Lutheran World Relief Releases the 2016 Early Warning Forecast

An annual survey of the countries and regions LWR is monitoring for potential humanitarian crises and disasters

Editors: Speckhard and other LWR experts are available for interview.

BALTIMORE, Dec. 1, 2015—Lutheran World Relief, an international NGO working in 35 countries to develop sustainable solutions to poverty and food insecurity, marked #GivingTuesday by releasing its 2016 Early Warning Forecast of regions it is monitoring for potential humanitarian crises over the coming year.

The regions highlighted in the report are those that LWR is actively monitoring and, in many cases, is already in-country working to help mitigate the worst effects of a potential crisis, develop disaster response plans and strengthen community resilience, especially in the most vulnerable rural areas.

LWR President & CEO Daniel V. Speckhard noted that the interconnected nature of today’s globalized world means that humanitarian crises overseas will inevitably affect people in the U.S.

“Given these linkages and the rising vulnerability of global populations to both conflict and disaster, there is a vital need for an evolution in the way the international community thinks about humanitarian response that will have a lasting impact,” he said. “We need to move beyond short-term mobilization for the latest disaster or applying the Band-Aid approach to an emergency in an isolated ‘fragile’ state.”

“Instead, we need to approach recovery and resilience with a long-term time frame in mind, as well as a more holistic understanding of the importance of sustainable development. Breaking people out of the cycle of poverty will make them more resilient in the face of future disasters,” he said.

The countries and regions on the 2016 Watch List include:

  • Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia
  • Nepal
  • Iraq
  • Central America and the Caribbean
  • Sahel Region of West Africa
  • South Sudan

In addition, there are several countries and regions where LWR sees signs of hope:

  • Colombia
  • The Philippines
  • Coffee and Cocoa production in Haiti, East Africa, Central America and Indonesia

Among the immediate challenges facing humanitarian community that are highlighted in the 2016 Early Warning Forecast:

  • The continuing refugee crisis, as the unprecedented migration we’re seeing shows no sign of abating. The Syrian civil war and terrorism wrought by ISIS is not only pushing out millions of refugees, but is destabilizing Northern Iraq. Refugee resettlement, complicated by security fears expressed by some communities and political figures, will be difficult.
  • What some are calling a “gorilla” El Niño is causing drought conditions in some places and will bring damaging rain and flooding in others. We must be prepared for disaster response. Food crises in Central America could spur migration.
  • The fuel blockade in Nepal has brought the post-earthquake rebuilding to a virtual halt. As winter approaches, isolated mountain communities will be cut off from supply deliveries, possibly auguring a second national crisis.
  • Drought and conflict have displaced more than 3.5 million people in the Sahel region of West Africa. Instability caused by the recent coup attempt in Burkina Faso, as well as terrorism-related incidents and threats in Mali and southeastern Niger will continue to be push factors for migration and make the lives of already impoverished people even more miserable.

The 2016 Early Warning Forecast can be downloaded at lwr.org/2016-Early-Warning-Forecast.