Top 10 disasters in 2013: A glimpse into recovery and preparedness

By Boaz Wadel

When disasters strike, poorest populations suffer the most. World Vision stands ready to respond to emergencies now - and helps vulnerable communities prepare for future ones. 


Natural disasters, particularly floods, have disrupted the lives of millions worldwide in 2013.

More than 90 percent of natural disaster-related deaths occur in developing countries, where poverty and lack of resources exacerbate the suffering.

The top 10 natural disasters that affected the most people through July 2013 are:

  1. Sichuan earthquake, China (April)           2,011,211
  2. Drought, Chad (June 2012 - February)   1,600,000
  3. Guangdong storm, China (March)           1,398,324
  4. Patuakhali cyclone, Bangladesh (May)      1,285,508
  5. Mindinao floods, Philippines (January)     507,769
  6. Yunan earthquake, China (March)           427,740
  7. Buenos Aires floods, Argentina (April)   350,000
  8. Drought, Namibia (May)                          300,000
  9. Guangong, Hubei floods, China (May)     300,000
  10. Gansu, Sichuan floods, China (June)        280,500

Families' homes and livelihoods washed away

Evelyn Diaz, 45, remembers the chaos and destruction Typhoon Bopha brought as it blew through her community in southern Mindanao, Philippines, last December.

She also remembers the subsequent monsoon rains and flooding that ruined her crops in the new year.

"It was painful to see my house get swallowed by floods and mudslides," she says.

Evelyn and her husband were among thousands of families devastated by the storm that killed nearly 2,000 people.

"The farming cycle completely changed, as we had to wait for the floods to go down before we can start planting again," shares Evelyn's husband, Eduardo.

How World Vision responds to disasters

When disaster strikes, World Vision adopts a "first-in, last-out" approach: We first respond with life-saving emergency aid and stay for the long term to help families recover and rebuild.

Our global pre-positioning resource network ensures that we're prepared to respond rapidly to disasters all over the world. These responses begin with needs assessments and initial relief distributions, progressing over the subsequent weeks and months to include restoration of basic infrastructure like shelter, clean water and sanitation, medical care, and economic development.

In most instances, we also establish Child-Friendly Spaces to provide children with a safe environment to learn, play, and recover emotionally from the traumatic events.

World Vision works to ensure that communities are aware of the risks they face and know how to properly respond in the event of an emergency. Local risk mitigation initiatives help communities prepare for disasters, learn how to protect their crops, and gain an awareness of weather trends.

Preparing for the next potential disaster

Evelyn and Eduardo participated in such an initiative in their area. They were also able to rebuild within four months, thanks to a loan from the World Vision-led community savings association.

The new skills and connections help them diversify their income stream through various small-business ventures. This will enable them to recover more quickly the next time disaster strikes.

Evelyn has come to appreciate the importance of protecting children in emergency circumstances, too.

"Flooding can go on for weeks and can suspend classes for as long as two months," she says. "Children may appear resilient and can be seen playing in the rains and floods, but we must always guide them to safety. We have to teach them how to take care of themselves."

Learn more

Read more about how World Vision responds to global disasters.

How you can respond

Pray for families impacted by natural disasters, like Evelyn, her husband, and their children. Pray that these new resources will help them to rebuild their lives and keep them well prepared for the possibility of another disaster.

Make a one-time donation to World Vision's Disaster Response Fund. Your gift will help us rush emergency supplies like life-saving food, clean water, medical supplies, and shelter to survivors. You'll also help us stay for the long haul, providing guidance and assistance as families and communities recover.