Climate Change & Africa : A Look At Policy Formulation
Floods, droughts, desertification, coastal storms and famine are just a few of the impacts of climate change in Africa. Climate change is endangering the lives and livelihoods of millions of Africans and also hindering the continent’s economic growth and social progress.
Climate change is already a reality in Africa especially in the Horn of Africa. There are prolonged and intensified droughts in eastern Africa; unprecedented floods in western Africa; depletion of rain forests in equatorial Africa; and an increase in ocean acidity around Africa’s southern coast.
Vastly altered weather patterns and climate extremes threaten agricultural production and food security, health, water and energy security, which in turn undermine Africa’s ability to grow and develop. As the poorest continent, Africa is considered most susceptible to climate change due to its inability to cope with the physical, human and socio-economic consequences of climate extremes.
Climate and environmentally related disasters which threaten human security can induce forced migration and produce competition among communities and nations for water and basic needs resources, with potential negative consequences for political stability and conflict resolution.
Whiles preparing towards this article, I had to dig deep and also seek a lot of views and insights from other African bloggers scattered on the sub-region. The question which needed more deliberation came from this a recent post by Ulrike Reinhard on Future Challenges – Democracy’s Green Challenge:
“How does the political regime of a country influence policy-making in terms of climate change and the environment?”
A Malawian Environmentalist recently said; conflict between climate adaptation and food security policies shows we must create the right conditions for change. The adverse effects of climate change on the livelihoods of the rural poor can no longer be ignored. They are threatening to cause tremendous damage to agriculture, which is a critical source of income for most people around the world.
The context in which policy changes take place matters a great deal and has an important role in shaping adaptation processes. And the right analytical tools can uncover opportunities to ensure that adaptation policy produces effective and sustainable outcomes. In Malawi, the smooth implementation of crop diversification as an adaptive strategy is constrained by a conflict with food security — a conflict fuelled by the competing interests of key stakeholders.
Africa needs to have an effective voice at the next COP17 which takes place in Durban, South-Africa and influence on the global agreement that will emerge to ensure that a development and poverty reduction agendas are included in the outcome and follow-up action.
The following are recommendations and proposals which African Nations can implement in terms of policy-making with regards to climate change, adaptation and mitigation in Africa:
- There should be increment in awareness on development implications of climate change and its action on the African Continent.
- Building and developing a capacity for research and data collection in Africa to monitor climate change impacts and formulate proper policies.
- Policy makers in Africa needs to recognize the importance and timeliness for Africa to actively engage in global climate change negotiations just like it happened during COP15 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
- Is climate change to blame for famine in the Horn of Africa? (chimalaya.org)