved the award of $ 2.5 million, of the Civil Protection, Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Fund (FOPROMID),  to the Fire Department for the purchase of fire fighting vehicles, firefighting tools, and personal protective equipment. To improve the fire for timely and effective care of emergencies that may arise in the country.
Read more

Friday, April 12, 2013

April 12, 2013

What happened this week?

Bolivia. A hailstorm disabled the production of 85 families in the township of Poroma
Between the hours of 1:00 - 2:00 AM on Sunday, April 7 a hailstorm hit three communities in the township of Poroma. The hailstorm merely lasted for 45 minutes. However, in that short period of time it was enough to destroy the crops of corn, beans, and wheat. It was not the hail itself that caused this disaster, it was the rise in water level of the river that was produced by the hailstorm. Which resulted in the flooding of the area and the destruction of such crops.
Read more

Nicaragua. A forest fire in Masaya Volcano National Park has shutdown tourism until the fire can be contained
Brigades Fire Department (DGB) fight on Thursday to control a major fire in the area of ​​Masaya Volcano National Park, which is closed to national and foreign tourists for the emergency. By Wednesday night, the fire covered an area of 15 hectares and has spread up to a square mile.
Read more

What's new in Disaster Risk Reduction?

Honduras. Experts stress Central America must invest more in early warning systems for natural disasters 
Experts from Central America, United States, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic gathered in Tegucigalpa, between April 9-11, to discuss the importance of investing more in early warning systems for natural disasters. During this meeting Alejandro Maldonado, Director of the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction in Guatemala, stated, ""(Central American governments) must invest more in early warning systems, for each dollar invested in prevention strengthens the future of the state and reduce the impact of disasters." Pablo González, Director of Disasters Risk Management and Adaptation to Climate Change section of the GS/OAS, had this to say on the subject, "The population has grown, but has also been impoverished, economic and social inequalities have increased and that's what generates the vulnerability and risk to the public."

USA. Climate Change Series: Adapting To A New Reality

Even if we drastically cut carbon emissions, we still have to face the realities of a changing climate. So, while we have to think about reducing greenhouse gasses, now and in the future, we also have to begin implementing strategies to adapt to this new world of increasingly extreme and, to some extent, unknowable weather and climactic conditions. We need to adapt our cities, our farms and our way of life. We also need to understand how climate change will impact the plants and animals our ecosystems depend on.
Read more

Canada. Nova Scotia announces flood plan for vulnerable communities
The Nova Scotia government is setting up a five-year funding scheme for which at-risk municipalities can apply. The government will provide $3 million a year, for five years, in funding to address flooding risks in vulnerable communities across the province.Each year, $300,000 will be used for risk assessments, $700,000 will go toward infrastructure - matched 50 per cent by the municipality - and $2 million will help improve dikes and berms.
Read more

USA. Colorado water users prepare for more drought
Back-to-back, drought-plagued winters have prompted Colorado water users and providers to prepare for another dry year. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows all of Colorado is experiencing some level of drought this year. A large portion of southeastern Colorado is seeing exceptional drought—the most extreme condition on the U.S. Drought Monitor's five-level scale (drought level scale legend). Drew Beckwith, water policy manager for the Western Resource Advocates, said conservation and reuse of existing water supplies where it is allowed are more effective than building more reservoirs, which have yet to fill up.

Friday, April 5, 2013

April 05, 2013

What happened this week?

Argentina. "Irresponsible Urbanization" was an essential cause for disaster and the deaths in La Plata

A fierce storm, spanning two days, in La Plata has left 51 (according to new reports) dead and a substantial amount of damage. The Chair of Hydrology at the Universidad Nacional de la capital provincial (UNLP), Pablo Romanazzi, said, "Urbanization grew chaotically and we are all responsible for this. Here no account was taken of the drain, never planned urbanization and irresponsibly. And the laws do not help: there are people living on the banks of the creek and have property titles , people who never should have been there. We urbanizing natural flood meadows having the stream and these are the consequences." The region is located west of a flood plain, with three streams surrounding it. Due to rapid urbanization and poor planning, the storm drains could not handle the runoff produced from the recently developed building, resulting in considerable flooding of the region..
Read more

Bolivia. Red alert has been declared in Riberalta from possible floods
On Wednesday, the City Council Riberalta declared red alert in this population Amazonian Beni, from possible flooding from the rising waters of the rivers as a result of heavy rains. So far it has been reported that 300 people have been affected, along with 400 hectares of crops. 
Read more

What's new in Disaster Risk Reduction?

USA. Primed and prepared: Flood-prone Fargo area has taken steps to get residents out of harm’s way

Since a record flood that nearly reach 41-feet in 2009, Fargo, North Dakota has taken drastic steps keep its citizens out of harms way. The city and county governments have allocated more than $200 million, mostly in federal funds, to build 25 miles of permanent levees and buy out about 500 homes. Fargo City Commissioner Brad Wimmer said the area has been able to cut its flood fighting efforts in half since 2009, including the number of structures that will need sandbagging.
Read more

Colombia. More than 7,000 have been assisted by the MIES during this past winter
The Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion (MIES), through the Risk Management Division, is serving people affected by the strong winter storm, especially in the coastal region, where the highest number of floods. In total the MIES has tended to 7,245 people with 925 of these people in 34 different shelters of the MIES, and 1775 placed in home carers . The MIES is also providing food rations, sleeping kits, personal hygiene kits, cleaning kits, psycho emotional recovery of families and the intervention of other state services.
Read more

Honduras. Foreign Ministry presented Manuals to the Diplomatic Corps and International Organizations to coordinate the efforts International Humanitarian Assistance
The Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Salome Castellanos Delgado and the Minister of the Permanent Contingency Commission (COPECO abbreviation in Spanish), presented to the Diplomatic Corps and International Organizations accredited in the country the "Manual of the Secretariat for Foreign Aid Management and Humanitarian Assistance" and the "Manual of the Coordination Center for Relief and Humanitarian Assistance". The Manual of the Secretariat for Foreign Aid Management and Humanitarian Assistance, contains the actions that the Foreign Ministry will launch from a declaration of national emergency and the Government's consent to receive and accept a coordinated humanitarian aid in a timely and effective manner. Under the Emergency Unit for International Management (UNEGI) and for its part, the Manual Coordination Center for International Humanitarian Aid establishes processes to coordinate assistance and aid before they arrive in the country to address the needs of people affected by a natural disaster.
Read more