Yaounde, Cameroon – Young people in Africa have called on developed countries to double the funding for climate change adaptation in Africa.
At the Youth Forum on Adaptation Finance in Africa (YOFAFA), held in Yaounde in Cameroon in November, participants stressed the critical role of financial support in securing a sustainable future for the continent.
YOFAFA gathered 200 participants from across the African continent and another 2000 participants online.
In a statement drawn-up during the forum, they said they were frustrated by gap between actual adaptation financial flows, commitments, and the real needs on the ground.
They also stressed the disproportionate impacts of climate change in Africa and the potential for even greater severity in key areas of the economy across the continent. The work of the forum along with the statement will be presented at the upcoming COP28.
Major polluters, they said, must develop a framework at the Dubai summit that commits to more than double annual adaptation finance flows to Africa by 2025.
Participants from all over the continent outlined some of the challenges they are facing in the coming years.
One of the major issues is declining rainfall. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, rainfall in Cameroon has been decreasing by 2.5 mm each year since 1960, putting millions of people on the brink of famine.
In 2008, a food crisis led to violent protests that resulted in at least 40 deaths according to government figures, although independent organizations claimed at least a hundred people were killed.
Kenyan climate activist Shampi Anna says the northern part of her country is a concrete example of the devastating effects of these extreme events.
"Whenever the rain comes, it's very heavy, and there are always floods. So, if we have a drought, it's extreme, if we have rain, it's also extreme. In case of floods, most of our houses are temporary, so they end up being washed away. Children die, cattle die," she said.
Livestock department statistics in Kenya reveal that the country lost 2.5 million head of cattle in 2022, and the remaining 10 million in arid areas suffer from a lack of pasture and water.
The country's tourism ministry also revealed that between February and October 2022, 205 elephants died due to drought in protected areas.A further 512 wildebeests, 381 zebras, 12 giraffes, and 51 buffaloes also perished in the same period and region. These figures do not include animals that may have died in the grazing ecosystem, where 60% of the wildlife coexists with the community's livestock.
A 2023 World Bank report indicates that Kenya could lose up to 7.25% of its economic production by 2050 if it does not take decisive action to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects.
"So, what people need are actually adaptive projects to be resilient to these climate disasters that cannot be avoided. Things like dams are very crucial in these areas," Shampi told RFI.
In Ethiopia, rural women travel several kilometers to collect firewood, the primary source of fuel for most of the country's 112 million people. This has put Ethiopia's forests under enormous pressure.
The East African nation has been suffering from deforestation and degradation for decades to the point where natural forests in an already drought-prone region are on the verge of collapse. For an economy largely based on agriculture, reforesting has become crucial to creating a sustainable and climate-resilient future.
Yabtsega Getachew works with an NGO that seeks to provide rural populations with alternative sources of energy in an effort to keep the remaining forests alive.
"We teach people in rural areas how to produce electric stoves. We produce them in local markets. We use only local resources, and in addition to electric stoves, we train them in the use of biomass to produce biogas," she said.
She added that transitioning to clean cooking also means improving the health of the population, a crucial element in building a more productive society.
"To have a productive society, we need to eliminate the health problem, and to eliminate this health problem, we need to primarily focus on clean cooking because most mothers are not really healthy due to these unclean cooking practices," she said.
Devastating climate change
Continent-wide statistics on the impacts of climate change are staggering.
According to the latest study published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), temperatures in Africa are expected to increase by 3°C to 6°C compared to pre-industrial levels by the turn of this century.
"This will lead to more frequent and severe climate extremes, even in the best-case scenarios, which will have significant impacts on agriculture, water resources, and human health," the forum heard.
"Increased warming and inaction could result in crop yield reductions of up to 50%, an increase in water stress of up to 60%, an increase in malaria incidence of up to 90%, and a loss of biodiversity of up to 40%."
The African Development Bank claims that climate change could reduce Africa's GDP by 2.8% to 10% by 2050, depending on the severity of the impacts.
It suggests that this could lead to an annual loss ranging from 68 to 259 billion dollars. According to World Bank estimates, up to 86 million Africans could move within their own countries by 2050 due to climate change-related conflicts.
African youth leaders
African youth leaders argue that in light of these threatening forecasts, helping Africa adapt to the effects of climate change has become both a moral duty and a calculated investment in the continent's future resilience.
In addition to opening up new prospects for social participation, job development, innovation, and economic diversification, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that one dollar invested in adaptation could result in four dollars in benefits.
The adaptation mechanisms already implemented on the continent have a cost, with many analysts saying that Africans are paying for climate change adaptation with their lives.
"We are already spending a lot of money and resources to adapt to climate change. A report published in 2022 indicates that over eleven sub-Saharan African countries are spending five times more on adaptation than on healthcare," Njamshi Augustin itold RFI.
"This means that what they spend on adaptation is more than what they spend on healthcare. This means that Africans are paying for climate change adaptation with their health and their lives."
Yet, Africa's priority remains adaptation and, therefore, the need to increase adaptation financing has become imperative.
Njamshi estimates that Africa as a continent needs about $53 billion per year until 2030 to address its climate change adaptation challenges.
Yet, the continent received only $11.4 billion between 2019 and 2020 for this purpose.
"Doubling efforts would bring adaptation financing to about $40 billion. Yet, this is far below the actual adaptation need."
According to the UNEP Adaptation Gap Report 2023, the current adaptation funding shortfall is between $194 billion and $366 billion per year until 2030.
This indicates that expected needs for developing countries are five to ten times higher than existing adaptation funding flows.
Moreover, achieving the goal of increasing adaptation funding to $40 billion by 2025 is unlikely. According to UNEP, bilateral and international public funding for adaptation to developing countries fell by 15% in 2021, reaching $21 billion.