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19/12/2022 | Press release

Somalia: Likelihood of famine will increase by an estimated 25 per cent if displaced people don’t get the help they need

Nairobi/Geneva, 19 December 2022 - Somalia’s worst drought in 40 years is forcing more and more people to leave their homes in search of food security and greener pastures for livestock. Without special attention to displaced people, the likelihood of famine will increase by about 25 percent, according to estimations by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The ongoing hunger crisis in Somalia does not yet meet the threshold for a famine categorization, according to the latest report by theIntegrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC)—the international organization responsible for monitoring global hunger—but the situation is likely worsen in the coming months. IPC forecasts famine between April and June 2023 in parts of Somalia. Mohammed Mukhier, IFRC’s regional director for Africa explained: “Displacement is one of the four major factors, or ‘threat multipliers for famine’, in Somalia. The other three factors include worsening drought, increasing food prices and fighting. Addressing the unique needs of displaced people efficiently will reduce the probability of famine significantly.” Over one million people have been forced to leave their homes as the hunger crisis rages—and this number is expected to rise. The increasing number of displaced people in already overcrowded temporary settlements will limit access to clean water, sanitation, nutrition and health services. Further, although some displaced people live with their friends and relatives, this arrangement puts additional strain on host families, who share their limited food reserves with guests. Providing displaced people with tailormade humanitarian assistance is one of the most efficient ways of protecting host families from slipping into hunger themselves, while at the same time ensuring people on the move meet their nutritional needs. Bringing humanitarian assistance to families who are continually on the move is one of the greatest challenges aid workers face. One of the methods used by Somali Red Crescent teams, supported by the IFRC, is to reach nomadic communities with mobile clinicsto provide basic health services in remote regions of the country. Some of the urgent actions needed to reduce the likelihood of famine include the strengthening of health and nutrition services, cash assistance and shelter. Mukhier added: “We reiterate our call to prioritize the growing hunger crisis in Somalia, the country’s worst drought in 40 years. As an organisation, our focus is on displaced people, because of our unique ability to reach them with assistance.” The Somali Red Crescent Society has a countrywide network of branches and a large number of volunteers in all parts of the country. It also has a wide network of health facilities. Red Crescent teams’ focus is on delivering cash to families to meet their food, health and other urgent needs. Cash gives people the freedom to choose what they need most to help their families stay healthy and is more convenient for nomadic communities who would otherwise need to carry in-kind aid with them as they move. According to IPC, the April-June 2023 rainy season is likely to be below normal and there is a 62 per cent probability that cumulative rainfall will be within the lowest tercile. This will represent the sixth season of below-average rainfall. Food prices will also remain high, and insecurity will limit access to markets and will impede humanitarian assistance. Displaced people will be among the most affected. For more information, please contact: In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, +254 735 437 906, [email protected] In Dakar: Moustapha DIALLO, +221 77 450 10 04 [email protected] In Geneva: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603 6803 [email protected]

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07/10/2022 | Emergency

Africa: Hunger crisis

Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing one of the most alarming food crises in decades—immense in both its severity and geographic scope.Roughly 146 million people are suffering from acute food insecurity and require urgent humanitarian assistance. The crisis is driven by a range of local and global factors, including insecurity and armed conflict, extreme weather events, climate variability and negative macroeconomic impacts. Through this regional Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is supporting many Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across Africa to protect the lives, livelihoods and prospects of millions of people.

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01/09/2022 | Article

Confronting the environmental causes of Africa’s food crisis

This blog was originally posted on the WWF website here. Africa is facing its worst food crisis in 40 years. Nearly 114 million people across sub-Saharan Africa – a figure approaching half the entire population of the United States – face severe food insecurity. In Eastern Africa, 50 million people are at risk. Across the Sahel, the number of people needing emergency food assistance has quadrupled to 30 million in the past seven years. The causes of this current crisis are manifold. Conflict and the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have played their part. But more significantly, the continent has been wracked by prolonged drought, flooding and swarms of desert locusts – natural hazards, exacerbated by man-made climate change and the degradation of nature. It is the most vulnerable who are bearing the brunt of the current hunger crisis. Men and women are losing their livelihoods as crops fail, animals starve or die of thirst, and soil is washed away. Children go hungry, and their education is abandoned. Women eat less, and drought means dietary requirements, especially for young girls, pregnant and lactating women, and menstrual hygiene are relegated. There is an urgent need for life-saving humanitarian assistance in all countries in Africa. Organizations such as Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are stepping up their actions, with the IFRC, governments and partners, to provide this urgent support. But they recognize, as does WWF, the need to also build resilience to shocks and to address the root causes of food insecurity. A changing climate Many underlying causes can be found in the twin environmental crises of climate and nature loss, which are compounded with the crises caused by factors including poverty and conflict. The rising levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere – primarily from the rich and middle-income countries of the global North – are driving temperature rises that are disrupting weather and climate patterns and degrading natural ecosystems. Climate change is making extreme weather events worse, more frequent and more trans-boundary. It is changing patterns of precipitation, undermining water and food security. It is impacting human health, as well as putting additional stress on nature and biodiversity, exacerbating pressures from land-use change, over-exploitation, pollution and invasive species. Presently, around 30 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from food systems. Not only are food choices in rich, urban areas leading to a health crisis of obesity and non-communicable disease, but the over-consumption of unsustainably produced foods, and inefficient and wasteful behaviours across all value chains, are directly contributing to food insecurity in Africa. This underscores the urgent imperative for rich countries to reduce emissions as quickly as possible. Even if all other sectors linearly decarbonise by 2050, business as usual food systems will account for nearly the whole carbon budget of a 2 degree future. While around 89 countries have pledged to reach net-zero emissions by the middle of this century (which would still not deliver the emissions cuts needed to limit warming to 1.5°C), few have yet developed the suite of policies and regulations that will put them on a net-zero trajectory. Many vulnerable communities in Africa need to be supported in the face of climate shocks by strengthening their capacity to respond, reducing their risk exposure and building their resilience. There is much that can and should be done to directly help vulnerable communities and ecosystems in Africa today and in the decades to come. Urgent investment must be made to help vulnerable communities adapt to the current impacts of climate change, and to become more resilient to climate shocks yet to come. Critically, this involves building a shared understanding, securing financing and enacting favourable policies so that governments, NGOs and the private sector in Africa can recognise the threats posed by the impacts of climate change and implement the urgent solutions needed to help local people adapt. The link between climate and nature Significant solutions also exist that use nature to both mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and to help communities to adapt and become more climate resilient. The world’s land, oceans and freshwater systems already absorb and store half of the emissions humankind produces each year: protecting, restoring and enhancing ecosystems will be critical to addressing climate change. Food systems can also be a major part of the solution to the nature and climate crises. Investment in nature-based solutions – such as adopting agroecological food production practices, forest conservation, protecting wetlands or enhancing coastal ecosystems – can help store emissions, protect communities from extreme weather events, and provide food, jobs and habitats. Such solutions, if high quality, well-designed and properly funded, can help build climate resilience. But as well as individual projects, climate impacts and vulnerabilities, and the protection of nature, must be integrated into public- and private-sector decision-making at every level across the continent. The extent of the challenge posed by climate and nature loss means that they need to be considered across all levels of decision-making and by economic actors large and small. The current food crisis faced by millions across Africa demands urgent humanitarian aid. But, without a much more comprehensive and long-term, locally-led, people-centred response to climate change and biodiversity loss, humanitarian resources will be stretched beyond breaking point. --- The IFRC is partnering withWWF, the world's largest environmental conservation organization, to work with nature and protect people from the climate crisis. Click here to learn more about our partnership.

