Africa is more vulnerable than any other region to the world's changing weather patterns – this is according to Richard Washington, a professor of climate science at the School of Geography and the Environment at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.
Washington alluded to this in a report he released recently. He says the African continent will be hardest hit by climate change because African society is very closely coupled with the climate system citing that hundreds of millions of people depend on rainfall to grow their food. Second to Washington’s observations is that the African climate system is controlled by an extremely complex mix of large-scale weather systems, many from distant parts of the planet. “In comparison with almost all other inhabited regions, it is vastly understudied, therefore capable of all sorts of surprises,” he said.
Thirdly the Oxford academic gaffer observed that the degree of expected climate change is large. “The two most extensive land-based end-of-century projected decreases in rainfall anywhere on the planet occur over Africa; one over North Africa and the other over southern Africa” writes Washington
Furthermore the UK based researcher says in Africa the capacity for adaptation to climate change is low; saying poverty equates to reduced choice at the individual level while governance generally fails to priorities and act on climate change “African climate is replete with complexity and marvels. The Sahara is the world's largest desert with the deepest layer of intense heating anywhere on Earth, this is proving to be a challenge in the future,” he said.
The analysis by Washington also underscored that June and July , the most extensive and most intense dust storms found anywhere on the planet fill the air with fine particles that interfere with climate in ways Africa quite don't quite understand. On Africa’s monsoon altering patterns Professor Washington said the Saharan desert region is almost completely devoid of weather measurements yet it is a key driver of the West African monsoon system, which brings three months of rain that interrupts the nine-month long dry season across the Sahel region, south of the desert.
For the decades following the 1960s and peaking in 1984, there was a downturn of rainfall of some 30% across the Sahel, which led to famine and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and the displacement of many millions. No other region has documented such a long and spatially extensive drought.
Evidence points to Western industrial aerosol pollution, which cooled parts of the global ocean, thereby altering the monsoon system, as a cause. The currently observed recovery of the rains is projected to continue through the 21st Century, particularly over the central and eastern Sahel.“But that change seems to depend on exactly where future heating in the central Sahara peaks, emphasizing cruelly the region we least understands,” observed Washington.
In Southern Africa Richard Washington says delay in the onset and a drying of early summer rains, is predicted to worsen in forthcoming decades. “Temperatures there are predicted to rise by five degrees or more, particularly in the parts of Namibia, Botswana and Zambia that are already intolerably hot,” he said. Meanwhile over Kenya and Tanzania the UK based Climate science expert says the long rains from March to May start later and end sooner – leading to an overall decrease in rainfall.
According to Richard Washington this observed change sits uncomfortably next to predictions of a wetter future in the same season – problem scientists have termed the East African Climate Paradox. For Central Africa, one of three regions on the planet where thunderstorms drive the rest of the planets tropical and sub-tropical weather systems, lives perilously close to the rainfall minimum needed to support the world's second largest rainforest system.
The Expert says even a little less rainfall in the future could endanger the forest and its massive carbon store. “We know remarkably little about that climate system – it is scarcely even monitored – there are more reporting rain gauges in the UK county of Oxfordshire than the entire Congo Basin,” he said.
Africa's complex climate system is, unusually, influenced by all three global ocean basins. Emerging from one of those rapidly warming oceans, tropical cyclones Idai and Kenneth in March and April 2019 destroyed parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, with Kenneth following a particularly unusual path over Tanzania.
On a positive note Richard Washington says however on the scientific front there is hope. “In collaborative efforts we are working intensely hard to improve climate prediction. Projections of climate change depends on climate models of which there are dozens, each as complicated to understand as the real world,” he said.
He explained that through efforts such as the ongoing Future Climate for Africa (FCFA), a programme funded by the UK's Department for International Development and Natural Environment Research Council, the experience and insights of African climate scientists have led to a discernible jump in scientist’s ability to understand and model African climate.
Washington further explained that each region and sub-region of Africa is changing differently but an emerging commonality is a shift towards more intense rainfall – even where there is observed and projected future drying. “The rainfall arrives in shorter bursts, causing more runoff and longer dry-spells in between. New models, developed as part of FCFA, are now run at extremely high resolution with grid spacing of around 4km (2.5 miles) for the entire continent” he said.
Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.
Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”
Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”
The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.
“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.
Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.
Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.
Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.
Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”
In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”
Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.
“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.
Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.
Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.
He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”
Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.
“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.
One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.
A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.
Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.
A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.”
Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.