WASHINGTON, November 30, 2010—The African continent has warmed about half a degree over the last century and the average annual temperature is likely to rise an average of 1.5-4°C by 2099, according to the most recent estimates from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Africa is becoming the most exposed region in the world to the impacts of climate change. In Sub-Saharan Africa extreme weather will cause dry areas to become drier and wet areas wetter; agriculture yields will suffer from crop failures; and diseases will spread to new altitudes. By 2030 it is expected that 90 million more people in Africa will be exposed to malaria, already the biggest killer in Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough, the World Bank’s lead environmental and natural resources specialist for Africa, the environmental effects of climate change will have a direct impact on the economic development of many African countries. In 2000 alone, flooding in Mozambique cost the country an estimated $550 million and lowered the national GDP by 1.5 percent. In agriculture, as much as nine to 20 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s arable land will become much less suitable for farming by 2080. Overall, even a 2°C warming above pre-industrial temperatures could result in permanent reductions in annual per capita consumption of four to five percent for Africa.
Making climate change a development priority
To support African countries as they deal with the challenges of climate change, the World Bank has laid out a plan of action aimed at adaptation to climate change in Africa, seizing mitigation opportunities on the continent, building knowledge and capacity, and making more financing available. Launched in 2009, Making Development Climate Resilient in Sub-Saharan Africa identifies knowledge gaps, expected impacts and key actions to be taken over time by African government and their partners.
The strategy is based on the premise that increased climate variability threatens the development gains of African countries, and that these effects need to be anticipated so that development efforts can be made more resilient to climate change.
The strategy calls for mainstreaming support for climate actions into countries development agendas along four pillars:
- Making adaptation and climate risk management a core developmental component with a particular focus on sustainable water resources, land, and forest management, integrated coastal development, increased agricultural productivity, health problems, and conflict and migration issues;
- Taking advantage of mitigation opportunities through access to carbon finance against land use changes and avoided deforestation, promoting clean energy sources (e.g., hydropower) and energy efficiency, and adopting cost effective clean coal energy generation and reduced gas flaring;
- Focusing on knowledge and capacity development by improving weather forecasting, water resources monitoring, land use information, improving disaster preparedness, investing in appropriate technology development, and strengthening capacity for planning and coordination, participation and consultation; and,
- Scaling up financing opportunities.
The World Bank’s work
The World Bank has already begun work to implement its Africa climate change strategy. It has become a priority to integrate climate change into its policy dialogue for development planning, and the Bank already has about $7 billion in planned investments that will help to implement the strategy.
Since 2006, for example, the Bank has supported Madagascar, a country chronically exposed to cyclones, in a number of activities aimed at mitigating risks, including conducting hydro-meteorological risk assessments for agriculture, cyclone impact modeling studies, and updating infrastructure norms and standards (Madagascar Disaster Risk Reduction Plan).
The Bank has also worked with eight focus countries (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal and Togo) to build national plans for Disaster Risk Management (DRM) that have been drafted and agreed upon with the national governments. The implementation of these plans will reinforce the countries’ ability to respond to current climate variability, thereby improving their readiness to address the higher climatic variability of the future.
In Nigeria, $100 million enabled the Lagos Bus Rapid Transit Project to transform a congested public transportation system into a model that is faster and cheaper, creating jobs and reducing carbon emissions by 20 percent. In the energy sector, the Lighting Africa initiative, with a current budget of $12 million, aims to bring light to 250 million Sub-Saharan Africans by 2030 through high-tech compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) powered by renewable energy sources and mechanical means. The initial pilot countries were Ghana and Kenya and subsequent program activities are currently being implemented in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia.
In Southwestern Ethiopia, the Humbo Community-Based Natural Regeneration Project will restore almost 3,000 hectares of biodiverse native natural forest, providing about $725,000 in carbon financing; and a pilot project, the first of its kind in Africa, that supports the adoption of innovative sustainable agricultural land management practices in Kenya, is enabling smallholder farmers to receive payments of about $1 million for enhancing the storage of carbon in agriculture soils.
Despite some successes, additional funding from international donors will be a key requirement for fighting the effects of climate change in Africa, according to Pswarayi-Riddihough.
“Climate Change adaptation is not different from development,” she said. “With additional financing made available to countries and all of the different facets of this work coming together, I believe that we can begin to see a very different Africa in terms of climate change. We can remain hopeful that something positive is going to come out of this.”