Adaptation to climate change in Africa: Challenges and opportunities identified from Ethiopia

TitleAdaptation to climate change in Africa: Challenges and opportunities identified from Ethiopia
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsConway, D, Schipper, E
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Start Page227
ISBN Number09593780
Keywordsadaptation, Africa, Climate change impacts, Climate Risk, Crop insurance, Drought, economics, Ethiopia, mainstreaming, Social protection, Vulnerability

Africa is widely held to be highly vulnerable to future climate change and Ethiopia is often cited as one of the most extreme examples. With this in mind we seek to identify entry points to integrate short- to medium-term climate risk reduction within development activities in Africa, drawing from experiences in Ethiopia. To achieve this we employ a range of data and methods. We examine the changing nature of climate risks using analysis of recent climate variability, future climate scenarios and their secondary impacts. We assess the effects of climate variability on agricultural production and national GDP. Entry points and knowledge gaps in relation to mainstreaming climate risks in Ethiopia are identified using the Government's plan for poverty reduction. We end with a case study incorporating climate risks through drought insurance within the current social protection programme in Ethiopia, which provides support to 8.3 million people. Rainfall behaviour in Ethiopia shows no marked emergent changes and future climate projections show continued warming but very mixed patterns of rainfall change. Economic analysis highlights sensitivities within the economy to large-scale drought, however, while the effects are clear in major drought years in other years the relationship is weak. For social protection fairly small positive and negative effects on the number of recipients and frequency of cash payments during drought occur under the extreme range of climate model rainfall projections (2020s). Our analysis highlights several important challenges and opportunities for addressing climate risks. Challenges primarily relate to the large uncertainties in climate projections for parts of Africa, a weak evidence base of complex, often non-deterministic, climate-society interactions and institutional issues. Opportunities relate to the potential for low-regrets measures to reduce vulnerability to current climate variability which can be integrated with relatively modest effort within a shift in Africa from a disaster-focused view of climate to a long-term perspective that emphasises livelihood security and vulnerability reduction. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.