Climate change poses huge challenges to the global economy and to social development. Its impacts will disproportionately affect sub-Saharan African countries because their economies are highly dependent on climate-sensitive activities such as rain-fed agriculture.
It is predicted that changes in climate will lead to recurrent droughts and heavy rainfall in different parts of the earth, reducing the amount of land that can be used for agriculture and decreasing crop productivity.
The impacts of climate change on the environment could also reduce the income from the export of agricultural products. Frequent and extensive droughts have a considerable effect on the livestock because decreased rainfall shrinks available water resources and reduces the productivity of grassland and rangeland (Figure 11.4).
The main causes of livestock deaths in low-income countries are shortages of water and food during drought (IFAD, 2009; MacDonald and Simon, 2011). Increased temperatures can affect the behaviour and metabolism (internal body processes) of livestock, such as a reduced intake of food and a decline in productivity (IFAD, 2009; Thornton et al., 2009). Changes in rainfall and warmer temperatures may also increase the geographical distribution and survival of vectors like flies and mosquitoes that transmit infectious diseases to livestock (IFAD, 2009; Thornton et al., 2009).
Like drought, flood has a significant impact on livestock. Animals can be drowned or washed away by flood. Flood also covers large areas of grazing land with water, making it impossible for the animals to find food. In addition to affecting agriculture and livestock, floods can cause huge damage to property, livelihoods and infrastructure.