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05/07/2022 | Article

“Hunger is one of the most undignified sufferings of humanity”: Tackling food insecurity in Africa and beyond

Food insecurity is not a new phenomenon. But the recent escalation in severity and geographical spread of chronic hunger is serious cause for alarm. The hunger crisis is most starkly felt on the African continent, where many regions, notably the Horn of Africa, Sahel and Lake Chad regions, are experiencing the worst food crisis in decades. Millions of people are facing hunger across Africa—prompting the IFRC to launch Emergency Appeals for hunger crises in Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Niger and Angola all within the past year. Back in May, I met some of those affected whilevisiting drought-affected areas in Marsabit County, Kenya—where levels of malnutrition are among the highest on the continent. I saw first-hand the level of suffering caused by a severe lack of rainfall over four consecutive seasons, coupled with pre-existing vulnerability in parts of the County. Children, young mothers and the elderly are most affected and facing near depletion of their livelihoods. Although this hunger crisis is, to a large extent, climate-induced, it is also driven by the effects of widespread locust swarms, disease outbreaks, conflict and insecurity, and economic slowdowns—including those triggered by COVID-19. Furthermore, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is disrupting the global trade of food, fertilizers and oil products, with prices of agricultural products reaching record highs. Eastern Africa, for instance, gets 90 per cent of its imported wheat from Russia and Ukraine (source: WFP), and the conflict has led to significant shortages. The Ukraine crisis has also diverted both the attention and resources from other crises. While Ukraine is an extremely worrying crisis, affecting millions, we cannot afford to lose sight of other urgent crises around the world. Not least of which is the rapidly deteriorating food security situation in many parts of Africa. The clock is ticking and soon it may be too late to avert a widespread tragedy. So the question that should concern us all is: what can we do, as a humanitarian collective, to avoid the tragic history of the early 1980s repeating itself? We need urgent and massive action to scale up life-saving assistance to millions of people on the verge of collapsing, but also to decisively address the root causes of this crisis through longer term commitments. The IFRC has an important and unique role to play. With our unparalleled community reach and expertise, our 100+ years of humanitarian experience, our ability to act both locally and globally, and our National Societies’ special status as auxiliaries to public authorities—we can turn this tide. But we need the resources to do so. Our collective immediate priority is to muster life-saving support, within and outside our IFRC network, for the next six months—paying particular attention to the Horn of Africa, Central Sahel and other hot spots across the continent. During this emergency phase, we will focus our support on the things we know from experience will make the most difference to affected people’s lives and livelihoods: food assistance, cash programmes and nutrition support. At the same time, we will develop longer-term programming, together with interested National Societies, to address the root causes of food insecurity. We will build on our previous successes and work in support of governments’ plans and frameworks to restore the resilience of the most impoverished communities, including displaced populations. Everything we do will be underpinned by solid data and meaningful community engagement to ensure that our response is evidence-based and tailor-made. Hunger is one of the most undignified sufferings of humanity. To alleviate human suffering, we must rise to this challenge through collective mobilization and action—both in the immediate and long-term. We simply cannot afford to do too little, too late. --- Since 2020: The IFRC network reached 4.8 million people with food assistance and non-food items, combining all humanitarian response operations (Emergency Appeals, DREFs and our COVID-19 response) More than 20 African National Societies have been implementing food security-related projects as part of their regular programming 33 African National Societies have increased their capacity to deliver cash and voucher assistance Click here to learn more about the IFRC’s work in food security and livelihoods. You may also be interested in reading: 'To beat Africa’s hunger crises, start with long-term planning' -opinion piece in Devex by IFRC Regional Director for Africa, Mohammed Omer Mukhier-Abuzein 'Because of hunger, I am here' - photo story from the Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine about Angolan refugees fleeing to Namibia due to the drought and resulting lack of food and water And scroll down to learn more about our active Emergency Appeals for food insecurity in Africa and beyond.

