Climate change threatens African coastal cities

As global climate change becomes an increasing reality, a study has warned that African coastal cities are particularly vulnerable, especially to flooding. Global flood damage could cost up to $1 trillion per year for coastal cities; developing countries will bear the worst of the cost. The most vulnerable African cities include Abidjan, Algiers and Alexandria. 

SciDev.Net reports: “According to the paper published in Nature Climate Change, a “risk sensitive planning” strategy is needed to protect coastal cities, which are increasingly at risk because of climate change, subsidence and a growing population.

The researchers looked at the 136 largest coastal cities in the world and found that cities in developing countries are particularly vulnerable to flood losses as they often lack resources for long term planning.

“No city is doomed, but we have to expect huge disasters in the future. And better international coordination to provide support for the affected countries is really important,” says Stephane Hallegatte, senior economist at the Sustainable Development Network of the World Bank and lead author of the study.

“For each city we assessed the total cost of potential damages,” says Hallegatte. “But we also looked at the relative losses, comparing the absolute cost to the city’s gross domestic product, to give an idea of the actual vulnerability of each city.”

The paper makes three policy recommendations, including the need for further adaptation – which could cost on average US$350 million a year per city – and the need to prepare for larger floods and disasters by, for example, strengthening early warning systems and comprehensive insurance schemes for post-disaster recovery.

But adaptation may be a difficult challenge for developing countries because of their environmental, social and economic conditions.”

For the full story visit AllAfrica.

Image via Wikimedia Commons user nomo


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