Africa survival: Why warming must be limited to below 1.5°C
Current international environmental policy remains too weak to achieve the 2°C target by 2020 formally adopted at Cancun in 2010. GHG emissions continue to increase despite international climate talks under UNFCC. Notably states domestic interests tend to overshadow international climate agreements. With only 5 years left, achieving this target appears impossible but with political commitment and sound poly formulation nations can rise to the challenge of climate change and carbon emissions. Each decade is progressively warmer since 1850s and human actions are squarely to blame. Receding glaciers and ice melts pose significant threat to coastal ecosystems; ocean acidification and warming equally remain a substantive risk to marine life as more carbon is released into the atmosphere. IPCC called for ambitious urgent actions from policy makers in response to scientific finding with a little window of opportunity remaining. Damages are already experienced, the die has been cast. Corrective environmental policy measures and international commitment are imperative to give Africa survival chance under climate change threat.
Source: World Bank (2014)
Global warming is currently at 0.8°C as a result of human activities releasing CO2with huge impacts on water supply, food security and livelihoods. The 0.8°C temperature increase is causing havoc in deferent parts of the world. Developing and least developing countries are most vulnerable to such occurring impacts. Glacier melts, ocean level rise, droughts, floods, coastal and island submergence, loss of livelihoods, coral bleaching significantly threatening Africa’s and small islands survival.
Kenya losses Sh117B ($127M) (Standard Digital News) to climate change related impacts: droughts, floods and erratic rains. This loss eats 2.4% of its annual GDP thanks to global warming. Samburu, Pokot, Marsabit and Homabay counties are currently in severe drought situation as a result of failed rains and metrological predictions indicate low rainfalls this season worsening the situation. Livestock numbers have dwindled as a result of death and diseases. Drought cycles in the country have increased from once every ten years to one in two or three years (World Bank). At 2°C is too large a burden for such a country to carry, worse for neighboring poorer and vulnerable nations in Horn of Africa, Sahel and Sub Sahara region. Additionally Kenya has been committed to 75% food importation path for consumption by 2050 due to climate change. Food prices have surged in early months of the year as a result of continuing drought.
The current trend involves very weak policy even to achieve a 2°C by 2020 (UNEP, 2012). International environmental stewardship has not fully realized the huge responsibility this generation owes to the next generation. World Bank (2014) notes that the planet is already locked to a 1.5°C above preindustrial time. Whereas emerging evidence unmistakably shows a 2°C warming will lead to sea level rise, rainfall shifts, droughts and heat waves, floods, and huge impacts on the polar region will be catastrophic on ecosystems and livelihoods far above Africa coping capacity. Survival of Africa is severely threatened under 2°C warming with most of its ecosystems. This warming will be beyond most species capability to adapt swift enough.
Approximate 100 nations have reaffirmed call for warming at 1.5°C for the survival of their people. International negotiations at Lima seemed to abandon consideration for 1.5°C despite such calls. Noting 10,000 deaths were attributed to Russia Heat waves in 2010. WHO underpins the fact that global warming and climate change has no acceptable limit; suffice to say gabbling with human lives is unacceptable. This is retaliated by PACJA 2010 declaration at Ghana 2010 duped, “One Africa, One Voice, One Position” that called for zero emissions, zero warming.
Glacier melts leading to floods as a result of warming subsequently drought with 2/3 of central Asia glaciers disappearing by end of century unless climate change drivers not concentrated on. In Africa, extreme heat will cover large land areas for increased time making certain areas inhabitable as well as unsuitable for agriculture (World Bank 2014).
Marine ecosystem destruction and island submergence with 30cm sea level rise would submerge 17% coastal areas and including Mombasa Island. Government of Kenya notes Inland lake expansion due to increased water volumes leading to submergence. Studies note that marine ecosystems destruction can take place within decades but requires millennia’s to recover (Sarah et al, 2015). Consequently warming climate creates more oxygen ‘dead zones’ leading to massive species deaths and inhabitable sites. At 2°C there would be species struggle for survival whereas 1.5°C will give species time to shift to other habitats.
Heat waves and intense cyclones will disrupt livelihoods across Africa and other parts of the planet.
1.5°C-2°C warming 40-80% cropland loss as a result of expanding aridity and drought leading to serious deficits in production of maize, millet, sorghum by 2030-2040.
At 1.5°C severe droughts and floods, sea level rise, intense storms and crop damage, adaptation cost will be far above the reach of many populations especially the poor.
At 1.5°C half coral reefs will be bleached; sea level rise will be limited to below 1M; ice sheets in arctic summer will severely be compromised.
4°C Africa will have a 30% precipitation decrease and reduction in pasture as ecosystems shift from grassland to woodland savannas. Increased island heat effect will lead to Middle East cities undergoing quarterly exceedingly hot days annually at 4°C
Emergency of infectious diseases as a result of changing climate in new places and hosts such as Ebola and West Nile virus (University of Nebraska- Lincoln 2015). Introduction of pathogens of which no previous exposure to human, wildlife and animals will confront life in many places in the planet as climate change and range shifts occurs.
Scientists are calling for a review of the 2°C set in 1970s to new 1.5°C target ahead of Paris talks. This is the official position of AMCEN representing entire Africa continent. Ideal climate should be zero warming if Africa will have a fighting chance, but with already a committed path, warming should in the near term be limited to 1.5°C and subsequently GHG emissions halted.
Climate change adaptation will have multiple environmental challenges (Carlo et al 2015). According to study conducted by Carlo et al agriculture intensification practices will impacts on water quality by releases nitrates and phosphate into water bodies and water quantities which might limit amount of water available to wildlife and other areas. Land use practices and water impacts and vice versa has compounded impacts on ecosystems that has not been fully studied at present.
Africa coastal ecosystems are highly vulnerable to climate change impacts from sea level rise, soil erosion, salty water intrusion, coral reef deaths, storm surges, etc. Africa coast covers low lying coasts of West Africa countries: Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Sierra Leone and Benin whose coastal cities carries their economic weight and contributes to 75% fisheries in the region (IPCC, AR5). 66% (4.5M) of Senegalese population resides within the Dakar coast which also carries 90% of the country’s industries; Nigeria has 22% (20M) of its entire population along the coast. East Africa coast spans from Sudan to South Africa, Tanzania Mozambique Coast, Madagascar, Seychelles Comoros, Mauritius and Reunion islands; Red sea desert margins which are home to world’s richest coral reef ecosystem ( IPCC 2014). Kenya’s to tropic of Capricorn is well protected by coral reefs that break waves and storm surges as well as cyclones. West Africa countries receive relatively intense tidal waves, storms and cyclones that the east Africa coast and they are low lying coastal zones undergoing intense degradation. Nigeria and Senegal have lost 40% and 60% mangrove forests consecutively. Lagos, Ebria, and Korle lagoons have been highly polluted leading to decline in fisheries stocks (IPCC 2014). East coast sea level rise compounded with degraded coastal ecosystems will lead to decreased coral attenuation exposing entire cities to ocean surges.
Africa is most vulnerable to climate change. Contributes least to green house gasses yet suffers most climate change impacts. The perpetuators remain uncommitted to compensate for such damages despite intense international negotiations and ratified Kyoto Protocol under polluter pay principle of common but differentiated responsibility.
Only 1.03% of green climate fund has been availed by developed countries.
Very few developed countries have signed GCF contract to transfer funds
South korea has outdone all developed nations in pledging GCF even though its not amon annex 1 countries.
2013 pledges to multilateral climate fund fell by 71%
2013 mitigation fund was just slightly higher than Poland’s annual fossil fuel spending
REDD was less than the amount spend on a single Amazon highway, REDD grew only to $647
German flood damage response was four times higher than adaptation fund.
