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Urgent action needed for Africa’s climate sensitive sectors

Africa’s growth depends heavily on climate sensitive sectors and natural resources therefore, an urgent call to action has been made by Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia following the severity, frequency and rate of climate related disruptions across the world and in Africa.

There have been prolonged and intensified droughts in Eastern Africa, unprecedented floods in Western Africa, depletion of rain forest in equatorial Africa, and an increase in ocean acidity around Southern Africa. Currently Sierre Leone was also his heavily by mudslides killing over 500 and displacing others.

These vastly altered weather patterns and climate extremes threaten agricultural production, food security, health, water, energy, security and all these undermine Africa’s ability to grow and develop.

Given the frequency of this climate change, there is no better time than now to rethink growth models in Africa for a sustainable life support system noted ECA’s executive secretary, Ms. Vera Songwe.

“It is simply not enough to perceive climate change, variability and extreme events as an add-on to a litany of pressing world problems. We must see climate change and its negative manifestations as an opportunity to rethink our growth model, not as a standalone, but as part of our life support system. In short, growth is not antithetical to environmental preservation,”.

This was made known at the first annual African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET) Africa Hydromet 2017 Forum in Addis Ababa.

Ms. Songwe said hurricane Irma and Harvey and the catastrophic mudslides in Sierra Leone, which led to untold destruction and loss of lives, detonate the harsh reality that urgency is needed in tackling climate extremes.

Albeit Africa, like the rest of the world is faced with these climate changes but unlike other continents, Africa’s ability to tackle this weather changes is challenged with lack of information, climate smart infrastructure and relevant resources that can be readily deployed to insulate people, lives and livelihoods from such catastrophes.

Regardless of its shortcomings in areas such as resources, Africa could still savour the situation as climate change offers Africa the opportunity to transition towards a development model that will foster growth, preserve the environment and offer opportunities to its people using a low carbon growth model.

Basically, this means that Africa needs to develop a plan and strategy that supports local, national and regional action that turns climate change to our advantage. According to European Union Ambassador, Ranieri Sabatucci, earth observation hi-tech infrastructure and knowledge are a key priority in climate change.