Intensifying storms will displace more than 200 million people in 20 years

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ShelterBox warns of the human cost of climate change

Millions of people will be uprooted over the next 20 years by storms, intensified by climate change, damaging and destroying homes. That’s the warning from international disaster relief charity ShelterBox which has been helping to shelter people on the frontlines of climate change for 20 years. It comes just before the Atlantic hurricane season, which last year was the third most active on record.

ShelterBox highlights how increasing storm intensity is making life more difficult in many parts of the world and how climate change is driving displacement. On average, over the past five years, 11.2 million people have been displaced each year by storms, according to figures from the iDMC (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre)*. If this average continues over the next 20 years, nearly 45 million homes could be damaged or destroyed, uprooting more than 200 million people.

This is a conservative estimate, given the stark warning from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that tropical storms are expected to become more intense.

ShelterBox has witnessed firsthand the cost of the climate crisis, responding to extreme weather disasters around the world. The Cornwall-based charity provides emergency shelter and other essentials to people who have lost their homes to conflict and disaster, including those in the path of hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons.

ShelterBox emergency response manager Alice Jefferson has been deployed 16 times for the charity, including in the aftermath of Typhoon Pablo in 2012/13 and Typhoon Haiyan in 2013/14.

She said: “Supporting communities that have lost homes, livelihoods or loved ones to tropical storms is sobering and stark reminder of the human cost of climate change.

“In addition to the immense impact on our environment, we must remember the life-altering impact that climate change is already having on millions of people around the world.

“It’s natural for the climate crisis to seem overwhelming and while the forecasts are troubling, we know how big a difference playing a small role can make in people’s lives – and that gives us hope.

“Expectations of increased storm damage are troubling. But, as long as we have the funds and resources to rapidly scale up our responses to help the communities most affected, we will continue to help those at risk. frontline of climate change.”

Extreme weather occurs more often in places where many live in poverty, where communities are less able to withstand the effects. The recent IPCC Sixth Assessment Report series concluded that the most vulnerable people are disproportionately affected by human-induced climate change. ShelterBox response teams see this regularly when providing support to the most vulnerable people in the hardest-to-reach areas.

Over the past ten years, ShelterBox has supported more than 400,000 people affected by storm-related disasters, empowering them to repair and rebuild their homes.

The charity’s most recent responses have included the Philippines (Typhoon Rai in December 2021) and Honduras (Cyclones Eta and Iota in November 2020).

Since its inception at the turn of the century, ShelterBox has responded to more than 60 disasters related to hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones. A third of these responses occurred in the Philippines.

The Philippines is so often ravaged by intense and destructive storms that ShelterBox has adapted its modus operandi by pre-positioning aid in-country with a team on the ground ready to respond when the next disaster strikes.

ShelterBox was one of the first charities to start supporting communities in the aftermath of Typhoon Rai. The super typhoon damaged or destroyed 1.7 million homes just as families prepared for Christmas. ShelterBox has provided emergency shelter for 100,000 people, many of whom live in traditional, hand-built houses that are not designed to withstand these storms.

Henry Thompson, a member of ShelterBox’s response team, was deployed in the aftermath of Typhoon Rai. He said: “Our emergency shelter assistance is making a tangible difference for people whose homes have been damaged or destroyed by increasingly severe storms.

“A tarp is the difference between a family staying dry in their makeshift home or not. A waterproof shelter can make a positive difference to people’s physical health and emotional well-being, as well as protecting household items.

“When the electricity supply is unstable and the evenings are dark, a solar light helps families spend time together. A mosquito net helps families worry less about the health of their children in areas known to have the malaria or dengue fever.

“Sometimes we also provide cash. This empowers local communities. materials they need to rebuild their homes.”

ShelterBox currently has teams working to support communities in Ukraine, Yemen, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Syria, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Haiti and Nigeria.

To learn more about ShelterBox, visit shelterbox.org.

* Data Extract from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (iDMC) query tool on the number of people newly displaced internally by storms gives an annual average of 11.2 million people. Multiplied by 20, that gives a conservative view of how extreme storms will force at least 224 million people around the world to flee their homes over the next 20 years. That’s nearly 45 million homes based on a five-person household.

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