IN order to make Africa's climate landscape resilient against climate stress, particularly from floods and other climate uncertainties- climate experts handed out various issues to consider during the African Climate Risk Conference, on 7th to 8th of October, in Addis Ababa- Ethiopia, including supporting flood resilient urban planning.
Our Correspondent PADILI MIKOMANGWA attended the conference and reports. African cities are not new to urban shocks, such as flooding to be exact.
That's why a band of experts took the liberty to expound crucial aspects of linking climate science and finding possible means to a relevant decision affecting urban lives. In a pilot study, executed by African Moonson Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA), in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso came up with rather a comprehensive blend of materials to take in.
According to Dr. Fawe Tazen, an expert from AMMA, contributed his views regarding lesson learned from the pilot study. "One of our main results observed from the study is that the increasing flood in the city is partly due to the increase of heavy rainfall in West Africa, and other factors such as land-use change, rapid urbanization and lack of flood resilient capabilities," he says.
Other associating issues raised by the study were: waste management challenges, attributes by heavy rainfall especially in the city, but also-an important denominator exposed by Dr Tazen was focused on the fact that-in the future, climatic and urbanization trends will make flood issues worse, without assuming robust adoption measures and better infrastructures.
According to Flood list, in 2016 Burkina Faso death toll from torrential rainstorms affected more than 10,260 people in over 13 regions. In the realization of flood resilience, AMMA anticipates the creation of flood resilient database to fully understand hydrology of Ouagadougou, but also-developing tools to integrate climatic risks to combat such impacts.
However, Dr Laurie Tall- who is also a crucial team player for AMMA, went further and displayed rather crucial angles on strengthening agricultural climate resilience. Surprisingly,one of the shocking factors was that: due to changing climatic conditions in the Sahel-Senegal, there are reductions in regional average yield by 10 to 20 per cent for millet and 5 to 15 per cent on sorghum.
"The key issues are the Sahel is getting hotter, while remaining significant uncertainties, the most likely scenario is drier in the Sahel area longer dry spells, and climate is affecting crop yields, and it is anticipated that they will further major crop effects due to warmer climate by 20150,"Dr Laurie comments.
Further, the project intends to strengthen the integration of climate-related risks into decision making, via engaging with existing channels of dialogue between decision-makers and scientists, developing joint understanding of the challenges to integrate climate-related risks in decision making and recognize auxiliary ways to understand and represent a problem and a system.
Unequivocally, Lusaka city-Zambia, gained a rather creative perspective of the matter, whereas according to Alice McClure- who is the coordinator for the Future Resilience for African CiTies and Lands (FRACTAL) project, commented; "We used the city learning lab approach, which is the multi-stakeholder events that bring diverse necessary set of perspectives to co-produce or co-define a problem and explore a problem to co-produce knowledge and contribute to change and solutions."
The project came out with five learning labs, which exhaustive the conceptual developments angles: defining burning issues for the pilot study, exploring burning issues from different perspectives, issues and solutions mapping, delivering deeper into two issues (ground and water quality) and the last lab was on distillation and collaboratively deciding how to take knowledge forward.
Tanzania and Malawi took a bite on how to use climate science on making big decisions. Declan Conway- UMFULA (which means "river" in Zulu) project lead, brought forth a comprehensive idea to the fold, insisting that: there are many approaches available, but we need to suit the scale of the decision situation.
"There are actually now many approaches available to try to understand and bring in climate information in decision making and planning process. We have to think very carefully, about what are the most suitable or appropriate methodology to decision we are considering, and we can think this in a spectrum of levels detail and sophistication we want to employ," he added.
In that context, the three years long project cast light upon two basins: Lake Malawi on the Shire River and Rufiji River in Tanzania, exposing various trade-offs and co-benefits across development plans, touching on irrigation expansion, ecosystem services, and hydropower plants.
At the end of the day- co-benefits among different sectors, particularly water, energy and food nexus sectors were a factor.
According to Conway: Spectrum of decision making can be found on spheres, small decisions which don't cost much, limited lifetime with little implications, or simpler approach not considered to have a detail use of climate information, but if we move to the other end of the spectrum-we think about multimillion-dollar investments, but have longlife spans, with returns such as infrastructures, thus it is vital to understand dynamics of such changes to reduce future impacts.
Patently, UMFULA projects climate models showed that climatic predictions do pose a threat to both nation's development plans within the basins. An intriguing and matter of substance raised by experts are that: despite climate uncertainties posing a risk to development plans such as hydro-power plans in Malawi and Tanzania, still Africa can circumnavigate that threat.
"We still have uncertainties and its unlikely that, uncertainties are going to be resolved in the near future, but decisions are going ahead now and we need to provide information to support those decisions. We also need to recognize that there are many other uncertainties that come from sources, such as socialeconomic change, population growth, policy change in land use and so on, we are dealing with higher levels of uncertainties."
Further, Conway insists that: rather than confining the uncertainties, we can accept it and turn the problem around and we can begin to identify approaches which robust to uncertainties, by response that works well around a range of featured conditions.
More importantly within the climate science narrative, user-defined performance indicators are crucial to incorporate.
Hence, the UMFULA project utilized stakeholders across the climate risk landscape, provide plenty of advantages in mitigating possible risks, whereas they provide key metrics, important to be maintained across all river basins in the future, ecosystems flows and environmental services.