Climate crisis a real threat to humanitarian aid programmes
PUBLISHED: 14:21 21 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:07 07 September 2010
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
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
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
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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