Saturday, November 11, 2006

Climate Vulnerability and Poverty in Africa

Sometimes you really have to wonder if justice exists in this world. A new report issued by the United Nations reveals that Africa is likely to be impacted most severely by climate change -- more so than any other region in the world. This, in turn is expected to exacerbate the extreme poverty and suffering that currently exists throughout the continent.

African countries are already suffering from the impacts of climate disruptions. According to a recent article in The Daily Nation "Africa experienced nearly a 2.8 times decrease in water availability compared to other regions of the world from 1970 to 1995. Some 14 African countries currently experience water scarcity, with another 11 set to join them in the next 25 years." They conclude that "Nothing short of a declaration of a state of 'ecological emergency' by groups of countries will be sufficient to address the challenges that lie ahead." (GW)

Worst Hit By Global Warming, Least Prepared to Tackle Climate Change - Experts

International Livestock Research Institute

A new report has identified hotspots in Africa where people will be at greatest risk from the effects of climate change over the next 50 years, and established that the hotspots coincide with the very areas where some of the continent’s poorest people live, affirming growing concerns on the potentially damaging effects of climate change in Africa.

The report - Mapping Climate Vulnerability and Poverty in Africa - finds that many communities across Africa that are already grappling with severe poverty are also at the cross-hairs of the most adverse effects of climate change.

“The results of this analysis show that many regions throughout Africa are likely to be adversely affected in more ways than the research was even able to explore,” says ILRI’s Mario Herrero.

The report establishes that save for seven countries that have no data, all of Sub-Saharan Africa is vulnerable to climate change. Virtually the whole land mass of Burundi and Rwanda are classified as “more vulnerable” as are large tracts of Ethiopia, parts of southern Eritrea, southwest Niger and the southern parts of Chad. On the other end of the vulnerability scale, only a tiny part of South Africa is classified as “less vulnerable”.

The report is produced by the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in collaboration with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi and the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS). The report was commissioned by the UK Government’s Department for International Development to inform the establishment of a program on climate adaptation for Africa.

Using emission scenarios developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the report projects how climate change will affect the length of food growing seasons in Africa, and therefore the livelihoods of the greater majority of Africans who rely heavily on farming for basic food supply and employment.

The report finds that the typical small-holder mixed crop-livestock rainfed farming systems and arid and semi-arid systems that support pastoralism in the Sahel are both highly vulnerable to poverty and most likely to suffer the most from climate change.

The same is predicted for the Great Lakes region, with Rwanda’s and Burundi’s crop-livestock farming systems and the higher potential highland systems at great risk. Eastern Africa’s arid and semi-arid lands, which in Kenya account for 84 per cent of the land area, were also found to be highly vulnerable to climate change.

“These findings present an immense challenge for development and the achievement of the millennium development goals,” says Tom Owiyo, co-author of the book. “Climate change presents a global ethical challenge as well as a development, scientific and organisational challenge in Africa.”

The coastal zones of eastern and southern Africa as well as the drier parts of southern Africa will also be adversely affected by climate change.

“The outlook for Africa under a business-as-usual scenario is pretty bleak. Africa appears to have some of the greatest burdens of climate change impacts and is also generally limited in its ability to cope and adapt, yet it has the lowest per capita emission of greenhouse gases,” Mario Herrero reiterates concerns shared by other scientists across the world.

Click here to view and download the entire electronic version of the report.


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