El Nino

This page describes the impact of El Nino on communities around the world and provides a list of ACFID Members currently working with affected communities.

In 2015 El Nino, the climate phenomenon that sees the warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern tropical Pacific, is having profound effects on weather patterns around the world and leading to droughts and erratic rains in many countries. El Nino is being closely monitored by ACFID members due to the profound effect these climatic changes are having on millions of people, many of whom are already living in poverty and are now facing situations of severe food insecurity and hunger.

In the Greater Horn of Africa region, El Nino is impacting countries through either drought or flood related events. Regionally, approximately 19.2 million people are facing crisis and emergency food security, and are in need of urgent assistance1.  In Ethiopia, 4.5 million people are already in need of food aid because of successive poor rains, and Global Acute Malnutrition has reached unacceptable critical emergency level in 56% of districts2.  In Sudan, 12.5 million people are currently facing stressed food insecurity3.  Critical malnutrition rates are also being noted in Kenya, Somalia and Uganda4.  In many countries in the region, aid agencies are preparing to respond to an emergency which is expected to be serious and long lasting.

In the Western Pacific region, countries are experiencing reduced rainfall which is exacerbating drought conditions. The Pacific Humanitarian Team is warning that as many as 11 South Pacific countries could be affected by El Nino-related drought, placing as many as 4.7 million people at risk5.

In Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, food security is becoming a major concern. Staple crops are being stunted or destroyed by drought and frost and reliable drinking water sources are fast drying up6. 2.4 million people in Papua New Guinea are currently affected by drought and severe frost7.

Many forecasters are predicting that the situation could reach the intensity of the 1997-8 El Nino event, one of the most severe on record that bought drought to Micronesia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

How NGOs are responding

ACFID Members are closely monitoring the impacts of El Nino around the world, working with government counterparts and communities to develop response plans and providing lifesaving assistance to those most affected. Members are providing food assistance (including agriculture support, training on food storage techniques and water resource management), supporting nutrition programs, providing water and sanitation services and running child protection programs.
In the Pacific region, ACFID members are working with governments and communities to assess the situation, assisting in preparations for drought, providing basic water and sanitation kits, and providing training on food storage and water resource management.

Gifts in Kind

While ACFID greatly appreciates the generosity of the Australian public in providing financial and non-financial support during times of crises, we strongly encourage members of the public not to donate goods in kind. For more information, please see this brief which describes why cash donations are most often preferable to goods in kind by Australian NGOs.

How you can help

Many ACFID members are scaling up, or altering their existing development programs to prepare for and respond to the impacts of El Nino in affected countries. If you are looking to assist, we would strongly encourage you to donate to one of the organisations listed below that has ongoing programs in El Nino affected countries.

ActionAid Australia

ADRA Australia

Anglican Board of Mission

Australia for UNHCR

CARE Australia

ChildFund Australia

Mercy Works

Oxfam Australia

Australian Red Cross

Transform Aid International (trading as Baptist World Aid Australia)

TEAR Australia

Uniting World

Unicef Australia

World Vision


For further information on the impact of El Nino, please see:


Entering Unchartered Waters: El Nino and the threat to food security, Oxfam

Pacific: Drought, ReliefWeb

El Nino, FAO


  1The East and Central Africa Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG), ‘FSNWG Statement on the Potential Deterioration of Food and Nutrition Security Condition in the Great Horn of Africa,’ August 2015
  2Joint Government and Humanitarian Partners’ Document, ‘Humanitarian Requirements: Mid-Year Review 2015,’ August 2015, 
  3FSNWG, ‘FSNWG Statement on the Potential Deterioration of Food and Nutrition Security in the Great Horn of Africa.’
  4Joint Government and Humanitarian Partners’ Document, ‘Humanitarian Requirements’
  5UNOCHA, ‘Rainfall & El Nino,’ 
  6UNOCHA, ‘Asia-Pacific Region: El Nino Snapshot (as of October 2015),’ 
  7UNOCHA, ‘Asia-Pacific Region: El Nino Snapshot (as of October 2015),’