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17/06/2022 | Press release

Afghanistan: Hunger and poverty surge as drought persists

Kuala Lumpur/Kabul/Geneva 17 June – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for increased global support to stem spiralling hunger in Afghanistan as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises threatens millions. Intense summer heat and a weak spring rainy season have effectively spelled doom for a meaningful harvest in the country. Amidst mounting poverty, 70 percent of households are unable to meet basic food and non-food needs, with particularly devastating effects for homes headed by widows, the elderly, people with disabilities, and children. An estimated 3 million children are at risk of malnutrition and susceptible to diseases such as acute watery diarrhoea and measles due to weakened immunity. Thousands of people have resorted to begging in the streets, with prices of essential items soaring in the face of declining remittances, a crumbling economy and rising poverty. Dr Mohammad Nabi Burhan, Secretary General of Afghan Red Crescent, said: “This is one of the worst humanitarian crises I have seen in Afghanistan, in more than 30 years as a humanitarian aid worker. It is horrifying to see the extent of hunger and resurgence of poverty that we have fought so hard to eradicate. “It is particularly worrying for Afghans in rural and remote areas, where some of the country’s poorest communities face widespread destitution and very high levels of malnutrition after their crops failed or livestock perished. “A lack of food should not be a cause of death in Afghanistan. There needs to be a concerted international effort to continue critical humanitarian assistance across the country so that lives can be saved.” Afghan Red Crescent is ramping up its response operation using available funds, giving immediate priority to food and cash distributions as well as providing health services via more than 140 health facilities across Afghanistan. However, the latest reports show much more assistance will be needed. Necephor Mghendi, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said: “The increasing economic hardship is a bitter blow for families in Afghanistan who are trying to cope with one of the worst droughts and food crises they have ever faced, leaving children malnourished and far more vulnerable to preventable disease. “As well as providing critical relief to people struggling in the face of severe drought and hunger, livelihood interventions should be supported to enable people to restore means of earning an income. “There is also a need for investment in local institutions that deliver vital services in the cities as well as remote areas. Locally staffed, well-functioning institutions are proven to help the most vulnerable, including children, women, and the elderly in every corner of Afghanistan.” As part of this ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for 80 million Swiss francs to support the Afghan Red Crescent to deliver emergency relief, health services and recovery assistance to more than 1 million people in the provinces hit by multiple crises. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Asia Pacific Office: Joe Cropp, +61 491 743 089, [email protected]

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06/05/2022 | Press release

Horn of Africa: IFRC Secretary General visits Kenya as worst drought in 40 years looms for millions 

Nairobi/Geneva, 6 May 2022—The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Secretary General Jagan Chapagain ends a three-day visit to Kenya, and he is calling for a massive scale-up of humanitarian and long-term assistance to communities affected by the growing hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa. Speaking at the end of a visit to Marsabit, one of Kenya’s areas that has been hardest hit by the effects of drought, Mr Chapagain said: “I have seen firsthand the level of suffering caused by drought in Marsabit. There are highly unacceptable levels of malnutrition, a global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate of 53.6 per cent in this particular ward - one of the highest in Africa. The situation is rapidly deteriorating. We need immediate humanitarian assistance to reach the most vulnerable. We also need long term solutions that address the impact of climate change including investment in resilient livelihoods.” Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are facing a large-scale, climate-induced, and protracted humanitarian crisis with over 14 million people food insecure and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance including at least 5.5 million children facing acute malnutrition. 6.1 million people in Ethiopia and 4.1 million people in Somalia are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. In Kenya, 3.5 million people are acutely food insecure, with eastern and northern Kenya’s most arid and semi-arid lands experiencing critical drought conditions. This silent disaster has been overshadowed—and to a significant extent amplified—by the Ukraine crisis.  “It isn’t just food and water that people need here. In the background there are unseen issues such as sexual and gender-based violence, and the profound impacts on mental health. An example given was of women walking over 40 km to reach potable water – what happens on the journey is unthinkable,” added Mr Chapagain. Dr Asha Mohammed, Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross Society, who was also in Marsabit, said:   “The fact that people in Marsabit have lost over 70 per cent of their livestock, which is their main source of livelihood, means that it will be a long and slow path to recovery. Our teams are playing a central role in reducing the risks that families are facing. They have provided cash assistance, food assistance and improved water treatment practices, but the need to rehabilitate water systems remains urgent. We call all our partners and stakeholders to support our efforts.” In response to the hunger and drought situation in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, the IFRC, the Kenya Red Cross, Ethiopia Red Cross and Somali Red Crescent are jointly appealing for 39 million Swiss francs. This funding will allow Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff to assist 1,560,000 people by scaling up their emergency and humanitarian assistance and recovery activities and tackling the root causes of food insecurity. This strategy is aligned with the IFRC’s Pan African Zero Hunger Initiative that undertakes a holistic approach to food security, integrating specific interventions for rapid nutrition, food security and livelihood support for acute food-insecure households and communities with a long-term strategy working towards zero hunger and sustainable recovery. “Food is a basic need of the population. We call upon every government in Africa to ensure they have the right policy framework to deal with drought,” said Mr Chapagain. To request an interview with representatives from the IFRC or Kenya Red Cross, or for more information, please contact:  In Nairobi:   IFRC - Euloge Ishimwe, +254 731 688 613, [email protected] Kenya Red Cross - Peter Abwao, +254 711 590911, [email protected]   In Geneva: IFRC – Benoit Carpentier, +41 79 213 2413, [email protected]   

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22/03/2022 | Press release

Afghanistan: Food shortages escalate as spring fields remain bare

Kuala Lumpur/Kabul/Geneva, 22 March –The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is raising grave fears for millions of Afghans and farming communities as fields remain bare of the annual spring crops. The ongoing drought means that the area planted with winter wheat is well below average. Field reports indicate that half the ground normally sown with wheat was fallow at the end of the planting window in December. Hunger is worsening in Afghanistan, with 95 per cent of the population going without enough food to eat every day, according to the United Nations. The few crops which were planted are likely to face harsh conditions, with La Nina expected to bring drier than normal conditions in the coming months, extending the severe drought into a second year. Mawlawi Mutiul Haq Khales, Afghan Red Crescent Acting President, said: “Millions of families rely on farming, but they already lost last year’s crops to the severe drought, leaving them without grain to get through the harsh winter or seeds to sow in the fields. “Without seeds in the ground, there will be no harvest in spring and summer, creating a real risk of famine across Afghanistan, where nearly 23 million people are already unable to feed themselves every day. “We need to ramp up our efforts to support these communities with relief as they brace for a second year of drought and food shortages, while working to sustain livelihoods that are so important for families and entire communities.” The drought crisis has fuelled an economic crisis in a country where agriculture is critical for people’s livelihoods and the mainstay of the economy. More than 70 percent of Afghanistan’s population live in rural areas and around 80 percent of livelihoods depend on agriculture, according to the latest IPC Afghanistan food security data. Afghan Red Crescent, supported by the IFRC, is working with farming communities to have more sustainable water sources, drought resistant crops and other income generation opportunities for women in regional parts of the country. Johanna Arvo, IFRC’s Acting Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said: “The ravages of climate change mean risks and hardship are skyrocketing for people in Afghanistan. Millions of people have faced two severe droughts in four years, causing catastrophic crop failures and devastating food shortages. “Temperatures are rising, leading to reduced snowfall cover, snowmelt and water supplies. Rainfall is becoming more erratic, decimating agriculture in Afghanistan. “As well as providing immediate relief, we must invest much more in the future by helping Afghans to establish more sustainable water supplies and drought resistant crops, while supporting income generation for the most at risk, including women and the elderly.” As part of this ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for more than 65 million Swiss francs to support the Afghan Red Crescent to deliver health services, emergency relief and recovery assistance to more than 1 million people in the provinces hit by multiple crises. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Asia Pacific Office: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected] Asia Pacific Office: Joe Cropp, +61 491 743 089, [email protected]

