By Zariat Yetunde Ayoade

According to NASA, climate change is a broad range of global phenomena created predominantly by burning fossil fuels, which add heat-trapping gasses to Earth’s atmosphere. These types of phenomena include the increase in temperature trends called global warming, but also include changes such as sea-level rise, shifts in flower or plant blooming, and other weather conditions like excess rainfall resulting in flooding.

Another definition of climate change is a global phenomenon of climate transformation characterized by the usual climate of the planet with respect to temperature, precipitation, and wind that is especially caused by human activities. In other words, climate change refers to increasing changes in the measure of climate over a long period of time.

Climate change is often caused by the industrial activities of man, most especially the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect occurs when the surface of the atmosphere is warmed not only by the sun directly but also by the downward propagation of infrared radiation into the atmosphere. According to FW Taylor, “the radiative processes that are responsible for the greenhouse effect involve mainly minor atmospheric constituents, the amounts of which can change either naturally or as a by-product of human activities.”

The growth of the greenhouse effect is what often leads to global warming. The greenhouse effect is not unique to the Earth. It plays a major role in determining the surface environment on the other terrestrial planets with atmospheres, Mars and Venus, exclusively.

The root of climate change is global warming, and Africa, being an agriculturally dependent state, is likely to experience a severe impact of climate change. The severity can also be minimal in terms of location. Research shows that Africa stretches from 35N to 35S. Due to this enormous land mass, some parts are expected to get hotter while others are expected to get wetter. Some areas of Africa will become drier, others wetter, and some regions may derive economic benefit, while most are adversely affected. And because mainland Africa is divided into fifty countries, these geographic variations imply not just that the impact effect is that some people gain while others lose, but that these redistributions are essentially between countries.

Some areas of Africa will become drier, others wetter, and some regions may derive economic benefit, while most are adversely affected. And because mainland Africa is divided into fifty countries, these geographic variations imply not just that the impact effect is that some people gain while others lose, but that these redistributions are essentially between countries. Some parts of Africa will derive economic benefits, while others will not.

Paul Collier, Gordon Conway, and Tony Venables assert in their book “Climate Change and Africa” that “agriculture is the largest single economic activity in Africa, accounting for around 60% of employment and, in some countries, more than 50% of GDP. Some of this activity is already close to the limits of plant tolerance, so changing climate will have an immediate and direct effect beyond that in many other regions of the world.”

Global warming refers to the increase in the average temperature of the earth’s atmosphere and ocean. Global warming is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs), which comprise carbon dioxide (CO2), which enter the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. Fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal) Another greenhouse gas is methane (CH4). Methane is absorbed into the atmosphere through the production and transport of charcoal.

Methane emissions also result from rearing livestock and agricultural practices and from the decay of organic waste in municipal solid waste landfills. Nitrous oxide is emitted during agricultural, land use, and industrial activities; combustion of fossil fuels and solid waste; as well as during the treatment of wastewater; and lastly, ozone (O3). Ozone has the least contribution to global warming; it is simply the light and electrical discharge into the atmosphere, unlike the other greenhouse gases. Ozone is rarely released into the atmosphere.

Africa and Climate Change

The World Meteorological Organisation Secretary, General Petteri Taalas, said, “Climate change is having a growing impact on the African continent, hitting the most vulnerable hardest and contributing to food insecurity, population displacement, and stress on water resources. In recent months, we have seen devastating floods and an invasion of desert locusts, and now we face the looming specter of drought because of a La Niña event.

The human and economic toll has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.” The La Nina event is when strong winds blow warm water at the ocean’s surface from South America to Indonesia, and as the warm water moves west, cold water from the deep rises to the surface near the coast of South America. African countries most affected by climate change include Somalia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, and Niger because climate change has caused disruption to productivity in their key economic sectors such as agriculture, roads, dams, and other infrastructure, as released by German Watch at the Climate Index 2021.

