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2016: When Global Humanitarian Operations reach its Apex
By admin December 30, 2015

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article-2153461-13682C5C000005DC-435_634x478 (1) In what is deemed the strongest El Niño measured in recorded history, humanitarian organizations and government agencies are gearing up their efforts in what may be the most challenging year for global humanitarian operations.  The abnormally high temperatures in certain parts of the Pacific Ocean are forcing changes in normal weather patterns, with the impacts being felt across the globe, from the warmer than average winter experienced in North America to the devastating droughts blanketing Eastern and Southern sub-Saharan Africa, and the massive flooding in South America, displacing thousands of people from Paraguay to Chile.

2016 is on track to become the year that tests the resiliency of local, national and regional institutions responses to the implications exacerbated by the effects of El Niño, with global warming increasing the severity of its impact.

“Our planet has altered dramatically because of climate change, the general trend towards a warmer global ocean, the loss of Arctic sea ice and of over a million square kilometres of summer snow cover in the northern hemisphere. So this naturally occurring El Niño event and human induced climate change may interact and modify each other in ways which we have never before experienced”, said UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Michel Jarraud in a statement made earlier last month.

For those who may be unaware, El Niño refers to the complex weather patterns resulting from variations in ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Scientists are suggesting that this weather phenomenon may surpass previous “Super El Niños” experienced in 1982 and 1997, considered the strongest in nearly 65 years, leaving countries increasingly vulnerable to drought, famine and food price spike unseen in recent decades.

The chaos caused by this year’s El Niño is not only driving sever weather patterns but also an ongoing humanitarian crisis, according to various United Nations (UN) agencies.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) issued a warning last month about the current El Niño, stressing that more than 11 million children are at risk from hunger, disease and lack of water in specific regions throughout the African continent. The impacts are also felt in Central America, where the UN World Food Programme (WFP) warned that 2.3 million people would need food aid for to prolonged drought.

In a warning highlighted by UN office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affair:

“Millions of people will be impacted by El Niño this year and next though an exact number is hard to pinpoint.” “The humanitarian fallout in certain areas will include increased food insecurity due to low crop yields and rising prices; higher malnutrition rates; devastated livelihoods; and forced displacement.”

Throughout Eastern Africa, drought like conditions as a result from low rainfall average from June to August has greatly affected countries located in East such as Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti and Eretria. Across Central America, similar impacts are being felt, affecting countries economic output and peoples access to water. “Up to 80 per cent of crops have been lost in the “dry corridor” of Central America, a drought-prone region shared by Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador,” notes UNOCHR, with some 4.2 million people affected by El Niño. And Central and Southeast Asia have followed similar paths as drought conditions affect countries like Indonesia – which has experienced abnormally high forest fires – the Philippines and the South Pacific Islands.

30 millionFOOD INSERCURE PEOPLE IN SOUTHERN AFRICA 22 millionPEOPLE LIKELY O SUFFER FROM FOOD INSERUCITY IN EASTERN AFRICA 4.7 millionPEOPLE AT RISK FROM ADVERSE WEATHER ASSOCIATED WITH EL NINO IN THE SOUTHERN PACIFIC 4.3 millionPEOPLE ALREADY AFFECTED BY EL NINO-RELATED DROUGHT IN CENTRAL AMERICA

Source: UNOCHR El Niño: Snapshot of Impact and Projected Humanitarian Needs But it looks like the world is preparing to deal with the impacts by increasing humanitarian funding gaps and implementing disaster management campaigns for people displaced by this weather phenomenon. Last week, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a rescue package of $88 million in humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia, as the struggling nation addresses the crisis of food insecurity due to below normal rainfalls in some parts of the country, resulting in the “worst drought in over 50 years”.  The European Union also announced earlier this month a contribution of  €125 million “to finance emergency actions in countries affected by the extreme weather phenomenon ‘El Niño’ in Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America.” Israel has also responded to please coming from Kenya, after UNOCHA reported that 800,000 Kenyans have been displaced since the El Niño rains begun in October, with various humanitarian donations to mitigate the effects of El Niño rains.

2015 proved to be a year highlighting many of the challenges the international community has in its agenda; but it may be 2016 that proves if the world can overcome those challenges

For more information: El Niño on track to be among worst ever, but world better prepared for fallout – UN From Cattle to Coffee, Farmers Weather Worst of El Niño This El Niño could be the biggest El Niño in recorded history Impact of El Niño could be worst in 18 years in southern Africa, warns UN ‘special alert’


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