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Climate change, health, and sustainable development in Africa


This paper critically examines the effects of climate change on the African continent and suggests ways in which the negative effects of climate change can be effectively combatted to ensure sustainable development. Although responsible for a small share of global climate change, Africa is the most vulnerable region of the world to climate change, which destroys the people’s source of food, medication, shelter, and income, leading to poor nutrition and exposure to infectious diseases, more hospitalizations, less working hours, and heavy financial losses. Apart from global environmental deterioration, Africa is one of the regions of the world experiencing the severest droughts and water scarcity. The impact of all this on Africa’s already fragile socio-economic and political structures is grave. Climate change threatens the political stability of the continent. In this paper we argue that the effects of climate change on the continent have been amplified by human choices and political ineptitude of the ruling elites in Africa. We maintain that good governance, the promotion of African traditional values that encourage the protection of the environment, paying attention to rural development and the emancipation of women economically and politically, and investing in alternative and renewable energy are the necessary pre-conditions for effectively mitigating the effects of climate change and ensuring sustainable development in Africa.

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We thank Dr. Steven Driever of the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Department of Geosciences for his helpful suggestions.

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Correspondence to Richard Achia Mbih.

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Tosam, M.J., Mbih, R.A. Climate change, health, and sustainable development in Africa. Environ Dev Sustain 17, 787–800 (2015).

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  • Climate change
  • Health
  • Sustainable development
  • Good governance
  • Environmental health