A new UNEP report released this week highlights reasons to invest in climate change adaptation in Africa. The report, Keeping Track of Adaptation Actions in Africa, shows how investment in climate change adaptation can help ensure that the impacts of climate change do not reverse decades of development progress in Africa. The report presents practical examples of successful low-cost adaptation solutions from around sub-Saharan Africa and explains how climate change adaptation can stimulate local economies and help eradicate poverty, restore ecosystems and provide sectorally cross-cutting solutions.
According to the report, by 2050 Africa’s population will have doubled and will then be home to 2 billion people, the majority of which will still largely depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.
“With 94 per cent of agriculture dependent on rainfall, the future impacts of climate change – including increased droughts, flooding, and seal-level rise – may reduce crop yields in some parts of Africa by 15 – 20 per cent,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “Such a scenario, if unaddressed, could have grave implications for Africa’s most vulnerable states.” “By integrating climate change adaptation strategies in national development policies governments can provide transitional pathways to green growth and protect and improve the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of Africans,” he added.
The practical publication responds to the 2013 Africa Adaptation Gap Report which was endorsed by the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), and which identified the potentially crippling costs of climate change for Africa.
The first part of the report provides snapshots of the current and predicted future impacts of climate change on livelihoods, agriculture, and human and ecosystem health in Africa, detailing impacts by region, country and even city. The second half of the report describes how countries through low-cost climate adaptation actions can improve the health and functioning of ecosystems; build community capacity to sustainably manage ecosystems; improve agricultural productivity; and innovatively store water.
For example, an aquatic ecosystems project in one local community in Togo led to an increase in access to water for human use, agriculture and livestock of 488 per cent. Another example from the Seychelles shows how national legislation that was introduced changed school building codes to enable rainwater catchment systems – resulting in about 400 teachers and the students of seven schools in the Seychelles being educated in ecosystem management principles and the schools saved US$250 each on water-related expenses.