What needs to be done to address Africa climate change concerns, challenges

A section of boys relax on dried shrubs in Wajir County, as they graze their livestock. [Mercy Kahenda, Standard]

Mohamed Osman watched helplessly as drought killed his camels in Isiolo County, while in the Salabani area of Marigat in Baringo County, crops have withered in farms due to failed rainfall for two seasons. Recently, floods wreaked havoc during El Niño rains.

Maize farmer Samuel Rotich from Salabani laments that there have been insufficient rainfall in 2021 and 2022 to support crop growth, leading to continuous suffering for both people and animals. The impacts of climate change and global warming extend beyond Kenya, affecting the entire African continent and the rest of the world. During the UNEA-6 summit in Nairobi, Kenya, Africa’s concerns regarding the effects of climate change were addressed by climate change actors and stakeholders.

Africa, blessed with abundant natural resources, bears the brunt of environmental degradation and is most vulnerable to climate change. Climate change disrupts ecosystems and biodiversity, altering migration patterns and breeding behaviors of birds and wildlife, as well as affecting human life. These growing concerns raised by scientists and policymakers are well-founded. The lack of funding for economic development and institutional capacity has rendered Africa more vulnerable to climate change than other regions.

Climate change threatens to undo socio-economic progress and achievements in all countries. The absence of mechanisms and resources has made it challenging for African communities to adapt to climate change, with victims often unaware of the causes of their problems and sometimes unable to recover at all.

Governments, decision-makers, and stakeholders must comprehend and address the repercussions of climate change, which include widespread poverty, diseases, and deaths. Both state and non-state actors must anticipate climate hazards that cause suffering to humans, wildlife, plants, and the environment. These challenges were prominently featured during the UNEA-6 Summit. Global warming has led to rising sea levels, extreme weather conditions, droughts, disease outbreaks, and floods, affecting humanity’s well-being, health, livelihoods, and agricultural production.

At the African summit in Nairobi last year, projections indicated that Africa will experience warmer temperatures, with a 5 to 20 per cent increase in rainfall from December to February each year and a 5 to 10 per cent decrease in rainfall from June to October each year until 2050.

Reduced rainfall during dry months will result in droughts, desertification, and declines in food and cash crop production. It was recognized that Africa needs innovative strategies to leverage the environment to accelerate the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and realise the aspirations of Agenda 2063.

States must continue their efforts towards environmentally sound management of waste and lead-acid batteries through the development of national strategies and cooperation in waste collection. Many countries have failed to implement resolutions reached in Paris, France.

Researchers, scientists, and policymakers at the summit urged the media to regularly report and raise awareness of climate change and other environmental issues. All nations must undertake environmental conservation, protection, and pollution reduction.

Building partnerships on climate change to elevate Africa’s climate change agenda to the global stage must be prioritised. Africa must take significant steps to safeguard its natural resources, including forest conservation, wildlife protection, and combating illegal wildlife trade, valued at $23 billion annually. Tourism alone generates $25 billion to Africa annually.

Recognising that green economy and agriculture could play pivotal roles in achieving sustainable growth, scientists and policymakers have committed to setting national development paths towards long-term sustainable development.

Several African countries have developed green economy strategies and national action plans. Kenya, for instance, has implemented several policies for monitoring and compliance, including tax exemptions on renewable energy and environmental regulations for biodiversity conservation, water quality, and waste management.

However, without adequate funding, stronger actions cannot be implemented. Public-private funding and partnerships are essential for the successful implementation of resolutions passed at all climate change seminars.

[The author is an environmental journalist.]

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