The Metrics of Tragedy

HaiyanDestruction-Kevin Frayer-Getty

The enormity of damage wrought by Super Typhoon Haiyan has been discussed often enough in the news and social media, and it has been a persistent topic of global conversation even weeks after.  But only by looking closely at the data does one get a real sense of the sheer scale of the calamity.

Most of the attention to date has been focused on the actual death toll (currently 5,209, with 23,404 injured, and 1,582 missing) however much of the suffering is represented in other figures.  According to recent United Nations, USAid, and official government situation reports summarized here, at current count:

Number of people affected by the typhoon: 13 million. That’s more than the population of Greece, Portugal, or Switzerland

Number of children affected: 4.9 millionExceeding the populations of twenty-seven out of fifty US states

  • Number of children affected under age five: 1.5 million
  • Number of pregnant and lactating women affected: 360,000
  • Schools damaged or destroyed: over 700

Number of people in need of food assistance: 2.5 million. Akin to the entire country of Jamaica going hungry

  • Farmers and fishers require assistance to restore their livelihoods: 1 million

Homes damaged or destroyed: 707,000As if all the homes in Vermont + Washington D.C. + Delaware were suddenly flattened

Number of people displaced: 3 million.  As if the entire population of Kansas now have nowhere to live

  • Number of Evacuation Centers: 1,521
  • Number of people currently living in evacuation centers: 400,000
  • Number of people displaced elsewhere: 2.7 million

Believing that this situation will only require mid-term relief is folly.  Haiyan has no doubt brought the world’s attention to the plight of the Philippines, and other nations have thus far responded with abundant care and generosity.  But as natural disasters go, both at home and abroad, short-term memory is the norm.

It is our duty to ensure we keep the fight going for all the nameless people that are represented by these cold hard numbers and statistics.  Long after Haiyan slips off the front page of world consciousness.  Long after the storm.


Philippine Aid Network


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