16 Sep 2007
At least 14 countries in the past two months stretching from Senegal at the Western end of Africa to Ethiopia in East Africa have been subjected to unusual bouts of rainfall that has triggered floods. In all, the floods have adversely affected more than a million people and fatalities running into hundreds have been reported. UN officials have warned that the continent may experience more heavy rains within the coming days and weeks.
Flood in Douala (photo: Njei M.T)
Ghana in West Africa, Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia in the East have been particularly hit. Ghanaian authorities said this weekend that the floods have wiped out entire villages in the northern part of the country, killing 18 people in the process and displacing more than 250000 others. Houses with mud walls were easily swept by water and others were simply submerged. Extensive expanse of farmlands suffered the same fate thereby creating a potential food security crisis. In Uganda, an estimated 150000 people have been rendered homeless and about 400,000 (mostly farmers) have lost their livelihood to the floods.
The UN is warning of the possible outbreak of water borne diseases like cholera and dysentery. The world body also expressed concern that the resultant favorable conditions may lead to an outbreak of locust-a migratory grasshopper that move in swarms of millions and devour crops.
Observers are clearly seeing a link between global climatic changes and the unpredictable behavior of the weather on the African continent. On the 5th of this month at a conference in Pretoria, a leading British government scientist David King warned that African climate would be characterized by “wetter and drier” episodes due to global warming. He said parts of the continent would become uninhabitable and uncultivable with the passage of time if present global warming trends persist. “This is the continent that will come under the most severe pressure from climate change.” He said, while blaming the US administration for being lukewarm towards the fight to contain global warming. “We have managed to push the point along but without the American leadership it is going to be a struggle”. Other scientists and NGOs have been increasingly echoing the same message.
It is now over two decades that the issue of global warming has come to the fore in discussions either within the scientific communities or at international forums. Unfortunately, the powerful decision makers of our world have failed to assume leadership in the fight to reverse a discernable and evolving global catastrophe created by global warming.
There have been many dire predictions about the impact of global warming on the future of Africa and her peoples. (Related article at this link http://www.njeitimah-outlook.com/articles/article/3263422/49457.htm) Many Africans that are preoccupied with the myriad of other problems tormenting them have paid scant attention to what seems to them like ‘theoretical jargon’ best suited for academic circles.
It is now that, in addition to the countries mentioned earlier, the people of Liberia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Togo, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Kenya and Rwanda are beginning to practically live the reality of the ramifications of global warming.
Njei Moses Timah