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Impact of Climate Change on Hotspots Botswana and Namibia

The world may still argue about whether or not climate change is for real. But in vast expanses of arid southern Africa, the daily struggle to cope with a changed climate is well under way. The lessons being learnt here on a small scale could prove vital in the fight for human survival.

The impact of drought has been felt acutely this season over southern Africa, as El Nino hit hard. Perhaps this is what we might expect under future climate change conditions and so we had better learn how to prepare for it: more frequent years that record less rainfall than usual, along with the associated crippling impact on livelihoods and the economy.

This is particularly the case in semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia. These climate change hotspots are highly dynamic systems that already experience harsh climates, adverse environmental change and a relative lack of natural resources. People here are often further marginalised by high levels of poverty, inequality and rapidly changing socio-economic, governance and development contexts.

This requires an effective response. In northern Namibia and eastern Botswana, research is already under way into what’s currently working and not working in relation to managing climate impacts. A major regional project is seeking ways to reduce vulnerability and develop longer term climate adaptation responses.

Geof Wilson

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