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2015-2016 El Niño - Food Security Impact (September 2016)

Originally published


  • While the 2015-2016 El Niño weather event is now over, humanitarian needs continue to grow, and are not expected to peak until early 2017 as food security continues to deteriorate in many regions. WFP, working closely with partners on the ground, is rapidly scaling up life-saving operations for communities reeling from the catastrophic effects of El Niño.

  • WFP is working to reach people with life-saving food and cash-based relief, while also emphasizing the reinforcement of national and local capacities and systems. Resilience building is key to curbing the long term impacts of El Niño, protecting hard-won development progress. El Niño - Food Security Impact September 2016 20.


El Niño-related drought continues to affect Ethiopia, and food insecurity and malnutrition rates remain high with millions of people requiring humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian needs have tripled since early 2015 as severe drought has caused successive harvest failures. WFP is responding through a joint response with the Ethiopian Government targeting 7.1 million people.


WFP launched an Emergency Operation in April to address the immediate food needs of drought-affected populations after an Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) in February 2016 revealed that 3.6 million people were food insecure, with 1.5 million severely food insecure. August marks the second phase of the operation, which plans to assist a total of 280,000 people with both cash transfers and cash for assets activities to build their resilience.

Southern Africa

The current El Niño-induced drought in Southern Africa is the worst in 35 years, following the failure of two consecutive rainy seasons. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) in July declared a Regional Disaster. WFP is rapidly scaling up life-saving operations for the most vulnerable communities in the worst-affected countries.

Papua New Guinea

In May, WFP launched an Emergency Operation in Papua New Guinea, initially targeting 180,000 people suffering from the impacts of El Niño-induced drought. Although the El Niño event has now officially ended, many Papua New Guineans continue to suffer from food insecurity as they wait for their harvests. WFP has conducted food distributions since early June this year, and plans to provide assistance to more than 200,000 people in five provinces by the end of October. WFP continues to deploy protection measures to ensure that its food assistance does not fuel social tensions or violence against people served.