Economic Influences of Climate Change on: Agriculture, public health, and labour migration in Sub-Saharan Africa

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20th Apr 2020 Business Assignment Reference this

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An overview of the social dynamics in sub-Saharan Africa indicates that a significant majority of the inhabitants of the region depend on agriculture as a source of livelihood. As a result, any slight environmental change that affects agricultural activities in the region south of Sahara desert directly affects the economic wellbeing of the residents. The interrelation between the dynamics explains the reason scholars interested in exploring economic wellbeing of the masses consider issues related to climate change integral in the studies. The same applies to the exploration of health concerns that directly intertwine to economic wellbeing and food consumption habits. The quest for economic opportunities equally contributes to migratory patterns that define the demographics of that comprises of West Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, and South Africa, which form the region sub-Saharan Africa. In this review, the paper utilizes information from different scholarly sources as the basis for quantifying the economic influence of climate change on agriculture, public health, and labour migration patterns in sub-Saharan Africa.

Economic Influences of Climate Change on Agriculture

An exploration of the works of Ringler, Zhu, Cai, Koo & Wang (2010) on climate change impacts on food security indicates that the concern of climate change is not a new phenomenon in sub-Saharan Africa since environmentalists have grappled with the challenges for decades. The urge to redress the economic implication of the difficulties on agricultural undertaking has been the motivating factor behind the studies. Out of the many suggestions, scholars have proposed the invention of alternative approaches to farming since climate interferes with the timing of planting. Blanc (2012) also point out that crop distribution and storage immensely depends on climate; thus, the reason for consideration of concerns related to weather changes as impactful on the wellbeing of the masses. An observation of the prevailing situation in West Africa indicates that a slight increase in temperature levels due to global warming that cause climate change interferes with farmers’ decision in many countries across the region. According to Kotir (2011), the farmers’ behaviour then manifests as economic struggle to the masses. An example is a shift in climate due to the change in carbon dioxide concentration that affects the distribution of soil nutrients among many other conditions required for farming to progress as desired. The unpredictable yield, in turn, affects earnings from agriculture leading to difficult economic situation.

Kotir (2011) highlights the prevalence of droughts as a hindrance to the realization of the goal of supplying food to consumers in many nations across sub-Saharan Africa. The case of the famine of West Africa that subjected crops to harsh conditions contributed to lower yields that affected supply. The difficulty attributable to the delay in rains discourages farmers from engaging in the production of staple foods and such threatened food production in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa.  Given that most of the crops that include corn grown on the continent depend on rain-fed agriculture, the population had to contend with the shortage in the food supply. Ringler, et al. (2010) explicate the interrelation between climate changes with food production in claiming that the environmental factors affect yield production in nineties in east Africa. The manifestation of the development in the region indicated that the severe droughts witnessed in contributed to the decline in crop production. At the onset of the problems, the officials in the metrological department in Kenya had predicted the possibility of a decline in rainfall. However, the professionals failed to envisage the likelihood of the situation affecting the wellbeing of the masses for close to a year. The   development in turn affected small-scale farmers in the entire region leading to the conclusion that climate change directly affects the livelihood of the population in sub-Saharan Africa.

Calzadilla, Zhu, Rehdanz, Tol, & Ringler (2013) publication not only addresses the environmental changes from an agriculturalist perspective but consider the psychological impact posed on animals and consumers. The researcher claim that the uncertainty that arises with the shift in climate patterns subject animals to difficult experiences that forces farmers to live in a state of fear as opposed to inventing alternative ways of addressing the economic difficulties. An example is a heatwave that affects crop growth and animal reproduction. As opposed to rethinking ways of planting an alternative yield, the farmers halt their practices due to delays in rains. The decision then motivates consumers with financial capabilities to source the yield from the neighbouring region lacking the capacity to produce food enough for the host population. The disparity then creates economic inequalities that discourage consumers from making an objective decision (Calzadilla et al., 2013). The smalls scale farmers might take longer planning for production activities, thus subjecting consumers to psychological difficulties that make human factors an inhibitor to the development that promote sustainability.

Blanc’s article review published in American journal indicates that a slight change in weather patterns in sub-Saharan Africa poses a dire impact on the distribution of aquatic creatures and animals in sub-Saharan Africa (2012). The situation is attributable to the fact that the animals kept in most parts of the region depend immensely on vegetation that grows during rainy seasons. In the event that the rains fail, the community struggle to provide fodder for the animals. Subsequently, the quality of pasture deteriorates; thus. affecting the yield capacity of milk production on the farmland.  Farmers also use pesticides due to warm weathers encouraging the breeding of pathogens and microorganism that cause diseases. In the seasons where the precipitation levels are high, the possibilities of the same disease manifesting are not as high. However, such occurrences are not common. The reality indicates that rains shortage that elevates pathogen levels that interfere with production is common due to climate change. The strain alleviating disease affects livestock farming since herder might opt to sell some of the stock to cushion self from the difficulty of treating a larger herd (Blanc, 2012). According to the exploration of scientists in institutions in South Africa interested in establishing ways of reducing dependence on good climatic condition, the challenges require the adaptation of alternative farming techniques. The process should commence with the use of technology to simulate strategies that encourages farmers to adopt irrigation technique that could help increase crop production even during droughts.

