News and Stories - Climate Change - 19th January 2016

El Niño What you need to know about the world’s hunger emergency

El Niño What you need to know about the world’s hunger emergency

There’s a humanitarian disaster unfolding that isn’t making headlines.

El Niño, the most severe weather phenomenon in history, is driving millions of people into debt, hunger and poverty. Droughts are already ravaging parts of Africa. And extreme weather is affecting the Pacific, Asia, and Central and South America, too. These are all regions in which we already work – and we’re meeting and working with families whose livelihoods have been entirely destroyed due to wiped out crops and failed harvests.

It could escalate to be one of the most devastating global crises we’ve ever seen.
But we can help, one family at a time.

What is El Niño

You might remember the last major El Nino in 1997 and 1998 – it leads to thousands of lives lost and destruction, and the outbreak of disease. This time around, climate change is fuelling El Nino into a more severe and destructive crisis. Basically, El Nino is an irregular and complex weather phenomenon that results in unusual droughts or, in other parts of the world, heavy rains and flooding. There was a severe El Niño in 2011, but this year’s one is super-charged due to global warming and climate change. For the most vulnerable people in the world, it means the destruction of crops and infrastructure and the inevitable loss of life. Right now, 11 million children risk hunger disease and no clean water.


What we’re doing about it.
With your support, we’re acting fast and efficiently to reach the most vulnerable. Here’s how:

  • Focusing on children with disabilities, the elderly and pregnant women
  • Meeting nutritional needs of children to combat malnourishment
  • Helping families and farmers who rely on agriculture generate income
  • Providing food and healthcare to 7,196 children and 8,690 pregnant women in northern Ethiopia.
  • Partnering with organisations with local knowledge in the Pacific region
  • Training health care workers to care for malnourished children
  • Educating parents with children under five, and pregnant women, on health, personal hygiene and food preparation

What Alfia sees
With each passing day, Alfia’s workload is increasing. 560 kilometres from Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Adaba, more and more malnourished children and pregnant mothers are coming into her clinic. “I recently examined an eight-month-old baby who was very undernourished and badly affected by diseases caused by drought.”

“In the past week alone, we’ve identified 18 children and 32 mothers who are severely malnourished. This number will rise as time goes on as there is no food and rain in the area,” she added.

According to the local government, nearly everyone living in the area has been affected by the drought. Many children have dropped out of school, while mothers face increasing health risks. “Oromia used to be rich in agriculture. During any normal year, this would be harvest time. Now things have changed. There is no rain and people, including children and women, have been seriously affected by this drought.”

What you can do.

Australians like you can help. Plan International needs to ramp up its effort in the Eastern and Southern region of Africa to stop the loss of lives. Help out – donate to our work today.Alfia-measuring-the-upper-arm-of-a-malnourished-child

Alfia measuring the upper arm of a malnourished child.

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