Managing a Changing Climate in Africa
By Pius Z. Yanda and Chipo P. Mubaya
Published by Mkuki naNyota publishers (2011)
THE ongoing debate on climate change indicates that it is affecting Third World countries more than the developed.
Evident in Africa today are areas wetter, others drier, while hot temperatures are becoming more common.
It is indisputable that climate change poses a threat to communities relying on agriculture.
The problem is that without thriving agriculture, Africa experiences severe hunger, hence the need for her to come up with sustainable solutions to climate change.
Under review this week is a book by two African academics, Professor Pius Zebhe Yanda and Dr Chipo Plaxedes Mubaya.
They put together research findings on climate change in Africa, highlighting how it is essential for her to find sustainable solutions in order to cope.
Their book provides an insight into how Africa should join the world in the struggle for managing climate change.
The book is titled Managing a Changing Climate in Africa.
Interesting about it is that it provides a way forward and provides African-based solutions for various sectors on the continent.
Not only is it suitable for students, it is also useful to African governments, civic organisations and, most importantly, the African farmer.
The book is divided into three parts that help the reader to grasp fundamental discoveries about climate change.
Part one, titled ‘Climate Change in Africa: An Overview’, is a focus on the effects of climate change in various sectors.
It does well in explaining reasons for Africa experiencing some conditions related to climate change.
Under the heading ‘Climate Change Impacts on Africa’, the writers do well in articulating damages that befall African regions during climate change.
These are problems which include drought, hunger, floods and extreme weather conditions which affect crop yields.
The authors are not only bringing out the impact of climate change, but are also predicting how climate change can contribute to social unrest.
However, on the other hand, they are also encouraging governments and responsible authorities to implement policies that find sustainable strategies to curb problems associated with climate change.
One is reminded of the recent move by the Zimbabwean Government to demolish houses built on wetlands to avert the risk of flooding.
In their research, the authors also identify the need for Africa to come up with adaptation strategies.
These include the use of “…new crop varieties and livestock species that are better suited for drier conditions, crop diversification and the use of different scales of irrigation systems, changes in fertilisation techniques, reduced utilisation of marginal lands, water harvesting practices and water resources conservation as well as precision farming methods.”
Yanda and Mubaya’s contribution also highlights the need for Africa to come up with funding mechanisms that support technology development and transfer in developing nations.
Such an argument is not only optimistic, but clearly shows Africa some of the paths she needs to take in order to counter the impact of climate change.
If implemented, the solutions offered in the book are vital for the development of Africa and they can assure her of less dependence on the so-called ‘First World countries’.
The research findings do not spare humans the indictment of being the biggest contributors to climate change.
On emissions that result in global warming, the writers had this to say: “This has been considered to be unfair since Africa’s past economic activity has not significantly contributed to the accumulated global stock of carbon, with it’s current activity accounting for only trivial proportion of global emissions.”
Part Two of the book are case studies of ‘Vulnerability to Climate Change and Variability in Eastern and Southern Africa’.
These case studies give insight to real time experiences of farmers in different places in Africa.
Reading about them does not only narrate experiences and perceptions of the farmers, but helps one in understanding how each situation was dealt with and can assist one dealing with the same.
The case studies are an important part of the book because they provide tangible and traceable experiences.
The authors stress that it is through experiences that initiatives and solutions can be formed.
The final section of the book, which is Part Three, presents challenges and opportunities to climate change adaption in Africa.
The opportunities provide a way forward to a continent which is in need of sustainable solutions.
By concluding the book with recommendations, the authors show it is possible for Africa to curb problems associated with climate change.