Climate change in Africa: the need to move from science to action

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Transcript Climate change in Africa: the need to move from science to action

Dr. Nicholas Azza
Dr. Canisius Kanangire
Nile Basin Initiative
 Climate change is real and happening now with
severe and diverse impacts
 Africa, while having the least contribution to
greenhouse gas emissions, is the most vulnerable
and has been hardest hit by the impacts of
climate change.
 The region has experienced a rise in annual
temperatures over the past decades and
changes in rainfall patterns, particularly increase
in frequency of floods and droughts.
 Retreating snowlines in mountains (Kilimanjaro, Kenya, Rwenzori)
 Fall in lake levels and river discharges
 Shortages in hydropower production
 Reduced agricultural production, worsening food security
 Increased spread of malaria, frequent outbreak of water-borne
diseases (cholera, typhoid, diarrhoea, hepatitis B)
 Increasing incidence of landslides
 Increased conflicts over water, land and other environmental
 Loss of biodiveristy
 Loss of coastal land to seal level rise (west Africa)
Flash floods, Hazarda, Egypt (Photo credits: )
Flash floods, Burundi (Photo
credits: B. Hakizimana)
Floods Burundi [Photo credits: B.K.]
Floods Rwanda [PC: Charles
Water level drop in dams and retreating shoreline of Lake Tanganyika [B.K]
Africa’s vulnerability to climate change is
attributed to multiple factors, among which
Heavy dependence on rain-fed agriculture
High population density and population growth
rates which increases the demand for water, food
livestock forage, wood fuel, etc
Widespread poverty
Many parts of the continent already water scare
Rampant disease
Weak economies, and limited resources for
Weak institutional capacity
Poor infrastructure
 The IPCC (2001, 2007) projects for Africa are:
 Warming of 0.2 - 0.5oC per decade
 5-20% increase in precipitation in the wet months (December
to February)
 5-10% decrease in precipitation in the dry months (JuneAugust)
 The rising temperatures and rainfall patters are expected
to produce an increase/ intensification in the present
impacts (El Nino, severe droughts, floods, food shortage,
diseases spread)
 Climate change impacts have the potential to undermine
and even undo progress made in reducing poverty,
attaining MDGs, and improving the socio-economic
wellbeing of the peoples of Africa.
 Between 5-10% of the continent’s GDP may be needed to
deal with the impacts of climate change
 Despite clear and undeniable impacts and scientific
predictions of more serious problems in the future, there is
little movement in Africa towards managing risks and taking
adaption measures
 There are ongoing efforts to cope and adapt, but they are
far below the level of effort required to deal with a threat
as seriousness of that present by climate change
 Weather and climate services are not adequately funded
 Infrastucture for dealing with floods and droughts is
 Local farmers have been left to rely on indigenous
knowledge to adapt to climate change; not benefited from
science and technology advances
 Funding of research for drought resistant, water loggingtolerant, disease resistant and fast growing crop species
 Watershed management interventions are inadequate;
critical ecosystems continue to be degraded
 Part of the reason is the great vulnerability of Africa
explained above (poverty, weak economies, weak
institutions, corruption, etc)
 Inadequate awareness to galvanize communities into
 Humans by nature respond slowly to change, and
particularly to threats with no sensory signals.
Humans have been wired by evolution to respond to
threats that they can hear, see, smell, taste and feel.
 The information from scientists is not presented in a form
easily understood by the average person
 The message from scientists is often not specific enough (to
a geographical area, sector, economic activity, etc)
 Research is disproportionately skewed towards
global/regional trend predictions and documenting
impacts, with little attention to practical, action-oriented
measures at national and local levels to cope and adapt
 Of particular concern is the inadequacy of knowledge to inform
public policy making
 The nature of weather and climate science (sometimes
conflicting predictions)
 Information is not where it can be found by those that
need to use it: practitioners, extension workers do not
read scientific journals and conference declarations
 Message is intermittent: humans needs continuous
bombarded by a consistent message from multiple
sources for a change in behaviour
 For Africa, basic information on climate change
vulnerability and impacts is patchy
 Water supply and sanitation
 Rural water supply: is it not time to change from cheap technologies (protected
springs, shallow wells, dug wells and gravity flow systems) to piped supply?
 Low-cost technological solutions for human waste disposal in water-logged
 Public health
 Curative versus preventive health care; relative importance of hygiene and
sanitation in public health
 Business as usual or more pro-active approach of dealing with recurring
epidemics (malaria, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, etc)?
 Agriculture
 What grows best where? How should the farmer modify his annual pattern of
land preparation, sowing, weeding, harvesting to the altered rainfall patterns?
 Technological low cost options for rainwater harvesting for small-scale irrigation
In conclusion, there is a gap between the
message in research findings, and the
message needed to take concrete actions
There is also a gap in making the
information generated by science and
researchers widely available
Whose role to bridge this gaps?
 The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) is a partnership of the
riparian countries of the Nile Basin for the
sustainable management and development of the
common water and related resources of the basin.
 The NBI is uniquely suited to play a pivotal role in
supporting climate action in the Nile Basin because
the largest impacts of climate change are related to
water and tend to be transboundary in nature ; the
Nile system is sensitive to climate change
 The idea of developing a climate change strategy
for the NBI started under the Applied Training
Project and continued under the ISP
 NBI’s climate change strategy presents a fourpronged approach for dealing with Climate Change
at transboundary level:
 Establishing a climate service function within NBI (to
support knowledge-based basin-wide planning)
 Promoting science policy-dialogues
 Assessing vulnerability and building resilience in
investment projects; integrating adaptation and
mitigation in development planning
 Developing a basin-wide climate change adaptation