Africa floods 80 times more likely with climate change

Heavy rains and flooding that would impact Nigeria, Niger, Chad and the surrounding region this year are 80 times more likely due to climate change, according to a rapid analysis by international climate attribution experts.

The World Weather Attribution group used peer-reviewed methods to find that climate change was overwhelmingly responsible for the heavy rains that killed over 800 people, with worse to come as global average temperatures continue to rise.

In addition to displacing 1.5 million people throughout the region, the devastating floods — some of the worst in recent memory — also caused thousands of injuries, devastated vast tracts of both urban and rural land and prompted calls for better planning for similar events in the future. 

“The lessons we learn from the floods calls for more concrete policies to consider future developments,” said Cheikh Kane of the Red Cross Climate Center to U.S. news, calling on authorities in the region “to enhance their level of preparedness.”

To ascertain the effect that rising temperatures had on the flooding, the researchers made comparisons between historical climate data and current weather information with a focus on the Lake Chad and lower Niger River basins. They discovered that climate change caused the region’s rainy season to be 20% wetter than usual and that an event of this intensity now has a one in 10 chance of occurring every year.

In order to inform their future work and aid communities in preparing for extreme weather events, the scientists called for increased investment in weather stations in the area. 

“Resources are needed for Africa to create early warning systems and to build climate-resilient infrastructure and cities,” philanthropist Mo Ibrahim told The Associated Press.

In Sharm el-Sheikh, where the United Nations’ two-week climate conference known as COP27 was taking place, activists from the Niger Delta demanded an end to the use of fossil fuels, which play a significant role in climate change.

“Oil exploration contributes immensely to the climate crises, among them being the heavy flooding in Nigeria in October,” said Nigerian activist Lucky Abeng. “That’s why we have come to the COP, to amplify our voices, for the entire global south on fossil fuels emitters.”

Establishing funding for “loss and damage” compensation to rebuild after the inevitable climate catastrophes that are increasingly affecting vulnerable developing nations, which did little to cause the climate crisis, was a crucial issue for success at COP 27. Rich nations are being urged to take action by these countries.

According to the WWA study, the region’s residents were already extremely vulnerable to extreme weather because of poverty, violent conflicts and political instability.