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Scaling up Adaptation in Africa

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By Balgis Osman-Elasha

Africa is highly vulnerable to the impacts of long term climate variability and extreme events. It is increasingly facing multiple stresses that will be magnified by climate change leading to a complex set of problems. Moreover, many countries have high levels of  poverty, aggravated by land degradation and desertification especially in arid and semi-arid areas, resource-based conflicts, migration and rapid urbanization. Estimates suggest that one third of the population  live in drought-prone areas (with 220 million exposed to drought annually).

Warming projections (IPCC, 2007) under medium scenarios indicate that by the last two decades of this century, extensive areas of Africa will exceed 2°C relative to the mean annual temperature of the late 20th century. While under a high warming scenario,  an increase  of between 3°C and 6°C  is expected  by mid-century

The Impacts of climate change are being felt today (CDKN, 2014). Changes in water availability will have a sever impact on agriculture with severe social consequences as  as  not only is  agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa predominatly rain-fed (97%),  60% of the labour force is reliant on agricultural systems. Furthermore, sea level rise is anticpated to be higher than the global average, particularly along the Indian and the Atlantic coastline. The imapcts on health (food insecurity, malnutrition, increased incendence of malaria) are also expected to be dire.

if African communities fail to cope with the consequences of a changing climate economic sectors and human activities will be tremendously challenged and in many cases overwhelmed by the magnitude of anticipated extreme weather events refered to above.

The IPCC (2013) has defined adaptation as:

 “The process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects. In human systems, adaptation seeks to moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. In natural systems, human intervention may facilitate adjustment to expected climate and its effects

However, evidence suggests that adaptation to climate change is more often discussed and planned than implemented on the ground.  This is the case in Africa, where a plethora of guidance on how to develop adaptation policies and plans  exists for policy makers, but there are dismal few case studies on actual implementation and even fewer on lessons learned.  Many developing countries have developed  National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPA) and more recently National Adapation Plans (NAPs) to identify priority activities that respond to their urgent and immediate needs to adapt to climate change, however few countries have secured means of implementation; an outcome aslo expained by the limited  finance made available for adaptation initiatives.

To reduce the magnitude of the anticipated impacts and their repercussions on livelihoods, implementation of adaptation measures need to be enhanced and supported at several levels, from households to national and regional levels. Measures may include:

·  The development of early-warning systems to anticipate the ocurrence of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts or fires and prepare populations for the impacts;

·  More efficient irrigation, improvement in water storage capacity, reforestation,  more sustainable use of groundwater resources, exploration of seawater desalinisation, and rainwater capture and storage for a more sustainable and reliable access to water for human and agricultural purposes;

·  Infrastructural protection policies/ measures at the city level that addresses the risk of extreme weather events such as seawalls, dykes, weave breakers and other coastal zone management alternatives, but also food storage and to a certain extent urban agriculture to ensure food security, and improve sanitation facilities through improved design and drainage technology so as to mitigate the risk of water derived diseases.

The resources available to support Africa’s capacity to deal with the impacts and damage are far inferior to what is required.  It has been estimated that roughly USD1-2 billion a year currently flows to Africa for adaptation; yet the estimated cost  of Africa’s adaptation will be  between USD7-15 billion per year by 2030 (UNEP, 2015).

Thus, scaled-up international support for African countries is vital. The most positive development in this arena is commitmnet by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to a 50/50 split in financing for adaptation and mitigation. Furthermore, at least 50% of the amount allocated for adaptation  will  be deciated to support LDCs, SIDs and Africa countries (more on GCF). Todate has secured  approximately USD 10 billion.

The Bank supports development initiatives  that enhance resilience and adaptation to climate change; In 2014 a total USD 756 million in climate finance was dedicated to adapation activities (Joint MDB Report, 2014)



Abdessalam KLEICHE - France 17/12/2015 00:07

L'accord de Paris va certainement accélérer la prise de conscience sur le continent africain. Jamais la société civile n'a été aussi mobilisée.
Dans le cadre du programme de la BAD, il faut également impliquer les membres de la Diaspora africaine de par le monde et notamment en Europe.
Notre centre européen y contribue en menant une campagne de sensibilisation au changement climatique auprès des ressortissants africains installés en Europe sachant qu'ils contribuent largement au financement du développement durable de leurs pays d'origine.

Abdessalam KLEICHE
Président du
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