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Tropical storms are cyclones, hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons and windstorms. The strong winds and flooding that accompany wind storms affect millions of people each year, destroying their homes and vital infrastructure, damaging crops and food stores, killing livestock and depleting savings as they seek to recover from the destruction. Countries in South-East Asia and the Caribbean are particularly vulnerable to tropical storms.
Frequent storms hitting countries such as the Philippines and Haiti, where populations are already extremely vulnerable, means rural communities often lack the time to recover their losses before they are hit by the next storm. The Philippines, which is hit by an average of 20 typhoons per year, was particularly badly affected at the end of 2012, when Typhoon Bopha (locally known as Pablo) displaced nearly 1 million people, and affected over 6.2 million.
In Haiti, a country frequently devastated by hurricanes passing one after another, Tropical Storm Isaac destroyed nearly 40 percent of harvests in August 2012 and was followed soon after by Hurricane Sandy in October, which devastated agricultural lands that had been untouched by Isaac.
FAO plays a vital role in helping communities and countries that are at risk of tropical storms to prepare for, mitigate against, respond to and recover from these hazards. In the Caribbean, FAO has helped storm-hit communities to quickly resume production after disasters by providing seeds and agricultural tools for the next planting seasons (such as in response to the damage caused by Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Sandy in 2012 in Haiti, and by Hurricane Felix in 2008 in Nicaragua). Fishing communities have received nets and other vital equipment to enable to quickly generate income, and FAO has supported the forestry sector, including preventing and fighting against forest fires that would further deteriorate natural resources and exacerbate the impact of future hazards.
In South-East Asia, FAO has helped farmers, livestock-owners and fishers to recover from the damage caused by cyclones and typhoons. In the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, which hit Myanmar in May 2008, severely affecting the lives and livelihoods of an estimated 2.4 million people, FAO’s support was critical in restarting food production in the cyclone-hit areas – farmers received rice seeds (including salt-tolerant varieties) and fertilizers and fishers were provided with crucial fishing gear.
Following Cyclone Sidr, which hit Bangladesh in November 2007 and caused the deaths of over 2.5 million animals, FAO helped livestock-owners to protect their remaining livestock assets through emergency feeding and veterinary care. FAO also provided essential supplies to restore fish and shrimp farming which had been hard hit by the cyclone. In the Philippines, FAO continues to provide typhoon-affected communities with the tools and skills they need to resume their livelihoods, as well as to prepare for future crises. This has included helping to restore crop and livestock product ion and fisheries activities.