Climate Change in Africa

Climate Change Affects Africa
Recently the World Bank released a report entitled “Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience” that underscores the urgency of supporting African farmers now so that they can better cope with the potential impacts of a changing climate. This report finds that an increase of 4 degrees Celsius worldwide would lead to increased droughts, more frequent flooding, and shifts in rainfall in Africa, jeopardizing the region’s food security and economic growth.

The changes that should be expected to take hold if the global temperatures rise include: Rainfall patterns shifting, more frequent heat extremes, dry arid regions spreading, and rising sea-levels. It is predicted that around the 2080’s the annual precipitation may decrease up to 30 percent in southern Africa, while East Africa will see more rainfall. By the 2030’s, when temperatures could be 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer, heat extremes could cover one-fifth of the land areas in the Southern Hemisphere during the summer. Arid regions are expected to expand by 10 percent. The sea-level is expected to rise by 50 cm  by 2060, threating important seaports such as Mombasa Kenya.

These potential climate changes could bring harm to the African agriculture and food security. Maize, wheat and sorghum are all sensitive to high temperatures, and as a result of an increase in global temperatures farmers could see lower crop yields.  Temperature increase of 1.5-2 degrees Celsius by 2040 would increase drought and aridity throughout Africa causing farmers to lose 40 to 80% of their croplands. All these decreases in crop production would thereby lead to less food being available and the amount of malnutrition increasing.

In order to prepare and lessen the consequences of rising global temperatures in Africa, there are many tools that we have at our disposal. We can promote the development and adoption of crops that can tolerate higher temperatures and drought conditions. We can improve energy access, which would enable countries to expand irrigation systems. Overall, it is critical to boost agricultural productivity now by facilitating investment in the sector and improving crop management techniques.

– Matthew Jackoski
Source: ONE, IDRC
Photo: BBC