The effects of extreme weather conditions like drought and flooding affected the local economy, and the government was forced to seek emergency flooding to curb the aftermath of climate change. According to an article by Tawanda Karombo, published on January 27, 2021, and last updated in July, he claimed that “Zimbabwe alone needed as much as $1.1 billion to support infrastructure rebuilding and livelihoods after Cyclone Idai in 2019. This means infrastructure development elsewhere is crippled while humanitarian organisations have to re-direct longer-term development funds to emergency response for food insecurity.”

A cyclone idai hit Zimbabwe in 2019, affecting about 270,000 people. The excessive storm and subsequent flooding and landslides led to the deaths of 340 people, among many others. This had a huge backlash on Zimbabwe’s agriculture, schools, and infrastructure, leaving many people homeless, especially the residents of Chimanimani and Chipinge District. This analysis was based on an analysis of policy implications for post-disaster institutional development to strengthen disaster risk management.

Published on November 7, 2019 by Kudzai Chatiza. Like Zimbabwe, Mozambique also has its share of hardship amidst climate change, as the World Bank has declared Mozambique the most vulnerable to climate change in Africa. This was prompted by the climate and disaster crises affecting the growth and development of Mozambique on a regular basis. “The average annual losses from floods induced by cyclones in Mozambique stand at $440 million, according to the World Bank.”

According to Tawanda Karombo, “The Global Climate Index ranks Mozambique as the country most affected by climate change after it took a 12.6% GDP knock on its economy in 2019 and suffered $4.9 billion losses in monetary terms from the impacts of climate change that resulted in the deaths of 700 Mozambicans.”

In East Africa, Somalia, like Zambambwe and Mozambique, had its own share of climate change disasters. Somalia has been witnessing drought from 2017 until now, with no end in sight, and it is only getting worse. Drought occurs when the temperature increases; it absorbs all water, leaving everywhere dry and hot. Drought, in other words, is when there is no rainfall, leading to dryness and a bad weather condition. According to a UNICEF July update on Somalia, it is experiencing a historic dry spell with a predicted fifth rainy season, a situation not witnessed in more than four decades.

This implies that the Somalia drought has never occurred in recent times and is mostly prompted by human activities. The Somalia economy has, however, depreciated drastically because crops and livestock couldn’t survive due to a lack of water and pastures, depriving people who are dependent on farming of their only source of income.

Also, the Somalia drought has left many children malnourished; some are permanently displaced from their houses. In United Nations News, an article titled Growing Risk of Somalia Famine as Drought Impact Worsens an Interview with Mr. Abdelmoula. asserts that 1.4 million children under five years of age are severely malnourished, and “if we don’t step up our intervention, it is projected that 350,000 of them will perish by the summer of this year. The situation cannot be more dire than that.”

In the UNICEF July update, “more than 90 percent of Somalia is already experiencing severe to extreme drought conditions; an estimated 7.1 million people are experiencing severe food insecurity, while around 1.5 million children are likely to be acutely malnourished by the end of 2022.”

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, also had its share of climate change consequences, especially in the agricultural sector. Mayong et al. (2005) said that “in Nigeria, agriculture is the main source of food and employer of labour, employing about 60–70 percent of the population.” However, things are beginning to change as some parts of Nigeria have witnessed excess rainfall leading to sea level rise, while others have had less rainfall. The southern part of the country is under threat of flooding; a state like Lagos tends to be the victim of sea level rise.

According to USAID’s Nigeria Climate Change Fact Sheet, “Rising sea levels threaten southern cities such as Lagos and coastal areas, increasing vulnerability to flooding and waterborne disease. Drought and reduced rainfall, combined with rising temperatures, inhibit the country’s hydropower systems and hinder agricultural production and fishing, reducing food security and negatively impacting health and nutrition.

The energy sector, deforestation, and land-use change are the greatest contributors to Nigeria’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.” Nigeria, like any other state, produces greenhouse gases, leading to changes in weather conditions and posing a threat to crops, livestock, and humans. Also, agricultural products are at the receiving end of the effects of the change in weather conditions. Each crop has its own system and amount of water required to yield; in the case of excess rainfall, it affects crop production because not all crops can withstand a large amount of water. In a case where there was less rainfall, there would be water scarcity and a high temperature.