There is no clear long term fiancé source to cater for the $100B by 2020
S. Korea made most pledges to Green climate fund
Source ODI (2014)
If history is anything to go by; unless stringent measures are effected and legal binding agreement reached Africa’s future is at high risk. Presently constituted climate fiancé may not answer Africa’s challenge and that of small island nations and developing countries. In good will, carbon emissions should be halted and global commitment reaffirmed.
Approving a 2°C target is sentencing Africa to oblivion. Common interest must supersede domestic ambitions that are harmful to the environment and climate. Our hope is as the world leaders gather at Paris there will a concrete decision to safeguard our planet after all this is what leadership is all about. Let us not lose the big picture or let our vision become tainted by ‘now’ ambitions and forget a glorious future for our children and their children.
Schellnhuber, Hans Joachim; Hare, Bill; Serdeczny, Olivia; Schaeffer, Michiel; Adams, Sophie; Baarsch, Florent; Schwan, Susanne; Coumou, Dim; Robinson, Alexander; Vieweg, Marion; Piontek, Franziska; Donner, Reik; Runge, Jakob; Rehfeld, Kira; Rogelj, Joeri; Perette, Mahe; Menon, Arathy; Schleussner, Carl-Friedrich; Bondeau, Alberte; Svirejeva-Hopkins, Anastasia; Schewe, Jacob; Frieler, Katja; Warszawski, Lila; Rocha, Marcia. 2013. Turn down the heat : climate extremes, regional impacts, and the case for resilience - executive summary. Washington DC ; World Bank. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2013/06/17861350/turn-down-heat-climate-extremes-regional-impacts-case-resilience-executive-summary
World Bank (2013) What climate change means for Africa, Asia and the Coastal poor, http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2013/06/19/what-climate-change-means-africa-asia-coastal-poor
YABIBA (2015) No, 2 degrees Celsius limit is not enough for global warming: scientists, http://en.yibada.com/articles/22763/20150327/2-degrees-celsius-limit-enough-global-warming-scientists.htm
BioMed Central. (2015, March 27). Two degree Celsius climate change target 'utterly inadequate', expert argues. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150327091016.htm
Standard Digital News (2015 April) Kenya loses Sh117b annually to climate change
Read more at: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/business/article/2000156837/kenya-loses-sh117b-annually-to-climate-change
Soils and carbon in a warming planet
19th April 2015
By Robert Mburia
Soils are critical carbon tanks however, Oregon State University recent study shows that climate change might accelerate release of carbon from soils into the atmosphere speeding up climate change. Plant root release chemicals that work on carbon bonded in the soil minerals breaking such bonds and expose it to decomposing microbes. This carbon is then released into the atmosphere as CO2. As climate warms and more CO2 in the atmosphere stimulate plant growth producing more root compounds that separate the carbon from its protective mineral phase releasing more carbon stored in the soil (Markus, 2015). Soil store more carbon than vegetation and atmosphere and such losses of just 1% is predicted to have significant impact (Oregon state university 2015).
Other studies found that temperature increases increase rate of CO2 release from the soils at a higher rate than previously estimated. Soil microbes tend to increase activity under increasing temperatures hence stimulating decomposition rate and release of CO2 in the atmosphere. Boreal and arctic ecosystems shown greatest stimulation to temperature; warming here is faster; hence losing more carbon due to this vulnerability. However, managed agro-soils show a decrease in soil microbe activity under temperature increase hence reducing amount of CO2 released in the atmosphere (University of Exeter 2014).
In their study Christsina and Asner (2013) documented that short-term temperature increase accelerates rate of leaf fall from trees and other underground sources of carbon i.e. roots while long-term warming has little or no effect on carbon storage in the soil or conversion of carbon to CO2. Studies concluded that carbon release may not be accelerated by warming in tropical soils but carbon intake by soils will be inhibited in places which vegetation growth is influenced by warmer temperatures. The study further noted that unprotected carbon had strong response to warming temperature while carbon stored in mineral soil showed no such effect; the former conclusion of the study collates with the findings of Oregon University that found increasing microbe activity with increase in temperature breaking the bond that protect carbon in mineral soils and its release into atmosphere.
Soil microbe activities are highly sensitive to physical and chemical soil composition and micro-organisms within the soil (Basque Research 2014). Soil microorganisms adapt faster than plants to environmental changes such as climate hence according to the study long-term climate change will lead to shift in biota of mountain soil upwards to higher heights until the ceiling where no possible shift is possible.
University of Exeter. (2014, September 3). Carbon stored in world's soils more vulnerable to climate change than expected. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 14, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140903133313.htm
Christian P. Giardina, Creighton M. Litton, Susan E. Crow, Gregory P. Asner.Warming-related increases in soil CO2 efflux are explained by increased below-ground carbon flux. Nature Climate Change, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2322
Basque Research. (2014, November 27). Impact of climate change on the soil ecosystem. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 15, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141127082319.htm
Climate Change Worsening the Food Situation in Sub Saharan Africa
18th June 2012
Robert Mburia, Kenya
Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, especially in Africa where agriculture is the mainstay. It has elicited much action at local, national and global levels the world over. Climate change is predicted to exacerbate the intensity and magnitude of extreme weather events like flooding, cyclones and droughts, which have a direct bearing on people and their food production all over the world.
Climate change has negatively affected the natural and social systems of many African communities. Human livelihoods, especially those of the nature-based economies in Sub Saharan Africa, have been adversely affected year by year. Changing precipitation and temperature patterns and trends have affected ecosystems’ productivity and thus the availability and distribution of goods and services. Understanding the adaption to climate change for the nations affected, is an urgent factor if the ecosystem is to continue providing all the necessary resources for and enrichment of the population.
The worsening food situation in Africa and the rise of new threats to agriculture have been largely linked to climate change. Climate change has led to dire consequences for the agricultural production sector, especially for the vulnerable smallholder farmers. In eastern, southern and Sub Saharan Africa, climate vulnerability is highlighted by a larger number of people who depend on the already marginalized natural resources as a base for their livelihoods. The worsening situation is in part causing an increase in the migration of people, many of whom are women leading families, from rural to urban areas.
A recent FAO report on food supply and crop prospects in sub Saharan Africa indicated that food shortage has affected an estimated 20 million people- an increase of 3 million from past records. The continuing drought owing to climate change throughout these regions has undermined food production and severely affected farming activities. Hence many people will need massive and continued emergency assistance. This is a big burden on the nations supplying these services as they already have their own economies to sustain.
The impact of climate change has been more pronounced in arid and semi arid parts of the developing world. Such areas become hotter and drier, with less predictable rainfall and thus the duration of drought has played an important role in hazard level since it develops slowly, lasts over a period of many years and impacts livelihoods for a long time. African countries were identified as having the highest vulnerability to drought compared to those in other continents.
These climate-induced changes negatively affect crop yields, water availability, and a wide range of conditions. Likewise, the ecosystem boundaries and species’ variety have dramatically changed, and thus, influenced poor people’s livelihoods. Such communities are vulnerable partly because they live in areas prone to extreme events, for instance drought, and thus are heavily dependent on climate sensitive sectors such as fisheries and agricultural products.
Climate change is projected to impact broadly across the ecosystem. The number of undernourished people has been gradually increasing over the years in Sub Saharan Africa; the figure stands at 33%. On average the number of food emergencies in Africa has been tripling since the mid 1980s and now the situation is much worse than ever before. The statistics are attributed to climate change, which has lowered grain yields and raised crop prices across developing countries. Sub Saharan Africa’s production in particular- which had risen by 46% to 47%- has been projected to decline up to 35% in the next few years. The higher temperatures have reduced crop yields, allowed damaging weeds and insects to spread, and shifted precipitation across Africa and the entire world.
