El Niño: Disasters Foretold

El Niño:
Disasters foretold

What is El Niño?

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"El Niño" is the world's biggest weather phenomenon, happening, on average, every two to seven years when warm water collected in the western Pacific move back eastwards, affecting rain patterns and temperatures across the world.The last major El Niño happened in 1997-98. Its weather disruptions claimed around 21,000 lives and caused at least 35 billion US$ worth of destruction worldwide. This year, El Niño was one of the strongest since records began in 1950. While the weather event has now passed, the humanitarian consequences continues. Millions of people across the world are suffering from lack of food and water. Now it is likely that the related La Niña phenomenon will follow over the next few months, further deteriorating the situation in many of the already heavily affected areas. Acting faster to help will save more lives. Learn More

How Are People Affected?

El Niño causes drought in some areas and floods in others. East Africa, Southern Africa, the Pacific Islands, South East Asia and Central America at the gravest risk of extreme weather, including less than normal rainfall or flooding.

More than 25 million people are currently experiencing food shortages in countries where CARE is present. This figure will increase drastically in the coming weeks and months. The UN estimates that a total of more 60 million people will be affected. CARE is particularly concerned about the situation for women and girls, who are disproportionately affected by natural disasters.

What is CARE Doing?

So far CARE has provided food, water and other emergency relief to more than 1,8 million people in eight countries affected by El Niño. We are planning to scale up our assistance in other countries. More information on map below.

CARE also supports vulnerable communities across the world to be better prepared for slow onset crises such as drought and sudden natural disasters, which will happen more often as a result of climate change.

Why is Gender Important in Emergencies?

Village Savings and Loans Groups help women coping with drought

El Niño has brought the worst drought in decades to Ethiopa. More than ten million people are currently dependent on emergency assistance, but opportunites created by Village Savings and Loans groups have helped some communities cope better in an extreme situation.

Click on the markers for more information on each countyoutry where CARE is assisting people affected by El Niño

Select a country below for more information on how CARE is assisting people affected by El Niño

Extreme drought.
More than 10 million need assistance. CARE has reached over 700,000 so far.


The El Nino event led to lower than usual rainfalls throughout the year, significantly reducing both harvests of 2015.

This has resulted in a sharp increase in food insecurity across drought-prone areas of the country, with more than 10 million people already in need food assistance according to the government and the UN.

As part of government-led response, CARE is planning to provide more than one million people with food, water, sanitation and livelihood support.

Drought. CARE is responding.


A drought occurred during the main agricultural production period from April to June of 2015, halving the agricultural production.

Corn and beans prices continue to increase, reducing the access of poorest households to food. CARE Haiti leads a large food security and social protection project in the most affected areas and will be assisting 80,000 people in the coming months.

Drought and floods. CARE is monitoring situation.


El Niño disturbs the monsoon season, bringing more rain to some areas and less rain to others, affecting millions of poor farmers.

CARE works with more than 15,000 marginalized women farmers and their households to enhance their capacity to adopt climate resilient agriculture for enhanced crop productivity, availability of alternative livelihoods options, developing local markets and ensuring women’s access to safety nets.

Drought and haze. CARE preparing to respond.


El Niño is already strongly felt with reduced rainfall and drought in some areas. 3.7 million people are affected by the drought and many more by haze caused by forest fires.

CARE Indonesia is preparing to provide assistance in coordination with other aid agencies and the government.

Floods. CARE preparing to assist 150,000.


More than usual rain is expected in most parts of the country for the rest of the year and into early 2016. There is an increased risk of floods and mudslides.

CARE plans to provide water and sanitations supplies, hygiene kits, cash and sexual and reproductive health services to 150,000 people.

Drought and risk of floods. CARE providing food assistance.


The El Nino event led to lower than usual rainfalls throughout the year, significantly reducing both harvests of 2015.

This has resulted in a sharp increase in food insecurity across drought-prone areas of the country, with more than a million people already in need food assistance according to the government and the UN. CARE is distributing seeds, agricultural materials and enriched flour for children. CARE also runs a project for disaster risk reduction. In response to the drought, CARE is scaling up our humanitarian assistance.

Drought, floods. 2,8 million affected. CARE distributing food and cash.


With 2.8 million people not having enough food to eat – partly due to massive floods that displaced 230,000 in January 2015 – Malawi has seen a 116 percent increase in food insecurity among its people. CARE is helping by distributing food rations and cash transfers, having assisted 52,000 people to date – toward a goal of reaching more than 85,000.

Drought. 140,000 affected. CARE has assisted 20,000.


