Climate Change in Africa: Key Facts and Findings

Sub-Saharan Africa
Different climate change scenarios are analyzed using IFPRI’s International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT), combined with other models. IMPACT projects alternative future scenarios for global food supply and demand, food prices, trade, and food security under climate change, as well as other trends.

Climate change results in reduced food production globally, leading to higher food prices and making food less affordable for poor people.

While Sub-Saharan Africa’s contribution to total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is only five percent, the region has 17 percent of the world’s potential for climate change mitigation through agriculture and 14 percent through forestry. If emissions from deforestation alone are considered, the region has 29 percent of the global potential for mitigation through avoided deforestation.

At carbon prices of up to US$20, Sub-Saharan Africa could earn US$ 4.8 billion per year from mitigating GHG emissions through agriculture. However, numerous barriers would need to be overcome for the region to participate in global carbon markets and access these benefits.

Ethiopia
Agriculture is the backbone of Ethiopia’s economy. It accounts for more than half the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), generates more than 85 percent of the nation’s foreign exchange earnings, and employs about 80 percent of the population.

In the Nile River Basin in Ethiopia, 64 percent of households perceived an increase in temperature over the last 20 years, and 65 percent perceived a decline in rainfall.

In Ethiopia, the predicted increase in temperature by 2050 is greatest for Afar and Tigray regions and lowest for Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ State (SNNPS). The predicted change in precipitation by 2050 is highest for Somali region and lowest for SNNPS.

Using the IMPACT model, research shows that even under a very moderate climate change scenario, both water supply and cereal grain production in Ethiopia would decline, despite higher expected rainfall.

The study examined vulnerability for seven of the eleven regions of Ethiopia. Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, and Harari were excluded, as well as Gambella, due to lack of data. Afar, Somali, Oromia, and Tigray regions are at greater risk to the negative consequences of climate change. SNNPS and Beneshangul Gumuz are deemed least vulnerable.

South Africa
Agriculture is important to the South African economy in terms of employment, agro-processing, and food security, but contributes only four percent to the country’s GDP.

Using the IMPACT model, research shows that even under a very moderate climate change scenario, less water would be available in South Africa due to declines in precipitation and increased evaporation, reducing runoff into rivers and streams, crop yields, and food production.

In the Limpopo River Basin in South Africa, 87 percent of households perceived an increase in temperature over the last 20 years, and 79 percent perceived a decline in rainfall.

In the Limpopo Basin, vulnerability to climate-related shocks, such as droughts, varies by province. If only the agriculture sector is considered, households in Gauteng are more vulnerable than those in Limpopo Province. When the entire economy of the provinces is considered, Limpopo is more vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change than Gauteng Province.

Source: IFPRI Research Briefs, Series 15, “How can African Agriculture Adapt to Climate Change? Insights from Ethiopia and South Africa”

Published date: 
2008