Millions of children at risk from worsening El Nino impact warns aid group, as UN calls donors together

El Nino funding is inadequate to address the rapidly growing needs of tens of millions of vulnerable children warns humanitarian agency World Vision, as the UN pulls donors around the table to ask for billions of dollars in crisis assistance.

Donors and humanitarian agencies have been called to Geneva today (Tues, April 26) to plug a $2 billion funding shortfall and to do more to address the unprecedented global impact of this year’s El Nino which is one of the worst on record. Sixty million people globally currently need food assistance and that figure could rise to some 90 million within months.

While El Nino climate conditions have been easing off the situation for children and communities is set to significantly worsen. Harvests have been decimated and it will take months for new crops to grow. In the meantime food stocks have run out, tens of thousands of livestock have died, livelihoods have collapsed and malnutrition rates are rising.  In Southern Africa, 32 million people now need food assistance.

The numbers are set to double by late this year or early next.  In Ethiopia over 10 million people need new food aid. Food and water supplies have collapsed in a string of countries from Papua New Guinea in the Pacific to Malawi in Africa and Haiti in Latin America. It is also extremely likely that El Nino will be followed by a La Nina weather pattern bringing with it wetter more violent weather and making it hard for people to recover.

Rudo Kwaramba, World Vision’s Regional Leader for Southern Africa, said:  “Humanitarian agencies have been warning of this crisis for months arguing for early action. It is now at the stage that millions of people need emergency aid.  In Southern Africa we are seeing children becoming more and more malnourished, they are dropping out of school to hunt for water or to work to support their families. In some cases girls are being married off to reduce the financial burden families face.”

Many governments had tried to avert the crisis with social safety net actions but were simply being overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem. Development gains of recent years were at risk of being undermined by climate change related crises. The international community needed to fund emergency aid and do more to build resilience and disaster preparedness.

World Vision is calling: 

·         On the international community to help fully fund the $3 billion response request. Only around $1 billion has so far been committed.

·         For the World Humanitarian Summit to strengthen commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals and to press for increased funding flexibility to allow development and humanitarian funding to address the full spectrum of emergency crisis phases more effectively – including early action assistance and resilience interventions.

·         For the international community to begin planning for a likely La Nina event.

·         For an evaluation into why warnings of developing humanitarian crises are failing to effectively mobilize funds early for resilience interventions before things worsen.

World Vision is currently responding globally to the El Nino crisis scaling up to meet the needs of 5 million people. USD$78m has so far been committed to the response.

Actions include:

·         Scaling up a response across Southern Africa to support four million people with food, nutrition, health, water and sanitation and agricultuel. Activities include food, cash and seed disbursements, and livestock support.

·         In Ethiopia, reaching some 800,000 people with emergency nutrition, water and sanitation, and food assistance and security activities.

·         In Latin America combatting the outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus which is causing in-pregnancy defects in children. The spread of the mosquito-borne virus has been blamed on El Nino. World Vision is providing mosquito nets and running preventive health campaigns.

·         In the Pacific states of Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste activities include providing food vouchers and, building and repairing water systems.


Kathryn Taetzsch, El Nino Task Force lead for World Vision

Mobile: +254 706 901240  (Kenya)

Mobile: +1 6262 054 076 (Int)

Rudo  Kwaramba, World Vision’s Regional Leader for Southern Africa

c/o Cecil Laguardia (El Nino Communications Manager, Southern Africa)

Mobile: +268 7802 0620