The reduction in global biodiversity has emerged as one of the greatest environmental threats of the 21st century due to climate change. Climate change mitigation strategies, like the use of bio energy for reducing carbon emission has been put to use in some nations. Urban and subsistence agriculture developments have traditionally been primary drivers of encroachment on important, biodiversity-sustaining ecosystems. But a new agricultural trend, the use of plant biomass to provide liquid fuels, is exacerbating the agricultural impact on biodiversity. These bio-fuels are changing the land-use patterns in many regions around the world from agricultural food crops to the bio-fuel crops like Jatropha. This crop has succeeded in Brazil and is being introduced to African nations like Kenya with the hope that it will help alleviate the cost of fuels, which has been a nightmare to many African governments.
It is a sad fact that the communities depending on natural resources have had less to do with climate change emissions than those in the developed world, and yet they are the ones who are most affected. The IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute) report recommends that at least $7 billion be set aside annually to help developing countries with the agricultural effects of climate change. This is expected to boost areas of great concern such as researching agricultural methods to increase production, improving irrigation systems (which will mean food production throughout the year) and expanding rural roads to promote accessibility to the market, all with the vital result of sustaining the well being of the Sub Saharan population.
The growing market for carbon products has created opportunities for greenhouse gas mitigation with conservation of forests and biodiversity, and the generation of local livelihoods. For these combined objectives to be achieved, strong governance is needed along with institutions that ensure poor people across Saharan Africa do not lose out on the many challenges posed by climate change. Therefore, the next generation of funding must address the need for a sustained reduction in carbon emission, while also building good governance and strengthening the resilience and adaptive capacity of ecosystems and local communities in the face of vulnerability to climate change.
Born, S.M., and Sonzogni, W.C. (1995). Integrated Environmental Management: Strengthening the Conceptualization. Environmental Management
Sayer, J. and Campbell, B.M. (2001).Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM). Conservation Ecology
Projected Melting on Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya
18th June 2012
Robert Mburia, Kenya
Global warming is a major threat worldwide; it’s melting ice in many areas and putting people at the risk of drought, floods and lack of sufficient clean water. Evidence suggests that the earth’s average temperature is becoming warmer. Global warming is an environmental problem of international proportions and vast economic and social implications. Never before has the world had to face a problem with these characteristics: the issue is global in scale; the ice layer of Africa’s largest mountain has shrunk by 80% since 1912 and is expected to decrease further over the years, all owing to the continued warm temperatures.
Projected climate changes will however, affect the rate at which glaciers melt. Two of the best recognized examples are Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya in Africa. Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest peak on the continent, and its location is within the tropical latitudes. Despite this it is high enough such that glaciers have been present there for centuries. However, the rise of global temperatures (of about 1.4-5.80° C from 1989 to 2000 alone) has shrunk the ice cap by about 33% at Mount Kilimanjaro. This clearly projects a rather devastating number in the near future if the projected rate of melting increases as it has been predicted to. If this is the tendency, its glacier is likely to disappear within the next decade.
One of the most pronounced climate change effects is the melting of masses or ice around the world. Mount Kenya has also lost a considerable amount of glacier ice, depleting the flow of local rivers that normally sustain the livelihoods of the 2 million people in and around Nairobi. Mount Kenya’s ice cap has shrunk by 40% since 1960- a trend that is to continue over the next century- especially with increased atmospheric warming which is apparent in melting of perennial and permanent ice. The largest glacier lost so far has now approximately 90% of the mass it had the 1800s.
The future projections for melting ice will therefore depend on the rate at which levels of greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere increase, how features of climate (such as temperature and precipitation) respond to anticipated increases in greenhouse gas concentration, and natural influences on the climate from volcanic activity. Future temperatures are also predicted to change with time depending on standard global temperatures which are likely to increase owing to greenhouse gas emission and outcomes of a variety of climate models.
By 2100 global average temperatures are expected to be twice much as they have been during the last 100 years. Glaciers and ice caps that cover mountain peaks will continue to shrink until they are no more. Most glaciers in tropical Africa are expected to vanish by 2030. Consequently there is need for immediate action by African, global and environmentalist leaders to sensitize people worldwide to the need to reduce gas emission and -as a result- save planet earth.
Dyurgerov, M.B. and Meier, M.F.2000.Twentieth Century Climate Change: Evidence from Small Glaciers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science
Impacts of Climate Change on Nairobi National Park
25th June 2012
Robert Mburia, Kenya
Climate change has become a hazard to our era and bad news to national parks across the world; despite the fact that earth’s climate has altered throughout the past the current global warming has been an ingredient of scrupulous concerns with its effects being felt already on the landscape, wildlife and local communities within Nairobi National Park. Risks associated with climate change add to develop challenges. Although it’s one of the many drivers affecting biodiversity and ecosystem services, it’s certainly exacerbating other important factors, such as natural resources.
Recently conservation experts sounded an alarm on the declining wildlife in Nairobi National Park, which contributes 70% of Kenya’s tourism earnings. The situation at the park- the only park within a 10km radius of a metropolis in the world- has been unanimously identified as severe because of the drying up of the Athi (the only permanent river) which has resulted in the deaths of many crocodiles, hippos and fish.
Populations of wildlife species have declined, especially in the parks inside and outside protected areas. Causes include recurrent drought and land use changes. Only 7 km from the center of Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi National Park covers an area of 117km.The overall decline in species in the park is an indication of the need for urgent conservation actions for the long term viability of the park and the dispersal areas within the Athi-Kipiti ecosystems, as most species are known to utilize this area and beyond for feeding and calving.
Potential impacts of climate change resulting in temporal rainfall variability has further underpinned the dynamics of wildlife habitat at the park since there is a connection between rainfall and the primary production of grass in semi arid tropics. This coupled with the anthropogenic factors has further exacerbated the decline patterns for herbivores and other wildlife species in the park. With climate change affecting temperature and precipitation patterns, wildlife are being forced to change migratory patterns, habitats and behaviors.
In addition, climate change accelerated by the same factors that contribute to the loss of biodiversity has an even uglier face that could lead to further economic disasters. A report by the conservation society’s global program showed that climate change has also brought plagues of emerging infectious diseases such as yellow fever, avian influenza and other diseases which have crippling economic consequences. These diseases, which can be transmitted from wildlife to humans, could reach devastating levels as climate change continues to ravage the earth. Pathogen carriers are also expanding their ranges now going to new areas.
There is a need for useful information on long term herbivore population management as well as long term conservation at the national park. There is also a need for action plans for safeguarding the ecosystem and the generation of action research that deepens the understanding of vulnerable ecosystems, as well as the need to manage climate risks, all of which involve creating space to learn, communicate and share knowledge with individuals.
H. W. Gichohi, “Direct Payments as a Mechanism for Conservation Important Wildlife Corridor Links between Nairobi National Park and Its Wider Ecosystem: The Wildlife Conservation Lease Programme,”Proceedings of 5th World Parks Congress,
Climate Change and Desertification in Sahara
November 14, 2012
Robert Mburia, Kenya
Sahara is greening! Scientists are optimistic that such greening would help save the lives of millions of people in Africa. Arguably, hot air is able to retain moisture, leading to the greening of Sahara. Acacias can be spotted in parts of Northern Sudan and southwestern Egypt. Large shrubs are flourishing with more vegetation growing around the area (National Geographic, 2009). Nonetheless, this excitement will be short-lived for the greening of Sahara is also a signal of climate change and increasing desertification of Africa.
