News / Africa

Africa Developing Unified Climate Strategy

In this April 30, 2012 photo, people walk past a dry seasonal riverbed in the Matam region of northeastern Senegal. Since late 2011, aid groups had warned that devastating drought again weakened communities where children already live perilously close to
In this April 30, 2012 photo, people walk past a dry seasonal riverbed in the Matam region of northeastern Senegal. Since late 2011, aid groups had warned that devastating drought again weakened communities where children already live perilously close to


  • Listen to De Capua report on Africa and climate change

Joe DeCapua
While an international agreement on climate change remains elusive, African nations are moving closer to a unified strategy. Africa has experienced more extreme weather events in recent years as global temperatures rise.
Listen to De Capua report on Africa and climate change
Listen to De Capua report on Africa and climate changei
|| 0:00:00

Dr. Joseph Mukabana said the continent is on the front lines of climate change. He said that has led to a draft version of – what’s called -- The Implementation Plan of the Integrated African Strategy on Meteorology.
“Africa is the most vulnerable continent when it comes to climate change. Out of the 48 least developed countries, 33 are in Africa. So, the priority in Africa is to adapt on climate change. You either adapt or die,” he said.
Mukabana --director of the regional office for Africa and Least Developed Countries of the World Meteorological Organization – said that climate events far from Africa are having an effect on the continent.
“Ice in the polar regions are melting so the sea rises up and the small islands, of course, are in danger of submerging – and also the low lying coastal zones are having problems. So, it’s estimated sometime between 25 and 50 years [from now] the low lying coastal zones may be submerged – and the inundation will cover areas that are now inhabited.”
It’s imperative, he said, to protect Africa’s coastlines.
“The land degradation at coastal zones also ensures that the coastal zone habitat is interfered with. For example, in some areas you have mangrove forests being cut and yet mangrove forests were very good in conserving the environment at the coast. You have also the coral reefs being eroded. And yet the coral reef, if it is big enough, can form the first defense when the tsunamis come, for example. So we are destroying the coastal zone and that will impact on human beings also,” he said.
While rising seas pose one climate change-related problem, lack of rain in some regions poses another – frequent droughts.
“We depend mostly on seasonal rains, which farmers use to plant food crops. And so [with] the droughts, now you don’t have food; you have famine. You have malnutrition. The pastures are not there, so you have communities quarreling over the pastures. Essentially, in countries you have sometimes internal displacement because of drought. People looking for food, animals looking for pasture,” said Mukabana.
And ancient sources of fresh water may have little to offer today.
“The glaciers on mountains, like Mt. Kilimanjaro, are also disappearing very fast. And the rivers that were there, which were perennial, are now drying up,” he said.
While some areas are drying up, others can get too wet from much heavier than normal rains.
“So you have flood episodes, which are more frequent. And with the floods, of course, there is a destruction of life and also destruction of infrastructure, which happens very fast. So the economies are impacted that way,” said Mukabana.
To address the threat of climate change in Africa, the World Meteorological Organization and the African Union Commission called a meeting in Nairobi in 2010. Nearly 50 ministers from across the continent attended.
The meeting led to the Nairobi Declaration. The document noted the “increasing risks and threats to sustainable development associated with disasters.” It went on to say that 90-percent of those disasters were “due to or aggravated by meteorological or hydrological extreme events.” The Nairobi Declaration also “recognized that weather and climate information, services and products are of key importance for supporting climate-sensitive social and economic development centers.”
Mukabana said another product of the 2010 meeting was the creation of the African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology or AMCOMET.
“AMCOMET was formed to be a high-level mechanism for development of meteorology and its application in Africa. So the ministers also demanded that an integrated African strategy on meteorology should be developed. And that was developed,” he said.
That strategy is a mix of modern technology and scientific data and traditional knowledge, such as which crops are resistant to drought.
From May 26th through the 30th, some AMCOMET officials meet in Harare. They’ll consider the draft strategy and set an agenda for a full meeting of the conference in October. Ministers say the goal is to develop a “transformational approach…to introduce innovative adaptation measures that build the resilience of communities” to climate change.

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs