In 2016, the world’s biggest weather phenomenon, El Nino, affected more than 60 million people across parts of Africa, Asia and the Pacific. The humanitarian impact from this El Nino cycle was massive in scale, leaving more than 60 million people around the world facing food and water shortages, rising food prices, higher malnutrition rates, devastated livelihoods and forced displacement.
CARE responded immediately with lifesaving aid to more than two million people across ten countries. Thanks to CARE’s generous donors, we were able to deliver food and water to families in Malawi and Mozambique, sanitation facilities and shelter to those in need in Ethiopia and Somalia, and medical supplies and hygiene kits to families in Cambodia and Vietnam.
One of the worst affected areas was right on Australia’s doorstep in Papua New Guinea, where El Nino caused more than 1.3 million people to go hungry.
Known by locals as the “big sun” El Nino dried up food and water sources in a country where 80 per cent of the population depend on farming and nearly half of all children are stunted from poor nutrition.
Mothers like Grace struggled to provide their children with basics such as food and water.
“The big sun has made everything dry,” she said. “We don’t have food to eat, we struggle to find water to drink and to wash with. All the food in our garden is dry.” Like many in her community, Grace was forced to survive on “bush food” like nuts and leaves that are only eaten in times of emergency.
CARE began its emergency response by identifying vulnerable women like Grace and delivering food, water, and medical aid to help them regain their health. Thousands of men and women soon rebuilt their livelihoods when CARE provided seeds to regrow their crops, and tools and training to help them do so.
We also held training sessions encouraging men and women to work together to more evenly share the division of household work – for many women, it was the first time they had the opportunity to talk openly about their heavy workloads and feeling undervalued.
Learn more about CARE’s work in Papua New Guinea.