The World Food Program (WFP) is closely monitoring the El Nino weather pattern and preparing for the possible impacts it will have on food production, said UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric here Friday.
El Nino is a climactic phenomenon that results from a warming of the ocean west of Peru. It triggers atmospheric changes that can mean very hot weather in Asia, rain in South America and cooler summer in North America.
Dujarric told a daily briefing that over the next 12 months, El Nino could potentially affect the food security of a large number of already vulnerable people who are dependent on agriculture and livestock for their livelihoods in Central America, most of Sub- Saharan Africa and South East Asia.
It is possible that WFP will be stretched operationally and financially during 2016, when the impacts of the El Nino event are translated into increased food assistance needs across most of the agency's areas of operation, he added.
According to the UN, in Central America, people living in the Dry Corridor, from Guatemala to Nicaragua, are enduring the second consecutive year of drought. The situation in Sudan and Ethiopia hangs in the balance. In the coming months, Zimbabwe and other countries in southern Africa could also be severely affected.
Ding Yihui, a senior expert of China Meteorological Administration, said El Nino will continue to strengthen this year but will not escalate into a super El Nino as the warming of the sea's surface in the Pacific Ocean will decay.
He predicted El Nino is likely to reach a strong magnitude this year and last for 20 months, which is a historically rare phenomenon.