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Urgent Appeal: FAO Requires US$160 million to Shield 4.8 Million Lives from Devastating El Nino Impact

In the face of an impending El Nino crisis set to afflict over 4.8 million people, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) urgently seeks Sh24.3 billion (US$160m) to fortify vulnerable communities against the impending catastrophe. This call to action comes as the FAO unveils its updated Anticipatory Action and Response Plan, a strategic initiative aimed at mitigating the anticipated impacts of El Nino on agricultural livelihoods and food security, spanning through March 2024.

The El Nino Threat Explained

El Nino, a natural climate phenomenon, manifests as abnormal warming of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean’s surface waters, triggering worldwide weather disruptions. This recurring event, transpiring every two to seven years, lasts between 9 to 12 months.

Immediate Action Required

Rein Paulsen, Director of the FAO Office of Emergencies and Resilience, underscores the critical need for Sh24.3 billion (US$160m) to execute anticipatory actions swiftly and at scale. With predictions indicating an 80 percent chance of El Nino persisting through March-May 2024, the urgency cannot be overstated. The current funding gap of Sh18.9 billion jeopardizes the FAO’s ability to implement vital anticipatory measures.

As of October 30, 2023, FAO has mobilized Sh5.3 billion, facilitating anticipatory actions in 19 prioritized countries and aiding 700,000 people. Notably, flexible funding from supportive partners like Belgium, Canada, the European Union, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom has made these initiatives possible.

Countries at Risk

The Anticipatory Action and Response Plan target countries include Kenya, Afghanistan, Angola, Bolivia, Cambodia, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Somalia, Timor-Leste, Uganda, Viet Nam, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Venezuela. These nations were chosen based on historical El Nino impacts, seasonal climate forecasts, agricultural seasonality, and current vulnerabilities.

El Nino in Eastern Africa

Eastern Africa, particularly in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and southern Uganda, faces above-average rains during the October-December season due to El Nino, resulting in potential heavy rainfall, flooding, and landslides.

Governmental Measures

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua assures the public of the government’s proactive measures in response to ongoing El Nino rains. Aircraft deployment, mobile health facilities, safe water supply, and emergency road repairs underscore the comprehensive approach to safeguarding affected communities.

FAO Anticipatory Action and Response Plan Highlights

The FAO’s plan encompasses two crucial phases: proactive measures to avert El Nino impacts and prompt responses where devastation is inevitable. Initiatives include securing boats for fishers, fortifying river embankments, distributing drought-tolerant seeds, and protecting livestock health. The plan also seeks to offset losses by supplying flood-affected farmers with seeds for replanting.

Urgent Funding Needs

Critical activities within the plan demand immediate funding, including acquiring the right seed varieties for farmers to secure crops amid challenging drought or flood conditions. The plan also focuses on prepositioning vital supplies like veterinary medicines, seeds, and water bladders, in addition to providing cash assistance to severely affected families.

Your support is crucial in preventing the looming El Nino disaster from claiming lives and livelihoods. By contributing to the FAO’s mission, you’re not just providing aid; you’re safeguarding communities, ensuring a resilient future, and making a tangible impact on the lives of those most vulnerable. Act now, and let’s build a world where no one is left behind in the face of nature’s challenges. Together, we can weather the storm.

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