Tag Archives: Cyclone Chapala

Recent cyclones and heavy rains in Yemen and Africa could trigger locust plagues, UN agency warns

Locusts can devastate crops and pastures. Photo: FAO/Giampiero Diana

Locusts can devastate crops and pastures. Photo: FAO/Giampiero Diana

11 November 2015

As unusually heavy and widespread rains continue in northwest Africa, the Horn of Africa and Yemen, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today that the extreme weather conditions could favour Desert Locust breeding, and stressed the need closely monitor the situation over the next six months to prevent plagues.

“Extreme weather events, including torrential downpours, have the potential to trigger a massive surge in locust numbers. Rain provides moist soil for the insects to lay their eggs, which in turn need to absorb water, while rains also allow vegetation to grow which locusts need for food and shelter,” said Keith Cressman, FAO Senior Locust Forecasting Officer in a news release.

According to FAO experts, the locust situation in countries normally affected by Desert Locust remained mostly calm in October with only small-scale breeding activity detected.

However, the experts warned that impact of El Niño in Africa and the unprecedented back-to-back tropical cyclones Chapala and Megh in the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa could aid the insects in forming destructive swarms.

“The effects of a locust plague can be devastating on crops and pastures and thus threaten food security and rural livelihoods,” added Mr. Cressman.

The agency experts said that once airborne, swarms of tens of millions of locusts can fly up to 150 kilometres a day with the wind.

Female locusts can lay 300 eggs within their lifetime while a Desert Locust adult can consume about two grams of fresh food every day, which is roughly its own weight and a small swarms eats the same amount of food in one day as about 35,000 people.

FAO operates a Desert Locust Information Service that receives data from locust-affected countries and the information is analysed regularly to assess the current locust situation and provide forecasts up to six weeks in advance and if required, issue warnings and alerts.

The agency also said that the recent tropical cyclones Chapala and Megh that hit Yemen also affected north-eastern Somalia, where torrential rains which far exceeded the annual average rainfall for the entire year caused flooding and damage.

FAO reported that the winter breeding areas along both sides of the Red Sea, seasonal rains began in early October, which is slightly earlier than normal and warned that if the rains continued, there would be sufficient time for two generations of breeding to occur this year in the coastal areas of Sudan, northern Eritrea, southeast Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

FAO stressed that prevention is the key in reducing the extent to which Desert Locust can affect agricultural areas, mainly through early warning and early reaction.

The agency said that it is imperative that countries conduct necessary field surveys after unusually heavy rainfall, and maintain them on a regular basis for routine monitoring of breeding conditions and locust infestations.

Further, FAO said that finding of significant infestations requires control operations to avoid a further escalation in locust numbers, and asserted that the results of survey and control operations must be reported quickly and accurately so that swift decisions can be taken to prevent the spread of locusts to other countries.

FAO observed that while such measures helped in curtailing the frequency and duration of plagues since 1960s, climate change activities today are leading to more frequent, unpredictable and extreme weather that poses fresh challenges on how to monitor locust activity.

Lastly, the agency stressed that without regular monitoring, locust outbreaks followed after floods and cyclones could lead to plagues and added that warmer conditions could possibly shorten the incubation and maturation periods of the insects.

UNHCR provides emergency relief to Yemen cyclone displaced

News Stories, 6 November 2015

 The UN refugee agency has provided emergency relief including tents, bedding and cooking utensils to more than 1,600 families displaced by Cyclone Chapala, which struck the Arabian Sea coast of Yemen in recent days sweeping away houses, boats and livestock.

Chapala made landfall on November 3 in Yemen’s Hadramaut governorate, before churning across neighbouring Shabwah, Al Maharah and Socotra. Early reports indicated that about 1,600 families were displaced in Hadramaut, 150 in Shabwah, 25 in Al Maharah, and hundreds more in Socotra.

