An influential scientist has warned that climate change could devastate Africa, predicting an increase in catastrophic food shortages. Professor Sir Gordon Conway, the outgoing chief scientist at the UK's Department for International Development, and former head of the philanthropic Rockefeller Foundation, has argued in a new scientific paper that the continent is already warming faster than the global average and that people living there can expect more intense droughts, floods and storm surges. There will be less drinking water, diseases such as malaria will spread and the poorest will be hit the hardest as farmland is damaged in the coming century, according to the paper. Conway predicts hunger on the continent could increase dramatically in the short term as droughts and desertification increase, and climate change affects water supplies. Projected reductions in crop yields could be as much as 50% by 2020 and 90% by 2100, according to the paper. Sir Gordon called for more research into climate change. "There is much that we do not know. The Sahel may get wetter or remain dry. The flow of the Nile may be greater or less. We do not know if the fall in agricultural production will be very large or relatively small. The best assumption is that many regions of Africa will suffer more droughts and floods with greater intensity and frequency. We have to plan for the certainty that more extreme events will occur in the future but with uncertain regularity."