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Building resilient societies and economies will be key to coping with climate change. Many nations and communities are already doing this but far greater action and ambition will be needed to cost effectively manage the risks and impacts of extreme weather events now and into the future.

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A new UN report says that farmers in developing nations are bearing the brunt of natural disasters, above all climate impacts.

The report published by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) during the UN World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, shows that when floods, droughts and tropical storms occur, almost a quarter of all damage and losses are suffered by the agriculture sector. In the case of droughts, farmers absorb up to as much as 84 percent of all economic impacts.

Worldwide, the livelihoods of 2.5 billion people depend on agriculture. Small-scale farmers, herders, fishers and forest-dependent communities generate more than half of global agricultural production.

Data collected by the FAO in 48 developing countries spanning the 2003-2013 period shows that:

  • Losses and damages to crops and livestock totalled at least $70 billion (and probably more due to data gaps).
  • 42 percent of assessed losses were to crops ($13 billion) - with floods the main culprit (responsible for 60 percent of crop damages) followed by storms (23 percent of crop damages).
  • Asia was the most affected region, with estimated losses of up to $28 billion, followed by Africa with $26 billion.
  • In Africa, there were the equivalent of 61 drought years in Sub-Saharan Africa across 27 countries and 150 million people.
  • 77 percent of all agricultural production losses suffered worldwide due to drought occurred in those 27 Sub-Saharan countries, with losses adding up to $23.5 billion.

At the UN World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction, the FAO also announced the launch of a special facility aimed at helping countries better equip their food production sectors to reduce risk exposure, limit impacts, and be better prepared to cope with disasters.

Read the FAO press release

Image: Bread for the World

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