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Climate adaptation costs could be five times higher than healthcare budgets in African nations

African countries could be forced to spend the equivalent of five times their healthcare budgets on climate adaptations, according to new analysis.

The report, by international relief and development agency Tearfund, analysed 11 sub-Sharan African countries with populations of 350 million, comparing climate adaptation plans against current healthcare budgets.

These included Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania and Sudan.

It found that predicted climate adaptation costs could far exceed their national spends on healthcare, even reaching $144bn or 8% of their GDP on average.

brown and black concrete floor

Elizabeth Myendo, Disaster Management Lead for Southern and East Africa at Tearfund, said: ‘The hunger crisis in East Africa has shown the terrible power of the climate emergency. Acute malnutrition and lack of clean water is putting intolerable strain on hospitals and clinics. Entire communities have been forced to leave their homes in search of food, leaving them more vulnerable to disease outbreaks and unable to access local health services.

‘It’s not surprising that health systems can’t cope with the effects of the worst drought in a generation. But the climate crisis will only worsen and governments will have to find the money somewhere to help people adapt. I fear that crucial services like healthcare will suffer unless rich countries deliver the climate finance they promised.’

These countries are among the nations set to spend the most on climate adaptation in the world, despite emitting 27 times less carbon per person than the global average.

Eritrea is expected to have the highest climate adaptation costs, the equivalent of 22.7% of current GDP, while current healthcare costs only account for 4.46% of GDP.

Madagascar is the set to have the second highest climate adaptation costs, reaching 14.7% of GDP, nearly four times its healthcare budget.

Low-income countries are currently receiving only a tenth of the international climate finance required to help them adapt.

Nations across the globe pledged to give $100bn of climate finance to developing countries as part of the Glasgow Climate Pact in 2020.

Severe droughts are leaving millions of African people on the brink of famine as a series of economic crises caused by the pandemic and rising energy and food costs also take hold.

Tearfund is calling on global governments to deliver promised financial support to help these nations cope with the financial burden of climate adaptation.

Photo by Mike Erskine

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