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El Niño briefings

Flooding caused by heavy rain in Paov, Kampong Cham province, Cambodia (Credit: Tessa Bunney/Oxfam)Over 60 million people will be affected by El Niño in East and Southern Africa, the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean in 2016 according to the UN's humanitarian agency. El Niño brings extreme weather and its effects vary depending on country and region. They include below average rains and droughts in some regions or more flooding and intense or frequent cyclones in others. El Niño has exacerbated the impact of bad harvests (2014/5 was a particularly poor agricultural season in many regions, beset primarily by droughts), chronic food insecurity and annual floods, increasing food insecurity around the world. Harvests and livelihoods have faltered as drought has taken hold across equatorial regions including Ethiopia, much of Southern Africa, parts of Central America, the Caribbean, South America, Asia and the Pacific. This is causing real suffering and pushing people who are poor and vulnerable to the impacts of climate change deeper into poverty, loss and extreme vulnerability.

Many affected governments have been active in preparation and response, and this is clearly mitigating the impact. But these efforts risk becoming overwhelmed. This global problem requires national governments, donors and the humanitarian community to immediately come together to coordinate and collaborate on responses across the different countries.

Over 60 million people will be affected by El Niño in 2016Oxfam is responding to this crisis in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, Colombia, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa and is closely monitoring the potential impact of El Niño in Indonesia and the Philippines. We are working with our partners, in coordination with the relevant government bodies, to support communities' ability to cope with the crisis and sustain their livelihoods. All our work is tailored to the specific context, and interventions include monitoring and undertaking assessments, working with others to ensure a full and effective response, public health and nutrition promotion, targeted food assistance, agricultural resilience support, cash transfers, rehabilitation of water systems, ensuring access to clean water and sanitation, provision of livestock fodder and assistance to farmers with reducing their herds.

Photo: Flooding caused by heavy rain in Paov, Kampong Cham province, Cambodia (Tessa Bunney/Oxfam)