To put it bluntly, the people most at risk for becoming a climate refugee are the world’s poorest populations, those who face oppression, including women, and those in conflict-affected regions. Because of racial wealth gaps and colonialism, this means people of colour are by far the most affected globally.
3 out of 4 people in poverty globally rely on agriculture to survive, something which is becoming increasingly hard to maintain due to rising temperatures and natural disasters. Increasingly occurring hurricanes, wildfires and droughts drive people from their homes, and jeopardise crops, livestock and water sources with drought.
Countries like Haiti and Timor-Leste, which are considered amongst the world’s poorest, are geographically placed alongside earthquake fault lines and surrounded by water, making them not only vulnerable, but also without the financial resources to cope.
In Niger, the ‘hunger gap’ is the dry season in between when food stores have been consumed and the next harvest is ready; climate change has increased this period, meaning families must go without food for longer.
And this trickles down to create further inequalities within communities; Angela Baschieri, population dynamics policy adviser for UNFPA, says global warming disproportionately affects women: “The reality is that when intense rains fall more frequently causing floods, or spells of drought last several years causing food insecurity, or landslides, hurricanes or cyclones hit threatening lives, livelihoods and natural resources, those with the fewest resources are most susceptible to the negative effects – particularly women, the majority of the world’s poor.”
Women still have unequal access to finances, land ownership education and reproductive healthcare globally. This means they’re more susceptible to gender-based violence; as climate change limits access to food and access, women have to walk farther distances, making them more vulnerable.
Suffering begets suffering, and it’s a global pattern; the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) also found that sex trafficking spiked in Asia-Pacific after cyclones and typhoons, and domestic violence rose during droughts in East Africa and tropical storms in Latin America. Domestic violence, sexual abuse and FGM also grew during long droughts in Uganda.