5 climate-driven disasters — and how WFP has prepared and responded in 2019

Crises are becoming more frequent and intense, and our capacity to anticipate, mitigate and respond more sophisticated

Climate change-related events threaten to push 100 million people into hunger and increase the risk of malnutrition in children. Photo: WFP/Alexis Masciarelli

Cyclones Idai & Kenneth — Mozambique

The flooded areas created by torrential rains in the wake of Cyclone Idai looked like ‘inland oceans’. Photo: WFP/Marco Frattini

Prolonged drought and heavy rains — Central America

Five consecutive years of prolonged drought, interspersed with heavy rains, have brought farmers in Central America’s Dry Corridor — which cuts across El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua — to their knees. Maize and beans, the main staples in the region, are extremely susceptible to adverse weather conditions and 2.2 million people lost their crops in the 2018/2019 season. Eight out of ten families have been forced to sell agricultural tools and animals, cut back or skip meals and eat less nutritious foods. 1.4 million people do not have enough to carry them through to the next harvest. Children are most at risk, as they might not get the nutrients they need for their development.

As the drought spoils traditional staples, WFP assistance helps farmers diversify crops. Photos: WFP/Sabrina Quezada (L); WFP/Rocío Franco (R)

“We won’t leave anymore. We will earn our money here.”

As well as providing assistance for affected families to get through the lean season, WFP is working to build the resilience of communities through the creation and rehabilitation of assets — including community vegetable gardens and water harvesting and irrigation systems. Among other measures is the diversification of livelihoods through new skills, and the provision of training and support for strengthened agricultural production.

Monsoon rains — Bangladesh

Home to more than 700 rivers, Bangladesh is increasingly seeing the impact of climate change. In July, torrential rains swept away homes and livelihoods across 20 of Bangladesh’s 64 districts, affecting the lives of 2.3 million people.

“Even in our sadness, we are happy. The money has helped me a lot: I bought some dry food, rice and bamboo.”

For 4,500 families, the devastating impact of the flooding was mitigated by anticipatory action taken by WFP and the Government of Bangladesh. When a natural hazard is forecast to exceed a specified threshold, or level of impact, this triggers pre-emptive actions, including cash transfers to vulnerable members of the community, which help reduce the scale and cost of disaster response.

Anticipatory actions, triggered by weather forecasts, can help mitigate the impact of extreme weather events. Photo: WFP/Sayed Asif Mahmud

Drought — Ethiopia

Prolonged drought has had severe negative effects on pastoralist families in Somali Region, Ethiopia. Widespread deaths of livestock and increased food insecurity exacerbate the vulnerability of an already poor population, leading to an estimated 1.8 million people being in need of life-saving food assistance.

Long-running drought has caused the deaths of livestock, a breakdown in pastoral livelihoods and soaring hunger and malnutrition levels. Photo: WFP/Peter Smerdon

Hurricane Dorian — The Bahamas

When Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas in September, it did not catch WFP and local authorities unprepared. In advance of Dorian’s arrival, WFP was able to rapidly deploy technical experts in food security, logistics and emergency telecommunication to support a rapid needs assessment. WFP subsequently airlifted storage units, generators and prefab offices for two logistics hubs being established on the main islands. It also provided satellite equipment to ensure connectivity for emergency responders, as well as ready-to-use fortified emergency food.

WFP’s permanent presence in the Caribbean through its Barbados office helps prepare for and respond to climate-driven disasters in the region. Photo: WFP/Elio Rujano

Learn more here about WFP and climate action

World Food Programme Insight

Insight by The World Food Programme

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