Climate change in Africa: 100 million people at risk

Climate change in Africa: 100 million people at risk
Climate change in Africa: 100 million people at risk

The United Nations warned on Tuesday that more than 100 million people living in extreme poverty are threatened by the acceleration of climate warming in Africa, where rare glaciers are expected to melt by the fifth decade of the century.

In a report released ahead of COP 26 in Glasgow in November 2021, the United Nations highlighted the “disproportionate vulnerability” of Africa last year to food insecurity, poverty and population displacement.

“By 2030, it is estimated that as many as 118 million people living in extreme poverty will be vulnerable to droughts, floods and extreme heat in Africa, if adequate response measures are not taken,” said Josefa Leonel Correa Sako, in charge of rural economy and agriculture at the African Union Commission. “.

The most extreme poor are those who live on less than $1.90 a day, according to the report co-authored by the World Meteorological Organization.

“In sub-Saharan Africa, climate change could reduce GDP by up to three percent by 2050,” Sako said.

The Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture added: “It is not only the material conditions that are getting worse, but also the increasing number of people affected.”

Last year, World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said that Africa experienced an increase in temperatures that “accelerated sea-level rise”, as well as extreme weather such as floods, landslides and droughts, all of which are indicators of climate change.

Decay of glaciers

“The rapid retreat of the remaining glaciers in East Africa, which is expected to melt completely in the near future, is an indication of the danger of an imminent and irreversible change in the Earth system,” Taalas considered.

Last year, Africa’s land mass and waters warmed faster than the global average, according to the report.

The 30-year warming trend between 1991 and 2020 was higher than that for the same period between 1961 and 1990 across Africa.

The rate of sea level rise along the tropical and southern Atlantic coasts as well as along the Indian Ocean was higher than the global average.

Although the glaciers in Africa are so few that they do not constitute a basic water reserve, they have great value in terms of tourism and science, and yet they are receding at a higher rate than the world average.

“If this continues, it will lead to its complete gradual decline by the 1940s,” the report said.

According to the report, “Mount Kenya is expected to completely melt the ice a decade before that date, which will make it one of the first mountain ranges whose glaciers will disappear due to human-caused climate change.”

Other glaciers in Africa are found in the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda and in Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

To avoid the high costs of disaster relief, WMO urged African countries to invest in “hydro-meteorological infrastructure and early warning systems for preparedness for high-impact hazardous events”.

FAO is supporting wider access to early warning systems and to food price and weather information, including by sending text messages or voice messages to inform farmers of planting, irrigation and fertilizing times.

“The rapid implementation of African adaptation strategies would stimulate economic growth and create more jobs to support the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report said.

The report was jointly prepared by the World Meteorological Organization, the African Union Commission, the Economic Commission for Africa through the African Center for Climate Policy, international and regional scientific organizations, and United Nations agencies.

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