The mayors attending the UN-hosted event noted that while Africa’s contribution to the greenhouse gases causing climate change is relatively low, the continent is paying a high price.

“Climate change did not start yesterday, and not in Africa,” said Adam Kimbisa, the mayor of Tanzania’s capital, Dar es Salaam.

“It started years ago, somewhere else.”

The mayors agreed that all countries must work together to tackle the problems posed by a changing climate and they should not be forced to take mitigation measures alone.

Island and Coastal cities are among the worst affected.

“In the Seychelles, our 116 islands are on the front line,” said Marie-Antoinette Alexis, the mayor of Seychelles capital Victoria.

“We can lose our beaches, our tourism, our land and our way of life, if something is not done quickly.”

Samba Faal, the mayor of Banjul, coastal capital of Gambia, pointed out that most of his city is below sea level and a one metre rise in water levels would see over half the populated area swamped.

Inland cities too are at risk.

Mahamat Zène Bada, mayor of Chad’s capital N’djamena which is flanked by two rivers, noted that changing weather and deforestation led to major flooding in 1999, 2001 and 2008.

While flooding poses a very real threat, at the other end of the scale is drought, with many mayors expressing fears over changing patterns in rainfall.

African cities are afflicted by many problems leavingmayors with an often-daunting task even without the threat of climate change, said Mr Kimbisa.

He said, “Our cities cannot cope with five to six percent population growth.

“We can’t cope in education, housing, health or water. Our cities are overwhelmed.”

David Gibbs

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