The El Niño global climatic event has had a devastating impact on tens of millions of people across the globe in 2015 and 2016. East Africa, Southern Africa, Central America, South East Asia and the Pacific Islands, continue to be at risk of extreme weather events, including below-normal rains and flooding. The humanitarian fallout includes increased food insecurity due to low crop yields and rising prices; higher malnutrition rates; devastated livelihoods; increased susceptibility to illnesses, and forced displacement.
The Asia-Pacific region is one of the most disaster-prone areas in the world, with frequently occurring natural disasters including earthquakes, tsunamis, tropical storms, flooding, landslides and volcanic eruptions affecting millions of people every year.
At least 11 countries across Asia-Pacific experienced severe weather conditions due to El Niño.
In February, Tropical Cyclone Winston, the strongest cyclone recorded in the South Pacific, devastated Fiji.
In DPR Korea, 18million people are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance – 2016 response plan severely underfunded.
Tropical Storm Roanu triggers worst flooding in Sri Lanka in 25 years; preparedness actions mitigated loss of life in Bangladesh.
Dundgobi, southeast Mongolia: From late 2015 to April 2016, Mongolia suffered from what is locally known as a dzud – a very hot and dry summer followed by an extremely harsh winter. The result of dzud can be devastating to animals on which many Mongolians rely for food and income. Ganbold, 40, has been looking after animals since he was a small child. This year’s dzud took a heavy toll on his animals, making them weak and prone to disease. "I am usually prepared well for winter and spring,” he says.
Why a regional focus model?
A key challenge faced by humanitarian agencies is how to ensure that limited available resources are allocated where they are most needed and are efficiently delivered in a principled manner. Decisions to allocate resources must strike a balance between meeting the immediate needs of crisis affected communities and supporting efforts to strengthen resilience and response preparedness to future emergencies.
IASC Regional Network for Asia-Pacific
The ongoing humanitarian impact of extreme weather events caused by El Niño, which began in 2015, are likely to continue in many cases in the Asia-Pacific region until the third quarter of 2016. While emergency needs in many countries are waning due to recent rainfalls, in many areas longer-term engagement, in particular around resilience and early recovery is still needed.
The humanitarian impact of the 2015-2016 El Niño remains deeply alarming, now affecting over 60 million people. Central America, East Africa (particularly Ethiopia), the Pacific and Southern Africa remain the most affected regions. The El Niño phenomenon is now in decline, but projections indicate the situation will worsen throughout at least the end of the year, with food insecurity caused primarily by drought not likely to peak before December. Therefore, the humanitarian impacts will last well into 2017 .
The Government of Mongolia has officially declared the winter dzud over; however rains and unseasonal snow continue to impact vulnerable herders by putting stress on their livelihoods due to additional livestock deaths. Since January, some 1.1 million animals (up to 5.8 per cent) of the national livestock total have perished. Cash grants and cash-for-work interventions have begun as part of early recovery efforts. In March, CERF allocated $2.4 million to jumpstart health and nutrition, agriculture, protection and early recovery activities.
Dzud is a cyclical slow onset disaster unique to Mongolia. It consists of a summer drought, resulting in insufficient production of hay, followed by a very heavy winter snow (10 to 350 cm), winds and lower than normal temperatures (-40° C to-50° C). During this time an excessive number of livestock die causing basic services, and in the longer term, livelihoods to collapse in vulnerable herder communities.
The current El Niño started in Asia and the Pacific region from as early as March 2015. It reached strong levels in some countries in July 2015. In many countries the effects of the phenomenon remained strong throughout the first quarter of 2016. However, the humanitarian impacts have now become critical in many countries and humanitarian response have been ramping up.
On 17 March 2016, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP), the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) hosted a one-day meeting on El Niño Impacts and Priorities for Action. The event was well attended by representatives of member states, resource partners, UN agencies and NGOs, among others.
As of 11 March, some 14,800 people affected by Typhoon Winston remain in 476 evacuation centres. All evacuation centres in Central Division have closed and only three remain open in Northern Division. In Eastern Division, however, 7,800 people remain in the centres including people from the most severely affected islands including Koro.
Dzud is a cyclical slow onset disaster unique to Mongolia. It consists of a summer drought, resulting in insufficient production of hay, followed by a very heavy winter snow (10 to 350 cm), winds and lower than normal temperatures (-40° C to -50° C). During this time an excessive number of livestock die causing basic services, and in the longer term, livelihoods to collapse in vulnerable herder communities.
60 million PEOPLE WILL BE AFFECTED BY EL NIÑO IN THE FOUR MOST AFFECTED REGIONS
2.8 million PEOPLE REQUIRE HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE IN GUATEMALA AND HONDURAS
10.2 million PEOPLE IN NEED OF EMERGENCY FOOD IN ETHIOPIA
14 million FOOD INSECURE PEOPLE IN SOUTHERN AFRICA – EXCLUDING SOUTH AFRICA
El Niño status
Current conditions and forecast
Oceanic and atmospheric indicators suggest the 2015/2016 El Niño has peaked with a return to neutral conditions expected during the second quarter of 2016. However, countries continue to feel the effects of El Niño which include below average precipitation during the rainy season, more intense cyclones in the North-Western Pacific and potentially more frequent cyclones in the South Pacific over the coming weeks, as well as drought in South and South-East Asia.
Severe Tropical Cyclone Ula will start to weaken as it moves south from Vanuatu after spending the past 13 days impacting countries across the Pacific. The cyclone passed close to the southern islands of Vanuatu as a Category 4 system on 10 Jan bringing heavy rain, some localised flooding, crop damage and heavy seas. Assessments are underway but there are no reports of major damage and there have been no requests for international assistance.
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Temperatures in the Asia-Pacific region can go very high with central India reaching 50oC or more. The Tibetan plateau rarely exceeds 20oC because of its high elevation.
These temperatures are based on average highs over a period of approximately 50 years. Maximum temperatures in the region may therefore be from different months of the year and a temperature in any given location may exceed these maximums.