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14/03/2022 | Emergency

Iran: Drought

Iran has been suffering from unprecedented and widespread drought since July 2021. Alack of safe and sufficient water supply for drinking, hygiene, agriculture, animal farming and electrical power is having a devastating and increasingly unsustainable strain on people's health and income. The Iranian Red Crescent Society has been helping communities across the country to cope with the drought since July, with support from the Disaster Response Emergency Fund.This emergency appeal is supporting the Iranian Red Crescent to scale up its humanitarian response, targeting 800,000 people with water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health, livelihoods, cash and protection assistance.

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15/12/2021 | Press release

Over 57 million affected by climate disasters across Asia Pacific in 2021

Kuala Lumpur, 15 December 2021 – Asia and the Pacific have experienced relentless and unpredictable climate-related disasters in 2021, severely affecting more than 57 million people during the peak of the global pandemic. In 2021, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched 26 new operations, 15 of which are climate-related disaster responses. The IFRC is still responding to a further 21 disasters across Asia and the Pacific, from previous years. South Asia has been the worst hit this year, with millions of people affected by multiple disasters and little time to recover from one to the next. In India, more than 18 million people have been severely impacted by floods and cyclones this year, according to data from the Indian Government, Disaster Management Division. In Bangladesh, more than half a million people have been swamped by floods, with hundreds of villages marooned for weeks at a time. Around one third of Nepal suffered floods or landslides with many occurring outsides of the traditional monsoon season. Jessica Letch, IFRC Emergency Operations Manager said: “For much of this year, millions of families across Asia have been reeling after multiple blows from successive disasters and the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. “From India to Indonesia, in Nepal and Bangladesh, our health and emergency teams are reporting livelihoods shattered by frequent and unpredictable climate disasters.” In China’s Henan Province, 13.9 million people were affected by severe flooding in July. In Southeast Asia, Indonesia has been worst affected by disasters, with more than one million people swamped by floods in the past month alone, according to the Indonesian Government Regional Disaster Authority. Drought, combined with associated economic collapse – which unfolds slowly but with devastating consequences – is affecting more than 22.8 million people in Afghanistan, according to the latest Integrated Food Security data. Other countries across Asia have also been hit by multiple disasters. Nearly one million people were swamped by flooding in Thailand, more than half a million people affected by floods and typhoons in the Philippines and over 125,000 people hit by floods in Myanmar. Pacific Island countries also faced significant flooding due to storms and rising sea tides. “Responding to disasters at the height of the COVID pandemic has involved some of the most complex operations and the changing climate is throwing unpredictable floods and storms at millions of people, making life even tougher,” said Jessica Letch. “As risks mount with climate change, the IFRC is investing in anticipatory early warning systems to better prepare communities to act before disasters strike, to reduce the loss of lives and livelihoods.” For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Kuala Lumpur: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected]

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03/12/2021 | Press release

EU and IFRC support people affected by the water crisis and drought in Syria

Damascus, 3 December 2021 – In response to the severe water crisis and drought in Syria, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has released 748,000 CHF (709,000 EUR) from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund. The European Union is providing CHF 158.000 (150,000 EUR) in humanitarian funding to assist the most affected people. The funding is part of the EU's overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The funds released to the IFRC will help the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) cater to the humanitarian needs of 15,000 people with food and health interventions over six months in Al Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor, which are some of the most affected localities. Since January 2021, Syria has been witnessing extreme drought conditions coupled with unprecedented low water levels of the Euphrates River leading to poor agricultural production and loss of livelihoods. Millions of people are now experiencing worsening food insecurity and increasing malnutrition rates. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers and community health promoters will distribute food parcels and engage in hygiene promotion and disease prevention through awareness-raising about waterborne diseases and COVID-19. Background Through the European Commission's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department, the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the European Union provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs. The European Union is signatory to a €3 million humanitarian delegation agreement with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF). Funds from the DREF are mainly allocated to “small-scale” disasters – those that do not give rise to a formal international appeal. The Disaster Relief Emergency Fund was established in 1985 and is supported by contributions from donors. Each time a National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society needs immediate financial support to respond to a disaster, it can request funds from the DREF.For small-scale disasters, the IFRC allocates grants from the Fund, which can then be replenished by the donors. The delegation agreement between the IFRC and EU humanitarian aid enables the latter to replenish the DREF for agreed operations (that fit in with its humanitarian mandate) up to a total of €3 million. For more information, please contact: Rana Sidani Cassou, Head of Communications – IFRC MENA: Mobile +41766715751 / +33675945515 [email protected] Anouk Delafortrie, Regional Information Officer – European Humanitarian Aid MENA: Mobile +962 777 57 0203 [email protected]

