Editor’s Note: March 15, 2019

What does $47bn do for climate change in Africa?

The World Bank and African Development Bank on Thursdaypledged to commit $47bn between 2020-2025 to help African countries tackle the impact of climate change. The announcement was made at a high profile conference in Nairobi, Kenya.

The figure sounds impressive, but there is little to get excited about.

Assuming the money is delivered – pledges have a habit of falling short of expectations – it breaks down into $9.4bn a year, well below the estimated $20-$30bn Africa needs annually for adaptation and mitigation. 

This is based on 2012 figures – more recent estimates are not available – so the number could already be higher.

On a more granular level it equates to $174m per country. To put this into perspective, the World Bank estimates that in 2017 flooding and erosion, which are getting worse due to climate change, cost Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Togo $3.8bn – or $950m per country.

These numbers are the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

According to the 2018 Climate Vulnerability Index 79 of Africa’s fastest growing cities – accounting for 48% of the continent’s GDP – are at “extreme risk” from climate change.

The optimist will argue that $47bn is better than nothing, and can be leveraged for wider impact. Maybe, but it’s hard to see this making much of a difference.

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