First published: 20080814
5:38:45 AM EST |
predicted that vast amounts of land in East Africa will be converted
from grasslands to ploughed fields over the next 40 years, as wetter
conditions caused by climate change attract crop farmers to grazing
Pius Yanda the director of the Institute of
Resource Assessment at Dar es Salaam University in Tanzania told
scidev.net that the transformation of natural ecosystems into
croplands will be the biggest contributor to global warming in East
Yanda took part in the Climate Land Interaction
Project (CLIP), a collaboration between Kenyan and US scientists,
which combined meteorology modelling with studies of land-use
changes and high-resolution satellite imagery to make the
forecasts), warns that some agricultural land will get drier while
arid land in the remote northeast gets wetter, causing dramatic
changes in land use.
According to the UN Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change, most climate models predict East Africa to
be the only tropical region in the world that will have a wetter
climate by the end of the century. Wetter and warmer conditions are
likely to cause a drop in existing agricultural
By 2050, nomadic cattle and goat grazers in the
Wajir region of northeast Kenya will be affected by increased
rainfall, which encourages scrub growth instead of existing grassy
Differences in soil moisture can alter the
type of grass grown, which will adversely affect livestock feed.
Furthermore, increased bush growth can encourage mosquitoes and
other vectors that spread diseases such as highland malaria,
sleeping sickness and Rift Valley fever.
This could lead to
displaced livestock and their keepers, concentrating them in areas
with less rainfall and plant growth. The resulting increased land
pressure could lead to soil degradation.
The process may
trigger land disputes over limited usable land as drought strikes
other semi-arid regions and pastoralists abandon some regions, says
Joseph Mworia Maitima, a CLIP researcher from the International
Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi.
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