ABU DHABI, 5th July, 2016 (WAM) — The 2015-16 El Nino weather phenomenon has been one of the strongest and most widespread of the past hundred years, destroying the livelihoods of farming families across the globe and leaving millions of people hungry. Drought has gripped large swathes of East and southern Africa, ravaging harvests. In Asia and the Pacific, drought has hit East Timor, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam, while El Nino associated storms have wiped out harvests on Fiji and its neighbours.

El Nino’s impacts on agriculture are continuing to drive up food insecurity, even though the weather event is over. This situation is likely to be compounded by La Nina in a few months’ time. Response plans are in place that could prevent more people from going hungry. but they must be adequately funded to avoid another prolonged humanitarian crisis.

On Wednesday 6th July, FAO, the International Fund for Agriculture Development, IFAD, and the World Food Programme, WFP, are convening a one-day meeting to look at these challenges and how to best respond to them. Government representatives, regional bodies, food security experts, agricultural development practitioners, humanitarian response specialists and international donors will attend.

Focusing on East and southern Africa and Asia and the Pacific, the event will take stock of, and provide details on, the development of the El Nino and La Nina climatic events, provide updated assessments of El Nino’s impacts on agriculture, food security and nutrition, identify critical resource gaps and examine the implications of a possible La Nina event on agriculture, food security and nutrition, and discuss relevant early actions.

The meeting will open with remarks by FAO Director-General, Jose Graziano da Silva, WFP Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin, and IFAD Associate Vice President, Lakshmi Menon.

Ambassador Macharia Kamau, UN Special Envoy for El Nino and Climate, and Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organisation, WMO, will deliver keynote addresses prior to the start of technical discussions.