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Food security and disasters caused by all types of natural hazards

Photo credit: FAO

A parched field in Kenya. Drought is especially devastating to sub-Saharan agriculture.

 

Surge in climate change-related disasters poses growing threat to food security

In developing countries the agriculture sector bears much of the economic impact

Droughts, floods, storms and other disasters triggered by climate change have risen in frequency and severity over the last three decades, increasing the damage caused to the agricultural sectors of many developing countries and putting them at risk of growing food insecurity, FAO warned in a new report released today ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris.

Worldwide, between 2003 and 2013 – the period analyzed in the study – the average annual number of disasters caused by all types of natural hazards, including climate-related events, almost doubled since the 1980s. The total economic damage caused is estimated at $1.5 trillion.

Focusing specifically on the impact of climate-related disasters in developing countries, some 25 percent of the negative economic impacts were borne by the crop, livestock, fisheries and forestry sectors alone. In the case of drought, over 80 percent of the damage and losses affected the agriculture sector, especially livestock and crop production.

The FAO report is based on a review of 78 on the ground post disaster needs-assessments conducted in developing countries coupled with statistical analyses of production losses, changes in trade flows and agriculture sector growth associated with 140 medium and large scale disasters – defined as those affecting at least 250,000 people.

The report clearly demonstrates that natural hazards – particularly extreme weather events – regularly impact heavily on agriculture and hamper the eradication of hunger, poverty and the achievement of sustainable development.

The situation is likely to worsen unless measures are taken to strengthen the resilience of the agriculture sector and increase investments to boost food security and productivity and also curb the harmful effects of climate change.

 

Read the full article: FAO

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.