United Nations University notes that climate change, together with land use patterns and over-exploitation of land resources, is making desertification the single most environmental challenge in Sahara Africa where more than 50 million people risk being displaced in the next ten years.
Desertification with the concomitant and persistent reduction in the capacity of ecosystems to provide valuable services like food and water are heavily impacting on the African populations. There are estimates that desertification will affect one third of the world’s population. However, fundamental questions regarding policy and other legislative frameworks largely remain unanswered (Adeel, 2006).
Interrelationship between Climate change and Desertification
There has not been enough dedication to find the linkages between climate change, biodiversity loss and desertification. This remains a huge area where majority of speculations occur. However, it is recognized that desertification is one of the major environmental problems confronting the planet in our time. Together with other planetary catastrophes like climate change, desertification threatens to reverse most of the strides taken by countries to achieve the millennium development goals.
UNCCD defines desertification as land degradation in arid and semi-arid and dry sub- humid areas resulting from various factors including climatic variations and human activities. A further definition by the same body says, “reduction or loss in arid and semi arid and dry sub-humid areas, of the biological or economic productivity and complexity of rain fed cropland, irrigated cropland, or range, pasture, forest, and woodlands resulting from land uses or from a process of combination of processes, including processes arising from human activities habitation patterns such as soil erosion caused by wind and/or water; deterioration of the physical, chemical and biological or economic properties of soil; and long term loss of natural vegetation.” UNEP (1997) notes that desertification has reduced about 25% of Africa’s vegetative productivity.
Precipitation reductions, increases in temperature and rise in sea surface temperature are some of the major climatic factors that lead to desertification. ACSD indicates that droughts are invariably caused by the global climate change resulting from global warming s. Scholars and researchers have found that desertification is caused by multiple factors, both direct and indirect in nature. ACSD noted that dry land ecosystems are extremely exposed to pressures like over- exploitation, unsustainable land use patterns, poverty, and underdevelopment. Such factors make it difficult to combat desertification.
Impacts of desertification
Climate change is at the heart of desertification and threatens sustainable development, health, food security, economic and natural resources and infrastructure of the African population. In a study of 12 countries faced with food security issues, ,Food Policy Research Institute found that 9 of them were involved with civil wars or violent conflicts with 10 of the worst affected countries located in Sub- Sahara Africa. In the Nile basin, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sahel, Niger and other countries showed alarming conditions. This situation is bound to worsen due to increase in the demand for food and reduction in the food supply due to global environmental change (Brauch, 2006).
2/3 of Africa continent is desert or dry land and 74% of the Africa’s agricultural land is already degraded (Terminski, 2012). United Nations stated that 70% of Kenya’s land and 80% of Ethiopia’s land is vulnerable to desertification. With only less than 2% forest cover and about 88% arid and semi arid lands, Kenya faces huge challenges in dealing with desertification and subsequent food insecurity and poverty.Swaziland is bound to lose between 48% and 78% of its total land to desertification. 30% of Burundi, Lesotho, Burkina Faso and South Africa are heavily degraded; Nigeria losses 1.3 km of its land annually to desertification.
Source: Adapted from Noojin, Leah 2006. Factors that influence famine in Sub-Saharan, African Countries
With further desertification, rural urban migrations are bound to increase. Environmental refuges may become sources of conflicts and sites for urban congestion and poverty. UNCCD (2004) noted that marginal land where most of agriculture in Africa takes place is bound to suffer greatly to the extent of not supporting the populations within these areas.
UNFCC (2007) and Stringer et al (2009) showed that adaptation is highly important when dealing with unavoidable impacts of climate change. However, the measures to enhance adaptation have invariably taken a very slow pace in many parts of the world, especially in Sahara Africa.
Stringer, L.C., et al., Adaptations to climate change, drought and desertification: local insights to
enhance policy in southern Africa. Environ. Sci. Policy (2009), doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2009.04.002
University of Bristol (2009, December 7). Earth more sensitive to carbon dioxide than previously thought. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 5, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2009/12/091206162955.htm
Adeel Z. et al (2006) A Policy Brief based on The Joint International Conference: “Desertification and the International Policy Imperative” Algiers, Algeria, 17-19 December, 2006
National Geographic (2009) Sahara Desert Greening due to climate change? http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/07/090731-green-sahara.html
UNEP, 1997. World Atlas of Desertification. Edward Arnold.
UNFCCC, 2007. Climate Change: Impacts, Vulnerabilities and Adaptation in Developing Countries. UNFCCC Secretariat, Bonn, Germany.
Drought and Floods in Africa: A Climate Change Perspective
November 24, 2012
Robert Mburia, Kenya
Drought and floods are complete opposite but similarly treacherous weather phenomena. While drought is the absence of rainfall, flood are caused by extreme precipitation or release of water on storage such as reservoirs. Floods tend to be localized and short-lived, compared to droughts. In the past years, Africa has been affected by droughts and floods. In 2007, approximately one million persons were affected by floods in the following countries: Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Togo, Mali and Niger. In this disaster more than 500 people died while 1.2 million were displaced from their homes.. In 2009, more than 2.5 million people were affected by floods. According to Schewe, the number of flood victims have increased tenfold form 1950 to 2009. On the other hand, a drought in 2011 led to loss of lives, biodiversity and wildlife as well as increased human conflicts. . [Hergerl et al, 2007; section 3.2.2; FAQ 3.2)
Africa resilience toward climate extremes
Climate change is not a future threat in Africa but a current plague. In 2006, the United Nations said that it expected Africa to be the most affected by climate change due to a combination of poverty and poor governance. It is therefore the least equipped in terms of available facilities and capacity to cope with the impact of climate change.
According to the United Nations, about 90% of the Africans were at risk to the effects of drought and floods exclusive of those impacted by tribal conflict and wars. This year alone, around 23 million people across East African are being fed by aid agencies, which is already a rather devastating figure while the worst of climate change is yet to come.
Severe storms are being experienced with rainfall in one day equal to amounts that are normally received over a month. Enormous blame is placed on the El Nino phenomenon which is increasing in frequency due to global warming. In a 2007 report, the inter-Government panel on Climate Change said that these types of devastating droughts and storms will be more treacherous and frequent in the future.
Drought in Africa
The mega drought experienced in 1970s was just a tip of the ice bag for catastrophic environmental effects that would hit the entire continent of Africa It is predicted that the amount of water in the Nile river will decrease by 75% by 2025. Runoffs in northern and southern Africa will decrease in 2050 with more areas suffering water stress.
In 2011 horn of Africa suffered the worst drought in over 60 years which led to loss of lives, loss of biodiversity and human wildlife conflicts increased. [Hergerl et al, 2007; section 3.2.2; FAQ 3.2). While the past droughts never claimed many casualties because these communities were prepared and resilient, , the drought patterns have changed and the communities cannot cope with environmental extremes. This is because the socioeconomic and environmental changes experienced in the recent years have disrupted the indigenous mechanisms of adaptation and mitigation.
Source: Prevention Web, 2012
Numerous studies, specifically climate models, conclude that drier parts of Africa will become drier. According to NOAA, the Sahel region has seen huge reductions in rainfall amounts. Conflicting theories exist on the possible causes of the drought. Pollution in the North America and Eurasia could have shifted the monsoon winds in the Atlantic, causing the drought. Nonetheless, evidence suggests that global warming is taking place in Africa and temperatures have increased over the past decades by more than 1 degree.
