Since COVID-19 pandemic started, climate-related disasters affected the lives of at least 139.2 million people and killed more than 17,242 across the world, a new analysis said.
The new analysis “The compound impact of extreme weather events and COVID-19” by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, further estimated that 658.1 million vulnerable people have been exposed to extreme temperatures.
On the analysis, IFRC President Francesco Rocca said: “The world is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis where the climate change and COVID19 are pushing communities to their limits. In the lead up to COP26, we urge world leaders to take immediate action not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to address the existent and imminent humanitarian impacts of climate change”.
COVID 19 CONTINUES TO WREAK HAVOC
The report points out that COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc with direct health impacts for millions of people around the world, but also a massive indirect impact, in part due to the response measures implemented to contain the pandemic. Food insecurity caused by weather extremes has been aggravated by COVID-19. Health systems are pushed to their limits and the most vulnerable have been the most exposed to overlapping shocks, it said.
In the analysis, the authors note that the impacts of extreme drought are compounded by conflict and COVID-19 in Afghanistan. The drought has crippled agricultural food production and diminished livestock, leaving millions of people hungry and malnourished. The Afghan Red Crescent Society has ramped up relief, including food and cash assistance for people to buy food supplies, plant drought-resistant food crops and protect their livestock.
HONDURAS, EAST AFRICA
In Honduras, the report said that hurricanes Eta and Iota during the pandemic meant additional challenges for the country. Thousands of people became homeless. Anti-COVID-19 measures in those shelters required physical distancing and other protective measures, which limited capacity
The impacts of COVID-19 in Kenya are colliding with floods in one year and droughts in the next, as well as a locust infestation. Over 2.1 million people are facing acute food insecurity in rural and urban areas. In the country and across East Africa, the COVID-19 restrictions slowed down the flood response and outreach to affected populations increasing their vulnerabilities.
Associate director at the RCRC Climate Center Julie Arrighi, said: “Hazards do not need to become disasters. We can counter the trend of rising risks and save lives if we change how we anticipate crises, fund early action and risk reduction at the local level. Finally, we need to help communities become more resilient, especially in the most vulnerable contexts.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on climate risks. Governments need to commit to investing in community adaptation, anticipation systems and local actors. “The massive spending in COVID-19 recovery proves that governments can act fast and drastically in the face of global threats. It is time to turn words into action and devote the same energy to the climate crisis. Every day, we are witnessing the impact of human-made climate change. The climate crisis is here, and we need to act now,” Rocca said.