Climate Change Impacts in North Africa

In North Africa, rising temperatures associated with climate change are expected to decrease the land areas suitable for agriculture, shorten the length of growing seasons and reduce crop yields. The decrease in annual precipitation that is predicted for Northern Africa in the 21st century will exacerbate these effects, particularly in semi-arid and arid regions that rely on irrigation for crop growth.

Whilst extreme events associated with climate change, like floods and droughts, will probably set economic development back many years, approaches to climate change adaptation are not usually aligned with development issues. Climate change mitigation will divert resources from programmes to address poverty, unemployment and poor-living conditions and threats the sustainability of development process. Therefore, seemingly conflicting interests between the development and climate change agendas often arise, especially in regions like North Africa.

Sea Level Rise, Droughts and Floods

Droughts and floods are the most common climatic events in North Africa and represent direct threats to lives, livelihoods and socio-economic aspects. However, as one of the world’s most water-scarce regions with a high dependency on climate-sensitive agriculture, the economic and social conditions in North Africa are likely to deteriorate in the future. This is also particularly relevant to the region due to the high dependence of regional economies on agriculture.

The main economic and social activities in North Africa are concentrated along the coastal zones. Population within 100 km of coast is 68.8 percent in Algeria, 78.7 percent in Libya, 65.1 percent in Morocco, and 84 percent in Tunisia. Thus, sea level rise could result in major population movements and adversely affect many economic activities like tourism; a major source of employment and income in Morocco and Tunisia.

Water Scarcity

North Africa faces many similar issues to the Levant region when it comes to geographical climate impacts in terms of water scarcity and soil degradation. Furthermore, in Egypt it is projected that 1 meter sea level rise will affect an approximate of 6 million people mostly ‘poor’, living in the Nile delta basin. Thus this weakening in the Nile Delta which is heavily inhabited and used for agriculture shall impact millions of people. Recent studies have forecasted that Nile river’s flow will decrease by 40-60% which will increase frequency and intensity of drought, particularly in North African countries causing major socio-economic and political problem for the region. It is also emphasized that Egypt will have to redesign its water policy due to precipitation changes around Ethiopia, from where 80% of water that flows into Egypt is generated.

Agriculture

In North Africa, rising temperatures associated with climate change are expected to decrease the land areas suitable for agriculture, shorten the length of growing seasons and reduce crop yields. In these countries, we estimate that a 1°C rise in temperature in a given year reduces economic growth in that year by about 1.1%. The decrease in annual precipitation that is predicted for Northern Africa in the 21st century will exacerbate these effects, particularly in semiarid and arid regions that rely on irrigation for crop growth.

As one of the world’s most water-scarce regions with a high dependency on climate-sensitive agriculture, the economic and social conditions in North Africa are likely to deteriorate in the future. This is also particularly relevant to the region due to the high dependence of regional economies on agriculture.

Crop production would be reduced across much of the continent as optimal growing conditions are exceeded. The capacity of African communities to cope will be significantly challenged. In North Africa, infrastructure and adaptation to extreme weather events are expected to prove costliest.

Economic Impact

The main economic and social activities in North Africa are concentrated along the coastal zones. Thus, sea level rise could result in major population movements and adversely affect many economic activities like tourism; a major source of employment and income in Morocco and Tunisia. There needs to be integration into the political and economic choices made by these countries, so that there is an understanding of the structural reality of climatic change in its broad dimensions and with its medium- and long-term repercussions. There is a need to make a clear and direct connection between this phenomenon and other socio-economic factors that are more integrated on a policy level.

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About Tariq Al-Olaimy

Tariq Al-Olaimy is a Biomimicry specialist and co-founder of 3BL Associates, which is a people + planet strategy consultancy and think-do-tank, that was established in Bahrain to re-imagine a more sustainable and regenerative Middle East. Tariq was a founding National coordinator of the Arab Youth Climate Movement, now present in 17 countries, and is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper. As a climate blogger, he tracks country roles in the UN Climate Change Talks.
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One Response to Climate Change Impacts in North Africa

  1. lyseconcept says:

    Bonjour
    C’est un schéma qui est reproduit partiquement tous les jours par des lanceurs d’alertes abusant de cette communication de catastrophe.
    Au delà de cette analyse on peut remarquer que tous les dirigeants de la planète sont informés mais que surtout ils ne font rien d’autres que constater, constater, toujours constater.
    A part cela il ne se passe rien.

    Hello this is a pattern that is reproduced chatting every day by the whistleblowers abusing this communication of disaster.
    Beyond this analysis we can see that all the leaders of the planet are informed but especially they do nothing other than see, see, always see.
    Apart from that nothing happens.

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