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Food Security Impacts of El Niño to Vary Across the Globe

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  • Global
  • for immediate release: October 04, 2023
Food Security Impacts of El Niño to Vary Across the Globe


Washington, D.C. – The ongoing El Niño is expected to have both positive and negative impacts on food security as it continues to gain strength, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET).

In an Alert issued Tuesday, FEWS NET warned that a total of 105-110 million people across 31 countries will need food assistance as El Niño reaches peak intensity by the end of 2023 and dissipates by mid-2024.

“Indicators for a strong, sustained El Niño are present and are forecast to continue into 2024,” Laura Harrison with the UCSB Climate Hazards Center said. “While no two El Niños are identical, likely impacts are being identified by the intensity of this event, influence of Indian Ocean conditions, and model forecasts.”

The climate phenomenon has already resulted in below-average seasonal rainfall in Ethiopia and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Concern is high for drought-prone areas of LAC and Southern Africa where El Niño is expected to impact agricultural production, food prices, and water, sanitation, and hygiene.

Analyses by the NOAA Climate Prediction Center and UCSB Climate Hazards Center also indicate the likelihood of above-average rainfall and associated flooding as a result of El Niño. In flood-prone areas of the eastern Horn of Africa, FEWS NET anticipates reduced access to food due to crop and livestock losses.

“On the heels of a historic three-year drought, there is concern for flood-prone areas of the eastern Horn of Africa,” FEWS NET Team Leader Kiersten Johnson said. “While above-average rains will generally promote drought recovery in the region, El Niño-related floods will also likely lead to high levels of short-term population displacement, crop damage, and disease, including Rift Valley Fever, in riverine areas.”

According to its latest estimates, FEWS NET expects a net increase in food assistance needs in Southern Africa and LAC, and a net decline in needs in East Africa through at least early 2024. Donor governments and humanitarian agencies are being told to prepare for high assistance needs in multiple regions.

Read FEWS NET’s Alert for the full set of projected food security impacts of El Niño across East AfricaSouthern AfricaWest AfricaLAC, and Afghanistan. For the latest reports and updates on global acute food insecurity, follow FEWS NET on Twitter and Facebook and subscribe for updates.


Hannah Button
Communications Lead
Famine Early Warning Systems Network

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