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  • 90m to 220m people will be exposed to increased water stress

  • Climate change predicted to change infectious disease occurrence

  • Africa expected to have higher than average levels of sea rise.

Scientists predict that between 90 million to 220 million people will be exposed to increased water stress due to climate change three years from now- that is by 2020. This would be devastating for a region that is already prone to water-related issues.

Eight African countries that are considered the most threatened by climate change globally are: Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Nigeria, Chad, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic, and Eritrea.

Agricultural production in many African countries and regions is predicted to be negatively affected by climate change. Crop yields from agriculture that is rain fed could decrease by up to 50 percent by 2020, and 94 percent of the continent’s agriculture is already rain-dependent. This would also have severly negative impacts on food security on the continent.

Climate change is also predicted to change infectious disease occurrence, with Africa seeing increases in rates of malaria and the spread of malaria occurrence to areas where it previously was not endemic.

Highland areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi are expected to start experiencing malaria around 2050.

Projections for rising sea levels vary globally, but as Africa is within a predominantly tropical area, it’s expected to have higher than average levels of sea rise.

In West Africa, 56 percent of GDP is generated near the coast. In addition, there are at least three cities with populations over 8 million located in coastal areas of Africa.

Analysts predict that rising sea levels will have significant adverse impacts on concentrations of vulnerable populations living in urban coastal areas. There are many large coastal African cities that could be very negatively affected by rising sea levels.

A report by UN-Habitat listed the following cities that could be affected: Abidjan, Accra, Alexandria, Algiers, Cape Town, Casablanca, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Djibouti, Durban, Freetown, Lagos, Libreville, Lome, Luanda, Maputo, Mombasa, Port Louis, and Tunis.

Of these, Lagos is considered a megacity (over 10 million people) and Dar es Salaam is on its way.

According to the African Development Bank, climate change is already negatively affecting the GDP of African countries by approximately 1.4 percent.

The costs of adaptation are expected to reach 3 percent of annual GDP by 2030. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that extreme weather events, like floods and droughts, are going to be experienced with more frequency and intensity in Africa due to climate change.

According to the World Bank, Africa has experienced more than 2,000 natural disasters since 1970, with almost half taking place in the last decade.

From 1995 to 2015, there were many extreme weather events on the continent, specifically 136 episodes of drought—77 in East Africa alone.

In 2015, South Africa also experienced its worst drought in 100 years. Niger, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Angola, and Malawi all experienced extreme flooding.

In 2016, Southern Africa experienced severe drought that caused failed crops, decreased yields, and spikes in food prices.

In sum, climate change presents a risk to African countries’ longterm economic transformation, which remains a priority. However, transformation itself would build resilience to climate impacts, and there is potential that it could be low carbon.

Editor’s note: Highlights from report by Africa Growth Initiative  titled Foresight Africa, Top Priorities for the Continent in 2017

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