Africa has contributed the least to global warming, but it is expected to suffer the most from it. Is this definitive? Is Africa taking too lightly the concept of global warming by failing to make the necessary adjustments to combat this phenomenon? It is estimated that by 2100, Africa will have lost at least 47% of its Agricultural revenue. There is also the possibility of this drop being 6% if Africa wakes up and smells the coffee.
What can Africa do to boost food security despite global warming?
A few years back, farming was a very predictable and reliable source of income. Population in Africa keeps growing, and people will always need food. The market was there, and rain fell like clockwork. People involved in food production worked in a specified manner because they knew which months they were expected to till their land, when to plant and when they would see returns on their investment.
Today, they are caught off guard because of unexpected heavy rains which find them ill-prepared. Rather than being a blessing, rainfall is today either insufficient or destructive. It either falls at the wrong time or in quantities that destroy the crop. How then can Africa improve crop yield, enough to feed its people and still have a surplus for export?
- Make changes in the crops grown
It is estimated that by 2050, South Africa and Zimbabwe will see their maize yields drop by 30%. It has also been determined that by 2100, Chad, Zimbabwe, and Niger will no longer have a farming sector to boast of. This is very worrying, and Africa needs to start thinking of how they can work together to combat climate change. One way of doing this is by determining which crops will do well in which country.
If Southern Africa is facing a crisis of maize production, how can other countries in Africa help make up for the 30% lost? Should Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania plant more to help bridge the gap in the production of maize in Southern Africa? If growing maize no longer makes sense due to low yield, a shift to crops like cassava, which are hardy and drought resistant, may be necessary. By coming together, African countries can indeed find ways to help one another in fighting food insecurity in Africa and possibly, the rest of the world.
- Diversification of the economy
Africa has a lot of untapped natural resources. Climate change is not just affecting food security, it is also taking money from the pockets of those relying on Agriculture for survival. A large population in Africa is already suffering from food shortage as well as a decrease in disposable income. Africa needs to find ways of reducing the number of people relying on Agriculture as a source of income.
Diversification has become crucial in fighting climate change. If its citizens can afford to eat, they can afford to work and will be able to meet their tax obligations. It is estimated that by 2030, 42% of the population in Africa will be made up of people between the age of 15 years and 24 years. Between 2015 and 2050, Africa’s population is expected to increase from 1.2billion to 2.2 billion.
This could be seen as a ticking time bomb for Africa or an Opportunity. It is time Africa started asking itself how this population growth can be utilized to boost economic growth. Africa has the potential to export more than food to Europe and other developed countries. The time to plan is now. This way structures will be in place to meet the demands of the growing population that will likely suffer from food insecurity and its possible side effects, including malnutrition.
- Turn its focus to renewable sources of energy
As the world tries to fight and reverse climate change, Africa is not doing much to help reverse it since it mainly depends on non-renewable sources of fuel such as firewood and charcoal for domestic use. As the population in Africa grows, the ecosystem continues to be endangered. Forests in sub-Sahara continue to face possibilities of depletion as more people use firewood and charcoal for cooking. Kenya has recently banned deforestation in a bid to reverse climate change.
Unfortunately, destruction of forests is not just about the trees and climate change. Africa relies heavily on tourism as a source of foreign exchange. Destruction of natural habitats will undoubtedly affect wildlife populations. Africa needs to see the bigger picture by focusing its energy on the conservation of the eco-system by encouraging the use of solar, wind and other sources of renewable energy. This will be a significant step in helping the rest of the world fight climate change. Of course, this will also be a great reprieve to citizens of other countries who choose Africa as a holiday destination.
- Political stability and citizen-friendly policies
Developed countries are grappling with a high influx of people from Africa. This is either due to political instability in their home countries or poor government policies that have rendered them more destitute. It is human nature to seek better opportunities, especially for the educated and the under-utilized. Africa is experiencing a lot of brain drain due to its inability to provide the right framework when creating employment and investment opportunities.
Governments in Africa need to appreciate the potential of its citizens, especially in mitigating climate change. By creating a productive environment, fewer people will want to leave their homes. This will reduce the pressure faced by developed countries. In return, Africa will have more professionals who will help it find ways to grow the economy and reduce Africa’s vulnerability to climate change.
- Educate its people
Africa has seen tremendous growth in the telephony industry. With 1 in every 3 Africans owning a phone, it is time Africa used this resource to educate the masses on the causes of climate change, its impact, and solutions. Many farmers talk about the changing weather patterns, but they do not understand why this is happening. For example, many locals in Kenya do not know why they are not allowed to destroy trees for charcoal.
Education, with the use of the available technology, will help Africans take better care of their environment. They will understand the importance of adapting to new farming methods and the value of diversification. More importantly, the world will be less worried about food security if Africa takes responsibility in the fight against climate change.