Financing Needed But Scarce for Climate Change Adaptation in Africa

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Photo credit: Panos / Stefan Boness

Several African countries, particularly in East Africa, are facing severe power shortages and declines in agricultural productivity due to drought that experts are linking to climate change. Drought has sharply reduced reservoirs that supply hydroelectric plants in countries like Tanzania, and we've already reported that overuse of water by two hydroelectric dams decreased the level of water in Lake Victoria by at least two meters between 2000 and 2006.

Increasingly African leaders are looking to develop national climate change action plans and attract Clean Development Mechanism funds. The CDM is a pollutant trading system mandated under the Kyoto Protocol where developing countries can help offset emissions in developed countries, but so far Africa has only managed to secure just under three percent of the more than 1,000 CDM-approved projects globally. Those projects to day have "saved" carbon dioxide emissions of 135 million tons. (India leads with 32 percent of the projects.)

Many Africans have also noted that the CDM's rules favor pollution reduction projects instead of climate change adaption projects, such as irrigation schemes, coping with drought, soil conservation and flood-control programs. Such projects are instead supposed to be financed by the Kyoto Protocol's Adaptation Fund, financed in part by a two percent tax on CDM credits.Richard Muyungi, deputy director for the environment in the office of the Tanzanian vice-president, recently spoke to United Nations Africa Renewal magazine about the severity of the drought. He said mounting concerns about the impact of climate change on food production have already forced the government to shift spending from long-term sustainable development programs to emergency relief.

"Africa is already behind in terms of foreign direct investment and the same problems stand in the way of CDM projects," said Muyungi. "The CDM needs a much more comprehensive and strategic approach to Africa if it is going to help the region cope. We really need a Marshall Plan." :: Via Africa Renewal
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