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Climate change: Africa is most affected

By Vision Reporter

Added 30th November 2012 05:16 PM

Meeting after meeting, 18 times later, the world’s climate experts are at it once again in Doha, Qatar, to discuss climate change, but the problem continues unabated.

By Catherine Mwesigwa Kizza

Meeting after meeting, 18 times later, the world’s climate experts are at it once again in Doha, Qatar, to discuss climate change, but the problem continues unabated.
“Climate change is the biggest challenge to humanity this century,” says Fanuel Tolo, the director of programmes of Climate Network Africa.
He observes that African countries, who contribute least to emissions that cause global warming, are most hit.
Global warming, a result of increased concentration of carbondioxide  and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, has led to harsh climatic conditions all over the world.
According to Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report, 75 million to 250 million people in Africa are projected to be exposed to increased water stress  by 2020.
The report predicts that yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50% in some regions by 2020 and that agricultural production and access to food, may be severely compromised.
According to a Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, PACJA, statement, women and children are walking longer distances to find water. 75% of maize growing regions in Africa have registered crop losses of up to 30%. This has implications on food security. 
“Africa bears the burden of climate change, but it is not of its making,” Tolo says.
He notes that there are more cars in New York State than in the whole of Africa. He urges rich countries to reduce their excessive, wasteful consumption and polluting lifestyles to reduce emissions.
70% of carbondioxide from industrial sources is emitted by the 20% of the people living in developed countries. The whole of Africa with its population of a billion people contributes only 4%, a PACJA statement says.
 “Landslides are killing people, there is an increase of hot days, changing climate impacts food production,” Mithika Mwenda, the coordinator of PACJA observes.
“Africa is most prone to the vagaries of climate change. We cannot just sit down and complain about the developed world’s actions,” says Wilbur Otichillo, a Kenyan Member of Parliament, who has tabled a Climate Change Bill in the Kenyan House.
It is hoped that the Bill now slated for its second reading will be enacted into law by the tenth parliament.
“We need to push for a global agenda on climate change,” he says.
He observes the importance of having home-grown, customised strategies for Africa.
Uganda has found oil and is planning to exploit it, so has Kenya. Both countries have plans of developing into middle income economies using these resources in the next few decades.
“If Africa does not come up with strategies for low-carbon development now, we will find ourselves with the same problem as the developed countries,” he warns.
Otichillo was addressing members of the Kenyan civil society and African journalists attending a climate change dialogue in Nairobi last weekend ahead of the eighteenth Conference of Parties on Climate Change. Scientists, experts, activists and politicians from 194 nations of the world are in Doha to discuss Climate Change.
He observed that many meetings on climate change have not achieved much.
“It is a circus, we make noise, say much, but get nothing out of it,” he says adding, “ We have many resolutions made by developed countries, but they have never been fulfilled. Where they have been, they have not benefitted the people of Africa.”
He asserts that developed countries are seeing climate change as a business and great economic opportunity.
“They are coming up with new technologies to sell to us. They want large scale climate change innovations like wind farms, which will cost us billions we cannot afford. African countries are better off taking the destiny in their own hands” he asserts.
Mithika Mwenda is calling for a change in the way the issue is looked at.
“Climate change is a poverty issue not a just a scientific or environment issue,” he argues.
He highlights the need for sustainable development to provide security for the poor and climate justice since the phenomenon is largely caused by rich nations and rich people.
Mwenda calls for a changing discourse on climate change that emphasises broader people participation from the grassroots to the highest levels.
He also calls for multi-literalism, where poor African countries can have one voice.


Climate change: Africa is most affected

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