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02/12/2021 | Press release

Afghanistan: Worst drought and hunger crisis in decades

Kuala Lumpur/Kabul/Geneva, 2 December – Afghanistan is in the grip of one of the worst droughts and food shortage crises in decades, threatening an unrivalled humanitarian catastrophe as a bitter winter looms large for millions of Afghans. Emergency food relief and winter survival kits are being urgently delivered by Afghan Red Crescent to people in areas worst affected by severe food shortages, supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Around 22.8 million people – 55 per cent of Afghanistan’s population – are experiencing high levels of acute food shortages. Severe drought has hit more than 80 percent of the country, crippling food production and forcing people from their land. Nearly 700,000 people have been internally displaced this year, joining some 3.5 million people already forced from their homes throughout the country, who all face a harsh winter, when temperatures can drop as low as -20C in some areas of Afghanistan. Mawlawi Mutiul Haq Khales, Afghan Red Crescent Acting President, said: “Afghans have shown remarkable resilience in the face of this latest drought, growing hunger and decades of conflict. Millions of people are struggling to survive due to wholescale crop losses, acute food shortages, and a lack of cash to buy basic necessities. “Afghan Red Crescent teams have not stopped helping people with relief and healthcare, but the vast majority of families remain unassisted, lacking adequate food provisions, money for the very basic needs and survival kits to get through the harsh winter months ahead.” The IFRC is providing 3,000 tonnes of food relief for 210,000 people and winter survival kits are being urgently delivered by Afghan Red Crescent in some of the hardest hit provinces for those suffering shortages and loss of income. To mitigate the misery and hardships of winter, families are being provided with winter kits, including blankets, thermal insulation and heaters but additional funding is needed to expand the humanitarian operations. As part of this ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for more than 36 million Swiss francs to support Afghan Red Crescent to deliver emergency relief and recovery assistance to 560,000 people in 16 provinces worst affected by severe drought and displacement. Alexander Matheou, Asia Pacific Director, IFRC, who is currently in Afghanistan, said: “This is the worst drought and hunger crisis faced by Afghans in living memory. Much faster international action is needed to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in the coming months. “We are in a race against time to deliver life-saving relief and supplies ahead of a harsh winter which will cut off some of Afghanistan's most vulnerable people from any chance of assistance. “People are already going hungry in Afghanistan and conditions are continuing to deteriorate. I have spoken to doctors who are reporting increased cases of acute malnutrition amongst children. It will only get worse in the weeks ahead.” As well as immediate relief, IFRC appeal funds will help with establishing more drought-resistant crops and revitalising livestock, while supporting critical income generation for women, the elderly and those most at risk of spiralling poverty. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Kuala Lumpur: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected] In Geneva: Ann Vaessen, +41 79 405 77 50, [email protected]

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30/09/2021 | Press release

Afghanistan faces collapse of health services and mass hunger

Kuala Lumpur/Kabul/Geneva, 30 September - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns that Afghanistan faces imminent collapse of health services and widespread hunger if aid and money do not flow into the country within weeks. Acute food shortages fuelled by serious drought, lack of cash and displacement, the COVID-19 pandemic and crippled health services have converged on the people of Afghanistan, with some 18 million Afghans in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Speaking from Kabul where he has been on a four-day official visit, Alexander Matheou, IFRC Asia Pacific Director said: “After living through decades of fleeing and fighting, Afghans now face a severe drought which has devastated food production, leaving millions hungry and destitute. “We are deeply concerned that Afghanistan faces imminent collapse of health services and worsening hunger if aid and money do not flow into the country within weeks. Health financing has been cut across the country placing ever more demand on Red Crescent teams. “Urgent international action is needed to support millions of people with the necessities of life as Afghanistan’s looming harsh winter threatens greater misery and hardships.” Afghan Red Crescent is providing support in some of the hardest hit provinces, including relief supplies to families suffering food shortages and loss of income. Red Crescent has been providing families who have lost their livelihoods due to the drought with cash grants to buy food, to plant drought-resistant food crops and protect their livestock. Health clinics, including mobile teams of doctors and nurses, are providing critical care across Afghanistan. As part of this ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for more than 36 million Swiss francs to support Afghan Red Crescent to deliver emergency relief and recovery assistance to 560,000 people in 16 provinces worst affected by severe drought and displacement. “Afghan Red Crescent has a long history of helping people living in areas other agencies are unable to reach. Red Crescent teams are ramping up critical maternal and child healthcare, food assistance and other emergency relief, but much more support is needed. “IFRC appeal funds will be used to help with sustainable water supplies, establishing more drought-resistant crops and revitalising livestock, while supporting critical income generation for those most at risk of spiralling poverty, including women and the elderly.” For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Kuala Lumpur: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451 [email protected] In Geneva: Nathalie Perroud, +41 79 538 14 71 [email protected] IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world. www.ifrc.org - Facebook - Twitter - YouTube

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04/08/2021 | Press release

Afghanistan: Over 80% of country in serious drought

Kabul, Kuala Lumpur, Geneva, 4 August 2021– The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) urges greater international support for millions of people in Afghanistan who are suffering due to worsening drought, COVID-19 and armed conflict. The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan officially declared a drought on 22 June, indicating that 30 percent of country is exposed to severe drought, 50 percent to serious drought and another 20 percent to moderate drought. Afghanistan’s wheat crop will be reduced by nearly 2 million tonnes and more than 3 million livestock are at risk of death, according to the government. The drought declaration comes as COVID-19 is further worsening existing health and socio-economic hardships across the country while ongoing hostilities are displacing thousands, all left to rely on humanitarian assistance. Dr Nilab Mobarez, the Afghan Red Crescent Society Acting President, said: “We are seeing the devastating impacts of this drought on millions of people who are suffering from severe food and water shortages in most areas of Afghanistan. Food crops are depleted and withered in the fields, and many people have lost their incomes. “Afghan Red Crescent response teams are urgently delivering relief, including food and cash assistance, for thousands of drought-affected families across bone-dry provinces.” “Our network of branches in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan and volunteers in each district enable us to deliver humanitarian assistance even in hard-to-reach areas. Afghan Red Crescent is recognized and widely accepted by parties to the conflict because of its neutrality and impartiality, thus well-placed to reach communities which would otherwise be left behind.” The IFRC isappealing for 15 million Swiss francsto support the Afghan Red Crescent Society to deliver cash grants to buy food supplies, restore livelihoods and crops for 280,000 people in 13 of the provinces worst affected by drought. Necephor Mghendi, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said: “Climate disasters, COVID-19 and conflict are converging in a living nightmare for the people of Afghanistan. Millions are going without meals every day and in some parts water is running dry. This is one of the most severe droughts ever in Afghanistan. “Urgent international action is needed to support more than 18 million people who will need humanitarian support in Afghanistan this year due to this drought and food crisis, compounding impacts of record COVID-19 and many years of armed conflict. “We have learnt from previous drought interventions that we must also invest more in drought-resistant crops, protecting livelihoods and livestock.” For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Kuala Lumpur:Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected] In Geneva:Nathalie Perroud, +41 79 538 14 71,[email protected]

