Addressing climate change could be key to African peace, leader says
Tackling climate change in Africa could help resolve multiple problems ravaging the continent, from drought to refugees and violence, the head of the African Union said on Friday.
The mix of global warming with economic woes and political conflicts keeps peace from taking hold, said Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Union's new chairman, at Chatham House, an international think tank.
"There is a link between climate change and prosperity, as well as peace, on the continent," Mahamat said in French with an interpreter.
"Africa is among the least polluting continents, and yet it is the continent that suffers most," he said.
Mahamat, the former foreign minister of Chad, was chosen to chair the 55-member, Addis Ababa-based organization in January.
In Africa's arid Sahel region, south of the Sahara, he said, drought and desertificaiton, along with a very young population prone to immigrate allow problems such as terrorism and trafficking to "thrive."
Yet Africa's huge youth population could provide a "demographic dividend" benefiting the region, so long as young people could be encouraged not to leave, he said.
About 12 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are at risk of hunger due to recurring droughts, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says.
Eastern and southern Africa were particularly hard hit in 2016 by the El Nino weather pattern that brought catastrophic heavy rainfall, flash flooding and landslides.[L8N1HY57U]
"We want to solve the dilemma, the irony of the situation in the sense that we have a continent that is potentially rich and yet people are very poor," Mahamat said.
"Africa has not been able to create and realize the prosperity that it was looking for, and above all Africa is marginalized on the international field."
By Adela Suliman