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Climate Change Impact On Sub Saharan Africa Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 1805 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The vulnerability to climate change is considered to be high in developing countries due to social, economic and environmental conditions that amplify susceptibility to negative impacts and contribute to low capacity to cope with and adapt to climate hazards. In addition, projected impacts of climate change generally are more adverse for low latitudes, where most developing countries are located, than for higher latitudes. The developing countries face many challenges – poverty, a high disease burden, rapid population growth, food insecurity, and limited water access. Climate change is likely to drive the majority of the population into destitution, as assets are lost and resources are diverted to deal with emergencies, instead of being used for development. Historically, the earth has experienced periods of cooling and warming, with mean temperatures remaining relatively stable. These changes were due to the energy balance between land, sea and atmosphere. However, human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation have contributed to the increase in greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. These trap much of the heat that would otherwise escape from the earth, leading to a generally warmer world. An agricultural expansion seems unlikely and increases in agricultural productivity are needed in order to avoid additional people being forced into poverty and hunger (Cline 2007).

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Current climate hazards and the impacts of projected climate change threaten human development (African Development Bank et al, 2003). Climate is linked to all the Millennium Development Goals, but is most directly relevant to the goals to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, reduce child mortality, combat disease, and ensure environmental sustainability (Martin-Hurtado et al, 2002). Agriculture, which is highly sensitive to climate and which is projected to be negatively impacted by climate change in much of the tropics and sub-tropics, is the direct or indirect source of livelihood for about two-thirds of the population of developing countries and is a substantial contributor to their national incomes. About 70% of the world’s poor live in rural areas. Management of climate hazards and climate change impacts in the agriculture sector and rural communities will be critical for success.

Climate change threatens the basic elements of life for people around the world – access to water, food, health, and use of land and the environment.

The vulnerability of people to food insecurity, which accompanies poverty, is increased due to the degradation of the natural environment and the products (e.g. fruits, fish, water and range-fed livestock) and services (e.g. regulating climate) that it provides (Biggs et. al., 2004).

Degradation is due to a number of trends including climate change, soil erosion, the conversion of ecosystems into croplands, overgrazing and urban expansion, among other factors (Biggs et. al., 2004).

Climate change poses a serious threat to ecosystems in the developing countries in both the medium and long term. Increases in temperature will lead, not only to an increase in the frequency of extreme events, but also to severe degradation of biodiversity and the loss of water resources that are already scarce (Biggs et. al., 2004).

Sub-Saharan Africa is the region most vulnerable to the impacts of change because of widespread poverty and low levels of technical development which limits adaptation capabilities. There is considerable evidence that climate change is already affecting Africa’s people and its environment to the greater extend than any other region of the world in terms of their livelihoods (Lindsay, et al 2009).

The impacts of climate change are predicted to affect the livelihoods of most people in developing countries and most especially in Africa in many ways. By 2020, between 75 and 250 million people are predicted to be exposed to increased water stress due to climate change. By 2020, yields from rain-fed agriculture in some countries could be reduced by up to 50 percent, increasing food insecurity and hunger. By 2080, an increase of 5 to 8 percent of arid and semi-arid land in Africa is projected.

Climate change is likely to affect the distribution patterns of infectious diseases; for example, there is likely to be an increase in mosquitoes which spread dengue and yellow fever. Sea levels are projected to rise by around 25cm by 2050; Africa’s coastal areas are already experiencing environmental problems including coastal erosion, flooding and subsidence. (Said Kolawole et al 2009).

Alessandra Giannini, et al, 2008, reviews the evidence that connects drought and desertification in the Sahel with climate change past, present and future in the sub-region.

Their study concludes that there is a correlation between the desertification and climate change in the Sahel region of Africa. The African Sahel provides the most dramatic example of multi-decadal climate variability that has been quantitatively and directly measured. Annual rainfall across this region fell by between 20 and 30 per cent between the decades leading up to political independence for the Sahelian nations (1930s to 1950s) and the decades since (1970s to 1990s).

