El Niño is having a disastrous effect on countries in Central America, parts of Africa and Asia, which have been hit by a drought that is generating a severe food crisis.
In Haiti, 3.6 million people are facing food insecurity with farmers losing a significant part of the harvest.
Roger Bonifacio, a World Food Programme climate expert, says this has been caused by El Niño that started in 2015, but he says: “Its effects however will be felt all the way to early 2017 and its effects have been widespread geographically. El Niño has caused impacts on the growing seasons of Central America – Haiti.
“Ethiopia where it registered one of the driest seasons in the last 50 years all the way to Indonesia and Papua New Guinea which again has suffered one of the major droughts on record.”
The 2015 El Niño, was one of the strongest ever, and more powerful than the record event in 1997. The phenomenon occurs every three to five years on average, when the equatorial waters of the Pacific Ocean warm significantly and impact global weather patterns.
In Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country, ten million are facing the consequences of the worst drought in 50 years.
The country says it will need hundreds of millions in food aid over the coming weeks to prevent a “catastrophic escalation” in malnutrition.
Meanwhile Zimbabwe has declared a state of disaster in parts of the country.
According to reports, as many as 2.4 million people – almost a quarter of the country’s population – are in need of food aid as the drought has adversely affected crop supplies.
The crisis could also impact the hydro-power generation potential of certain countries, such as Zimbabwe, which gets one-third of its electricity need from this source.