The most densely populated and poverty stricken parts of Africa will be the most vulnerable to climate change impacts, according to German researchers.
Findings from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research have dubbed parts of Sudan and Ethiopia, countries in the Lake Victoria region, and Africa’s south-eastern corner as “climate change hot spots” for the continent. Lake Victoria is home to the world’s largest freshwater fishery, and has a population of 30 million who live in its vicinity, with an annual growth of six per cent. Meanwhile, the black majority living in post-apartheid South Africa “still feel trapped by poverty,” while the Blue Nile region is home to the most food insecure vulnerable population.
“We tried to identify the places where climate change really hurts the most … These are the regions where climate change impacts are most likely, strong and, possibly, severe,” explains lead author Christopher Muller.
Some of the impacts addressed in this study include increased flooding, declining crop yields or ecosystem damages. While these impacts vary from one region to another, the authors highlight that such insights are crucial to setting up important mitigation measures for those hit the hardest.
“Climate change clearly threatens people’s livelihoods and thus cannot be ignored,” says Hermann Lotze-Campen, co-chair of PIK’s research domain Climate Impacts and Vulnerability.
“A continental scenario analysis like this one can never be a blueprint for adaptation, as it of course lacks the local expertise. Yet it can help to decide where to best put the limited resources in the countries most affected by climate change.”
As researchers make a push to transform science into policy, experts remain optimistic about adaptation opportunities. The authors suggest working closely with vulnerable communities to develop mitigation strategies and empower them as they deal with the looming impacts of climate change.