Sunday, May 31, 2009

Drought, floods eating into east Africa’s GDP

Kezio-Musoke David in The East African: East Africa’s periodic drought costs the region between five and eight per cent of its gross domestic product, a recent conference in Kigali for African finance and environment ministers heard last week. According to the conference, the more the droughts and floods become frequent, the more they have a direct long term fiscal liability on the East African Community, with a toll of more than two per cent GDP per annum.

On average, Kenya experiences flooding that costs 5.5 per cent of its GDP every seven years, and eight per cent of its GDP every five years, which together represents a long term fiscal liability of about 2.5 per cent GDP per annum. An environmental consultant Paul Watkiss, said the change in climate is costing Kenya and Tanzania revenue from coastal tourism and corals to the tune of $18 million per annum.

“The World Health Organisation estimates show that climate change is already causing 55,000 deaths daily and will contribute a significant increase in the rate of vector and diarrhoeal diseases by 2030,” Mr Watkiss said. “Studies show increased spread of malaria to higher latitudes in East African highlands. Potential heat extremes are expected to affect the health and productivity of the region if nothing is done,” he added.

The African finance and environment ministers were at the Kigali Serena Hotel for the 3rd Pan-African conference to discuss climate change and its challenge to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. The conference was presided over by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame. According to a communiqué from the conference, the ministers noted that as minor emitters of carbon, African countries’ priority in responding to climate change is to strengthen climate risk management and increase the use of international financial instruments for lower carbon….

The Great Rift Valley in Tanzania, shot by Sachi Gahan, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License

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