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Climate Change, Conflict, Displacement, Poverty Causing Africa Water Crises

OXFORD, United Kingdom

Extreme weather, both too much and too little rain, conflict, displacement and poverty have caused crisis levels of hunger for as many as 18 million people across Africa. The climatic conditions are exacerbated in many countries that are already suffering from ongoing conflict situations.

In advance of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) in Durban Nov 11-15, a report from international NGO Oxfam called on African ministers at the AMCEN meeting to:

  • Insist rich industrialized countries decrease CO2 emissions in line with the Paris Agreement's goal and to honor respective commitments to mobilize $100 Billion USD per year by 2020 to fund climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts in developing countries;
  • Demand governments agree to develop new funding mechanisms for “loss and damage” from climate change at the upcoming COP25;
  • Invest more in public services and strengthen tax systems to close the gap between rich and poor;
  • Improve disaster warning and management systems, and commit to re-greening and agricultural policies that target small-scale farmers;
  • Invest in “social accountability” projects that ensure climate finance can reach the communities that need it most;
  • Improve engagement with women and girls in the planning, design, and implementation of climate mitigation and adaptation programs

The new report from Oxfam highlights conditions in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia and South Africa where there have been reports of farmer suicides.

The report repeats information in the East and Horn of Africa where drought in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia is creating a food crisis. At the same time, record-breaking temperatures in the Indian Ocean have created ultra-heavy rainfalls, causing flash flooding in Kenya and South Sudan which has declared a state of emergency with more than 900,000 people hit by floods.

The report cites that across the continent, 7.6 million people have been displaced by conflict in the first six months of 2019, and another 2.6 million by extreme weather. In the Horn, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan have simultaneously faced over 750,000 people displaced by conflict and 350,000 displaced by extreme weather.

The report calls into relief the fact that scientists have demonstrated how climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of many extreme weather events but that the African countries that suffer the climate-related disasters do not actually contribute to the impending crisis. Africa contributes less than 5 Percent of total global emissions but is suffering some of the most severe impacts of the climate crisis.

“We are witnessing millions of already poor people facing extreme food insecurity and exhausting their reserves because of compounding climate shocks that hit already vulnerable communities hardest. They need help urgently. The scale of the drought devastation across southern Africa is staggering,” said Oxfam’s Southern Africa Regional Director Nellie Nyang'wa.

Oxfam is seeking to raise $65 Million USD to reach up to 700,000 people in the 10 worst-hit countries with food and water support and long-term development projects.

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