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Climate change will hurt poor people most

Livelihoods of billions of the world's poorest people threatened by climate change
8 November 2006

Uganda - Regions robusta coffeeThe effects of global warming threaten to reverse recent gains in the fight against extreme poverty in developing countries, Kenya's environment minister warned, speaking at the opening of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Nairobi. Minister Kibwana is president of the 6-17 November conference, where more than 6,000 delegates are expected to discuss ways of limiting the effects of climate change, as well as helping countries, especially in the developing world, contain the harmful effects of global warming.

A UN report released ahead of the conference noted that Africa was the region most affected by global warming. Rising sea levels could destroy an estimated 30 percent of Africa's coastal infrastructure. Increased flooding could facilitate the breeding of malaria carrying mosquitos in formerly arid areas.

Moreover, the food security threat posed by climate change is great in Africa, according to the report. Assessments of the impact of climate change on agriculture predicted declines in many subsistent crops, such as sorghum in Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Zambia. Also, a great decrease in fish yields in Lake Tanganyika is to expected. The report also presents a study in Uganda, which concluded that an average temperature rise of 2?C will result in a drastic reduction of the Ugandan area suitable for growing Robusta coffee, which is a major export crop. (The picture above presents the areas suited for Robusta production in Uganda in the current situation.)

The high vulnerability of Africa is largely attributed to its low adaptive capacity, due to structural factors such as widespread poverty, inequitable land distribution and the high dependency on the natural resource base and rainfall.

Speaking at the conference, Kenyan vice-president Moody Awori told delegates: "Climate change is threatening the livelihoods of billions of the world's poorest people". He added that due to their predominantly agrarian structure, sub-Saharan economies will be most heavily impacted by climate change.

UNFCCC meeting, Nairobi | IES side event, Nairobi, Climate and Forest: the Case for Action Now | Background paper on impact climate change on Africa

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