Three African regions at high risk from climate change

Uncertainties in assessing climate change impacts and lack of data is a cause of worry for experts

By Vani Manocha
Last Updated: Monday 17 August 2015


A group of scientists in Germany claim to have identified for the first time the "hot spots of climate change” in Africa.

According to scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the three regions most at risk are parts of Sudan and Ethiopia, the countries around Lake Victoria, and the continent's south-eastern corner (especially parts of South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe).

The researchers say that Africa is already experiencing above average effects from the changing global climate—the continent's above average share of poor and undernourished people also increases the potential human impact of this situation.

In their findings published mid-May this year in the journal Global Change Biology, lead author Christopher Muller says, "we tried to identify the places where climate change really hurts the most ... These are the regions where climate change impacts are most likely, strong and, possibly, severe."  Flooding that is likely to increase across Sub-Saharan Africa will be much higher in Tanzania, Uganda and southern Ethiopia, where most climate scenarios project increasing rainfall.

High population density and poverty rates in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and in the Lake Victoria region make these regions climate change hot spots of high relevance for adaptation planning. But uncertainties in assessing climate change impacts and lack of data is a worry for researchers studying that part of the world. 

Speaking recently during the launch of climate change adaptation projects in Isiolo County (northern Kenya), Victor Oridi, climate Change advisor at the National Drought Management Authority of Kenya, says that communities in the most vulnerable areas need to be empowered to adapt to climate change impacts. To cushion the populations in the hot spot regions against the impacts of a warming world, the German researchers recommend development-coping strategies for croppers and herders, along with improved access to international market and insurance cover for animals and crops.


Feature: Reducing vulnerability to climate change in Sub-Saharan Africa: The need for better evidence

Research: Climate change or urbanization? Impacts on a traditional coffee production system in East Africa over the last 80 years

Feature: Identifying potential synergies and trade-offs for meeting food security and climate change objectives in sub-Saharan Africa

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  • I really don't understand

    I really don't understand what the report by German scientists are trying to tell? on World Meteorological Day on 23rd March 2014 the Secretary General of WMO released WMO Annual Climate Statement highlighting Extreme Events in 2013. The statement observed "Extreme weather events of 2013 a result of human influences". I responded back on this to the Secretary General WMO saying that my publications on cyclic variation in precipitation data series in some of the locations in different Southern Hemisphere countries like Brazil, South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique showed 2013 a below average rainfall year as per my projections -- published in 1980s --. This creates warm and dry conditions. So, the extreme events are part of natural variability only and nothing to do with human influence.

    As reported in the present report -- I carried out cyclic variability in Mozambique and Ethiopia. In the case of Ethiopia, the rainfall over different parts different in terms of amount and cyclic pattern. On the Sudan border it is high rainfall zone -- Gore, 2200 mm --(coffee growing zone) present 36-year cycle with high rainfall variability from below to above the average cycle periods. This has significant role in coffee production. On the Red Sea side Jijiga a biomodel low rainfall[around 700 mm) zone presents 28-year cycle. Asmara on the northern tip [now it is part of Eritrea] presents 22 year cycle with low rainfall [650 mm]. These show in some areas droughts and in some other area floods is a common practice. In the case of Durban in South Africa it is 66-year cycle [1050 mm] follow a W/M pattern. The same W/M pattern is seen in Botswana [but the cycle is 60 years; 475 mm] and Mozambique [54 year cycle; 650 mm].

    These patterns have not changed. Global warming is insignificant but local land use and land cover changes may influence local cyclic pattern.

    All these publications are available in Mozambique and Ethiopia. These are part of FAO/UN and WMO/UN reports.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    Posted by: Anonymous | 6 years ago | Reply