World Disaster Report: Facts and figures
Governments donated over US$ 12 billion in bilateral humanitarian aid in 2005 - the highest figure since records began in 1970 (preliminary figures, Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Development Initiatives (DI)).
Individuals gave over US$ 5.5 billion for survivors of the Indian Ocean tsunami - more than NGOs worldwide had ever collected in a year. Aid for the tsunami totalled over US$ 14 billion (DI).
The tsunami was the best-funded disaster, with at least US$ 1,241 per beneficiary in humanitarian aid - 50 times more than for the worst-funded crises. Emergency appeals for Chad, Guyana, Côte d'Ivoire, Malawi and Niger raised on average less than US$ 27 per person in need (OCHA Financial Tracking Service (OCHA FTS)).
Aid coverage remains inequitable: appeals for the Republic of Congo, Djibouti and the Central African Republic were on average less than 40 per cent funded; yet the tsunami appeal was 475 per cent funded and the South Asia earthquake appeal was 196 per cent funded (OCHA FTS).
Media coverage sways the public and politicians. The coverage of UN appeals closely mirrors media coverage, while aid per beneficiary decreases in line with lower media coverage (WDR analysis).
But media coverage is also uneven: Hurricane Katrina, which hit America's Gulf Coast in August 2005, killed around 1,300 people and generated 1,035 articles in Western print media during the 10 weeks following the disaster. This was 40 times more coverage than the 25 articles on Hurricane Stan that killed over 1,600 people in Guatemala shortly afterwards (CARMA International).
Disasters during 2005 caused 99,425 deaths, of which 84 per cent were due to October's South Asia earthquake. In 2005, the number of floods increased 50 per cent compared to 2004. Last year natural disasters affected 161 million people and cost around US$ 160 billion - over double the decade's annual average. Hurricane Katrina accounted for three quarters of this cost. From 1996 to 2005, disasters killed over 934,000 people - nearly double the figure for the previous decade - while 2.5 billion people were affected across the globe (Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, EM-DAT, Belgium).
Other forms of financing, beyond Western governments and publics, are increasingly important. In Guatemala, remittances sent by Guatemalans working abroad in 2005 to areas affected by Hurricane Stan totalled US$ 413 million - 20 times more than the UN appeal had raised by early December (International Organization for Migration (IOM)).
Irregular boat migration to Canary and Mediterranean islands soars
The number of boat migrants registered as arriving in Spain's Canary Islands soared from 4,715 in 2005 to 10,896 in the first six months of 2006 alone. Numbers of migrants arriving on the tiny Italian islands of Lampedusa and Linosa rose nearly 50 percent over the same period (Spanish government, Spanish Red Cross, Medici Senza Frontiere).
An estimated 2,000 irregular migrants drown every year around the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe - but no agency is collating accurate, regional data (Michael Pugh, professor of peace studies at Bradford University).
Hurricane Stan exposes Guatemala's vulnerability
Torrential rains that accompanied Hurricane Stan affected 1,156 communities; over a third of Guatemala's total area. Hardest hit were areas inhabited largely by indigenous people living in extreme poverty (CONRED, national disaster reduction agency).
Of 5,000 widely-dispersed rural communities in the western highlands, around 60 per cent are on mountain slopes and at least 20 per cent are at high risk of disaster (Jacobo Dardón and Cecilia Morales of the Tzuk Kim-Pop Movement).
From 1988 to 2000, there were 2,949 'adverse events' (natural, technological and disease-related) in Guatemala. Such crises doubled from 130 a year during 1988-1995 to 275 a year during 1996-2000, but most were not included in national statistics and attracted little assistance (DesInventar).
In Guatemala, violent crime is most people's biggest worry. Homicides have soared from 3,230 in 2001 to 5,338 in 2005. The number of violent deaths over the last five years equals the death toll of the great earthquake of 1976. Guatemala City's homicide rate of 109 per 100,000 inhabitants is far above the world's average rate of 8.8/100,000 (National Civilian Police, United Nations Development Programme(UNDP), World Health Organization(WHO)).
Remittances sent home by Guatemalans working abroad in 2005 to areas affected by Hurricane Stan totalled US$ 413 million - 20 times more than the UN had raised by early December (IOM).
Food aid fails to solve Malawi's chronic hunger
During 2004-2005, production of maize, Malawi's most important staple, fell to 55 per cent of the 2.1 million tonnes needed each year to sustain the nation (Famine Early Warning Systems Network).
In 2005, half of Malawi's children were stunted, one-third were underweight and 50,000 were severely malnourished (Mary Shawa, HIV/AIDS and nutrition secretary in the office of Malawi's president).
The UN's emergency appeal attracted three-quarters of its food aid requirements but raised just a fifth of the funds needed for agricultural recovery (OCHA FTS).
For every dollar of aid Malawi received for its food crisis during 2005, it paid a dollar back in debt repayments (OCHA FTS, Reserve Bank of Malawi).
Vulnerability of women neglected
Following the South Asia earthquake, 17,000 disaster-affected women in Pakistan were estimated to be about to give birth. Around 1,200 would face major complications and 400 would require surgery. Yet there was a critical lack of female doctors and health workers (United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)).
In Nepal, 5,000 to 6,000 mothers die each year in childbirth. This death-toll of one woman every 90 minutes makes Nepal one of the deadliest places in the world to give birth (Nepal Ministry of Health and Population, United Nations).
95 per cent of women with birth complications have no emergency care in Nepal (United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)).
Motherless babies are more likely to die. An estimated 30,000 babies die in Nepal each year before they are a month old (Nepal Demographic Health Survey 2001).
Maternal and neonatal mortality have claimed about 25 times more lives than Nepal's conflict since 1996 (World Disasters Report analysis).