Understanding impacts of El Niño and the Indian Ocean Dipole in the Indo-Pacific

Climate events have significant consequences on societies and economies, deeply affecting people’s livelihoods, income, food security, and health conditions. Climate patterns can influence weather in ways that can have cascading effects on both the local and global scales. With support from FCDO’s Research Commissioning Centre, 3ie is examining the evidence of the effects of El Niño and the positive Indian Ocean Dipole on health, economics, conflict, migration, and food security across low- and middle-income countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

For Illustrative purpose only

Multiple sectors across various geographies deal with the repercussions of climate drivers and teleconnections such as El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the positive Indian Ocean Dipole (+IOD). The effects of ENSO and +IOD materialize at the global level and manifest in the form of changes in the seasonal cycle, increased global temperature, and more frequent climate disasters, such as droughts, flooding, and fires. Moreover, their localized effects include crop loss, food insecurity, infectious disease, respiratory and cardiovascular disease due to hotter weather, collective and idiosyncratic economic shocks, displacement and land loss, migration, and conflict.

As part of this research project, we are studying and synthesizing the evidence of the effects of El Niño and +IOD in the tropical Indo-Pacific region (South Asia, East Asia, South-East Asia, and Oceania) between 1990 and 2024. Our findings will inform policy discussions and future FCDO policy and action, including departmental planning, diplomacy and response across key sectors regarding the current 2023 El Niño, future impacts from similar seasonal climate drivers (La Niña, Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), as well as near-term climate security implications.

Objectives of the study:

  • To understand the historic impacts of El Niño and +IOD in the Indo-Pacific on health, economics, conflict, migration and food security
  • To identify key risks in the short to medium term in the Indo-Pacific through region-focused climate security research


The systematic review includes a wide array of study designs, including quasi-experimental and observational such as time series and correlational studies.

To know more about the methodology and the steps that have been undertaken for carrying out the systematic review, read the protocol document.