Climate change and variability in Sub-Saharan Africa: a review of current and future trends and impacts on agriculture and food security
- 3.1k Downloads
Sub-Saharan Africa has been portrayed as the most vulnerable region to the impacts of global climate change because of its reliance on agriculture which is highly sensitive to weather and climate variables such as temperature, precipitation, and light and extreme events and low capacity for adaptation. This article reviews evidence on the scope and nature of the climate change challenge; and assesses the impact of climate change on agriculture and food security in Sub-Saharan Africa. From the review, it is apparent that the climate in Africa is already exhibiting significant changes, evident by changes in average temperature, change in amount of rainfall and patterns and the prevalence of frequency and intensity of weather extremes. The review also revealed that although uncertainties exist with regards to the magnitude of impacts, climate will negatively affect agricultural production in Sub-Saharan Africa. Specifically, as result of current and expected climate change, the area suitable for agriculture, the length of growing seasons and yield potential, particularly along the margins of semi-arid and arid areas, are expected to decrease. These impacts will affect all components of food security: food availability, food accessibility, food utilisation and food stability and hence increase the risk of hunger in the region. The review thus confirms the general consensus that Sub-Saharan Africa is the most vulnerable region to climate change. It suggests that, policymakers and development agencies should focus on formulating and implementing policies and programmes that promote farm level adaptation strategies currently being practiced by farmers across the region.
KeywordsClimate change Agriculture Food security Sub-Saharan
I wish to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to Dr. Kathy Baker of King’s College London for her constructive criticism and guidance in writing this paper. Acknowledgements are due to Franklin Obeng-Odoom and Vincent Kalmiri for their helpful comments and suggestions.
- Baker, K. (2000). Indigenous land management in West Africa: An environmental balancing act. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Benhin, J. K. A. (2006). Climate change and South African agriculture: Impacts and adaptation options. CEEPA Discussion Paper No. 21, Special series on climate change and agriculture in Africa. Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.Google Scholar
- Boko, M., Niang, I., Nyong, A., & Vogel, C., et al. (2007). Africa. In M. L. Parry, O. F. Canziani, J. P. Palutikof et al. (Eds.), Climate change 2007: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (pp. 433–467). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Brooks, N. (2004). Drought in the African Sahel: Long-term perspectives and future prospects. Working Paper 61, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.Google Scholar
- Brown, O., & Crawford, A. (2009). Climate change and security in Africa. A Study of the Nordic-African Foreign Ministers Meetings. Oslo, Norway: International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).Google Scholar
- Buroughs, J. W. (2001). Climate change: A multidisciplinary approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Calzadilla, A., Zhu, T., Rehdanz, K., Tol, S. J. R., & Ringler, C. (2008). Economic-wide impacts of climate change on agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa. University of Hamburge Working Paper FNU-170, Hamburg, Germany.Google Scholar
- Case, M. (2006). Climate change impacts on East Africa. Gland Switzerland: WWF-World Wide Fund for Nature.Google Scholar
- Cline, R. W. (2007). Climate change and agriculture: Impacts estimates by country. Washington D.C. USA: Centre for Global Development and Peterson Institute for International Economics.Google Scholar
- Conway, D., Hanson, C. E., Doherty, R., & Persechino, A. (2007). GCM simulations of the Indian Ocean dipole influence on East African rainfall: Present and future. Geophysical Research Letters. doi: 10.1029/2006GL027597.
- Devereux, S., & Maxwell, S. (Eds.). (2001). Food security in Sub-Saharan Africa. Pietermaritzburg, Warwickshire: ITDG Publishing.Google Scholar
- Dinar, A., Hassan, R., Mendelsohn, R., & Benhin, J. (Eds.). (2008). Climate change and agriculture in Africa: Impact assessment and adaptation strategies. London: EarthScan.Google Scholar
- Eriksen, S., O’Brien, K., & Rosentrater, L. (2008). Climate change in Eastern and Southern Africa: Impacts, vulnerability and adaptation. Global Environmental Change and Human Development. Oslo: University of Oslo.Google Scholar
- FAO. (1996). Rome declaration and World Food Summit of Action. www.fao.org/docrep/003/X8346E/x8346e02.htm#P1_10. Accessed 27 May 2010.
- FAO. (2008a). Climate change and food security: A conceptual document. Rome, Italy: Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations.Google Scholar
- FAO. (2008b). Food security statistics. http://www.fao.org/economic/ess/food-security-statistics/en/. Accessed 28 April 2010.
