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Africa: Africa Environment Report





Africa Environment Report

Climate Change: A Threat to Africa’s Gains?

Over the past ten years, Sub-Saharan Africa has made a great deal of progress in terms of economic growth. In fact, Africa has the potential to emerge as an exciting new center of growth in the evolving global economy. However, to continue on an accelerated growth path, the region needs to tackle climate variability and climate change, which now pose a daunting risk to growth, development, and poverty reduction. Climate is hardly a new factor in the region’s history, but with global warming, Africa’s vulnerability is deepening, making it the most exposed region in the world to the impacts of climate change. The hard-won progress of recent years could be reversed with extreme weather,  crop failures, and outbreaks of hunger and disease. Here is a snapshot of why urgent action is needed in the region, particularly on the adaptation front.
The impacts of Africa’s changing climate.
Natural fragility.Two-thirds of Sub-Saharan Africa’s surface area is desert or dry land, and the region is also home to many fragile terrestrial and coastal ecosystems. Climate projections for Africa presented in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2007) include a likely average temperature increase of 1.5 to 4° C in this century, which is higher than the global average.
Anticipated changes in rainfall patterns will be accompanied by an increase in droughts and floods, and sea level rise. Devastating floods have been reported across Sub-Saharan Africa. Flooding in Mozambique in 2000 cost the country an estimated $550 million, lowering national GDP by 1.5 %.

Agriculture, food security, and energy.
Rainfed. agriculture — the main safety net of poor people in rural areas — employs about 70 % of the population. Southern Africa will suffer particularly severe drops in yields by 2030 without adaptation measures. One study projects the almost total disappearance  of land in Africa suitable for growing wheat by 2080 (Fischer and others, 2005). In fact, by then, as much as 9 to 20 % of Sub-Saharan Africa’s arable land will become much less suitable for agriculture. Already, crop failure and livestock death are imposing significant losses. Finally, biomass rovides 80 % of the domestic primary energy supply.

Water and infrastructure.
Sub-Saharan Africa has insufficient infrastructure, even relative to existing needs. There are few water control systems and not much water storage capacity, despite relatively abundant resources. Most rivers cross more than one country, necessitating effective cooperation across borders. Africa’s 63 transboundary river basins together account for 90 % of its surface water resources. Poorly developed transport, energy, information and communication systems may also hinder adaptation. Also, the region’s rapidly urbanizing population is vulnerable because of illdefined property rights, weak land use planning, and informal settlements often on land subject to erosion or flooding. Nearly three-quarters of the region’s urban population lives in slums, and the vast majority of the 300 million additional urban residents expected in Africa over the next 25 years may also be faced with similar living conditions.
Health and education.
The reach of some diseasesis changing as temperature increases. Malaria, already the biggest killer in Sub-Saharan Africa, is spreading to higher altitudes. Climate change is expected to expose 90 million more people in Africa to malaria by 2030 — a 14 % increase (Hay and others, 2006). It also has indirect effects on health through water and sanitation, ecosystems and human habitation. Children will be increasingly susceptible to malnutrition and diarrheal diseases. One study in Ghana estimates the costs associated with malnutrition and diarrheal diseases to be as high as 9 % of GDP after accounting for long-term productivity losses. Further research in Côte d’Ivoire linking rainfall patterns and children’s education shows that in regions with greater-than-usual weather variability, school enrollment rates declined by 20 % for both boys and girls (Jensen, 2000).

Armed conflict further complicates climate change risk management. For poor people living in weak or unstable states, climate change will deepen suffering, and intensify the risks of mass migration, violent conflict, and further fragility. Young  children exposed to drought and civil strife in Zimbabwe suffered from a loss of stature of 3.4 cm, nearly one less grade of schooling, and nearly six months’ delay in starting school. The estimated negative effect on lifetime earnings was 14 % (Alderman, Hoddinott, and Kinsey, 2006).

