Climate change is real, and Africa is the most vulnerable place to be affected by this menace. The continent contributes less to global carbon emissions, but the risk is too real to ignore. Africa now needs to be active in preventing and mitigating the adverse effects of climate change.
As climate change is taking its toll, it is bringing with it a disaster to Africa. The continent only emits 4% of the world's carbon emissions. Yet, scientists warn that climate change will wreak havoc in Africa. It would be only right to employ an alarmist tone to the issue of climate change because it is real, and if action is not taken the continent would struggle to cope with the negative effects of climate change. And as population increases, more people will be seriously affected by the extreme implications of climate change.
Africa is the most vulnerable to be hit by the chaos brought by climate change because of the heavy reliance on ecosystem goods for livelihoods, and crude agricultural production system. As such, Africa is weak to respond to global warming. The damage caused by climate change affects agricultural production, food security, water resources and ecosystem services which would be on the brink of collapse.
If climate change is unchecked, it is expected that West Africa would be one of the hardest-hit areas in Africa and this would impact negatively on crop yield and production. Such a threat to food security must be thwarted. Southern Africa will also be hit hard, with the western part of Southern Africa expected to be become drier, "with increasing drought frequency and number of heat waves toward the end of the 21st century". The Sahel region will be subjected to the strongest drying and dry spells will be extremely long. Central Africa will see a decrease in the length of wet spells and a slight increase in heavy rainfall.
Rising temperatures mean less rainfall, and this means people will not have sufficient food for a decent existence. Temperature extremes will become the order of the day. Already, weather patterns are continuously turning ugly, with floods and droughts being synonymous with Africa. The deadly Cyclone Idai this year over Southern Africa is one example of this.
With all these risks stacked against the continent that emits the least, it is now time for Africa to take matters into her own hands. And, despite climate agreements often signed by the leaders, one sure way of rectifying this is simply by planting more and more trees. The planting of trees should now take centre-stage in national conversations.
Take for example when Ethiopia planted more 350 million trees in July this year. The massive tree-planting exercise is part of the "Green Legacy" initiative spearheaded by the country's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Ethiopia, just like many other African countries, is reeling from land degradation, soil erosion, deforestation, and recurrent droughts and flooding.
Such initiatives are needed across the whole continent. More land needs to be filled with forests. Planting trees is an easy and cheap way of averting the effects of climate change.
Header image credit - BBC