Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

Other reports in this collection Human Comfort

McMichael et al. (1996) found a relationship between ambient temperature and heat-related mortalities in Cairo, Egypt. This suggests a need to consider building technology and building materials' thermal properties to produce dwellings that are naturally climatically comfortable for tropical conditions. In Africa, there is a tendency to construct dwellings that do not take account of local climate because of inadequate natural ventilation and use of large decorative glass surfaces. Similarly, urban planners need to consider landscaping to avoid inner-city congestion that leads to unhealthy microclimate enclaves.

A combination of high temperatures and air pollution leads to increases in respiratory complaints. Clean air policies would not only alleviate health hazards but would be a contribution toward maintenance of the ozone layer in line with the Montreal Protocol. Sudden imposition of stringent air quality standards may cause undue strain to the economy, but graduated improvement of air quality standards, at a pace the economy can absorb, will be beneficial in terms of adaptation to climate change as well as general city health improvement. Water Resources

Section 10.2.1 argues that future water resources for subhumid regions of Africa will be in jeopardy under global warming conditions. The impact of climate change to settlements, through the water resources pathway, will have multiple manifestations in all walks of life.

Adaptive measures include incentives for a water conservation culture, such as water pricing. However, many rural communities are not economically or culturally attuned to commercialization of water resources, which normally are administered in a common access mode. Commoditization of water resources as a strategy for efficient water use is contingent on comparable growth of economic activity and social well-being in all sectors of communities.

Land degradation has resulted in siltation thus disappearance of surface streamwater resources (Magadza, 1984). States are encouraged to consider measures that will rehabilitate streams, paying special attention to wetlands conservation, with an added bonus of biodiversity conservation.

Industrial water cycling in Africa is poorly developed. Processes that maximize water recycling should be encouraged.

At the regional level, there are beginnings of cooperation in interbasin transfers from water-surplus areas to water-deficit areas; the proposed diversion of Zambezi River waters toward the south is an example. Although this development will enhance the status of water and other natural resources as tradable commodities, the groundwork for legal regulation of water sharing between nations of the region must be developed sooner rather than later to avoid situations of water-related political tensions like those in the Middle East and north Africa (Caponera, 1996). Sanitation

Section 10.2.4 draws attention to the possible health implications of climate change and climate variability through vector- and water-borne pathogens. In many African urban settlements, urban drift has outpaced the capacity of municipal authorities to provide civic works for sanitation and other health delivery services. The outbreak of cholera during recent floods in east Africa and Mozambique underscores the need for adequate sanitation. It should be noted that although the outbreaks were spread from as far north as Mombassa and Nairobi in the north to Beira in the south, incidences remained localized to the outbreak centers because of the isolated nature of the affected urban areas. If settlement conglomerations such as those envisaged for west Africa and the eastern seaboard of South Africa develop—as discussed by Nicholls et al. (1999)—vulnerable population and areas will tend to be regional, rather than local. Review of sanitary facilities now rather than later will not only be beneficial to communities now but in the long run will be cost saving for long-term health delivery services. Food Security

Droughts in SSA often translate to famine, which leads to acceleration of urban drift to cities that are not equipped to absorb such migrations. Although maintenance of strategic food reserves is one coping mechanism, development policies increasingly must create other investment opportunities in rural areas besides agriculture, to diversify means of survival and, indeed, create rural wealth (De Lattre, 1988).

In semi-arid Africa, pastoralism is the main economic activity. Many pastoral communities include transnational migrants in search of new seasonal grazing. In drought situations, such pastoralists may come into conflict with settled agrarian systems (Anon, 1992; Lado, 1995; Cousins, 1996). Students of pastoralism note the lack of clear policies on pastoralists, who normally are marginalized in state agricultural policies.

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