ABUJA, Nigeria — Many poor countries in Africa face the most severe effects of climate change: severe droughts, extreme heat and arid lands, but also unpredictable rains and devastating floods. Shocks deepen conflicts and disrupt livelihoods because many people are farmers – an increasingly vulnerable job in a warming world.
Climate challenges are behind the vulnerabilities faced by conflict-ridden countries in Africa’s Sahel region, such as Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger and northern Nigeria, experts say. Adapting to these challenges could cost up to $50 billion a year, according to the Global Commission on Adaptation, while the International Energy Agency estimates that the transition to clean energy could cost up to $190 billion a year – a crushing cost for Africa.
Countries have limited fiscal space and borrowing more to finance climate goals will worsen their considerable debt burdens, say African leaders, who are seeking a rapid increase in financing.
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Some leaders suggested that this week’s meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Marrakech, Morocco, would be “a good starting point” to begin a conversation about Africa’s financial challenges and its capacity to facing climate shocks.
The move comes amid criticism that lending institutions do not sufficiently consider climate change and the vulnerabilities of poor countries in their financing decisions.
The global financial system “is now outdated, dysfunctional and unfair,” Kenyan President William Ruto, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, African Union Commission Chairperson said in a New York Times article. Moussa Faki and Patrick Verkooijen, Director General of the World Commission. on Adaptation.
It is outdated because international financial institutions “are too small and limited to fulfill their mandate. Dysfunctional because the system as a whole is too slow to respond to new challenges, such as climate change. And unfair because it discriminates against poor countries,” the leaders said. wrote.
In recent years, climate finance for Africa has increased, with recognition that the continent is least responsible for emissions but most at risk from climate change due to a lack of financing and capacity to face it. Major development banks increasingly recognize climate change as an economic threat.
At a panel in Marrakech this week, IMF economist Daniel Lee said the organization “integrates climate change into policy advice, capacity development and lending.” He did not detail the amount or distribution of funding.
Lee pointed to an IMF program launched last year to help poor countries tackle problems such as climate change. Only one African country – Rwanda – received funding from the program: $319 million over three years.
Like African leaders, experts say the continent’s climate finance is insufficient and particularly difficult to obtain for Sahel countries lacking stable, recognized governments, many of which are led by military juntas.
“Reality has not met expectations,” said Carlos Lopes, a professor at the Mandela School of Public Governance at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. “A significant portion of funding is dedicated to mitigation efforts, while adaptation, a top priority for the continent, receives less attention and support.”
In Niger, whose leader was overthrown in a coup in August, and in northern Nigeria, thousands of hectares of arable land are being lost to soil erosion and drought. . This has led to farmers and herders fighting over resources and reduced economic opportunities, helping armed groups recruit, said Idayat Hassan, a senior fellow in the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Irrigation projects are part of the way to adapt to climate change, but violence is eroding these gains by leaving farmers, already facing lower yields, struggling to access their farmland.
“Besides extreme heat levels and unpredictable rainfall, insecurity also affects us because many times we will not have the opportunity to go to our farms,” said Ibrahim Audi, 58, a wheat farmer in Katsina State, in the far north of Nigeria.
Femi Mimiko, professor of political economy and international relations at Nigeria’s Obafemi Awolowo University, called climate money for Africa “rather negligible and not at all what we should be celebrating.” .
He added that “the challenges are enormous” due to the strict conditions for obtaining financing from the IMF and the World Bank.
Additionally, climate finance for Africa must address persistent debt crises in many countries, Lopes said.
Africa’s debt repayments are expected to reach $62 billion this year, surpassing the costs of the continent’s adaptation to climate change, African leaders said in their column. They reiterated the call made last month at the African Climate Summit in Kenya for a pause in external debt repayments.
Another problem is that leaders underestimate how climate change is fueling violence and economic problems, experts say.
In Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, all ruled by military juntas, 16 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, an increase of 172% since 2016, and more than 5 million are experiencing high levels of insecurity food, according to the International Rescue Committee.