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Climate Change
Climate Change

Climate change is the process of warming up of the earth’s atmosphere caused by the accumulation of heat trapping gases also known as greenhouse gases. Although climate change has occurred in the past the rate of this otherwise known phenomenon has accelerated due to the rapid increase of   greenhouse gases caused by human activity. Being among the major forces driving climate change energy needs to form a central part of any policy aiming to curb global warming. 

While climate change is occurring on a global level its effects will impact developing regions including Africa mostly. This is because global warming will interact in many ways with natural resources influencing the capacity of ecosystems to provision man with food, water, valuable materials as well as energy upon which developing country populations depend heavily. Climate change and food security for instance are strongly interconnected challenges.  Larger rainfall variability and more frequent incidences of drought are expected to lower farm yields. And even as food insecurity increases due to rainfall shortages farmers in developing regions will need to do more to feed growing populations while using less resources. Food demand is expected to double  in developing regions by 2050 according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations adding another challenge to the adversities imposed by climate change.

Due to its high complexity climate change may have impacts on human health which are difficult to anticipate. Droughts may decrease water availability leading to a drop in water quality and associated increase in water borne diseases. As temperatures rise the migration of diseases may change with diseases shifting to new areas exposing populations with little immunity to new diseases. 

Africa is likely to experience dampening effects of climate change on energy security as well. The amount of rainfall received has direct impacts on hydropower dams and their capacity to supply energy. For instance, the water level of the Kariba Dam on the Zambezi River dropped by 11.6 meters between 1981 and 1992, resulting in a reduction of the dam’s capacity to generate hydropower. For West Africa’s River Volta basin - climate change is expected to lead to reduction in the water flows by 24 percent by 2050 impacting the river basin’s capacity to continue supplying energy.

The major uncertainties posed by climate change to African nations call for coordinated policy initiatives at unprecedented levels. Among others African states will need to invest in large scale energy generation to cater for economic growth and greater demand  for energy services linked to higher living standards. Assuming clean energy initiatives will help buffer the global climate from negative impacts of regional growth allowing gains realized through growth to be more resilient to climate change.

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