- Fischer, G., Shah, M., & van Velthuizen, H. (2002). Climate change and agricultural vulnerability. Special Report to the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg 2002. Laxenburg, Austria: IIASA.Google Scholar
- Hassan, R., & Nhemachena, C. (2008). Determinants of African farmers’ strategies for adapting to climate change: Multinomial choice analysis. African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 2(1), 83–104.Google Scholar
- Hulme, M. (1996a). Climatic change within the period of meteorological records. In W. M. Adams, A. S. Goudie, & A. R. Orme (Eds.), The physical geography of Africa (pp. 88–102). Oxford: University Press.Google Scholar
- Hulme, M. (1996b). Climate change and Southern Africa: An exploration of some potential impacts and implications in the SADC region. Norwich, UK: Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia.Google Scholar
- IASC. (2009). Climate change, food insecurity and hunger. Key messages for UNFCCC Negotiators. Technical Paper for the IASC Task Force on Climate Change. http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWFiles2009.nsf/FilesByRWDocUnidFilename/SNAA7XM3WP-full_report.pdf/$File/full_report.pdf. Accessed Dec 8 2009.
- IFAD. (2009). Research and innovation for smallholder farmers in the context of climate change. Discussion paper for Round Table 3, thirty-second session of the Governing Council, Rome, 18–19 February.Google Scholar
- IFPRI. (2009). Climate change: Impact on agriculture and costs of adaptation. Washington D.C, USA: International Food Policy Research Institute.Google Scholar
- IPCC. (2001). Climate change 2001: Impacts, adaptations, and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC. In J. J. McCartgy, F. O. Canziani, N. A. Leary, et al. (Eds.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- IPCC. (2007). Climate change 2007: Impacts, adaptations, and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC. In M. Parry, O. Canziani, J. Palutikof et al. (Eds.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Kurukulasuriya, P., & Mendelsohn, R. (2006). Crop selection: Adapting to climate change in Africa. Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa (CEEPA), Discussion Paper No. 26. University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.Google Scholar
- Kurukulasuriya, P., & Mendelsohn, R. (2007). A Ricardian analysis of the impact of climate change on Africa Cropland. World Bank Policy Research Paper No. 4305. World Bank, Washington D.C.Google Scholar
- Kurukulasuriya, P., & Mendelsohn, R. (2008a). How will climate change shift agro-ecological zones and impact African agriculture? World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4717. World Bank, Washington D.C, USA.Google Scholar
- Kurukulasuriya, P., & Mendelsohn, R. (2008b). A Ricardian analysis of the impact of climate change on African Cropland. African Journal Agriculture and Resource Economics, 2, 1–23.Google Scholar
- Kurukulasuriya, P., & Mendelsohn, R. (2008c). Crop switching as a strategy for adapting to climate change. African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 2(1), 105–126.Google Scholar
- Kurukulasuriya, P., & Rosenthal, S. (2003). Climate change and agriculture: A review of impacts and adaptations. Climate Change Series Paper 91, World Bank, Washington, District of Columbia, USA.Google Scholar
- Lobell, B. D., & Burke, M. B. (2008). Why are agricultural impacts of climate change so uncertain? The importance of temperature relative to precipitation. Environmental Research Letters, 3(3). doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/3/3/034007.
- Lotsch, A. (2007). Sensitivity of cropping patterns in Africa to Transient Climate Change. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4289. World Bank, Washington DC.Google Scholar
- Met Office Hadley Centre. (2006). Effects of climate change in developing countries. Latest science from the Met Office Hadley Centre, London. http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/hardleycentre/pubs/brochures/2006/cop12/COP12_Brchure.pdf. Accessed 27 June 2008.
- Molua, L. E. (2008). Turning up the heat on African agriculture: The impact of climate change on Cameroon’s agriculture. African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 2(1), 45–64.Google Scholar
- Morton, J. F. (2007). The impact of climate change on smallholder and subsistence agriculture. Proceedings of the National Academic of Science of the United States of America (PNAS). doi: 1073/pnas.0701855104.
- Müller, C. (2009). Climate change impact on Sub-Saharan Africa: An overview and analysis of scenarios and models. Discussion Paper 3/2009. Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik, Germany.Google Scholar
- Nhemachena, C., & Hassan, R. (2007). Micro-level analysis of farmers’ adaptation to climate change in Southern Africa. International Food Policy Research Institute IFPRI) Discussion Paper 00714, Washington DC.Google Scholar
- Nicholson, S., Some, B., & Kone, B. (2000). A note on recent rainfall conditions in West Africa, including the rainy season of the 1997 El Niño year. Journal of Climate change, 13(14), 2628–2640.Google Scholar
- O’Farrell, P. J., Anderson, P. M. L., Milton, S. J., & Dean, W. R. J. (2009). Human response and adaptation to drought in the arid zone: Lessons from southern Africa. South African Journal of Science, 105(1–2), 34–39.Google Scholar
- Olesen, J. (2005). Adaptation of agricultural production systems Conf: Adaptation strategies: Working with other sectors, Msg: 7234. http://www.edinburgh.ceh.ac.uk/biota/Archive_climatechange/7234.htm. Accessed 12 May 2010.
- Orindi, V. A., & Murray, L. A. (2005). Adapting to climate change in East Africa: A strategic approach. Gate Keeper Series 117, International Institute for Environment and Development.Google Scholar
- Orindi, V. A., Kneeing, A., & Herrero, M. (2007). Pastoral livelihood adaptation to drought and Institutional Interventions in Kenya. Human Development Report 2007/2008. Occasional Paper, Human Development Report Office, UNDP. http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr20072008/papers/Orindi_Nyong_Herrero.pdf. Accessed Oct 3 2009.
