Life on the edge: Vulnerability and adaptation of African ecosystems to global climate change
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Donor countries are providing financial and technical support for global climate change country studies to help African nations meet their reporting needs under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Technical assistance to complete vulnerability and adaptation assessments includes training of analysts, sharing of contemporary tools (e.g. simulation models), data and assessment techniques, information-sharing workshops and an international exchange programme for analysts. This chapter summarizes 14 African country studies (Botswana, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe) assessing vulnerabilities to global climate change and identifying adaptation options. The analysis revealed that the participating African countries are vulnerable to global climate change in more than one of the following socio-economic sectors: coastal resources, agriculture, grasslands and livestock, water resources, forests, wildlife, and human health. This vulnerability is exacerbated by widespread poverty, recurrent droughts, inequitable land distribution, environmental degradation, natural resource mismanagement and dependence on rain-fed agriculture. A range of practical adaptation options were identified in key socio-economic sectors of the African nations analysed. However, underdeveloped human and institutional capacity, as well as the absence of adequate infrastructure, renders many traditional coping strategies (rooted in political and economic stability) ineffective or insufficient. Future African country studies should be more closely coordinated with development of national climate change action plans.