The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has released a statement warning that, by 2030, as many as 700 million Africans will be displaced due to water scarcity issues. By then, only 1 in 5 countries will have sustainably managed water sources. With changing precipitation patterns and shrinking water reserves such as lakes and glaciers, combined with a growing need for water, WMO says that there is also a growing risk of water-related conflict.
WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas said: ““The worsening crisis and looming famine in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa shows how climate change can exacerbate water shocks, threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and destabilising communities, countries and entire regions.”
Taalas also added that, even though the continent contributes less than 5% of the world’s greenhouse gases, “Africa’s climate has warmed more than the global average since pre-industrial times (1850-1900). In parallel, the sea level rise along African coastlines is faster than the global mean, contributing to increases in the frequency and severity of coastal flooding and erosion, and salinity in low-lying cities. Changes in continental water bodies have major impacts on the agriculture sector, ecosystems, biodiversity.”
The WMO’s State of the Climate in Africa report, released in 2021, stressed that water-related events such as droughts, floods and rising sea levels seriously compromise the continent’s ability to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The WMO also warns that further investment is needed in adaptation to the changing climate. Moreover, the UN’s authoritative voice on Weather, Climate and Water stressed the need to strengthen early warning systems, increase transboundary cooperation, data exchange and knowledge sharing.