Funding for climate disasters eludes most vulnerable, says IFRC

ENVIRONMENT-DISASTERS
An aerial view shows flooded homes within a village after the River Nile broke the dykes in Jonglei State, South Sudan October 5, 2020. Reuters/Andreea Campeanu/File Photo
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Geneva: The number of disasters caused by extreme weather and climate-related events is surging, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in a report on Tuesday, but funding is not getting to where it is most needed.

Floods, storms and heatwaves have increased per decade by nearly 35 percent since the 1990s, affecting 1.7 billion people over the last 10 years and killing some 410,000, according to the IFRC's 378-page report, 'Come Heat or High Water'.

Such events now account for 83 percent of all disasters and there is a growing risk of simultaneous emergencies, the report said, adding to signs of a dramatic increase in extreme weather events like the massive storms in this year's record Atlantic hurricane season.

However, funding to cope with such events does not always flow to the most vulnerable, the study found.

"There is a clear disconnection between where the climate risk is greatest and where climate adaptation funding goes," said IFRC's Secretary General Jagan Chapagain, adding that the aid community was "failing" some countries.

"This disconnection could very well cost lives."

Among the countries that were ranked as being most vulnerable to such disasters were Sudan, which has experienced record floods this year, and drought-prone Somalia. But these nations respectively received just 27 cents and 59 cents per person in climate adaptation funding in 2018, the study showed.

Honduras, which is in the path of hurricane Iota just days after being struck by Eta, receives juts $1.22 - a figure which IFRC's Matthew Cochrane described as "grossly inadequate".

Conversely, none of the five countries with the highest funding had a high vulnerability score, it said, without naming them.

"There are particular countries that are particularly vulnerable ... and they are being left out," said Kirsten Hagon, the lead author of the report.

Global efforts are being made to address the imbalance.

As part of a commitment under the 2015 Paris agreement, wealthier countries pledged to provide $100 billion a year to help poorer countries tackle climate change by 2020. However, funding has so far fallen short, according to the latest data from the OECD that estimated flows at $79.8 billion in 2018.

Chiara Falduto, a policy analyst in OECD's climate division, said she saw some encouraging signs in recent trends, adding that the total amount earmarked for climate adaptation had grown to 21 percent of the total, or $16.8 billion, in 2018.

However, she said that since then the COVID-19 pandemic "may have impacted the ability of some developed countries to provide and mobilise climate finance, and some developing countries to absorb and deploy such finance".

Asked about the reasons for the funding disconnect in the report, the IFRC's Chapagain said that sometimes donors' own stringent accountability requirements were an impediment.

"It's probably not about donors getting it wrong but about how funding decisions get taken," he said, saying donors could be "very, very demanding" and that this needed to be addressed.

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