Climate variability and change in Africa: a review of potential impacts on terrestrial water resources.
Ogallo, Laban O
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The climate in many parts of Africa may be classified as arid and semi-arid, with recurrences of severe droughts. The livelihoods of many in the society are largely nomadic pastoralist. The economies of many states in areas that receive reliable rainfall rely heavily on rain-fed agriculture. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment indicates that both droughts and floods have increased in frequency and severity in recent years, and are projected to increase in the future at many locations world wide, with far reaching implications on the demand and availability of quality freshwater resources. Increased recurrences of droughts in the future will force agriculture in Africa to introduce new demands for clean water through increased irrigation for sustainable agricultural production. IPCC (2007) has shown that the African continent is the most vulnerable continent to climate change. Other future challenges to freshwater availability in Africa include pollution by human activities, together with the ever-increasing demand for clean water by the fast-increasing population of the continent. Climate change will thus introduce new challenges to sustainable freshwater availability, conflicts/security and the general sustainable development of the continent of Africa in the 21st century. This paper provides some highlights of the climate variability and change in Africa, and some of the potential impacts on terrestrial hydrology. Lessons and experiences from the African regional climate centres in integrated climate risk management for coping with current climate variability and adaptation to future climate changes are also reviewed.