Interview: “Distribution Of Rainfall Has Changed”
Prof. Louis Zapfack, Ecology and Systematic Climate Change Specialist, (Carbon Stock evaluation), University of Yaounde I, explains the sparing rains in Yaounde and the rest of the country.
The city of Yaounde has experienced lots of rains in the past two days. But the quantity of rainfall in Yaounde was supposed to have been much bigger than what is seen now. What explains the change?
It is very difficult, if not impossible these days to forecast what the weather will be like at a certain time in a particular place. Yet, all travellers would like to know in advance the climate conditions in order to organise their trips. Average temperatures or rainfall can help to have a good idea of weather. Due to climate change, we are currently experiencing a season of disruption in rainfall in the city of Yaounde. Rainfall is no longer predictable.Yaounde, just like other parts of the country and the world, is witnessing disruption of rainfall.
The average precipitation remains the same, but the distribution of rainfall has changed completely. We are witnessing torrential rains that cause flooding in the city and a decrease in the number of rainy days. This is the reason for the extension of the short dry season that normally lasts a month. This explains why the Head of State created the National Observatory on Climate Change (ONACC) to monitor rainfall and inform farmers of each agro-ecological zone when to plant and when not.
What is the possible impact of such a change?
Disruptions in rainfall have short and long term consequences. The diversity of flora and fauna will be affected, with crop pests increasing. On the other hand, certain species will disappear. The impact of the disruption in rainfall on the population in the short term is that they are obliged to plant at least twice. The first seeds dry off because of persistent drought (after an initial misleading rain). In the long term, if the seed varieties are not improved, this may result in huge losses and famine if nothing is done. The use of high-yielding seeds, especially those that mature within shorter periods, should be promoted.
How can people adapt to such a change?
The authorities should exploit current research on adaptation to climate change. The population should also be informed on any research findings on climate change. The guidelines proposed by ONACC and related ministries should be implemented by all targeted populations.