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The climate crisis is here: how it looks in numbers
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The climate crisis is here: how it looks in numbers

A girl accepts vegetables from a man pushing a wheelbarrow through a tent camp for displaced Afghan families.


Already, the climate crisis is taking place in countries like Afghanistan and Ethiopia which are also facing ongoing humanitarian crises. People living in lower-income countries are bearing the brunt of climate change—despite that they are least responsible for rising CO2 emissions.

41 million

People around the globe are already at the edge of famine due to the climate crisis.

All over the world climate changeIt is fueling conflict over scarce resources, causing families to flee their homes, and increasing suffering. It can also lead to increased inequality. For example, women’s livelihoods in low-income states overwhelmingly depend on agriculture, which is increasingly threatened by extreme weather patterns. If world leaders don’t act now, the situation is only going to get worse.

“While the existential threat posed by global warming jeopardizes us all, it is spread unevenly,” says David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC). “Swathes of the global population are essentially left defenseless against a problem they did not cause.”

These numbers tell the story.


A girl accepts vegetables from a man pushing a wheelbarrow through a tent camp for displaced Afghan families.

A girl whose family was forced to flee drought now lives in a camp of Afghanistan. The drought, which is expected continue into 2022 will only worsen the humanitarian situation in the country.

Photo: Stefanie Glinski/IRC

95%Afghans are without sufficient foodThe economic and humanitarian crisis that erupted almost two months after Taliban control was overthrown is a sign of how serious the situation has become. This is only made worse by the fact that the drought is expected to continue into 2022. 

Across Africa’s Lake Chad Basin

A mother holds her baby while seated on the ground listening to an IRC malnutrition counseling session in Chad.

An IRC information session was held in her village, Chad, where a mother learned how to spot signs of child malnutrition. The Lake Chad Basin is warming 1.5 times faster than the global average, which causes hunger and fuels violence.

Photo by Timothy Nesmith/IRC

1 in 4People don’t have enough food due to increasing drought in a specific region (comprising portions of Algeria). Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Libya, Niger, Nigeria Sudan) that is warming at 1.5 times the global rate. This climate crisis is increasing the risk of violent conflict.

In Ethiopia

A girl carries a jerry can for water through a village's dusty lane

A girl walks to her village in Ethiopia to get water for her family.

Photo by Martha Tadesse/IRC

11,000,000As a result, people are already in crisis of hunger. conflict rages in the Tigray region. The country has already suffered the devastating 2012 famineIn the Horn of Africa (the Peninsula that Includes Ethiopia, Djibouti Eritrea Somalia) and an unprecedented locust outbreakLast year.

Across the Horn of Africa

A boy climbs a tree at a tent camp in Somalia for people displaced by drought.

A boy whose family received support in Somalia from the IRC at a camp for people affected by drought: Without action 200 million people could be forced out of their countries by climate change.

Photo: Will Swanson/IRC

Multiple seasons of drought in different parts of the country. Somalia, KenyaEthiopia, SudanMost likely result in extreme hunger in the coming months—similar to the drought of 2016.

  • 3.5 MillionSomalians are experiencing hunger because of a lack in harvest and farmers who depend upon livestock are seeing their animals die from thirst.
  • 2.1 Million people in Kenya—including refugees from neighboring countries—will soon face extreme hunger as poor rainfall results in low crop production.
  • Sudan has a high hunger need As high as 60%As inflation and the current political crisis in the capital make it difficult for most households to afford food, the average household income is now higher than it was five years ago.

In northern Central America

A Salvadaron man, Reynaldo, stands looking out at the sunshine through the window of a church he has been hired to paint.painting,

After being returned from the United States, a painter works on a church at El Salvador. Climate change and violence are driving unprecedented numbers of people to make the desperate trip to the U.S. border.

Photo: Neil Brandvold/IRC
  • 1.4 Million + People across the region were forced to flee their homes by conflict and climate change in 2020.
  • 339,000Guatemalans are very happy to have you. 17,000In El Salvador 937,000In 2020, only Honduras was affected by natural disasters.
  • 3.4 Million + people—including 1.3 Million children—remain in urgent need of support after back-to-back hurricanes Eta and Iota hit the region in November 2020.
  • Climate change is another important issue. root causesUnprecedented numbers of people are making the desperate journey to the Other Side. southern United States borderThis year.


  • 41 millionPeople are already at risk of starvation, and this number will only increase due to higher temperatures, desertification, extreme weather events, and increased temperatures.
  • 200 million +People are in dire need of international humanitarian assistance every year, partly because of the effects of climate change.
  • Two-thirdsMany people living in poverty work in agriculture. This makes their livelihoods vulnerable to rising temperatures or changing rainfall patterns.
  • 200 millionThe World Bank says that climate change could lead to people being forced from their homes by 2050, if nothing is done.
  • 60%The 20 countries that are most at risk from climate change are those that are most affected by armed conflict. This makes it more difficult for them to reduce the effects of a warming planet.

What can we do to help?

The International Rescue Committee (IRC), is calling on world leadersThis month, the COP26 climate summit was held in Glasgow, Scotland. Participants were able to not only make bold plans to drastically reduce global emissions but also to make urgent investments to prevent famines and help vulnerable communities to become more resilient to climate change. Current funding is far below the needs of countries that are also facing humanitarian crises and the combined economic impact of COVID-19.

“It is way past time for global leaders to step up,” says David Miliband. “The climate crisis is here—and united global leadership is needed to meet it.

“The tests are two-fold: stepping up to prevent the catastrophic breach of the 1.5 degrees average rise in temperature and stepping up to help the most at-risk communities adapt to the climate change that is already happening.”  

International funding is crucial for ensuring adequate preparedness and response in the event of famine or food crises. There’s a compelling case for this investment: One 15-year USAID study in the Horn of Africa region revealed that every $1 spent on resilience programs offset three times as much in aid costs later.

Climate crisis response from the IRC

In over 20 countries, the IRC is leading these efforts. For example, in AfghanistanWe created community-led programs to assist farmers in adapting their crops to changing climates and sustaining their livelihoods. Northeast NigeriaWe partnered up with Google to create a climate data platform that triggers cash payments for the most vulnerable people when there is a crisis. You can read the Central African RepublicWe work with farmers to plant thousands upon thousands of trees, diversify their crops, and reverse land degradation. This climate-smart approach helped farmers in impoverished areas increase their income by up to 1000%.

Learn more about the IRC’s work on climate change.

Climate change facts

What is climate change? l  What are the impacts of climate change?  l  Which countries are most affected by climate change?Climate crisis in focus: Afghanistan


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