Experts say Africa to suffer most from global warming

Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Kaus Topfer Monday urged environmentalists and all those working to improve their natural habitats to close ranks in a bid to forestall the imminent effects of global warming.
Topfer made the appeal when he commented on the latest Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the effects of global warming on the environment world-wide.
"We must restart the stalled climate change negotiations as a first step towards the deep cuts in emissions from factories, power plants, cars and homes," he said.
The report said the increasing number of persons affected by diseases, famine and poverty in Africa was due to global warming, adding that it would also cause heavy rains and increase temperatures that would be conducive to breeding mosquitoes.
"Higher temperatures, heavier rainfall and changes in climate variability will encourage insects, the vectors of several infectious diseases to multiply and move further afield," the report says.
It cites, as an example, the increase of malaria cases in the highland areas of Rwanda by 337 percent in recent years.
Cholera, it said, which is transmitted through water and food, was also on the increase in Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania and Mozambique during the 1997-1998 El-Nino induced rains.
It also observes that while heavy rains will become more frequent, there will also be rising levels of drought and that the Sahara Desert, along with others, will expand.
The environmentalists further noted that in terms of drought, Southern Africa could be one of the hardest hit areas.
"Lack of rain, warmer temperatures and increased evaporation could reduce yields by a third or more in these areas (of Southern Africa).
" They say climatic change will increase the number of under- nourished people in the developing world, and that food shortages may also add to the number of people migrating to urban areas, and hence, the proliferation of more shanty towns around large metropolises in Africa.
The reports also indicate that many plants and animals would become extinct in Africa during the 21st century as a result of global warming.
"This latest assessment makes bleak reading for many people across the developing world and in particular for us in Africa.
And we need to help vulnerable people to adapt to its impact," Topfer added.
He said there was now an urgent need to prepare all sectors of society, including governments, aid agencies, NGOs and other UN agencies to effectively deal with the problem at hand.

30 july 2001 12:10:00

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