How disastrous floods can also lead to food insecurity

How disastrous floods can also lead to food insecurity

After this summer’s terrible floods in the United States European Union ,, and a “monsoon with steroids” that left one-third Pakistan submerged, it is becoming more clear that rising floodwaters are an omen for our future if we continue to climate change. The flood waters recede but the collateral damage does not disappear. There is emotional trauma and post traumatic stress disorder, expensive material loss, and a study published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is taking a closer look at the affects of all this excess water on food insecurity.

The authors looked at more than a dozen countries in western, eastern, or southern Africa, and found that flooding can impact food security for more than 5.6 million people.

[Related: How climate change fed Pakistan’s devastating floods. ]

“Our findings demonstrate that floods can have an immediate and lasting impact on food security,” Connor Reed, a former student at New York University Center for Data Science and lead author of the study, stated in a release .. “In many flood events we assessed, there were substantial damages to infrastructure, croplands, and livestock, which compromised food production and access, as well as water resources and sanitation also critical to food security.”

Between 2009-2020, the researchers studied how key flood characteristics, including location, duration, and extent, influence the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) scale. This is a food insecurity metric used by USAID’s Famine Early Warning System. It uses a five-point scale to measure the severity of food insecurity. It ranges from minimal food security (IPC 1) to famine (5 IPC). Approximately 12 percent of those who experienced food insecurity were affected by flooding’s devastating impacts over the 2009 to 2020 timeframe included in the study.

However, there were some positive impacts that alleviated food insecurity depending on the time period or regional scale.

“Our results indicate that floods can have opposing impacts on food security at different spatial and time periods after they occur,” study author Weston Anderson, a NASA Goddard Space Flight Center researcher and the University of Maryland Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center’s Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center research scientist, stated in an press release “In a given year, excess precipitation may immediately lead to floods that destroy crops in a localized area while also being associated with beneficial growing conditions that boost crop production on the country-scale.”

However, the team warns that flooding can have negative impacts on everyone. These positive findings suggest that there should be improved data collection on floods and food security in order to better aid disaster response planning and climate adaptation.

[Related: Why we’re going to see a rapid rise in sunny day floods. ]

“What is most important is that flooding can have significant but complicated impacts on food safety at different times and scales,” Sonali Shukla McDermid from NYU’s Department of Environmental Studies said in an . press release. This is however largely unstudied worldwide and therefore not well understood. Improving knowledge of where, when, and to what extent floods affect food security is crucial, especially for decision-makers across flood-prone rural areas that contribute to regional and global food supplies.”

The study also showed that food security is affected in a highly localized and varied manner, rather than being more evenly distributed across countries. The study also found that food security is affected in highly localized and varying ways, rather than being affected in a uniform way across countries.

“Understanding flood effects on food security is of increasing importance for the humanitarian community,” coauthor Andrew Kruczkiewicz, of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University stated in an . press release. “With the outputs of this study, the humanitarian community is in a better position to decide what actions, including anticipatory, preparedness and response, to prioritize–or deprioritize–in the areas we studied.”

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