Humanitarian aid must react to climate change crisis

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

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 by 2015.

The projected rise is mainly due to a combination of entrenched poverty and people migrating to densely populated slums 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 current disasters and could be overwhelmed by a substantial increase in numbers of people affected.

There must be a fundamental reform. 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.


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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 $50billion 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, saving thousands of lives.

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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 a global deal to avoid catastrophic climate change, stop the fickle way aid is delivered, and radically improve responses to disaster.

Lisa Rutherford

Oxfam Campaigner, London

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