400 million people have been affected by this year’s El Nino weather as a result of droughts – ActionAid report

Report launched at UN Climate conference, Marrakech, today.


A new report launched at UN climate negotiations in Marrakech today by international development group ActionAid has found that over 400 million people have been affected by this year’s El Niño weather event, as a result of record droughts in a year that has also seen record levels of CO2 and the planet’s hottest ever year.

ActionAid climate expert Teresa Anderson said: “this may be the largest global drought crisis that the world has ever experienced.”

The new report “Hotter Planet, Humanitarian Crisis” says that this crisis has exposed a disconnect between climate rhetoric and disaster response. The international community must do more to provide its fair share of funding to support developing countries that are bearing the brunt of climate change impacts, and there is an urgent need to invest in resilience to climate change and weather disasters.

ActionAid climate change policy expert Teresa Anderson said:

“It is shocking that in the year since the Paris Agreement on climate change, the world has been largely silent on one of the biggest-ever global climate emergencies.  In a year when carbon dioxide levels and temperatures hit record levels, over 400 million people were affected by the strongest ever “El Niño” weather event, which caused droughts around the world.

“This year the world may be experiencing the largest global drought since records began.  Southern Africa, Ethiopia, Brazil and Vietnam have suffered their worst droughts in decades, and many countries have declared national emergencies”

The new report says scientists believe that these impacts are being driven by a combination of climate change and El Niño, and that climate change has intensified the effects of this year's El Niño. Climate change is a key factor at play, as scientists believe that even without El Niño, 2015 would still have been the hottest year on record.

Teresa Anderson added:

“Over 400 million people have been affected. Women and children are being hit hardest. Women are missing meals and are walking hours every day to find water. Girls are dropping out of school, and child marriages are on the rise. In some countries, women are resorting to sex work to feed their families.

And yet in spite of the huge scale of the drought, the world has remained largely silent on the crisis. Countries and humanitarian agencies face a funding gap of $3.1 billion to meet the needs of those that are still affected. Governments that promised climate compassion in Paris have apparently turned their backs on an actual global climate crisis.”

Climate-induced humanitarian crises are increasingly becoming the “new normal”.  However the 2015-16 El Niño crisis has exposed a gulf between humanitarian and climate bodies. As countries and the UNFCCC have celebrated the signing, ratification and entry into force of a new climate deal, they have apparently ignored the actual global climate crisis taking place under their noses. These silos between climate and humanitarian bodies are failing vulnerable people.

Key Recommendations of the Report:

  • The international community must do more to provide its fair share of climate finance to support capacity building and adaptation strategies.
  • This El Niño crisis was predictable, and its devastating impacts were preventable.  Rich countries must commit far more money for early action, and vulnerable countries must improve planning and identification of thresholds for action in slow-onset disasters.
  • Collaboration between climate, development and humanitarian bodies must be strengthened.
  • Countries’ moral obligation to provide humanitarian support must be reinforced by their historic responsibility for causing climate change.
  • Donor countries must urgently meet the $3.1 billion funding gap to deal with the current El Niño crisis and the agonizing hunger that will continue to affect countries for many months.

The Report is available on the ActionAid website here

For more information or to request an interview or briefing, please contact international media manager Paul Dyett on +44 (0) 7850 312438, paul.dyett@actionaid.org or Skype: pauldyett. Twitter:@actionaidnews