Footsteps Through Time

Footsteps Through Time
A History of Travel and Tourism to the Victoria Falls - www.zambezibookcompany.com

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Sub-Saharan African countries are failing to plan for climate change

Failure to factor climate change into long-term investment and planning risks leaving countries across sub-Saharan vulnerable to droughts, floods, heatwaves and rising sea-levels
A broken bridge over the Licungo river after flooding in Zambezia province, Mozambique

Communities around the world are feeling the impacts of climate change already, but many of the most severe effects will be felt in the decades to come, particularly from mid-century onwards. Nowhere is this more apparent than in sub-Saharan Africa which will be one of the hardest hit regions of the world.
Right now, African countries are busy investing in infrastructure and development to help support current economic growth. Many of these long-lived investments – such as ports, large dams, and social infrastructure, such as hospitals and schools – will most likely last well beyond 2050. But by then, Africa’s climate may look quite different to what it does today. Factoring climate change into long-term investments and planning decisions is essential for supporting climate-resilient development – but it’s not happening.
New research, coordinated by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), shows that governments and businesses across sub-Saharan Africa are failing to consider long-term climate information in their investments and planning decisions. This includes studies from Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda, Ghana and Mozambique. The worst case scenario is that poor use of climate information could lock societies into patterns that make them highly vulnerable to droughts, floods, high temperatures or sea-level rise in the future.
Why do decision-makers have this blind spot? First and most importantly, other challenges such as eradicating poverty and promoting access to primary and secondary education are extremely pressing, forcing decision-makers to think and act in short time frames.
Secondly, long-term climate information is often ill-suited to informing local economic, social and environmental contexts in sub-Saharan Africa.
Knowing what the average temperature in 2050 will be for rural Nakuru County, Kenya, is of little practical use. What decision makers really want to know is how higher temperatures are likely to influence water resource availability or crop yields: outcomes that affect local people most. But what decision makers ask for is not often technically possible as there is a lack of information that combines knowledge of future climate with other disciplines such as hydrology or ecology.

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