As a result of the anthropogenic climate change drivers, the global mean surface temperature is projected to increase between 1.5°C and 5.8°C by 2100. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its 4th Assessment Report, 2007 has stated that warming in Africa, throughout the continent and in all seasons, is very likely to be larger than the global annual mean warming, with drier subtropical regions warming more than the moister tropics. The future warming rate is likely to range from 0.2°C per decade (for the low scenario) to more than 0.5°C per decade (for the high scenario). This warming will be greatest over the interior of semiarid margins of the Sahara and central southern Africa. The observed annual rainfall anomalies of the climate change models indicate that there are possible increases in precipitation in East Africa, contrasted with reduced precipitation for southern Africa in the next 100 years. While for East Africa an increase in rainfall as projected would be welcome, it will be accompanied by an increase of extremely wet events, from the current 5% to about 20%, which could seriously disrupt food production systems and infrastructure.
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Africa’s environment is closely linked with its climate. Indeed, the African continent is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change and is already subject to frequent droughts, floods and famine. The livelihoods of most Africans are largely dependent on utilisation of land-based resources, as well as on freshwater lacustrine and riverine systems as sources of potable water, fish, transport etc. As a result of this dependency and widespread poverty, the African communities are particularly vulnerable to the effects and impacts of climate change. In contrast the African governments have no established social security systems to cushion citizens against these climate-induced risks.
Climate studies and modelling experiments indicate that the anthropogenically-driven rise in global temperatures and land-use changes may adversely affect existing climatic, hydrological and environmental conditions. Multiple stresses make most of Africa highly vulnerable to environmental changes, and climate change is likely to increase this vulnerability. Specific impacts include desertification, sea level rise, reduced freshwater availability, cyclones, coastal erosion, deforestation, loss of forest quality, woodland degradation, coral bleaching, the spread of malaria and other diseases, and impacts on food security. The expected changes are expected to continue beyond the cessation of the rise of green house gases due to the long half-life of some important gases like carbon dioxide. Hence Africa needs to have strategies for adaptation and mitigation.
To meet these challenges, a team of researchers from the University of Nairobi and Maseno University, sought and received funding from the Open Society Institute to establish the Climate Adaptation Research Institute (CARI) at the University of Nairobi. Since the initiation of the project in December 2010, the name was changed to the Institute for Climate Change and Adaption (ICCA) at the University of Nairobi.
It is envisioned that the ICCA at the University of Nairobi, will serve to offer unique trans-disciplinary programmes that will:
- Build the human capacity needed to address climate change and adaptations that meet African societies unique needs by offering University-based curricula for conventional degrees and short training courses for a wide range of professionals from all sectors of society;
- Encourage action-oriented research activities, including research into climate adaptation technologies, that will help to improve the climate adaptation capacity of the African peoples;
- Provide a framework for national and regional policy assessments and advice to governments and other public and private sector actors; and
- Include the grassroots and various communities within the African region in its programmes execution and implementation of research findings.
The main objective, therefore, is to establish the Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation that will provide and/or conduct:
- Formal training on climate change and adaptation at postgraduate level (Masters and Doctorate) initially, and eventually at the undergraduate level;
- Professional Short courses for various climate change and adaptation actors and stakeholders in the public and private sectors including NGOs;
- Climate change and adaptation research and knowledge exchange;
- Action-oriented community outreach programmes for implementation of practical climate change and adaptation options; and
- Policy advice on climate change and adaptation.