El Niño: Overview of Impact, Projected Humanitarian Needs and Response, 21 September 2016
The El Niño weather event has been in a neutral phase since May. Nevertheless, it continues to have a devastating impact on vulnerable people in parts of Eastern and Southern Africa, Asia and the Pacific, the Dry Corridor in Central America, and Haiti in the Caribbean. This event will also cause long term consequences for public health, nutrition, livelihoods, water and sanitation.
The weather phenomenon has resulted in poor or failed harvests in Africa, the Pacific and Central America in mid-2016, and has forced millions of poor households to resort to negative coping mechanisms, such as reducing meal sizes and non-food expenditures and selling productive assets. Poor or failed harvests lower the food supply and drive up food prices putting more burden on vulnerable households who have already seen their income reduced from poor crop production, loss of livestock and lack of employment. Water scarcity has also triggered human and livestock migration, particularly in pastoral communities. While some areas have experienced poor harvests due to drought, El Niño has led to heavy rainfalls and flooding in other parts of East Africa, Asia and Latin America, which has damaged crops and further reduced food security. The drought and floods also contribute to the spread of water- and mosquito-borne diseases.
Humanitarian partners have been calling for immediate support for farmers, particularly in East and Southern Africa where the growing season will start in September and October. A timely response could help avoid another food crisis in 2017. Many vulnerable households, including subsistence farmers and pastoral communities, are also in need of food assistance, nutrition and other basic services and support to recover their livelihoods.
In August, Ethiopia and Somalia renewed calls for funding for humanitarian response through the end of 2016. Ethiopia has requested $1.6 billion to assist 9.5 million drought-affected people until December 2016. Somalia is requesting $61 million to continue with the response in the Puntland and Somaliland regions until September 2016. In Southern Africa, Zimbabwe is revising its humanitarian requirements after a recent assessment showed an increase in the number of vulnerable people from 2.8 million to 4.1 million.
Food assistance is still delivered to affected communities in Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Republic of Marshall Islands, while about 2 million people in Vietnam need access to safe drinking water following massive saltwater intrusion. In Vietnam, a joint Government-humanitarian partners’ drought recovery plan is being finalized, with the cost of recovery estimated to be $166 million for the remainder of 2016 and $368 million for 2017. Disaster risk reduction and livelihood recovery activities are being implemented to build resilience to future crises, including in the Republic of Marshall Islands and Timor-Leste.
In the Dry Corridor in Central America, about 3.5 million people are still in need of food and livelihoods support. The situation is exacerbated by floods, disease outbreaks and coffee rust infestation.
Latest Forecasts from the US Climate Prediction Centre show that neutral conditions are now more likely than La Niña conditions for the remainder of 2016 and early 2017.
Twenty-three countries have issued costed response plans, requiring a total of $5 billion. As of September 2016, only 38 per cent of the total requirement is funded, leaving 60 million people at significant risk of further loss.