Disasters escalating four-fold as climate change hits poor hardest, says Oxfam
Natural disasters have quadrupled over the last two decades, from an average of 120 a year in the early 1980s to as many as 500 today, says international agency Oxfam in a new report, "Climate Alarm," today. The increase in these extreme climatic events is in line with climate models developed by the international scientific community.
The number of people affected by all disasters has risen from an average of 174 million a year between 1985 and 1994 to 254 million a year between 1995 and 2004. Earlier this year the Asian floods alone affected 248 million people.
There has been a six-fold increase in floods since 1980. The number of floods and wind-storms has risen from 60 in 1980 to 240 last year. Meanwhile the number of geothermal events, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, has stayed relatively static.
"This year we have seen floods in
Though the colossal crises such as the African famines of the early 1980s, the
One short disaster after another, even if relatively small, can push poor people and communities into a downward spiral from which is difficult to recover. To make matters worse, rich countries tend to prioritize their aid spending into the more high-profile emergencies and to those countries that are seen as in line with their foreign policy priorities.
Some countries are particularly prone to weather-related disasters. In August 2007
For poor people who are dependent upon the land, according to the report, even a slight change in the climate can have a long term impact on their livelihoods. A woman farmer from
To deal with the symptoms of weather related disasters, Oxfam is calling on rich country governments and the UN to make humanitarian aid faster, fairer and more flexible and to improve ways to prepare for and reduce the risk of disasters.
Oxfam says that rising green house gas emissions are causing climate change which is triggering an increase in weather-related disasters and must be tackled. Oxfam is calling on governments meeting at the UN Conference on Climate Change in Bali next month to agree a mandate to negotiate a global deal that will provide assistance to developing countries to cope with the impacts of climate change and to reduce green house gas emissions, with rich countries moving first and fastest since they are most responsible for climate change.
For more information, please contact:
Ian Bray, Senior Press Officer, Oxfam
+44 (0)1865 472289