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Climate crisis a real threat to humanitarian aid programmes

PUBLISHED: 14:21 21 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:07 07 September 2010

BY

Lisa Rutherford Oxfam Campaigner , London In six years time, the number of people affected by climatic crises is projected to rise by 54 per cent, which will threaten to overwhelm the humanitarian aid system. Oxfam s research has shown that the num

BY

Lisa Rutherford

Oxfam Campaigner , London

*

In six years time, the number of people affected by climatic crises is projected to rise by

54 per cent, which will threaten to overwhelm the humanitarian aid system.

Oxfam's research has shown that the number of people affected by climatic disasters

will rise from 133 million to 375 million people a year on average by 2015. The projected

rise is mainly due to a combination of entrenched poverty and people migrating to densely

populated slums which are prone to the increasing number of climatic events. This is

compounded by the political failure to address these risks and a humanitarian aid system

which is not 'fit for purpose'.

The humanitarian system is a post-code lottery on a global scale. The response is often fickle

- too little, too late and not good enough. The system can barely cope with the current levels of

disasters and could be overwhelmed by a substantial increase in numbers of people affected.

There must be a fundamental reform of the system so that those in need are its first and foremost

priority.

The world must change the way it delivers aid so that it builds on the country's ability to prepare

and withstand future shocks. National governments, with the help of the international community,

need to invest more in reducing the risk of disasters. Developed countries must commit to cut

greenhouse gas emissions in order to keep global warming as far below 2°C as possible, and to

share the cost of at least $50 billion a year in finance to help poor countries adapt to unavoidable

climate change.

Some countries such as Cuba, Mozambique and Bangladesh have proved that given sufficient financial help,

disaster preparation does work. Bangladesh, for example, has invested heavily in protecting their people from

storms, which saves thousands of lives during cyclones. The experience of these countries shows that with

sufficient help, the world's poorest countries can better protect their citizens.

Climate change is already threatening our work to overcome poverty, increasing the pressure on an

already-difficult task of bringing relief to millions. It is crucial that we tackle climate change head-on. We need

governments to raise their game. The world must agree a global deal to avoid catastrophic climate change, stop the fickle way it delivers aid, and radically improve how it responds to disasters.

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