Climate-related disasters have increased exponentially in Africa over the past two decades, hampering Africa’s overall socioeconomic development, the African Union (AU) said on Wednesday.
‘Despite improvements, the economic and social growth achieved so far in Africa is very fragile and susceptible to climate risks and disasters hence negating the progress made towards achievement of national goals and overall attainment of Agenda 2063 and the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),’ the AU said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
‘Over the past 20 years, climate-related disasters have increased exponentially in Africa,’ the AU said, adding that the vulnerability of the African continent was recently evident when more than 1,000 people were killed across Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe due to Cyclone Idai.
Noting an estimated $2bn economic loss from cyclone Idai, the 55-member pan-African bloc also stressed that Cyclone Kenneth followed Idai in quick succession, in which Mozambique was struck again, in addition to Comoros.
It recalled a recent World Bank report that many African countries have made significant development achievements in the last few decades with annual growth averaging 4.5 percent, ‘but increasing weather, water, and climate risks threaten these gains.’
‘Since 1970, Africa has experienced more than 2,000 natural disasters, with just under half taking place in the last decade,’ the statement said.
Countries recovering from protracted civil wars and disasters, and small island states are particularly vulnerable to climate change and natural hazards, it said.
Building resilience to natural and human-induced hazards has gained significant momentum on the continent, the statement said. ‘Work on resilience building is gaining momentum on the continent. The policy environment is encouraging but the implementation of resilience policies is faced with some technical and resource constraints.’
The AU emphasised the crucial importance of the adoption of global climate-focused agendas such as the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda.
‘Translating these policies into action is being undertaken through overarching continental programs on resilience,’ the statement said.
African states have to redouble their efforts in mobilising domestic resources to achieve resilience targets, it said.
‘Similarly, the international community should continue to play its vital role in supporting resilience building in Africa,’ the statement said. ‘Additional efforts are required to build the technical capacity of African states to build their resilience to climate change and disaster risks.’