Climate Change and Water Resources in West Africa: Coastal Biophysical and Institutional Analysis
This technical report, as part of a series on the studies of climate change vulnerability and adaptation in West Africa, reviews the unanticipated pressures created by climate change on a country such as those in West Africa. Climate change exacerbates other existing stressors such as urbanization and resource scarcity, and long-term planning in the area is crucial to understand gaps in information and knowledge. Several social and biophysical coastal impacts are reviewed such as coastal erosion, wetlands (i.e., mangroves and deltas), and fisheries. The impact of climate change on crops in West Africa focuses on grains and cash crops of the Sahel. Additional data is needed to understand the crops’ responses to impacts, which are sporadic and country/region specific.
The study examines how coastal urban areas are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts, especially in the areas of infrastructure, which is of high value to the economy and livelihoods of the people in the area. Climate adaptation at a national level requires the following processes to take place, which are not often housed under the same roof: undertake assessments; prioritize impacts and options; develop and coordinate policy; implement policy and programs; and manage the information generated in an adaptive management cycle.
Excerpt from the report:
- This report identified four priority areas for engagement on coastal zone adaptation related to: urban centers; mangrove areas; climate information and services; and coastal fisheries.
- Priority research should focus on the implementation of urban vulnerability assessments and processes to integrate climate change into West African urban planning.
- Climate change and mangroves surrounding river deltas is an important area for research.
- Nearshore and marine fisheries are undoubtedly impacted by changing climate, and yet the climate impacts on particular species and ecosystems are poorly understood.
- Across each of these entry points, there is a need to support core capacities in academic research on coastal zones (including but not limited to climate change), as well as building the capacity of local- level extension agents and regional implementers to understand and respond to climate change.