“The effects of Chapala have been most severe in Shabwah and Hadramaut, with a combined population of about 1.9 million people. Jilaa, a village of around 1,150 persons in Shabwah governorate was completely washed away and further reports are coming in of devastation,” UNHCR spokesperson Andreas Needham told reporters at a news conference in Geneva.

“Seventy six per cent of the population, or 1.4 million people, in these governorates were already in need of humanitarian assistance, including over 100,000 displaced people and over 27,000 refugees and migrants,” he added.

A day before the cyclone struck, UNHCR moved 1,000 tents and 3,000 Non Food Item kits containing items ranging from blankets and mattresses to plastic buckets and kitchen sets to Al Mukalla in Hadramaut, and UNHCR partners began distributing them on November 4. An initial 350 families were reached in Hadramaut and distributions are ongoing in affected areas.

The refugee agency also brought in 5,000 emergency shelter kits, comprising plastic sheets, poles, hammers, nails, ropes and other items, to neighbouring Al Mukalla governorate. Throughout the preparations and response, UNHCR has been coordinating with authorities, other UN agencies, NGOs, civil society organisations and through the sub-national Protection and Shelter Clusters in Aden.

In advance of the cyclone, the Yemeni island of Socotra situated 350km from the mainland in the Arabian Sea, also experienced widespread destruction and displacement, with many people taking shelter in caves, schools, or in the homes of relatives. At least 170 houses on the island were fully damaged and a further 610 partially damaged.

UNHCR in Yemen had been in contact with colleagues in Somaliland and Puntland to dissuade refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants primarily from Ethiopia and Somalia,- from taking boats to Yemen due to the dangerous conditions at sea as a result of Chapala.

There have been no reported new arrivals since November 1. In the year to date, UNHCR has counted nearly 70,000 new arrivals along the Red and Arabian Sea coasts of Yemen. Over 11,000 arrived in October along the Arabian Sea coast and received reception and medical services from UNHCR’s Mayfa’a reception centre in Shabwah, which so far weathered well through the storm with only minor damage although the cyclone season is still active.

UNCHR has learned that a new cyclonic storm, Megh, is headed toward the coast and could develop in a second cyclone, to reach Socotra on Sunday (November 8). UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies are further scaling up their preparedness and response measures. Colleagues in Somalia have once again issued warnings to would-be crossers through partner and community networks.

Yemen has 21.1 million persons in need of some form of humanitarian assistance, including access to food, health care and safe drinking water, and over 2.3 million internally displaced persons stemming from the escalation of the conflict since late March of this year.

Over the last several months arrivals had shifted primarily to the Arabian Sea coast to avoid intense conflict areas centred in Taizz governorate situated on the Red Sea coast of Yemen.

UNHCR provides tents, emergency relief items to Cyclone Chapala displaced in Yemen

Briefing Notes, 6 November 2015

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andreas Needham to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 6 November 2015, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Tropical Cyclone Chapala made landfall on 3 November in Hadramaut governorate before moving into Shabwah along the Arabian Sea coast of Yemen. Strong winds, heavy rains and flooding has destroyed house, boats and livestock, and disrupted services. Early reports indicate that around 1,600 families have been displaced in Hadramaut, some 150 in Shabwah, 25 in Al Maharah, and hundreds more on Socotra.

A day before landfall, UNHCR moved 3,000 NFI kits and 1,000 tents to Al Mukalla in Hadramaut, and UNHCR partners began distribution on 4 November. An initial 350 families were reached in Hadramaut and distributions are ongoing in affected areas. UNHCR is also bringing in 5,000 emergency shelter kits to Al Mukalla. Throughout the preparations and response, UNHCR has been coordinating with authorities, other UN agencies, NGOs, civil society organisations and through the sub-national Protection and Shelter Clusters in Aden.

The effects of Chapala have been most severe in Shabwah and Hadramaut, with a combined population of about 1.9 million people. Jilaa, a village of around 1,150 persons in Shabwah governorate was completely washed away and further reports are coming in of devastation. Seventy six per cent (1.4 million) of the population in these governorates were already in need of humanitarian assistance, which includes over 100,000 displaced people and over 27,000 refugees and migrants.