140,000 people are experiencing insecure access to food in the drought-prone southern part of the country.

Another one million people across the country risk food insecurity in the coming months. CARE has assisted 20,000 people with food and water so far.

Reduced rain, higher temperatures. CARE helping communities prepare.


El Niño delays the monsoon season, reduces rainfalls, increases temperatures at the end of the dry season; increases likelihood of storms around end April – all of which affects already vulnerable rural communities CARE works with, particularly those in areas recovering from the floods associated with Cyclone Komen in July 2015.

CARE is distributing information to affected communities on predictions and help them identify local coping strategies, for example starting water conservation practices earlier. CARE runs a program for drilling and developing groundwater resources in water stressed communities and promotes hygiene awareness to prevent and treat waterborne diseases, which typically peak at the end of the dry season when water is scarce and so expected to be more severe this year.

Drought. 3.4 million need assistance. CARE assists 500,000.


El Niño related weather patterns, with large pockets of drought, delayed the start of seedlings growth, significantly affecting food production in areas already plagued by chronic food insecurity.

This has resulted in a sharp increase in food insecurity across drought-prone areas of the country, with more than 3.4 million people already in need food assistance according to the government and the UN.

CARE is assisting more than 500.000 people with emergency supplies.

Drought. 2.4 million affected. CARE assists 3,800.


The government estimates more than 2.4 million people across the country are currently affected by extended drought and frost linked to El Niño.

The highlands region – where CARE has a strong presence – have been the worst affected, with crops failing and water supplies drying up. CARE helps the government map needs in affected areas and distributes basic items such as water purification tablets, soap and buckets.

Floods and drought. CARE is monitoring situation.


El Niño is expected to bring warmer temperature and changed patterns of precipitation in November and December, causing damage to agriculture, infrastructure, loss of fishery and spread of diseases.

The most affected regions will be in Peru’s northern areas, where heavy rains are expected to be stronger than most seasons of the phenomenon.

On the other hand, Peru’s southern coast will face an extremely dry season. CARE Peru is designing contingency plans for ongoing projects and programs, as well as organizing information campaigns.

Drought. CARE is monitoring situation.


More than half of the country is likely to be affected by less than usual rain.

People in affected areas largely depend on rice, root crop, fruit and vegetable farming.

This will decrease the supply of food especially in areas that were badly hit by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. CARE has supported more than 318,000 people affected by Haiyan and working to support 288 community organizations to strengthen food security.

Drought and floods. CARE preparing to respond.


While a mild to moderate El Niño will enhance rains and result in good pasture and crop development, a severe event could lead to an increased risk of flooding along the main rivers.

The current projection is that more than 600,000 people in south central and in some parts of Puntland could be affected by floods.

CARE will provide immediate assistance as well as support to recover, including emergency water trucking, food for displaced people, distribution of dignity and hygiene kits, solar lamps, construction of emergency latrines and rehabilitation of shallow wells and boreholes with flood resistant design.

Drought. CARE helping communities prepare.


El Niño events generally bring drier conditions and often lead to a late onset and early finish to the wet season.

Historically, the most significant impact on the population during El Niño years is reduced ground water availability.

In CARE Timor’s community magazine, Lafaek, basic information about El Niño and some preparedness tips have gone to print in the latest edition with expected distribution between October and December. This print medium reaches close to 45 per cent of all households in every municipality in the country.

Drought. 70,000 affected. CARE adapting ongoing assistance.


El Niño-driven drought is compounding the devastation caused by cyclone Pam in March 2015. There are reports that people can\'t grow food and that water is scarce.

In response, CARE is distributing food and livestock, drought resistant yams and peanut plants, and is conducting training on farming techniques that can conserve water and soil. CARE is also providing water, sanitation and hygiene assistance.

Drought. 1.5 million affected. CARE has assisted 110,000 so far.


The last growing season was impacted by poor and erratic, resulting in sharp production losses across the region. An estimated 1.5 million people are at risk of lacking food.

CARE has provided cash grants to more than 110,000 people and plans to reach 330,000 drought affected people. CARE is also looking at how existing and future projects can prepare for and best mitigate the potential negative effects in the coming year.

COPING WITH DROUGHT IN ETHIOPIA: “There will always be a solution as long as we have enough food”

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El Niño has caused an extreme drought in Ethiopia. Crops have failed completely in large areas of the country. More than 10 million people depend on food assistance from the government and aid agencies like CARE. Collective savings and access to loans have helped communities cope longer, but now resources are running out. Read more