On May 2, 2008, Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady Delta and swept across the region toward Yangon. By the time the storm had passed, it had killed over 140,000 people, tearing apart families, destroying homes, and shattering livelihoods. In the months and years following Nargis, communities, supported by the national and international aid community, worked to rebuild their lives and repair the devastation that the cyclone had caused. Homes were rebuilt, paddy field walls repaired, and new fishing boats purchased.
In recent years, typhoons have struck the Philippines and Vanuatu; earthquakes have rocked Haiti, Pakistan, and Nepal; floods have swept through Pakistan and Mozambique; droughts have hit Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia; and more. All led to loss of life and loss of livelihoods, and recovery will take years. One of the likely effects of climate change is to increase the likelihood of the type of extreme weather events that seems to cause these disasters. But do extreme events have to turn into disasters with huge loss of life and suffering? Dull Disasters?