In advance of the cyclone, The Yemeni island of Socotra situated 350km from the mainland in the Arabian Sea, also experienced widespread destruction and displacement, with many taking shelter in caves, schools, or in the homes of relatives. At least 170 houses on the island were fully damaged and a further 610 partially damaged.

UNHCR in Yemen had been in contact with colleagues in Somaliland and Puntland to dissuade refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants primarily from Ethiopia and Somalia,- from taking boats to Yemen due to the dangerous conditions at sea as a result of Chapala,. There have been no reported new arrivals since 1 November. Thus far in 2015 UNHCR has counted nearly 70,000 new arrivals along the Red and Arabian Sea coasts. Over 11,000 arrived in October along the Arabian Sea coast and received reception and medical services from UNHCR’s Mayfa’a reception centre in Shabwah, which so far weathered well through the storm with only minor damage to the premises.

We have been informed that a new tropical storm is on its way and may develop in a second cyclone, to reach Socotra on Sunday 8 November. UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies are further scaling up their preparedness and response measures. Colleagues in Somalia have once again issued warnings to would-be crossers through partner and community networks.

Over the last several months arrivals had shifted primarily to the Arabian Sea coast to avoid intense conflict areas centred in Taizz governorate situated on the Red Sea coast of Yemen. Yemen has 21.1 million persons in need of some form of humanitarian assistance, including access to food, health care and safe drinking water, and over 2.3 million internally displaced persons stemming from the escalation of the conflict since late March of this year.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • Teddy Leposky on mobile +962 79 866 0268
  • Andreas Needham in Geneva, on mobile +41 79 217 3140

Yemen: as cyclone weakens, UN warns more than 1 million people could be impacted by flooding

Cyclone Chapala damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes in Yemen. Photo: UNICEF Yemen/Ahmed Tani

Cyclone Chapala damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes in Yemen. Photo: UNICEF Yemen/Ahmed Tani

4 November 2015

While the United Nations is reporting that Cyclone Chapala – the rare tropical storm that slammed into Yemen’s southern coast yesterday, dumping perhaps a year’s worth of rain in some areas – is expected to weaken to a tropical depression over the next 12 hours, the immediate concern remains the welfare of an estimated 1 million people, mainly in the two governorates of Shabwah and Hadramaut.

“The UN and its partners are using all available routes into the affected areas to deliver assistance: from Aden as the principle dispatch hub and Sana’a as an alternate; and from Djibouti by sea and from the east from Oman by road and sea,” UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

He also said that the World Health Organization (WHO) has provided 20,000 litres of diesel fuel to eight hospitals in Mukallah – the country’s fifth largest city – and 2,500 litres of petrol for 16 ambulances.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WHO surveillance rapid response teams are also being deployed and a WHO shipment by sea with an additional 18.3 metric tonnes of medical supplies and reproductive health kits is also being deployed from Djibouti to Aden.

Meanwhile, three deaths and 34 injuries were reported earlier by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Cyclone Chapala made landfall in Yemen while fighting between the Government and rebel Houthi forces in the country continues. Since March 2015, the crisis has been an all-out conflict, with a military operation launched by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

Armed conflict has spread rapidly across much of the country, with devastating consequences for civilians. Partners now estimate that 21.1 million people – 80 per cent of the population – require some form of humanitarian protection or assistance. This represents a 33 per cent increase in needs since the conflict began, says OCHA.

The UN relief wing’s most recent update notes that the storm’s impact will be most severe in Shabwah and Hadramaut governorates. “These two governorates have a combined population of about 1.9 million people, 76 per cent (1.4 million) of whom are already in need of humanitarian assistance according to the 2015 Yemen Humanitarian Needs Overview.”

