A Sign of Things to Come? Examining four major climate-related disasters, 2010-2013, and their impacts on food security | Food Security

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Four recent extreme weather events
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  OXFAM RESEARCH REPORTS SEPTEMBER 2014  A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME?   EXAMINING FOUR MAJOR CLIMATE-RELATED DISASTERS, 2010–2013, AND THEIR IMPACTS ON FOOD SECURITY  A preliminary study for Oxfam’s GROW Campaign CHRISTOPHER COGHLAN, 1  MALIHA MUZAMMIL, 1  JOHN INGRAM, 1  JOOST VERVOORT, 1, 2  FRIEDERIKE OTTO 1 , AND RACHEL JAMES 1   1 ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD 2 CLIMATE CHANGE, AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY (CCAFS) This report analyses impacts of four extreme weather events (a heat wave in Russia, flooding in Pakistan, drought in East Africa, and a typhoon in the Philippines) on food security. For each case, the nature of the extreme weather is characterized, and its impact on vulnerable people is assessed by considering when and why threats emerge, and the role of governance in the state and non-state responses to the emergency. Scenarios of the plausible impacts of increased extreme weather severity on food security and other socioeconomic parameters are presented for each case. Related Oxfam-commissioned research includes Climate Shocks, Food and Nutrition Security: Evidence from the Young Lives cohort study Oxfam Research Reports  are written to share research results, to contribute to public debate and to invite feedback on development and humanitarian policy and practice. They do not necessarily reflect Oxfam policy positions. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Oxfam. www.oxfam.org  CONTENTS Executive Summary ...................................................................... 4   Section 1: Introduction.................................................................. 6   1.1 Project brief ......................................................................................................... 6   1.2 Report structure ................................................................................................... 6   1.3 Nature of vulnerability to weather extremes ......................................................... 6   1.4 Methodology for case study analysis ................................................................... 7   1.3.1 Describing the nature of an extreme weather event ...................................... 8   1.3.2 Defining vulnerable groups ........................................................................... 8   1.3.3. Assessing impact pathways ......................................................................... 9   1.3.4. Evaluating politics, policies and economies .................................................. 9   Section 2: Case Studies .............................................................. 10   2.1 Russia’s 2010 heat wave ................................................................................... 10   2.1.1. Description ................................................................................................. 10   2.1.2. Significance ............................................................................................... 10   2.1.3. Narrative .................................................................................................... 11   2.1.4. Conclusion ................................................................................................. 12   2.2 Pakistan’s 2010 floods ....................................................................................... 13   2.2.1. Description ................................................................................................. 13   2.2.2. Significance ............................................................................................... 14   2.2.3. Narrative .................................................................................................... 14   2.2.4. Conclusion ................................................................................................. 16   2.3 East Africa’s 2010–11 drought ........................................................................... 16   2.3.1. Description ................................................................................................. 16   2.3.2. Significance ............................................................................................... 17   2.3.3. Narrative .................................................................................................... 18   2.3.4. Conclusion ................................................................................................. 19   2.4 Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, 2013 ........................................................... 20   2.4.1. Description ................................................................................................. 20   2.4.2. Significance ............................................................................................... 21   2.4.3. Narrative .................................................................................................... 21   2.4.4. Conclusion ................................................................................................. 22   2.5 Case Study Summary matrix ............................................................................. 23   2  Section 3: Relevance of Climate Change ................................... 25   3.1. The link between extreme weather events and climate change ........................ 26   3.1.1. Russia’s 2010 heat wave ........................................................................... 27   3.1.2. Pakistan’s 2010 floods ............................................................................... 27   3.1.3. East Africa’s 2010–11 drought ................................................................... 28   3.1.4. Philippines typhoon .................................................................................... 29   3.2 Considering the impacts of possible climate scenarios ...................................... 30   3.2.1. Case study: Russia heat wave ................................................................... 30   3.2.2. Case study: Pakistan floods ....................................................................... 31   3.2.3. Case study: East Africa drought ................................................................. 31   3.2.4. Case study: Philippines typhoon ................................................................ 32   3.2.5. Conclusion ................................................................................................. 33   3.3. Scenarios summary matrix ............................................................................... 34   Section 4: Policy Relevance and Concluding Remarks ............ 36   Notes ............................................................................................ 37    Acknowledgements ..................................................................... 43   3  EXECUTIVE SUMMARY From 2010 to 2013 the world experienced a number of extreme weather events, several of which were notable for their intensity, duration, and impacts on livelihoods and food security. This report focuses on four case studies – a heat wave in Russia, flooding in Pakistan, drought in East Africa, and a typhoon in the Philippines – that represent a range of extreme weather. It analyses the impact of these extreme weather events on food security, by considering when and why threats emerge. This involves characterization of the weather events, examination of the vulnerable groups affected, and analysis of livelihoods and the role of governance and capital. In addition to their immediate impacts in the directly affected regions, this study demonstrates that weather events can be associated with impacts in other parts of the world. For example, the Russian heat wave, which occurred as a result of an atmospheric blocking high-pressure system, had both domestic and international effects: first, it dramatically reduced the wheat harvest in many parts of Russia, undermining resilience of farmers and reducing the national food supply; then, due to Russia banning wheat exports, world wheat prices increased, reducing poor people’s access to food and, according to some analyses, contributing to the unrest in several of the states involved in the Arab Spring, which were dependent on Russian imports. 1  In the same year, Pakistan experienced higher monsoon rains, linked to the high pressure over Russia. This led to severe damage to crops, livestock, and markets in Punjab, and to extended flooding in Sindh, where the greatest impacts on health, housing, and infrastructure were experienced. This study also identifies cases in which extreme weather events exacerbated existing unfavourable conditions, and events in which poor preparation resulted in greater harm. For example, in East Africa the failure of the long rains in early 2011 was catastrophic because the region had already experienced drier-than-average conditions the previous year, and there had been a limited response to early warnings among the region’s governments. This combination of extreme weather and poor preparation and response affected the livelihoods of millions of people in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, and compounded the flow of refugees associated with armed conflict in Somalia. In the case of Typhoon Haiyan, a powerful tropical cyclone that hit the Philippines in November 2013, the level of destruction was exacerbated by existing damage from earlier storms. The scale of destruction made the regeneration of farmers’ livelihoods, in particular those growing rice and coconuts, an urgent issue. In response, the government demanded far more urgent and decisive action on climate change from the global community at the UN Climate talks in Poland – Yeb Sano, leading the Philippines delegation, had just learned that Haiyan had obliterated his hometown. The findings of this report elucidate the complicated relationship between weather events and food security. The report also considers the relevance of climate change. On a global level, climate change is expected to increase the magnitude and frequency of heatwaves and heavy rainfall events, due to rising global temperatures and the ability of warmer air to hold more water vapour. However, it will never be possible to say that any specific event, including the four events analysed in this report, would not have happened without climate change. What scientists can do is estimate whether climate change increased the risk of an event. Initial evidence suggests that the Russian heat wave and the East African drought were made more likely because of climate change; but it is not yet possible to assess the climate change signal in the case of the floods in Pakistan and Typhoon Haiyan. 4
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