Rising temperatures and sea levels, changing precipitation patterns and more extreme weather threaten human health and safety, food and water security and socio-economic development in Africa, according to a new report devoted exclusively to the continent.
The report on the state of the climate in Africa 2019, a publication with multiple agencies coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), gives a snapshot of current and future climate trends and associated impact on the economy and sensitive sectors such as agriculture . It highlights lessons for climate action in Africa and identifies avenues for critical gaps and challenges.
The report was released at a ministerial level on 26 October to highlight the urgency of climate action in Africa and its current capacity. The risks are getting worse.
‘Climate change is having an increasing impact on the African continent, hitting the most vulnerable the hardest, and contributing to food insecurity, population displacement and stress on water resources.
“In recent months we have seen devastating floods, an invasion of desert locusts and we are now facing the looming spectrum of drought due to a La Niña event. The human and economic toll is exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, “said WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas.
“Science-based climate information is the foundation of building resilience, a cornerstone of climate change, as well as an oasis for sustainable livelihoods and development. The state of climate reporting for Africa therefore plays a critical role in this regard, including to inform us of our efforts to achieve the objectives of the Africa Agenda 2063, ‘said HE Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission.
“The limited inclusion and use of climate information services in development planning and practice in Africa is due in part to the lack of reliable and timely climate information. This report, which focuses on Africa, will go a long way in addressing this gap from the Economic Commission for Africa for the production of this report, through the African Climate Policy Center, seeks to highlight the link between climate change and development, and to emphasize that building the Covid-19 pandemic requires a development approach that is green, sustainable “Climate change, informed by the best available science. The participation of various institutions and agencies in compiling the report strengthens our principles and approaches to working as one,” said HE Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission. commission for Africa.
Rising temperatures and sea levels
The year 2019 was one of the three warmest years recorded on the continent. This trend is expected to continue. In recent decades, African temperatures have warmed rapidly
comparable to that of most other continents, and thus somewhat faster than the global average surface temperature.
The latest forecasts over decades, covering the five-year period from 2020 to 2024, show continuous warming and declining rainfall especially over North and Southern Africa, and increased rainfall over the Sahel.
Expanded areas in Africa will heat above 2 ° C during the last two decades of this century above pre-industrial levels under medium scenarios, as reported in the Intergovernmental Panel on the Fifth Review Report on Climate Change. Much of Africa has been warming by more than 1 ° C since 1901, with an increase in heat waves and hot days. According to the IPCC, there is probably a decrease in precipitation against North Africa and the southwestern parts of South Africa.
Rising sea levels and coastal erosion
There are significant regional variables in trends at sea level in Africa. Sea level rise reached 5 mm per year in several oceanic areas around the continent and exceeded 5 mm per year in the southwestern Indian Ocean of Madagascar eastward and beyond Mauritius. This is more than the average global rise at sea level of 3-4 mm per year.
Coastal degradation and erosion are also a major challenge, especially in West Africa. About 56% of the coastlines in Benin, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Togo are eroding and this is expected to worsen in the future. Rising sea levels are not currently the predominant contributor, but are expected to work with other factors in the future to exacerbate the negative effects of environmental change.
The report documents events with great impact in 2019. Tropical Cyclone Idai was one of the most devastating tropical cyclones ever recorded in the southern hemisphere, resulting in hundreds of casualties and hundreds of thousands of displaced persons.
Southern Africa suffered extensive drought in 2019. In contrast, the Greater Horn of Africa shifted in 2018 and most of 2019 from very dry conditions to floods and landslides associated with heavy rainfall at the end of 2019. Floods also affected the Sahel and surrounding areas from May to May. October 2019.
Impacts on food security
In drought-stricken sub-Saharan Africa, the number of malnutrition has increased by 45.6% since 2012, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Agriculture is the backbone of the African economy and is responsible for the majority of livelihoods across the continent. Africa is therefore a ‘hot spot’ for exposure and vulnerability to climate change and change impacts.
IPCC projections suggest that warming scenarios could have a devastating effect on crop production and food security.
Major risks to agriculture include the reduction of crop productivity associated with heat and drought stresses and increased damage to pests, diseases and consequences for the flood on the infrastructure of food systems, which have serious adverse effects on food security and livelihoods. at the local, national and individual household level.
By the middle of this century, the major cereal crops grown in Africa will be adversely affected, albeit with the region’s volatility and crop differences.
In the worst case, climate change is predicted in West and Central Africa, 11% in North Africa and 8% in East and Southern Africa. Millet and sorghum are the most popular crops, with a yield loss of only 5% and 8% respectively in 2050 due to their greater resistance to heat stress conditions, while rice and wheat are expected to be the most. crops affected with a yield loss of 2050 and 20%, respectively.
Increase in temperature and changes in rainfall patterns also affect the health of the population in Africa. Warmer temperatures and higher rainfall increase the habitat suitability for biting insects and the transmission of diseases transmitted by vectors, such as dengue fever, malaria and yellow fever.
In addition, new diseases are emerging in regions where they have not occurred before. In 2017, an estimated 93% of global malaria deaths occurred in Africa. Malaria epidemics often occur after periods of unusually heavy rainfall. In addition, malaria-carrying mosquitoes survive at higher altitudes in the East African highlands.
According to the International Monetary Fund, adverse effects of climate change are concentrated in regions with relatively warm climates, where an excessively large number of low-income countries are located.
The African Climate Policy Center estimates that gross domestic product in the five sub-regions of Africa will decline significantly due to a global increase in temperature. For scenarios ranging from 1 ° C to 4 ° C increase in world temperatures relative to pre-industrial levels, the continent’s total GDP is expected to decline by 2.25% to 12.12%. West, Central and East Africa have a greater adverse effect than South and North Africa.
Africa’s Agenda 2063, completed in 2013, recognizes climate change as a major challenge for the development of the continent.
Since 2015, the Nationally Contributed Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement have become the main instrument for leading policy responses to climate change. Fifty-two (52) African countries have submitted their first NDCs and are now submitting revised NDCs by 2020.
Africa and the small island developing countries are the regions with the largest capacity gaps in terms of climate services. Africa also has the least developed land observation network of all continents.
Africa has made great efforts to advance the global climate agenda. This is evidenced by the very high levels of ratification of the Paris Agreement – more than 90%. Many African countries have committed to switching to green energy within a relatively short period of time. For example, clean energy and agriculture are prioritized in more than 70% of the NDCs in Africa. This ambition must be an integral part of determining the economic development priorities of the continent.
One promising approach across the continent to address climate-related risks and extreme consequences has been to reduce poverty by promoting socio-economic growth, particularly in the agricultural sector. In this sector, which employs 60% of Africa’s population, it is reported that value – adding techniques that use efficient and clean energy sources can reduce poverty two to four times faster than growth in any other sector.
Solar-powered, efficient micro-irrigation, for example, increases farm-level income by five to ten times, improving yields by up to 300% and reducing water consumption by up to 90% while reducing carbon emissions by generating up to 250 kW of clean energy. .
Women make up a large percentage of the world’s poor, and about half of the women in the world are active in agriculture – in developing countries it’s 60%, and in low – income countries, food shortages, 70 %. The reduction of poverty through growth in the agricultural sector in Africa is therefore particularly beneficial for women. It may also be that in some cases women do not have access to weather and climate services; It is important that all individuals have access to these services to improve their individual resilience and adaptability.