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Climate change hits North Africa

2009-12-06 13:56 BJT

Special Report: UN climate change conference in Copenhagen |


Climate change is seriously affecting North African countries. Water shortages, deforestation and desertification have led to rounds of droughts and floods, making the region one of the most vulnerable areas in the world.

Last year, Morocco recorded a 70-percent increase in rainfall. It led to flooding in large areas of arable land, but also to a record harvest.

But the rain is late in many areas this year.

It might be too early to talk about drought. But, the country is getting used to cycles of floods and droughts.

Heat waves, water problems, decreasing water and air quality, desertification and ground-level ozone are challenging both agriculture and public health.

Morocco has recently set up an agency, the High Commission for Water, Forests and Fight against Desertification, to tackle the problem.

It says Morocco is suffering a lot from desertification.

Mohamed Ghanam, Official, Moriccan HCEFD, said, "Losses are substantial. In Morocco, we estimate them to be around 2.3 billion Moroccan Dirhams. They are incurred because of desertification and changes of the three ecosystems - agricultural lands, lands for herding and forests."

Morocco is not alone. Most Arab countries in North Africa are paying a heavy price for climate change. Low-lying coastal areas in Tunisia, Qatar, Libya, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Egypt are at particular risk. For them, the social, economic and ecological impact is expected to be higher than the rest of the world.

Much of the progress achieved so far to tackle the global downturn can be jeopardised by climate change. That leads to some frustrating situations.

Mohamed Cherki, Economist, said, "In twenty years, the world will be different from the one we are living in now. In my opinion, there will be some big losses not only for the states themselves but also for the populations."

An increasing level of awareness is growing among all stakeholders in North Africa about the significance of climate change. A latest assessment warns the climate is getting even hotter and drier in most parts of the region.

Editor: Zhang Pengfei | Source: