Africa needs investments to counter climate threats, says UN agency

South Sudan recorded its worst floods in 60 years last year with over 800,000 people affected. PHOTO: AFP

DAKAR - With soaring heat, rising seas, droughts and floods, climate change fallout is disproportionately affecting Africa, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said on Thursday, calling for more financing to help countries adapt.

Africa accounts for just 2-3 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, but overall the continent is warming faster than the global average and last year was one of the top four hottest on record, the WMO said in its report 'State of the Climate in Africa 2021.'

It comes as Africa demands richer, polluting nations stump up more money for adaptation projects on the continent and compensation for climate change-linked losses - topics that are expected to be in focus at COP27, the November UN climate summit in Egypt dubbed 'the African COP.'

The WMO said the need for more investment in climate adaptation was crucial, estimating that climate impacts could cost African nations US$50 billion per year by 2030, with droughts and floods the top concern.

Some parts of Africa are seeing seas rise 1 millimetre faster per year than the global average, worsening the threat of severe coastal flooding.

The report also highlighted increasingly disrupted rain patterns that have led to the worst drought in the Horn of Africa in more than 40 years and devastating floods that are hitting other parts of the continent more and more often.

South Sudan recorded its worst floods in 60 years last year with over 800,000 people affected, while Chad this year saw its most rainfall in over 30 years as it and many other countries in central and western Africa battled seasonal floods.

Scientists say extreme heat and heavy rainfall have been made worse by human-caused climate change and will only increase in severity and frequency as the world continues to warm.

To improve African countries' resilience, "it is imperative for the continent to accelerate efforts to establish robust regional and national early warning systems and climate services," WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said.

The report provides a stark forecast of the climate-linked crises threatening Africa.

Four out of five African countries are unlikely to have sustainably managed water resources in seven years' time and water stress alone is seen displacing up to 700 million people in the same period, it said.

Meanwhile, rising temperatures have helped reduce growth in agricultural productivity by over a third since 1961 - more than any other region in the world.

"This trend is expected to continue in the future, increasing the risk of acute food insecurity and malnutrition," it said.

Already, parts of Somalia are expected to be hit by famine later this year as the Horn of Africa drought worsens, the United Nations warned on Monday.

Despite these challenges, Africa is receiving just 12 per cent of the finance it needs to manage the impacts of climate change, according to data from the Climate Policy Initiative.

"Africa can no longer wait," African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina told a climate adaptation summit on Monday.

"Never have the stakes been so high." REUTERS

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