African people and the environment have always battled the vagaries of weather and climate (see Section 9.2.1). These struggles, however, are increasingly waged alongside a range of other stresses, such as HIV/AIDS, conflict and land struggles (see Section 9.2.2). Despite good economic growth in some countries and sectors in Africa (OECD, 2004/2005), large inequalities still persist, and some sources suggest that hopes of reaching the MDGs by 2015 are slipping (UNDP, 2005). While climate change may not have featured directly in the setting of the MDGs, it is clear from the evidence presented here that climate change and variability may be an additional impediment to achieving them (Table 9.3; Thornton et al., 2006).
Although future climate change seems to be marginally important when compared to other development issues (Davidson et al., 2003), it is clear that climate change and variability, and associated increased disaster risks, will seriously hamper future development. On an annual basis, for example, developing countries have already absorbed US$35 billion in direct losses from natural disasters (Mirza, 2003). However, these figures do not include livelihood assets and losses and overall emotional and other stresses that are often more difficult to assess. A challenge, therefore, is to shape and manage development that also builds resilience to shocks, including those related to climate change and variability (Davidson et al., 2003; Adger et al., 2004).
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