Climate change is a key development issue for Sub-Saharan Africa given the region’s widespread poverty and unique geography. The continent has warmed about half a degree Celsius over the last century, and the average annual temperature is likely to rise an additional 3-4 degrees by 2099. Dry areas will become drier and wet areas wetter, posing an additional challenge to livelihoods and economic activities that depend on natural resources.
The Bank's climate simulations for Africa indicate that the continent will experience
- stress on agricultural and natural ecosystems as temperatures rise
- less rainfall in some regions, resulting in shorter growing seasons
- higher rainfall in other regions, with more frequent and severe flooding
- a sea level rise in coastal and delta areas
- more severe and frequent hydrological disasters such as cyclones
Climate Change and Economic Growth
Development strategies in Africa already include important adaptations to climate risk by the poor, including investments in water storage, flood control, irrigation infrastructure, and diversification of water sources. But climate change introduces a new set of risks and challenges. With undiversified economies and reliance on rain-fed agriculture, Africa sees a close association between rainfall and GDP growth. Long-term projections forecast that agricultural output could fall about 16 percent by 2080—more than in any other world region. This has serious implications for food security.
The increasingly volatile climate and the rise in related disasters are having a significant impact on development. Droughts and floods have reduced Ethiopia’s economic growth by more than a third and Kenya’s by 10 to 16 percent of GDP a year over the past several years. In addition to direct and immediate effects, climate disasters can also have persistent impacts by destroying assets that are critical to economic activity, such as livestock.
The World Bank’s response to climate change in Sub-Saharan Africa is an integral part of its overall development and business strategy for the region, the Africa Action Plan. Climate change actions are being integrated into country assistance programs in four key areas.
Adaptation and climate risk management. Areas on which the Bank will focus include energy; disaster risk reduction; sustainable management of land, water, and forests; coastal and urban development; agricultural productivity; and health and social issues.
Mitigation. Given a huge energy deficit and heavy reliance on wood for fuel, most mitigation opportunities are linked to more sustainable land and forest management, energy use and development, and urban transport systems. By taking advantage of opportunities and new technologies in these areas, African countries can further development while providing clean energy access to their people.
Knowledge and capacity development. Uncertainties about the impact of climate change make policy decisions more complex and magnify trade-offs. To ensure that Africa has the capacity, information, and technologies it needs to prepare for projected changes in climate, the Bank will invest in better weather forecasting, water resources monitoring, land use information, disaster preparedness, and technology development. We will also help build capacity for risk management, planning, and coordination.
Financing. Because climate change is one of the fundamental problems facing poor people, International Development Assistance financing will remain the main platform for integrating climate resilience into African countries’ development. More support will come from existing sources (such as carbon finance and the Global Environment Facility), as well as from new instruments designed to leverage private sector investment. New instruments include the Climate Investment Funds, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, the Carbon Partnership Facility, and UNFCCC’s Adaptation Fund. Funding from these sources will help to build the knowledge base, strengthen institutions, and support “climate-proof” investments.
The World Bank has reviewed the climate risk of our Sub-Saharan Africa development portfolio and identified responses as part of the Africa Action Plan. These will be implemented over the next three years, 2009-2012. While it is too early to see the results of this plan, earlier efforts in Africa have yielded excellent results.
In fiscal year 2008 alone, the Bank made $447 million in renewable energy and energy efficiency commitments for 22 projects in the region. These accounted for 17 percent of all our renewable energy and energy efficiency commitments. Most were for new renewable energy projects, reflecting their potential in off- and mini-grid applications.
The Bank has also undertaken project identification and preparation activities in 16 countries and signed several emission reduction purchase agreements, especially via the Community Development Carbon Fund. A notable project in this area is the 85-megawatt geothermal project in Kenya. Capacity building efforts under the Carbon Finance-Assist program have been launched in nine African countries, with a focus on developing the Clean Development Mechanism project portfolio and strengthening institutions.
In Mali, only 7 percent of people in rural areas have access to electricity. The Bank's Household Energy and Universal Rural Access Project is the main effort to expand energy access in the country. It is improving poor people’s access to basic energy services and accelerating the use of modern energies in rural areas, with a focus on increasing the productivity of smaller businesses and the quality and efficiency of health and education facilities. Overall IDA financing is $35.7 million, combined with a $3.5 million Global Environment Facility grant and $5.3 million from the government of Mali. In September 2008, the Bank approved a further $35 million to support the project.
Also in Mali, solar photovoltaic initiatives are being implemented in remote rural communities far from the main grid. So far about 2,350 solar home systems have been installed in about 40 communities. Over 600 public institutions in these places—city halls, administrative offices, and community centers, including 40 schools and 48 health centers—are also being powered by solar.
In Ethiopia, where the per capita income is just $100, poor access to modern forms of energy for cooking and a high comparative cost have kept over 90 percent of the people using traditional firewood. This leads to shortages and deforestation and degrades rural ecosystems, while exposing people, especially women and young children, to indoor air pollution. In response, a Bank project has trained about 580 private stove producers in urban areas—mostly women—with sales of nearly a million units. The new stoves are about 50 percent more efficient than traditional models have significantly reduced indoor air pollution. Customer surveys find they have been well accepted. A similar program has directly benefited almost 700,000 families in urban areas of Mali and Senegal.
The Bank is also helping with bulk procurement and distribution of compact fluorescent lamps, which bring energy savings of up to 80 percent for residential customers and help mitigate power crises. The Bank has financed distribution of about 2 million such lamps in Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Uganda, which can cut peak demand by 100 megawatts.
In Madagascar, the BioCarbon Fund is piloting an innovative project with payment schemes to reduce emissions. This Bank project in partnership with the national government and Conservation International is addressing deforestation by promoting sustainable livelihood activities in a new protected area. This is expected to prevent the emission of 8 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.