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In the ten worst-hit countries, increasing floods and drought forced people to flee 8 million times last year – over twice that of a decade ago

Oxfam Australia 4 mins read

Hunger nearly tripled in five of these countries over the same period

Water-related disasters forced people to flee from their homes nearly eight million separate times in 10 of the world’s worst-hit countries last year, with many having to move multiple times – a 120% increase compared to a decade ago, said Oxfam today. 

On World Refugee Day, Oxfam says that in five of those countries, levels of severe hunger have nearly tripled over the same period.  

Somalia, China, Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya, Ethiopia, India, Brazil, Bangladesh, and Malaysia topped the list of countries that suffered the largest displacement of people from floods and droughts last year, according to the Global Internal Displacement Database. In those countries, the number of times people were displaced from their homes soared from 3.5 million in 2013 to 7.9 million in 2023.  

Climate change has increased the intensity and frequency of floods and droughts. According to data collated by Oxfam, recorded flood and drought disasters in those ten worst-hit countries have skyrocketed from just 24 in 2013, to 656 last year. Somalia alone was hit by 223 different flood or drought events in 2023 against just two in 2013, for instance. The Philippines was hit 74 times (compared to just three in 2013), Brazil 79 times compared to four, and Malaysia 127 times compared to just once in 2013.  

Globally, floods and droughts alone have forced over 3.4 million people out of their homes just last year – as many as the entire population of Uruguay.  

Oxfam calculated that in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, Pakistan, and Somalia – which are among the least prepared to cope with the impact of climate change - the number of people suffering acute hunger has risen from 14 million in 2013 to over 55 million in 2023. 

“Climate injustice is rife. From the scores dying from scorching heat in Bangladesh to the thousands forced to flee floods in Pakistan, it is the most vulnerable people – and those least responsible for the climate crisis – who are bearing the brunt, while rich polluting nations continue to do too little too late to help them," says Nuzhat Nueary, Oxfam Water Insecurity and Climate Policy Coordinator.  

“Climate change and El Niño weather patterns have supercharged droughts, floods and cyclones. All these disasters have knock-on effects on people’s lives and livelihoods, and compounded by conflict, economic shocks and deep inequalities, they have fueled hunger. Ultimately, mass movements put pressure on the limited water resources creating further water stress in these countries.” 

In Somalia, continuous temperature rise (1.5°C, up from 1°C in 1991) has resulted in more frequent and prolonged droughts, often followed by flash floods and cyclones. Despite accounting for less than 0.03% of global carbon emissions, the country has suffered billions worth of losses due to recurring floods and droughts. Recovering from the last December floods alone was estimated at $230 million.  

The last Deyr rainy season -which followed five consecutive seasons of drought -has brought massive flooding, forcing 1.2 million people to flee their homes and killd 118 people. These disasters have compounded the impact of ongoing conflict, political instability, and economic shocks, leaving almost half of Somalia’s population in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. 

“I lost all my animals to the drought. I fled on foot with my children, and it took me three days to get to Baidoa. It was a difficult journey. I had no food or water for my children. Some got sick along the way,” said Hassan Mohamed, a displaced father in Baidoa, Somalia.  

In Bangladesh, unpredictable cyclones and other water-related disasters forced more than 1.8 million people to leave their homes in 2023. They caused severe damage to infrastructure like schools, markets and other essential services. The country contributes only 0.56% of global carbon emissions.  

Asgor Kha and Moriom who live in Lebubunia village of Satkhira, Bangladesh says: “We have lost our homes four times due to cyclones. We are still in debt for having taken a house loan. Our son is our only earning member, but he struggles to find any work in the area.”  

Zerin Ahmed, Oxfam’s Senior Program Officer in Bangladesh, said: “With no crops or income families have been forced to move, some multiple times. Those who are left behind live with constant fear about the future, as cycles of consecutive disasters have depleted all their resources, exhausting their last ability to cope."  

“Ending people’s suffering is possible. Rich polluting nations must cut emissions and provide adequate climate finance to countries most impacted by the climate crisis so that they can cope better and rebuild after climate shocks, added Nueary. 

“They must also inject funding into the new loss and damage scheme. It is not a courtesy gesture but an obligation for the damage they have caused. With proper funding, the most impacted nations can develop early warning systems and other measures to prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate change, and can free up resources to invest in social protection to help people cope. 

“Local communities on the frontline of climate response, and vulnerable groups – especially women, youth, and indigenous communities –have already championed solutions, and must be at the heart of climate decisions, funding, and action.”  

For interviews, contact Lucy Brown on 0478 190 099 / lucyb@oxfam.org.au

Notes to Editors 

  • Oxfam ranked the 10 countries with the largest water-disasters displacement based on the number of forced internal displacements (people can be displaced multiple times) by “floods” and “droughts” during the period (2013-2023) according to the Global Internal Displacement Database (GIDD). The total number of displacements in those 10 countries combined was 3,588,827 in 2013 and 7,909,369 in 2023, which is 120.38% increase. Source: Global Internal Displacement Database (GIDD)  
  • According to GIDD, last year 3.4 million people were displaced by droughts and floods. Source: GIDD 
  • Oxfam calculated hunger rates for Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan and Somalia based on the Acute Food Insecurity Classification (IPC) in 2013, and on 2023 IPC data of the 2024 Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC). For Ethiopia, data was based on Government of Ethiopia estimates for acute hunger for 2013 , and the GRFC 2024 for 2023.   
  • The ND-GAIN Country Index summarizes a country's vulnerability to climate change and other global challenges, as well as, its readiness to improve resilience. Somalia, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Kenya, and Pakistan are among the lowest-ranked countries in that index.  
  • The Deyr season in Somalia, is the second, shorter rainy season between October and December) every year.  
  • Somalia’s carbon emissions figures are based on IGAD 15th Progress Report of the Resilience Project in Somalia.  
  • Somalia’s Loss and Damage data are based on the “Rapid post-disaster needs assessment of Somalia Deyr floods 2023" report and the World Bank’s “Somalia Drought Impact & Needs Assessment” report.  
  • Since the 1970s, 44% of all disaster events have been flood-related. Source: IPCC AR6 Synthesis Report.  
  • Bangladesh contributes only 0.56 per cent to global greenhouse gas emissions, it ranks the seventh most vulnerable nation to the impacts of climate change. Source: UN Bangladesh  Energy Transition and ND Gain Index  
  • In 2023, approximately 1.8 million people were internally displaced in Bangladesh due to floods, cyclones and other storm related events. Source: GIDD as of June 1 2024 

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