The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has announced that the strongest El Nino in 2 decades has finally come to an end. According to the reports published in early May by the U.S National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the World Meteorological Organisation, was already in decline. This is a relief for many parts of the world.
El Nino is a completely natural phenomenon, which heats up the surface water of the Pacific Ocean. The current El Nino gradually began at the end of 2014, and reached its peak in December 2015. This natural occurrence has altered weather patterns around the world, casuing severe flooding, and drought. This resulted in a severe drought in Ethiopia, Southern Africa, Thailand and Venezuela while causing the catastrophic floods in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil. The after effects of the natural occurrence will leave millions of people hungry for months to come, especially in the African Region.
The UN and other major international charities have warned that up to 50 million people in Africa will need food support by Christmas. The World Food Programme told the Guardian that the lasting impact of the severest El Nino would be felt for months to come. Stephan O’Brien, the UN’s humanitarian Chief told the Guardian,
“…One million children in Eastern and Southern Africa are acutely malnourished, and across Southern Africa, 32 million people need assistance and that figure is likely to increase.”
The UN predicts that the current food supply will run out by July, and the crisis will reach its peak between December and April next year.
In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe has appealed for more foreign aid to buy food during this crisis. Due to severe drought, food prices across Southern Africa have risen sharply as a result of reduced production and availability. According to the Guardian, the maize price across the region has risen by more than 60% within a few months.
Due to El Nino, Ethiopia has been hit by its worst drought in three decades. According to the UN, 400,000 Ethiopian children are suffering from malnutrition and more than 10 million people need food aid. Save the Children, an international non-governmental organisation, says
the drought in Ethiopia is as a big threat to children’s lives as civil war in Syria.
Many leaders in the African region fear that this severe food crisis will not get sufficient assistance in time to buy the necessary food and goods. African leaders have requested more than $1.5 billion, but less than 25% has been pledged by international donors. Many leaders fear that the current Syrian civil war and refugee crisis is putting an unprecedented strain on aid.
It is good news that El Nino is coming to an end. However, its lasting effects will still be a severe problem for many parts of Africa. The lack of food security in the African region means millions will be needing food assistance in the coming months. El Nino may finally be over, but its lingering impact will not be solved anytime soon.