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Report: Hunger bites in Africa as climate change worsens

After decades of decline, food insecurity and undernourishment are again on the rise as a result of extreme weather and climate events that have been ravaging the continent.

The trend was revealed in a multi-agency report released on Monday, October 26 under the title; “The State of the Climate in Africa 2019.”

 

According to the new report devoted exclusively to the continent, increasing temperatures and sea levels, changing precipitation patterns and more extreme weather are threatening human health and safety, food and water security and socio-economic development in Africa.

 

The report is a product of a collaboration between the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) among other partners.

 

It provides a snapshot of current and future climate trends and associated impacts on the economy and sensitive sectors like agriculture on the continent.

Since 1901, the report shows that most parts of Africa have warmed by more than one degree Celsius. The year 2019 was among the warmest in recorded history and the trend is expected to continue, it says.

In drought-prone sub-Saharan African countries, the number of undernourished people has increased by 45.6 percent since 2012, FAO notes in the report. Food insecurity is associated with reduced crop productivity resulting from heat and drought stress, increased pest damage and flood impacts.

While agriculture is the backbone of Africa’s economy and accounts for the majority of livelihoods across the continent, WMO warns that Africa is an exposure and vulnerability hot spot for climate change impacts.

The report projects that the mean yield will reduce by up to 8 percent in East and Southern Africa.

“Climate change is having a growing impact on the African continent, hitting the most vulnerable hardest, and contributing to food insecurity, population displacement and stress on water resources,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

The economic impact of climate change and variability poses another burden. As a result of a global temperature increase, the continent’s overall GDP is expected to decrease by 2.25 percent to 12.12 percent with a higher adverse impact in West, Central and East Africa.

To mitigate the climate related risks, WMO suggests to reduce poverty by promoting socioeconomic growth, in particular in the agricultural sector. By use of value-addition techniques, clean energy and micro-irrigation in agriculture, Africa could reduce poverty two to four times faster than growth in any other sector.

It also propose enhancement of resilience through appropriate prevention and risk management strategies such as investing in multi-hazard early warning systems

Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission echoed the way forward, highlighting that science-based climate information is a critical element in achieving resilience and sustaining livelihoods.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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