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News > Belgium

Climate Change Hits Rural Women and the Poor Hardest

  • An African woman walks through a drought-affected field, 2024.

    An African woman walks through a drought-affected field, 2024. | Photo: X/ @PressenzaIPA

Published 8 March 2024

Copernicus confirmed that February 2024 marked the warmest February ever documented.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published a report showing that female farmers, poor people, and older populations are the most affected by climate change, and their needs require targeted measures.


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The study, titled "Unjust Climate," reveals that certain social groups are disproportionately affected by climate-related income disparities due to unequal capacities to adapt to extreme weather.

Conducted over two years by a team of eight experts and various consultants, the FAO report collected socio-economic data from 109,000 rural households in 24 low and middle-income countries, representing over 950 million people.

If average temperatures were to increase by just 1 degree Celsius, rural women would face a 34 percent greater loss in their total incomes compared to men.

As for poor households, rising temperature renders them more dependent on climate-sensitive agriculture, and with floods, they would lose 4.4 percent of their total compared to non-poor households on average.

The findings, categorized by gender, wealth and age, aim to guide countries in developing tailored responses to address the diverse needs of affected groups.

"Our hope is that we will start taking into more consideration the differences in the vulnerability of people, because vulnerabilities are not the same for all, and they need different types of support," FAO senior economist and report's lead author Nicholas Sitko said.

On Thursday, the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service announced that February 2024 marked the warmest February ever documented globally.

The average surface air temperature across the globe reached 13.54 degrees Celsius last month, surpassing the 1991-2020 February average by 0.81 degrees Celsius.

This figure is also 0.12 degrees Celsius above the temperature of the previous hottest February in 2016, which underscored the rising trend of global warming.

The global average temperature for the past 12 months from March 2023 to February 2024 was also the highest on record, 0.68 degrees Celsius above the 1991-2020 average. 

February 2024 also recorded unprecedented highs in global sea surface temperatures (SSTs) of an average of 21.06 degrees Celsius.

The ongoing El Nino event has played a crucial part in the rising global SSTs. But the most recent El Nino peaked in December and is gradually weakening and SSTs in the equatorial Pacific are lower than those in February 1998 and 2016 respectively.

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