Climate change threatens Africa’s anti-poverty efforts

October 12th, 2010 | by addis portal |

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – The effects of the global climate change could undo the progress African countries have made in tackling persistent diseases like malaria and other health challenges, UN Economic Commission (UNECA) Executive Chief Abdoulie Janneh, has warned.

Janneh told a gathering of experts that new studies were urgently required to de termine the extent to which the issue of climate change could affect Africa’s development progress.

‘We risk losing progress made on social and human development in the face of challenges presented by climate change and we must act to safeguard these achievements as they relate to health and education,’ the UN senior official said here Monday.

Over 700 climate change practitioners are expected to attend the Seventh African Development Forum (ADF VII) from 10’15 October, 2010, on the theme, ‘Acting on Climate Change for Sustainable Development in Africa’.

The forum is being co-organised by UNECA, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Union Commission (AU).

The talks are focused on finding adaptation strategies through effective action on policies, strategies, programmes and practices.

ECA’s Director, Food Security and Sustainable Development Division, Josue Dione, said Africa contributes only about 3.8 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions yet its countries are among the most vulnerable to climate change.

‘The imminent and project impact of the threat of climate change to sustainable development in Africa makes this forum timely and urgent,’ Dione said.

‘Not too long ago, the Gambia spent millions of dollars to reclaim the beaches that are so crucial to the country’s tourism. Today, the sea has fought back, repossessing the reclaimed land and the sea is now a few metres away from many hotels,’ he said.

He also noted that unusual weather patterns are confusing farmers and negatively affecting productivity in many African countries.

Janneh called for research on how climate change could affect key areas in Africa’s social and human development in order to allow the various governments to make informed choices on areas that require attention and strengthening.

In Tanzania, he noted, the disease burden may increase as a result of climate change.

Malaria, one of the leading killer diseases on the continent, has increased in Rwandan and Tanzania highlands due to the rise in temperatures.

In South Africa, the malaria-risk areas may double, putting as many as 7.8 million people at risk of an infection, come 2100, Janneh warned.

He said the effects of climate change on women, children and persons with disabilities should also be examined.

Meanwhile, the UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) data revealed that a quarter of Africa’s population lives within 100 kilometers of the coast and most of Africa’s largest cities are along coasts and therefore vulnerable to sea level rise, coastal erosion and extreme events.

The forum will therefore aim to address the increasing challenges through spirited, action-oriented approach to dialogue and attention to existing research.

Addis Ababa – Pana 12/10/2010

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