El Niño and Climate Change: Stop The Hunger

Lule Abrahn (50 years) with her 6 year-old son. Harisso Internally displaced person (IDP) camp. Siti Zone. Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam
Lule Abrahn (50 years) with her 6 year-old son. Harisso Internally displaced person (IDP) camp. Siti Zone. Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam

The strongest ever recorded El Niño in years has combined with climate change to put 60 million people at risk of hunger. Tell world leaders to release the cash urgently needed to save lives now and in the future.

People talk about the climate. Each day we talk about the drought and the things we have lost. We are expecting rain in the next 4 months, but only god knows if it will come and what our situation will be. We have been very affected by the drought. All our livestock died. We had 50 goats.” Lule Abrahn, 50, Ethiopia. 

Since October 2015, Oxfam has been raising awareness of this super El Niño which swept across the world into mid-2016. Boosted by climate change, it brought droughts and flooding, leaving 60 million people in the Horn of Africa, Southern Africa, Central America, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific facing hunger, a shortage of water and disease.

Funds are urgently needed both for emergency relief for those already suffering from the effects of this super El Niño, and to support the most vulnerable communities to build their resilience to the changing climate in the long run.

This is what happens when the money comes too late:

  • In Ethiopia emergency food and other humanitarian aid is needed for 9.7 million drought-affected people.
  • Millions more are suffering from food insecurity elsewhere in the Horn and East Africa region, with Somalia and Sudan key areas of concern.
  • In Southern Africa, this year’s long, hard, ‘lean season’ stretches until harvests begin in March 2017; 41 million people are affected, of whom 28 million are in need of immediate assistance.
  • Communities in the Central American “dry corridor” of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador have endured one of the worst droughts in decades. Across the region, 3.5 million people are still in need of food and livelihoods support.
  • In Haiti alone, 1.5 million drought-affected people were severely food insecure before Hurricane Matthew hit the country in early October, almost completely destroying desperately needed crops in some areas.   
  • In Asia and the Pacific, many vulnerable communities still need help to recover from the effects of the super El Niño. In Vietnam, a third of the country has been affected by incremental drought and salt-water intrusion since mid-2015, leaving two million people in need of clean water.

In 22 countries around the world, Oxfam has been working to help people cope with extreme weather patterns, droughts and crop failures.

At the Paris climate summit in December we asked governments to increase their financial commitments to help vulnerable countries cope in situations like this, and while they promised to do so, they failed to set strong enough targets. This food crisis shows clearly what happens when we fail to invest enough in helping communities adapt to climate change and to grow and buy enough food in a warming world.

While uncertainty around the probability of a La Niña event continues, regional forecasts for several areas make grim reading, suggesting there may be no respite for many people already left vulnerable by drought.

Parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia could see below-average rainfall at a critical time for harvests, as could northern areas of Southern Africa. Other areas could see heavy rains that may result in flooding, destroyed crops, and outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as cholera.

Act now

World leaders can prevent this worsening food crisis from spiraling out of control and stop it happening again. Sign the petition and tell them to: 

  •  Urgently provide funding for countries facing an immediate humanitarian crisis.
  • Set clear and strong targets to increase climate adaptation financing at the UN Climate Summit in Morocco in November.