Africa’s climate, more than that of any other continent, is generally uniform. This is due to the Continent’s position in the tropical zone, the impact of cool ocean currents, and the absence of mountain chains serving as climatic barriers. However, across Africa, the landscape is changing.
The snowy caps of Mount Kilimanjaro are melting and the shorelines of Lake Chad, Tanganyika and Victoria are receding. The once mighty Lake Chad is half the size it was 35 years ago.
These and many other changes have led to unreliable farming seasons and low water supplies – a serious problem for a continent almost entirely dependent on rain for its agriculture.
Despite the fact that African have contributed the least to climate change, there is widespread fear that Africa will be the worst hit.
In addition, most experts agree that Africa is the most vulnerable continent and the least able to adapt to the effects of climate change.
Many scientists agree that Africa’s best course of action is to reduce their energy consumption and take other steps to protect the environment.
The range of variation in crop production in Africa as a whole corresponds to the nutritional requirements for approximately 20 million people.
Results suggest reduced African food production if the global climate changes toward more El Niño-like conditions, as most climate models predict.
Maize production in Southern Africa is most strongly affected by El Niño events. Management measures include annual changes in crop selection and storage strategies in response to these climatic change predictions for the next growing season.
Climate change has a profound and unavoidable effect on food security in Africa. Increased temperatures and shifting rain patterns reduce access to and production of food across the continent.
Changing weather patterns or extreme weather events, such as floods or droughts, can have negative consequences for agricultural production. As a result, people have less access to food, which forces them to buy food products.
This affects their financial situation.It also influences their health as people often buy cheaper food, which is frequently less nutritious. Especially for those who need a nutritious diet such as the chronically ill, the aged, nursing women and children.
Increasing temperatures and the change in precipitation and frequency of extreme weather patterns also threaten African food systems.
Africa will experience a 10 per cent decrease in rainfall in Southern Africa and the Horn of Africa by 2050.
Africa will also experience reduced water resources from major glaciers, major lakes and rivers, while up to 90 million hectares of agricultural land in arid and semi-arid areas will be lost.
The challenge is to build the NEPAD agricultural pillars around such strategic commodities in creating “Regional Strategic Commodity Belts” and for further research into the implications of climate change on crop, animal breeding, health, water resources management, soil fertility management and food crisis prevention strategies.
Climate change may affect food systems in several ways ranging from direct effects on crop production (e.g. changes in rainfall leading to drought or flooding, or warmer or cooler temperatures leading to changes in the length of growing season), to changes in markets, food prices and supply chain infrastructure.
Experts also believe that, due to climate change, farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa are no longer certain when the rains will begin and when to plant.
Zambian scientist Dr. George Kasali admitted that Zambia is among the countries that have been affected by food insecurity as a result of the warming climate.
Global warming is caused by increased atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.
Industrialization and human activities that burn oil, gasoline and coal push the concentration of these gases in the atmosphere to artificially high levels.
As a result, the average temperature of the Earth’s surface has risen by 0.6 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years, and will climb by another 1.4 to 5.8 degrees C. in the next century, according to the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The world’s most developed countries are the leading producers of greenhouse gases.
The United States pumps out about 25 percent of all greenhouse emissions, while the G8 nations together are responsible for about half the world’s total output, by comparison, the entire African continent produces only about five percent of all greenhouse gas emissions