2015–2016 El Niño Early action and response for agriculture, food security and nutrition report - Working Draft (26 January 2016) Update #5
Background and purpose
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has as its Strategic Objective 5 to “Increase the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises”. In support of its national counterparts, FAO aims to address the current and future needs of vulnerable people affected by the 2015‒2016 El Niño event.
It is widely recognized that by striking before a crisis has escalated into an emergency, disaster losses can be reduced and emergency response costs significantly decreased. Early actions strengthen the resilience of at-risk populations, mitigate the impact of disasters and help communities, governments and national and international humanitarian agencies to respond more effectively and efficiently.
Sea surface temperatures in the El Niño region 3.42 have continued to increase, reaching a record weekly average of 3 °C in the second week of November. However, while most models predict that this El Niño will likely stay above the + 1.5 °C “strong” threshold, it is difficult to assess if the current event will surpass the effects of the 1997–1998 El Niño, as it is a slow onset phenomenon and each occurrence can differ from the others. Even if this El Niño will not be as strong as that of 1997–1998, it will be one of the strongest registered, which is already impacting several regions.
The increase in climate-related disasters from an El Niño event is particularly important for FAO’s mandate. A recent ten-year analysis led by its Climate, Energy and Tenure Division showed that 25 percent of all damage caused during natural disasters is in the agriculture sector. In drought alone, agriculture is the single most affected sector, absorbing around 84 percent of all the economic impact (The Impact on Natural Hazards and Disasters on Agriculture, FAO 2015). This report provides a global analysis of the current and expected evolution of El Niño-related disasters and its impact on agriculture, food security and nutrition.
It aims to give a consolidated outlook of the situation and the early actions being taken by governments, partners and FAO. Countries were selected based on a combination of analysis of the El Niño event and FAO priorities for strengthening the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises. In view of the rapid evolution of the phenomenon, the report will be subject to regular updates.