Residents of the Nhamatanda district in Mozambique survey the damage to a road outside Beira caused by cyclone Idai. Storms of this severity are expected to increase as part of a pattern of Extreme weather in Africa. Image: Greenpeace.

Scientists and communities in Africa and all over the world are raising the alarm: Extreme weather in Africa is becoming more frequent and less predictable.

DOWNLOAD AND READ the full Greenpeace report on extreme weather in Africa.

TELL YOUR GOVERNMENT to take extreme weather in Africa seriously by signing this petition to demand #ClimateActionNow!—Clipreel-27MDHU52R9P.html

A video clip showing the scale of devastation caused by cyclone Gati in Somalia. Extreme weather in Africa such as cyclone Gati cause disease, death and flood farmland, resulting in food shortages and famine. Video: Greenpeace.

What is extreme weather in Africa?

Extreme weather is the tendency for naturally-occurring weather events and patterns like rainfall, storms and dry periods to be erratic and cause damage, destruction, death and disease

In just the last 2 years, extreme weather events have wreaked havoc from Kwa-Zulu Natal to Somalia. In October 2019, Zimbabwean elephants broke through park barriers in the search for water while drought ravaged the country. 55 of them died. 

In the same month, residents of Fernanda Town in Tunisia were stranded at home as the country was soaked in almost 100mm of rain. At the same time in Zambia, the country received its lowest recorded rainfall in 38 years.

Over 2.3 million people in Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Madagascar are living under threat of food insecurity due to flash floods in early 2020. The earth, baked hard by months of drought, repelled the rain and flooded homes.

The pattern is clear: Extreme weather in Africa is real, and it’s getting worse. 

PULLQUOTE: “Extreme weather conditions will become more intense and its consequences for communities more severe.”– Happy Khambule, Senior Climate and Energy Campaign Manager, Greenpeace Africa.

A woman left homeless by floods in Migori and Homa Bay counties in Kenya. Extreme weather in Africa is causing flooding on a scale not seen in many years in countries all over the continent. Image: Greenpeace.

Why is extreme weather in Africa happening?

Traditional weather patterns all over the world and in Africa are becoming erratic as our planet gets warmer. Extreme weather in Africa is made worse by a combination of factors, including a burgeoning population, people vacating the countryside and moving to cities that are struggling to maintain and expand infrastructure, and by a lack of education and access to resources like quality medical care. 

Residents of Beira in Mozambique stand in flooded streets. The damage from cyclone Eloise in 2021 is part of a larger pattern of extreme weather in Africa. Image: Greenpeace.

What is causing extreme weather in Africa?

  • Logging of rainforests is causing extreme weather. 

In July 2020, Congolese Deputy Minister Ève Bazaiba decided to lift a moratorium on logging in the sensitive Congo Basin rainforest. She did this with the co-operation of the president, Félix Tshisekedi. In one swift blow, this act lifted the protection that these critically important rainforests have enjoyed for almost 20 years. Extreme weather is bound to follow this disastrous decision. There is an abundance of evidence that the Congo Basin rainforests play a fundamental role in the regulation of rainfall across the Central African countries. Logging on the scale of that being sanctioned by Ève Bazaiba will mean extreme weather events like flash floods and droughts become a regular occurrence. This is aside from the impact on local communities, who depend on the natural resource of the Congo Basin rainforests for their survival. This begs the question: How can Africa claim any credibility in ongoing climate change negotiations when those responsible for managing the continent’s natural resources are driving extreme weather events in Africa through their actions?

TAKE ACTION NOW against extreme weather in Africa by adding your name to this petition to stop the lifting of the moratorium on logging in the Congo Basin rainforest.

  • Investments in oil, gas and coal are causing extreme weather in Africa.