Extremes in precipitation exist in the climate record on a variety of time scales but evidence is mounting that we are already witnessing the impact of human-influenced precipitation changes. While it is almost impossible to quantify how much of the change in rainfall patters are due to human activities and cyclical patterns in nature, it is very clear that a significant change is afoot. The normally productive seasons with predictable rains and sun throughout the region have been replaced in recent years with a series of severe weather events.
Source: Prevention Web (2012)
West Africa has been going through persistent floods over the last decades. The Zambezi river basin in Zimbabwe has been one of the hard hit rivers ecosystems African biodiversity, especially water birds, are affected as their breeding patters are regulated by the annual rainfall pattern. Their breeding season occurs when the rain water recedes. If unpredictable flooding occurs or takes a long time to recede, their breeding cycles are disrupted as well.
Flood alert levels were raised in Mozambique as water levels rose in 2011; Zambezi basin waters had risen beyond normal levels during this same season.
Graphic: Water Levels of Zambezi River at Katima Mulilo – 2009, 2010, 2011 and Normal
Source: Namibia Hydrological Service in southern Africa Regional Flood Update, 2011
South Africa recorded 40 civilian deaths and six hundred displacements of people to floods. Namibia and Botswana were also affected. Multiple factors have been pinpointed to be behind the rising death toll from floods including population increase, changes in human settlement patterns and infrastructure.
African climate is highly erratic and difficult to predict (Nkomo, 2006). The continent is also critically vulnerable to the impact of climatic changes due to multifaceted conditions unique to Africa geographic location and socioeconomic situation. Considering the unpreparedness of the African countries toward rapid changes in climate change, there is a need to address this issue and chart the next course of action to lessen the impact on its people and wildlife.
IPCC, 2012: Summary for Policymakers. In: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation [Field, C.B., V. Barros, T.F. Stocker, D. Qin, D.J. Dokken, K.L. Ebi, M.D. Mastrandrea, K.J. Mach, G.-K. Plattner, S.K. Allen, M. Tignor, and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. A Special Report of Working Groups I and II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, and New York, NY, USA, pp. 3-21.
A., M. Oppenheimer, C. Diop, J. Hess, R. Lempert, J. Li, R. Muir-Wood, and S. Myeong, 2012: Climate change: new dimensions in disaster risk, exposure, vulnerability, and resilience. In: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation [Field, C.B., V. Barros, T.F. Stocker, D. Qin, D.J. Dokken, K.L. Ebi, M.D. Mastrandrea, K.J. Mach, G.-K. Plattner, S.K. Allen, M. Tignor, and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. A Special Report of Working Groups I and II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, and New York, NY, USA, pp. 25-64.
Southern Africa Regional Flood Update, 2011
Riddel C.J. (1982) land tenure issues in West African livestock and range development projects, no, 77, a research paper.
ACMAD (2012) flood report over west Africa- September 2012
Nkomo (2006) the stern review on the economics of climate change, Cape Town, S.A.
Beilfuss R. and Santos D.D. (2001) patterns of hydrological change in the Zambezi delta, Mozambique, working paper #2 program for the sustainable management of cahora bassa dam and the lower Zambezi valley.
Garvey T (2009) World Bank Water Week, reflecting climate change in operations
Prevention web (2012) Africa- disaster statistics, Region Profile for Natural Disasters from 1980 – 2008, http://www.preventionweb.net/english/countries/statistics/index_region.php?rid=1
Impact of Climate Change on Great African Mountains
November 28, 2012
Robert Mburia, Kenya
Mountains carry about ¼ of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity with ½ of the world’s biodiversity hot spots found within the mountain ecosystems (FAO, 1998). Mountains also play very critical role in water cycle as they trap moisture present in the air. This in turn precipitates as snow and melts during warm temperatures hence rivers and streams that flow from these sources supply millions of populations with water for multiple uses among them agriculture and industrial use. 50% of the world’s population depends on mountain water. This water is very useful for people living in low land areas such as semi arid or arid regions who depend on these rivers.
The African continent is endowed with rich topography and complex geological history. Festus (2010) noted that approximately ten percent of Uganda’s land is covered by mountains. Important mountains in Africa include Mt Kenya, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Elgon, the Ethiopian highlands, the Atlas Mountains in northwest Africa and the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa. These complex mountain ecosystems are very vital for sustenance of African livelihood patterns.
Mt. Kenya is home to unique fauna and flora. The mountains unique aspect, temperature and attitude provides suitable habitat for thousands of species including the green ibis, Abysinnian ground thrush and diverse bird species such as the turacos and francolins.
Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, is considered a world heritage site with 179 bird species living on the mountain. Millions of Tanzanians get their water from this snow capped mountain. The mountain also influences the surrounding climate and this effect extends to the Kenyan Amboseli National Reserve.
Ruwenzori Mountains is located in the Ugandan-DRC border. Together with Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya, Ruwenzori Mountains are the only snow capped mountains in equatorial Africa. It is home to tropical rainforests and huge animal populations such as forest elephants, primate species, and several bird species. The giant lobelia and giant groundsel are found within this mountain ecosystem.
Mt. Elgon is another unique mountain found in the Kenyan Uganda boarder. This mountain is an important water catchment area for Lake Victoria. It is home to 400 species.
Atlas Mountains located in the northwest stretch of Africa are about 2500km long, covering Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.
Issues Affecting African Mountains: Climate Change
The mountain soils and climate make the regions surrounding them very conducive for agriculture production.
However, climate change has emerged as a threat to these mountains. IPCC (2001) noted that mountains ecosystems are fragile and they are surrounded by highly demanding environments as men extract the most they can. It is also widely agreed that it is virtually impossible to restore mountain ecosystems once destroyed due to their complex nature. African mountains are facing multiple complex threats as a result of human activities and anthropogenic climate change particularly global warming.
Landslides, floods, and massive soil erosion due to climate change have increased in frequency and proportion, causing deaths and loss of biodiversity.
Mt. Kenya, Kilimanjaro, Ruwenzori are losing snow at unprecedented rates, clearly denoting a warming planet. Studies have predicted that Kilimanjaro will lose all its snow in 20 years time due to climate change. It is also recorded that only 20% of the glacier volume remains in Kilimanjaro (Ohio State University, 2006) due to thinning and retreating.
The Ruwenzori Mountains have lost most of their glaciers between 1906 and 2005. In 1906 glaciers covered a total area of 7.5 km2, which is 50% of the total glaciers in Africa. However, in 2005, glaciers have coverage of only 1.5 km2.
Surface-area measurements indicate that all the major glaciers of tropical East Africa (equator, dotted line) are shrinking.
Graph at left adapted by Tom Dunne from Kaser et al. 2004. Map at right by Dave Schneider and Stephanie Freese.
Kaser and Mote (2007) in their study noted that temperature increases is responsible for the snow loss at Kilimanjaro for the last 25 years. Solar radiation was found to be the prominent cause in their study that cause drying of the air in the area surrounding the glaciers and thus the reduced accumulation and increasing ablation. Kaser and Mote show that green house gasses could have an effect on the snow on Mt. Kilimanjaro in that Indian Ocean surface temperatures, atmospheric circulation and precipitation have impacts on the snow in the mountain through reversing the ice growth.
IPCC warns that downstream ecosystems would suffer as a result of the receding glaciers in these mountains. As most of the snow melts, increased precipitation and cases of flooding have been reported. In Casablanca, several people died as a result of heavy rains in 2010 (Moroccan Birds, 2010).
IPCC (2001) further indicates that forest fire incidences will gradually increase due to warmer and drier summers. This phenomenon has already been evident in Mt. Kenya where frequent forest fires have been noted.