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08/09/2021 | Press release

Tuvalu: Communities face climate drought disaster

Kuala Lumpur/Funafuti/Suva, 8 September 2021 – The small Pacific Island country of Tuvalu, has been experiencing low rainfall conditions, with mounting concerns of extreme water shortages for people across the tropical islands. Tuvalu has been facing drought conditions for the past three months and rainfall levels have been some of the lowest ever recorded. There are fears communities may face water shortages in the coming months if rainfall continues to be below normal, especially as the Red Cross Red Crescent Early Action Rainfall Watch places Tuvalu at ‘dry warning’ level, with high risk of severe dry conditions getting worse. Tuvalu Red Cross Secretary General Tagifoe Taomia said: “Record low rainfall levels leave our drinking water tanks empty and our crops withered. Climate extremes are hitting our country hard. Our communities rely on rainfall as the main source of fresh water as there are no rivers on the island." “Water harvesting systems are completely dependent on rainfall. No rain, no water to harvest and when it does rain, the amount we are able to collect is dependent on the intensity of the rainfall." “Early action is being ramped up to assist people in remote communities across the country, to take proactive steps to analyse these impacts and build their knowledge and capacity to prepare for periods of drought.” To support Tuvalu Red Cross with their drought early action, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has released emergency relief funds of around 30,000 Swiss Francs (Around $33,000 USD). Tuvalu Red Cross will assist people with their household water tank monitoring and deliver drought awareness activities to help communities cope with the current dry period with rainfall levels at some of the lowest recorded and to be better prepared for periods of droughts. Disaster management teams from Tuvalu Red Cross are working alongside authorities to help Island Disasters Committees prepare their communities to survive these dry months. Katie Greenwood, IFRC’s Pacific Head of Delegation, said: “These seriously dry drought levels and forecasts of worse to come in a Pacific Island tropical country reveal how exposed we are to the ravages of extreme weather events which are being fuelled by a changing climate and warming oceans." “This IFRC funding is the first ever Disaster Relief Emergency Funds released at the early onset of a drought in the Pacific." “It’s critical to invest more in preparing early to enable Red Cross in the Pacific to support their communities to be safe ahead of disasters so they can reduce impacts and build resilience.” For more information, contact: In Funafuti: Eleala Avanitele, +688 7108931, [email protected] In Suva: Soneel Ram, +679 9983 688, [email protected] In Kuala Lumpur: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected]

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06/09/2021 | Emergency

Afghanistan: Humanitarian crises

Afghanistan is experiencing the compounding effects of decades of conflict, severe drought, food insecurity, climate-related disasters, displacement and gaps in health services. A deadly 5.9 magnitude earthquake also struck the south east of the country on 22 June, claiming at least 1,000 lives. This revised Emergency Appeal seeks 90 million Swiss francs, increased from an initial 36 million Swiss francs in August 2021, to further scale up the Afghan Red Crescent Society's (ARCS) humanitarian response to multiple humanitarian crises in Afghanistan. Funds raised enable the IFRC to support the ARCS to deliver assistance and support to 1,000,000 people in all 34 provinces.

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20/08/2021 | Emergency type


Drought is a long-lasting period of low precipitation (rainfall, snowfall or snowmelt)resulting in a shortage of water. When communities don't have enough water for drinking, sanitation and agriculture it can lead tofood insecurity, the spread of disease, malnutrition and starvation, migration and economic losses. Drought can also have a negative impact onpower generation, transportation and commercial or industrial needs in a country.

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12/12/2019 | Press release

Immediate action needed as millions face hunger in Southern Africa, warns the Red Cross

Pretoria/Nairobi/Geneva, 12 December 2019 –Hunger is threatening the lives of 11 million people in Southern Africa due to deepening drought and in the region. Red Cross teams across Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia are scaling up their response to emergency and crisis levels of food insecurity. “This year’s drought is unprecedented, causing food shortages on a scale we have never seen here before,” said Dr Michael Charles, Head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Southern Africa cluster. “We are seeing people going two to three days without food, entire herds of livestock wiped out by drought and small-scale farmers with no means to earn money to tide them over a lean season.” The countries with the most significant increase in food insecurity from last year are Zambia and Zimbabwe, with 2.3 million and 3.6 million people respectively suffering from acute food shortages. Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia have this year declared drought emergencies. In Eswatini, 24 per cent of its rural population is suffering from food shortages. The situation is set to worsen due to late or no rain in the region and crop production is down by 30 percent for the 2019/2020 harvest. In October, the IFRC launched an Emergency Appeal in Zambia to bring relief to those most affected by the persistent drought and is now widening its appeal for emergency funding to cover a further four countries affected by unprecedented levels of drought and hunger. The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement already has ongoing operations on food insecurity in Eswatini, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe reaching 207,055 people (41,411 households). This newest appeal will broaden its reach to eight southern African countries and will target individuals not reached by other interventions in the region. “There is a major gap in investment in resilience and community-level capacities in countries hardest hit, including Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Eswatini,” Dr Charles said. “As a humanitarian collective, we must take immediate action to respond to millions who face imminent starvation. Even more importantly, it is our responsibility to strengthen communities’ resilience and ability to adapt to the current challenges. Otherwise, we will never end hunger in the region.” The IFRC is calling for 7.7 million Swiss francs to mitigate the food crisis in the region. The overall objective of the multi-country Emergency Appeal is to provide immediate food assistance and livelihood recovery support to the most affected households in the targeted communities for a period of 14 months.

