El Nino happens every 3-7 years. How can Africa be better prepared?

31 Aug 2016 by Excellent Hachileka, Programme Specialist, Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change, UNDP Africa

A farmer in The Gambia shows a dry tuft of rice in a drought period. Photo: FAO
Some 60 million people’s lives have been affected by the 2015-2016 El Niño phenomenon in the Horn and Southern Africa. It was the strongest El Niño since 1950. Severe droughts have led to crop failure and food insecurity, massive livestock and wildlife deaths and loss of livelihoods. Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe have all declared drought emergencies. In South Africa, only one province, Gauteng, has been spared the emergency.   A total of 40 million people, or 22 percent of Southern Africa’s rural population, became food insecure. About 23 million of them needed immediate humanitarian assistance at a cost of US$2.7 billion. In the Horn of Africa, close to 24 million people were facing critical and emergency food insecurity levels as of June 2016. Ethiopia is the most severely impacted by the drought with about 10.2 million people in need of food assistance and emergency funding requirements of US$1.4 billion. The 2015-2016 El Nino was predicted and early warning data made available in most countries, yet little action was taken, exposing both a lack of political will and a resilience deficit.  Only half of the affected countries have updated disaster risk reduction contingency plans, while the rest have outdated plans … Read more

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