Africa, the second largest continent by area and population in the world has been facing severe impacts of climate change in recent years. Scientists have warned that if the global emission of greenhouse gases goes on the way it has been, Africa would be one of the most vulnerable continents to face devastating consequences of climate change; and, this is in contrast with the fact that even though being the lowest contributor to greenhouse gases, the continent is in the peril most. Out of the ten most endangered nations around the world due to climate change, seven are in Africa: Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Chad, South Sudan, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic and Eritrea. Lower adaptive capacity and other stressors like poverty, food insecurity, water scarcity and a booming population in the continent have further worsened the impacts of climate change.
The continent, marred by a colonial past and civil unrest, has been witnessing the wrath of extreme weather events for the last fifty years. Frequent and long stretches of drought, lower precipitation and lesser rainfall in some regions while extreme floods in another have made the lives of its people unpredictable. As a majority of the population relies heavily on agriculture, subsistence farming to be precise, the erratic changes in the weather patterns have affected the livelihood of many, and have forced mass displacement and triggered social unrest.
In March 2019, one of the worst tropical cyclones, Idai hit Africa and southern hemisphere and wreaked havoc on nations of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. 1300 people lost their lives and the catastrophe left many others missing. In Somalia, floods, drought and food insecurity have caused the internal displacement of more than 2 million people! In the Karoo region of South Africa, the situation is bleak too. Agriculture productivity has been drastically hit as the drought has made the land drier, leaving the livestock starved and dead. In Kenya, animals too have had a negative effect; severe drought linked to climate change has threatened the lives of Zebra. Several water bodies have been shrinking, one of them is Lake Chad which has put a dent on the economic and social development of many countries. With changes in temperature, the African population has become more prone to food and waterborne diseases like cholera, and vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria.
As the continent tackles its challenges, the voices of African leaders continue to grow louder at international forums. The growing crisis and future vulnerability have drawn the attention of developed nations to Africa. There has been an increasing demand for robust means and mechanism to make the continent more resilient to future devastations. Not only financial resources but the continent is in immense need of technology transfer from developed countries to combat climate change. Most of the African regions still lack superior weather forecasting technology and in the absence of a warning system, the population remains susceptible to prodigious damages. Health and environment sector collaborations are required to work for the rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected population. Unless the international communities provide their support and lay down clear goals with deadlines to take immediate actions, the future of Africa remains nebulous.