"Creating" disasters

Viola Voss

The ReliefWeb editorial team discusses “creating" disasters on a daily basis. While we don’t literally create hurricanes, floods or earthquakes, we do create a separate page on ReliefWeb that provides easy access to all the relevant information under one disaster heading. A recent example is flooding in Mozambique:

This disaster page offers:

  • an overview of events, continuously updated as new information becomes available
  • a list of countries affected by the disaster
  • a preview of the latest and most relevant map
  • the most read and most shared documents on ReliefWeb
  • a river of documents and maps about this disaster that can be filtered by theme, content type, date, language, etc.

"Creating" a disaster page on ReliefWeb is easy - deciding whether and when to create it is much harder. A lot of issues factor into our decision-making, such as the reliability and availability of information and the existing humanitarian situation or vulnerability of a country. Our goal is not to record all natural disasters that occur - if you are interested in such statistics, please check the Emergency Events Database EM-DAT. We want to group disaster information when the situation reaches a critical point so that you can easily access information aggregated this way to help you make decisions.

Our editorial teams are constantly monitoring disaster incidents around the world and keep track of them by an internal "Disaster to watch" system. For example, right now we are "watching" various flooding incidents in Southern Africa, a cholera outbreak in Cuba, and the freezing temperatures in Afghanistan. While almost all of this information is readily available in our country pages, we are exploring ways to share our “Disasters to watch” with ReliefWeb users. Would this kind of information be useful for you? Let us know and help us make your life easier!