Source: UN ( Global warming poses growing threats to Africa, according to UN | UN Info ( ), 2020

Summary: Droughts, warmer temperatures, floods and even a frequent invasion of locusts as well as a persistence of diseases like malaria, the consequences of climate change are being felt hard in Africa, and the worst is yet to come on food security, the continent’s economy and health, the United Nations Weather Agency warned on Monday.

Climate change increasingly threatens human health, food and water security and socio-economic development in Africa ”, according to the conclusion of a multi-agency report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO ), which provides an overview of current and future climate trends as well as the economic impact of sensitive sectors such as agriculture.

According to this new report devoted exclusively to the continent, rising temperatures and rising sea levels as well as the increase in extreme weather phenomena threaten the health and socio-economic development of Africa.

“Climate change is having a growing impact on the African continent, hitting the most vulnerable harder and contributing to food insecurity, displacement of populations and pressure on water resources,” said the Secretary-General of the OMM, Petteri Taalas, quoted in press release.

A rise in temperatures at a rate comparable to other regions

“The risks are getting more serious,” warned the multi-agency report on the state of the climate in Africa. He also notes that 2019 was one of the three hottest years on record on the continent. “This trend is expected to continue,” adds the document, noting a rise in temperatures in recent decades on the continent.

This warming is comparable to that of most other continents, and therefore slightly faster than the average temperature at the surface of the globe. The latest ten-year forecasts, covering the five-year period from 2020 to 2024, show continued warming and decreasing rainfall, especially in North and Southern Africa, as well as increased rainfall in the Sahel.

Much of Africa has already warmed by more than 1 ° C since 1901, with increased heat waves and hot days. Large areas of Africa will experience warming above 2 ° C above pre-industrial levels by the last two decades of this century, according to scenarios in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. climate ( IPCC ).

According to the IPCC, a reduction in precipitation is likely in North Africa and southwestern Africa by the end of the century.

Drought and floods

When it comes to sea level rise and coastal erosion, there is great regional variability across the continent. For example, sea level rise has reached 5 mm per year in several ocean areas surrounding the continent. It even exceeded 5 mm per year in the southwest Indian Ocean, from Madagascar eastwards, towards Mauritius and beyond.

This is more than the global average sea level rise of 3-4 mm per year. In addition, coastal degradation and erosion is also a major challenge, especially in West Africa. More than half of the coasts of Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Togo are eroding and “this situation is expected to worsen in the future”.

These changes have also resulted in extreme events in Africa. This is the case with Tropical Cyclone Idai, which was one of the most destructive tropical cyclones on record in the southern hemisphere, claiming hundreds of lives and displacing hundreds of thousands. In general, southern Africa suffered from a severe drought in 2019.

In contrast, the Horn of Africa went from very dry conditions in 2018 and most of 2019 to flooding and landslides associated with heavy rainfall in late 2019. The floods also affected the Sahel and surrounding regions from May to October 2019.

“In recent months we have witnessed devastating floods, an invasion of locusts and now face the looming specter of drought due to a La Niña episode. The human and economic toll has been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, ”added Petteri Taalas.

Warming temperatures reduce crop yields

In countries hit hard by drought, the number of undernourished people has increased by 45.6% since 2012, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). “Africa is therefore a ‘hot spot’ of exposure and vulnerability to the impacts of climate variability and change,” warn UN experts.

On food security, the IPCC projections are based on the devastating effects of agricultural production and food security. Risks to agriculture include reduced crop productivity associated with signs of heat and drought, increased damage from pests, disease and flooding to food system infrastructure.

Warming temperatures are reducing crop yields while agriculture is the backbone of the African economy.

By mid-century, Africa’s major cereal crops will be affected, although there are regional variations and differences between crops. In the worst-case scenario of climate change, an average yield reduction of 13% is expected in West and Central Africa, 11% in North Africa and 8% in East and Southern Africa.

Rice and wheat are expected to be the most affected crops with yield loss by 2050 of 12% and 21%, respectively. At the same time, millet and sorghum have proven to be the most promising crops, with yield loss by 2050 of only 5% and 8%, respectively, due to their greater resistance to stress conditions. thermal.

More broadly, for scenarios ranging from a 1 ° C to 4 ° C increase in global temperatures from pre-industrial levels, the continent’s aggregate gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to decline from 2.25% to 12.12% . “West Africa, Central Africa and East Africa have a greater negative impact than Southern Africa and North Africa,” the report stresses.

Clean energy and agriculture, priority sectors

From a health standpoint, warmer temperatures and higher rainfall increase habitat suitability for biting insects and the transmission of diseases such as dengue, malaria and yellow fever.

Note that the report on the state of the climate in Africa 2019 was published on the sidelines of a ministerial meeting to underline the urgency of climate action in Africa. In general, Africa also has the least developed terrestrial observation network of any continent.

Despite these “handicaps”, Africa has made great efforts to advance the global climate agenda. This is evidenced by the very high rate of ratification of the Paris Agreement with over 90%. In addition, many African countries have made commitments to switch to green energy within a relatively short timeframe. Clean energy and agriculture are, for example, a priority in more than 70% of African countries.

On the ground, a promising approach to reducing climate-related risks and the impact of extreme events has been to reduce poverty by promoting socio-economic growth, particularly in the agricultural sector, which employs 60% of the African population. .

Solar and efficient micro-irrigation, for example, increases farm income five to ten, according to the report. It thus improves yields by up to 300% and reduces water consumption by up to 90% while offsetting carbon emissions by producing 250 kW of clean energy.