Diversifying economy, focusing on climate resilience: Congo can reduce rural poverty by 40%, says World Bank

A $245 million investment in climate-smart agriculture;can increase crop yields by 50% and cut emissions by 12 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent
Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

More than 60 per cent of the population in the Republic of Congo lives below the poverty line. But the country can reduce poverty in the rural areas by 40 per cent and in urban areas by 20 per cent by 2050 through a bold approach that prioritises economic diversification and climate resilience, according to a new report by the World Bank. 

If reforms to diversify the economy and attract more climate investments are not taken, losses could reach up to 17 per cent of GDP by 2050, the Republic of Congo Country Climate and Development Report Diversifying Congo's Economy: Making the Most of Climate Change stated. 

The Republic of Congo is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Climate impacts in the country can also increase total health costs from $92 million in 2010 to $260 million by 2050, according to the report.

Republic of Congo is the 169th most vulnerable country to climate change out of 182 countries on the Notre Dame GAIN Country Index. There is growing evidence of the adverse impacts of higher temperatures and more erratic rainfall on the country. 

Climate change is a critical threat to poverty alleviation in Republic of Congo. Around 57 per cent of the country’s poor population live in rural areas that rely heavily on agriculture as their primary income source. 

Rural households, which lose part of their income due to climate shocks, tend to migrate to urban areas in search of better living conditions and opportunities, thus, adding to the already large number of urban poor also facing environmental hazards related to climate change.

Urban vulnerability to climate change is also inextricably linked with poverty, according to the authors of the report. The urban poor are not only more exposed to heat stress, but also tend to live in poorly constructed homes, often in communities exposed to environmental hazards such as floods, landslides or droughts, as well as in areas lacking basic health services or infrastructure.

“This report aims at promoting a debate on climate and development issues and identifies priority areas for action that can generate a greener and better future for all Congolese people,” said Cheick Kante, World Bank country director for the Republic of Congo.

The report identified four priorities to promote sustainable growth in the Republic of Congo. The four priorities are stronger and greener infrastructure and services; more climate-ready education, health systems and social services; more investments in natural capital and better climate governance to leverage carbon markets.

According to the report, upgrading infrastructure in electricity, transport, water and sanitation, with a total investment requirement of approximately $9.2 billion, can bring transformative changes in this country, enhancing resilience and climate mitigation efforts.

A $245 million investment in climate-smart agriculture has the potential to increase crop yields by 50 per cent and cut emissions by 12 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, the report stated.

The report emphasised that the private sector has a critical role to play in mobilising financing for an ambitious set of reforms and investments in the context of a tight fiscal space. 

This will require raising awareness on risks and opportunities from climate change and innovative solutions and financial sector reforms.

Republic of Congo aims to broaden its economic base, reducing poverty through engagement in sectors such as agriculture and forestry, industry, special economic zones, tourism, digital and housing, according to the authors of the report. 

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