Commissioner discusses El Nino’s volatile impact on Africa

Both deluge and drought resulting from El Nino and La Niña events are expected to significantly affect the African continent’s agriculture and economy.

In a joint press conference with UNOCHA officials at the 26th AU Summit, Dr. Aisha Laraba Abdullahi, commissioner for Political Affairs of the African Union (AU), classified the consequences of the unpredictable weather system into a trio of categories: erratic climate, weather extremes and altered ecosystems and habitat. All three effects place human health and society at risk.

Nations throughout the continent are already witnessing erratic heavy rainfall due to rising ocean temperatures. As the cycle progresses, scarce rainfall will yield meager harvests and consequently lower agriculture earnings. Malawi and Mozambique have seen flooding, and other areas are enduring drought.

“The consequences of the El Niño phenomenon have resulted in successive droughts and floods affecting many countries, especially those in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa,” UNOCHA’s Kyung Wha-Kang, ASG for Humanitarian Affairs and deputy emergency relief coordinator, said.

Wha-Kang revealed that while crops and livelihoods are affected, the very foundation of some communities, as rivers flood surrounding areas, are washing away foundations and leaving residents homeless.

Commissioner Abdullahi stressed the importance of stockpiling food and supplies to avert famine conditions and encouraged member states to practice sustainable agriculture in preparation. Through its sub-committee on SEAFA, the African Union will address the AU to develop a strategic response to the emergency.

“There is need to develop a concerted but diversified continental response,” the commissioner said, advocating a regional approach. “This is informed by the cross border nature of the consequences and effect of the El Nino phenomenon.”

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African Union Commission

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