Climate change: Africa famine risk

2011-09-30 00:00

CLIMATE change is imminent, irreversible and will be catastrophic for the developing world especially Africa, the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, warned yesterday.

Mabudafhasi was speaking at an international rural youth development summit held at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg campus yesterday.

The summit explored possible solutions that rural communities could implement to deal with poverty and the effects of climate change.

She said people in South Africa and the rest of Africa and on some islands are in danger as climate change threatens not only their way of life but also their very existence.

She said that in South Africa recent extreme weather changes have shown what damage the climate change can do.

“In KwaZulu-Natal recently there were heavy rains that caused a lot of damage and were a clear example of the challenges brought on by climate change.”

Mabudafhasi said the situation is exacerbated by the lack of political leadership in developed countries.

“When President Barack Obama came to power he promised to deal with the matter of greenhouse emissions. He has since backtracked either because of political or industrial lobby pressure. Other developed countries such as China are refusing to sign binding agreements to reduce their greenhouse emissions.”

The minister urged the delegates to work with communities to rein in the effects of climate change.

Developing countries, she said, are the lesser polluters “and yet we are the ones who have to bear the brunt of climate change”.

She warned that Africa will face devastating famines if the situation is allowed to continue.

“The current levels of famine in Africa will be nothing compared to the levels of famine we will be experiencing 50 years down the line if something is not done to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions.”

thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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