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Food insecurity and climate change - WFP Remote Access Secure ...

Food insecurity and climate changeClimate-related hazards affected over220 million people on average every yearin the period 2000–2009.In 2010, the Russian drought resulted in wheat yield reductions of40% in key production areas, and the Pakistan floods resulted inlosses of half a million tonnes of wheat. Together with marketspeculations, these events led to price increases.Heatwaves became more frequent overthe 20th century. In the summer of 2003,Europe experienced a particularly extremeheat event. A record loss of 36% crop yieldfor corn occurred in Italy.Approximately one-sixth of the world’spopulation currently lives in glacier-fedriver basins where populations areprojected to increase, particularly in areassuch as the Indo-Gangetic Plain.Irrigated agricultural land comprises lessthan one-fifth of all cropped regions butproduces 40–45% of the world’s food.Water for irrigation is often extracted fromrivers which depend on climatic conditionsin distant areas along the river’s path.Over the past 10 years, category 5 hurricaneevents have resulted in an average loss ofcultivated land of 10% in the coastal statesof Mexico each year, effecting mostlyfarmers who rely on a single crop.In South Asia, where the most vulnerablepeople live in the river deltas of Myanmar,Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, populationgrowth has contributed to increasedfarming in the coastal regions most at riskfrom flooding and sea-level rise.It is estimated that, on average, for everyUnited States dollar invested in riskreduction, US$2–4 are returned in terms ofavoided or reduced disaster impacts.Over 80% of total agriculture is rain-fed.In Latin America it is close to 90% , whilein Africa it is 95%.Hydrological disasters accounted for 86.7%of economic damage from natural disastersin Africa in 2009.35 - 70 %20 - 35 %9 - 20 %5 - 9 %1 - 5 %very highhighmediumlowvery lowPercentage of population undernourishedHunger and Climate Vulnerability IndexSources: FAO (2009) The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2009 and FAOSTATMEAN TEMPERATUREAverage temperatures are expected to increase acrossthe globe in the coming decades. In mid to highlatitudes increasing average temperatures can havea positive impact on crop production, but inseasonally arid and tropical regions the impact islikely to be detrimental.MEAN PRECIPITATIONOn average an increase in global precipitation isexpected, but the regional patterns of rainfall willvary: some areas will have more rainfall, whileothers will have less. There are high levels ofuncertainty about how the pattern of precipitationwill change, with little confidence in modelprojections on a regional scale. Areas that aredependant on seasonal rainfall, and those that arehighly dependant on rain-fed agriculture for foodsecurity, are particularly vulnerable.EXTREME EVENTSRecurrent extreme weather events such as droughts,floods and tropical cyclones worsen livelihoods andundermine the capacity of communities to adapt toeven moderate shocks. This results in a vicious circlethat generates greater poverty and hunger. Theimpacts on food production of extreme events, suchas drought, may cancel out the benefits of theincreased temperature and growing season observedin mid to high latitudes.CO 2 FERTILISATIONCarbon dioxide (CO 2 ) concentrations are known to beincreasing. However, the effect of CO 2 fertilisation oncrop growth is highly uncertain. In particular, there is asevere lack of experimental work in the Tropicsexploring this issue. There is some evidence thatalthough CO 2 fertilisation has a positive effect on theyield of certain crops, there may also be a detrimentalimpact on yield quality.DROUGHTMeteorological drought (the result of a period of lowrainfall) is projected to increase in intensity, frequencyand duration. Drought results in agricultural losses,reductions in water quality and availability, and is amajor driver of global food insecurity. Droughts areespecially devastating in arid and semi-arid areas,reducing the quantity and productivity of crop yieldsand livestock. Seven hundred million people sufferingfrom hunger already live in semi-arid and arid zones.HEATWAVESIn all cases and in all regions, one in 20-year extremetemperature events are projected to be hotter.Events that are considered extreme today will bemore common in the future. Changes in temperatureextremes even for short periods can be critical,especially if they coincide with key stages of cropdevelopment.HEAVY RAINFALL AND FLOODINGWhile uncertain, it appears that there will be moreheavy rainfall events as the climate warms. Heavyrainfall leading to flooding can destroy entire cropsover wide areas, as well as devastating food stores,assets (such as farming equipment) and agriculturalland (due to sedimentation).MELTING GLACIERSMelting glaciers initially increase the amount of waterflowing in river systems and enhance the seasonalpattern of flow. Ultimately, however loss of glacierswould cause water availability to become morevariable from year to year as it will depend onseasonal snow and rainfall, instead of the steadyrelease of stored water