Tropical Storm Freddy Highlights the Urgency of “Loss and Damages” Compensation for African Countries

Date:

 increasing the urgency of the "Loss and Damage" fund

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Sunday, April 02, 2023
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • Africa only contributes 4.3% of greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting global warming, yet it is disproportionately impacted by climate change in all scenarios, according to the African Development Bank Group.

  • One could argue that nations like Madagascar, Malawi, and Zimbabwe would have made better-had rehabilitation money available quickly.

  • In particular, the importance of early warning systems for enabling prompt reactions to disaster threats as they materialize must be emphasized as a crucial instrument in battling climate change and saving lives.

  • As the available resources are constantly being diverted towards climate emergencies, it is tough to stay on track in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals targets as the continent seeks sustainable development.

  • African leaders spoke in various ways during COP 27 about the urgency of loss and damages compensation for vulnerable developing nations.

The recent tropical storm Freddy, yet another extreme weather event, damaged Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi, and other developing African countries already battling to recover from earlier climate-related calamities. Tropical cyclone Freddy, which the World Meteorological Organization claims currently holds the record for the longest-lasting cyclone with the highest accumulated cyclone energy ever recorded, has caused significant economic and physical losses throughout Southern Africa. This provides another compelling argument for the necessity of “Loss and Damages” compensation for vulnerable developing countries.

Africa, increasingly at the mercy of various climate-related disasters, applauded the decision made at the most recent United Nations Climate Convention (COP 27), held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, in September, to finally grant this much-needed compensation. This decision came after many years of discussion and disagreement on the fairness of a “Loss and Damages Fund” to compensate vulnerable developing countries. The urgency to operationalize this fund cannot be overstated after more than a decade of talks and many more years of escalating climate stresses.

Africa only contributes 4.3% of greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting global warming, yet it is disproportionately impacted by climate change in all scenarios, according to the African Development Bank Group. Systemic dangers to the continent’s economies, infrastructure projects, water and food systems, public health, agriculture, lives, and livelihoods undoubtedly undermine any development achievements that have previously been realized.

Century-defining difficulty

One of the biggest problems of the twenty-first century is the climate issue. Globally, a climate emergency is developing, and severe weather is observed far too frequently in Africa. The “Loss and Damages” funds must be made available immediately to promote speedy recovery before vulnerable economies are thrown into extreme and irreversible poverty due to these dangers’ crippling succession and recurrent occurrence. The issue appears to be getting worse, and the frequent occurrence of these threats is driving African communities into despair and severe food insecurity. When combined with additional socioeconomic difficulties, these scenarios can be anticipated to feed into one another to produce incomprehensible cycles of humanitarian disasters.

The catastrophes in the Southwest Indian Ocean (SWIO) are an excellent example of this claim. Tropical hurricane Freddy severely damaged infrastructure, thousands of homes, schools, health centres, and farmlands in Madagascar, forcing more than 45,000 people to flee their homes. The situation was worse in Malawi, where more than 500,000 people were displaced, more than 500 fatalities were reported, and more than 300,000 hectares of crops were damaged. Although the full extent of Freddy’s destruction in Malawi has not yet been determined, aid organizations are now having trouble addressing the immediate needs. Yet, tropical cyclone Freddy is but one illustration of previous dangers in the same area.

Hurricane hotspot

Tropical storm development is one of the most active processes in the SWIO region of the planet. Each year, the area has ten cyclone events with wind speeds greater than 63 km/h and possibly exceeding 200 km/h.

Thirteen named cyclonic occurrences occurred in the SWIO region during the cyclone season of 2021–2022. Three cyclones in Mozambique and six in Madagascar were among these thirteen cyclone incidents. Devastating flooding was caused by the excessive precipitation brought on by these cyclones in other nations like Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe.

The overall number of fatalities linked with these cyclonic storms was projected to be 818 people. At the same time, the modelled total economic losses were assessed to be $2.4 billion, according to Tropical Cyclone Explorer software from African Risk Capacity, which keeps track of such disasters. The most severely impacted country was Madagascar, which sustained devastation in 17 of its 22 regions.

Batsirai, a particularly ferocious tropical cyclone, caused more than $190 million in damage to Madagascar. These catastrophes intensify existing crises, including cholera and other illness outbreaks. Again, Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe were impacted, albeit each nation required additional humanitarian assistance.

Preparing to face the storm

Depending on the availability of resources to facilitate response, recovery after a tropical cyclone disaster may take more than a year. Given the frequency of cyclonic events in the SWIO region, which frequently suffers them, this suggests that the same countries must prepare for the assault of new events as they recover from the last cyclones.

The same countries are also going through back-to-back drought episodes, worsening the situation and increasing food costs. For instance, the southern region of Madagascar has been suffering from a protracted drought since 2018, and Malawi’s agricultural season of 2021–2022 was noted as one of the driest since 1970 due to cumulative rainfall deficits. It is reasonable to conclude that the economies of these weak nations cannot withstand such frequent, substantial losses.

These successive disasters co-occurring only serve to emphasize how quickly the “Loss and Damages Fund” needs to be established. One could argue that nations like Madagascar, Malawi, and Zimbabwe would have made better-had rehabilitation money available quickly. As it stands, all three countries are struggling to meet the competing demands of their populations, such as maintaining the necessary infrastructure repairs, regaining the dignity of refugees, offering essential medical care, or ensuring food security for communities.

The examples that have been highlighted represent just a tiny portion of how the climate catastrophe is affecting the African continent. The globe is already experiencing a rise in the frequency and severity of weather-related calamity occurrences, as science has predicted. Across the continent, a sequence of tragedies is plaguing various areas. For instance, the Horn of Africa is going through one of the worst droughts in decades, and certain countries in the West and Central African region are also going through one. The floods in Senegal and Nigeria

It is essential to recognize the importance of measures that promote resilience. Support for vulnerable developing nations should focus on strength and capacity-building initiatives to improve community response capabilities. In particular, the importance of early warning systems for enabling prompt reactions to disaster threats as they materialize must be emphasized as a crucial instrument in battling climate change and saving lives.

As the available resources are constantly being diverted towards climate emergencies, it is tough to stay on track in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals targets as the continent seeks sustainable development. African leaders spoke in various ways during COP 27 about the urgency of loss and damages compensation for vulnerable developing nations.

The situation’s urgency should not be overlooked as efforts are being made to create appropriate mechanisms and tactics to support the loss and damages fund. Organizations on the continent that specialize in assisting member states plan, prepare for, and respond to climate disasters include the African Risk Capacity, an African Union agency with experience in Africa. The expertise and understanding gained from working with fragile African nations will be crucial in aiding this task.

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