PD1.2 Mapping Climate Change and Security in Africa

Tuesday, 25 January 2011: 9:00 AM
305 (Washington State Convention Center)
Joshua Busby, Univ. of Texas, Austin, TX

Of all the regions of the world, Africa may be the continent most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, given both its physical exposure and low adaptive capacity. The challenges are not uniformly distributed across Africa, with different regions exhibiting susceptibility to different types of problems. The security consequences of climate change include but are not limited to violent conflict. Given Africa's challenges of preparing for climate hazards, the effects of droughts, storms, floods and other extreme events will often surpass the relief and response capabilities of local and national governments. In many cases, militaries, both foreign and international, are and will increasingly be tapped to provide assistance in the aftermath of these events. Researchers from the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law's program on Climate Change and African Political Stability located a confluence of vulnerabilities in Africa through the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and multi-layered mapping. The study identified four main processes that encompass different aspects of vulnerability: (1) historic physical exposure to climate hazards, (2) population density (3) household and community resilience, and (3) governance and political violence. Each of these areas of vulnerability was given equal weight in the final vulnerability analysis. Within three of the four areas, a number of different indicators were identified that contribute to that dimension of vulnerability. Indicators within each area were assigned equal weight unless there were missing data for an indicator. A composite vulnerability map shows a number of interesting patterns. Areas with the greatest vulnerability are parts of Madagascar, coastal West Africa, coastal Nigeria, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Areas of the continent that are physically vulnerable to climate hazards like North African countries along the Mediterranean and parts of southern Africa appear less vulnerable when we incorporate community and household resilience and governance. Other areas, such as Niger, Somalia, and Sudan appear more vulnerable when we bring in those dimensions. Given widespread disagreement among climate scientists about the effects of climate change on Africa, this project initially relied on historic data of exposure to climate hazards including droughts, wildfires, floods, and cyclones. This iteration of the research presents the preliminary results of cooperation with climate scientists Kerry Cook and Ned Vizy of the University of Texas which is based on a regional model of mid 21st century climate outcomes for Africa.
- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner