Climate Change and Water Resources in West Africa: Transboundary River Basins
This technical report, as part of a series on the studies of climate change vulnerability and adaptation in West Africa, reviews the impacts of climate change on transboundary river basins (TRBs) in comparison to other stressors. The report also assesses the adaptive capacity of Transboundary River Basin Management Institutions (TRBMIs) in West Africa. West Africa contains 22 major TRBs, and five transboundary river basin authorities; all countries except Cape Verde share at least one river with another country.
This desk study shows that by 2030-2050, changes in temperature and precipitation due to climate change will have variable impacts on surface water levels in some areas of the region. The Sahel water resources will be the most vulnerable in the region because of higher temperatures and lower rainfall. With the inclusion of climate projections, the area river flows are expected to decline by 15-20 percent (2020) and 20-40 percent (2050) (CIFOR, 2005). Climate change seriously threatens socioeconomic water-dependent sectors in West Africa such as agriculture, livestock production, and fishing. The Transboundary River Basin Management Institutions in the area are a focal point for the research, development, and deployment of strategic climate change adaptation activities to build a sustainable water system.
Excerpt from the report:
This study has identified knowledge gaps in the following thematic areas:
- Interactions between intense rainfall events, flooding, and water quality
- Correlations between land use/land cover change, runoff, river basin discharge, and groundwater recharge levels
- Impacts of extreme events on TRBs
- Links between fire and water supply (in consideration of the relationship between vegetation loss and increases in runoff)
- Pastoral migration to and through river basins and its effects on water supply