FOREWORD BY THE EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR
The humanitarian impact of the ongoing El Niño episode is deeply alarming, already affecting 60 million people. Projections indicate the situation in 2016 will not improve—hunger and suffering will increase for millions of vulnerable people, and food insecurity is projected to worsen through to at least the end of the year. In the face of such a critical threat to the lives and livelihoods of millions of people across the world, a concerted global effort is required to prevent an even more serious humanitarian disaster in the coming months.
The level of mobilization for this El Niño event has been unprecedented and has helped to mitigate some of its impact. However, the scale of the challenge and the effects of drought and flooding have been so severe that they have overwhelmed the capacity of many countries.
Timely contributions from donors, including through the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), have provided a good start, but they are nowhere near enough. Critical funding gaps are preventing scale-up and threatening to cut short life-saving programmes in affected countries, including the food pipeline in Ethiopia. The international community must do more, collectively, to fund and execute a coordinated response to El Niño-related emergencies to save lives and reduce suffering.
Our response must be effective at two levels: we must respond quickly to critical food, water, nutrition and health needs, but also assist people to become self-reliant again as soon as possible, and build individual and community capacity to respond to future shocks. For this, we need an active partnership between humanitarian and development actors. Together, we can mitigate the impact of El Niño and the possible La Niña event that may materialize at the end of this year. The longer we wait, the more people will suffer, the costlier the response will be and the more development gains will be lost.
The challenge now is one of political will. The World Humanitarian Summit on 23 and 24 May in Istanbul presents a critical opportunity to determine how to respond more effectively to future El Niño and La Niña events. Until then, urgent action must be taken to assist affected communities.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.