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El Niño ravages Africa

El Niño ravages Africa

Global warming and climate change

Extreme weather patterns have rocked the world in 2015.

The ocean-warming phenomenon known as El Niño currently being experienced in various regions across the world has extended Africa’s worst dry spell in three decades, raising the specter of a second poor harvest in many countries.

In March 2015, El Niño was officially declared globally.

Under the context of the already strained conditions and rural households’ limited resilience and high exposure to natural hazards, the presence of a strong El Niño episode in 2015/16 raises serious concerns regarding the impact on food insecurity

The event influenced most growing seasons of the northern hemisphere, and analysts say it is has continued to impact those of Southern Africa, Indonesia and Pacific and South America from late this year and will continue until early 2016.

Africa’s intensifying food crisis is just one manifestation of El Niño’s advance

Ethiopia has been one of the hardest hit countries. The Belg and Meher which are the two main growing seasons were both affected by severe rainfall deficits leading to the worst drought in 30 years.

In a statement released by UNICEF, 8.2 million people in Ethiopia face food insecurity, while an estimated 350,000 children need treatment for severe acute malnutrition.

West Africa has not been spared either. Analysts say the event will peak in the last quarter of 2015 and will extend into early 2016. The most affected areas were Chad and southern Ghana which showed seasonal deficits to some extent.

The Southern part of Africa has faced severe rainfall deficits. Currently, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Malawi, are facing drought.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), there will be food shortages for about 6.3 million people in drought-stricken Southern Africa in 2016.

“Under the context of the already strained conditions and rural households’ limited resilience and high exposure to natural hazards, the presence of a strong El Niño episode in 2015/16 raises serious concerns regarding the impact on food insecurity,” the statement warned.

The current El Niño is the strongest since 1998 and has led to 2015 being declared as the warmest year on record.

The phenomenon is usually followed by La Nina which can have opposite but similarly harmful effects.