Humanitarian action and climate change
Pacific island countries continue to be among the most vulnerable in the world due to their high exposure to natural hazards and limited capacity to mitigate and manage risks. On top of this many of the atoll nations in the Pacific are on the forefront of climate change, and its people already facing the impact in the form of more frequent and longer droughts, floods, erosions of coastal, habitable and agrarian land, and salinization of safe drinking water sources.
Climate change is predicted to increase the frequencies of El Niño and La Niña effects by more than 40% in the Pacific, which in turn will further increasing the incidence of severe droughts, floods and damaging tropical storms. The socio-economic impact of this negative spiral of events are severe. In late 2012 for instance, Fiji and Samoa was hit Tropical Cyclone Evan. In Fiji alone this resulted in serious floods that affected over 250,000 people (more than 29% of the total population), causing the internal displacement of 15,000 people and an estimated economic loss of more than FJD$ 71 million (USD 40 million).
To mitigate and alleviate the impacts of natural hazards and climate change, UNICEF Pacific works with governments and humanitarian partners before, during and after disasters to ensure that quick and effective relief is provided to affected populations, particularly women, children and people with disabilities. Disaster preparedness and response planning and management are integrated into all programme components and link with Pacific National Disaster Management Offices, United Nations and regional agencies under the umbrella of the Pacific Humanitarian Team. Specific focus areas for UNICEF humanitarian action include water, sanitation and hygiene; immunisation; nutrition; child protection; and education.
UNICEF Pacific is also increasingly integrating and addressing climate change and disaster risk reduction across all programmes with reference to the study 'Climate Change Impact on Children in the Pacific' from 2011. A partnership has been established with “350.org” to promote youth participation in regional climate change debate and policy making.