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The Challenge of Climate Disasters - From delivering aid to ending need


In the wake of El Niño

We are living in the most unusually warm period in history and this is taking a huge toll on the world’s most vulnerable. 2015 was the hottest year on record and 2016 looks set to be even hotter.
As this year’s El Niño in the Pacific lurches towards becoming a La Nina1 , the run of record temperatures looks set to be broken again. But in some ways, this year is not unique. It has become widely acknowledged among the development community that weather-related disasters are the ‘new normal’.

Over the last twenty years, 90 percent of disasters have been caused by floods, storms, heatwaves and other weather related events. Over this period, weather-related disasters claimed 606,000 lives, an average of some 30,000 per annum, with an additional 4.1 billion people injured, left homeless or in need of emergency assistance.2 60 million people are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance due to El Niño.3 More than 26 million children are at risk from hunger, disease and lack of water in Africa alone.4 On a continent where 70 percent of the population is dependent upon agriculture,5 El Niño is having catastrophic consequences. Economic losses due to disasters can be 20 times greater (as a percentage of GDP) in developing countries compared to developed countries.

World Vision’s Response

A dollar invested in resilience, disaster risk reduction and early action can save around four dollars in emergency relief. Funding needs to support these kinds of programmes as well as humanitarian relief. It also needs to be multi-year and flexible – at least ten percent of development finance needs to be made available to manage climate risks.

World Vision works in and with communities for up to 15 years and is able to release 20 percent of its community development budget for immediate humanitarian support.

Officially, World Vision has emergency responses to the disaster in 16 countries (Angola, DRC, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, TimorLeste,
Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Haiti, Somalia, Honduras)

Recognising the unjust toll that disasters take on those who are already struggling, World Vision has focused on four specific areas in order to minimise the impact of some of the worst weather-related disasters:

• Preparedness & response,

• Resilience,

• Disaster risk reduction; and

• Recovery.

In the Philippines, we have integrated development with emergency response in our nutrition hubs. In Ethiopia, Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration has made communities resilient and resistant to drought. In Zambia, our water programmes have reduced the affects of disasters by reducing the exposure to water borne diseases that so many children are susceptible to.

World Vision has so far reached over five million people affected by El Niño – half of those were children.