People need water and food to survive, and crops also need water to survive. If there is a water shortage, it will affect certain crops and their harvest. Research shows that climate increases the rate of malaria because mosquitoes survive where there is water, so more rain has a higher chance of malaria infection transmission.

Government and Climate Change

Climate change is a global phenomenon affecting not only the agricultural sector but also the economy and the well-being of citizens; thus, the government of Africa has taken several measures to mitigate the effects of climate change in their prospective countries.

Zimbabwe, being one of the most affected countries in Africa, has adopted many ways to combat climate change. An article released by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition Secretariat on January 18, 2022, shared an in-depth analysis of how the Zimbabwean government has been mitigating the effects of climate change. In the article, the Zimbabwean government is increasing its effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 33% to 40%. This was revealed in the 2021 Revised Nationally Developed Contributed (NDC). Zimbabwe also plans to reduce methane emissions from the waste sector by 2030.

Zimbabwe joined the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) in 2018. The Coalition, in partnership with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), used analytical modelling to help Zimbabwe assess their greenhouse gas and short-lived climate pollutant emissions and show where they could increase their mitigation goals. This and several other measures have been implemented to help Zimbabwe mitigate the effects of climate change in the country.

In 2021, Mozambique will become the first country to successfully reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, commonly known as REDD+. This was contained in Press Release No. 2021/013/AFR by the World Bank. A part of it said, “The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) paid Mozambique $6.4 million for reducing 1.28 million metric tonnes of carbon emissions from 2019. The payment is the first of four under the country’s Emission Reductions Payment Agreement (ERPA) with the FCPF that could unlock up to $50 million for reducing up to 10 million metric tonnes of CO emissions in Mozambique’s Zambézia Province by the end of 2024.”

The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) is a global partnership of governments, businesses, civil society, and Indigenous Peoples’ organisations focused on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, forest carbon stock conservation, the sustainable management of forests, and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries, activities commonly referred to as REDD+. Since its launch in 2008, the FCPF has worked with 47 developing countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean, along with 17 donors that have made contributions and commitments totaling $1.3 billion.

Before the payment was made, Mozambique submitted an official monitoring report confirming the emission reductions, and an independent third-party verification was conducted between September 2020 and May 2021.

Somalia, which is currently dealing with drought, used to have a flood defense system, but research shows that years of underinvestment led to its collapse, and this has done more harm to their economic system and citizens well-being.

The United Nations gathered that “Somalia has a population of almost 16 million people, with most living in rural areas as nomadic or semi-nomadic pastoralists, the predictability of the climate underpins Somalia’s agricultural economy, which accounts for about two-thirds of its GDP. The UN estimates Somalia could need $48.5 billion to adapt to climate change between now and 2030—a massive amount for a country whose annual GDP is less than $5 billion.”

In a press release, the President of Nigeria stated that Africa produces fewer greenhouse gases than other industrial countries, but Africans are the ones paying the price of the climate emergency, not the drought in Somalia or the Pakistan flood. He said, “The measures we took at the national level also require climate justice. Africa and other developing nations produce only a small proportion of greenhouse gas emissions, compared to industrial economies. Yet, we are the hardest hit by the consequences of climate change, as we see in the sustained droughts in Somalia and floods of unprecedented severity in Pakistan.”

African countries and leaders are striving to combat the risks and dangers of climate change. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change said “Africa’s Agenda 2063, which was concluded in 2013, recognises 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 submitting 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 to drive 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, prioritised in over 70% of African NDCs. This ambition needs to be an integral part of setting the economic development priorities of the continent.

One promising approach throughout the continent to reducing climate-related risks and extreme event impacts has been to reduce poverty by promoting socio economic growth, in particular in the agricultural sector. In this sector, which employs 60% of Africa’s population, value-added 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.” Nigeria, in its capability to avoid climate emergencies, has also created a national climate change strategy that aims to deliver climate change mitigation in a sustainable manner.

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