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Literacy and political will key to boosting climate action in Africa

Sunday January 26 2020

By JESSY KIDULA

Despite contributing an insignificant amount to the total global greenhouse gas emissions, Africa faces the greatest threat from the effects of climate change.

As seen in the past few years, there have been changes in precipitation levels, occasioning prolonged dry seasons in some areas while causing floods in others.

The aftermath of these events has been a significant reduction in crop yields and livestock productivity.

These have led to disputes, mainly over diminishing water resources and grazing land. In places like northern Kenya, the issue has escalated to a matter of national security concern.

Pastoralist communities continually engage in small arms proliferation as they arm themselves in order to invade protected areas for pasture and guard water points.

As the climate crisis escalates in Africa, however, governments seem not to view it as an emergency yet it is the defining issue of our continent’s future.

POLITICAL WILL

As a result, there is little to show for governments’ efforts towards climate action, largely due to the low priority given to climate change.

The African climate system is controlled by a vastly understudied and complex mix of large-scale weather systems.

From a scientific standpoint, this is a worrying fact, given that, in such a situation, it is difficult to develop a reliable climate model that can be used to predict future trends and, therefore, plan for action to limit potential catastrophe in earnest.

Even with the present evidence, as seen in the recent climatic events, no clear mitigation plans have been put in place to offer respite from the climate change assault.

Building climate resilience in Africa requires significant political will and resources, as well as mass education to help the residents understand the need to prioritise climate action.

It is worth pointing out that boosting climate change literacy is key to cranking up governments and policymakers into climate action.

LITERACY

A recent survey conducted between late 2016 and late 2018 in 34 countries revealed that only less than 30 per cent of the population were ‘climate-change literate’.

These worrying statistics point to lack of knowledge and awareness on climate change and its effects.

As we walk into the new year, it’s necessary for us as a continent to consider embracing a fundamental societal change in order to bend the curve on climate change.

The mainstream media need to play the vital role of informing the masses on the impending climate change catastrophe and what it means to our existence should we fail to act now.

The only way to survive the looming catastrophe as a result of climate change is by according climate action the urgency and prominence it demands.

Jessy Kidula, climate action enthusiast, Vihiga. [email protected]