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'Godzilla El Nio' expected to devastate fragile populations
The worlds most vulnerable populations are facing six months of increased food and water shortages as El Nino brings drought to Africa, South Asia and Pacific islands, experts predict.

This year's El Nio is expected to be one of the most devastating on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization. The latest El Nio of this magnitude caused the deaths of 30,000 people in 1997-98.

El Nio is a climate imbalance occurring every few years, resulting from a shifting of the Pacific trade winds that typically blow humid air westward along the equator. During El Nio, however, these trade winds slow or reverse, keeping much of the Pacific's warm wet air on its Eastern shores. For the West Coast of North America, this means mild rainy winters, but drought for Asia and Africa.

Many parts of the Philippines are in a state of emergency this year because of drought, and rice farming has been largely halted in Thailand and Vietnam. Though dry weather is typically the most damaging issue in the Eastern Hemisphere, El Nio can also bring flooding to some river basins as the subdued winds cease to carry the humid air elsewhere. This year, related flooding has already displaced 42,000 in Somalia, according to The World Bank.

The financial institution said this years impact could be worse than 1997-98, which along with the human toll, crippled economies of the Southern Hemisphere with more than $35 billion in damage.

However, the world is in a much better position to handle the crisis than it was in 1997-98, as governments have created disaster agencies to predict their countrys needs, improving the worlds response.

WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said the level of international, national and local mobilization is truly unprecedented.

UNICEF issued a report this month, warning that 11 million children will be at risk of hunger, water shortage and disease as a result of El Nio. UNICEF might have been expected to use the platform to push for donations to support its efforts in Africa instead, the childrens fund and other charities like Oxfam have a long-term focus, calling the coming months a "wake up call" on climate change.

Both organizations stressed the need for meaningful action to be taken at the U.N.s climate talks later this month in Paris. Climate change is believed to be exacerbating the droughts that come with El Nio, undoing the institutional improvements made since 1997-98.

GlobalPost reported that UNICEF and other aid groups are struggling to prepare, and are already overwhelmed with Europes migrant crisis, as well as emergencies in Iraq, South Sudan, Yemen and the Central African Republic.

El Nio has already begun to wreak havoc on Papua New Guinea, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development, which is providing agricultural training to farmers there, teaching them new techniques to combat the drought thats affecting 1.8 million people.

The Horn of Africa is expected to get some of the worst effects. Ethiopia is currently facing its worst drought since the 1980s famine that killed 400,000. Last week, USAID released $97 million in food aid to help the second-most populous country in Africa. Southern Africa is also expected to face severe food shortages over the next few months, the U.N. said.
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