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Climate change in Africa: the need to move from science to action. Dr. Nicholas Azza Dr. Canisius Kanangire Nile Basin Initiative. Climate change in Africa. Climate change is real and happening now with severe and diverse impacts

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climate change in africa the need to move from science to action

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

Dr. Nicholas Azza

Dr. CanisiusKanangire

Nile Basin Initiative

climate change in africa
Climate change in Africa
  • 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.
climate impacts
Climate impacts
  • 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 resources
  • 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 Urumutse]

africa s vulnerability
Africa’s vulnerability
  • Africa’s vulnerability to climate change is attributed to multiple factors, among which are:
    • 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
vulnerability cont d
Vulnerability cont’d
  • Rampant disease
  • Weak economies, and limited resources for adaptation
  • Weak institutional capacity
  • Poor infrastructure
projected climate change africa ipcc
Projected climate change Africa (IPCC)
  • 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 (June-August)
  • 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)
the problem
The Problem
  • 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
still little action in africa
Still little action in Africa
  • Weather and climate services are not adequately funded
  • Infrastucture for dealing with floods and droughts is inadequate
  • 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 logging-tolerant, disease resistant and fast growing crop species inadequate
  • Watershed management interventions are inadequate; critical ecosystems continue to be degraded
reasons governance and society
Reasons: governance and society
  • 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 action
  • 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.
reasons science research
Reasons: Science & research
  • 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
reasons science research1
Reasons: Science & research
  • 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
applied research examples of possible topics
Applied research: examples of possible topics
  • 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 conditions
  • 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
the gap
The gap
  • 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
The Nile Basin Initiative
  • 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
the nbi cc strategy
The NBI CC Strategy
  • NBI’s climate change strategy presents a four-pronged 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 strategy