Community livelihoods will be disrupted due to changes in river flows. Land and ecosystems degradation is evident in these mountainous regions as communities seek for alternative livelihood. Agriculture is already affected as the receding glacier also means reduced runoff to certain rivers that farmers rely on. The Moroccan Bird also reported that the production of certain flowers and fruits like the Rosacsea of the rose family had declined due to warmer temperatures being experience. In the slopes of Mt. Kenya slopes where tea leaves production had been doing well for many years, farmers have reported drying of ir plants due to increased temperatures.
Sea level rise is another catastrophic effect. The Mombasa Island is bound to sink by 2m due to glacier melting Another effect will be the submergence and destruction of the coral reefs and mangrove forests in these areas.
With climate change threatening their habitats on the mountains, species composition will be altered. Climate models have shown upward shifts of some plant species in some of the Worlds Mountains. Tree lines are also predicted to shift upwards by significant meters. The flora and fauna that is habitat specific will seek for their bioclimatic envelope upwards up to a certain level then become extinct (EEA, 2009). Downstream aquatic species that have their habitats in wetlands, flowing waters and lakes will be affected as the shift in water take place due to changes in precipitation and summer runoffs.
Source UNEP/GRID-Arendal (2009) in EEA, (2010)
Climate change has profound effects on the mountain ecosystems and the communities living around these mountains. The impact of floods, storms and other environmental disasters owing to the destruction of the mountain ecosystems destruction may not be possible to quantify. The present generation is suffering but the coming generations are bound to bear the harder brunt.
Local and international efforts must be put in place to reverse the impacts of climate change, halt the release of green house gasses, raise awareness on the conservation of the mountain ecosystems, build the capacity of the mountain populations and effect meaningful regulations that govern exploitation of natural resources.
These environmental changes have a propensity to spill into civil and political conflicts unless preventive measures are taken. Water stress due to drying of streams especially in downstream areas can trigger conflicts between humans. Effects on agriculture have been felt where coffee and tea production have gone down due to crop failures and changes on flowering patterns especially for coffee due to global warming. Households that depend on these crops will be driven to poverty unless decisive actions are taken to mitigate climate change.
Kaser G. and Mote, W.P (2007) the Shrinking Glaciers of Kilimanjaro: Can Global Warming Be Blamed? American Scientist, vol 95, no. 4, http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/2007/4/the-shrinking-glaciers-of-kilimanjaro-can-global-warming-be-blamed/6
UNEP World and WCMC (2002) Mountain Watch, environmental change & sustainable development in mountains
Festus K. B (2010) challenges of climate change in mountain ecosystems in Africa, An Overview Presentation at the Side Event Organized Mountain Alliance Initiative, United Nations Climate Change Conference COP16 and CMP6, Cancun Mexico, 29 November – 10 December 2010
IPCC (2007) Regional Impacts of climate change, http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc_sr/?src=/climate/ipcc/regional/006.htm
Africa Adapt: Vulnerability assessment and risk level of ecosystem services for climate change impacts and adaptation in Moroccan oases, http://www.adaptationlearning.net/project/vulnerability-assessment-and-risk-level-ecosystem-services-climate-change-impacts-and-adapta
Moroccan Birds (2010) climate change and the farmers of the high Atlas Mountains, http://moroccanbirds.blogspot.com/2010/12/climate-change-and-farmers-of-high.html
Glacial recession in Ruwenzori, http://www.kilimanjaro.cc/rwenzoriglaciers.htm
UNESCO (2007) Climate change threatens UNESCO world heritage sites, http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/319
Price, Martin F. (1998). Mountains: globally important ecosystems.
Wikipedia (n.d.) Retreat of glaciers since 1850, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retreat_of_glaciers_since_1850#Impacts_of_glacier_retreat
Chuwa, M.S. (2008) Environmental conservation: Kilimanjaro and adjacent reserves
Climate Science (2005) Tropical glacier retreat, http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/05/tropical-glacier-retreat
Born K. et al (n.d.) Moroccan Climate in the Present and Future: Combined View from Observational Data and Regional Climate Scenarios.
Burges et al (2007) the biological importance of the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania and Kenya, biological conservation 1 3 4 ( 2 0 0 7 ) 2 0 9 –2 3 1
EEA (2010) 10 messages for 2010 Mountain ecosystems, www.eea.europa.eu
Climate Change: Coastal Cities in Danger
January 9, 2013
Robert Mburia, Kenya
Climate change is the major challenge of the world today and has become an increasingly difficult and expensive problem for the developing countries to handle. It is believed that emissions of greenhouse gases, largely from energy production and consumption, are key factors responsible for this phenomenon. Agriculture and other ecological processes are also believed to significantly contribute to climate change.
Most of the coastal cities in the developing countries are located on low lying ocean coasts and were built without enough consideration of future consequences of possible climate changes. They are not sufficiently prepared for the catastrophic eventualities resulting from sea level rise and storms (McGranahan et al., 2007; Nicholls et al., 2007b). The development of these cities is almost spontaneous and unplanned as evidenced by the rapid rise of substandard buildings, sprawling slums and the dilapidated water drainage and sanitation systems. The situation is further aggravated by uncontrolled population growth, overburdened infrastructure and the apparent disregard of possible environmental impacts in the planning and implementation of development projects.
There is a rapid growth of coastal population as people migrate from mainland areas to coasts in search of better livelihoods. In some countries, coastal economy has grown to depend on tourism and infrastructural investments
Mangrove Forests and Swamps
Mangroves are located in salty coastal waters in the tropical and subtropics Africa and other continents. They constitute a thin strip of the coastal lowland marine ecosystems. Although most of the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems are poorly known, coastal flooding has emerged as a new threat to most of these ecosystems and coral reefs as well. Mangrove forests are important economic sectors for many of the coastal inhabitants. They play a critical role in carbon sequestration, prevent soil erosion and also mitigate flooding. They serve as habitats for marine life and source for timber.
Global warming will have multiple vicious impacts on the coral reefs according to the IPCC (2007) report. Other studies show that the climatic shifts in precipitation could lead to irreversible bleaching of corals. The infiltration of carbon dioxide into the sea water is also a major threat (UNEP 1972-2002).
Africa has a long coastal stretch with major cities along these coastal zones. The East Africa coastal zone includes Mauritius, Seychelles, Reunion and Madagascar. Empirical studies show that there is a growing population in most coastal towns like Mombasa with thriving tourism and a growing economy despite persistent poverty. Estimates show that nearly 25% of the population is found within the 100km of the sea coast. There are about 320 coastal cities in Africa with over 56 million people living in low elevation coastal zones of less than 10m above sea level (UN-HABITAT, 2008 in Kebede and Nicholls, 2011).
The projected sea level rise and subsequent flooding may destroy the infrastructure of these cities, disrupt transport and communication networks, destroy waters resources and affect costal agriculture.
A one meter rise in sea level will have devastating consequences as already discussed in this paper. UN-HABITAT attributes most of the predicted losses to lack of preparedness, adaptation, and changing climate.
African cities at risk due to sea-level rise (UNHABITAT, 2008])
Port Cities: The Case of Mombasa
Mombasa is the largest coastal city in Kenya (Tyndall Centre). It is situated about 4.10 south of the equator and 39.70 east of Greenwich meantime (Brenda Awuor and Victor Ayo, Climate change and coastal cities 2008). It consists of four divisions, namely, Kisauni, Likoni, Mombasa Island and Changamwe. It is the largest seaport in East and central Africa, serving not only Kenya but also many landlocked countries in the region, out of its two harbours, Kilindini and Old port. As at 1999, Kenya’s National Bureau of Statistics showed that the city had an estimated population of 665,081. The population is expected to increase to an approximated 870,197 in 2008.
