• 2016 closed with 10.7 million people affected, 10 per cent more than in 2015.
• Floods are the most frequent type of disaster in the region, although drought affected more people.
• The Atlantic hurricane season was more active than 2012 and more deadly than 2005.
• The United Nations requested funding for US$339 million for emergencies in the region.
• 2016 marked the 25th anniversary of UN Resolution 46/182.
More than 10 million people affected by disaster in 2016
Drought, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes were the main disasters that affected people in 2016. Dengue, chikungunya and Zika affected another 3.7 million people.
Preliminary data shows that disasters affected 10.7 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2016. Drought affected the largest number of people, followed by Hurricanes Matthew and Otto, floods and complex emergencies such as a lack of potable water in large cities in Bolivia, due to structural failures in the distribution systems.
Floods, earthquakes and the effects of violence and migration are some of the 75 events that also affected the region in 2016. There was an increase of more than 10 per cent in number of people affected compared with 2015 (1.4 million more people affected).
Zika, one of the major emergencies in 2016
Epidemics transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito affected 3.7 million people – some 2.5 million people fell ill with dengue, 700,000 from Zika and 495,000 from chikungunya.
In November, the World Health Organization announced that Zika was no longer a sanitary emergency; however, it would continue to challenge public health systems. The virus reached a level of epidemic in 49 countries and territories in the region and was declared a global sanitary emergency due to the cases of babies born with microcephaly from infected mothers and cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Hurricane Season 2016 The Atlantic Hurricane season was more active than 2012 and more deadly than 2005. La Niña contributed to the increased intensity, which caused an above-normal warming of the ocean’s surface, favouring hurricane formation.
The season officially ended on 30 November and affected 2.7 million people in 13 countries. The hurricane season formally begins on 1 June, however, five months before – in the middle of January – Hurricane Alex formed in the North Atlantic, an event that has not occurred since 1955. The strongest and most deadly hurricane was Matthew, followed by Otto. In the Pacific, the season was very active but did not because major damage as the majority of the systems did not make landfall.
Otto put preparedness measures to the test in Central America Otto was the seventh hurricane of the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane season. Northern Costa Rica received the worst impact. In Nicaragua, the hurricane made landfall as a category 2 with winds of up to 175 km/h, affecting the southern Caribbean area. Otto also caused damages in Panama.
The hurricane directly affected more than 10,000 people in Costa Rica, killed nine and caused US$56 million in economic losses in agriculture. In Nicaragua, authorities evacuated 11,600 people to safe areas and official shelters, while in Panama more than 2,500 people were affected by the storm.
OCHA deployed a Humanitarian Affairs Officer to Costa Rica to bolster United Nations support to the Government response. OCHA also allocated US$30,000 in emergency funds for immediate relief items.
In total, Hurricane Otto affected 24,940 people in three countries, causing 18 deaths, 16,000 people to seek shelter, 120 houses destroyed and 2,300 damaged. Although Costa Rica was hardest hit, authorities responded immediately. Humanitarian needs were relatively small due to Government´s leadership in the response, bolstered by joint efforts.
For more information visit: www.redhum.org/emergencia
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.