Threat: Climate Change

Why Climate Change: There is a need for developing countries to adapt to effects of climate change. 

Climate change in Africa is an increasingly serious threat for Africans as Africa is among the most vulnerable continents to climate change. Anthropogenic climate change is already a reality in Africa, as it is elsewhere in the world. 

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the vulnerability of Africa to climate change is driven by a range of factors that include weak adaptive capacity, high dependence on ecosystem goods for livelihoods, and less developed agricultural production systems. The risks of climate change on agricultural production, food security, water resources and ecosystem services will likely have increasingly severe consequences on lives and sustainable development prospects in Africa. 

Managing this risk requires an integration of mitigation and adaptation strategies in the management of ecosystem goods and services, and the agriculture production systems in Africa. Climate change acts as a risk multiplier for development, making the root causes of existing challenges much worse. In addition, COVID-19 has exacerbated matters in some contexts and makes the situation very difficult. 

Amidst existing inequalities in the region, which are some of the highest globally, we see how these climatic factors amplify the existing social tensions. The development community in Southern Africa needs to think differently, and we need to think far ahead and respond to the situation of tomorrow, today. We need to adapt to climate change on a massive scale and provide innovative solutions and technologies to match the needs that are out there. We must invest in long programming to address this long-term challenge.

We must invest in long programming to address this long-term challenge. 

Climate change increases risk and uncertainty in the region which is characterized by low adaptive capacity. Impacts of changes in temperatures and rainfall patterns include increased water scarcity, pest infestations, increased frequency and intensity of droughts and floods. Observed weather patterns show that the region experienced normal rainfall in only two of the last nine cropping seasons. Climate change is a threat multiplier, especially for the poor and most vulnerable sections of society. It can exacerbate existing vulnerabilities such as poverty, hunger, poor health and hamper progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals set for 2030. 

Climate change-associated extreme weather events are affecting livelihoods, economies, and the environment, in turn exacerbating existing vulnerabilities in the region. In 2019, while Cyclone Idai was the deadliest storm to hit Mozambique in terms of lives taken, Cyclone Kenneth was only the second Category 4 storm ever to strike Mozambique and was, together with Eline, the strongest ever to hit mainland Africa. Southern Africa faced its worst drought in 35 years during the 2016 El Nino period. After failed 2018-19 rains, Zambia faced one of its worst droughts in decades. Southern Madagascar is currently facing severe drought conditions that have driven an estimated 1.35 million people to the brink of survival. Global warming and climate change in the SADC region already contributes to rural-urban migration. With more crop failure associated with the recurrence of droughts, more and more people, especially the subsistence farmers, abandon their land and migrate into towns and cities to seek alternative income-generating opportunities. 

Climate change is expected to exacerbate the environmentally induced migration patterns. Social protection can be part of a proactive approach to managing climate-induced migration and, on the other hand, it can reduce distress migration and erosive coping strategies. Public employment opportunities can create assets that enhance livelihood opportunities and explicitly address the impacts of climate change in both rural and urban areas and in places of origin and destination. 

As we face these increasing adverse conditions, we must respond with dedicated efforts to improve resilience of livelihoods and work with governments and all partners to increase the capacities to adapt to the effects of climate change. We must know and acknowledge that we cannot do all this by ourselves - that we need all the stakeholders to come with the same idea to the table. 

We must have the confidence that we can take climate action today to support all our national partners and rural and urban communities of Southern Africa. 

Discussion themes and local context Food Security: Climate change is having a significant growing impact in Southern Africa. 

It is hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. The recurrent impacts of climate change are contributing to food insecurity and displacing populations. In recent years, we have seen prolonged droughts, such as in Madagascar or Angola. 

The devastating floods that have been taking place due to cyclones and locusts in Namibia and Zambia have affected the food security and nutrition of millions of people in this region. The 2021 Global Report on Food Crisis found that the COVID-19 pandemic, protracted conflicts and climate change - the three C’s - have created an untenable situation for almost 155 million people, and probably more. 

This year, the number of hungry will reach a five-year high. Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come. 

According to a recent report by the Norwegian Refugee Council, climate disasters in Southern Africa in 2020 have displaced almost half a million people. In 2019, we had millions displaced due to climate disasters. 

This year, we see between 40 to 51 million people who are food insecure in the region. This food insecurity is mostly related to climate change and economic factors related to COVID-19. Climate change is a long-term threat to food security and nutrition in the Southern African region. It affects all pillars of food security including availability, access, utilization, and stability. Without adaptation, by 2050, approximately 30% of the entire SADC region will be exposed to various climate hazards. Altered weather patterns are severely affecting crop production, with detrimental effects on food and nutrition security. Over the last decade, cereal production has fallen, and the region has been recording cereal deficits ranging between 0.1 and 8.9 million metric tonnes. 

The interaction between food systems and the climate is complex and bidirectional. Climate change threatens to break down food systems by increasing the frequency and severity of natural hazards, with a disproportionate impact on vulnerable food-insecure households. 

At the same time, food systems contribute to climate change by increased greenhouse gas emissions. Smallholders are the backbone of regional food supply on the production side, generating 90% of total agricultural output. However, 30% of this production is likely at risk from climate hazards. The most important climate hazard in the region is heat stress, represented by high growing season temperatures. Heat stress can lower the productivity of crops, such as wheat and maize, and of livestock. It also affects human labour and increases the risk of natural disasters and reduce the growing season. The second most prevalent hazard category identified for the SADC region encompasses several combinations of the various individual hazards such as floods, rainfall variability, reduction in growing season. 

In some cases, four or more of the hazards occur simultaneously. Women and girls are the most affected during climatic shocks. Throughout the region, the impact of climate change on women and girls is intrinsically linked to intersecting discriminations and violations of their human rights and dignity. 

Droughts and desertification can mean that women (and girls) must travel further each day searching for water and firewood (or other fuel), increasing their workload and exposing them to risks of violence Climate Change is predicted to increase the number of undernourished children under 5 years by an additional 2.4 million in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2050. 

It is estimated that by 2050, moderate stunting will increase by up to 29% globally, while severe stunting could increase by 23% in Sub-Saharan Africa due to climate change. Increased carbon dioxide levels lead to the reduced nutritional quality of food, with the iron, zinc and protein content in maize, wheat, rice, peas and soy decreasing by up to 3-17%.