It surprised most people when Saint Vincent island’s La Soufrière volcano erupted April 9, shooting ash clouds miles into the air. But disaster experts in USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance were expecting — and preparing for — La Soufrière‘s eruptions for months, providing early warning systems and support for the local emergency authorities.

After the eruptions, USAID worked with partners in the Caribbean to help people in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines stay safe and healthy through evacuations, and help them recover and rebuild after.

Here are 5 ways we responded:

1. Early Warning: U.S. Science & Tech for Monitoring Volcanoes

John Grabowski, Regional Advisor for Southern Africa with USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, takes us on his recent trip to the town of Marupa in Cabo Delgado.

USAID partnered with Catholic Relief Services and Caritas to provide relief items to people in Cabo Delgado, where violence has displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Photo credits: John Grabowski / USAID

Since 2017, ongoing fighting in northern Mozambique has forced nearly 700,000 people to flee their homes in search of safety. Over the last year, the violence has skyrocketed to unprecedented levels, fueled by attacks from armed groups — quadrupling the number of internally displaced persons, especially in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Province. Now, humanitarian groups are scrambling to meet rapidly growing needs.

The crisis in Syria has now lasted approximately as long as World War I and II combined. But USAID is not forgetting the people at the heart of the crisis who are struggling to cope with 10 years lost to civil war.

The crisis in Syria has led to mass displacement within the country and in the region, with more than 12 million people forced to leave their homes to seek safety elsewhere. Photo credit: Delil Souleiman / AFP

It has been ten years since fighting broke out in Syria, leading to what has become one of the largest and most complex humanitarian emergencies of our time. As we reach this somber milestone, the numbers look even more grim. Syria’s prolonged conflict has left two-thirds of the country’s population in need. …

Ten years ago, the tectonic plates off the eastern coast of Japan shifted with a force so great, it moved the coastline of the country and changed the balance of the planet. The earthquake also set into motion a tsunami with waves several stories high that engulfed entire towns, took the lives of more than 20,000 people, and caused a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. See how USAID responded.

USAID deployed a massive Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to Japan to coordinate the U.S. Government’s response to the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown. Photo credit: Master Sgt. Jeremy Lock/ U.S. Air Force

When the magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit Japan, Sarah Potts was actually in a plane over the Pacific Ocean, flying home from Christchurch, New Zealand, where she had been…

USAID deployed an elite Disaster Assistance Response Team on November 17 to lead the U.S. response to Hurricanes Eta and Iota. Photo credit: USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance

On November 16, 2020, Hurricane Iota slammed into Central America’s coast as a Category 5 storm with sustained winds of nearly 155 mph. This came just two weeks after Hurricane Eta brought heavy rains, severe flooding, and landslides to many of the same areas.

An estimated nine million people across Central America were affected as these back-to-back hurricanes flooded vast areas, damaged or destroyed tens of thousands of homes, and forced hundreds of thousands of people to seek the safety of evacuation shelters. …

USAID is responding to Tropical Storm Eta which caused severe flooding and landslides in Central America after it made landfall on November 3. Photo credit: Johan ORDONEZ / AFP

On November 3, Eta — the 28th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season — made landfall in Central America, unleashing heavy winds, rain, and severe flooding and landslides across the region. Thousands of people have been evacuated, and tens of thousands have been affected by the devastation.

Here are three ways we are responding to help communities across Central America affected by Tropical Storm Eta:

1. Activating disaster specialists across Central America

After the 2010 Haiti earthquake struck, not only did USAID help put a roof over the heads of people affected, we also worked with communities to build a new, more durable vision for their neighborhoods to withstand future disasters.

After the 2010 Haiti earthquake devastated the Ravine Pintade neighborhood near Port-au-Prince, USAID worked with partners to use community input to meet immediate humanitarian needs and help locals recover. Photo credit: Project Concern International

The word home conjures all sorts of meaning: family, friends, warmth, comfort. We think that the word shelter should mean more, too. After a disaster hits, shelter is typically identified as an immediate humanitarian need. But to us, shelter is more than four walls and a roof.

For years, USAID has worked with people affected by disasters to help them through…

With its networks of rivers, canals, extensive flood plains and small islands, large areas of Bangladesh are flooded each year. Building tall mounds of earth — called plinths — has proven to be an effective community response to protecting lives and livelihoods. Photo credit: CARE

Most of us will experience a devastating torrent once in our lifetime, or at worst only once a decade. But the odds are much greater in Bangladesh, where almost every year floods, cyclones, and landslides put vulnerable people at risk and force tens of thousands of people to flee to safety. This year was no exception, as historic floods covered over 40 percent of the country.

How do people cope when houses, livestock, and livelihoods are relentlessly and tragically swept away?

In Sudan, a young boy sits in flood waters. Photo credit: UNICEF Sudan

Unusually heavy rains have pounded Sudan in recent weeks, resulting in widespread flooding that has killed more than 100 people, forced tens of thousands of people from their homes, and affected more than 800,000 people across the country.

The waters of the mighty Nile — so famous for its seasonal flooding — swelled to the highest level in decades, washing out homes and neighborhoods. Sudan’s capital city, Khartoum, was especially hit hard.

Satellite images of Khartoum from September 23, 2016 and September 2, 2020 show the Nile and its tributaries flooding surrounding areas. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory

As images…

We recognize the real-life heroes who are overcoming Herculean challenges to save lives and help those in need, all around the world.

USAID is working with partners in 50 countries to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Photos courtesy: Catholic Relief Services, International Rescue Committee, ACTED, International Medical Corps, Malteser International, and Action Against Hunger

Never has the generosity, courage, and sacrifice of aid workers been more evident — or more needed — than it is today. On top of the millions of people who are in need of humanitarian aid due to conflicts or natural disasters, the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United States is leading the global response efforts to this unprecedented outbreak, providing more than $1.6 billion in health, humanitarian, economic, and development assistance in more than…

USAID Saves Lives

USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance saves lives on behalf of the American people.

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