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Both the changing realities of climate in Africa today and modelling of future outcomes show the continent is one of the regions of the world that is most vulnerable to climate risk. Millions of Africans have been substantially impacted by natural disasters, which are set to increase in severity and frequency. African food systems are particularly vulnerable to climate extremes and shifts in weather patterns.

The largest climate and development network that IDRC supports in Africa, the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), is mobilizing to face the climate challenges of today and tomorrow. It’s sharing knowledge, building capacity and rallying Southern leaders to improve the wellbeing of the people most affected by climate change.

Among the inspiring and devoted trailblazers working to advance climate action is Margaret Angula. She’s the Namibia country lead for CDKN and a senior lecturer and researcher at the University of Namibia. For the last 10 years, Angula has been at the forefront of climate change adaptation action-research in her Southern African country.

Through her IDRC-funded research, she made great strides in bringing climate change concerns to the mainstream in her community, to fellow researchers at her university, to regional and national governments, and internationally.

Her team helped bring to the attention of her community, her nation and the world  ̶  through the UN Climate Change Conference, or COP – that even if the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming well below 2°C, ideally 1.5°C, was reached, Namibia would be severely impacted. For instance, the temperature rise and the increase in the number of dry days there would be greater than the global average. So, even a 1.5°C increase in global temperature will have grave local impacts, negatively affecting the water supply, agriculture, health and other vulnerable sectors. Therefore, there is an urgent need to accelerate Namibia’s adaptation responses.  

Two women sit in chairs on a stage, one holds a microphone.

To this end, Angula’s team learned how to be the most effective at influencing the integration of climate responses within various national and regional government department portfolios. This involved training government officials on the impacts of climate change and on why it’s within their mandates to take appropriate and urgent action.

Her team was also instrumental in strengthening institutional coordination between national and regional governments to ensure that rural development projects are climate resilient and gender responsive.

Angula has also been involved in informing Namibians about the risks of climate change so that they can be compelled to mobilize for action. Her team developed ingenious educational programming for dissemination to parliamentarians and to the population through the media. Her team also spearheaded influential multi-stakeholder risk-assessment and transformative-planning workshops.

A group of workshop participants sit around a table.

She found that, for communities and nations to adapt to climate change, “continuous awareness raising is necessary to gain sufficient traction at multiple levels, as well as to pave the way for action.”

For instance, at one of the planning workshops that her project team led, stakeholders determined that water harvesting and the creation of small dams could aid in addressing water scarcity. To reach this goal, the community will need to access more funding.

Now, Angula is tasked to lead the establishment of a new climate change unit at the University of Namibia. She hopes to inspire the next generation of young Namibians to take action on climate change. She also wants to maintain the momentum for better coordination of interdisciplinary climate action research across the university’s campuses. This will help institutionalize the coordination of more targeted solutions to the climate crisis in her country. 

Top image: Graeme Williams/Panos Pictures