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Climate Change and Water in Africa: Analysis of Knowledge Gaps and Needs

Author: UNECA
Organisation: UNECA
Publish Date: November 2011
Country: Africa
Sector: Environment
Method: Scenarios
Theme: Water
Type: Other publication
Language: English
Tags: Climate change, Water, Scenarios

The water resource of Africa is increasingly being stressed due to the climate change variability and increased demand over the continent. Africa has suffered the consequences of climate change and climate variability at various periods over the last century, the recurrence of the impacts have shown increasing tendency over the last 40 years. Observational evidences show that many vital water resources of Africa such as Lakes, river and snow covers on the high mountains are showing persistent sign of decreasing.

The future impact of climate on the water resources of Africa remains uncertain and requires high level of scientific interaction and communication to policy makes through better understanding of the impact and developing long term and medium term preparedness strategy (adaptation) which is cost effective and considers the future uncertainty. The scientific knowledge and understanding of climate change science in Africa however requires a fresh look such developing new African GCM model that incorporates the complexities of Atmosphere ?Ocean circulation, the local climate drivers and feedbacks, reconstruction and integration of all available data which was not previously used, separate accounting of climatic and non?climatic impacts on the water resources. This requires focused human resources capacity building as well developing regional centre of excellence. In addition, it should be supported by African governments’ willingness and commitment to initiatives in this line and to avail financial resources, and available data. It is believed that the challenge of data has compromised the outputs of climate modeling and included additional uncertainty to impact studies, therefore data sharing, lost data recovery and reconstruction activity should form the central core of activities in Africa. ACPC can be used as a think tank wing of AU and facilitate the coordination, advocacy and resources solicitation activities in this regard.

The best assumption from studies so far on climate change is that many regions of Africa will suffer from droughts and floods with greater frequency and intensity. The implication is that we have to plan for the certainty that more extreme events will occur in the future but with uncertain regularity. As 90% of the water resources in Africa are transboundary in nature, it is imperative to underline the importance of regional cooperation in all planning pertaining to climate change.
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