El Niño has changed the lives of 60 million people around the world

Extreme weather events caused by the phenomenon have changed millions lives and SG Ban Ki-moon says the response must go beyond humanitarian action. 

Extreme weather events like droughts and crop failures linked to the El Niño phenomenon have affected the lives and livelihoods of over 60 million people around the world.

Oxfam International has released "What will become of us?" a short report giving a voice to the people suffering the consequences of climate change and whom with they are working around the world.

The Horn of Africa has been the worst hit, with 10.2 million people requiring food assistance in Ethiopia and 7.9 million already receiving help through government led programmes. Eritrea and Djibouti are also suffering from severe droughts.

Latin America and the Caribbean have been hardly hit as well. Three consecutive years of drought in Central America have were worsened by El Niño. Around 3.5 million people in the dry corridor of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador have difficulties accessing food.

In South America floods have been regular and about 3.6 million people in Haiti and Cuba are seriously affected by droughts.

Oxfam is currently working in 22 countries around the world, helping governments cope with the difficulties brought by El Niño and climate change.

During a high level event in the headquarters of the UN in New York Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “Extreme weather events reverse development gains. People and communities cannot escape poverty or banish hunger if their resources are wiped out by floods, storms or droughts every few years.”

The meeting aimed to focus attention on the multi-dimensional impacts of El Niño and how despite it has returned to a neutral phase its impacts are likely to grow and continue to be seen throughout the year.

SG urged for more funding  for the hardest hit countries (Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi) where about 18 million people are in need of food support and the World Food Programme has only secured one-quarter of the $549 million for relief operations in the seven priority drought-hit countries.

“This unprecedented challenge requires unprecedented changes in the way we work. It is crucial that we learn the lessons of this El Niño. We must prevent, prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate change, which has the greatest impact on those who have least responsibility for causing it,” added Mr Ban Ki-moon.

At last he invited world leaders to a special event on September 21 to " deposit their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession to the Paris Agreement on climate change."


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