Climate change destabilizes Africa

Climate change destabilizes Africa Africa

Seyni Nafo, spokesperson for the Africa group at COP22, ambassador of the African cause for several years, reminds us of the impact of global warming and of our responsibility: “While it is only responsible for 4 % of global greenhouse gas emissions, the [African] continent is the big victim of global warming. Six of the ten most affected countries are African and it is estimated that two thirds of arable land will be lost by 2025, even if the rise in temperatures remains limited to 2 ° C ”.

Climate change destabilizes Africa Africa

Global warming of the last century.

After COP21 and the global awareness of natural disasters caused by global warming, and the desire to reduce global warming to a threshold of 2 ° C, COP22 highlights the urgency of action. Renewable energy projects and smart grids are multiplying across the world, but as long as the governments of the most polluting countries are not restricted on their greenhouse gas emissions, the scenarios on global warming will continue to be alarmists. Let's take stock of the impact of global warming on the African continent.

Blue Gold

Africa has great inequalities in access to water and drinking water. Less than 10 of the 53 African countries have completed the goals set by the UN on access to water. Drinking water is already causing many intra-community conflicts and this will get worse because of global warming.

Climate change destabilizes Africa Africa

The African continent is expected to reach two billion inhabitants by 2050 years and one in four births will occur on the continent by 2100. This strong growth is explained by the development of these emerging countries equivalent to the agricultural industrial revolution that Europe has known. Although the living environment is improving, societal imbalances are growing between a modern and urban population and a poor population living on the sales of their agriculture.

The water needed for agriculture will become increasingly scarce. According to UNEP (United Nations Environment Program), 95% of African agriculture is based on cereals, which consume a lot of water. This agriculture, poorly adapted to the changing climate, will also suffer from the lack of water.

A simple observation of the glaciers of Kilimanjaro makes it possible to realize the ecological stress that the continent is undergoing. The IPCC estimated that in 2003, 82% of the ice that crowned the mountain in 1912 disappeared. This African water tower located in Tanzania provides water to millions of people. Stress due to lack of water will also affect the flora and fauna of the region.

Credit: Mann & Kump, Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change, 2nd Edition
© 2015 Pearson Education, Inc.

Water resources are mainly linked to the climate. Climate change will have an impact on the latter and therefore on the development of the regions. The programs should take into account the populations and communities, the ecological consequences on the region, the changes in the drought / flood cycle and their long-term impact. These do not focus only on the distribution of blue gold, but also on educating populations on the diseases caused by poor quality water.

Impact on agriculture

According to UN reports, agriculture provides 65% of jobs and contributes 35% of GDP on the African continent. The poorest people in society are those who depend the most on agriculture, for their jobs, for their income and for sustenance.

The impoverishment of the soils, the warming of the climate, the decrease in the availability of fresh water, and the population growth and the living environment of the inhabitants will put additional pressure on an already fragile food production system. Currently, 250 million Africans suffer from malnutrition, the estimated temperature rise of only 2 ° C would increase the number of malnutrition cases from 25 to 95%.

Agriculture also suffers from methods poorly adapted to African soil conditions. Crops require large amounts of fertilizers and pesticides, and a water supply that is often inconsistent with the location of the crop. One of the options for adaptation is to use natural systems, such as drought tolerant varieties, more efficient water storage methods and varied crop rotation systems, according to UNEP.

African countries are encouraging farmers to gradually abandon production farming. the Agricultural Productivity Program in West Africa (WAAPP) responds precisely to these objectives by striving to build a food system strong enough to feed every inhabitant.

The UN forecast for agricultural income in 2100 states that Africa could lose between 6 and 47% of its agricultural income. This gap is explained by this desire to adapt practices and infrastructures to climate change and to take advantage of natural resources rather than importing non-resilient products. Imposing industrial agricultural processes could lead to an increase in the unemployment rate. Africa must therefore adopt new and more effective approaches.


The announced reduction in arable land, coupled with the foreseeable decrease in yields, prepares for future conflicts on the continent in the event of adaptation failure or too slow programs.

A population in search of the future

The hunger riots of 2008 in Senegal, Cameroon and Burkina Faso show to what extent the political and social balance in African countries is dependent on agriculture and water. Climate change can exacerbate national security concerns and increase the number of international conflicts. The latter, already frequent in relation to ethnic groups, religions or high-value resources such as diamonds, will expand due to the lack of basic resources.

The impacts of climate change can exacerbate national security concerns and increase the number of international conflicts. Continued access to basic water sources and food is of critical importance in many parts of Africa. For example, food shortages triggered cross-border migration and conflicts that created political instability in Nigeria.

The environmental migrants are dpeople or groups of people who have to leave their homes for reasons related to a sudden or gradual environmental change negatively affecting their life or living conditions (definition of the International Organization for Migration). These people are forced to leave their home or leave it on their own initiative, temporarily or permanently, and who, as a result, move within or out of their country. This migration therefore causes a migration of the environmental impact of man on his new environment.



Reintroduce sustainable agriculture

In order to minimize the impact of global warming in Africa, it is important to invest in its modernization of processes and infrastructure and to offer viable crops to its environment. The use of drought-resistant varieties, various water storage methods and crop rotation systems adapted to the local environment can greatly reduce the tragic consequences of global warming.

The UN says that if African countries have an annual growth of 6% in agricultural income, the problems of malnutrition can be solved. In Zambia, organic farming methods recorded yield growth of up to 60%, increasing surpluses and local trade.

Precedents show that it is possible to increase agricultural production in a context of climate change. Analysts therefore consider that African countries will have to integrate this knowledge into their planning, and that they will have to protect and consolidate their water resources, which are crucial for food security. In Burkina Faso, a traditional method of soil restoration, the zai , made it possible to recover 200,000 to 300,000 hectares of degraded land and to produce 100,000 tons of additional cereals. This project is very profitable and its cost is derisory or even zero.

The 6% scenario is therefore not a utopia, but involves everyone's efforts. The Western and Eastern world must focus on a sharp drop in greenhouse gas emissions, and development aid for the African continent. The African continent must reclaim its soils and agricultural techniques.

Richard Munang, Regional Climate Change Coordinator for Africa at UNEP, and Jesica Andrews, Ecosystem Adaptation Specialist for Africa at UNEP, remain confident. They say poverty is not inevitable, as many communities have already started to build resilience by stimulating existing ecosystems and available natural resources. It is by implementing these good practices and managing the inevitable effects of climate change in an appropriate manner that the continent will be able to meet its food and water needs.

World governments have placed these problematic at the heart of the negotiations. An international agreement promises to be complex, but essential for coordination and international mutual assistance so as not to leave the poorest countries alone in the face of the consequences of global warming. Global warming affects all continents, but we are not all equal when it comes to combating the damage caused.

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