Drought ranks quite highly in terms of weather-related economic impacts, with annual losses nearing US$ 90 billion per year. Apart from their direct economic impacts, droughts can threaten drinking water supplies and ecosystems, damage agriculture in a significant way, and contribute to increased food prices. In addition, crop failures, which are occurring more frequently as a result of extended droughts, pose a direct threat to the livelihood of millions of people across Africa. With the intensification of climate change, dry periods in most of Africa are expected to become longer and more frequent, bringing alone much damage to agriculture systems, and negatively influencing the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people.
The above state of affairs illustrates the need for a better understanding of how climate change influences droughts in Africa, and for the identification of processes, methods and tools which may help the countries and the communities in the region to adapt. There is also a perceived need to showcase successful examples of how to cope with the social, economic and political problems posed by droughts in Africa, especially the ways of increasing the resilience of agriculture systems and of communities and traditional populations.
It is against this background that the “Symposium on Climate Change and Droughts Resilience in Africa” is being organized by Strathmore University in Kenya, the Research and Transfer Centre “Applications of Life Sciences” of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany), Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) and the International Climate Change Information Programme (ICCIP). The Symposium will be a truly interdisciplinary event, mobilizing aid workers, donors, scholars, social movements, practitioners and members of governmental and non-governmental agencies, undertaking research and/or executing projects focusing on drought prevention, management and resilience in Africa.
The “Symposium on Climate Change and Droughts Resilience in Africa” will focus on “building resilience to climate change and droughts in Africa”, meaning that it will serve the purpose of showcasing experiences from research, field projects and best practice to foster climate change adaptation among countries in the region, with a focus on droughts, which may be useful or implemented elsewhere.
New techniques and technologies for climate smart agriculture have already shown some great potential and impact in Africa. Beyond agriculture, other climate-related sectors have seen a similar surge of innovation. From the clean energy sector with advances in solar power and battery storage to the water sector with new point-of-use water purification systems.
It is likely that even more innovative technologies will arise from labs across the world in coming years. Therefore if climate solutions exist and climate threats are dire, this solutions need to employed with utmost urgency. One key challenge to deploying climate solutions on a large scale – particularly in developing countries is the capacity of local innovation ecosystems to adapt these solutions for local markets, and to provide a sustainable delivery model so these solutions can reach end users.
Hamburg University of Applied Sciences
International Climate Change Information Programme