CLIMATE CHANGE IN AFRICA – A BIGGER ISSUE THAN WE REALIZE? – SAHEL CONSULTING

Of the ten countries considered most threatened by climate change globally, seven are in Africa. Given the recent devastations from flooding, droughts, desertification and conflicts across the continent, African governments have increasingly expressed concern about the impact of climate change. There was also a large African delegation at the Conference of Parties, ‘COP21’ in Paris in 2015, where the Paris Agreement was developed.

By April 2016, forty-seven African countries had signed the agreement, committing to take concrete actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change. However, only a few African countries are actively working toward meeting their targets.

“Of the ten countries considered most threatened by climate change globally, seven are in Africa”

Sahel Consulting

Alarmingly, as of December 2018, the Climate Action Tracker reported that only three African countries: Ethiopia, Morocco and South Africa were taking the lead toward developing policies to meet the objectives of the agreement. The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presents strong evidence that warming in Africa has increased significantly over the past 50 to 100 years, with clear effects on the health, livelihoods and food security of its people.

For example, Lagos, Nigeria, experienced heavy rainfall in January 2019, an anomaly, as the event occurred during the dry season, which typically runs from October through March. Similar changes in traditional seasonal patterns have become more frequent in the past few years. This is only one of the many effects of climate change, a long-term change in seasonal patterns due to an increased accumulation of greenhouse gases released in the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels.

Similar effects are increasingly being noticed around the world, including rising global average temperatures and sea levels, increased variability in weather patterns and extreme weather events. Many African countries have experienced severe flood disasters in recent years. In 2000, the Limpopo Valley floods were one of the worst flood disasters in Mozambique’s history responsible for at least 700 deaths and displacing up to 650,000 people.

It was estimated that the total cost of the floods was up to 20 per cent of the country’s GDP, slowing down its economic growth rate by 2.1 per cent. Mozambique continues to suffer severe floods to date.

In March 2019, Cyclone Idai devastated parts of the country, wiping out almost 715,000 ha of farmlands, which accounts for 13 per cent of its total agricultural land area, and affecting 500,000 farming households. The cyclone also placed 1.85 million people in need of aid and claimed more than 500 lives. Current funding needs in response to the cyclone is estimated at $282 million.

Find more details from Sahel Consulting Newsletter on Climate Change And Agriculture In Africa

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

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