CLIMATE CHANGE: Africa on the Precipice of Disaster


Africa and the imminent dangers of Climate Change

The call for nations to rally together and fashion a collective response to climate change has been on the increase in the recent decade, but climate change as a topic or a global challenge is not receiving enough attention in Africa like all the other social agenda in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and now the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by UN on 27th September  2015 in  New York USA.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is successor to the Millennium Development Goals which its time frame elapsed in 2015,and it’s  a set of seventeen aspirational global goals with 169 targets between them, spearheaded by the United Nations  covering a broad range of  sustainable development issues .

These included ending poverty and hunger improving health and education, making cities more sustainable ,combating climate change and protecting the ocean and forests.

African governments and Africans  easily find themselves in the picture when propositions are made to combat hunger, poverty and education but climate change seems off topic to an average African and out of place.

African governments and Africans  easily find themselves in the picture when propositions are made to combat hunger, poverty and education but climate change seems off topic to an average African and out of place.

Cookey Iwuoha

Uninformed Africans on the issue of climate change don’t see any need for it, because they have failed to understand or realize that drought, change in distribution  of rainfall which normally  triggers famine, flood that rampage cities, destroys farms, shelters and economic activities.

 Drying up of rivers, melting of glaciers and receding water bodies ,heat stress and dehydration are all effects of climate change. horrifically in the climate change vulnerability index for 2015 seven of the ten countries most at risk from climate change are in Africa.

According to an extensive essay in  wikipedia on climate change ,Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time (i.e., decades to millions of years).

Climate change may refer to a change in average weather conditions, or in the time variation of weather around longer-term average conditions (i.e., more or fewer extreme weather events).

Climate change is caused by factors such as biotic processes, variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics, and volcanic eruptions. Certain human activities have also been identified as significant causes of recent climate change, often referred to as global warming


Negative effects of climate change is being  felt across  all the continent of Africa in different measures in the recent decade, on 28th June 2011 reported the horn of Africa as experiencing  its worst drought in 60 years in which arguably almost 10 million people were affected.

 In the news report UN classified large areas of Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya as a crisis or an emergency the drought was partially from a result of a prolonged failure of rains since late 2010.

Africa has seen a decrease in rainfall over large parts of the Sahel and Southern Africa, and an increase in parts of Central Africa.

Over the past 25 years, the number of weather-related disasters, such as floods and droughts, has doubled, resulting in Africa having a higher mortality rate from droughts than any other region.

Climate Change and Its Impact On Food Security In Africa

Flooding in North, East, South ,central and west Africa.

Flooding has been a persistent challenge in North Africa, and  is the Zones  leading environmental challenge. In Algeria 2001 flooding disaster resulted in over 800 deaths and economic loss valued to about 400 Million dollar(AWDR2006).

The Danger of Drought is Imminent

In South Africa, Mozambique to be precise, the 2000 flood (worsened by two cyclones) caused 800 deaths, affected almost 2 million people of which about 1 million needed food, 329,000 people were displaced and agricultural production land was destroyed (AWDR, 2006).

Flooding is also a challenge in the  East and Central Africa, in West Africa flooding is the third most challenging  ecological disaster resulting from climate change.

In west Africa ,entire communities suffer when there is significant drop in water levels , Nigeria’s Kainji Dam and Ghana’s Akosombo Dam are sources of generating hydro-energy which its output is affected by volume of rainfall or its lack which affects its efficiency in generating electricity.

 Mali is dependent on the river Niger for food, water and transport. However, great stretches of the river is now facing environmental devastation as a result of pollution. Crops yield and livestock productivity are on the decline in some areas in Africa as a result of climate change.

Impacts on Human Health 

Sensitive diseases and health impacts can be high in poor countries that have minimal resources to treat and prevent illness. Examples of climate related health impacts include:

  • Frequent and severe heat stress linked to sustained increases in temperature
  • The reduction in air quality that often accompanies a heat wave can lead to breathing problems and worsen respiratory diseases.
  • Impacts of climate change on agriculture and other food systems increases rates of malnutrition and contributes to poverty
  • The spread of Malaria may increase in areas projected to receive more precipitation and flooding. Increases in rainfall and temperature can cause spreading of dengue fever

From the above analysis on negative effects of climate change in African environments, Africans need to wake up to the fact of these dangers that climate change pose to their communities  socially and economically and  urge their leaders to participate intently and vigorously on climate change conferences.

Africans needs to present their challenges to their leaders and demands for effective tackling of ecological disasters already plaguing the continent. They should enhance their demand for technical and financial support for Africa to increase energy availability, particularly in the rural areas, energy diversification and  ensuring energy security for investment promotion in climate change friendly development areas.

South Africa delegates represented Africa in the foremost conference in  climate change in 1991 and has reiterated recently through its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution ( INDC)  that  climate change is not a new issue for us in Africa ” Our society has long since been forced to adapt to the reality of a changing climate and increasingly frequent extreme weather events that are the result of emissions of greenhouse gases generated over centuries, predominantly by developed countries.”

Climate change is a global challenge and requires global participation and adherent to the policies and laws that is being  enacted to tackle it and Africa and its people needs to be adequately aware on how we are contributing to this menace ,our individual roles in helping our continent rise out of it.

We need to enhance our situation by  demanding that our Governments  face  the right direction with other continental leaders in the fight for a more climate friendly world by amplifying our voices and  ensuring that its  heard thereby avoiding being denied our rightful position in the ensuing global negotiations to tackle this ecological disaster.

The Author:

Cookey Iwuoha is Project Coordinator All Africa Media Network, and Convener African Elders and Women Intercultural dialogue, He is a dialogue facilitator, passionate creative writer, poet and published author. He is the publisher of Nigerian Eye Newspaper, a Young Africa Leadership Initiative (YALI) Alumni, and has participated in other capacity development programs like United Nation Foundation’s Virtual Reporting Fellowship, Center for Human Rights Certificate on African Human Right System and Amnesty International’s Freedom of Expression Certificate program among others.

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