The 2019 Eastern Africa short rains (October-December) was one of the wettest in recent decades, with many places seeing more than double the typical amount of rainfall for the season. The seasonal forecast from the 53rd Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF) did indeed note that above average rainfall was most likely.
Learning Labs bring diverse stakeholders together to spur new thinking about how to tackle the climate change adaptation issues emerging in urban Africaer
The Katonga River opens through a wide mouth into the north-western shores of Lake Victoria, about two hours’ drive from the Ugandan capital of Entebbe. Because of the large surface area of the river, and its surrounding wetlands, it is prone to lose a considerable volume of water through evaporation. In a changing climate, rising regional temperatures are likely to increase the rate of evaporation from here, impacting on water flow.
Rapid development in parts of central and southern Africa is occurring within a context of high exposure and vulnerability to climate change but with relatively low capacity for adaptation. Major infrastructural investments with 5–40 year lifetimes are being planned and implemented in the region – many without being informed by climate information. Ensuring this infrastructure is viable in a changing climate is essential, yet decision-makers face significant challenges in assessing how climate change affects investment decisions. An international research project led by the Grantham Research Institute at LSE has been working over the past four years to address critical knowledge gaps in the understanding of central and southern Africa’s climate and to effectively communicate climate information to decision-makers – crucial for enabling climate-resilient development in this highly vulnerable region.
Urban flooding is a major challenge in Ouagadougou. People may settle in flood-prone parts of the West African city, because they need to be close to the business centre and to job opportunities, or because they may have inherited land from their family. They often build informal homes in these places, in spite of the high risk of water-borne diseases like cholera or malaria during the rainy season, because of limited housing options in this ever more densely populated city where formal housing may be too expensive to buy or rent.
Water is the lifeblood for urban settlements. Disruptions in supply and/or wastewater management hold enormous risks, both for human health and economic wellbeing. It goes without say that the investment in bulk water infrastructure requires strategic and long-term perspective. However, in the southern African context, many city engineers responsible for urban infrastructure on the ground face a multiplicity of challenges that may frustrate their efforts to plan proactively.
All of nature is infinitely connected. It is therefore no surprise that there are strong interdependencies between the resources that the land surface provides.
People living in the Kilombero Rivercatchment in east-central Tanzania make important water-use and farming decisions based on the seasonal forecasts they get from the country’s national meteorological service. This shows the importance of keeping regular, accurate forecast information flowing to communities on the ground, either through television and radio broadcasts or through the state’s agricultural extension services.
The floods which hit Malawi’s southern Shire River Basin in 2015 were the worst on record, according to the country’s Department of Disaster Management, causing widespread damage to roads, buildings, and farmlands. If the government wants to contain the risk of future flooding like this, it needs to plan with more than just the likely changes in rainfall patterns in mind due to climate change. They must also factor in changes in vegetation cover as farmers increase their footprint in the area, and people fell trees for firewood.
Welcome to the June 2019 edition of the Future Climate for Africa newsletter