“Initial reports suggest more than 40,000 people displaced or temporarily evacuated from coastal areas and at least 450 homes damaged or destroyed,” OCHA said in the update.

Based on reports from Socotra, three people died and nine were injured in the flooding. At the same, some 20,000 people were reportedly evacuated from coastal areas, and close to 400 homes have been destroyed. Officials in Shabwah also reported that 6,000 people had moved to higher ground to avoid anticipated flooding and potential rock falls.

“Meteorologists forecast the Chapala will weaken as it continues north-west towards the capital Sana’a,” notes the update, adding that “sustained winds of 118 km/h are expected and the trailing edge of the storm system will continue to bring heavy precipitation to coastal areas for the next 24 to 48 hours.”

According to OCHA, UN Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) has prepositioned stocks and has launched a response to the severe impact in Yemen. “A number of different aid delivery routes into the affected areas are being utilized.” HCT indicated that in the report.

The HCT has primarily been moving supplies from existing stockpiles in Aden along the coastal roads to Mukalla. They will use supplies from the Humanitarian Response Depot (HRD) in Dubai and the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team (UNDAC) in Oman to the coastal area.

‘Severe impact’ feared in Yemen due to rain potential of cyclone Chapala

Cyclone Chapala made landfall in Yemen, dumping heavy rainfall on the island of Socotra. Photo: UNICEF Yemen/Ahmed Tani

Cyclone Chapala made landfall in Yemen, dumping heavy rainfall on the island of Socotra. Photo: UNICEF Yemen/Ahmed Tani

3 November 2015

As cyclonic storm Chapala made landfall this morning in the southwest of Riyan in Yemen with a surface wind speed of 120 to 130 kilometres per hour, United Nations agencies reported that although it had weakened rapidly, the impacts could be severe and challenging.

“Our big fear about this cyclone is the rainfall potential here,” said Clare Nullis, spokesperson for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) speaking at a press briefing at UN Headquarters in Geneva.

“There have been various reports that Yemen could get the equivalent of six years…the equivalent of ten years of rainfall, it’s actually very difficult to quantify it,” she continued. “I think the main point to underline is that Yemen is normally very arid, it doesn’t have the infrastructure to cope, so we really do expect this cyclone to have a very significant impact.”

Cyclone Chapala made landfall in Yemen while fighting between the Government and rebel Houthi forces in the country continues. Since March 2015, the crisis has been an all-out conflict, with a military operation launched by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

Amid the violence, many Yemenis are now receiving a “crash course” on how to cope with the cyclone, Ms. Nullis explained. She further noted that that the country doesn’t have a functioning meteorological service or an observation network – making is challenging for WMO to know how much rain Yemen will get, and to assess what it happening.

Meanwhile, World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson Fadela Chaib said that the UN health agency and the Yemeni Ministry of Public Health and Population are intensifying efforts to respond to the effects of cyclone Chapala, which are expected to be more severe in Shabwah and Hadhramaut.

“[These areas] have a combined population of about 1.8 million people. This includes more than 100,000 internally displaced people and 27,000 refugees and migrants,” said Ms. Chaib.

“In preparation for the health impact of the cyclone, WHO has delivered trauma kits 1,000 patients in Mukalla district of Hadhramaut Governorate. The Organization is also providing 12,000 litres of diesel to eight hospitals to ensure their continuous functionality as well as 2,500 litres of petrol for 16 ambulances,” she added, noting that a Strategic Health Operation Centre was being established in the WHO Office in Sana’a.

Asked about casualties, Ms. Chaib said that no information is available at the moment, and stressed the importance of preparedness to ensure that health facilities are functioning and that information is available to facilitate appropriate emergency response.

She also indicated that given the “challenging situation” in Yemen, WHO will be relying on national non-governmental organizations and the Ministry of Public Health to ensure that aid is provided in places where needs are more acute, given their knowledge of the area and accessible routes.

