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Water poverty and climate crisis destabilize Africa 

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Water stress and water-related hazards such as devastating droughts and devastating floods are taking a heavy toll on African communities, economies and ecosystems. The rainfall pattern has been altered, the glaciers are disappearing and the most important lakes are shrinking. Rising demand for water, coupled with a limited and unpredictable supply, threatens to exacerbate conflict and displacement, according to a new Africa monograph from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The World Meteorological Organization published its report on Africa, which focuses this year on water and warns that the lack of this resource and extreme events on the continent will cause the displacement of 700 million people in the coming years and will aggravate international conflicts

The 2021 Africa State of the Climate Report provides scientific information from authoritative sources on trends in temperatures and other climate indicators. It shows how extreme weather events and climate change are undermining human health and safety, food and water security, and socioeconomic development. Africa only accounts for 2-3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but suffers disproportionately from the results.

The 2021 State of Africa Climate report has a particular focus on water. High water stress is estimated to affect some 250 million people on this continent and is expected to displace up to 700 million people by 2030. Four out of five African countries are likely to have poorly managed water resources sustainable in 2030.

Worsening crises and looming famine in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa show how climate change can exacerbate water crises, threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and destabilize communities, countries and regions whole. said Professor Petteri Taalas, WMO Secretary-General.

“Climate warming in Africa has been higher than the global average since pre-industrial times (1850-1900). At the same time, sea level rise along African coasts is faster than the global average, helping to increase the frequency and severity of coastal flooding and erosion, as well as salinity in cities. . low altitude. Changes in inland water masses have important repercussions on the agricultural sector, ecosystems and biodiversity,” said Professor Taalas.

“Rising temperatures, heat waves, major floods, tropical cyclones, prolonged droughts and sea level rise, causing loss of life, property damage and population displacement, undermine Africa’s ability to fulfill its commitments to achieve the targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. and the African Union Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, which charts the course for the African continent to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development,” said Her Excellency Ambassador Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Agriculture, Development Rural, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment of the African Union Commission.

Driving Climate Action

The report, is a joint initiative of WMO and the African Union Commission and includes input from a wide range of United Nations organizations, National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, development partners and experts in climate. The report and accompanying digital historical map will be released on the occasion of a ministerial meeting on the Integrated Early Warning and Early Action System initiative, held in Maputo, Mozambique.

Currently, only 40% of the African population has access to early warning systems to protect themselves from the effects of extreme weather events and climate change. Africa is therefore one of the main priorities of the campaign led by the WMO, at the request of António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, to guarantee universal access to early warning in the next five years.
Nonetheless, climate action is gaining momentum. More than 40 African countries have revised their National Climate Plans (NDCs) to be more ambitious and incorporate greater climate adaptation and mitigation commitments. Although Africa only contributes between 2% and 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than 83% of national climate plans include greenhouse gas reduction targets, and priority areas include, among others, energy, agriculture, waste, land use and forestry.

Key report

Temperatures: Temperatures in Africa increased at an average rate of about +0.3°C/decade between 1991 and 2021, faster than the observed warming in the period 1961-1990 of +0.2°C/decade. The year 2021 was the third or fourth warmest on record in Africa.

Sea level rise off the African coast is higher than the global average rate, especially in the Red Sea and the southwestern Indian Ocean, where the rate is close to 4 mm/year. This situation is likely to remain unchanged in the future, which will help increase the frequency and severity of coastal flooding in low-lying cities, as well as the salinity of groundwater due to seawater intrusion. . Between now and 2030, between 108 and 116 million people in Africa are projected to be at risk from rising sea levels.

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The drought in East Africa has worsened following the absence of rainfall in consecutive rainy seasons, in addition to the intensification of conflicts, related population displacements and restrictions related to COVID-19. High food prices impeded its availability and access, leaving more than 58 million people in conditions of acute food insecurity. The situation is getting worse this year, especially in Ethiopia, Somalia and parts of Kenya. The south of Madagascar has also been affected by an acute drought.

Extreme weather events: Severe flooding affected South Sudan, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Burundi. South Sudan has recorded the third consecutive year of extreme flooding that has raised the water level of lakes and rivers, as a result of heavy rains in 2020 and 2021.

In many parts of North Africa there was extreme heat, especially in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Libya. The extreme heat was accompanied by forest fires. Also, sand and dust storms were a recurring problem.

Hazards: Droughts and floods are the main concern. In the past 50 years, drought-related hazards have claimed the lives of more than half a million people and caused economic losses in the region of more than US$70 billion. In this period, more than 1,000 flood-related disasters were recorded, killing more than 20,000 people in Africa. It is estimated that by 2050, climate impacts could cost African nations up to $50 billion annually.

Freshwater: The total area of ​​Lake Chad, located near the Sahara desert and bordering Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger, has shrunk from 25,000 km2 in the 1960s to 1,350 km2 in the 1960s. it has remained stable ever since. In West Africa, the long-term decline in river flow is attributed to rising temperatures, drought and increased demand for water.

Food insecurity: Rising temperatures have helped reduce agricultural productivity growth in Africa by 34% since 1961, more than in any other region of the world. This trend is expected to continue in the future, increasing the risk of acute food insecurity and malnutrition. Global warming of 1.5°C is projected to be associated with a 9% decline in maize yields in West Africa and a 20-60% decline in wheat yields in southern and northern Africa.

Displacement: Climate-related hazards remained one of the main drivers of new displacement in Africa. Chronic floods and droughts, sea level rise and extreme weather events all influence patterns of movement within and across international borders. In 2021, some 14.1 million people were internally displaced in sub-Saharan Africa; Of these displacements, some 11.5 million were due to conflict and violence and 2.5 million to disasters.

Early Warning Systems: In Africa, the implementation rate of Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS) is lower than in other regions, with only 4 in 10 people covered. There is a need to fill the gap in data collection capacity for the basic hydrometeorological variables that underpin better climate services and early warning systems to save lives and livelihoods. More should be invested in end-to-end flood and drought early warning systems in least developed countries at risk, especially for drought warnings in Africa.

Climate services: There is an urgent need to improve the provision of climate services on the African continent. Currently, 28 countries provide basic to essential climate services and only 9 provide such services at a full level. Only 4 countries provide end-to-end drought forecasting or warning services at a full/advanced level of capability.

Water stress: Increased consumption, combined with more frequent droughts and heat events, will increase water demand and put further pressure on already scarce water resources. Disruption of water availability will impede access to safe water and threatens to trigger conflicts between people who are already dealing with economic difficulties. Around 418 million people still lack even a basic level of drinking water and 779 million people do not have basic sanitation services.

Water resources management: Of the 51 African countries for which data is available, 27 have inadequate capacity to implement integrated water resources management, and in 2020, many activities were carried out ad hoc with unsustainable funding.

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