10.4.3. Cross-Cutting Issues
In some of the sectors affected by climate changesuch as water resources,
food security, and natural resourcesit may be possible to attach financial
values. At this point, there are few if any published data on the economic impacts
of climate change on these sectors in Africa. However, there are indications
of what it costs to support communities that have been affected by famine and
floods. Because most of this is foreign aid, it is difficult to evaluate costs
in relation to individual country economies. There are indications that water
shortages have a negative impact on power generation and consequently economic
activities. It is acknowledged that some elements such as health are difficult
to cost. Nevertheless, the financial impacts of dealing with epidemics such
as malaria, menengitis, and cholera are known by various governments. Governments
may be able to translate the impacts described in this assessment to national
costs and begin to plan how to develop adaptive financial measures. As methods
for impact assessment involve more integrated modeling, it will be possible
to quantify impacts of specific climate change scenarios, either in terms of
goods and services or in monetary terms.
10.4.3.2. Development, Sustainability, and Equity
The great uncertainty is the political development of Africa. Africa has had
its share of surprises in the political arena. What appeared to be a steady
march to economic growth would be shattered by sudden political upheavals and
festering corruption among national leadership, which tends to have a trickle-down
effect until the process of governance is corrupted at its core. On the other
hand, the sudden collapse of apartheid in South Africa brought a fresh wind
of hope in southern Africa, with far-reaching impacts on the rest of the continent.
The adaptive recommendations made in this assessment assume an underpinning
of good governance and social responsibility. Achebe et al. (1990) tackle
the issue of Africa's future political and economic demise. Using various
approaches and assumptions, they conclude that Africa may not enjoy political
and economic stability prior to 2020-2030 at the earliest. According to
climate change impact scenarios, this is the period when climate impacts will
have significant impacts on the economic and social fabric. Thus, the message
is that Africa must get its house in order as a matter of urgency. We challenge
the African political leadership to belie the Achebe et al. (1990) prognosis.
The impacts of climate change are expected to be severe, yet Africa's
contribution to climate change through emissions is minimal. There are strong
feelings among some people in the South who would like to see the North implement
tangible emissions reductions and find ways of helping the South adapt to adverse
impacts of climate change. From this synthesis, it is clear that Africa is highly
vulnerable, with very low capacity to adapt. There is great potential to transfer
technology to Africa that would help in developing sustainable agriculture,
as well as other technologies that would assist in improving welfare and economic
Although the relative importance of climatic and anthropogenic factors in causing
desertification remains unresolved, evidence shows that certain arid, semi-arid,
and dry subhumid areas have experienced declines in rainfall, resulting in decreases
in soil fertility and agricultural, livestock, forest, and rangeland production.
Ultimately, these adverse impacts lead to political and socioeconomic instability.
Given the range and magnitude of development constraints and challenges facing
most African nations, the overall capacity for Africa to adapt to climate change
is low. Although there is uncertainty about what the future holds, Africa must
start planning now to adapt to climate change. National environmental action
plans and their implementation need to incorporate long-term changes and pursue
"no regret" strategies. Current technologies and approachesespecially
in agriculture and waterare unlikely to be adequate to meet projected
demands, and increased climate variability will be an additional stress. Seasonal
forecastingfor example, linking SST to outbreaks of diseasesis a
promising adaptive strategy that will help to save lives.
Climate change offers some opportunities for development. The process of adapting
to global climate change, including technology transfer, offers new development
pathways that could take advantage of Africa's resources and human potential.
Examples would include competitive agricultural products, resulting from research
in new crop varieties and increased international trade, and industrial developments
such as solar energy. Regional cooperation in science, resource management,
and development already is increasing.
This assessment of vulnerability to climate change is marked by uncertainty.
The diversity of African climates, high rainfall variability, and a very sparse
observational network make predictions of future climate change difficult at
the subregional and local levels. Underlying exposure and vulnerability to climatic
changes are well established. Sensitivity to climatic variations is established
but incomplete. However, uncertainty about future conditions means that there
is low confidence in projected costs of climate change.