News Release

A Year of Service

During 2012, the Church responded to 104 disasters in 52 countries, providing a total of $8 million in emergency aid. The Church organized thousands of member volunteers to assist those affected by these disasters, with over 1.1 million volunteer hours of service donated.  Natural disasters across the globe gave ample opportunity to provide service. We saw a total of 260 natural disasters, continuing the increasing trend of recent years. These natural disasters resulted in $69 billion in economic damages, affected 106 million people, with a total of 7,838 lives lost.  

In August 2012, the Manila area of the Philippines was hit with a tropical storm causing severe flooding and affecting more than 900,000 people. More than 70 deaths were reported.  In December, Typhoon Pablo (International name: Bopha) visited Southern Mindanao in fury and devastated farms and property.  Church members in the Philippines assembled and distributed food kits, sanitation kits, blankets, clothes, housing materials, and other relief items to those affected by the floods.

The costliest disaster was Hurricane Sandy, with damages estimated to exceed $50 billion. After Hurricane Sandy, the costliest disasters were flooding in Beijing, China ($5 billion), local storms in the southern United States ($5 billion), Typhoon Damrey in China ($3 billion), and flooding in Pakistan ($3 billion).

Prevalent Disasters by Type


There were 94 major floods, resulting in 2,712 deaths and $10 billion in damages. Countries that experienced extreme flooding include:  Philippines, Nigeria, United States, Ecuador, Pakistan, China, Laos, Panama Russia.

Floods in Ecuador caused major crop losses along coastal farming areas and displaced thousands from their homes. Flooding has historically been and continues to be the most prevalent of all natural disasters.

Famine and Food Shortages

Because of drought and civil unrest, East and West Africa have been plagued with food shortages. Among the most affected areas are: Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, and especially Somalia.

The Church responded to these food shortages with food, water, and other immediate relief supplies and continues to support recovery efforts in the affected areas by partnering with international and local agencies to provide life-sustaining goods.

Civil Unrest

Civil unrest has continued to forcibly displace thousands of individuals in Syria and to the surrounding countries. The death toll is approximated to be around 60,000 in Syria.

In East and West Africa thousands of individuals and families have been forced to leave their homes because of local and regional strife, particularly in Somalia and Mali. The refugee camp in Kenya for displaced Somalians is the second largest “city” in Kenya, with a population of almost 500,000. It is the largest refugee camp in the world. 

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Hurricanes and Severe Weather

The vast majority of damage from natural disasters in the United States resulted from hurricanes and other severe storms. Severe storms claimed nearly 900 lives. Globally, severe weather caused almost $57 billion in damages. Hurricane Sandy caused the most damage, particularly along the East Coast of the United States.  

Breakdown of Responses

The following table shows the breakdown of the 2012 responses by disaster type:

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The following list describes the Church’s largest responses to disasters in 2012.

1. Hurricane Sandy

- Resulted in the loss of over 150 lives and $50 billion or more in economic damages

- Approximately 28,000 Church members donated almost 300,000 hours of service to help clean up refuse and debris

- The Church has donated $900,000 in resources to Hurricane Sandy disaster relief efforts

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2. Syria – Civil Unrest and Refugee Crisis

- Over 150,000 Syrians have fled to Jordan since March 2011 to escape violence in Syria. Another 150,000 or more Syrians have fled to Turkey and even a greater number have fled to Lebanon.

- The Church has provided food, baby formula, hygiene items, diapers, warm clothing, boots, and blankets to meet needs at the bulging refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.

- 200,000 blankets, 50,000 children’s coats, and 14 pallets of emergency medical supplies have been provided to Syrian refugees in Turkey and additional support has been requested.

3. Philippines Typhoons

- In August 2012, the Manila area of the Philippines was hit with a tropical storm causing severe flooding and affecting more than 900,000 people.

- More than 70 deaths were reported.

- Church members in the Philippines assembled and distributed food kits, sanitation kits, blankets, clothes, housing materials, and other relief items to those affected by the floods.

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4. Tornadoes – United States

- Between the months of March to October 2012, there were more than 900 tornadoes reported in the United States and 68 deaths confirmed.  

- The biggest tornado outbreaks occurred during March 2012 in Midwest and Southern states.

- The Church provided relief in 12 states, with more than 2,000 volunteers helping with cleanup.

5. Japan Earthquake and  Tsunami Recovery

- A 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck on March 11, 2011.

- The Church has continued through 2012 to provide assistance to communities devastated by the tsunami.

- The Church committed $13 million to support relief and recovery efforts

- More than 250 tons of supplies were distributed during the first few months following the disaster, including food, water, blankets, bedding, hygiene supplies, clothing, and fuel.

- 28,000 Church-sponsored volunteers have provided more than 428,000 hours of service to date.

- The Church has established partnerships with government, volunteer, and industry organizations.

- An LDS employment resource center is operating in the Sendai area to assist members and others who lost jobs due to the disaster.

6. Africa - Drought, Famine, and Civil Unrest

East Africa

- One of the worst droughts of the past 60 years spread throughout Eastern Africa, affecting more than 10 million people.

- The Church committed $2.25 million in support of relief efforts in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia, which efforts continued throughout 2012. The Church partnered with Islamic Relief, International Medical Corps, International Relief and Development, and other NGOs to provide food, clean water, and medical supplies.  

- The Church has funded the building of 20 water catchment facilities (Birkets) in Ethiopia and Kenya.  

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West Africa – Sahel

- An estimated 18 million people are at risk of hunger throughout the Sahel, with nearly 8 million are now in need of emergency assistance.

- Over 1 million children in the region are exposed to severe malnutrition.

- Conflict in Mali in early 2012 pushed 180,000 people to seek asylum in neighboring countries while another, 150,000 (est.) are displaced inside Mali.

- Insecurity has limited humanitarian access to northern Mali, exacerbating the severity of the food crisis for 1.8 million Malians.

- The Church has provided food assistance in Mali and Burkina Faso to feed 60,000 refugees.

- The Church provided approximately 300,000 pounds of clothing and shoes for refugees in Chad.

- The Church partnered with Catholic Relief Services for a seed fair in Mali that provided support to 7,500 families.  


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