People, Environment

Weather Phenomena May Affect 100m People

Weather Phenomena May  Affect 100m PeopleWeather Phenomena May  Affect 100m People

The number of people affected by the combined impact of El Nino and La Nina weather patterns could exceed 100 million by the end of the year, according to the United Nations.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that more than 60 million people, two-thirds of them in east and southern Africa, are facing food shortages because of droughts linked to El Nino, a climate phenomenon that occurs when water in the Pacific Ocean becomes abnormally warm.

The impact of La Nina, when waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean cool after a phase of El Nino, is not as severe, but the weather pattern has also been linked to floods and droughts, Climate Central reported.

“El Nino has caused primarily a food and agricultural crisis,” FAO Director General Jose Graziano da Silva said last week at a meeting of UN agencies in Rome to discuss the impact of El Nino in Africa and Asia Pacific.

He said almost $4 billion were needed to meet the humanitarian demands of countries affected by El Nino.

The United Nations has called on governments and the international community to increase efforts to boost the resilience of “highly vulnerable” communities struggling to feed themselves, as well as to help them prepare for La Nina.

Graziano da Silva said FAO was mobilizing extra funding for agriculture, food and nutrition, and to invest in disaster preparedness.

“It [the FAO] will finance early actions that prevent unfolding disasters from happening,” he said.

According to FAO, Southern Africa had a three-month “window of opportunity” before the 2016/17 planting season to take urgent measures to prevent millions of rural families becoming dependent on humanitarian assistance in 2018.

Macharia Kamau, UN special envoy on El Nino and climate, said a failure to adapt to the “new normal” of increasing climate-related emergencies like El Nino and La Nina would threaten progress on UN development goals.

“Both rapid and slow-onset climactic events are exposing years of poor investment and preparedness, demanding a much better financed and integrated response,” Kamau said.

“These climactic events are also exposing the vulnerability of our grand plans for fighting poverty and sustaining our infrastructure.”   

Weather forecasters in Japan, Australia and the United States predict a 50-75% chance of La Nina developing in the second half of 2016.