‘What Will Become of Us’ – Voices from around the World on Drought and El Niño


Human Wrongs Watch

By OXFAM International*

About 60 million people across Southern Africa and the Horn, Central America, and the Pacific face worsening hunger and poverty due to droughts and crop failures in 2014/5 that have been exacerbated by the El Niño weather system in 2015/6. This number is likely to rise, OXFAM International reports.

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

An OXFAM International short report** –authored Debbie Hillier — gives a voice to some of the people that Oxfam is working with in Ethiopia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, El Salvador and Papua New Guinea.

El Niño and Climate Change: Stop The Hunger

OXFAM International has also reported*** that 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 Nino which is sweeping across the world. Boosted by climate change, it’s bringing 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 Nino, 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 10.2 million people are in an acute state of food insecurity and need international assistance.
  • A further 18.2 million people are suffering from food insecurity elsewhere in the Horn and East Africa region, with key areas of concern across Sudan, northern Somalia, Djibouti, and Karamoja.
  • Preliminary numbers for Southern Africa indicate that 18.3 million people immediately require emergency assistance in rural areas of countries affected by drought.
  • Communities in the Central American “dry corridor” of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador are facing one of the worst droughts in decades with over 3.5 million people in need of assistance.
  • 3.6 million people, one third of the population of Haiti, the worst affected country in Latin America and the Caribbean, are food insecure.
  • Millions in the Pacific remain affected, including an estimated 1.5 million people in Papua New Guinea, while around 350,000 people already impacted by drought and water shortages in Fiji have had their coping strategies further undermined by the impacts of Tropical Cyclone Winston.
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Hawa Seid (25) walked for one day to get to the Fadeto IDP center, Ethiopia. “It is a lot better here, because we get water from the tank every day. But the amount we get is not sufficient,” she says. | Photo: OXFAM International

In 22 countries around the world, Oxfam is working to help people cope with extreme weather patterns, droughts and crop failures. However, many are already facing extreme hardship.

At the Paris climate summit in December we asked governments to increase their financial commitments to support 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.

This is now especially important as the probability of a La Niña event has increased to 75%; this would likely bring flooding to drought affected areas, seriously impacting already vulnerable people.

 

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