Locating Climate Insecurity: Where are the Most Vulnerable Places in Africa?

“Africa may be the continent most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The challenges are not uniformly distributed across Africa, with different regions exhibiting susceptibility to different types of problems. In a paper presented to the conference on Climate Change, Social Stress and Violent Conflict in Hamburg, Germany, CCAPS researchers, led by Dr. Joshua Busby, locate the confluence of vulnerabilities in African regions 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) physical exposure to climatological disasters, (2) household and community vulnerability, (3) governance and political violence, and (4) population density. 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.

“Findings: the composite vulnerability map (see Figure x.5, p. 25) 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. More important than mere identification, however, is an in-depth examination of the drivers of this vulnerability, which can in turn inform appropriate policies and interventions. The elevated level of vulnerability does not result from the same elements in each of these places. In some cases, extreme exposure to climatological disasters makes an area very vulnerable, and physical adaptation strategies may be needed to reduce vulnerability. In other areas, though, poor governance or limited household and community resources for maintaining health and education may be more important than the magnitude of the physical climatological impacts. In those cases, improving governance, reducing violent events and improving access to health care, education and daily necessities may do more to reduce vulnerability than physical adaptation strategies. Uniform strategies will not be effective across this diverse continent.

“This working paper is based on a paper initially presented at the conference on “Climate Change, Social Stress and Violent Conflict” in Hamburg, Germany in November 2009. Part of the program on Climate Change and African Political Stability, principal investigator: Dr. Francis J. Gavin.”

One thought on “Locating Climate Insecurity: Where are the Most Vulnerable Places in Africa?

  1. Maybe you can comment on this article based on a report by Prio which somehow ignorantly states that climate shifts have no link to civil wars.
    It is unfortunate the research is focused on the pedantic view of defining what is civil war rather than look at the historical patterns of conflicts and vis a vis the change in resource distribution and societal tensions!

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