Climate Change is the new global threat to humanity. In Africa, Climate change is causing an increase in poverty, economic crisis, loss of life stocks, widespread epidemic diseases, intra-continent mass migration, and low agricultural yields resulting in food insecurity. The main reason behind climate change is human anti-environment activities.

Climate change is causing regular floods, irregular weather patterns, droughts, coastal erosion, rise in temperature, sea-level rise, and pollution in Africa.

According to NASA, Climate change is a long-term phenomenon, and changes in weather patterns affect species in all aspects. For Instance, Zimbabwe is one of the most affected countries by climate change through floods, droughts, decreased river flows, and erratic weather patterns.

Droughts are causing food insecurity and internal displacement of the local Zimbabwe population. In this way, drought is threatening the livelihood of 45% of the rural population.

Flood brings great misery to Zimbabwean people and causes an increase in poverty. According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDDR) data, a cyclone named Idai interacted with Zimbabwe. It disrupted the daily routine of citizens. Cyclone impacted the 90,000 students from the educational sector.

Likewise, approximately 4000  homes were partially destroyed or became inhabitable. World Bank data shows that poverty has increased from 29% to 34 % between 2018-2019.

Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate change.  However, Africa has contributed 4% to green gas emissions, but unfortunately, it is the most affected continent. Therefore, Africa direly needs to address climate change through various means. Only then survival of the human race in Africa is possible.

Threats

There are various threats to Africa from climate change. These include environmental, economic, and humanitarian; they posed an existential challenge to Africa’s development in the 21st Century.

Environmental Threats

Sea level is on the rise on all sides of Africa, posing a danger to the existence of coastal cities. In Africa, the Sea level rises at 3-4 millimeters (MM) per year. Rise of Sea-level results in diminishing of the coastal zone and salt intrusion. Sea level rise also contributes to the depreciation of wetlands, arable land, and local communities. United Nations has declared Saint-Louis, a city of Senegal,  as the most vulnerable city to sea-level rise.

A building in Saint-Louis, a city of Senegal, has fallen due to sea-level rise.

East Africa is most vulnerable and facing a 5 mm rise per year. In contrast, West Africa faces a 4 mm rise in sea level per year.

Floods and droughts are more common in Africa than earlier. World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report claims more than 1.2 million people were displaced by storms and floods in 2019. Further, the report adds that East Africa’s last few glaziers will be melting by 2040. The melting of glaciers will exacerbate flood and water crises on the continent.

Drought and Floods are common in Africa due to erratic climate patterns. The arable land in the Horn of Africa is turning into a desert due to a lack of water. East Africa is most affected by drought. For example, Kenya declared a climate emergency due to drought in 2021. droughts lead to food insecurity and the dying of animals on the continent.

Economic Threats

Economic impacts of Climate Change on Africa cause dwindle in economic growth and manufacturing cost. These economic costs include health burdens, increase in energy demand, reduction in agricultural yields, loss of ecosystem services, and high risk to infrastructure in a few regions.

It is estimated that economic costs could be equivalent to an annual loss in G.D.P. of 1.5% – 3% by 2030 in the continent. Moreover, joblessness and poverty are becoming common things in Africa.

Humanitarian threats

Migration and health issues are severe in Africa. Due to climate change, Africans have contracted viruses, malaria, typhoid, and skin cancer. Dengue fever, malaria, and yellow fever are also common.

Inadequate medical facilities lead to an increase in the mortality rate across Africa. Deaths due to neonatal conditions (11.3%), common respiratory infections (9.9%), Diahorrial disease (6.4%) are ordinary.

Medical teams working in West Africa during the outbreak of the Ebola virus.

Likewise, heat stock, HIV/AIDS (5.5%), and Malaria and Tuberculosis Cause (5 %) contribute to Africa’s deaths rates. In addition, Ebola and COVID 19 viruses variants have further exacerbated the health crisis in Africa.

Climate change has fostered migration across the African continent. According to the Data of World Bank, 86 million Africans have to migrate due to changes in weather patterns across the continent. Africans having a dependency of livelihood on agriculture and fisheries will have to migrate to more habitual areas.

Remedies

Hope is not lost. Several remedies are present to tackle climate change in Africa effectively. These include renewable energy, carbon emission reduction, recycling, and implementation of the Conference of Parties (15) recommendations implementations.

Renewable energy

Africa has rich sources of renewable energy resources. These mainly include wind, solar and hydro energy. The solar energy market has expanded in the last few years, and the continent experienced 1.8 W of new solar installations.

 

Noor Solar form in Morocco. Africa’s one of the largest Solar power projects.

Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa are drivers in the solar transition. Availability of solar panels to Africa at cheap rates speeds up the environmentally friendly transition of energy. Tax Evasion must be granted to Solar panels by the state. Likewise, the Sahara desert is the most suitable place for Solar plantations on the continent.

Similarly, the flow of the Nile River can also be used to generate hydro energy and meet the criteria of sustainable development. For example, Ethiopia has built a Grand Renaissance Ethiopian Dam (GERD) over the Nile river. Similarly, Low riparian countries can also build small dams to ensure sustainable energy needs.

Likewise, Batoka Gorge’s hydroelectric power over the Zambezi River, borders Zambia and Zimbabwe, generates 2,400 GWs of electricity. Both countries can share it for water usage, but cooperation is the key. Water storage techniques and the construction of dams will provide enough water supplies for agricultural economies.

African atmosphere is suitable for wind energy. Likewise, Kenya is taking the lead in the transition to wind energy. According to the International Finance Corporation study, Africa has the potential of 180,000 terawatt-hours (TWh) per year. It is enough to satisfy the entire continent’s electricity demands 250 times. The need is to divert the investment to renewable means.

Winds energy forms in Kenya. It is used for producing electricity.

State and International Organizations should fund the  African countries for renewable energy projects.

Carbon emission

To reduce the Carbon footprints in the African States, they need to invest in renewable energy projects for development. Sates can also introduce legislation to charge more tax on fossil fuel-based industries and projects.

Similarly, subsidies could be given for Solar and Wind plant for electricity production. These initiatives will surely decrease carbon emissions.

Recycling

Africa is doing 4% of recycling material. Almost 19 of the world’s 50 biggest dumpsites are present in the Sub Sahara region. African Union visions that “African cities will be recycling at least 50 percent of the waste they generate by 2023”.

To ensure the speed up the waste recycling in the continent, Africans should be given tax exemptions on environmentally friendly and recycling equipment to achieve the African Union goals.

African institutions need to form the appropriate policies for waste management and recycling. The African States can also ban the use of plastic and organic material.

Conference of Parties (15)

African countries can tackle climate change by following the guideline of the Conference of Parties (15) recommendations. The Paris agreement determines to keep the global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius and reduce green gas emissions. Further, it focuses on State financing and adapting to climate change.

African countries need to follow the guidelines of the agreement. Likewise,  International Developments should provide loans to African countries to build eco-friendly development and reduce green gas emissions.

Way forward

To conclude, the climate situation in Africa is challenging, but hope is still here. Regional cooperation and sincerity to the goal is the key to success. Implementation of the C.O.P. 15 agenda, recycling, reduction in carbon emission, and renewable energy resources can mitigate the impacts of climate change at a swift speed in Africa. These initiatives are the guarantee of sound and healthy life for Africans.

*The writer is Research Fellow at The Diplomatic Insight and Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies 

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