From deadly floods in Nigeria to devastating drought in Somalia, Africa has faced a run of severe – and sometimes unprecedented – extreme weather events since the start of 2022.
But while the US hurricane season and 40C heat in the UK have captured headlines, many of Africa’s most extreme and life-changing weather events went largely unreported in global-north media.
Ahead of COP27 in Egypt – which is being referred to as “Africa’s COP” – Carbon Brief has used disaster data, humanitarian reports and local testimony to investigate Africa’s 2022 extreme weather events – and examined how they could be linked to climate change, according to scientists.
Carbon Brief’s analysis of disaster records finds that extreme weather events in Africa have killed at least 4,000 people and affected a further 19 million since the start of 2022. However, the impacts of African extreme events often go unrecorded – especially for heatwaves – and so the true figures are likely to be much higher.
The toll of extreme weather on African lives is one example of “loss and damage” – a term to describe how climate change is already harming people, especially the world’s most vulnerable.
Loss and damage is expected to feature heavily at COP27, where global-south nations will call on developed countries to provide funds for the climate impacts they are already experiencing. (See Carbon Brief’s recent special series on loss and damage for more details.)
“Africa contributes 4% of global emissions, yet is at the frontline of the loss and damage. Loss and damage finance is not negotiable,” Adenike Oladosu, a climate activist from Nigeria, tells Carbon Brief.
Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents in the world to climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
In 2022, every part of the continent was affected by extreme weather events, ranging from wildfires in Algeria to catastrophic flooding in South Africa.
To study these events, Carbon Brief has combined UN humanitarian reports and local news stories with data from the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT), which was launched in 1988 by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) in Belgium.
The map below shows extreme weather events affecting Africa in 2022 to date, according to the EM-DAT database. On the map, the size of the circles correspond to the number of people affected by the event, while a colour key indicates the event type.
For an extreme event to be featured on the EM-DAT database, it must fulfil one of the following criteria: