Friday, October 22, 2010

The stakes for adaptation in Africa

Olu Sarr in via Interim Guinea Current Commission (Accra): African countries have been advised to cooperate in adapting now to the ravages of climate change or face the harsh consequences of inaction that would befall large numbers of the continent’s 967 million people.

“We need to have early warning systems and other types of monitoring systems to know what is changing and the impact of that,” Thomas Staal, the mission director for USAID Africa Bureau, said at one of several sessions of the 7th African Development Forum held from 10-16 Oct in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

Among his numerous suggestions were that science and technological innovations should forge adaptive solutions, such as modifying crops or changing the growing periods of crops to fit the changing and emerging climatic conditions. Adaptation and cooperation emerged as the central point of agreement from a wide-ranging debate on dealing with the problem, at the session on “Climate change, human development, security and ecosystem sustainability”.

…One of the most dramatic effects of climate change in Africa is occurring along its western coastlines and in their marine ecosystems. Rising sea levels are washing away coastal communities in the countries sharing the Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem. Unchecked, the rising waters would lead to the salinization of large coastal aquifers, lagoons and other fresh water sources thus reducing agricultural production. The result of such outcomes would be the displacement of large numbers of people, and more….

The city of Conakry, Guinea, originated on Tombo Island and spread up the Kaloum Peninsula, sandwiched between mangrove swamps. In the 1960s, the city had a population of fewer than 40,000; in 2006, it had a population of nearly 2 million. These natural-color images, acquired by NASA’s Landsat satellites, show the city’s dramatic growth from 1986 to 2000. Land and water features look similar to how they would look in a photograph by a digital camera. Water ranges in color from deep to pale blue, vegetation appears dark green, and bare ground and urbanized areas range in color from gray to beige to reddish-brown.

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