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02 December 2011

Climate change in Coastal East Africa

The eastern coast of Africa forms a rich mosaic of coral reefs, mangroves, lowland forests and savanna woodlands, and hosts more than 11,000 species of marine life.
But climate change is already taking a toll on these plants and animals. In Tanzania, lakes, home to hundreds of birds and other wildlife, alternate between drying up and flooding.
Animals like giraffes also lose food when flooding kills the trees on which they depend. Along the beaches of Mozambique, sea turtles face loss of nesting sites from rising sea levels and erosion.
Countries like Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique have been suffering from unpredictable rainfall with frequent drought, along with intense rains and flooding. Coastal storms bring stronger winds creating greater wave damage along shorelines.
Weather extremes also severely threaten the region’s traditional livelihoods of farming and fishing. In rural areas, people have lost crops and livestock and face hunger and outbreaks of malaria. Climate change is expected to make this and other problems even worse.
Climate change threats to Coastal East Africa:
  • Coral reefs- warmer seawaters lead to die-offs from bleaching, and affect the incredible diversity associated with coral reefs.
  • Sea turtles-coastal erosion threatens the nesting beaches of endangered green turtles and the four other turtle species that live here.
  • Mangrove forests- they support hippos, monkeys, otters, dugongs (sea cows), young reef fish and threatened shorebirds, and are already being battered from increased storm surges, and vulnerable to future sea level rise.