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Pushing the agenda for climate change in East Africa

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Victor A. Orindi
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Climate change is one of the most serious development challenges facing humanity. Many of Africa’s poorest countries, which have contributed least to global warming, are amongst the most vulnerable to climate change. While industrialised countries dedicate resources to protect themselves, the impacts of climate change in Africa continue to be ignored.Research
from the International Institute for Environment and Development, UK, focuses
on the anticipated impacts of climate change in three East African Least
Developed Countries (LDCs): Sudan, Tanzania and
Uganda. Climatic changes have already been observed in these countries. The
populations of the most at-risk areas are often poor, and their lack of
economic resources mean they are poorly prepared to adapt to changes. Yet national
governments do not recognise the links between development and climate change,
regarding it as a distant problem.
the coming decades, climate change will continue to alter temperatures and
rainfall, contribute to rising sea levels and increase the risk of extreme
weather events. Climate change could result in higher food prices and lower
domestic revenues, as well as an increasing incidence of pests and diseases.
Nearly 80 percent of the region’s population relying on agriculture for income;
these people will be most affected.
to the stresses of HIV/AIDS, civil war and security that already affect East
Africa, climate change will only worsen the region’s poverty. In fact, the
research suggests climate change will also have affect conflicts, health and
education. As a result, climate change has the potential to undermine or even
undo all development efforts in East Africa. Despite this, climate change
continues to be treated separately from the wider development agenda. The
report identifies:
The majority of current national strategy
responses are overly technical and expensive.
Many traditional methods for coping with existing
climate variability are good examples of how East Africa can prepare for and
adapt to climate change.
Strategies that may benefit pastoral groups
include the formation or strengthening of associations to ensure that development
planning includes their needs.
Microcredit may help
diversify livelihood options by spreading activities throughout the year and
investing in assets that are easier to move in case of disasters.
African countries must formulate climate change adaptation
strategies that focus on the needs of poor people. Both governments and civil
society have a role to play in educating this. The report suggests they must:
understand, document and strengthen existing
coping strategies rather than impose new, high-tech solutions
integrate climate change into the development
agenda across all sectors
coordinate efforts and share ideas between
governments, the private sector and civil society in promoting adaptation
consider the likely impacts of climate change in
transport and construction schemes to ensure funds are spent efficiently on
long-term infrastructure
strengthen coastal management capacities and
malaria control, after first examining why currently control methods are not
delegate rights and
responsibilities for adaptation to local people, emphasising the role of women.