Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

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10.4.3. Cross-Cutting Issues Costing

In some of the sectors affected by climate change—such as water resources, food security, and natural resources—it 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. 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 development.

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 approaches—especially in agriculture and water—are unlikely to be adequate to meet projected demands, and increased climate variability will be an additional stress. Seasonal forecasting—for example, linking SST to outbreaks of diseases—is 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.

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