How Africa Is Dealing with Climate Change

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Brookings Foresight Africa is a series of reports, commentaries, and events targeting policymakers and Africa watchers to stay on top of the region’s trends and developments.

Countries in Africa are vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change impacts. Among the many tragedies in the region, droughts are the most impactful to its population leading to humanitarian crises and, if not addressed quickly enough, could cascade to other problems.

The Foresight Africa 2017 report points to climate change as one of the significant obstacles to growth in the region.

By this time, 100 countries have signed the Paris Agreement to limit global warming below 2°C. These countries also agreed to submit their plans and pledges on how to reduce GHG emissions.

The Foresight Africa 2017 Report Chapter 5 discusses how climate change affects 30 African countries and how future impacts of climate change are uncertain. Thus, the need to act early and ensure that systems are in place to deal with the negative consequences of climate change.

The report also discusses the economic implication of climate change, especially in agriculture and predicts that by 2050, the region can suffer 20-30% or even higher crop losses. Under climate change, food availability will fall while agricultural prices will increase and dramatically hinder GDP growth in Sub-Saharan African countries.

Lake Chad has shrunk by 95% from around 1963 to 1998, from 25,000 square kilometres to less than 2,500. Its drying up has threatened the livelihood and resources of 50 million people in the area, which can likely double by 2030. The lake’s shrinking is considered an “ecological catastrophe” by the United Nations.

The presence of Boko Haram, a terrorist group, has further complicated the situation, and conflicts from them displaced 2.8 million and caused 9.2 million in need of humanitarian assistance.

Climate change can further exacerbate the existing tension and conflict in the area. Where there is poverty, unemployment, and governance problems, it can radicalise many, creating social exclusions and mistrust.

African governments have coordinated among themselves to tackle these problems and find solutions. They have made sure that they have a voice during the UN climate change conferences and that concerns for developing countries are heard. Some countries like Ghana, Ethiopia, Morocco, and South Africa have taken climate change seriously and developed strategies to adapt.

The report also suggests some strategies that policymakers can focus on as they implement sustainable development in the region. Some of these strategies are transforming agriculture and land use to improve crop productivity, diversifying into manufacturing, managing urbanisation, promoting renewable energy transition, and enhancing gender equity.

Climate pledges from developed countries and financial support from international organisations will be crucial for Africa to build climate change resilience and long-term economic transformation.

To know more about the report, click the link to the report cited at the bottom of the article.


Bishop, R. (2017, January 9). Confronting climate change, Africa’s leadership on an increasingly urgent issue. Brookings. Retrieved from

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