Africa’s climate crisis: Global warming made Niger, Nigeria floods 80 times more likely, says study

Analysis is yet another scientific evidence on ‘climate impacts and need for finance to compensate for the loss’: Analysts

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Monday 21 November 2022
Climate change to blame for devastating floods, torrential rain in Nigeria, Niger: Study Photo: iStock

The torrential rains and floods that killed 600 and 200 people Nigeria and Niger respectively from June to October 2022 were made 80 times more likely because of climate change, according to a report.

The deadly floods in Chad, Cameroon and surrounding regions in the same period may also be linked to human-induced climate crisis, the analysis by World Weather Attribution (WWA), an initiative by a global network of climate scientists, released November 16, 2022 noted.

Flooding occurred as a consequence of above average rainfall throughout the 2022 rainy season, the authors said in the report. This condition was exacerbated by shorter spikes of very heavy rain leading to flash floods as well as riverine floods, they added. 

The analysis by scientists from Nigeria, Cameroon, India, the Netherlands, France, Denmark, South Africa, Sweden, the United States and the United Kingdom used published, peer-reviewed methods to perform the event attribution study. 

The team of these experts compared past climate data and present weather information focusing on Lake Chad and the lower Niger River basins to determine the impact of rising temperatures on flooding in the region.

Seasonal rainfall over Lake Chad was found to have increased significantly due to the rising global temperatures, the study said.  

Climate change from human activities that lead to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and changes in aerosol pollution and other gases affect rainfall in the region, it added.

Human-caused climate change made the extreme seasonal rainfall in Chad about 80 times more likely, concluded the study. Lake Chad is located in the Sahelian zone of west-central Africa at the conjunction of Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger. 

The extreme rainfall over Lake Chad Basin was also likely to be more frequent and intense, the analysis showed. It found that the extreme seasonal rainfall in Chad was 20 per cent more in volume and intensity than the normal as a result of climate change. 

In Chad basin, such intense events have a one in 10 chance of happening each year, the report added. 

Over the lower Niger basin, the unseasonal extreme rain will be twice as likely and approximately 5 per cent more intense or more in volume than the normal due to climate change, the analysts wrote. 

Vulnerable Africa

So, as global average temperatures continue to rise, countries in the Chad and Niger basins must be prepared for the worst, cautioned WWA.

While Nigeria accounts for just a little over 1 per cent of world’s GHG emissions, it is the 53rd most-climate vulnerable country, according to the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index. Niger ranks last in the index and is therefore world’s most climate-vulnerable country.  

The warning by experts of the World Weather Attribution network came while the 27th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was in session in Egypt. Climate vulnerable countries, including Nigeria, demanded at the summit that rich, historic polluters compensate them for the climate-driven loss and damage

“Nigeria remains focused on loss and damage, climate finance and biodiversity conservation,” said Nigeria’s Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi in his address at a high-level, consultative meeting of the African Ministers of Environment November 15, 2022.

Loss and damage must be accepted as a legitimate demand of countries that need climate reparations said Sunita Narain, director-general of the Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based non-profit.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.