A man in a USAID vest stands with his back to the camera, watching a plane with disaster relief supplies take off.

Disaster Risk Management

Climate, weather, and water-related (hydrometeorological) disasters, such as cyclones, droughts, and floods, account for the largest number of natural disasters recorded worldwide and affect more people than any other type of natural hazard. According to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, between 1994 and 2013, drought, extreme temperatures, floods, and storms resulted in approximately 600,000 deaths, affected more than 3 billion people, and caused an estimated $2 trillion in economic damages. In the last four decades, the number of reported hydrometeorological disasters increased nearly fivefold, from approximately 750 incidents between 1971 and 1980 to 3,500 events between 2000 and 2010. Direct impacts of climate-related disasters include death and injury, loss of livelihoods, resource scarcity, damage to infrastructure and environment, and reduced or altered access to critical, life-sustaining services.

Hydrometeorological hazards become disasters when they affect communities and countries that are exposed, vulnerable, and lack the capacity to cope with them. Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) activities aim to reduce vulnerabilities and exposure to hydrometeorological events while increasing capacities at all levels. Early warning systems are a good example of a DRR activity. An early warning system that provides timely, accurate, and reliable information can give decision-makers and the public the time they need to act. Improved disaster preparedness at all levels of government and communities, combined with early warning systems, can guide communities to take actions that will save lives and property and help them be self-reliant.

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SERVIR

A joint development initiative of NASA and USAID, SERVIR works in partnership with leading regional organizations world-wide to help developing countries use information provided by Earth-observing satellites and geospatial technologies to manage climate risks and land use.

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Between 2014 and 2015, Jamaica experienced one of the worst seasons of drought in recent history. The impact on the Jamaican economy, especially rural livelihoods, was devastating. According to reports, the annual agricultural production declined by 30 percent from 2013 to 2014. This, along with brush fires, resulted in a $J1 billion ($6.5 million) loss for the economy.
In November 2020, two back-to-back category 4 hurricanes, Eta and Iota, struck Central America, making landfall on the coast of Nicaragua, near its border with Honduras, and also affecting El Salvador and Guatemala. Altogether, they caused an estimated one billion US dollars in damage. Despite such impacts, the region was better able to prepare for and respond to Eta and Iota using space-based technologies.
March marks the onset of the dry and hot season in Thailand. In the region, dry vegetation coupled with small human-made fires often result in uncontrolled forest fires. Agricultural burning and forest fires, including transboundary haze, contribute to high levels of pollution.