Climate Change

COP27: Africa desperately needs a ‘loss and damage’ finance facility; here is why

The continent has limited socio-economic capacity and is ill-prepared to adequately respond to climatic disasters, build resilience and adapt accordingly

By Tony Malesi
Published: Monday 14 November 2022

In Nigeria, over 500 people lost their lives to floods this year. Photo: @IFRCAfrica / TwitterIn Nigeria, over 500 people lost their lives to floods this year. Photo: @IFRCAfrica / Twitter

The developing world, especially Africa, is experiencing extreme weather events despite producing negligible emissions. This is partly why calls for a dedicated ‘loss and damage’ finance facility are being made, especially for extreme cases where building resilience and adaptive capacity is not viable.

Unfortunately, such is the case for most victims of climate change in Africa, and only reparations can offer a semblance of climate justice in such instances.

Most countries in Africa are vulnerable in responding and least equipped to do a fundamental forecast for extreme weather events. This is according to the World Meteorological Organization’s State of the Global Climate 2021 report launched at COP26 in Glasgow last year.

“Largely, the continent lacks capacity to accurately predict extreme weather events and there is urgent need to strengthen meteorological services to build climate resilience. Climate-sensitive sectors, like the continent’s rain-fed agriculture, water resources, health and transportation are greatly impacted,” reads the report in part.

In Nigeria, over 500 people lost their lives to floods this year, with an almost equal number of homes and dozens of infrastructure destroyed. In one swoop in April, floods killed over 250 people in the coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Africa seems to be under siege, with the wrath of nature striking from all corners. But, still, some regions experience more losses and damages than others.

In east Africa, for instance, 37 million people are facing the worst drought in 40 years. At the same time, the very Horn of Africa is facing an outbreak of climate-related diseases.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of such medical emergencies has reached unprecedented levels in this century.

“These health emergencies increased by over 30 per cent in the last two years. In 2021, anthrax, measles, yellow fever, cholera, meningitis and other climate-related emergencies accounted for over 70 per cent of reported medical cases,” noted a WHO report released November 3, 2022.

“There is a threat of famine in the Horn of Africa, drought in the Sahel and hurricanes and flash floods in southern Africa. The continent barely contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions, yet it is paying an outsized price. This is a textbook case of moral and economic injustice,” the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, had said in a statement ahead of the 27th Conference of parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

President William Ruto of Kenya addressed the delegates earlier in the week and described climate-related disasters as “Africa’s daily nightmares.”

He called out the developed nations for “skirting around the issue” and “using delay tactics” in bailing out developing countries. “In the past 50 years, droughts have claimed the lives of over half a million people and led to losses of over $70 billion in the region,” he said.

While detailing other climate-related travails and predicaments of Africans, including wildfires, heatwaves and droughts, President Ruto described the delay in creating the dedicated finance facility as “cruel and unjust.”

The fact that the African Group of Negotiators (AGN), officially mandated to articulate the continent’s climate change position at COP27, prioritised ‘loss and damage’ as part of their main agenda is evidence of how critical it is.

While addressing the delegates, Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry lauded the inclusion of the contentious issues on the conference’s agenda as a sense of solidarity and empathy with victims of climate-induced disasters.

“We all should be indebted to activists and members of civil society who have persistently been demanding a discussion on funding of losses and damages victims of extreme weather events incur,” he said.

Various climate finance facilities have already been established to help Africa and other developing nations mitigate and adapt to climate change. But, unfortunately, they remain a drop in the ocean. The two notable ones include The Adaptation Fund and The Green Climate Fund (GCF).

Unfortunately, the accessibility of these facilities remains a big challenge, with many poorer countries decrying the unnecessary protocols and uncalled-for bureaucracy involved.

“Only 15 per cent of GCF went to African countries in 2019, with a whopping 65 per cent going to emerging economies like India and Mexico,” reads a recent United Nations Special Report on funds absorption in part.

African Development Bank (AfDB) recently noted in a press statement that the continent has limited socio-economic capacity and is ill-prepared to adequately respond to climatic disasters, build resilience and adapt accordingly.

With the crisis worsening, scaling up the continent’s financial muscle with the help of developed nations is of the essence. A ‘loss and damage’ facility would be timely, considering previous interventions like climate-related disaster insurance covers haven’t helped much due to prohibitive premiums for the poor. 

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