Cameroon can set path to climate-resilient economy with prompt reforms: World Bank

Nearly 2 million people in Cameroon live in drought-affected areas

By Madhumita Paul
Published: Friday 11 November 2022
Droughts in Cameroon’s far north region contribute to severe food insecurity and loss of livelihoods. Photo: iStock
Droughts in Cameroon’s far north region contribute to severe food insecurity and loss of livelihoods. Photo: iStock Droughts in Cameroon’s far north region contribute to severe food insecurity and loss of livelihoods. Photo: iStock

Climate change has not spared Cameroon — an African country highly dependent on its natural resources. The country is highly susceptible to climate change, which has led to desertification in its northern regions. But there is a way out. The country can boost its ailing economy with prompt reforms.

Cameroon can reduce its poverty rate five-fold by 2050 if the country employ robust reforms to induce climate-action investments, according to a new World Bank report.

The country can reduce the same to three per cent from the current 15 per cent, said the Country Climate and Development ReportCameroon’s economy will lose between four and 10 per cent of Gross domestic product (GDP) by 2050 if urgent climate adaptation measures are not taken, the report added.

The report highlighted the impacts of climate change on Cameroon’s development. Climate change can endanger the country’s labour and agricultural productivity and health, it added.

Also read: Developing countries can cut 70% emissions with modest investments, says World Bank

Nearly two million people — nine per cent of the total population — live in drought-affected areas, the report stated. The average annual temperature has gone up by 0.86 degrees Celcius over 46 years between 1974 and 2020.

Temperatures will surge on average by 3.9°C over the next 20 years. Rainfall is expected to increase on average from 5.8 millimetres over the next 20 years to 10.4 millimetres by 2100, the report predicted.

Climate change is an imminent threat to Cameroon’s development due to the country’s dependence on natural resources and agriculture.

Tropical forests cover almost 40 per cent of the country and provide an estimated eight million rural people with food, medicines, fuel and construction materials.

Changes in temperature, rainfall and droughts put these populations at greater risk of increased poverty and famine. Droughts in Cameroon’s far north region contribute to severe food insecurity and loss of livelihoods. About 16 per cent of the population in the far north region is in a food crisis.

Also read: Nigerians count losses as recurring floods ravage country

On average, about 1.2 million livestock are affected by more than three months of drought every year. More than 2.6 million livestock are expected to be under drought-induced stress annually by 2050 if drastic climate change adaptation measures are not taken.

More than 100,000 tonnes of crops, including 20,000 tonnes of maize, are also affected by weather shocks annually.

Women, especially those living in conflict-ridden areas and indigenous groups, are more severely hit by climate change.They constitute 75 per cent of workers in the informal agricultural sector and are primarily responsible for ensuring food security in their households.

“An additional 1.3 million people can fall into poverty particularly in rural areas if no urgent action is taken to promote rapid, resilient and inclusive growth,” said Abdoulaye Seck, the World Bank country director for Cameroon.

Also read: Climate change in Africa, 39% business affected by floods over the last year

Cameroon faces severe climate challenges, but the country has opportunities to move toward a low-carbon future, the report stated. This requires a strategic approach to use the country’s renewable energy potential and rich natural capital.

Cameron committed to 35 per cent of greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2030 in its updated nationally determined contributions (NDC). The country pledged to focus on agriculture, energy, forestry and waste sectors at the national and sub-national levels.

The report provided specific policy recommendations for making development and adaptation gains in four priority areas — agriculture, forestry and land use; cities, infrastructure and human capital and social development.

Strategic regional adaptation investments with local climate action plans are a much-needed approach to address local vulnerabilities, the report stated.

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