In May, eight countries in West Africa suffered from a devastating lack of rainfall. This absence of rain came at a critical time in the growing season there. Failed crops and an insect plague have created painfully high food prices, leaving more than 18 million people to face hunger across western Africa. To put numbers on this situation, Chad and Mauritania have recorded a loss in crop yield of over 50% when compared to last year’s yield records.
Iran and Afghanistan were struck with two of the most deadly earthquakes of 2012. On August 11, 306 people died from the 6.4 magnitude quake that struck East Azerbaijan Province, Iran. This earthquake was in the rural and mountainous areas to the northeast of Tabriz, and was felt as far away as Armenia. Iran’s major seismic fault lines make the country prone to much worse earthquakes than this one. A 2003 quake killed approximately 26,000, while a 1990 earthquake may have killed as many as 50,000 in Iran. The third-worst earthquake of the year happened in a neighboring part of the Middle East, on June 11. The Baghlan province of Afghanistan sustained a pair of 5.4 and 5.7 magnitude earthquakes, which killed 75 people in that region.