- Osman-Elasha, B., Goutbi, N., Spanger-Siegfried, E., Dougherty, B., et al. (2006). Adaptation strategies to increase human resilience against climate variability and change: Lessons from the arid regions of Sudan. Assessments of Impacts and Adaptations to Climate Change (AIACC) Working Paper 42, Washington D.C. October 2006.Google Scholar
- Paavola, J. (2004). Livelihoods, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in the Morogoro region, Tanzania. Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment Working Paper EDM 04-12, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.Google Scholar
- Ringius, L., Downing, T. E., Hulme, M., Waughray, D., & Selrod, R. (1996). Climate change in Africa—Issues and Challenges in agriculture and water for sustainable development. Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research-Oslo (CICERO), University of Oslo, Norway. ISSN: 0804-4562.Google Scholar
- Schmidhuber, J., & Tubiello, N. F. (2007). Global food security under climate change. The National Academy of Sciences of USA. Special Feature, 104(50), 19703–19708.Google Scholar
- Seo, N., & Mandelsohn, R. (2008). A structural Ricardian analysis of climate change impacts and adaptations in African agriculture. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 4603. World Bank, Washington D.C.Google Scholar
- Seo, N., Mandelsohn, R., Dinar, A., Kurukulasuriya, P., & Hassan, R. (2008). Long-term adaptation: Selecting farm types across agro-ecological zones in Africa. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 4602, World Bank, Washington DC.Google Scholar
- Shah, M. M., Fischer, G., & van Velthuizen, H. (2008). Food security and sustainable agriculture: The challenges of climate change in Sub-Saharan Africa. Laxenburg, Austria: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis A-2361.Google Scholar
- Siedenburg, J. (2008). Local knowledge and natural resource management in a peasant farming community facing rapid change: A critical examination. Queen Elizabeth House Working Paper Series WPS166. Oxford: Oxford University.Google Scholar
- Smit, B., Pilifosova, O., Burton, I., Challenger, B., Huq, S., et al. (2001). Adaptation to climate change in the context of sustainable development and equity. In J. J. McCarthy, O. Canziani, N. A. Leary, D. J. Dokken, & K. S. White (Eds.), Climate change 2001: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of the Working Group II to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (pp. 877–912). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Smith, B. J., Schellnhuber, H. J., & Mirza, M. Q. (2001). Vulnerability to climate change and reasons for concern: A synthesis. In C. Hope & S. K. Sinha (Eds.), Climate change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (pp. 914–967). Cambridge: University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
- Thornton, P. K., Jones, P. G., Owiyo, T., Kruska, R. L., Herrero, M., et al. (2008). Climate change and poverty in Africa: Mapping hotspots of vulnerability. African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 2(1), 24–44.Google Scholar
- Thurlow, J., & Wobst, P. (2003). Poverty focused social accounting matrices for Tanzania International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Discussion Paper No. 112. Washington D.C.Google Scholar
- Ulimengu, J. M., Workneh, S., & Paulos, Z. (2009). Impact of soaring food price in Ethiopia? Does location matter? International Food Policy Research Institute(IFPRI) Discussion Paper No. 846, Washington D.C.Google Scholar
- UNDP. (2007). Human Development Report 2007/2008: Fighting climate change: Human Solidarity in a divided world. New York, USA: United Nations Development Programme.Google Scholar
- van de Steeg, J. A., Herrero, M., Kinyangi, J., Thornton, P. K., et al. (2009). The influence of climate variability and climate change on the agricultural sector in East and Central Africa. Sensitizing the ASARECA strategic plan to climate change, Research report 22, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nairobi, Kenya.Google Scholar
- Vogel, C., & O’Brien, K. (2003). Climate forecasts in Southern Africa. In K. O’Brien & C. Vogel (Eds.), Coping with climate variability: The use of seasonal climate forecasts in Southern Africa (pp. 3–35). Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.Google Scholar
- Von Braun, J. (2008). Impact of Climate change on food security in times of high energy prices. A Background Paper prepared for the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and the session titled: Agriculture, Climate Change and Sustainable Development at: The Future of Agriculture: A Global Dialogue amongst Stakeholders. Barcelona, 30 and 31 May 2008.Google Scholar
- Ward, S. P., Florax, R. J. G. M., & Flores-Lagunes, A. (2010). Agricultural productivity and anticipated climate change in Sub-Saharan Africa: A spatial sample selection model. Selected Paper prepared for presentation at the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association.Google Scholar
- Ziervogel, G. A. O., Nyong, B., Osman, C., Conde, C. et al. (2006). Climate variability and change: Implications for household food security. AIACC Working Paper No. 20. www.aiaccproject/working_papers/working%20Papers/AIACC_WP_20_Ziervogel.pdf.