Lindsay, et al 2009, further throws more light on the impacts of climate change, drought and desertification and how they are closely interlinked, and most acutely experienced by populations whose livelihoods depend principally on natural resources.

Their paper examines three interlinked drivers of adaptation; climate change, desertification and drought, assessing the extent to which international and national policy supports local adaptive strategies.

2. Problem Statement

The unimpeded growth of greenhouse gas emissions is raising the earth’s temperature. The consequences include melting glaciers, more precipitation, more and more extreme weather events, and shifting seasons. The accelerating pace of climate change, combined with global population and income growth, threatens food security everywhere. Agriculture is extremely vulnerable to climate change. Higher temperatures eventually reduce yields of desirable crops while encouraging weed and pest proliferation.

Changes in precipitation patterns increase the likelihood of short-run crop failures and long-run production declines. Although there will be gains in some crops in some regions of the world, the overall impacts of climate change on agriculture are expected to be negative, threatening global food security. Populations in the developing world, which are already vulnerable and food insecure, are likely to be the most seriously affected. In 2005, nearly half of the economically active population in developing countries-2.5 billion people-relied on agriculture for its livelihood. Today, 75 percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas. (Gerald C. et al 2009).

Climate change issues require multiple stakeholders, global challenges and social sustainability issues. This is because there are varying debates on the causes, impacts of climate, adaptation and mitigation issues when identifying sustainable solutions on the topic.

The presence of significant uncertainties has led researchers to emphasize the analysis of regional and national effects (Mendelsohn & Dinar, 2004). The issue of climate change is without doubt important for developing countries with an agrarian economy and very difficult to apprehend easily as it is multi- faceted in approach.

The topic is very complex, transnational in nature and integrated in perspective and approach. The linkage of social impact of climate change in the developing countries have not been well researched and most especially in connection with Sub Saharan Africa and non-Sub-Sahara Africa (NSSA) countries.

Climate Change has several livelihood impacts in developing countries as it reduces yields, household incomes, health issues, environmental problems and the vulnerability of the disadvantages in rural communities.

3. Hypothesis

The socio-economic impact of climate change is much more likely to affect Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) than non-Sub-Sahara Africa (NSSA) countries and socio-economic dimension of adaptation respectively.

4. Overall Objective

To undertake a comparative studies on the socio-economic impact of climate change and their socio- economic dimensions of adaptation in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and non-Sub-Sahara Africa (NSSA) countries.

5. Empirical Research Questions

1. To review literature on the socio-economic impacts of climate change in the developing countries.

2. To identify the linkages between Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and non-Sub-Sahara Africa (NSSA) countries in terms of climate change socio-economic impacts.

3. To analyse the socio-economic dimensions of adaptation in these countries, taking into account, pro-poor adaptation, microfinance, safety net, new technologies, index insurance and livelihoods.

6. Theoretical and Conceptual Issues

A substantial amount of research has been conducted on the potential effects of climate on agricultural productivity (Parry, 1990; Leemans & Solomon, 1993). Some studies have used climate induced changes in crop yield to estimate potential global economic impacts (Kane et al., 1992), while others have examined the indirect impact on economic variables such as farm revenue and income (Lang, 2001; Molua, 2003). Schimmelpfennig et al. (1996) present a simple taxonomy that classifies the method of analysis as either structural (Adams et al., 1990, 1995, 1998) or spatial analogue (Darwin et al., 1999; Kurukulasuriya & Ajwad, 2007).

This study would employ some institutional economics theories and the sustainable livelihoods framework analysis in doing the comparative studies.

7. Methodology

The study would make use of quantitative and qualitative reviews of literature from secondary sources and data already collected from the various regions and undertake the comparative review and analysis. The study would as well make use of participatory rural appraisal methods when visiting the field for data collection to get first hand information on the impacts of climate change and adaptation in the various regions.

Quantitative analysis and econometrics methods would be applied in this study as well. Data analysis would as well be made with reference to the research problems and objectives. Data collected would be classified after the collection process and Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS) would be used to analyse all the data collected in the field.


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