The Reality Of Climate Change In Africa

The recent Cyclone Idai has caused widespread devastation in Mozambique. While the worst appears to be over, a widespread health crisis has emerged. There been an outbreak of cholera due to stagnant water, with the country’s poorest people those most affected. While relief efforts have attempted to help those most in need David Beasley, the Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme has called out the failure of the Western world to provide aid.

‘In the U.S., people are talking about Trump. In the U.K., all you hear is Brexit. In Mozambique, people need help – now’ the Executive has urged. With more than 750 killed, the Disasters Emergency Committee suggests that 2.5 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance.

While aid is being provided by the UN, UNICEF, The World Food Programme and NGOs, a plan needs to be created for long-term support. With crops destroyed for the next year’s harvest and the outbreak of cholera and diseases, Mozambique has only just started the steps to recovery. It is important that the Western world acknowledges that while we can prepare for climate change, in the short time frame we have, climate change is already affecting those who are not as sufficient in self-support, and who are not the largest contributors to the climate change emissions.

The cyclone hit Mozambique on 14 March. After picking up speed, with winds of 195 km/h  accompanied by lashing rains, Idai caused flooding and landslides, ruining crops and roads, and has already affected millions of people. The city of Beria in Mozambique was hit the hardest, with nearly 80% of homes and public infrastructure destroyed.

Africa is estimated to produce only 4% of global emissions of greenhouse gasses, whereas industrialised countries produce 80%, and it is the continent that is facing the destruction of climate change first and the hardest. During the same week, leaders met for the 2019 Africa climate week, yet the solutions offered to fight climate change are not enough. The extraction of coal and fossil fuels in Africa needs to be approached faster than proposed. If not, only more humanitarian issues will evolve and climate change will become the biggest cause of displacement sooner than we may expect.