Africa Has a Climate Funding Shortfall

African countries have suffered some of the world’s heaviest burdens from the climate crisis, including heat waves, droughts, and floods. Those effects will undoubtedly worsen in the next decade, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released last week. But compared to other regions, Africa receives the least funding for research to prepare for that future; investments in climate resilience projects on the continent fall short by billions of dollars.

The IPCC predicts that people and species won’t be able to cope with the rising temperatures in some parts of Africa, and that glaciers on the continent’s most spectacular mountains, such as Mount Kilimanjaro, may disappear in the coming decades. “By 1.5° C global warming, you could be seeing up to around 50 days per year of potential lethal heat in West Africa,” said Christopher Trisos, a lead author of the report and a director of the African Climate and Development Initiative at the University of Cape Town.

The report says that limited finance and data will present obstacles for African countries seeking to adapt to the climate crisis. Since 1990, fewer than 4 percent of total global climate change research funding has focused on Africa, while 78 percent of that funding has gone to researchers in the United States and Europe. Furthermore, African scientists received less than 15 percent of the funds.

Due to this funding gap, Trisos explained, non-African institutions set the research questions, which may focus less on local needs. Since the United Kingdom became the largest research funder for climate adaptation, its grants in Africa have largely supported research in former British colonies. Research on North African countries is the most underfunded, despite the region’s particular vulnerability to drought.

The lack of funding for Africa-based scientists has wide-reaching implications, impeding the development of accurate climate models and early warning systems. There are few regularly reporting weather stations on the continent, for example. “Without those weather stations, you have much less data to work with to develop the scientific models and algorithm that can provide you with early warning systems that people in Europe and North America are used to receiving,” Trisos told Foreign Policy.

This article is republished  from the Foreign Policy