Home > Crisis > El Niño > FAO and El Niño

FAO in emergencies app

Download now!

Connect with us

El Niño

2015–2016 El Niño

With climatologists predicting that the current El Niño event could become one of the strongest on record, FAO is moving forward with specific plans for early interventions under its Early Warning - Early Action System.  Fourteen countries – in Africa, the South Pacific, Asia and Central America – are being specifically targeted due their increased risk to extreme weather and a subsequent negative effect on vulnerable people. Another 19 countries are classed as facing moderate risk.

El Niño is a naturally occurring phenomenon characterized by the abnormal warming of sea surface temperature in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. On average, it occurs every two to seven years and can last up to 18 months. El Niño has extensive consequences for global weather and climate patterns; in some regions it can lead to reduced rainfall and drought, while other regions experience heavy rains and flooding. 

The Early Warning - Early Action System is a new FAO initiative developed with the understanding that by acting before a crisis escalates into an emergency, disaster losses and emergency response costs can be drastically reduced. Early action also strengthens the coping capacities of at-risk populations – a key priority within FAO’s Strategic Objective 5 to “increase the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises”.

The effects of El Niño are already being felt in some countries. For instance, up to 80 percent of crops have been lost in the “dry corridor” of Central America, a drought-prone region shared by Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador. In Papua New Guinea, 2.4 million people – one third of the country’s total population - are affected by drought and frost. As El Niño continues, these numbers are likely to rise.

While drought is the main threat to food production caused by this phenomenon, El Niño can also cause heavy rains, flooding or extremely hot or cold weather. This can lead to animal disease outbreaks, including zoonosis and food-borne diseases, as well as plant pests and forest fires. In previous El Niño events, people whose livelihoods depend on fisheries have been heavily affected in certain areas.

FAO is designing and implementing early actions to reduce the effects of the current El Niño event on vulnerable populations in all high-risk countries and in some of the countries at moderate risk. In Somalia, for example, riverbanks are being reinforced and sandbagged and plastic is being distributed to protect seed stocks.

Related Topics

No records found.
 - Suite à la situation de sècheresse déclarée dans la région de Grand Sud de Madagascar, la vulnérabilité de la population rurale a atteint un niveau alarmant. ...read more
17/05/2016
 - Key messages As a result of the socio-political crisis and floods, rural and urban populations in Burundi have sold part of their assets, crops and small livestock, ...read more
11/05/2016
 - With just six weeks left before the start of Ethiopia's main cropping season, farmers urgently need seeds and agricultural support if they are to sow their ...read more
29/04/2016
 - With just six weeks left before the start of the main cropping season in Ethiopia, FAO is calling for urgent funding to help farmers sow their ...read more
29/04/2016
 - The impact of the 2015‒2016 El Niño weather phenomenon has been one of the most intense and widespread in the past one hundred years. The agriculture, ...read more
26/04/2016
 - By converting early warnings into fast, smart and well-targeted early actions, FAO Somalia has seen a huge benefit being delivered. Thousands of acres of cropland have ...read more
26/04/2016
 - Overview The current 2015-2016 El Niño cycle has been one of the strongest on record and has had significant impacts on agricultural production and food security across ...read more
25/04/2016
 - Background and purpose The impact of the 2015‒2016 El Niño weather phenomenon has been one of the most intense and widespread in the past one hundred years. ...read more
25/04/2016
 - Key messages Damage to crops and livestock is estimated at USD 104 million, while damages to fisheries (not yet fully assessed) arealso critical. With much of the ...read more
14/04/2016
 - As results of the heavy rains attributed to El-Niño event, since October 2015, more than 25 000 households have been directly affected by floods in six ...read more
14/04/2016
1 2 3 4 5 6