1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Witnesses describe climate change in Africa

December 7, 2023

Our planet is heating, up and many people are experiencing the impacts of the climate crisis. DW asked people in Africa how the climate has changed and altered their lives.

A man wades through a flood street
A man wades through flood waters following heavy rains in Mogadishu, Somalia. Africans say they are seeing more extreme weather on the continent Image: Feisal Omar/REUTERS

The climate is changing. Temperatures have risen an average of 1.2 degrees Celsius over the preindustrial age — due in most part to the burning of fossil fuels that release planet-heating greenhouse gases. 

How is the resulting climate change making itself felt in everyday life? And what has changed compared with the past?

DW spoke to people across Africa, one of the most climate-vulnerable regions in the world, to understand the impacts that climate change is having on them.

Somalia: Mumino Roble was displaced due to climate change

The area we lived in was prosperous. During the dry season, we were at the farms and during the rainy season we moved the animals to an area called Bula Falay. And when we came to the farm animals, the cows used to feed on the crop residue or plants during dry seasons. It used to be prosperous. It was not like now.

Now there is no farm to plow, and the river is dry. There is no rain so people have nothing to do. We lived with the wild animals. There were the elephants, the antelope, the dik-dik (a kind of antelope) and other wildlife. The wild animals used to graze with the domestic animals. The land has changed.

There was nothing to eat, so wild animals moved and left. Desertification took place. The land is not suitable to live on. Wild animals migrated and left to save their lives. There is no rain because of climate change and country change. We fled because there was nowhere to settle.

We lost the river when it dried. We miss the rain. We are the cause of all this. We brought the problem with our own hands. Humans are the cause.

a woman wearing a red cloak holds up her hands as she speaks
Mumino Roble, who is now displaced, describes the climate change that led her to flee her home Image: DW

South Africa: Nancy recalls how the weather has become more extreme

At times in summer, we just get very heavy rains, which is unusual. When we were growing up, we didn't have that kind of rain. We had normal rains. Now I don't know what's going on, the weather has now automatically just changed.

We were never where we are now. [After the rain], there would be birds which we used to see. Lot of big white big birds. Now we don't see them. You don't know why, they are just gone.

An elderly woman wearing mostly black and a grey hat hold up her hand
Nancy says her region of South Africa used to get "normal" rains Image: DW

There's too much rain now, too much rain. So I am told this is climate change. And that's what they tell us. They say this is climate change because you can see the difference in the heat. The summers have become extremely hot, very, very hot, and now the winter has also become very severe.

Somalia: Abdulkadir Moallim Alo, 62, remembers when rain was plentiful

If I glance back at my childhood and how the environment used to be and how the environment is today, in my childhood there was rain while we were in classes.

After two weeks, the whole environment was green, with flowers, fragrance and beauty. It used to be like that every year. After we had grown crops, we could see the beautiful environment.

A person wearing glasses and a zeloow and white striped shirt sits on a bench and holds up his hands
Abdulkadir Moallim Alo is a teacher working with refugees in SomaliaImage: DW

Then we see that the situation has totally changed. There was a shortage of rain and it did not rain regularly and also the river became dry and all our crops died because of the shortage of water.

Rain is not as it used to be, rain has become intermittent drizzle. So we, the people of the area, the teachers, we experienced a big burden. I think the burden was brought by climate change.

Nigeria: Ibrahim Gwamna Msheliza, 71 describes a fast-changing landscape

I grew up in a place within the Savanna region of the state. When I was a young man, we had a lot of trees, we had rivers. And we had a lot of game, meaning wild animals around.

But now over time, it has changed. The thick trees we had when I was young are no more there. 

A man wearing a cloth hat and beige clothing stands on sandy ground
Ibrahim Gwamna Msheliza is a journalist in Nigeria who has witnessed climate change over decadesImage: DW

Human activity in the sense that a lot of trees have been cut down, people use them for firewood and people are no more planting trees as used to be the practice when we were young.

Another thing is that when we were young, we had a lot of game. Wild animals were coming. Today you can hardly find species of those animals that we enjoyed watching when we were young.

Edited by: Tamsin Walker

The interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Portrait of a woman (Jeannette Cwienk) with blonde hair and wearing a scarf and gray blazer
Jeannette Cwienk Writer and editor with a focus on climate and environmental issues