Ecowas Bank joins the climate war

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By Emmanuel Mayah

Adversities caused by climate change in regions across West Africa appear to pose worrisome challenges to everyone, so much so that the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) Bank has opted to join the fray. With shifting weather patterns threatening food production and rising sea levels pushing up the risk of catastrophic flooding, EBID (ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development) has seen it as its business to develop projects that combat climate change and promote green economy.

When severe flooding hit Cotonou, Benin’s capital, early in the year, it left a lot of devastation in its wake. Over a quarter of the country went under water, 680,000 people were affected by the food just as 200,000 victims were displaced without shelter. If those were not enough, the fury of the flood collapsed 55,000 houses, destroyed 128,000 hectares of crops and left 81,000 livestock dead. $46 Million was needed for aid.

On two occasions this year alone, flooding created an emergency that paralysed business and commercial activities in Lagos, Nigeria. Schools were closed as parts of the city submerged and hundreds of thousands of residents swam to refugee camps. The sea surge caused by global warming has cost the Lagos government over $2.3 billon to fight. Elsewhere in West Africa, the human and economic costs of climate change disasters have remain colossal.

EBID supports countries in making sound policy, technology and investment choices that lead to greenhouse gas emission reduction. In Sierra Leone, the bank funded solar street light project that has improved access to energy, traffic safety, night-life and urban economic activities. In Lome, Togo, EFID fully supported the first African Forestry Carbon Market launched in September 2009. The project promoted community-based forest management as a climate adaptation strategy.

The ECOWAS Bank is driven by the understanding that climate change is a serious risk to poverty reduction and could undo decades of development efforts made in West Africa. In combating climate change, the bank targets the poor who, on account of high dependency on natural resources like forests, rivers and lands, are the most severely hit by the negative impacts of climate change. Restoring and maintaining key ecosystems can help communities in their adaptation efforts as well as support livelihoods that depend upon these ecosystems.



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