10 impacts of climate change in East and Horn of Africa

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24 September 2021 – Next week is Africa Climate Week, the regional week run by the UN ahead of COP26 in Glasgow. During the week, countries will come together to develop their national strategies and plans to tackle climate change. On the first day of Africa Climate Week, the UK will host a series of events on COP26, how countries can access climate finance, and research to tackle climate change in Africa.
British Ambassador to Somalia, Kate Foster said:
“Climate change is posing an unprecedented threat to livelihoods here in Somalia and the world. Over the past year alone, Somalia has faced a triple threat of climate extremes, including drought and floods, COVID-19 and locust swarms destroying crops and livelihoods for many. That’s why at the global climate change talks, COP26, in the UK we are working to achieve a fair inclusive climate deal. This is the time for action.”
With the global climate change talks being hosted in the UK in November, climate scientist for the World Meteorological Organisation Abubakr Salih Babiker shared 10 impacts of climate change in East and Horn of Africa you didn’t know about.
1.       Major cities in East and Horn of Africa have seen temperatures rise far greater than pre-industrial times. Since 1860 Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) has warmed by 2.2°C, Khartoum (Sudan) by 2.09°C, Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) by 1.9°C, Mogadishu (Somalia) by 1.9°C, and Nairobi (Kenya) by 1.9°C. The ice cover of Mount Kilimanjaro decreased 85% between 1912 and 2007. The snow could disappear in less than 20 years and ice as soon as 2022.
2.       Since the 1950s, heatwaves have become longer, more frequent, and hotter. Because heatwaves are not routinely monitored in sub-Saharan Africa, heat-related deaths are also constantly underreported. Under current climate projections, the fast-growing population of East and Horn of Africa will face increased health risks due to extreme heat.
3.       Across East and Horn of Africa warm temperatures have increased rates of Malaria, Dengue fever. The warming of East and Horn of Africa highlands is allowing malaria-carrying mosquitoes to survive at higher altitudes.
4.       The Indian Ocean is reportedly the fastest-warming ocean. Oceans absorb 90% of the heat caused by human activity. This is increasing the numbers and the intensity of tropical cyclones in East, Horn and Southern Africa. The strongest tropical cyclones on record to affect Mozambique and Somalia occurred in 2018 and 2019 and affected over 2 million people.
5.       As the Indian Ocean warms, these cyclones are also starting to make landfall in the Arabian Peninsula. In 2018, the rainfall from cyclones Mekunu and Luban created desert lakes and vegetation, an ideal environment for the hatching of desert locusts. The cyclone winds helped the locusts reach Somalia leading to the worst outbreak in many decades.
 
6.       In 2019, when Somalia experienced record rainfall and floods in many parts of the region, products prices skyrocketed in Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Climate change is expected to bring more frequent extremes and more intense rainfall. Predictions and forecasting remain key to reducing the extremely high vulnerability of farmers to climate change.
7.       Climate models suggest that East and Horn of Africa will be getting wetter in the years to come, increasing the risk of floods and displacement associated with more intense rainfall. The frequency of extremely wet short rains (October to December) are expected to increase, as well as wind speed and rain associated with tropical cyclones. To tackle this, communities need to build strength to climate shocks, as unprecedented climate extremes increase.
8.       2020 was one of the wettest years on record. The short rains of 2019 were also wetter than usual. The water levels of many lakes reached very high levels. The River Nile reached in August 2020 the level of 17.43 meters, the highest level since records began more than a century ago. For the Nile region, models predict that the flow of water in the river will increase by 15%, and the fluctuation in the annual amount of water the river carries will increase by 50% from year to year. Record-breaking rises in the lake levels are expected to continue into the future under current climate projections.
9.       Climate Change is affecting the length of seasons. Analysis of trends from 1981 to 2010 shows that the duration of the seasons in East and Horn of Africa are getting shorter due to changing rain patterns. This is impacting rural communities who use traditional forecasting methods to plan planting and harvesting.
10.   Climate Change is making extreme climate events more frequent and more extreme. Cycles like the Indian Ocean Dipole and El Niño are expected to get worse as they strengthen.

Ends

Contact: Fatuma Noor Communications

British Embassy Mogadishu

Email: Fatuma.Noor@fcdo.gov.uk

Contact: +254723944682

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