• Thursday, November 30, 2023
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Climate challenge: IMF steps up support to fragile states

Climate challenge: IMF steps up support to fragile states

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday said it was stepping up support for fragile and conflict-affected states (FCS) in dealing with climate challenges through carefully tailored policy advice, financing, and capacity development.

FCS countries include Somalia, Yemen, South Sudan, DR Congo, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Central African Republic, Chad, Haiti and Ethiopia, among others.

In a new blog on Wednesday, titled ‘Africa’s Fragile States Are Greatest Climate Change Casualties’, the IMF said FCS already face higher temperatures than other countries and will be more exposed to extreme heat and weather events going forward.

“Climate change poses grave threats to countries across Africa—but especially fragile and conflict-affected states. As the continent’s leaders converge on Kenya for next week’s African Climate Action Summit, it is vital that they come up with solutions to support these vulnerable countries,” said Jihad Azour and Abebe Aemro Selassie, all from IMF.

Read also: Nigeria extends $3.4bn IMF loan repayment deadline to 2027

From the Central African Republic to Somalia and Sudan, fragile states suffer more from floods, droughts, storms and other climate-related shocks than other countries, when they have contributed the least to climate change. Each year, three times more people are affected by natural disasters in fragile states than in other countries. Disasters in fragile states displace more than twice the share of the population in other countries.

Across sub-Saharan Africa, 30 percent of countries are considered to be conflict-affected and a recent study estimated that annual growth was 2.5 percentage points lower than for countries at peace. These trends typically delay or impede crucial investments in transport, electricity, and digital connectivity that regional integration efforts could unleash, such as through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

According to the IMF, Sub-Saharan Africa, home to about half of countries in the FCS category, has been hit particularly hard. Consumer prices have increased by more than 20 percent on average December 2022, while public debt is approaching 60 percent of gross domestic product—a level not seen since the early 2000s.

Read also: Nigeria needs more policy tightening to stabilise naira IMF

“We forecast that economic growth in seven countries—Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Comoros, Eritrea, Mali, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe—will be below the regional average of 3.6 percent this year. In addition, 123 million people, or 12 percent of the region’s population, face acute food insecurity, equivalent to two-thirds of the worldwide total,” it said.

By 2040, the IMF said fragile states could face 61 days a year of temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius on average—four times more than other countries. Extreme heat, along with the more frequent extreme weather events that come with it, will endanger human health and hurt productivity and jobs in key sectors such as agriculture and construction.