from the glacier irrespectiveof that year’s precipitation.TROPICAL STORMSFor many arid regions in the Tropics, a large portionof the annual rain comes from tropical cyclones.However, tropical cyclones also have the potential todevastate a region, causing loss of life andwidespread destruction to agricultural crops andlands, infrastructure, and livelihoods.Some studies suggest tropical cyclones may becomemore intense in the future with stronger winds andheavier precipitation. However, there is a limitedconsensus among climate models on the regionalvariation in tropical cyclone frequency.SEA-LEVEL RISEIncreases in mean sea-level threaten to inundateagricultural lands and salinise groundwater in thecoming decades and centuries. Sea-level rise will alsoincrease the impact of storm surges which can causegreat devastation.CHANGES IN HEALTH AND NUTRITIONClimate change has the potential to affect differentdiseases, including respiratory illness and diarrhoea.Disease results in a reduced ability to absorb nutrientsfrom food and increases the nutritional requirementsof sick people. Poor health in a community also leadsto a loss of labour productivity.The production of this poster was partly fundedby the Government of Luxembourg.For more information on food security and climatechange and for references for the poster, please visit:www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate-change/guide/impacts/foodor www.wfp.org/climate-changeThe designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the World Food Programme (WFP) or the UK Met Office concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its frontiers or boundaries. | Dotted lines designate disputed border areas


Defining food security and climatechange impactFood security exists when all people, at all times, havephysical and economic access to sufficient, safe andnutritious food to meet their dietary needs, and theirfood preferences are met for an active and healthy life(World Food Summit, 1996). Analysis of food securityshould be based on four aspects: (i) food availability;(ii) food access; (iii) food utilisation; and (iv) foodstability. Food availability refers to the physicalpresence of food through domestic production,commercial imports and food aid. Food accessconcerns a household’s ability to acquire adequateamounts of food, through a combination of homeproduction and stocks, purchases, gifts, borrowingand aid. Food utilisation refers to households’consumption of the food they have access to andindividuals’ ability to absorb and metabolise thenutrients. Finally, food stability refers to the conditionwhere food is regularly and periodically available andaffordable so that it contributes to nutritional security.Decreased water availability and quality in someareas are likely to result in increased health andsanitation problems, such as diarrheal disease,which, together with changes in the patterns ofvector-borne disease, has the potential to increasemalnutrition by negatively affecting food utilisation.Changes in climate and increases in some extremeweather events, such as floods and droughts, willdisrupt the stability of the food supply, as well aspeople’s livelihoods, making it more difficult forthem to earn a stable income to purchase food.Hunger and Climate Vulnerability IndexThe Hunger and Climate Vulnerability Index – thebase layer of this map – is work in progress toillustrate the complex interactions between foodsecurity and climate change. The analysis is basedon the definition of vulnerability to climate changefrom the Intergovernmental Panel on ClimateChange. In this case, vulnerability is defined asthe relationship between the degree of climatestress on populations (exposure), the degree ofresponsiveness to stress (sensitivity) and the abilityof populations to adjust to the climatic changes(adaptive capacity). Indicators are selected basedon their relevance to food security through rigorousstatistical analysis. A total of 17 indicators havebeen chosen for exposure (demographics, climaterelatedhazard frequency and intensity), sensitivity(agricultural and environmental profiles) andSome projections suggest that 100–200 millionadditional people could be at risk of hunger due toclimate change by 2050. While such studies produceestimates that are highly uncertain and dependentupon a range of assumptions, they show how climatechange could impact all aspects of food security.The overall availability of food is affected by changesin agricultural yields as well as by changes in arableland. Changes in food production, together withother factors, are likely to impact food prices and will adaptive capacity (socio-economics, infrastructureaffect the ability of poor households to access food. and governance). Uncertainty and evidence-based planning Climate change and variabilityClimate scientists are confident that the climate ischanging and they concur on some of the ways itis changing, such as the increasing global averagetemperature. However, the details of what thismeans on a regional scale and the impacts of thosechanges on other systems, such as agricultureor markets, are more complex. This uncertaintymeans that we cannot talk about the future indefinite terms, but instead must use