Can Africa weather the storm of rising temperatures?
A Greenpeace scientific report has stated that extreme weather events such as heatwaves, floods and intense rain are increasing in intensity.
These, according to the report, as witnessed in many parts of Africa, are threatening human health, food security, peace, and biodiversity.
Weather across sub-Saharan Africa has become more extreme and unpredictable in the 21st century, a trend that climate scientists project will become more pronounced in future decades.
The report published by Greenpeace Africa and the Greenpeace Science Unit is titled ‘Weathering the Storm: Extreme Weather and Climate Change in Africa'. It explores the relationship between extreme weather events and climate change in Africa.
The study explains how climate-related problems are "disproportionately" felt in the poorest communities because they are least equipped to cope with and adjust to changes.
“Science shows there is very little that is natural in the disasters striking our continent. A human-made crisis requires a human-made solution. Africa is the cradle of humanity and it shall be the cradle of climate action for our future.
Health, safety, peace and justice will not be achieved only through prayers and bags of rice and maize in the aftermath of a disaster. Only the one who preserves has no misfortune - and African leaders must declare a climate emergency to preserve our collective future," said Melita Steele, Greenpeace Africa Programme Director.
The report further stated that future average temperatures in Africa will increase at a rate faster than the global average.
The rising temperature is likely to lead to deaths, displacement, climate-related conflict, irregular rainfall, drinking water shortages and obstruction of agricultural production.
The frequency, intensity, and duration of extreme heat events are expected to increase, following trends already observed in Southern, East and Northern Africa.
Climate Scientist, founder of Black Women in Science and co-author of the report Ndoni Mcunu, said there needs to be better incorporation of indigenous knowledge in scientific evidence on extreme weather events in Africa.
"African countries need to be more involved in leading the development of new databases and models rather than being dependent on countries outside Africa."
The findings ring close to the State of the Climate in Africa 2019 report released last month highlighting lessons for climate action in Africa and identified pathways for addressing critical gaps and challenges.
The report quoted Secretary-General Petteri Taalas saying climate change is having a growing impact on the African continent, hitting the most vulnerable hardest, and contributing to food insecurity, population displacement and stress on water resources.
Drought can cause economic loss, bring crop failures, put food security at risk, and lead to a shortage of safe, clean drinking water.
The 2015–16 extreme drought event in East Africa severely impacted the food and water security of more than 15 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Southern Africa.
The extreme drought caused severe food shortages and a nine-million tonne cereal crop deficit in the region, which meant that 28 million people had to rely on humanitarian food aid (Collins et al., 2019).
Climate scientists found that anthropogenic climate change contributed substantially to the 2015–16 extreme drought over East and Southern Africa.
In 2017, an extensive drought across East Africa affected Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia when the March–June rains failed.
But the study recommended land-use change such as deforestation for agriculture, pasture and timber to make a significant impact on landscapes and impact livelihoods.
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