Stand up to climate change; stand up to hunger
Despite doing the least to cause it, poor people are experiencing the worst impacts of climate extremes. Climate induced disasters are becoming the new normal and this trend is set to worsen if the world does not act. People will go hungry, livelihoods will be lost and we will lose the fight against extreme poverty.
One such example of this is the current El Nino crisis. El Nino is a weather pattern which has been supercharged by climate change and has swept across the world leaving over 60 million people in the Horn of Africa, Southern Africa, Central America, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific facing food and water shortages. Oxfam is responding in 22 countries.
However, despite the huge numbers affected, the crisis has largely gone unnoticed and people are starving in silence. Food and water shortages have a knock-on effect - children aren't going to school, banks are refusing to lend money to affected farmers, livelihoods are lost and the local economy suffers. Development is being rolled back by many years.
$4bn is urgently needed both to help people who are experiencing food and water shortages or loss of livelihoods and - as droughts and flooding become the new normal - to support communities to adapt in the long term to the changing climate.
More intense and frequent climate-induced disasters are what we can expect more of in the context of climate change. We need to deal better with droughts when they happen, we cannot keep providing too little money too late. We need a new strategic, approach to these problems. They are predictable and we have the technical knowledge to prevent the worst effects of drought so there are no excuses for dealing so badly with droughts.
At the Paris climate summit in December 2015 we asked governments to increase their financial commitments to support vulnerable countries to 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.
World leaders can prevent events like the El Nino food crisis from becoming the new normal by:
• Urgently provide funding for countries facing an immediate humanitarian crisis.
• Pushing ahead a significant new co-ordinated approach to dealing with predictable climate crises, ensuing funding is available for countries to take the technical steps needed to prevent disasters.