Natural disasters affect over 407 mln people in Africa between 2000-2022: UNECA

By Xinhua
On 12 December 2023 at 07:26

Natural disasters affected a total of 407.5 million people in Africa between 2000 and 2022 as climate-induced catastrophic events led to severe humanitarian crises across the continent, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has said.

Amid the growing impact of climate-induced incidents across the African continent, such events have forced some 4.2 million people to become homeless, while killing 53,610 people and injuring 52,205 others, the UNECA said in a statement issued Monday.

The UNECA said findings of its Economic Report on Africa 2023 (ERA-2023), which will be officially launched next week and titled "Building Africa’s Resilience to Global Economic Shocks," shows that climate shocks generally are highly correlated with the cyclical component of gross domestic product (GDP) growth and not with the long-term trend in Africa, which suggests that part of the volatility observed in growth emanates from climate-induced shocks.

"A temperature increase beyond a threshold of 0.7-degree centigrade results in reduced real GDP growth. At 1.8-degree centigrade change in temperature, which is expected to prevail by 2030 if current trends persist, we could expect a 2-percentage point decline in real GDP growth," the UNECA said, citing the findings of its Economic Report on Africa.

According to the UNECA, the frequency of natural disasters increases public debt levels directly, in which a unit increase in natural disasters could lead to a 0.25 percentage point increase in the ratio of net public debt to GDP.

"More significantly, climate change in Africa tends to derail poverty reduction and, in some cases, destroy the livelihoods of millions of people that mainly rely on agriculture and small businesses. Droughts, floods, frosts, and other natural events that lead to crop failure affect the welfare of households that live in rural areas and small towns," it said.

It said a one unit increase in natural disaster frequency would increase the percentage of households living in extreme poverty by 4.4 percentage.

The UNECA said the ERA-2023 carries important lessons regarding how African countries must incorporate climate change in the design and implementation of their long-term growth strategies.

The floods and landslides that struck Rwanda in May 2023 claimed lives of more than 130 and destroyed infrastructures in different parts of the country.