I am now at my Accra home after some travels in Africa. There is still a sanity and courtesy in the African countryside – even in drought affected Mali and Burkina Faso – that is refreshing to the soul after London. It is a linguistic irony that great cities are so uncivil.
There is no doubt that climate change is affecting West Africa, but not in any way which is easily predictable to the inhabitants, or anyone else. Weather patterns are undoubtedly more unsettled and more capricious, and the reliable seasonal rains and winds I knew apparently a thing of the past. Ghana saw a steady, apparently inexorable and accelerating thirty year decline in water inflow levels behind the Akosombo Dam, suddenly reversed by three years of massive rains reaching the north, which also brought bumper harvests in Mali and Burkina Faso. Then in the last year an extreme rain failure in those same regions.
The lack of food security to millions of marginal Sahelian inhabitants is a problem which has been little tackled despite decades of largely useless – or, I would argue, often counter-productive – international aid efforts. Emergency response is always marginal and does not kick in until a great many have already died. We are not yet there in northern West Africa, but we are in great hardship and economic ruination from which farmers will find it hard to recover, particularly with regards to loss of livestock.
I apologise for these undigested impressions, and will give some more considered problems once I have had a shower and sleep and thought a bit.