Maria Zafar

Written by

January 23, 2020


Climate change is devastating the planet. As a result of man-made actions, our climate is changing and our planet is suffering – both wildlife and human populations.

We’ve all seen recently how bushfires are devastating the Australian outback. An area the size of South Korea has been destroyed, while more than a billion animals are estimated to have died as a result. Australia is in crisis as their natural landscape and ecosystems are in disarray. The world is watching, shocked at the results of this ongoing climate crisis.

Sadly, this isn’t the first instance of climate-induced disaster. All across the world, communities are struggling to survive against climate-induced drought, flooding and food shortages.

Here’s a snapshot of a few of the countries most greatly affected by our actions, and how climate change is affecting these vulnerable men, women and children.

1.  Yemen: Famine and water shortages  

A young child suffering the effects of malnutrition in conflict-affected Yemen
A young child suffering the effects of malnutrition in conflict-affected Yemen

With the ongoing conflict in Yemen – already one of the poorest countries in the region – tens of thousands of lives have been lost and over 20 million people don’t know where their next meal will come from. A country crippled by conflict is sadly now on the brink of famine.

Four years after the initial outbreak of conflict, families are facing ongoing armed conflict, displacement, disease and economic decline. As the UN confirms, the combination of conflict and climate change, presents a greater risk of famine and water shortages for communities already in crisis. At present, almost 18 million people across Yemen are in need of water and sanitation facilities. For these communities, the effects of climate change spell even greater disaster.

2. Sudan: Drought and desertification

A Sudanese man fetching water in a country struggling with drought and desertification
A Sudanese man fetching water in a country struggling with drought and desertification

Across Sudan, seasonal and climate-based pressures have been devastating local populations. This is sadly adding to ongoing economic and conflict-based difficulties.

Parts of the nation have been directly exposed to the effects of El Niño, resulting in local flooding. Local agriculture has been failing and food sources are under immense pressure. But at the same time,  as the Sudanese climate becomes more erratic, other parts of the country have been left struggling with drought and desertification. In a nation affected by conflict, large-scale displacement and economic struggles, this means an even greater struggle to find food to eat, where 5.8 million people are already hungry.

3. The Philippines: Increasingly extreme weather

Women share an umbrella as they look at the remains of a house destroyed after Typhoon Haiyan hit Tacloban city in central Philippines
Women share an umbrella as they look at the remains of a house destroyed after Typhoon Haiyan hit Tacloban city in central Philippines

The Philippines is one of the world’s nations most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Armed conflict and frequent natural hazards, including both natural climate-related disasters such as drought, flooding, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, continue to have a hugely devastating impact on the local population.

Climate change is unfortunately exacerbating the risk of disaster as communities are having to adapt to their changing environment. These changes are increasingly threatening the stability of local communities reliant upon agriculture and with fragile infrastructure. In fact, each year The Philippines is hit on average by 20 typhoons. For the 25-30% of the population reliant on agriculture, this has an especially devastating effect.

4. China: Greater food shortages

A local family taking home an Islamic Relief-donated food package, Ramadan 2017
A local family taking home an Islamic Relief-donated food package, Ramadan 2017

China may have a booming economy, but it’s also one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. What’s more, many families across China are reliant on agriculture and in rural areas, struggle with deep poverty.

With the risk of natural disasters and the extra pressure of climate change, this means an increased probability of drought and floods. For the 186 million people vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters, this can mean only greater hardship. In fact, it’s already been estimated that the loss of grain production will be around 20 million tonnes a year, resulting in food shortages for many families.

5. Bangladesh: Rising waters and temperatures

An elderly woman amidst flooding which hit the region in 2017
An elderly woman amidst flooding which hit the region in 2017

With 32% of land in Bangladesh consisting of coastal plains, the smallest fluctuation in rainfall, or worse, a cyclone, can destroy the delicate ecosystems and increase salt levels in both land and drinking water and river water. This means that many livelihoods – such as fishing – are slowly eroded. In fact, over half of families living in coastal areas already experience food shortages for up to six months a year.

Bangladesh already struggles with tropical storms, flooding and other natural disasters but with the effects of climate change, rising sea levels are a particular concern. Increased climate-induced disasters mean increased displacement, greater risk of contracting water-borne diseases and higher levels of food insecurity. For local children, the risk of catching vector-borne diseases such as dengue is already disproportionally higher, due not only to the change in rainfall patterns but also to the rise in temperatures.

6. Kenya: Drought and malnutrition

Drought has devastated Kenya, taking its toll on local agriculture and farming
Drought has devastated Kenya, taking its toll on local agriculture and farming

Climate change is devastating large parts of Kenya. Drought is becoming increasingly common and combined with a growing population and tribal conflict, communities are struggling greatly.

Over a quarter of the economy relies on agriculture, however, with poor rainy seasons, livestock and crops have been devastated. Reduced pasture and water, limited fodder and increased workloads for children and women are taking an immense toll on rural people. Today, a staggering 3.4 million people are in acuteneed of food and face an uncertain future. In fact, malnutrition is currently the biggest cause of death amongst children under the age of five with 369,000 suffering from acute malnutrition.

As we can see, climate change is having a fatal impact on local climates, agriculture, economies and communities. If we don’t take action to stem the tide of climate change, even more vulnerable people will face displacement, disease and even death.

We’re therefore calling on you to write to your local MP using our online form and ask them to push the UK government to:

  1. Do more to tackle climate change more quickly
  2. Achieve the net-zero greenhouse gas target by, if not before, 2045
  3. Immediately outline plans to increase the policies and funding needed to achieve “net-zero” emissions

Climate change kills. Save a life – take action today.

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