For the past decades, the African economy has much depended on agriculture. The agricultural sector has remained as the economic foundation of many African countries, employing over 60 per cent of the workforce and contributing an average of 30 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.
Despite its importance as the driving force for the economy, it has been stagnant due to underinvestment and poor policies.
In addition to these challenges, climate change has emerged as a real threat to the Rain-Fed agricultural sector. Global average temperatures have been on the increase, predicted to rise by more than two per cent by the end of the 21 century and could increase by much as three per cent by 2050,
Rising sea levels as most small islands in Mozambique have disappeared with inadequate rainfall most likely may lead to drought, Zambia being the example, less to zero rainfall in some parts of the country has badly affected agriculture threatening food security.
And the most severe one has been in South Africa’s Cape Town, one of the jewels in South Africa’s tourism crown will become the first major modern city in the world to completely run out of water if there is no sustained rainfall in the next short few months, they call it the Day Zero predicted to be on April 12, 2018 — harsh measures have already started being implemented like only 50 liters of water will be allocated per household that will cover drinking, washing, cooking and even flushing the toilet.
These are just a few mentioned examples of the challenges that the continent is facing due to climate changes. And Africa seems to be more vulnerable compared to other continents, with ten countries most affected by greenhouse gas emissions, six of them are from Africa as reported by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
But why is this the case? Is it because Africa emits more toxic gases compared to the rest of the world? That’s the exact opposite, Africa is the lowest contributor of global toxic gases, contributing only four per cent. Many factors can be at play but major ones being as follows.
There exist lack of serious adaptation policy. The fact we face today is climate change seems impossible to tackle by reducing carbon emissions as the main culprits are still spending billions everyday subsidizing the discovery of new coal, oil and gas reserves.
The best for Africa is to adapt to climate change. The first step towards adapting starts from the weather predictors, research shows that there is serious lack of data to determine how the climate is changing regionally and locally.
Most of the meteorological institutions are dormant. There is no data on the changing distribution on rainfall and so forth. Within the agricultural season, there are simply no prediction on anything that might be useful for policy makers to plan ahead.
Most African countries go into the agricultural season with only hope and prayers that the climate will favor them.
That is the first challenge that has to be tackled, there is need to invest both human and physical capital in this area for better predictions.
Not only investing better data prediction but also investing in researching seed development, a few examples of countries that have taken such investments is Morocco.
This country has engaged in the Climate-Risk Management strategy which fund the seed scientist to help breeders develop drought and climate tolerant and disease-resilient crops. Limiting future risk to food supplies.
In addition they have taken further efforts in better soil management, planting legumes such as Faba bean, chickpeas and lentils that naturally fix nitrogen to the soil reducing the need for fertilizer.
Lack of financing is another problem as Mr Yuvan A. Beejadhur, a natural resource specialist explains: “With these effects of climate change Africa will need a cascade in financing, it will require significant funds, finance and investment that need to be unlocked, leveraged and catalyzed for building resilient and climate-smart ocean economies.”
Africa only receives five per cent from the Global Dedicated Climate Funding. In addition, lack of access of funds to the funding platforms like Least Developed Countries Fund, the Special Climate Change Fund, Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund remain controversial and continues to provoke heated debate.
United Nations believe the inability to access these funds is largely due to poor governance by African countries, they attribute this to weak institutions capacity to draft proposals and negotiate funding at various levels of government.
While pushing for better access of funds from the international stage, there is also need for African countries to prioritize agriculture funding locally like what Morocco has done, this can easily be done by cutting down on the unnecessary spending and diverting the resources to the agricultural sector.
These aresolutions that should be implemented before it is too late. A new research published by Lance International predicts that climate change could kill more than 500,000 people a year globally by 2050 by making their diet less healthy.
Health risk of climate change are far greater than thought. Climate change is the greatest threat to health in the 21st century with potential to roll back 50 years of progress.- The author is an economist