July 21, 2024

Climate Change Hits Africa’s Fragile States Hardest: The Urgency for Solutions

Africa’s fragile states are feeling the brunt of climate change, experiencing more devastating consequences than other nations, even when they’ve contributed the least to global warming. As leaders from the continent prepare to attend the African Climate Action Summit in Kenya, the focus is on finding solutions for these vulnerable nations.

Reports indicate that fragile states like the Central African Republic, Somalia, and Sudan are disproportionately affected by climate-related events like floods, droughts, and storms. Notably, these disasters displace over double the proportion of people in these states than in others.

The geographical positioning of these fragile states makes them warmer than their counterparts. Predictions suggest that by 2040, they could experience an average of 61 days annually with temperatures surpassing 35 degrees Celsius. Such extreme weather conditions jeopardize human health, productivity, and vital sectors like agriculture.

A recent IMF paper reveals that fragile countries endure more severe macroeconomic damages from climate change. Three years post an extreme weather event, these states experience a GDP loss of around 4%, whereas other nations see a dip of about 1%. An annual GDP growth reduction of 0.2% is anticipated due to droughts in these fragile states.

The amplification of climate impacts in fragile states can be attributed not just to their geographical location but also their internal conflicts, reliance on rain-dependent agriculture, and a reduced ability to manage risks. Conflict in areas like Somalia prevents efficient humanitarian aid during crises. Additionally, these climatic shocks amplify existing challenges, potentially increasing conflict-related deaths by nearly 10% and pushing 50 million more people into hunger by 2060.

A significant challenge facing these states is their dependence on rainfed agriculture. With only 3% of the cultivated area being irrigated and existing infrastructures deteriorating, these states are extremely vulnerable. For instance, in central Mali, the disrepair of drainage systems is one of the causes of flooding.

Limited financial resources further accentuate the issues. There’s an urgent need for international development partners to step in with financial and capacity-building support. Policymakers must also implement interventions such as establishing financial buffers, enhancing social safety nets, and insurance schemes, as well as increasing investment in climate-resilient infrastructure.

The IMF has amplified its support for fragile states battling climate challenges, providing tailored policy advice, financial aid, and capacity development. Their strategy seeks to understand fragility drivers and scale up capacity development. The new Resilience and Sustainability Facility is a step in this direction.

While efforts by the IMF and other international partners are commendable, there’s still a significant gap to bridge. The upcoming Africa Climate Summit promises a renewed focus on crafting impactful solutions to counteract the severe impacts of climate change on Africa’s vulnerable populations and economies.

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