El Niño Special Envoys have a huge job ahead, as Oxfam, World Vision, CARE, ACF International and Save the Children welcome appointments
El Niño is a crisis of global proportions, seriously affecting 60 million people around the world, yet it is not getting international attention and there remains a huge funding gap of nearly $1.8bn. The appointment of Mary Robinson and Macharia Kamau as Special Envoys for El Niño by the United Nations is an encouraging step, as the humanitarian situation will only get worse before it gets better, and especially as there is high probability of a La Niña event towards the end of 2016, which could push more vulnerable women, men, boys and girls to the brink.
The new El Niño Special Envoys have a big job ahead and to succeed, they need to do four things. They must start working with donors to ensure additional and sufficient funding for those affected by El Niño, and support affected governments in finalizing the development of clear, costed response plans. The profile of La Niña needs to be raised, along with the creation of response plans and the hosting of a conference in September on this weather phenomenon. And lastly, the Special Envoys must aim to bring about systemic change, so that governments and the international community can respond early and effectively to climate-related weather events, to protect lives and livelihoods.
Mary Robinson is a member of The Elders, former President of Ireland, former UN Commissioner for Human Rights, and former UN Special Envoy for Climate Change.
Ambassador Macharia Kamau is the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Kenya to the UN.
Oxfam has El Niño experts available for interview.
Simon Hernandez-Arthur in Washington, D.C.
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