The Sahel region which extends just below the Sahara desert and includes parts of countries such as Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan had about 30 million people struggling with food insecurity in 2018, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Experts warn in an article published in Nature Sustainability recently that climate change and human activities could exacerbate environmental risks in the Sahel region resulting in migration of people, disruption of livelihood and potential conflicts.
“The temperature tolerances of local sorghum and millet varieties will probably be exceeded,” says the article. “Future societies face the options of importing heat-tolerant varieties, developing new varieties, switching crop types altogether or abandoning farming.”
It is agreed that Africa has its coastal cities being more susceptible to global environmental risks.
According to the article, irrigation in India contributes to up to 40 per cent of rainfall in East Africa in some months.
“If communities in India improve sustainable agriculture practices (reduced irrigation and groundwater depletion) then pastoralists and farmers in Africa could suffer,” the article says.
Addressing the scale and magnitude of global environmental changes facing us will require confronting the underlying reasons for the unequal distribution of power and wealth, Mathews explains.
“Africa has a large rural population - currently around 63 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa — and large parts of this population are living in poverty, with limited food and water security,” says Matthews. “The need for resilience is critical here as it enables people to thrive in the face of uncertainty and uncertainty is the new norm.
Another experts, who was a former Kenya’s environment secretary, agrees with the experts and says that Africa is the most fragile continent in regard to negative impacts of human-induced environmental degradation.
“This is because of the high vulnerability to climatic change as aggravated by poverty, poor governance systems, inequality and limited adaptation capacity,” says Kaudia, a consultant on climate change solutions.
The article is highly relevant and should inform agricultural, environmental and climate change response policies and action plans, she adds.
A Guest Editorial