the languageof risk. Understanding the risk of particular eventsoccurring, along with the potential consequencesof those events, helps to keep decision-makers fullyinformed of the range of impacts that could occur.Despite uncertainties in the climate science, it isvital that food security planning decisions are basedon the available evidence. Improving resilienceand reducing risk are the best ways to approachadaptation to climate change. Basing decisionson input from experts who understand the twincomplexities of the climate system and food securityreduces the likelihood of investment in misguidedadaptation measures.When we talk about climate change, scientists usuallymean change in the long-term trend in climate,generally over decades and centuries. This can includelong-term changes or trends in the average climate(such as annual average temperature) and changes ortrends in extremes (such as the frequency of intenserainfall). However, people experience climate asindividual weather events, which naturally fluctuatefrom year to year. In addition to natural variation,climate change will mean a shift in the patterns ofweather events over the long-term. The changes inclimate described on this poster apply to the comingdecades and are largely the result of greenhousegases already emitted into the atmosphere so cannotbe avoided. The magnitude of these changes to ourclimate in the second half of this century will dependon how successful policies are at reducing greenhousegas emissions.Every day WFP reaches the world’s hungriest and most malnourished people,affected by storms, floods and droughts. These weather-related disasters leavemillions vulnerable. Through community adaptation programmes and nutritioninterventions, WFP helps vulnerable communities build resiliency and nations adapt.Josette Sheeran, WFP Executive DirectorLinking climate science and food securityAlthough some regions could benefit from climatechange, in others it may offset gains in food securityfrom economic and social development. Planning forthese changes is made more difficult by uncertaintiesin our understanding of climate impacts on foodsecurity. This uncertainty is caused by a number offactors. Climate science itself is uncertain, whichmeans that information, particularly at high levelsof detail, must be treated with caution. Some ofthe broad scale features of the climate are wellunderstood, but what will happen at a local level isfar more difficult to determine. There is also a lackof understanding of how crops respond to changesin weather and climate. Finally, to understand foodsecurity it is essential to analyse the effects of climatechange in the context of complex socio-economicinteractions and development, which are difficultto anticipate.Despite the level of uncertainty, it is possible tomake robust plans based on a growing scientificunderstanding. There is much that scientists doknow about the climate and many tools and researchoptions to allow useful information to be extractedfrom climate model experiments. Expert interpretationof research by climate scientists and careful integrationof this information with food security expertiseare essential.A fundamental challenge is the lack of integrationacross disciplines: generally, modelling studies havesimplified food security as food availability withoutexplicitly addressing the issues of food access, stabilityand utilisation. It is important to evaluate climatescience together with information aboutsocio-economics and human vulnerability.This will require a more systematic integration ofclimate science with food security vulnerability analysisto begin to develop a more robust understanding ofthe impacts of climate change on hunger at theglobal, regional and national levels.Food security policies should also be flexible,focusing on reducing risks, building capacity atdifferent levels, and enhancing resilience. In this way,it will be possible to manage risk, adapt to a range ofdifferent outcomes, and act despite the uncertainty.Although still work in progress, the Climate andHunger Vulnerability Index presented here is a smallfirst step to addressing the issue of integration.By combining the expertise of climate scientistsand food security analysts to apply and extend theconcept of a Climate and Hunger Vulnerability Index,there is the opportunity to develop a working tool forplanners. This would enable decision-makers to accessthe best available information about climate changeand food security for their region, to build resilienceand reduce the risk of future hunger.Food insecurityand climate changeThe production of this poster was partly fundedby the Government of LuxembourgThis poster was prepared by WFP’s Office forClimate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction andthe Met Office Hadley Centre.Printed on FSC certified, 55% recycled paper, using vegetable oil-basedsustainable inks, power from 100% renewable resources and waterlessprinting technology.Print production systems registered to ISO 14001: 2004, ISO 9001:2008and EMAS standards.© Copyright Crown and United Nations World Food Programme 2010. Met Office and Met Office logo are registered trademarks 10/0354

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