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'Urban poor most vulnerable as climate changes'

Climate change directly impacts food prices and wages in some developing countries, driving the urban poor deeper into poverty, a new study supported by the World Bank has said.

world Updated: Aug 22, 2009 12:48 IST
DPA

Climate change directly impacts food prices and wages in some developing countries, driving the urban poor deeper into poverty, a new study supported by the World Bank has said.

The Development Research Group at the World Bank and climate researchers from Purdue University in Indiana have concluded that the urban poor will be "hardest hit and they enter more rapidly into poverty as the climate changes throughout the century".

The researchers focused on the urban poor in 16 developing countries, including Bangladesh, Mexico, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia. The Purdue University researchers studied the potential economic factors affected by the adverse climate changes such as heat waves, drought and heavy rains.

Purdue professor Noah Diffenbaugh said extreme weather affects agricultural products, resulting in higher prices for food staples such as grains, which are essential daily supplies for poor households.

"Studies have shown global warming will likely increase the frequency and intensity of heat waves, droughts and floods in many areas," Diffenbaugh said. "It is important to understand which socio-economic groups and countries could see changes in poverty rates in order to make informed policy decisions."

The study, Climate Volatility Deepens Poverty Vulnerability in Poor Countries, aims to help policy makers become more informed so they can devise strategies for fighting climate change and mobilizing development resources.

"Barriers such as access to credit, missing infrastructure and the lack of information to those most likely affected must be tackled," the World Bank said.

Purdue University said Bangladesh, Mexico and Zambia showed the greatest percentage of people driven into poverty following extreme droughts in their countries. The number of poor increased an additional 1.8 million people each for Bangladesh and Mexico, and half a million for Zambia.

The World Bank and Purdue University said extreme weather can have a devastating impact on the world's estimated one billion people living on less than one dollar a day, defined as extreme poverty.

Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Peru, the Philippines, Thailand, Uganda and Venezuela were also included in the study.