The Okavango Delta is one of the largest carbon sinks in the world. Its extensive peatlands are not only home to thousands of unique and endangered plant and animal species, but they also soak up huge amounts of carbon in the atmosphere. ReconAfrica is a Canadian gas and oil company that is on a mission to frack and drill for oil and gas in this environmentally and culturally important natural resource. By doing this, they will release huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, driving extreme weather in Africa. They will also poison water that local people rely on for their livelihoods, and destroy the biodiversity that has existed in this part of the world for millennia. 

SEND AN EMAIL to the Namibian president now, asking him to stop ReconAfrica’s oil and gas exploration in the Okavango Delta.

  • Rising temperatures are causing extreme weather in Africa.

Average annual temperatures across the African continent are rising fast. Current scientific studies indicate that mean temperatures will exceed 2℃ and possibly rise as much as 6℃ before the end of the 21st Century. Higher and more unpredictable temperatures mean droughts, flooding and heatwaves, which in turn affect planting and harvesting cycles. This invariably means less food for African populations, and thus increased conflict and displacement. 

A Somalian woman walks to find food and water. Severe drought, an effect of extreme weather in Africa, means less productive agricultural seasons and dry rivers and lakes. Image: Greenpeace.

What are the effects of extreme weather in Africa?

  • Extreme weather in Africa causes diseases like cholera.

Natural disasters like cyclones and tropical storms are the symptoms of extreme weather in Africa. These destructive forces of nature are devastating to the rickety sanitation infrastructure in many African countries like Mozambique, Madagascar and Zimbabwe. Extreme weather events in Africa such as cyclone Idai and cyclone Eloise not only displace hundreds of thousands of people, who are left without access to clean drinking water, but also create the conditions under which harmful bacterium such as Vibrio cholerae proliferate in fresh water supplies. This bacterium causes diarrhoea, vomiting and rapid loss of body fluids which leads to shock.

  • Extreme weather in Africa is ravaging homes, destroying infrastructure and causing billions of dollars in damage.

In early 2021, cyclone Eloise barrelled into the Mozambican coast. It was the third severe tropical cyclone to hit this impoverished country in as many as two years. Cyclones like Eloise are the effects of extreme weather in Africa, and are caused by increasingly unpredictable weather patterns. The huge amount of rainfall generated by these cyclones floods houses, washes away vital communication networks and causes the rapid onset of disease. Eloise alone directly affected more than a quarter of a million people across 3 different countries. The effects of extreme weather in Africa can no longer be ignored as disadvantaged communities struggle to piece their lives back together again.

Flooded neighbourhoods in Mozambique caused by cyclone Eloise. Floods of increasing severity are caused by extreme weather in Africa. Image: Greenpeace.

  • Extreme weather in Africa is causing flooding.

Durban in Kwazulu-Natal was drenched in unseasonably severe rains in April 2019. Blocked stormwater drains made roads into rivers. Buildings collapsed and people and animals were washed away. Huge amounts of plastic pollution ended up being washed into rivers and other water bodies, contaminating them and making them toxic. 

What can we do about extreme weather in Africa?

Private interests need to be held accountable

We need to rapidly come to the realisation that the current dispensation of prioritising corporate profits over our natural ecosystems is outdated and unsustainable. What’s more, this way of thinking is a key driver of extreme weather in Africa. 

African leaders must step up to the plate

Organisations like the African Development Bank, together with African heads of State, have the combined power to fight back against extreme weather in Africa. An encouraging move in April last year was when the bank sat down with African leaders to discuss financial contingencies for extreme weather events

We must shift to renewable energy sources now

Clean energy sources like solar and wind must replace dirty and outdated fuels like coal, diesel and nuclear. Kenya power is already leading the charge in this transition as they announced in early 2021 that they would junk their old coal-fired power stations. Kenya has been at the forefront of extreme weather in Africa as the country has been stricken by violent cyclones, floods and droughts which have especially affected small scale farmers, who produce up to 80% of the food consumed in the country. Not only will this move mean cheaper power and more employment for Kenyans, but it will also mitigate the effects of extreme weather in Africa.

Semantically related keywords: African Development Bank, Kenya Power, ReconAfrica, Cyclone Idai, Cyclone Eloise,