News / Africa

Climate Change: New Report Outlines How Africa Can Adapt

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

A new study warns of the potential problems Africa faces from rising temperatures.  The Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) says the continent must learn to adapt to shorter growing seasons.  The report was released as the U.N. Climate Change Conference is held in Cancun, Mexico.

Most warnings about climate change are based on a possible rise in global temperatures by two degrees Celsius.  But this report considers what might happen if temperatures increased by four degrees.

Institute Director-General Carlos Sere says, “We already know that two degrees Celsius increases are highly probable, even if we get into action.  So this study was showing what would happen with scenarios with about four degrees, which are not completely out of the realm of the possible.  A number of modeling exercises show that this could happen.”

Sere says computer models indicate such an increase is possible by the year 2090.

The fate of Africans

“The main concern is really the fate of Africans.  Africans are, as you know, largely working in rural areas.  We estimate at least 60 percent of the total employment is in the rural areas and it’s largely in mixed systems – crop/livestock systems where people have small acreages, grow some cereals, some roots and tubers and keep some animals,” he says.

A U.N. report predicts a tripling of the population of African cities over the next 40 years.  Sere says the population in rural areas will increase as well.

“All our models indicate that the absolute number of people in rural areas is still going to grow.  So, farms are going to get smaller.  There’s going to be less resources.  And we’ll have to be much smarter in terms of improving the productivity to feed not only people in the rural areas, but those rapidly growing cities,” says Sere.

Adaptation

Scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute say with a four degree Celsius rise in temperature, the growing season in many African countries could dramatically shorten.

“So that would really put large numbers of poor people into a very difficult situation in terms of coping with this change,” he says.

Adapting to climate change could mean having diversity in crops and livestock.

Sere says, “Clearly, farmers would have to change some of their crops.  So, for example, areas which are getting a reasonable maize harvest, a corn harvest, nowadays, might have to move into more drought tolerant grains like sorghum or millet.  Similarly, on the livestock side there would have to probably be quite a shift to more hardy local breeds instead of high yielding imported breeds, which are much less able to cope with higher temperatures and more variability.”

The genetic resources of hardy local crops and livestock could be used to help develop new varieties and breeds better able to deal with climate change.

Sere says the report calls for “sustainable intensification.”

“Finding sustainable ways of better using the resources that we have on the farms.  Making sure that, for example, besides using fertilizers, manure is used efficiently to bring those nutrients back into the soil.  That crop residues are used smartly to feed animals.  We will have to get all these nutrient loops much more efficient than they are today,” he says.

He says there would also be “significant changes in disease patterns.”

“Because,” he says, “disease vectors like mosquitoes, like tsetse flies, etc. – the pattern of distribution would change quite dramatically.”

The Institute says, “While many options are already available that could help farmers adapt….  It is quite possible that the adaptive capacity and resilience of hundreds of millions of people in Africa could simply be overwhelmed by events.”

The new study appears in the British journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Series A.

A minority of scientists dispute the dire predictions about climate change, saying the evidence does not exist and that their computer models show much less dramatic results.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid