70 p.c. of world disasters climate-related

Tuesday November 17 2009

By NATION Correspondent

Climate change is a big contributor to world disasters, an international humanitarian agency said on Tuesday. About 70 per cent of disasters are now climate related — up from 50 per cent two decades ago.

These disasters take a heavier human toll and come with a higher price. In the last decade, 2.4 billion people were affected by climate-related disasters compared to1.7 billion the previous decade. The cost of responding to disasters has risen tenfold between 1992 and 2008.

Destructive, sudden heavy rains, intense tropical storms, repeated flooding and droughts are likely to increase, as will the vulnerability of communities.

According to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), climate change and its impact on vulnerable communities presents a growing international humanitarian challenge.

Food insecure

Kenya Red Cross Society secretary general Mr Habbas Gullet said a new survey by the IFRC to be released at the conference reveals how the world powers, the G20, perceive challenges in the humanitarian field. He was briefing journalists in Nairobi ahead of a meeting on Wednesday of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement at the UN headquarters in Gigiri.

“The survey shows that climate change, lack of humanitarian access, armed conflict, increased poverty and hunger, and disregard for international humanitarian law top their list of concerns,” he said.

Mr Gullet said the major impact of climate change has already been felt in Kenya where approximately 10 million people are food insecure while a number of animals have died due to rain failure. He also singled out recent cases where seven people died in floods in parts of the country.