Makelesi, 7, standing in destroyed library of Nabau District School in Ra Province, Fiji. It took Cyclone Winston literally minutes to rip off the roof of this classroom. Photo: Unicef/2016/Fiji/Sokhin

Earthquakes,
cyclones and tsunamis

Extreme events and their impact on children

Home > Earthquakes, cyclones and tsunamis: Extreme events and their impact on children

What’s happening in the Pacific?

We’ve had a lot of news recently about disaster risks in the Asia-Pacific region. We’ve reported on Typhoon Koppu, Typhoon Melor, and Cyclone Winston as well as our large-scale response to Cyclone Pam in 2015, all affecting the same broad region.

In March 2016, we watched as a second cyclone passed through Tonga and Fiji, an area that just weeks ago was struck by Winston, one of the most powerful storms recorded in the southern hemisphere.

Nearby Vanuatu, which was devastated last year by Cyclone Pam, has seen tsunami warnings this week, after several earthquakes off the north coast of the largest island, Espiritu Santo.

Why so many natural hazards?

Vanuatu, Tonga, Fiji, the Philippines and many more countries experience tropical storms because of their location in parts of the Pacific Ocean where typhoons are a seasonal occurrence. The Philippines experiences upwards of 20 typhoons every year.

The same region is also a part of the “Pacific Ring of Fire”. This is a large area at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean where geological activity within the earth leads to earthquakes and tsunami, and volcanic eruptions. That’s why so many countries in the Asia Pacific region face such high risk to these natural hazards.

Thankfully, these natural hazards do not always amount to the scale of disaster seen after typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013 or Cyclone Pam in 2015. But the the scale is not the only thing that dictates the impact – Fiji is currently bracing itself as damage done by Winston could be made worse by Zena, even though Zena is a smaller storm.

How do hazards affect children?

Even when hazards do not impact thousands of people, they can increase children’s vulnerability, and pressure on parents’ ability to provide for their children and families’ capacity to survive and thrive.

Many governments in the region have strong records in disaster risk reduction and management. And Unicef is always there to support when requested, in case of disaster.

Unicef does really valuable work with children, communities and governments to reduce the likelihood of such storms and earthquakes leading to disaster. Our disaster risk reduction work, in schools and communities across the region teaches children to identify risks, and work with their families and communities to address vulnerabilities to, for example, extreme weather.

We also work closely with governments to have impact at a national and regional level. Disaster risk reduction systems, services and preparedness measures can reduce the impact of natural hazards and keep children safe.

Before, during and after disasters, Unicef is there for children working to support children, families and communities to keep children safe from danger – in the Asia Pacific region, where geophysical and climatic hazards are commonplace, it’s a crucial part of our role in keeping children safe.

Help us be there for children affected by natural disasters, set up a regular donation to our children’s emergency fund today.

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