The residents of Mombasa engage in fishing and small scale food production while a considerable group works in the limestone industry for their livelihood. The city is known the world over for its numerous tourist attractions: breathtaking beaches, remnants of historical and cultural attractions, diversity of flora and fauna and luxurious hotels.
The city, however, has been plagued by a long history of frequent natural disasters occasioned by extreme climatic events, the most recent being the severe flooding that hit the city in 2006. Its location, with an estimated 17 percent of land lying below the 10 Meter contour, the city is potentially exposed to highly destructive storm surges and flooding. Based on the study paper carried out in 2008 by a team of Kenya’s Marine and ocean researchers, three factors contribute to Mombasa’s high level of vulnerability to climate change: low altitude, and high temperatures and humidity level. Impacts of climate change are expected to increase in intensity and strength in the future. If no adaptive measures are taken, a 30-cm rise in sea level will submerge about 17percent of the coastal land (AWUOR, ORINDI and ADWERA, 2008; UN-HABITAT, 2008)..
The results of these extreme climatic events are expected to take a heavy toll on the city. The severe flooding of 2006 left the city devastated. It caught the residents quite unprepared. Productive land was severely damaged, resulting in agricultural loss, causing a rise in food prices. .
Extensive damage was inflicted on the infrastructure such as roads, pipelines, electricity lines and bridges. Many residential areas were rendered uninhabitable. An estimated 200 people were displaced. Schools, home, light fishing vessels and stores were destroyed (Move with Compassion). According to Move with Compassion, three people lost their lives due to heavy rains.
Around this time, the Ministry of Health issued a Cholera alert. Between 20 October and 11 November 2006, 94 suspected cases of Cholera were reported. 13 cases were found to be positive, with two confirmed death occurring.
Loss of biodiversity is already a grim reality. Some ecosystems, especially the marine ecosystem is displaying rapid changes and this may go on unstopped or unmitigated due to lack of capacity to adapt. This will adversely affect fishing along the shore and the tourism industry.
Climate change and global warming pose significant threats to developing countries in regard to environmental and ecosystems damage, loss of livelihoods and disruptions of major environmental functions. By 2100, the effects will be undeniably visible and felt.
Mitigation efforts are not sufficient for Africa’s condition although these strategies are highly critical. Building the resilience of ecosystems and communities to enhance adaptation and coping mechanisms, restorative strategies and protective measures have to go hand in hand so as to yield sustained results.
Protection of coastal islands and ecosystems requires not just conservation efforts but tangible measures that address climate change threats. Most of the African nations and conservation agencies have not yet perceived the imminent threat posed by climate change. Awareness creation and capacity building of these institutions and agencies are required for adequate address of climate change and coastal submergence.
Kebede S.A., Brown S. and Nicholls J.R (2011) sea- level rise and impacts in Africa 2000 to 2100, university of Southampton, UK.
UN-HABITAT, 2008. State of the World’s Cities 2008/2009 - Harmonious Cities, UNHABITAT (United Nations Human Settlement Programme), Nairobi, Kenya. Available from: http://www.unhabitat.org/pmss/getPage.asp?page=bookView&book=2562
Nicholls, R.J., Wong, P.P., Burkett, V.R., Codignotto, J.O., Hay, J.E., McLean, R.F., Ragoonaden, S. and Woodroffe, C.D. 2007. Coastal systems and low-lying areas. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden, and C.E. Hanson, (Eds), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 315-356.
IRIN (2012) AFRICA: Coastal populations at risk as climate changes, http://www.irinnews.org/Report/84464/AFRICA-Coastal-populations-at-risk-as-climate-changes
Ibe, A. C., and L. F. Awosika. 1991. Sea level rise impact on African coastal zones. In A change in the weather: African perspectives on climate change, ed. S.H. Omide and C. Juma, 105-12. Nairobi, Kenya: African Centre for Technology Studies, http://ciesin.columbia.edu/docs/004-153/004-153.html
United Nations (2006) United Nations Fact Sheet on Climate Change; Climate Change and Adaptation, http://unfccc.int/files/press/backgrounders/application/pdf/factsheet_adaptation.pdf
Ecologist (2012) Vital mangrove forests hit by coastal developments, http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/459852/vital_mangrove_forests_hit_by_coastal_developments.html
Climate Change, Environmental Sustainability and Food Security
January 9, 2013
Robert Mburia, Kenya
Climate emergency Institute participated in the recently concluded African Youth Conference on POST 2015 Agenda and steered the declaration on climate emergency for Africa. The following is part of the African youth declaration that was held in Nairobi Kenya UNHABITAT on 18-20 DECEMBER, 2012.
We the African youth declare climate emergency for Africa requiring urgent and tangible sustainable interventions. Africa is the worst hit by climate change in terms of social, economic, political and environmental sustainability. Mitigation is not enough and there is need for concrete adaptation measures for Africa.
• Climate change responsive policies:
Climate research by governments and civil societies should be enhanced to develop adaptation capacity. There is need for sufficiently ambitious strategies by the UNFCCC that compels developed countries to ratify the demands of the developing countries particularly in regard to emission targets and climate finance.
We demand for restructuring and reframing of the regulation laid towards carbon offset and clear MRVs in developing countries by developed countries.
• Capacity building
Government should promote and eradicate economic dependence through capacity building especially of the African youth will greatly help Africa to adapt and combat climate change and ensure environmental sustainability. They should Institute national awards scheme to reward hardworking youth on environmental sustainability.
• Integrating climate change issues into the development agenda
Recognizing the failure of the MDGs due to lack of climate proofing we demand that the government should integrate climate change in all priority areas of the development agenda.
• Inclusiveness in climate policy formulation and implementation
We call for involvement and participation of youth organizations in policy making processes, and governments should be held accountable on matters of environmental, governance, and justice because these are very crucial for more climate responsive actions in addressing climate change vulnerabilities.
Young people and civil societies should be involved in environmental and climate change and food security advocacy and calling for accountability on what specific countries have done in regard to combating and cutting global warming.
• Climate smart agriculture, as an adaptation issue and food security.
Governments should avail drought resistant seeds to young farmers, issue fertilizers at subsidized costs, and encourage climate smart agriculture to ensure sustainable food production in Africa.
Governments and UN agencies must consider elimination of food insecurity a long term development goal that can best be achieved by progressing through a sequence of challenging, yet attainable targets.
Civic education and incentives that make agriculture more attractive to youths should be adopted and promoted in rural areas and institutions of learning and research by all governments. We recommend for planning and execution of a Regional Youth Award for Excellence in Agriculture focusing on innovation primary production (crops and livestock), value addition and biotechnological developments.
• Sustainable water resources for urban and rural populations
We demand that governments must ensure universal access to safe water for all people in rural and urban cities, especially slums and minorities, and each country should establish Sanitation and Waste management policy and strategy to be achieved by 2030. In addition youth organizations should be empowered and play a key role on monitoring of the established policy for sustainable water resources.
International NGOs should support national and regional policy for water resources management to ensure food security and agriculture development.
Protection and conservation of water and water resources and also making water access and availability to all a fundamental human right in Africa through research and development is key in attaining sustainable development.
• Sustainable urban cities:
We demand that governments must ensure universal access to safe water for all people in urban cities, and promote the sanitation of every household in the urban area by ensuring that more piped and clean water is reaching all people, and creating an efficient drainage system, garbage collection and waste management in cities.
