Background Paper - The ARCC West Africa Regional Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment
Sandra Baptista, Leif Brottem, Alex de Sherbinin, et al.
This technical assessment in West Africa summarizes the social-ecological dynamics of three major ecological regions - the Sahelian, coastal, and tropical inland zones. It’s important to not only understand the differences between the zones, but also the transition zones between each. In West Africa, the annual rainfall amounts decline when moving across the regions of the northern and southern coast, and the Sahara Desert.
Additionally, scientists have also discovered a decadal component of rainfall shifts that is related to variations in global sea surface temperatures. In the long-term, climate models agree on the increase in temperature from 2.5-3.5°C by the end of the twenty-first century, but the precipitation projections come up with strong disagreements. Because the region heavily relies on agriculture for livelihoods and because of uncertainties in rainfall scenarios, the regions’ governments and donors are preparing to “adopt effective risk management approaches that involve developing a robust and flexible portfolio of actions”. These context-specific climate change portfolios should respond to community needs and vulnerabilities, and empower populations to develop, modify, and control their own approaches to be resilient in their adaptation strategies. The Sahel region will require particular attention for several reasons; for example, the area is predicted to increase in temperature more than the region’s coasts, and it already faces significant water shortage challenges.
Excerpt from the report:
In addition to embracing a climate risk management approach, climate change adaptation efforts in West Africa should seek to:
- Enhance climate-related technical, management, institutional, and governance capacity, including improving information and monitoring systems;
- Question existing paradigms and support flexibility in ways that advance sustainable and resilient development and encourage new response patterns;
- Address the underlying causes of climate vulnerability, including the structural inequalities that create and sustain poverty and constrain access to resources and markets; and
- Apply focused approaches that address specific priority contexts at multiple spatial and organizational scales including key transboundary issues (e.g., river basin management) in addition to promising economic activities and resource management options targeting ecological transition zones connecting Sahelian, coastal, and tropical inland areas.
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