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
Published: Thursday 05 June 2014


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

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