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Hot off the press: Multi-agency report highlights the current and future state of the climate in Africa

Africa needs to prepare better for climate change by responding to a wide range of potential risks. Agriculture is the backbone of Africa’s economy and accounts for the majority of livelihoods across the continent. Africa is therefore an exposure and vulnerability “hot spot” for climate variability and change impacts.

One promising approach throughout the continent to reducing climate related risks and extreme event impacts has been to: reduce poverty by promoting socioeconomic growth, in particular in the agricultural sector.

  • In this sector, which employs 60% of Africa’s population, value-addition techniques
  • using efficient and clean energy sources are reported to be capable of reducing poverty two to four times faster than growth in any other sector.
  • Solar-powered, efficient micro-irrigation, for example, is increasing farm-level incomes by five to 10 times, improving yields by up to 300% and reducing water usage by up to 90% while at the same time offsetting carbon emissions by generating up to 250 kW of clean energy.

Women constitute a large percentage  of the world’s poor, and about half of the women in the world are active in agriculture – in developing countries, this figure is 60%, and in low-income, food-deficit countries, 70%.

Reducing poverty by means of growth in Africa’s agricultural sector is therefore of particular benefit to women. It also may be the case that in some instances, women do not have access to weather and climate services; it is important that all individuals be provided with access to these services in order to enhance their individual resilience and adaptive capacity.

Key risks to agriculture include reduced crop productivity associated with heat and drought stress and increased pest damage, disease damage and flood impacts on food system infrastructure, resulting in serious adverse effects on food security and on livelihoods at the regional, national and individual household levels.

  • By the middle of this century, major cereal crops grown across Africa will be adversely impacted, albeit with regional variability and differences between crops.
  • Under the worst case climate change scenario, a reduction in mean yield of 13% is projected in West and Central Africa, 11% in North Africa, and 8% in East and Southern Africa.
  • Millet and sorghum have been found to be the most promising crops, with a yield loss by 2050 of just 5% and 8%, respectively, due to their greater resilience to heat-stress conditions, while rice and wheat are expected to be the most affected crops with a yield loss by 2050 of 12% and 21%, respectively.

According to the International Monetary Fund, adverse consequences of climate change are concentrated in regions with relatively hot climates, where a disproportionately large number of low-income countries are located.

  • The African Climate Policy Centre projects that the Gross Domestic Product in the five African subregions would suffer significant decrease as a result of a global temperature increase. For scenarios ranging from a 1 °C to a 4 °C increase in global temperatures relative to pre-industrial levels, the continent’s overall GDP is expected to decrease by 2.25% to 12.12%. West, Central and East Africa exhibit a higher adverse impact than Southern and North Africa.

Africa’s Agenda 2063, which was concluded in 2013, recognizes climate change as a major challenge for the continent’s development.

  • Since 2015, the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement have become the main instrument for guiding policy responses to climate change.
  • Fifty-two (52) African countries have submitted their first NDCs and are now in the process of sub- mitting revised NDCs in 2020.
  • Africa and the small island developing States are the regions facing the largest capacity gaps with regard to climate services. Africa also has the least developed land-based observation network of all continents.
  • Africa has made great efforts in driving the global climate agenda. This is demonstrated by the very high levels of ratification of the Paris Agreement – over 90%.
  • Many African nations have committed to transitioning to green energy within a relatively short time frame.
  • Clean energy and agriculture are, for example, prioritized in over 70% of African NDCs. This ambition needs to be an integral part of setting the economic development priorities of the continent.

The full report is available here

 Further reading from UNCCD library:

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