Minimizing Vulnerabilities of Coastal Cities in Africa through Adaptation to Climate Change Impacts

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014: 11:30 AM
Room C211 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Jimmy O. Adegoke, University of Missouri, Kansas City, MO; and C. Ibe

Among the paradoxes of Climate Change is the fact that the areas of the globe which contribute the least to anthropogenic forcing will be the hardest hit. This is more true for Africa and in particular its coastal areas. Due to the history of early European contact with the continent, the vast majority of populations and socio-economic infrastructure are located in major cities which have developed along the coast. The majority of capital cities in Africa which are also vast agglomerations of populations are found on the coast. All indications are that future population growth and advancement in socio-economic infrastructure in Africa will continue to be concentrated along the coastline. The cities of Lagos, Nigeria, Cape Town South Africa and Port Said in the eastern Nile Delta Basin of Egypt typify the physiographic setting of the vast majority of coastal cities in Africa-low lying sandy beaches open to the ocean with high wave intensity. Behind the beaches that constitute an amenity for the increasingly substantial tourism industry in these countries are an intricate network of tidal inlets, lagoons, estuaries, coastal wetlands that form the productive base of ecosystem goods and services upon which the economic prosperity and livelihoods of coastal communities depend. These “backwaters” and associated wetlands are also depositories of globally significant biodiversity and habitats for migratory wading birds. The threats to coastal cities in Africa from Climate Change include health effects from rising temperatures, failure of agricultural produce due to erratic rainfall patterns, potable water scarcity related to salinization of surface and underground waters in addition to extreme droughts, accelerated coastal erosion, increased frequency and intensity of storm events and concomitant storm surges, accentuated flooding and depletion of natural resources, and devastation of the livelihoods of coastal populations, etc. We outline key aspects of a major multi-country project that includes site specific studies of the vulnerability of Lagos (Nigeria), Cape town (South Africa) and Port Said (Egypt) to Climate Change impacts using risk analysis procedures, climate model projections and applying an economic hierarchy to test and develop enduring technological and policy models for planning adaptation against the actual and anticipated impacts of Climate Change on coastal cities and communities across the continent of Africa. The project aims to increase the knowledge, planning and adaptation capacities of coastal communities and prioritizing and implementing adaptation skills of city and community stakeholders.