Regional Integrated Food Security Initiatives Respond to El Niño

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By Bram Govaerts – CIMMYT General Director

It is official: the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced the beginning of the global climate heating event El Niño on July 4, which means that extreme weather events will affect the lives and livelihoods of millions of people on all continents from now until midyear 2024. El Niño is considered the biggest climate oscillation on Earth. It occurs when winds and water temperatures change periodically in the Pacific Ocean. The last occurrence was in 2016, which according to the WMO remains the hottest year on record.

El Niño typically brings flooding to the south of the US, South America, Eastern Africa and Central Asia, while heatwaves and dry spells hit Central America, South Asia and the South Pacific. There is a serious risk that these extreme weather conditions will push millions into poverty and acute food insecurity in the most vulnerable parts of the world. The fallout from El Niño could dramatically increase forced migration from South America, Central America and Mexico to the US. In Africa and South Asia, millions who are already food insecure could go hungry.

Photo by:   Bram Govaerts

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