Yemen “unprepared for cyclone Chapala”

Clare Nullis from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that Yemenis were taking a “crash-course” to prepare for cyclone Chapala. Photo: UN/Jean-Marc Ferré

Clare Nullis from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that Yemenis were taking a “crash-course” to prepare for cyclone Chapala. Photo: UN/Jean-Marc Ferré

3 November 2015 – United Nations Radio

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Preparations are under way to help Yemenis cope with a rare tropical storm that’s hit the country, amid fears that up to 10 years’ rain may fall before the skies clear, the UN said Tuesday.

Tropical storm Chapala, which the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) describes as a “very severe cyclonic” weather event, has brought with it 145 kilometre per hour gusts of winds and rain as it moves through Yemen.

Although Chapala is expected to weaken rapidly before the day is out, WMO is concerned about the risk of landslides, while the World Health Organization (WHO) says that it’s stepping up efforts to keep hospitals open in worst-hit areas.

Daniel Johnson has more.

At war since March, now Yemenis are having to deal with a rare tropical storm called Chapala that’s battering parts of the country.

The dry air of the Arabian peninsula is usually enough to sap cyclones of their power before they hit, but not this time.

It’s thought possible that between six and 10 years’ rain may fall while the storm lasts, and that’s something that Yemen is totally unprepared for.

Here’s Claire Nullis from the UN’s World Meteorological Organization, or WMO.

“We expect the impacts to continue because our big fears about this cyclone is the rainfall potential here. Yemen is normally a very arid area, it doesn’t have the infrastructure to cope, so we really do this cyclone to have a very serious impact.”

Nullis stressed that Yemenis are not used to such violent weather events and that they are now taking a “crash course” in what to do as the cyclone continues its north-westerly course.

Also helping those on the ground in Yemen, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that it’s been busy distributing trauma kits and fuel to keep hospitals open and ambulances running.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, (OCHA), the cyclone’s effects are likely to be more severe in Shabwah and Hadhramaut, which have a combined population of 1.8 million people.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Powerful cyclone Chapala headed towards war-torn Yemen, warns UN

War-torn Yemen came under the threat of the powerful tropical cyclone Chapala in early November 2015. Photo: OCHA/Charlotte Cans

War-torn Yemen came under the threat of the powerful tropical cyclone Chapala in early November 2015. Photo: OCHA/Charlotte Cans

2 November 2015

A strong and rare tropical cyclone, named Chapala, is heading towards the southern coasts of Oman and Yemen and is expected to make landfall on the eastern provinces of Hadramout and Shabwa in war-torn Yemen early Tuesday, the United Nations warned today.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the governorates of Shabwah and Hadhramaut have a combined population of about 1.8 million people, 1.4 million of whom are already considered in need of humanitarian support.

“OCHA and UN agencies are monitoring, planning and pre-positioning relief in preparation for the landfall of the storm,” UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

A press release from the UN Office for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) said that Chapala originated in the Indian Ocean on 28 October and intensified during the following days to Category 4, becoming the strongest tropical cyclone in the Indian Ocean.

Additionally, the UN agency reports that the sea was very rough with a maximum wave height of 10 meters, heavy rains and very strong wind, measuring up to 170 km/hr and added that the Omani and Yemini Governments have issued warnings and urged residents to evacuate coastal areas as cyclone Chapala approaches.

According to the press release, Chapala has the potential to bring three or four times the average yearly rain in just a day or two over parts of eastern Yemen and southwest Oman.

However, UNISDR noted that tropical cyclones are extremely rare in the region and only a few have hit the Arabian Peninsula since reliable records started, the last of which was Keila, which struck Oman and Yemen in 2011.

UNISDR added that in 2008, a rare tropical cyclone brought devastating flooding to Yemen and killed at least 100 people, displaced an additional 20,000 in the south of the country and over affecting the livelihoods of over 50 per cent of the total population.

At the same time, it recalled that cyclone Gonu hit Oman in 2007, causing over 50 deaths.