Global warming will increase food shortages in Africa and destroy its glaciers


The study highlights that differences in rainfall composition, higher temperatures and increased extreme weather conditions have contributed to increased food insecurity, poverty and displacement in Africa over the past year, a situation that has exacerbated the social, economic and health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. .

Secretary General of World Meteorological OrganizationIn the introduction to the report, Professor Petteri Taalas notes that climate indicators in Africa during the year 2020 were characterized by a continuous rise in temperatures, the speed with which the sea level is rising, extreme weather and climate events and other relevant devastating consequences.

“The rapid shrinkage of the last glaciers in East Africa, which is expected to completely melt in the near future, indicates the risk of an imminent and irreversible change in the Earth system“Warning the world.

Taalas added that after recovering from the coronavirus epidemic, it became necessary and urgent to improve climate resilience.

He noted that “investments are needed in particular in capacity development and technology transfer, as well as in improving countries’ early warning systems, including weather, water and climate monitoring systems.”

OIM / Celeste Hebert

The increasing drought in Somalia has displaced populations, undermined food security and left women vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

About 118 million people were exposed to extreme events in 2030

The report was presented during the Extraordinary Meeting of the World Meteorological Conference and before the negotiations on climate change that will take place at the twenty-sixth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26), the United Nations conference on climate change. Climate to be held in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12.

The study adds to the scientific evidence of the urgent need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, increase the level of climate ambition and increase funding for adaptation.

“Africa is experiencing an increase in meteorological and climatic variability, causing disasters and disruptions to economic, ecological and social systems,” said the Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission, Josefa Lionel Correia Sako.

Sacco also highlighted that “by 2030, it is estimated that 118 million people live in extreme poverty (i.e. living on less than $1.90 a day) You will experience droughts, floods and extreme heat in Africa, if appropriate response measures are not put in place. This will place an additional burden on poverty alleviation initiatives and seriously impede increased prosperity.”

As an example, he noted that climate change could reduce sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP by up to 3%.

Northwest Somalia suffers from frequent droughts.  Women, who are responsible for carrying water, have to travel to more and more areas to get it, putting themselves at greater risk and putting their safety at risk.

PNUD Somalia

Northwest Somalia suffers from frequent droughts. Women, who are responsible for carrying water, have to travel to more and more areas to get it, putting themselves at greater risk and putting their safety at risk.

The main messages of the report


  • The recorded warming between 1991 and 2020 was higher than in 1961-1990 in all African subregions and much higher than the 1931-1960 trend.
  • Africa has warmed at a rate higher than the global average temperature across the entire Earth’s surface and ocean
  • 2020 was between the third and eighth warmest year for which data are available in Africa, depending on the data set used.

Sea level rise:

  • Rates of sea level rise on the tropical coast, the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean coast are higher than the global average
  • Sea level is rising along the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea at a rate lower than the global average
Aerial view of melting ice over Mount Kilimanjaro.

ONU / Mark Garten

Aerial view of melting ice over Mount Kilimanjaro.


  • Currently, only three glaciers remain in the African mountains: Mount Kenya Massif (Kenya), Mount Rwenzori (Uganda) and Mount Kilimanjaro (United Republic of Tanzania)
  • These glaciers are too small to play an important role as water reservoirs, but they are of great tourist and scientific importance.
  • Its current rates of decline are above the world average, and if this trend continues, it will lead to a complete decline in the 1940s.
  • Mount Kenya is expected to lose its glacier mass a decade ago, making it one of the first mountain ranges to lose glaciers as a result of climate change due to human activity.


  • Rain and floods prevailed in the Sahel, the Rift Valley, the Middle Nile Basin, Northeast Africa, the Kalahari Basin, and the lower reaches of the Congo River.
  • Dry conditions prevailed on the northern coast of the Gulf of Guinea, in northwest Africa, and along the southeastern part of the continent. Drought in Madagascar has caused a humanitarian crisis

Phenomena with devastating effects:

  • Large-scale flooding occurred in many parts of East Africa
  • Countries that reported loss of life or significant population displacement included Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Chad, Nigeria (which also experienced drought in the southern part), Niger, Benin, Togo, Senegal, and Cote D. Ivoire, Cameroon and Burkina Faso
  • Many lakes and rivers have reached record levels, such as Lake Victoria (last May), the Niger River in Niamey and the Blue Nile in Khartoum (in September)

Food insecurity:

  • The main drivers of the increase were a combination of protracted conflicts, political instability, climate variability, pest outbreaks, and economic crises, exacerbated by the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • A desert locust infestation of historic proportions, which began in 2019, continued to have serious repercussions in East Africa and the Horn of Africa in 2020.
  • Food insecurity increases by 5-20% with each flood or drought in sub-Saharan Africa. Deterioration related to children’s health and school attendance can exacerbate long-term income and gender inequality
  • In 2020, the number of people affected by food insecurity increased by about 40% compared to the previous year


  • An estimated 12% of all new population displacements in the world occurred in East Africa and the Horn of Africa
  • More than 1.2 million of these new displacements were related to disasters and nearly half a million due to conflict
  • Floods and storms were the main contributors to disaster-related internal displacement, followed by droughts
At least 50,000 people were affected by floods in the Gatumba district of Burundi last year.

© UNICEF / Karel Prinsloo

At least 50,000 people were affected by floods in the Gatumba district of Burundi last year.


  • Adaptation costs in sub-Saharan Africa are estimated to be between $30 and $50 billion annually (2% to 3% of regional GDP) over the next decade which will help avoid additional higher relief costs in the event of a disaster.
  • Climate-resilient development in Africa requires investments in hydrometeorological infrastructure and early warning systems to prepare for an increasing number of devastating hazardous events.

Early alerts:

  • International Monetary Fund household surveys in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, Niger and the United Republic of Tanzania found that, among other factors, expanded access to early warning systems and information on food prices and time (via text or voice messages to report) when Farmers are cultivating, irrigating or fertilizing) can reduce the potential for food insecurity by 30%


  • Rapid implementation of African adaptation strategies will stimulate economic development and create more jobs to support economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Implementation of the common priorities identified by the African Union Action Plan for Environmental Recovery would contribute to the sustainable and environmental recovery of the continent after the pandemic, while enabling effective climate action.

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