Some 118 million of Africa’s poorest people could be exposed to the most devastating effects of drought, floods and extreme heat across the continent before decades are over, a report warns.
The United Nations-backed document, “Climate State in Africa 2020” calls for action to avert that fate for the most vulnerable Africans.
He goes on to paint a bleak picture of what environmental changes – as the planet warms – could affect the continent over the coming decades.
The report highlights high water levels in the Congo River Basin and recent extreme rainfall in Algeria and Morocco that destroyed infrastructure in North African countries. The report noted cyclones that hit Mauritius, Mozambique and Somalia, along with rising sea levels in coastal and island states.
Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, said the impacts of climate change are amassing problems on a continent plagued by problems such as poor community health, unemployment, poverty, civil conflict and now the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Glaciers are melting around the world and this is also the case when it comes to the three African glaciers of Mount Kenya, Ruwenzori and Kilimanjaro. “If the current trend continues, we will not see any glaciers in Africa in the 2040s,” Taalas said.
The World Meteorological Organization, a UN agency, drafted the report with the African Union Commission and the Economic Commission for Africa.
Climate change, if not addressed, will strain the efforts of African governments to create economic opportunities for a population expected to reach nearly 2.5 billion by 2050 from the 1.4 billion estimated today, the report said.
“The World Meteorological Organization has decided to publish regional climate reports,” Taalas said. “This is the second time we have published a report on Africa.
“Africa is a special case for us. “It’s the most vulnerable continent when it comes to climate change, and given that agriculture is an important part of African economies in terms of employment and even survival.”
According to the report, Africa is extremely sensitive to variability and climate change compared to many other regions. Almost half of sub-Saharan African population lives below the poverty line and depends on weather-sensitive activities, such as rain-fed agriculture, livestock and fishing for their livelihood.
The report adds that the complex effects of prolonged conflicts, political instability, climate change and economic crises – all exacerbated by the pandemic – leave much to be seen on the continent.
“Food insecurity increases by 5 to 20 percent with each flood or drought in sub-Saharan Africa,” the report said. “In 2020, there was an increase of almost 40 percent in the population affected by food insecurity compared to last year as about 98 million people suffered from acute food insecurity and needed humanitarian assistance.
Jean Ernest Massena Ngalle Bibehe, Cameroon’s Minister of Transport and Chairman of the African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology, said the report would be a useful tool for decision makers, development partners and all actors involved in climate negotiations.
Ngalle Bibehe said the report expands on three of the five pillars of the African Union-led Integrated African Meteorology Strategy. It focuses on the provision of climate services, as well as research and partnerships.
“At the continental level we have seen the value of meteorological services, the socio-economic benefits of meteorological products are recognized and it is clear that early warning systems save lives,” said Ngalle Bibehe.
“It’s time to emphasize that investing in meteorological services is necessary for sustainable development as climate change is a threat to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the AU 2063. Agenda.”
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