The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently said that it believes that climate change will cause rainfall to become heavier across Africa’s tropics, and may lead to the south of the continent becoming drier. The risk of storms also increases as ocean surface temperature rises.
“Runoff in the Congo River basin, for example, is projected to increase by 50%, elevating flooding risks, especially flash flooding, across large parts of Central Africa,” the IPCC said. “Rising global temperatures, based on their current trajectory, are also expected to increase rainfall in parts of the Greater Horn of Africa by over 40%. Extraordinarily heavy rains in East Africa in recent years have contributed to the worst desert locust outbreak to hit the region in the past 25 years.”
According to the IPCC, the atmosphere can contain 7% extra moisture for every 1°C increase in temperature. Warm weather causes storms to be significantly wetter, resulting in record-breaking rainfall.
Prevalence of tropical cyclones
“Global warming also increases sea surface temperature. This packs more energy into storms that develop over the oceans, generating more intense rainfall and higher wind speeds, making them more damaging.”
Tropical cyclones from the Indian Ocean are also making more landfall across the continent’s East coast, as ocean temperatures are rising and creating greater energy to trigger and fuel storms. This can lead to the formation of cyclones, and these are predicted to move father north to Tanzania, Madagascar and northern Mozambique. Previously, South Africa occasionally received cyclones. More heavily populated urban cities, such as Maputo, Durban, and Dar es Salaam, are more prone to be hit by these cyclones. A direct assault on one of these cities could wreak havoc on millions of people and their economies.
Floods account for approximately 60% of the natural disasters that have struck the conitnent over the course of the past two decades.
“Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world that has recorded increasing rates of flood-related mortality since the 1990s. In 2020, floods affected 8.1 million people and caused 1 273 deaths,” said the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies. “Climate disasters are compounding challenges in conflict-affected areas. Conflict has simultaneously hindered many countries’ ability to focus on disaster preparedness and adaptation to climatic changes. This is contributing to a vicious circle of poor governance, conflict, and climate disaster. Floods add to already record levels of refugees and the internally displaced due to conflict.”
Kisumu, Kenya’s port city, could serve as an example for other communities interested in learning how to build disaster risk reduction (DRR) plans. Over 100 participants from Kisumu’s municipal departments took part in the action plan in 2018, thanks to support from the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. During the heavy seasonal rains, Kisumu is prone to floods. Previously, the city would wait for the floods to occur before providing the necessary humanitarian assistance. Since the DRR discussions, the focus has shifted from being reactive to proactive in terms of flooding preparedness and mitigation.
How do natural disasters impact a country’s agriculture?
“National and international disaster loss databases typically report populations affected and damage to housing and other infrastructure, but seldom report damage or losses in the agriculture sector. As a result, there is no clear understanding of the extent to which natural hazards and disasters impact the agriculture sector and subsectors in developing countries,” the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said.
“Disasters destroy critical agricultural assets and infrastructure, and they cause losses in the production of crops, livestock and fisheries. They can change agricultural trade flows, and cause losses in agricultural-dependent manufacturing subsectors such as the textile and food processing industries. Disasters can slow economic growth in countries where the sector is important to the economy and where it makes a significant contribution to national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”
Finally, a good understanding of how climate change catastrophes affect crop, livestock, fisheries, and forestry output, as well as the types of hazards that have the greatest impact on each subsector, is required to implement agricultural technology that help prevent, mitigate, or decrease the underlying risks. It will be necessary to have a greater knowledge of how disasters affect food security and nutrition, as well as sector growth and national economies.