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Investing in Africa’s Environment 

The World Bank says the climate change fight demands a focus on long-neglected structural challenges that are worsening the impact of natural disasters in Africa and other developing countries. “Some of those structural challenges span from years of environmental degradation,’’ said Anna Bjerde, the bank’s Managing Director for Operations after seeing villages devastated by Cyclone Freddy in Malawi in February and March. According to the United Nations, changing rainfall patterns and more extreme weather threaten Africans’ food, water and socio-economic development and more needs to be done to help the continent cope better. Bjerde, back in the region for the first time since taking up the operations role last month, says she was enthused by the energy of the Malawian people and the government’s response in helping rebuild communities. But countries like Malawi will need more help from the World Bank and other development institutions to help build climate resistant economies by improving their infrastructure, Bjerde said. The bank has a twin approach to this, she said, outlining short-term measures such as providing extra resources to governments, and identifying long-term priority projects to build inclusive economies. “The broader development community’s role is to continue to support with technical solutions, with financing, with building capacity and perhaps most importantly making sure that these solutions are really inclusive.’’