Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned that the reoccurrence of El Nino phenomenon this June may cause high risk excessive rainfall in 20 countries including Pakistan.
In its Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) report, FAO cautioned that the El Nino phenomenon is a key driver of extreme weather events to exacerbate food insecurity in already vulnerable regions.
The countries at risk of excessive rainfall include Afghanistan, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan and Kenya. Other countries include Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United States and Uzbekistan.
The report identified 42 other countries at the risk of drought with reduced cereal production and worsened food insecurity.
Forecast for June
FAO pointed out countries where El Nino-induced dry weather may exacerbate food insecurity by affecting cereal production in 2023-24.
El Nino oceanographic phenomenon was a key driver of extreme weather events that pose high risks to global food security. In 2022, analysts projected that 53 countries would face acute food insecurity affecting up to 222 million people.
El Nino in some cases causes droughts and significant damage to crop and livelihoods. The consecutive droughts of 1999 and 2000 caused crop failure and mass starvation.
Extreme weather events
The UN agency highlighted that El Nino may cause extreme weather as seen in 2022 when around 222 million people in 53 countries faced food insecurity.
The report underscores need for action on climate change and importance of global cooperation to address impacts on vulnerable communities.
The world experienced a rare third consecutive La Nina event in 2022 and early 2023 previously associated with wetter conditions in Australia, US, South America, and East Africa.
The FAO has been urging governments for precautions and preparedness for upcoming weather events to mitigate impact on food security.
Pakistan regularly experiences maximum temperatures while many of its regions witness temperatures of 38°C and above during summer. The converging weather patterns deliver prolonged periods of heatwave and can seriously impact human health. In 2015, heat stroke caused hospitalization of over 65,000 people in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s annual median probability of severe meteorological drought is around 3% with projection to increase under all emissions pathways.
UNISDR places Pakistan’s average annual losses to flood at around $1 billion. The unusually large rainfall from the 2010 monsoon caused the most catastrophic flooding in Pakistan’s history. It inundated one-fifth of the country, affecting 20 million people, and claiming over 2,000 lives.