Africa Is Plunging Into a Climate Nightmare While the World Watches | مركز سمت للدراسات

Africa Is Plunging Into a Climate Nightmare While the World Watches

Date & time : Wednesday, 20 March 2024

Mohamed El Bendary

Climate change is having a compounding impact on Africa, while straining the continent’s economic growth. In my two decades of residency in Cairo, Egypt, I’ve never witnessed a winter as warm as this year’s. Last year was also the hottest year Egypt ever recorded, with sweltering summer heat temperatures of above 30 degrees Celsius in October and November. Many other African countries—from Somalia to Senegal, from Libya all the way down to South Africa—also experienced scorching temperatures.

Human-caused climate change is slowly having a devastating economic impact on poor African states. Parts of Africa are becoming drier and hotter; while others are experiencing an increase in rainfall, which has caused devastating floods and led to the displacement of many Africans. The rising temperatures and prolonged summers and droughts—particularly in the Horn of Africa—are harming the growth of crops and lowering harvests, and impacting food security for Africa’s poor.

Though Africa has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions, it is one of the hardest hit continents by climate change’s effects. The continent is suffering “disproportionately,” according to the World Meteorological Organization. The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization stated in a recent report that Africa is confronting an unprecedented food crisis—with nearly 282 million citizens of its 1.4 billion population facing malnutrition. Putting it more blatantly: The profit of rich countries is the loss of poor countries. Hence, African officials and intellectuals have lately been closely monitoring global climate conferences such as the sixth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6), which concluded its five-day session in Nairobi, Kenya, recently. Some of the resolutions that passed at the UNEA-6 summit included improvement of air quality worldwide, proper management of chemicals and waste, elimination of highly hazardous pests, and bolstering of effective water policies for agriculture.

Temperature increase and falling agriculture productivity are not just harming food security but also exacerbating human displacement and the danger of potential conflicts. Climate change is increasing political instability in African regions such as Sahel, Lake Chad Basin, Great Lakes region, and East Africa, along with Mozambique and the Central African Republic. Soaring food prices, including in Egypt and Nigeria—the continent’s two giant economies—are slowly pushing millions of people into food insecurity and presenting a hazard to the well-being of their citizens.

The variation and drifts of degree temperature and rainfall are also recognized factors in the development of contagious diseases and incidence rates. If climate change is damaging nature in wealthy nations, it is also posing a threat to the lives of millions of Africans—a continent which is slowly plunging into a climate nightmare. The effects of climate change on health are, however, heavier on Africans, simply because many of whom lack the resources, emergency preparedness, and subtle initiatives to tackle them. Warmer weather temperatures, together with a surge in floods and cyclones, have led to an increase in, and the migration of mosquitoes and sandflies, which transmit contagious diseases such as malaria—currently considered one of the biggest threats to the health of Africans.

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Africans today face the biggest threat to their health and safety, with rising fear of an increase in non-communicable diseases in an embattled continent, which deals with over 100 disease outbreaks annually. The deadly risk of an infectious disease in Africa far outweighed that in other parts of the world. After all, there is a lack of access to appropriate and affordable medication on the continent, with hospitals—particularly south of the Sahara—in need of necessary medical facilities. These “neglected diseases of poverty” include diarrhea, malaria, Rift Valley fever, schistosomiasis, and dengue fever

There are some African regimes taking the back seat on the climate change issue. But climate change is also not race or gender neutral. To reduce poverty and mitigate the effects of climate change on the health of its citizens, Africa needs to adopt climate initiatives and implement prevention measures, which mandate the possession of effective foreign technology tools. It will need assistance to manufacture vaccines to defeat the contagious diseases that are killing its citizens.

Subtle solutions to climate change in Africa demand multilateral efforts and the erection of a more cooperative world in which rich nations play a more supportive role by recycling, embracing a zero-waste approach, and becoming circular economy societies—an issue which the U.N. Environment Program has strongly advocated in a recent report.

It is incumbent on rich nations to assist Africans in bolstering their capacity of dealing with climate-sensitive diseases, for Africa’s health crisis should also be viewed as a climate disaster. To prioritize climate justice, for Africans’ efforts toward green mobility to be successful, wealthy nations should invest in Africa by boosting their climate governance measures through funding programs. It’s to the world’s interests that Africa rises from this climate nightmare.

Source: Newsweek


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