Funds needed for extreme weather-related humanitarian appeals eight times higher than 20 years ago

- Published:
- Short URL:

The money needed to help people affected by extreme weather-related emergencies like floods or drought is eight times higher than 20 years ago - and donors are failing to keep up, a new Oxfam report reveals today. For every $2 needed for UN weather-related appeals, donor countries are only providing $1.

While the UN appeals focus on the most urgent humanitarian needs, they barely address the real costs of loss and damage, such as homes and vital infrastructure, that climate change is now wreaking on countries’ economies.

The report, Footing the Bill, finds that the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events due to climate change is putting more pressure on an already over-stretched and underfunded humanitarian system.

Average annual extreme weather-related humanitarian funding appeals for 2000-2002 were at least $1.6 billion and rose to an average $15.5 billion in 2019-2021, an 819 per cent increase.

Rich countries responsible for most of today’s climate change impacts have only met an estimated 54 per cent of these appeals since 2017, leaving a shortfall of up to $33 billion.

The economic cost of extreme weather-related events in 2021 alone was estimated to be $329 billion globally, the third highest year on record. This is nearly double the total aid given by rich nations to the developing world that year.

Oxfam is calling on governments meeting at the UN climate negotiations taking place in Bonn from 6 – 16 June, to pledge funding to address loss and damage, in addition to existing climate finance and aid commitments.

Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB Chief Executive said: “Millions of people in low-income countries are being hardest hit by a climate crisis they did least to cause, as more extreme and frequent floods, droughts and storms destroy homes and crops, increasing hunger and displacement.

“Rich countries are not only failing to provide sufficient humanitarian aid when weather-related disasters hit. They are also failing to keep their promise to provide $100 billion a year to help developing countries adapt to the changing climate, and blocking calls for finance to help them recover from impacts such as land that’s become unfarmable and infrastructure that’s been damaged.

“It is unacceptable to leave the world’s most vulnerable communities to bear the rising costs of climate breakdown. Wealthy countries like the UK need to take full responsibility for the harm their emissions are causing and provide new funding for loss and damage caused by climate change in the poorest countries.”

Millions of people are currently facing severe hunger in East Africa as a result of climate-induced drought in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia while South Sudan is suffering a fifth year of severe flooding — yet together the countries are responsible for just 0.1 per cent of current global emissions. By comparison, rich and industrialized countries have contributed around 92 per cent of excess historical emissions and 37 per cent of current emissions.

Somalia which is currently facing the worst drought in 40 years, has had the highest number of extreme weather-related appeals in the last 20 years, with 22 in total. On average, these appeals only received 62 per cent of the funding needed.

The costs of loss and damage to low and middle-income countries - the money needed to rebuild homes and hospitals or provide shelter, food and emergency cash transfers after a cyclone - could reach between $290 billion and $580 billion a year by 2030. This does not account for non-economic losses such as the loss of life, cultures and ways of living, and biodiversity.

UN appeals represent just a small part of the costs of climate disasters for people who are especially vulnerable and they only reach a fraction of the people who are suffering. Oxfam's research shows that UN appeals cover only about 474 million of the estimated 3.9 billion people in low and middle-income countries affected by extreme weather-related disasters since 2000, equivalent to one in eight people.

Humanitarian disasters affect men differently than women, who face long-standing inequalities that undermine their ability to cope. Women’s rights and progress towards gender equity are threatened with every disaster. The United Nations Development Programme estimates that 80 per cent of people displaced by climate change are women.

Ahead of 56th sessions of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Implementation in Germany, which includes the first ‘Glasgow Dialogue’ on loss and damage since COP26, Oxfam urges the UK to use the remainder of its COP Presidency to:

  • Pledge bilateral finance to address loss and damage, in addition to existing climate finance and ODA commitments and push other rich countries to do the same.
  • Press all governments to agree to establish and fund a finance facility for loss and damage at COP27, with annual contributions based on responsibility for causing climate change and capacity to pay.
  • Urge governments to agree to make loss and damage a core element of the UNFCCC’s Gender Action Plan.


Notes to editor

Photos and footage are available HERE

Footing the Bill and the methodology note are available HERE

The countries with the most recurring appeals linked to extreme weather (Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Chad, Sudan and Zimbabwe) account for 1.4 per cent of global emissions.

According to Aon, the total economic cost of extreme weather events in 2021 is estimated at $329 billion globally, the third highest year on record, behind 2017 and 2005.

Recent data from Oxfam shows that the wealthiest 1 per cent of humanity are responsible for twice as many emissions as the poorest 50 per cent , and that by 2030, their carbon footprints are in fact set to be 30 times greater than the level compatible with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement.

Rich nations provided $178.9 billion in official development assistance (ODA) in 2021. This is equivalent to 0.33 per cent of donors’ combined gross national income (GNI) and still below the UN target of 0.7 per cent ODA to GNI.

According to estimations by Markandya and González-Eguino, the estimated costs of loss and damage by 2030 range from $290 billion to $580 billion, and according to Climate Analytics from $400 to $431 billion.

Press contact

For comments, interviews, or information please contact Sophie Bowell (Senior Press Officer):