MDGs And Climate Change in Sahara Africa
March 4, 2013
Robert Mburia, Kenya
“Climate change is the defining human development issue of our generation.” UNDP (2009)
The millennium development goals, commonly known as MDGs or Agenda four of the United Nations Development framework, aimed at ending poverty by 2015. Great strides have been achieved in this area by some countries. Nonetheless, climate change is one of the greatest threats that not only hinders attainment of MDGS but also threatens to reverse the progress that has been made.
At the turn of the millennium, the United Nations and approximately 23 international organizations agreed on the following development goals by the year 2015; this agreement was made at the turn of the millennium.
These goals are:
The 2008-2009 economic crisis, food and energy crisis caused major setbacks against achieving poverty eradication goal (MDG Report, 2010). The expectation that poverty will be reduced by 15% by 2015 appears elusive as some countries diverted money meant for socioeconomic development to emergencies and disasters like floods, drought, famine and other environmental problems that include conflicts.
- Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
- Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
- Goal 4: Reduce child mortality rates
- Goal 5: Improve maternal health
- Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
- Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development
Climate change should not be handled as just an environmental problem but as a complex socioeconomic threat that is worse than terrorism or any other catastrophe this planet has faced. Unless climate change is integrated into development agendas, all achievements gained so far are bound to be lost. German Watch (2010) notes that endemic and persistent poverty is visible in areas of high climatic vulnerability.
PACJA (2009) emphatically observes that any international deal on climate change must reflect Africa’s interests as it has been the hardest by the impact of climate change.
Climate change impacts on agriculture
Agriculture is highly important in Africa and accounts for over 60% of the socioeconomic development in this region. Most of the African countries depend on the agricultural export for their GDP and 50% of their export value (Mendlesohn et al, 2000). This very way of life is threatened by climate change as most farmers in Africa are dependent on rainfall, soil quality, temperature and other factors for their harvest. IPCC (2007) noted that Africa has experienced increased temperatures since the industrial era. IPCC (2007) recons that drought is one of the greatest threats that the agriculture industry is facing. IPCC also predicts that ASALS will increase by 5-8%, which will eventually reduce the land under agriculture. This paper concurs with the UNDP and World Resources Institute (2010) that climate change greatly challenges the ability of rural populations to sustain viable rural livelihood and eradicate poverty.
East Africa is predicted to experience more flooding in the low-lying areas will flood. This will profoundly impact crops in these areas as well as threaten the lives of millions of people. The Horn of Africa has experienced the worst drought the likes of which has never been seen in more than 60 years. Unreliable rainfall patterns and rainfall failures in this region have contributed to this drought.
Climate change and environment
Sub Sahara Africa land is 66% arid and semi arid or desert, making the land ecosystem very fragile. IPCC (2007) predicts a temperature increase of about 1.5 degrees and above due to global warming. Such increases in temperature over highly sensitive ecosystems will have catastrophic impact. Mountain glaciers in most of the African continent have begun shrinking as ice melt. Lake Chad is receding at high and alarming levels. Mt. Elgon is losing snow at unprecedented rates due to climate change. El Hassan and Mohamed in FAO ( ) indicates that 15 out of the 26 Sudan states have been affected by desertification. This is a vast spread of desertification in the continent of Africa. FAO further indicates that Uganda has the highest levels of deforestation while the largest area where deforestation takes place is Sudan in east Africa.
Reports indicate that climate change has profound and varying effects on various species. Thuiller et al. (2005) shows that if the present green house emissions are maintained, approximately 60% mountain plant species would become extinct. Coral reefs will be bleached at frequencies of every two years. In fact, 231 of the 704 coral reef species are presently at danger of extinction due to global warming and anthropogenic factors.
Gender and climate change
Social roles of women and men differ significantly (Nampinga, 2008) hence climate impacts both genders differently at various levels. Women and children are at a disadvantage especially in rural Africa. African women face complex multifaceted challenges that range from poverty to limited access to resources, marginalization, neglect and abuse. Climate change has magnified these challenges and most of the disadvantaged women now face harsher conditions. Male counterparts are not exempted from these climate challenges; although female-led households bear more painful effects of climate change. Women are the main producers of staple crops and provide approximately 90% of all household food in the rural areas (IUCN, 2007).
UNDP (2000) recons that while climate change is global in scope, there is a need for locally focused efforts aimed at building the capacity of the communities which are more vulnerable and have the greatest of the inequalities. Such considerations have to be gender specific. The women’s role in biodiversity management, natural resources manipulations and water management cannot be ignored if meaningful efforts to build resilient African societies against climate change are going to bear fruits. Their involvement, even leadership in ecosystem management, is highly critical in any community led efforts to combat climate change as they constitute a significant majority.
Climate change, HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases
HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria have afflicted the poor and in 2000, world leaders set the following goals to be achieved by 2015:
Some authors indicate that progress in attainment of this goal can be hindered by civil conflicts and limited funding especially in Africa. 2006 reports show 247 million malaria infections with 0.88 millions death, 91% of which are in Africa. Climate change alters the quality of ecosystem services and resources, at times causing irreversible damage. Impacts of climate change on ecosystems, natural resources, phenomena like heat waves, floods, droughts and food insecurity leads to poor health and higher mortality rates in the vulnerable populations.
- Spread of HIV/AIDS will be halted and its spread begins to be reversed.
- Achieve universal access to treatment of HIV/AIDS to all patients that require it.
- Halt and reverse the incidence of Malaria.
Kenyan and most of the east Africa highlands are getting warmer. These areas did not used to be conducive for the propagation of mosquitoes that spread malaria. However, presently, there are many reported malaria incidences due to favorable conditions for the vector mosquitoes. Furthermore, populations in Sub-Sahara Africa are most vulnerable to malnutrition due to food insecurity and water stress, undermining their ability to combat HIV/AIDS and TB.
Climate change and universal primary education
Food insecurity, drought and water stress due to climate change will greatly affect school attendance and enrollment rates. More children, especially girls, will not be able to remain in school as they will be pulled out by parents to work in the farms or help ailing family members.
Climate change has emerged as a new threat. It threatens to reverse the progress made towards achieving the millennium development goals in Africa. It must be addressed by strategies developed within the context of the region.
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Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA). 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Synthesis. Washington, DC: Island Press.
World Bank. 2006. Convenient Solutions to an Inconvenient Truth: Ecosystem-based Approaches to Climate Change. Environment Department. Washington, DC: World Bank.
The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and World Bank (2009) Africa’s Development in a Changing Climate, Key policy advice from World Development Report 2010 and Making Development Climate Resilient: A World Bank Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa
Assessing Progress in Africa toward the Millennium Development Goals, 2010
UN (2012) The millennium development goals report, New York
Boko, M., I. Niang, A. Nyong, C. Vogel, A. Githeko, M. Medany, B. Osman-Elasha, R. Tabo and P. Yanda, 2007: Africa. Climate Change (2007) Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK, 433-467.
France Diplomatie (2012) Millennium Development Goals (MDG), Fighting HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases (MDG 6), http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/global-issues/development-assistance/institutions-and-issues-of/international-stakes/millennium-development-goals-mdg/article/fighting-hiv-aids-malaria-and
EPA (2012) Agriculture and Food Supply Impacts & Adaptation, http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/impacts-adaptation/agriculture.html
Africa Coral Reefs Threatened by climate change and Global emissions Africa Coral reefs ecosystem is a critical component supplying food to over 25% of the fisheries products and plays important functions such as coastal lines protection, tourism, cultural services, regulates; and supports entire marine and coastal ecosystem. However, this ecosystem faces multiple risks that threaten to drive it to extinction.
Local stresses combined with emerging global threat: warming and CO2 emissions pose significant threat to the Africa coral reef ecosystem driving it to low survival rates.
Source: GRID-Aredenal 2005