Climate change is a global phenomenon. However, it has had and continues to have a bigger impact on African countries despite the fact that they emit relatively lower percentages of greenhouse gases. Also with an estimated annual population growth of 2%, the continent becomes increasingly vulnerable to climate change impacts. This is due to the fact that, the more the population increases, the more impacts of climate change are magnified as resources obtained from the environment are stretched to meet the needs of the population. It poses a unique challenge to Africa as much of its economy relies on climate sensitive natural resources such as rain-fed agriculture.
The impacts it has had on the African continent include irregular precipitation levels with areas such as semi-arid regions of south Sahara experiencing a decrease in rainfall whilst other regions like east central Africa experiencing an increase in rainfall. With most African communities relying on agriculture as a source of income, the irregular precipitation levels as a result of climate change has been and will continue to be stressful. Botswana as a semi-arid country is more susceptible to the impacts of climate change. These impacts have manifested through drought which has left the country with an issue of increasing water scarcity. Botswana has relied a lot on food imports however; farmers who have made it their mission to help the country overcome its food insecurity have also found themselves in a tight corner as a result of extremely insufficient rainfall. Another example is Zambia which is a country known for its secure supply of hydro-electric power but it has also experienced drought hence low amounts of rainfall which affected the amount of power the country is able to generate resulting in blackouts.
As a result, some businesses made losses leading to them closing down. Climate change also poses a threat as adverse changes in temperature and rainfall patterns are likely to increase the risk of insect-borne diseases such as malaria and may also create conflict over water and grazing resources.
Because African countries contribute less man-made effects of climate change their voice in terms of mitigation and adaptation negotiations have been rather minimal. However, the continent could take serious continent-specific mitigation and adaptation measures. These include educating people on climate change and mitigation as well as increasing the use of renewable energy resources such as solar power and the use of bio-technology.
The writer of this article is Lebogang Motlalekgosi, a 26 year old from Botswana. She has passion for writing as well as issues concerning the environment. Connect with her on Facebook as Lebogang S A Motlalekgosi.