#Editorial

Global Warming and Human Security in Africa!

Jul 27, 2022, 10:46 AM

Global warming is contributing to more and extended heat waves, a tripling of droughts, a quadrupling of storms, and a tenfold increase in flooding since the 1970s in Africa, exacerbating security threats on the continent.

The last decade was the warmest on record, part of a multi-decade trend. Last year, the average temperature for Africa hovered around 1.2°C above the 1981-2010 average. African countries within 15 degrees of the equator are projected to experience an increase in frequency of heat waves. In Central Africa, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, and the coastal areas of northern Angola and DRC, already see on average 8-10 heat waves per year. In East Africa, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Kenya—and the Atlantic coast of South Africa—are also experiencing an increasing frequency of heat waves.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC), human-created global warming has caused an increase in extreme weather events—from heavy rainfall causing flooding and stronger storms in equatorial countries and parts
of East Africa—to increased drought in the Sahel and southern Africa. The incidence of natural disasters in Sub-Saharan Africa has increased at a faster pace than the rest of the world. Compared to the 1970s, the frequency of droughts
has nearly tripled, storms have quadrupled, and floods increased tenfold. As a result, 20 percent of the floods and more than one-third of the droughts recorded globally over the past decade have been in Sub-Saharan Afric
According to the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC), human- created global warming has caused an increase in extreme weather events—from heavy rainfall causing flooding and stronger storms in equatorial countries and parts
of East Africa—to increased drought in the Sahel and southern Africa. The incidence of natural disasters in Sub-Saharan Africa has increased at a faster pace than the rest of the world. Compared to the 1970s, the frequency of droughts
has nearly tripled, storms have quadrupled, and floods increased tenfold. As a result, 20 percent of the floods and more than one-third of the droughts recorded globally over the past decade have been in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Africa’s only three mountains with glaciers, all in East Africa, will likely see “total deglaciation” by the 2040s—Mt. Kenya perhaps a decade earlier.

At a 2°C increase, southern Africa is set to become 5 to 10 percent drier as increasing drought frequency and number of heat waves cause reductions in the volume of the Zambezi Basin. According to Professor François Engelbrecht, one of
Africa’s leading climatologists, “Multi-year droughts are the number-one climate change risk that South Africa faces in a changing climate.” At a 3°C increase, the western Sahel region is expected to experience the strongest
drying, with a significant increase in the maximum length of dry spells. Central
Africa would see a decrease in the length of wet spells and an increase in heavy
rainfall.

The impact will be especially severe in Africa where many households depend on weather-sensitive activities, such as rain-fed agriculture, herding and fishing, for their livelihoods. Biodiversity losses and ecosystem degradation as a result of drought and unpredictable rainfall will affect the quality of the soil and vegetation. Increased incidents of floods will continue to negatively affect agricultural livelihoods (e.g., through seed loss, crop damage, and livestock morbidity and
mortality), leaving communities more vulnerable. Under a warming of 2°C, the World Bank forecasts a 10 percent decrease in crop yields across Sub-Saharan Africa by the 2050s. Land Pressure and Displacement Intensification of production on existing agricultural lands to fill “yield gaps” is a threat to the environment through the potential overuse of regional water resources and ecosystems. Likewise, the expansion of agriculture into “new” lands often
threatens local and regional ecosystems.

Growing land pressure can lead to displacement and the escalation of existing tensions between communities. Lake Chad—which is a lifeline for some 30 million people in Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon—has shrunk by over 90% since the 1960s due to climate change, a growing population, and unmanaged irrigation. Evaporation of the lake has only
accelerated as it gets shallower. The loss of livelihoods has coincided with increased criminality and migration to urban centers.
There are an estimated 18 million seasonal migrant workers in Africa, of which 80 percent work in sectors such as agriculture, mining, and fishing.

 

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