The Global Context: A Crisis of the Commons

Nobody is immune to climate change, regardless of where they live, or whether they contributed to it. In fact, climate change is nothing short of a crisis of the commons, and tackling it effectively will require all the ingenuity and collaborative spirit of the human race. As countries meet in December 2009 in Copenhagen to shape a new international response to climate change, the price of delay or inaction appears very high. WDR 2010 notes that developing countries everywhere — from Africa to Asia to Latin America — will be disproportionately affected by the climate crisis. The developing world already faces greater climate risks, even as it is preoccupied with trying to help one in four people living in extreme poverty, over a billion hungry, and 1.6 billion without access to electricity. Attaining the Millennium Development Goals and ensuring a safe and sustainable future beyond 2015 become more difficult as the planet warms, rainfall patterns shift, and climate- related natural disasters become more frequent. Global warming of 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures could result in permanent reductions in annual per capita consumption of 4 to 5 % for Africa (Nordhaus & Boyer, 2000; Stern, 2007). These losses would be driven by impacts on agriculture. WDR 2010 argues that the world must act now, act together, and act differently, before costs go up and avoidable hardships are needlessly endured by poor and vulnerable people.
Act now
The world has a brief window of time in which to find the technologies and the funds to combat climate change. What we do today shapes tomorrow’s climate and imposes limits on the choices that are available to future generations.  Staying close to 2°C — likely to be the best that can be done — requires a global energy revolution with an immediate deployment of energy efficiency and available low-carbon technologies, and massive investments in new technologies. Once greenhouse gases are emitted, they remain in the atmosphere for decades or even centuries, trapping heat and affecting climate patterns for a very long time. Power plants, cities, and reservoirs that we build today will last for at least fifty years. New technologies and climate-resilient crop varieties that are piloted today could determine the energy and food sources of growing populations in many developing countries Acting now could help save the 10 to 15 % of species that will otherwise likely be lost in an Africa that is 2°C warmer than pre-industrial levels (Parry and others, 2007).

Act together
Rich countries must take the lead by reducing their own carbon footprints at home and by helping  developing countries to finance adaptation to climate change as well as mitigate further global warming. As the graph opposite shows, actions by rich countries to adopt ambitious targets could free up some “pollution space” for the unmet energy needs of millions of people in developing countries. Strong action by rich countries would stimulate innovation and demand for green technologies that can be rapidly scaled up. This would also help create a sufficiently large and stable carbon market. National and international support is essential to protect the most vulnerable people through social assistance programs, to develop international risk-sharing arrangements, and to promote the exchange of knowledge.  In Africa, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation should largely be managed as one integrated agenda. Africa’s transboundary rivers are an example of why cooperative action is critical to manage the water and food security challenges posed by climate change and population pressures.
Act differently
Instead of planning for yesterday’s climate, policymakers must heed a variety of climate futures .
  Agricultural productivity and water management need to improve to feed millions more people while protecting already stressed ecosystems. Long-term, large-scale integrated management will help meet increased demands on natural resources while conserving biodiversity and maintaining terrestrial carbon stocks.  Infrastructure must withstand new extremes and support more people.
  Adaptation should be based on new information about changing patterns of temperature, precipitation, and species.
A Climate Strategy for Africa
With a view to acting now, acting together, and acting differently, the World Bank has a new strategy to make development more climate-resilient in Sub-Saharan Africa. This strategy is grounded in an assessment of the diverse climate profile and vulnerabilities of the region (see maps on the left), and takes into account identified knowledge gaps, expected impacts, work already underway by countries and partners, and key actions to be taken over time. Here is a look at how World Bank support to Sub-Saharan Africa will be mainstreamed into country and regional programs:

Make adaptation and climate risk management core development elements.
While adapting to climate change and climate variability  will push up the cost of development, for most African countries adaptation is fundamentally about sound, resilient development. Key focus areas include: disaster risk reduction; sustainable land, water, and forest management; coastal and urban development; watershed management; increased agricultural productivity; health; and social issues.

Take advantage of mitigation opportunities.
Most of Sub-Saharan Africa’s mitigation opportunities are linked to more sustainable land and forest management, clean energy use and development (such as geothermal or hydropower), and the creation of sustainable urban transport systems. Some opportunities exist to access carbon finance by reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and through renewable energy and energy efficiency. This will help African countries to commit to the mitigation agenda while furthering development.

Focus on knowledge and capacity development.
While there is unequivocal evidence that the climate is changing, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the pace and extent of change and the impacts on different sub-regions and sectors. This uncertainty makes policy decisions more complex, and magnifies the need for Africa to build its knowledge and analytical base and strengthen the capacity of country and regional institutions for weather forecasting, water resources monitoring, land use information, disaster preparedness, risk management, and planning and coordination.
Scale up financing.
In addition to IDA’s programmatic financing, incremental financing to build the knowledge base, strengthen institutions, and climate-proof investments will come from both existing instruments — for example, carbon finance, Global Environment Facility (GEF) — and new ones, some of which will help to leverage private investment. New instruments include the Adaptation Fund of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). the Climate Investment Funds (Pilot Program for Climate Resilience; Clean Technology Fund). two new Carbon Fund instruments — the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and the Carbon Partnership Facility.
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