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29/10/2019 | Press release

Zambia: 2.3 million people face severe food insecurity

Lusaka/Pretoria/Geneva, 29 October 2019 –A “catastrophic” combination of drought and communities’ declining resilience has left an estimated 2.3 million people facing severe acute food insecurity – up froman estimate of1.7 millionpeople a month ago. Communities across southern Africa have been affected by drought since late 2018. This year, large parts of southern and western Zambia received their lowest seasonal rainfall totals since at least 1981, the base year from which normal rainfall is benchmarked. At the same time, northern and eastern parts of the country were affected by flash floods and waterlogging, resulting in poor harvests. Mr Kaitano Chungu, the Secretary General of the Zambia Red Cross, said: “Before the communities could recover from the impacts of flood episodes that characterised the 2017/2018 season, the 2018/2019 season has been hit by drought. The successive mixture of drought and flooding has been catastrophic for many communities. In most of the affected areas there isn’t enough drinking water, which means that people and animals—both livestock and wildlife—are having to use the same water points. This is unacceptable as it exposes people to diseases and creates a heightened risk of animal attacks.” Some families in the worst-affected areas are surviving the food shortage by eating wild fruits and roots, a coping mechanism that exposes them to poisonous species which may be life-threatening or pose serious health risks. Some of the Zambia Red Cross branches are among the aid groups that have been distributing food relief to hunger-affected communities on behalf of government for a few months now, but more help is needed. The Zambia Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are today appealing for almost 3.5 million Swiss francs. This appeal will fund efforts to provide sustained emergency and recovery-focused assistance to about 57,000 people who are among the worst-affected by the current crisis. Through the Red Cross operation, targeted families will receive unconditional cash grants, as well as assistance designed to improve future food production. Dr Michael Charles, the head of IFRC’s Southern Africa cluster office, said: “Our priority is to quickly provide emergency cash to vulnerable families. However, we want to go beyond simply stabilizing the situation: we want to offer sustained support so that people are better able to face and navigate future climate threats without needing external assistance. Ultimately our goal is about helping people become more resilient.” According to experts at the Global Change Institute (GCI) at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, temperatures in southern Africa have risen on average by twice as much as global temperatures. In addition, GCI estimates that, based on current emissions, temperatures in the regional interior could climb 5°-6°C by the end of the century – well above the anticipated global temperature rise. Warming of that magnitude would be potentially catastrophic. Life-threatening heatwaves would become more frequent. The production of staple crops such as maize and wheat would be severely impaired. Water resources, already at their limit throughout southern Africa, would be dramatically reduced in quality and quantity. Livestock would not be viable over much of the sub-continent.

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18/10/2019 | Article

Urgent action needed for countries in Southern Africa threatened by drought

By Dr. Michael Charles All countries in the Southern Africa are currently experiencing pockets of dryness. Worryingly for the sub-region, Angola, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe have declared state of emergencies due to looming drought. The United Nations Climate Action Summit scheduled for 23 September 2019 in New York, United States of America, presents a timely opportunity for urgent global discussions that will hopefully culminate inconcrete, realistic plans to address thedisproportionate impacts of climate change on developing countries. [caption id="attachment_57159" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Teresa, 19, holds her baby son in front of her destroyed home in Dondo, Mozambique. IFRC/Corrie Butler[/caption] Southern Africa is one of the regions most affected by serious impacts of climate-induced natural disasters. This year alone, a succession ofcyclonesandfloodshas already resulted in significant loss of life and assets in Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and kept humanitarian organisations busy with emergency responses, as well as recovery and rebuilding efforts. Tropical cyclones Idai and Kenneth were different in that they managed to attract global attention because they caused significant devastation during a short period. Climate change-induced natural disasters in Southern Africa are often invisible in the global media, even though they are protracted and threaten the livelihoods of millions. Even lower-level cyclones can cause devastating floods that are quickly followed by debilitating droughts. Many national economies in Southern Africa are agriculturally based and as long as climate change mitigation strategies enshrined in existing globalpoliciesare not wholeheartedly implemented, a significant portion of the 340 million inhabitants of Southern Africa could be food-insecure in the long-term because of famine. The increased mass movement of people from areas affected by climate-induced natural disasters is also more likely. Internal and external migration will necessitate greater coordination among humanitarian organisations to adequately support receiving communities and countries to respond to the added burden introduced by new arrivals. The effects of food insecurity and mass movements are felt most by the vulnerable in our communities, such as the chronically ill and disabled, and women and children. They also place immense pressure on already strained health systems in many countries in the sub-region. With the necessary funds, the Red Cross Movement has the capability and is well placed to address some of the consequences. But urgent action is still needed on the climate change question. [caption id="attachment_57175" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] In Mwanza district, Malawi, Red Cross has helped communities create gardens with smart irrigation to create greater food security, less reliance on rains and can harvest twice per year, at least doubling productivity. IFRC/Juozas Cernius[/caption] Climate change is certain and evident. Its effects are being felt more in less developed nations, especially in southern Africa. Efforts for adaptation are essential not only to decrease the negative consequences but also to increase opportunities for communities to be more resilient in the long-term. Countries in the sub-region are acting to decrease their response times to calamities and improve their communities’ readiness to mitigate impacts of natural disasters. Mozambique is the first country in Africa to have an Early Action Protocol approved; the protocol harnesses the power offorecast-based financingto ensure that humanitarian responses are more responsive and proactive. Malawi’s protocol is under review and Zambia’s is currently in development. The need for humanitarian assistance in Southern Africa in the latter part of 2019 and into 2020 will be greater with the imminent drought. Notwithstanding ongoing local efforts to improve countries’ and communities’ disaster risk management practices and increase their resilience, global stakeholders have a responsibility to definitively act to reduce the need for climate change-induced disaster mitigation efforts in the most affected developing countries. Originally published in the Southern Times Newspaper Dr Michael Charles is the Head of the Southern Africa Cluster of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