Kotir (2011) points out pollution caused by excessive emission of CO2 gases in the atmosphere as the primary contributor to climate changes that interfere with fish farming in sub-Saharan Africa. The scholar interrelate the dynamics to the rise in sea levels that affects precipitation that connects directly to agricultural activities in the continents. His article acknowledges the struggles among anglers as the expression of the dire impacts of pollution affecting climate changes. According to Kotir (2011), anglers struggled because of the inability to continue exploiting tradition fish farming and harvesting strategies. Kotir (2011) believes that the strategies utilized in the 1900s, for the most part, succeeded since pollution levels were lower. However, at present, the environmental changes caused by pollution render traditional methods of angling and fish farming ineffective.

Additionally, the traditional beliefs of the communities in the region in many ways influence the dynamics related to food production. One clear example documented in the works of Calzadilla, et al. is that belief that shortcoming in agriculture signifies bad luck (2013). There are occasions where the weather contributes to the decline in yield. However, superstition hinders economic progression. In ancient times, the elders guided the rest of the population in division ways of addressing the catastrophe. Some of the strategies exploited include offering sacrifices to the gods on the presumption that the supernatural beings possess the ability to affects the dynamics that shape food production in the continents. The changes in times are rendering the tactic ineffective since the growing number of people makes it impossible surviving on lower yield while practicing traditional agricultural techniques.

The fertility of the soli is also a concern linked to climatic change that affects agricultural activities in sub-Saharan Africa, although limited research acknowledges the trends. Ringler et al. (2010) in their investigative analysis on the relation between soil fertility and climate change and changes in the level of production indicated that the composition of the soils depends on environmental condition shaped by climate. Hence, if the weather is conducive, the soils benefit the population since the communities have a wider array of choice of crops to grow.   The economic influences of climate change not only affect activities of farmers but also the behaviours of the stakeholders influencing farmer’s decision. A case in point is the government channelling more resources for hunger relief initiatives instead of investing in agricultural activities that range from supplying farmers inputs for food production.

Public health

Aside from agriculture, climate changes affect public health in sub-Saharan Africa. According to media reports on the trends in the region, populations are beginning to witness a surge in health concerns related to changes in weather. A case in point is the increase in heat contributing to the contraction of tropical disease like malaria. The consequence of such action is deterioration in the health of the masses. Ramin & McMichael (2009) notes that the approach to regulating diseases requires a comprehension of the dynamics that influences climate change. Ramin & McMichael (2009) mentions the relation between an increase in the heatwave and surge in cases of dehydration among children as common occurrence in dry months. On the contrary, the slight increase in precipitation contributes to the elevation of water borne disease and concerns related to sanitation (Ramin & McMichael, 2009). The challenge is common in congested urban areas where the resident source water from rivers and the natural sources like aquifers. In times of flooding caused by climate change, the population tends to suffer from contamination results in the contraction of diseases like cholera. Mental health and biological sensitiveness also increases.

The cases of airborne disease are equally prevalent in seasons characterized by drastic weather changes. During the flowering seasons, the cases of asthma are common among population residing in areas where crop growing is common. However, the concerns elevate in harsh weather. The extreme winds affect the pollination from the yield than include maize and wheat, leading to drastic effects on the respiratory system of the population.  The air quality deteriorates since the precipitation delays affect particulate matter distribution on the atmosphere. Another concern attributable to destabilized weather patterns noted by Serdeczny, Adams, Baarsch, Coumou, Robinson, Hare, & Reinhardt (2017) is the difficulty of the human body adjusting to sudden weather changes. According to Serdeczny, et al. (2017), the human body reacts based on the predictability of season, but in cases where weather alters agricultural activities, the response of masses is uncertain making it difficult for public health concern. Serdeczny also acknowledges the increase in vector-borne diseases caused by mosquitos during the rainy season in sub-Saharan Africa. The situation worsens with flooding that interferes with the balance in the ecosystems by creating a breeding ground for the microorganism. Moreover, creatures accustomed to living in the forest may inhabit human homes; thus, contributing to the spread of ailments.

Climate change is also responsible for the strain in care facilities in sub-Saharan Africa. In times of adverse weather condition, the professionals administering services to the population in rural areas struggle to reach the sick and those deserving medical attention. There are occasions where professionals improvise tools and resources for use to reach communities in times of need.  Despite the efforts, the sensitization is difficult in times of climate changes. The harsh weather interrupts the communication infrastructure that links communities to the facilities in sub-Saharan Africa (Bain, Awah, Geraldine, Kindong, Siga, Bernard, & Tanjeko, 2013). Empirical research on food distribution has equally established that cases of people succumbing to starvation are higher in the months where the yields are lower. The struggles lead people to poor dieting habits that affect overall health. Bain (2013) claims that shifting weather conditions make it difficult addressing the daily challenges.

