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Adapting to climate change in East Africa: a strategic approach

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V.A. Orindi
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This paper provides an overview of the likely impacts of climate change in three least developed countries in East Africa: Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. In the coming decades, climate change is likely to alter temperatures and distribution of rainfall, contribute to sea-level rise and increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events in East Africa. Climate change will have both a direct impact on development of climate-dependent activities (such as infrastructure and agriculture) and indirect consequences for social systems (such as issues of poverty, conflict, health and education). As a result, climate change has the potential to undermine, and even undo, socio-economic development in East Africa and it is imperative that governments and institutions come together to formulate long-term adaptation strategies.Despite the inherent link between climate change and development, climate change continues to be unrecognised in many African countries. And yet, the impacts of climate change are not just of environmental concern, but will impede efforts to tackle poverty and promote national development. Moreover, the problems impeding socio-economic development in African countries are often the same as those that increase vulnerability to climate change.This paper hopes to demonstrate the need for African countries to formulate comprehensive climate change adaptation strategies that focus on the needs of the poor and are integrated into the wider development agenda. Specific recommendations include:understanding, documenting and strengthening existing livelihood coping strategies rather than imposing new, high-tech solutionsco-ordinating efforts between governments, private sector and civil society in promoting adaptation to climate change and sustainable development through sharing of ideas. This will encourage innovation and maximise the efficiency with which limited resources are usedintegrating climate change adaptation into the development agenda, across all sectors and all levels of government.