New report maps out Africa’s climate vulnerability hotspots

Climate change will alter growing periods and require shifts in agricultural production systems that Africa's poor can ill-afford.
A new report has identified hotspots in Africa where people will be at greatest risk from the effects of climate change over the next 50 years, and established that the hotspots coincide with the very areas where some of the continent’s poorest people live, affirming growing concerns on the potentially damaging effects of climate change in Africa.

The report – Mapping Climate Vulnerability and Poverty in Africa – finds that many communities across Africa that are already grappling with severe poverty are also at the cross-hairs of the most adverse effects of climate change.

“The results of this analysis show that many regions throughout Africa are likely to be adversely affected in more ways than the research was even able to explore,” says ILRI’s Mario Herrero.

The report establishes that save for seven countries that have no data, all of Sub-Saharan Africa is vulnerable to climate change. Virtually the whole land mass of Burundi and Rwanda are classified as “more vulnerable” as are large tracts of Ethiopia, parts of southern Eritrea, southwest Niger and the southern parts of Chad. On the other end of the vulnerability scale, only a tiny part of South Africa is classified as “less vulnerable”.

The report is produced by the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in collaboration with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi and the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS). The report was commissioned by the UK Government’s Department for International Development to inform the establishment of a program on climate adaptation for Africa.

Using emission scenarios developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the report projects how climate change will affect the length of food growing seasons in Africa, and therefore the livelihoods of the greater majority of Africans who rely heavily on farming for basic food supply and employment.

The report finds that the typical small-holder mixed crop-livestock rainfed farming systems and arid and semi-arid systems that support pastoralism in the Sahel are both highly vulnerable to poverty and most likely to suffer the most from climate change.

The same is predicted for the Great Lakes region, with Rwanda’s and Burundi’s crop-livestock farming systems and the higher potential highland systems at great risk. Eastern Africa’s arid and semi-arid lands, which in Kenya account for 84 per cent of the land area, were also found to be highly vulnerable to climate change.

“These findings present an immense challenge for development and the achievement of the millennium development goals,” says Tom Owiyo, co-author of the book. “Climate change presents a global ethical challenge as well as a development, scientific and organisational challenge in Africa.”

The coastal zones of eastern and southern Africa as well as the drier parts of southern Africa will also be adversely affected by climate change.

“The outlook for Africa under a business-as-usual scenario is pretty bleak. Africa appears to have some of the greatest burdens of climate change impacts and is also generally limited in its ability to cope and adapt, yet it has the lowest per capita emission of greenhouse gases,” Mario Herrero reiterates concerns shared by other scientists across the world.

To view the entire electronic version of the book, click to open:
Mapping climate vulnerability and poverty in Africa. PDF (10.7MB)

To view the book by chapter, go to:
Executive Summary
Objectives and activities
Climate impacts in sub-Saharan Africa
Poverty and vulnerability
User needs
References and Acronyms
o Note 1: Indicators of adaptive capacity
Note 2: South-south cooperation
Note 3: Climate change & health in Africa: incidence of vector-borne diseases & HIV/AIDS
Note 4: The climate, development, and poverty nexus in Africa
Note 5: The Sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Programme
Note 6: The ASARECA priority setting work
Note 7: The SLP’s food-feed impact assessment framework
Note 8: The SAKSS poverty targeting tool
Note 9:
Simulating regional production with crop models

Related information:

Below are the 35 news clippings generated by the 7 Nov 2006 launch of ILRI’s book Mapping Climate Vulnerability and Poverty in Africa at the UNEP-hosed Climate Change Conference COP 12 in Nairobi, Kenya.

International Wire Services
01 Africast
02 Agence France Presse
03 (first article)
04 (second article)
05 Reuters
06 Reuters AlertNet
07 Reuters South Africa
08 Reuters UK

International News Agencies
09 IRIN News
10 Peace Journalism
11 Yahoo! News

12 Ethiopia: Ethiopian Politics Blogspot
13 Ethiopia: Ethiopian News Portal: EthiopBlog
14 Germany: Afrikaman

Radio Broadcasts
15 Kenya: KBC (Kenya Broadcasting Company) Radio: Swahili
16 Kenya: KISS FM radio station
17 UK: BBC World Service

National Media/News Agencies
18 Australia: NineMSM
19 Australia: Planet Ark
20 Australia: Sydney Morning Herald
21 Australia: The Age
22 Australia: The West Australian
23 Brunei Darussalam: The Brunei Times
24 Germany: Deutsche Welle Radio
25 India: Zee News
26 Kenya: Daily Nation
27 Kenya: Standard Newspaper (article)
28 Kenya: Standard Newspaper (photo and caption)
29 Pakistan: The News
30 South Africa: Business Day
31 South Africa: The Mail & Guardian
32 South Africa: The Mercury
33 South Africa: SABC News
34 USA: ABC News
35 USA: Scientific

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