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Eastern Africa facing triple threats as climate change conveys challenges and opportunities

Nairobi, Kenya Climate Change August 20 @ 10:22am

As Covid-19 cases keep rising in Africa, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region is getting drier, hotter and experiencing rapid population increase. This is happening as rainy seasons are getting shorter in the central part of Ethiopia, Central part of Kenya and Somalia.
The first six months of 2020 were the second warmest of any January – June period, trailing only 2016 in records dating to 1880, with the year being on track to be one of the top five warmest years on record.2020 and 2019 were years of extremes with Covid -19 coming while the region was already facing unprecedented desert locust invasion and widespread floods.
With communities having very little time to recover between the triple shocks i.e. Covid-19, locust invasion and climate change, the Horn of Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate variability and change because of various socioeconomic factors and dependence on climate sensitive livelihood systems.
Various initiatives are however ongoing to help address climate change in the region and they include to develop and implement National Frameworks for Climate Services (NFCS) which aims at addressing impacts of the climate change. In Tanzania, the Framework was launched in August 2018 while other regions are also embracing it.
Dr. Agnes Kijazi, Director General of Tanzania Meteorological Authority (TMA) says that TMA experts have innovated tools which save the same purpose of trying to address the challenges of climate monitoring, and example of these systems are; digital Meteorological Observatory Aviation Information Systems (MAIS).
Kijazi was speaking recently at a forum launched by IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC), aimed to promote strategic regional dialogue on the regional climate variability and change challenges.
Remarkably, Africa which contributes only 3.6 percent of the total global emissions is disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change compared with other continents because of extreme dependency on natural resources and cycles and its weak adaptive capacity.
In as much as climate change impacts on different sectors like Agriculture and livestock, water, energy, health, wildlife and tourism it is important to note that it has provided various opportunity contexts as Professor Daniel Olago, Head of Climate Change and Adaptation at the University of Nairobi puts it.
“We recognize that we need holistic and cross-sectional approaches to address climate change. We are happy to see demand for evidence-based science in exponentially rising amongst policy/decision makers, practitioners and general public” Professor Olago remarked.
“Countries are adapting green economy principles, spurring advances in STI and there is increasing private sector involvement in environmental stewardship and adaptation; and mitigation programmes to mitigate risks to business, “emphasized Professor Olago during the forum.
Some of the key challenges associated with attempts to integrate climate variability and change in regional development strategies include; limited knowledge and multidisciplinary capacity, observation and data systems, inadequate prediction and early warning systems, inability to effectively use available products and services, lack of advocacy and climate smart policies.
To wholesomely tell the Eastern Africa’s story in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessments, Mr. Richard Anyah, Associate Professor and Programme Co-coordinator for Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Connecticut encourages enhanced collaboratives within Research-to-Operations-to-Policy value chains. He explains that research collaboratives create sustainable co-production among natural and social scientists.
Incorporating advances in ICT, big data science, effective communication, governance and institutional strengthening, formal and informal education and awareness creation, active stakeholder engagement in design, planning and implementation, integrated evaluation and data and monitoring are key pointers that will help mitigate climate change in Eastern Africa.
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