Devastating effects of flooding in Africa and the continental demand for climate action

Flooding in Nigeria (PHOTO: National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Nigeria)
Flooding in Nigeria (PHOTO: National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Nigeria)

By Cosmos Nike NWEDU

Recent global impacts of climate change in Africa such as flooding in Guinea, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and many other parts of Africa have hit the continent worst more than ever. This sends a very strong signal of dangers ahead if concerted action is not taken.

It reminds us of the urgent need for attention from all quarters to scramble for a strong alignment from African governments with other countries of the world to tackle the escalating trans-boundary climate problems.

According to UN Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA), on weekly humanitarian situation in west and central African regions “ since 30 August 2015, 302,000 people in 10 local government areas of Adamawa State of Nigeria were affected by flood”. With fresh reports coming from National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) of Nigeria, shows that in the last few days, 30 people have died in Nigeria because of flood and that landslides and flooding in the West African country of Guinea after many days of torrential rainfall caused the death of 7 persons.

The media in Nigeria also reports that the flood of September 6 to 7 in Nigeria, which struck in the wee hours, had left 2000 residents homeless and 4000 homes ravaged in Zamfara State.

Yet, the National Emergency Management Agency of Nigeria (NEMA) has frantically warmed that another flood would still hit the country following this year. The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) has reinforced the NEMA’s warning having predicted that disastrous flood would be experienced in Nigeria subsequently. As this is not enough, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency has also alerted inhabitants of some communities on the coastlines straddling River Benue and River Niger, of imminent danger of flood.

In fact, flooding has left many parts of Africa damaged and most people hopeless. On 16 September 2015, a historic flooding hit Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone, which has prompted government of the Country to call on the residents to remain at home for the time being. Report indicates that the Sierra Leone journalist, Umaru Fofana identified the flood as terrible experience and that the flooding besieged Kroo Bay, the largest slum city of the country. The image below shows the Sierra Leone’s severe flood that just hit the city.

To the same degree, earlier this year, BBC reported that flooding in Shinyanga of Tanzania killed at least 38 people. The impacts of this are serious and not just as report. The Tanzania flood took place on 4 March 2015 in the suburb of Shinyanga of the country. It was not only just the death of 38 people, a figure rising more than 82 people were anguished in the inundation. The flood touched some 3, 500 people and many houses were smashed owing to strong winds.

The foregoing, including uncounted economic loses are clear implications of climate change that should prompt African governments to take immediate action necessary to save the Continent from imploding climate. To do this, urgent short-term action is required. This will help the Continent on one hand, attend to the current problems the people of Africa are already experiencing under flooding especially with regard to adaptation and on the other hand, will help mitigate further imminent floods within the Continent.

While different African countries that are under the siege of current flooding are taking appropriate national measures and policies to tackle the problem, the chance to consolidate this would be in Paris 2015.  The December Paris talks under the auspices of the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) will serve a great purpose to help countries of the world especially those that are very vulnerable to effects of changing climate like Africa, small island nations and least developed countries to take lead in pressing for an immediate short term goal for attenuation of climate problems around the world.

Climate change is real. We are feeling it everywhere just as the African Continent is being ravaged by flood. The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes it clear that global climate change is “unequivocally real” and that the need to address it is more urgent than ever otherwise, we would live in an insecurely dangerous world. Because of this reason, there is need for a global coalition for reduction of the drivers of climate variance.

This reminds us how important it is for a global action rather than basing our efforts on national approach for conditionally wilful actions. This approach is not ideal and can never meet the global target of limiting emissions to 2 degrees mark, required to save the world.

Analysts from Climate Analytics observed 15 distinct national plans to cut emissions by 2030. These include inter alia: the US, the EU and China, which together account for 51% of global emissions. They found that a recent inclination of countries to submit their intended nationally determined contributions (INDICs) as targets for 2030 could inadvertently lead us down to a more dangerous path.

To this end, they have warned that unless the UN climate discussions agree to make shriller short-term goals, we may jeopardize rising over the 2-degrees target. The longing to meet this objective has been underscored by Kikwete Junker, who said, “it should be very clear to our international partners that the AU will not sign just any deal at the UN climate talks in December”. He further wrapped up his message by making it clear that the imminent Paris deal would be necessary to include a strong global emissions reduction target of at least 60% by 2050.

According to Bill Hare of Climate Analytics, “It is clear that if the Paris meeting tresses the present climate commitments for 2030, holding warming below 2 degrees could fundamentally advance incurably, and 1.5°C beyond reach”. They argue that this could lock in uncontrollably higher emissions until 2030, and that the UN urgently needs to step in and enforce a 2025 target that would admit countries to adjust their emissions cutback plans.

As Professor Kornelis Blok of Ecofys has noted, “the current policies is insufficient to limit emission by 2025, and that it is pertinent to augment superior policy action for he Paris Agreement”. If improvement is not taken as necessary, the highest failure of global efforts to tackle changing climate will be seen and the world will face the nastiest brunt of its impacts.

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