Extreme hunger soaring in world’s climate hotspots, says Oxfam | Climate crisis

Extreme hunger is closely linked to the climate crisis, with many areas of the world most affected by extreme weather experiencing severe food shortages, research has shown.

The development charity Oxfam examined 10 of the world’s worst climate hotspots, afflicted by drought, floods, severe storms and other extreme weather, and found their rates of extreme hunger had more than doubled in the past six years.

Within the countries studied, 48 million people are currently suffering from acute hunger, up from about 21 million people in 2016. Of these, about 18 million people are on the brink of starvation, according to the Oxfam report published on Thursday.

The 10 countries covered by the report – Somalia, Haiti, Djibouti, Kenya, Niger, Afghanistan, Guatemala, Madagascar, Burkina Faso and Zimbabwe – were those with the highest number of UN appeals driven by extreme weather events.

Gabriela Bucher, executive director of Oxfam International, said: “Climate change is no longer a ticking timebomb, it is exploding before our eyes. It is making extreme weather such as droughts, cyclones and floods – which have increased five-fold over the past 50 years – more frequent and more deadly.”

As global heating gathers pace, fossil fuel companies have been reaping bumper profits from the soaring price of gas after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The profits of fossil fuel companies over 18 days would be enough to fulfil the UN’s $49bn appeal for humanitarian aid this year, the Oxfam report found.

Governments will meet in Egypt in November for the Cop27 UN climate talks, where they will be urged to plan much tougher cuts in greenhouse gases, and rich countries will be asked to provide finance for poor countries to adapt to the impacts of the climate crisis.

However, many leading figures are gloomy on the dim prospects for the talks. Geopolitical upheavals due to the war in Ukraine have imperilled the fragile coalition brought together at Cop26 in Glasgow last November, where all countries agreed to focus on limiting global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

Bucher said: “Leaders of rich polluting countries must live up to their promises to cut emissions. They must pay for adaptation measures and loss and damage in low income countries, as well as immediately inject lifesaving funds to meet the UN appeal to respond to the most impacted countries.”

Bucher previously called for a windfall tax on energy and food companies, which have also benefited from soaring food prices around the world. She also called for the debts of the poorest countries to be cancelled.

Among the countries highlighted in the Oxfam report, most are severely afflicted by drought, many of them in Africa. Somalia is experiencing its worst drought on record, and 1 million people have been forced to flee, while in Kenya 2.5 million livestock have died and 2.4 million people are going hungry.

Cereal production in Niger has fallen by 40% owing to extreme weather, leaving 2.6 million people in a state of acute hunger, while the desertification of crop and pasture land in Burkina Faso has resulted in more than 3.4 million people in extreme hunger.

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