Climate change and water-related hazards could displace 700 million Africans by 2030.

Posted on 09 September 2022
This Thursday, September 8, the World Meteorological Organization released a new report on the state of Africa's climate in 2021. According to the scientists who wrote the report, the climate crisis in Africa is a water crisis, and the impacts on water sources are having serious consequences for communities, economies and nature in Africa. Droughts, large-scale floods, changes in rainfall and shrinking water sources are the most prominent effects. In addition, increased demand for water, coupled with limited and unpredictable supply capacities, is likely to exacerbate conflict and displacement.

To reach these conclusions, the World Meteorological Organization uses climate indicators to describe climate change. This provides a global and regional overview of the climate. These indicators are used to monitor the areas most relevant to climate change, including the composition of the atmosphere, energy changes (including temperature) that result from the accumulation of greenhouse gases and other factors, and the responses of land, ocean and ice.

The key points of the State of Africa's Climate in 2021 report are:
  1. Severe water stress in Africa is estimated to affect about 250 million people on the continent and could displace 700 million people by 2030. Four out of five African countries will likely not have sustainably managed water resources by 2030.
  2. The warming trend for 1991-2021 (+0.3°C/decade) was higher than the 1961-1990 period (+0.2°C/decade) in all African sub-regions and significantly higher than the trend for 1931-1960. The year 2021 was the third or fourth warmest year on record in Africa. Among other things, rising temperatures have caused agricultural productivity in Africa to decline by 34% since 1961 - a steeper decline than in any other region of the world. This trend is expected to continue in the future, increasing the risk of acute food insecurity and malnutrition.
  3. Sea level rise along Africa's coasts is faster than the global average rate, particularly along the Red Sea and in the southwestern Indian Ocean, where the rise is close to 4 mm/year. This is expected to continue in the future, contributing to the increased frequency and severity of coastal flooding in low-lying cities and increased groundwater salinity due to seawater intrusion. Between 108 and 116 million people in Africa are expected to be at risk from sea level rise by 2030.
  4. Drought in East Africa has worsened as a result of a succession of poor rainy seasons coupled with intensified conflict, associated displacement of people, and restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. High food prices have affected food availability and affordability, leaving more than 58 million people acutely food insecure. The situation is worsening this year, particularly in Ethiopia, Somalia, and parts of Kenya. Southern Madagascar is also suffering from an acute drought.  

After Africa Climate Week in Gabon and in the run-up to COP27 on climate change in Egypt in November 2022, countries need to raise their ambitions and the targets of their national plans to effectively reduce emissions by 2030, through country-level mobilization, greater government commitment, and a sustainability-oriented energy policy.

For Tiana Ramahaleo from WWF "Adaptation to climate change must be at the heart of our actions, and nature is our first ally. Our protected areas and biodiversity are the best option to help us adapt to the effects of climate change. As such, policy decisions, funding and conservation efforts must be directed to ensure that our natural resources are there for us and our future generations. Keeping our nature healthy and full of life instead of destroying it is how we can build the resilience of our people and our ecosystems to the vagaries of climate.  "

To date, more than 40 African countries have already revised their national climate plans (Nationally Determined Contributions) to increase their level of ambition and add greater commitments to climate change adaptation and mitigation. More than 83% of national climate plans include greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, targeted in areas such as energy, agriculture, waste, land use and forestry.