Agriculture in Africa and East Asia may be severely impacted as a result of the El Niño phenomenon.

Farmers should expect to see major crop losses as a result of the extreme weather, which will consequently affect the pricing of goods. In countries that rely heavily on agriculture (such as India, Thailand, and The Philippines), it’s very possible that food prices will rise. This is bad for everyone, but especially so for those living in extreme poverty.

RECAP ON THE ISSUE: El Niño is a weather anomaly that occurs when Pacific Ocean waters become unusually warm, resulting in altered weather patterns around the globe for about a year. Its last occurrence was in 2009/2010. As the planet grows warmer, El Niño is expected to occur more often, with intensified consequences.

Already, several African nations have seen a delayed rainy season. Sonja Vermeulen, a University of Copenhagen scientist, points out that “Peanut farmers in Gambia, for example, have already been hit this year,” and James Kinyangi, senior adviser to the research group Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) adds that Kenya should see a reduction in  bean, potato and maize crops.

As always, the effects of extreme weather events like El Niño are experienced disproportionately by people living in the developing world, hindering progress towards development and pushing us further from our goal of ending extreme poverty. Imagine a country like Indonesia, where the agriculture sector is responsible for more than 50% of overall employment, how will its people make ends meet if they are unable to do their jobs? And, if food prices increase as a result of shortages, how will they then be able to put food on the table?

Clearly the world needs to create a new system that protects people living in poverty AND empowers the poor during severe weather situations. That means we have to do everything within our power to prevent further warming of our planet. And it means we need to create systems that don’t crumble the moment something unexpected occurs, like a weather event such as El Niño.


Defeat Poverty

Thanks to El Niño, farmers will experience crop losses across Africa and East Asia

By Christina Nuñez