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18/07/2019 | Press release

DPR Korea: Malnutrition and disease on the rise as drought ruins early harvest

Beijing/Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 18 July 2019 –-An early season drought in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has cut by half the expected production of a critical harvest, increasing pressure on highly vulnerable groups across the country. The drought, which started early this spring after months of unusually erratic weather, has destroyed crops that would have been harvested between June and September. The drought follows a lean 2018 where food production was 12 per cent below the previous year and the lowest in a decade. Mohamed Babiker, Head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) country office in DPRK, said: “We are already seeing the impacts of this drought on vulnerable people. Rates of malnutrition and water borne diseases like diarrhoea and colitis are on the rise.” In May, an assessment in drought-stricken areas by the DPRK Red Cross and IFRC found that this year’s harvest will be less than half of what would be possible with adequate rain, normal temperatures, the right irrigation and other inputs such as fertilizers. Following this assessment, IFRC released nearly 250,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Emergency Relief Fund to support the deployment and operation of mobile water pumps in an effort to mitigate the effects of the drought. This intervention saw crop yields double in targeted areas. Given the continued severity of the situation, the IFRC is now calling for an additional 472,000 Swiss francs to provide fertilizers, herbicides, irrigation and water and sanitation supplies to improve crop yields and stem the spread of water borne diseases in the most affected communities in North Phyongan province. Mohamed Babiker said: “We need to act quickly to ensure that what can be saved from this harvest is saved, and to safeguard the food security of people who don’t have the resources to cope with even a small food shortfall. “Water pumps and irrigation supplies can make a significant difference. They can be life saving for a population that is chronically undernourished and at risk of disease.” The DPRK Red Cross Society is the leading humanitarian organization in the country and one of the only organisations with access to communities across the whole country. Through the Red Cross’ network of 110,000 volunteers, including 60 national and 150 provincial disaster response team members, it responds to life-saving humanitarian needs in terms of food security, nutrition, health, and water and sanitation. The IFRC has had a permanent presence in DPRK since 1995 and is supporting the humanitarian and development programmes of the DPRK Red Cross Society.

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13/05/2019 | Press release

DPR Korea: Hunger warning after early drought

Beijing/Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 13 May 2019 – Early seasonal drought in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) could exacerbate hunger, malnutrition and health problems for thousands of children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, older people and the chronically ill. The drought, which started in early spring after months of unusually erratic weather, is harming crops that should be harvested in June and September. The drought follows a lean 2018 where food production was 12 per cent below the previous year and the lowest in a decade. In all, an estimated 10.1 million people (40 per cent of the population) are in need of urgent food assistance – a situation that this drought could only worsen. Head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) country office in DPRK, Mohamed Babiker, said: “We are particularly concerned about the impact that this early drought will have on children and adults who are already struggling to survive. Even before this drought, one in five children under five years old was stunted because of poor nutrition. We are concerned that these children will not be able to cope with further stress on their bodies.” The worst affects of the drought will only be seen in the coming months. However, the IFRC and the DPRK Red Cross are already expanding programmes to help at-risk and highly vulnerable communities to mitigate any food shortages. The IFRC has released about 77,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to bolster national Red Cross efforts to help 22,000 people. The DPRK Red Cross will use this money to deploy water pumps so drought-affected communities can irrigate their crops. This approach was first successfully trialled during a heatwave in 2018. In addition, the Red Cross is running about 100 community greenhouses to grow vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, chilis and mushrooms all year round. Volunteers are also looking to pilot household greenhouses to ensure families can eat green vegetables all year round. Speaking about the causes of the current drought and the broader prevailing food crisis, IFRC’s disaster risk management delegate, Daniel Wallinder, said: “It seems clear, looking back at data collected over the past 50 years, that the current climate issues in DPRK are strongly related to climate change. What we see now is lack of snow during the winter leaving crops exposed to freezing temperatures as well as prolonged dry spells due to rainfall that is lower and less predictable. For people who are living on the margins, these changes can be devastating.”

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01/03/2019 | Press release

Pakistan: “Alarmingly high” rates of disease and malnutrition in drought-affected areas

Islamabad/Geneva, 1 March 2019 – Women and children affected by one of the worst droughts in Pakistan’s recent history are now also at risk from disease and malnutrition, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned today.Communities in the worst-affected areas of the southern Sindh and Balochistan provinces have so little access to nutritional food and safe water that many are forced to drink saline or get water from contaminated sites. As a result, many people – particularly children, and women who are pregnant or lactating – are suffering from diarrhoea, vomiting and fever, which is leading to widespread malnutrition. Women and children are at the highest risk, as men are able to work in towns where there is a wider choice of foods and access to clean drinking water.IFRC’s head of country office Dr Thomas Gurtner described the rates of malnutrition and disease as “alarmingly high” and said the organisation was ramping up its support to the Pakistan Red Crescent Society volunteers and staff on the ground.“IFRC has released 315,000 Swiss francs of emergency funds to enable the Pakistan Red Crescent to meet the needs 15,000 of the most vulnerable people threatened by disease and drought,” he said.“This will allow the Red Crescent to improve access to safe drinking water through solar boreholes, storage facilities, improved water treatment and other services, while the most vulnerable people receive cash transfers that give them full control of providing for their families.”An estimated five million people are affected by the drought, which was caused by unseasonably high temperatures and below average monsoonal rainfall, both of which are influenced by El Niño. The water table has dropped in most valleys and low-lying areas, and food production in the affected areas has dropped by 34 per cent. The Pakistan Meteorological Department forecasts that the situation will continue to deteriorate over the coming four years, in part due to climate change.

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28/09/2017 | Press release

Lesotho’s vulnerability to drought will continue without increased investment in resilience, says IFRC President

Maseru, 28 September 2017— Lesotho will continue to experience devastating droughts and food crises unless there is a dramatic increase in investment in community-level resilience and preparedness. “Without measures to strengthen the ability of people to withstand droughts and other hazards, the terrible food insecurity we have seen here in recent years will keep on returning,” said Mr Tadateru Konoé, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), during a visit to Lesotho, where he met the country’s King Letsie III, as well as other government officials. Despite a recent improvement in food security, Lesotho continues to be severely affected by recurrent droughts, which compound an already complex socio-economic situation. Lesotho has one of the highest prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the world. In addition, the recent drought has had a crippling effect on the economy. In response to the most recent food crisis, Lesotho Red Cross Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an emergency appeal to support 4,500 people with food aid. The response also sought to strengthen community resilience. “We cannot simply treat the symptoms of hunger,” added Mr Konoé. “Where possible, we also need to address the root causes – the underlying vulnerabilities that leave people so exposed to droughts and other shocks. That is what we tried to do.” For Mr Konoé, who is a national of Japan, the visit to Lesotho was also a sign of solidarity due to close ties between the two countries. In November 2016, H.M. Letsie III, King of the Kingdom of Lesotho and H.M. Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso visited Fukushima, to express their condolences and solidarity to the Japanese people affected by the triple disasters—an earthquake, a tsunami and a meltdown at Fukushima power plant—which had hit Japan on 11 March 2011. “We call on our partners to invest in local actors such as Lesotho Red Cross Society. Strengthening local capacity means that the acquired skills and tools remain within the community and, as a result, this enhances preparedness and resilience,” said King Letsie III of Lesotho.

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