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Trump Climate Action Would Hurt Africa, Activists Say


In this photo taken Wednesday, March 8, 2017, men dig with shovels and women take away the earth to build a dam so that if rains do come the water can be stored near Bandar Beyla in Somalia's semiautonomous northeastern state of Puntland.

President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord could have a negative impact in Africa, say environmental activists on the continent.

Saliem Fakir, head of the policy and futures unit of the World Wildlife Fund in South Africa, worries about the withdrawal of some $2 billion the U.S. was to contribute to the "Green Fund," to help the developing world adopt climate-saving techniques and technologies.

"[T]he Green Fund is very important in that it would have supported climate change activities in Africa, especially adaptation activities," he told VOA in a phone interview from Cape Town.

Given that many Africans make their living from agriculture, Fakir says, they are particularly vulnerable to changes in the climate, such as stronger heat waves and less rainfall.

"I think that it has implications in the sense that if we cannot mitigate against climate change, that it will drive greater levels of poverty," he said.

In this photo taken Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, women walk on farmlands that were destroyed by high salt content due to rising sea levels in Saloum Delta, Diamniadio Island in Senegal.
In this photo taken Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, women walk on farmlands that were destroyed by high salt content due to rising sea levels in Saloum Delta, Diamniadio Island in Senegal.


Political implications

Isaac Kalua is chairman of Kenya's Water Towers Agency and the founder of Green Africa, which promotes environmental protection in Kenya through mobilizing communities at the grassroots level. He says Trump's decision could have political implications.

“People may start looking at China as an ally in dealing with these effects," he told VOA in Nairobi.

He adds, "194 countries have come together and they have agreed on all [climate] issues, and therefore the reneging of this kind of situation makes particularly the developing world feel that they have to ostracize this particular country."

Kalua says he remains hopeful that "soberness" will prevail and the world will successfully deal with climate change issues.


Ghana, South Africa react

African governments have also voiced their displeasure with Trump's decision.

Ghana's president, John Dramani Mahama, tweeted: “My thoughts: The U.S. has just abdicated its leadership on a matter of critical global importance.”

The South African government strongly criticized the U.S. move in a statement Friday.

"The Paris agreement represents the most flexible and dynamic approach to addressing climate change, and the withdrawal of the USA is not only an abdication of global responsibility we all have to humankind, but damaging to multilateralism, the rule of law and trust between nations," it said.

"We recognize the outstanding contribution made to the fight against climate change in the U.S. by past administrations, states, cities, scientific organizations, civil society, business and individual citizens. South Africa therefore calls on the United States to reconsider its position and to re-commit to the multilateral process."

Anita Powell contributed to this story from Maseru, Lesotho, where she is covering that country's elections. Lenny Ruvaga contributed from Nairobi.

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