Climate Change Information and Water Resources for Africa
Key Takeaways from the Roundtable
- The issue is the lack of appropriate hydrological and meteorological mechanisms for climate prediction.
- One of the reasons these mechanisms are not in place is because Africa still has a lot of investing to do in other issues and this sector tends to be left behind.
- If Africa is to succeed in putting these mechanisms in place, prioritizing the mechanisms and planning is crucial. The allocation of funds for these mechanisms is also important.
- Africa needs to talk to the right people (potential funders) who understand Africa and are willing to work with Africa, not to exploit the continent.
- The World Bank is keen to offer Investment Action Plans to any country needing this kind of help.
- Countries should work at a regional level rather than alone (regional partnership) in order to get the best results. Also, pressure needs to be put on politicians and decision-makers to push the issue of technology even further.
- Information on climate change should be available and accessible to all people in order to make inclusive decisions. This implies that the economic value placed on data should be reasonable.
- Decision makers should value and utilise indigenous knowledge since it has proven to be able to predict climate patterns.
- Communities should be trained how to use water.
- In order to get more investors, Africa must give more incentives to investors who invest in water management projects and climate prediction technologies.
Africa is a continent endowed with natural resources such as land, water, biodiversity, minerals and others. These resources are yet to be significantly developed to transform the continent and enhance the overall wellbeing of African people. If properly utilized and managed, these resources such as water could contribute to creating resilient systems of agriculture, improving access to safe water, energy and lead to greater industrial development.
Climate variability and change are serious challenges to sustainable development in Africa. While the positive roles of water are numerous and yet to be developed largely, its destructive power is visible in many climate-related disasters in Africa. The current drought in the horn of Africa and famine crisis in Somalia is yet another reminder of how fluctuations in the climate can destroy lives and livelihoods, and shows how Africa is highly vulnerable to the future climate change, that would be more sever. The effects of climate variability and change translate in to impacts of lives, economies and livelihoods through the medium of water than any other form. Coping with negative impacts of climate and benefiting from favourable conditions would require implementing adaptation strategies that could reduce the vulnerability to current climate variability while building resilience against risks from climate change. This would involve effective management of climate risks through implementation of risk-reduction strategies within development activities. This is best achieved through mainstreaming climate issues into development planning and practice. Mainstreaming involves the integration of policies and measures that address climate issues into development policy, planning and decision-making at all levels.
The fundamental paucity of hydro-meteorological data, analysis, and use hampers effective planning and management of water resources and disasters in Africa. There is an urgent need to scale-up and share information from modern real-time Africa-wide hydro-meteorological networks (using ground-based systems building on growing internet and communication technology or other low-cost telemetry and existing satellite products), forecasting and warning systems that make effective use of modern information and communication technologies, and climate risk management decision support tools to improve water resources and disaster management.
The water sector is strongly influenced by, and sensitive to, changes in climate and prolonged climate variability. Climate change will not have uniform impacts on water issues across the continent. In some parts it will be aggravating the water stress while in others it will be reducing water stress. Changes in runoff and hydrology are strongly associated with climate through complex interactions. Due to a lack of data and information, for example, the interaction between climate change and ground water is not clear, however, there is no doubt that climate change affects the recharge and water balance, and as such it is a great concern for Africa as most of the rural water supply is dependent on ground water. Major concerns of water sector in Africa are the limited access to water due to insufficient infrastructure to provide reliable supply of water for drinking, agriculture and other uses combined with limited governance capacity.
Effective management of climate variability and change requires that climate information be used effectively in planning and that climate risk be incorporated routinely into development decisions. In order for this to happen in Africa, the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and other climate services providers in the continent must work to strengthen the observational networks, quality control, manage and exchange data as well as enhancement of their capacity to produce and deliver the full range of climate services in support of sustainable development in various sectors.
In short while climate change is a serious threat to Africa; climate data, information, water resources development and management are critical areas that needs to be tackled urgently, and they are addressed sufficiently, the measures could leapfrog Africa’s development and create resilience in the continent, due to the following reasons as an example:
- Science based reliable climate data and information though adequate hydro-climate data network, analysis, sharing are crucial to understand climate phenomenon. Improving the capacities and competencies of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, national climate training and research institutes, regional climate centres and other climate related organizations to develop more science based reliable and useful climate information is crucial
- Major climate related risks and disasters such as drought, flood, and storms are the major manifestations of climate variability and climate change. These challenges are transmitted through extremes related to weather, hydrology and water’s destructive power. Effective adaptation mechanisms require investment in improving predictions and on the ground water control and management measures
- Water development underpins sustainable growth and Africa has large untapped potential. Only about 9% of hydropower potential exploited, only 7% of cultivated land is under irrigation, and only about 65% of population has access to safe water. Improving water availability, access and use could transform Africa’s development and help to increase resilience of key sectors such as agriculture, provide ample opportunity as a low carbon development pathway through harnessing hydro energy, and improve health through access to clean water and sanitation
Against this background, the roundtable will provide a platform to identify key issues concerning climate data, information and water development for countries across Africa. It will also offer a focused discussion on climate science, data and information, the role of water in agricultural transformation, energy generation, health, poverty alleviation and wealth creation.
- What can National Hydrological and Meteorological Services do to increase the amount, and relevance of, data and information for researchers, policy makers, farmers, and others?
- How can organizations work together to improve or create reliable early warning systems that are acted on for the benefit of people, the economy and development?
- How does Africa's vast water resources capital be utilized to transform Africa's economy in energy and agricultural sectors?
- What are the major investment needs to contain water related disasters and risks in Africa?
- How to bring water at a centre stage of UNFCCC negotiation and political commitment leading to adaptation, mitigation and development?
- How to influence the discourse of climate change finance in order to leverage resources in water investment in Africa?
- What are effective boundary and trans-boundary policy and institutional interventions enhance adaptation to climate risks in major river basins?
- Moderator/Chair: Mr. Arba Diallo, Chair of Global Water Partnership (GWP) West Africa
- Panelists: World Bank speaker Mr. Saroj Jha, World Bank
- Mr. Bai Maas Taal, Executive Secretary, AMCOW
- Dr. Seleshi Bekele, Senior Climate and Water Specialist, ACPC, UNECA
- Prof Shem Wandiga, Professor, University of Nairobi
- Mr. Alhassane Adama Diallo, Director General, ACMAD
- Prof Bruce Hewitson, Professor, University of Cape Town
- Mr. Haresh Bhojwani, International Research Institute for Climate and Society, Columbia University
- Mr. Michel Jarraud, Secretary General, WMO
- Mr. Jan Egeland, Co-Chair of the Taskforce for the Global Framework on Climate Services
- Dr. Linda Makuleni, CEO of the South Africa Weather Service
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