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Dying to adapt: A comparison of African healthcare spending and climate adaptation costs

The cost of climate adaptation in countries across Sub-Saharan Africa could be up to five times the amount they spend on healthcare

2022 Available in English

An Ethiopian cattle farmer

Cattle farmer in Asbehari village in Afar, Ethiopia Photo: Chris Hoskins/Tearfund

African countries need to spend money they don’t have to adapt to a crisis they did not create – and it is likely to come at the cost of crucial public services. Our analysis of Sub-Saharan African countries’ national climate plans and national adaptation plans suggests they could face climate adaptation costs that are up to five times higher than their national spend on healthcare.

The climate crisis is a global challenge – but its impacts are disproportionately felt by people living in poverty in low-income countries. It is a huge injustice that the impacts, and the costs, of the crisis are being borne by communities that have the fewest resources to respond to it – and who did the least to cause it. 

Action is needed urgently to ensure that climate-vulnerable countries are able to protect themselves. In the meantime, innovative climate solutions are being developed by communities most affected by climate change – but in many cases the full impact of these solutions is being held back by lack of finance.

It is therefore important that:

  • the promised $100 billion climate finance is delivered annually in full, with 50 per cent allocated for adaptation
  • finance reaches local communities most impacted by climate change
‘The Tearfund report is a timely wake-up call for "developed countries" to scale up adaptation financing into Africa. The stark findings from the report come at a time when African countries are under pressure to adapt to climate change at the expense of their health budgets. The report reminds us that the world is in urgent need to deliver on its promise to finance climate adaptation in Africa. The time to act is now.’
Ambassador Seyni Nafo, Coordinator of Africa Adaptation Initiative

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