As world leaders gathered in Madrid to discuss how to deal with climate change, people in Kenya, Somalia, and South Sudan were reeling from severe floods that have devastated many areas in the region since October. Torrential rainfall across East Africa has swollen rivers and inundated villages, causing an estimated total of 250 deaths, according to media reports. Thousands are homeless after their homes were damaged or submerged in floodwater. Crops and livestock have been washed away by the deluge.
African countries contribute little to climate change, emitting minimal greenhouse gases blamed for much of the climate change and global warming. The continent, however, bears the brunt of climate change in the form of floods and recurring droughts.
A UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report released in November warns that unless global greenhouse gas emissions fall by 7.6 per cent each year between 2020 and 2030, the world will miss the opportunity to get on track towards the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. Failure to curb greenhouse gas emissions is expected to continue affecting global weather patterns with more extreme events such as floods, droughts, typhoons, and cyclones ravaging human settlements.
”It’s not a question of whether we’re waiting for the effects of climate change,” said John Roche, the head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in East Africa. “It’s happening. The balance of vulnerability here is such a thin thread between crises. This is a region that has many, many crises, and now the actual flooding is just exacerbating and playing on those vulnerabilities.”