The limited food access due to weather interference on production contributes to contraction of nutrition-related concerns that includes constipation. According to Bain, et al. (2013), the challenges begin as difficulty to the limitation of the food supply. The consumers contend with eating an unbalanced diet that interferes with the overall health of the population. Extreme weather, especially heat accelerates the rate of spoilage for food items. It takes shorter time for food to spoil; thus, forcing people to consume foods immediately after harvest (Bain, 2013). Cases of contamination of corn products tend to increase and such pose a negative effect on the health of the population. The disruption on the infrastructure halts timely distribution of perishable to consumers in different parts of sub-Saharan Africa. In Kano plains in Nigeria, floods caused by challenge linked to climate change interfere with food distribution activities. At the beginning of the rainy seasons, the communities conceptualized the difficulty as normal only for the population to realize that the problem halts supply that later affects consumption negatively.

Labour migration

Climate change is also a contributing factor to labour migration in sub-Saharan Africa. In West Africa, the region witnessed an influx in the number of people seeking economic opportunities outside sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of the young sought to relocate to Europe in quest for economic opportunities, and such made climate changes a significant contributor to labour migration outside Africa. Kjellstrom, Kovats, Lloyd, Holt, & Tol (2009) listed the lack of economic opportunities compounded by harsh weather condition in Africa as some of the factors necessitating the movement of people to other regions. An exploration of the cause of harsh weather condition in Ivory Coast indicates that the concerns are worsening with the change in times and a climate change is a major contributor to the dynamics. The situation influenced Kjellstrom (2009) to conclude that a suitable approach to redressing changes in weather patterns demands an exploration of the causes of pollution and many others human causes that interfere with the outlook of the natural human ecosystem.

The demographics of the regions in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly East Africa, indicates that population comprising of Maasai and many herder communities prefer to relocate in areas where there is plenty supply of vegetation for animals. The nomadic communities have practiced the tradition for decades although the complexities of the presents is demanding a shift in practice, the effects of climate changes are still influencing the migratory patterns of the population living in East and West Africa.  Among the elite, it is common for people to relocate in areas where the environment is serene (Marchiori, Maystadt, & Schumacher, 2011). Those pursuing economic ventures like framing prefer localities where agricultural activities progress with ease unlike residences characterized by harsh climatic conditions. The influx of population in areas where the lands are arable is an indicator that masses in sub-Saharan Africa can relocate with the sole purpose of shifting ways from tough climate. The decision to pursue agricultural activities and many other economic expeditions supported by favourable weather conditions is also a cause of labor migration in sub-Saharan Africa. Marchiori Maystadt & Schumacher (2012) cites the case of a labourer ceasing duties in a region where the climatic patterns are interfering with economic ventures to an area where the same person can take part in economic expeditions as laborers.

In times of harsh climatic conditions, farmers shift alternative means of earning livelihood and such affirms that claim that the economic implications of climate change are dire. According to Marchiori, Maystadt, & Schumacher (2012), the population accustomed to agricultural undertakings may seek an alternative source of revenue and such contribute to labour migration since the individual will have to alter the choice of economic pursuits. If the trends persist, the entire region might witness a decline or influx in the population of people opting for a viable source of income or more to another region with a climate that favours the economic expedition of choice (Maccini & Yang, 2009). The case in Nigeria is an example of the effect of climate change on labour migration. The population in the area shifted due to drought that rendered working in farms less economically viable. As a result, the adults opted to relocate in urban areas to work as domestic causal labourers. Marchiori, et al describes the trend as a catastrophe of modern times.

Marchiori, et al (2011) investigation of the activities of the communities living in rural areas of Africa influenced the conclusion that a direct relation between change in climate and shift in labour exist.  The morale of people lowers if the weather is harsh. People tend to opt for alternative other than farming, even in regions where people are dependent on agriculture for livelihood. Those unable to cope with the situation relocate in masses and such affect demographics. Consequently, the risk of natural disasters escalating also leads to fears residing in certain environment. The scholars experienced in exploring labour dynamics across West Africa pointed out the case of migration of young males to Europe and the Middle East in times of crises accentuated by harsh weather as an affirmation of the relation. The research recommended state involvement in the affairs of the public to enhance sensitization on the negative effects of immigration.

In conclusion, the turn of 21st century has witnessed a sudden shift in weather patterns due to climate changes. Researchers engaged in the exploration on the role of climate on sub-Saharan Africa attribute the trends to human activities that have escalated global warming. Although contention exists on the exact cause of the dynamics that interfere with overall weather patterns, thus affecting the live hood of population, empirical investigation indicates that human activities are contributing to climate change. The shift, in turn, is affecting agriculture, public health, and migration patterns in sub-Saharan Africa. As noted, the stakeholders in the agricultural sector are altering strategies for increasing output to avert the negative economic impact due to climate changes. The observation of the trends in parts of the region indicates that farmers are succeeding in formulating strategies to combat climate change. The same applies to advances in the care sector, where professionals are devising ways of dealing with the adverse effects of climate change on public health. However, unlike in the care sector, the farming community has to contend with some of the unforeseen consequences of climate change


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