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"Underfunded" humanitarian sector struggling to keep up with climate emergency

Friday 24 March 2023

"Underfunded" humanitarian sector struggling to keep up with climate emergency

Friday 24 March 2023

From droughts to wildfires and flooding... The number of climate-related disasters has doubled since the 1980s, and "chronically underfunded" aid organisations are struggling to keep up.

That's according to Claas Beecken, Humanitarian Lead at international development charity CARE International UK, who visited the island earlier this week for Jersey International Development Network's first event since the pandemic.

The evening saw more than 70 islanders come together to discuss the role climate change is playing in what is “the largest global food crisis in modern history”.

Mr Beecken said: "Acute food insecurity is escalating. In 2023, at least 345 million people across 53 countries are expected to face acute food insecurity and need urgent assistance – this is double the number of people who faced these conditions in 2020.

"Woman and girls are less likely to access food and food insecurity increases the risk of violence against women and girls.”

Islanders were told that the number of climate-related disasters, such as droughts, wildfires, floods, storms and extreme temperatures, has almost doubled since the 1980s - from an average of 239 per year to an average of 412.


Pictured: JOA are supporting programmes implemented by humanitarian agencies in some of the worst affected climate hotspots.

These climate-related and climate driven crises are increasingly intersecting with and compounding, existing vulnerabilities in countries already experiencing crises, particularly in those areas with the lowest levels of resilience. 

The audience heard how JOA are supporting programmes implemented by CARE International and other humanitarian agencies in some of the worst-affected climate hotspots, including the Horn of Africa and Yemen.

Mr Beecken explained how the "chronically underfunded" humanitarian sector is struggling to cope with the amount of disasters.

He said: “The humanitarian system is moving forward from focusing only on recovery, which is needed immediately after a disaster, to focusing more on building local community resilience and deploying anticipatory funding before a crisis strikes – what we call the no regrets approach.

"Sadly, however, as the humanitarian sector is already chronically underfunded – in 2021 the funding shortfall versus the needs was approximately $17billion – one of the main challenges we face is securing anticipatory funding for disasters. Anticipatory funding enables action to be taken before emergencies strike.

"For example, we work with local communities in low-lying areas of Bangladesh that are prone to flooding and create vulnerability maps and early action plans. We help to establish early warning systems, which might be via loudspeakers on mosques or boats or WhatsApp groups. This gives community members time to move up to safe areas and access community shelters. This approach is proven to reduce the debt burden on communities after a disaster, as well as save lives."


Pictured: More than 70 islanders come together to discuss the role climate change is playing in what is “the largest global food crisis in modern history”.

“So, what can we do?" asked Mr Beecken. "We need to do to address the underlying causes of inequality and hunger. Protect and increase funding for women and girls organisations and increase their participation and leadership in adaptation and humanitarian response.

"We also need to get behind the mechanism of anticipatory funding for disasters and keep momentum going by supporting climate change action and continue to engage politically, socially and personally.

"Thanks to continued support from Jersey Overseas Aid, and other like-minded donors, we will continue to deliver support to some of the most vulnerable people in the world."

JIDN is part of Jersey Overseas Aid’s outreach programme and aims to bring together interested individuals from charities, finance, government, philanthropy and the private sector to hear about current trends in aid and development and find out how Jersey is making a difference on the international stage.

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