Developing countries are set to receive $100 billion worth of funding from wealthy countries to combat extreme weather conditions. In 2009, wealthy countries pledged to commit $100 billion annually from 2020 onward to disadvantaged countries struggling with the impacts of changing weather patterns. However, only now, three years after the pledge, these countries are on track to fully meet this commitment. On May 2, 2023, more than 40 country representatives met in Berlin, Germany, to discuss effective ways to tackle harsh weather changes.
Severe Weather Changes
Currently, the change in weather patterns is affecting people worldwide, from dried-up lakes in California and rising sea levels in Venice to mega-droughts in Somalia and floods in South Sudan. Extreme weather conditions most harshly affect impoverished people due to their dependence on vulnerable sectors such as agriculture.
In sub-Saharan Africa, 65% of the labor force works in agriculture. Floods and droughts not only destroy their source of income but also their sources of food. Extreme weather events also increase the risk and transmission of diseases such as cholera and malaria, especially among impoverished populations with high exposure to these diseases and limited access to health care.
Furthermore, impoverished people struggle to recover from extreme weather events due to a lack of access to insurance and credit. A lack of education and lack of access to information also stand as barriers to achieving climatic resilience.
The Situation in Somalia and South Sudan
Recent reports show that Somalia’s last rainfall season (October to December 2022) consisted of below-average rainfall for the fifth consecutive year, depleting water sources in the country and increasing droughts. The country is one of the worst drought-affected countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2011, after three back-to-back seasons without sufficient rain, the country experienced a famine that led to the deaths of about 250,000 people, with children accounting for half of this number.
Due to continuing extreme weather conditions, in the first quarter of 2023, the World Food Programme (WFP) forecasted that 6.3 million Somalis will face crisis levels of food insecurity or worse and more than 320,000 people will face catastrophic levels of food insecurity (the highest insecurity level) out of Somalia’s 17.1 million population.
South Sudan is currently facing its worst humanitarian crisis since 2011. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that at least 7.7 million people are experiencing food insecurity due to the ongoing conflict in the nation coupled with severe weather conditions.
With the conflict putting people’s lives on hold and keeping them from conducting any type of work to get money and food, alongside the increase in temperatures making the land in South Sudan barren, there is a need for aid from foreign countries and organizations like the U.N. now more than ever.
The WFP Takes Action
In December 2022, the WFP served 4.7 million people in Somalia with life-saving assistance, which came in the form of cash-based aid or food supplies. The WFP also provided aid to nearly 352,000 vulnerable people facing the effects of droughts in the country under the expansion of the national safety net program, which aims to support the poorest and most vulnerable families.
In South Sudan, the WFP handed out more than 13,880 metric tonnes of food and $3.6 million worth of cash-based aid. In February 2023 alone, the WFP assisted 1.6 million people impacted by climate effects and the nation’s internal conflict.
The WFP South Sudan director Mary-Ellen McGroarty announced that the organization needs an additional $567 million to continue covering the most severe needs in South Sudan alone, excluding the effects of the current conflict.
The WFP funding for South Sudan goes to a number of great causes. For instance, in 2022, the organization built irrigation systems in rural towns and helped local farmers gain access to larger markets. WFP programs not only provide food and cash-based assistance but also teach people how to prepare for potential extreme weather patterns and establish resilience by creating climate-smart food systems.
The Way Forward
A European Union study on changing weather effects predicted that by 2050, increased temperatures and higher demand could leave as many as 150 million people in the world severely affected by water stress. The 2023 climate pledge reaching the designated amount of $100 billion is good news for organizations helping those in need in developing countries.
Funding is essential for tackling extreme weather conditions. Hence, the $100 billion provision from developed countries will help to advance resilience and sustainability goals and address the humanitarian issues that arise from changing weather patterns.
– Sam Kalantzis