News Release

Lacking scientific training and adequate infrastructure to cope with climate change, Africans are being abandoned to their fate

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Reichman University

Dr. Asaf Tzachor

image: Dr. Asaf Tzachor, academic director of the Aviram Sustainability and Climate Program at Reichman University view more 

Credit: Gilad Kavalerchik

In a new article published in the scientific journal Nature, Dr. Asaf Tzachor, academic director of the Aviram Sustainability and Climate Program at Reichman University, along with a team of researchers, has identified a significant deficiency in Africa’s ability to prepare for extreme weather events. The researchers warn of floods and droughts that could bring about catastrophic disasters for the population of the under-resourced African continent.


The absence of essential infrastructure across the continent and the scarcity of scientific, engineering, and technical training have left a billion Africans utterly forsaken in the face of the climate crisis. They find themselves without the means to take shelter or effectively manage their local agricultural farms. “The disparities between the price paid by Africans and that paid by residents of Europe and the United States, for example, are enormous, and it all comes down to access to basic resources and infrastructure,” laments Dr. Tzachor. “The international community must do more, but it has failed to accord this issue the priority it requires.”


Over the last year, an international research team comprising researchers from Israel, England, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Senegal analyzed about 8,000 meteorological and hydrological disasters (including cyclones, floods, mudslides, cold snaps, heat waves, and droughts). This comprehensive study spanned twenty years and analyzed over 500,000 deaths and 2.7 million cases of injury stemming from climate-related disasters worldwide. The team investigated the state of weather monitoring infrastructure, weather forecasting systems (including artificial intelligence-based systems), and tools for real-time response to climate emergencies. The researchers found profound disparities in casualty rates between Africa and other regions, as well as substantial deficiencies in both basic and advanced infrastructure.  

According to Dr. Tzachor, who led the team, the reason for these disparities lies in the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and respond in real time to climate disasters. “This ability is dependent on the presence of what are called three-tiered systems for managing hydro-climatic emergencies,” he elaborates.


To illustrate the stark contrast, in Europe there are 345 advanced radar systems for weather monitoring; in North America there are 291, in Asia 200, in Oceania and Australia 135, and in all of Africa, only 37. “The situation is intolerable,” said Dr. Tzachor in response to the team’s findings. “By 2050, it’s projected that approximately 50 million people will be living in Oceania and Australia, while Africa's population is expected to exceed 2 billion — a 40-fold difference, but with only 27 percent of the most basic infrastructure.”


Following the risk analysis, the research team proposed a series of technologies and financing mechanisms that could potentially alleviate the challenges faced by Africa's residents. Dr. Tzachor and his colleagues have already begun to implement their recommendations in several climate risk management task forces at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the Food and Agriculture Organization.


Dr. Asaf Tzachor, founder and academic director of the Aviram Sustainability and Climate Program at Reichman University: “One billion Africans are exposed to climate risks. The climate crisis is clear and immediate, yet Africa is being left alone to grapple with its fate. For every European who dies in a flash flood, about five Africans lose their lives. For every Asian who succumbs to the perils of drought, about fifty Africans meet the same fate. At this very moment, over five million children are chronically malnourished as a result of a massive drought. This is unacceptable, and yet the world sits idly by.”


In response to the climate and environmental crises around the world, Reichman University, in partnership with the Aviram Foundation, established the Aviram Sustainability and Climate Program. The program trains outstanding students from all disciplines to develop solutions and strategies for addressing the global environmental crisis, climate change, extreme weather events, food, water, and energy crises, and more.


In recent decades, global warming has led to changes in precipitation patterns, an increase in the amount and intensity of rainfall, and a greater frequency of extreme weather events around the world. But in Africa, the population faces a disproportionately higher degree of exposure and vulnerability to these climate-related disasters compared to populations in other regions.


Over the past two years, a devastating drought has swept across the Horn of Africa, an area encompassing Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, and South Sudan. This drought has had profound impacts on agricultural systems and regional food security, jeopardizing agricultural crops, leading to a decrease in yields, and exacting a heavy human toll. About 20 million adults and over five million children suffer from chronic malnutrition and hunger in this region. In addition to large-scale droughts, populations across Africa are also vulnerable to flash floods. The Somali flood of 1997 claimed the lives of approximately 2,000 people as they were engulfed by water and mud, and displaced about 250,000 individuals.

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