Human factors on the West African coast contribute more than global climate change to the rapid increase in vulnerability and flood risk in the region. This is demonstrated by the multidisciplinary IRD team, in collaboration with experts from West Africa and the French National Center for Space Studies, in an experimental quantitative estimation study published in Earth and Environment Communications.
The findings of the study, which is part of the WACA-VAR interdisciplinary research program, highlight the need for regional and interdisciplinary coordination to address this issue.
Rising sea levels are often assumed to be the main cause of vulnerability in the coastal regions of West Africa. However, according to this study, the vulnerability of the coasts of West Africa, which leads to an increase in environmental vulnerability due to human activities and intensification of social and economic issues, will be a more important factor in increasing vulnerability and the level of flood risk in these areas in the coming years.
The researchers used cross-analysis of satellite data, particularly sea levels, topographic data, and data reflecting predictions of social development to quantitatively determine the evolution of flood risk. They ran simulations projecting the effect of both factors to compare the impact of socioeconomic factors with sea level rise.
The results showed that socio-economic development in coastal areas with rapid human growth appears to pose a much greater threat than sea level rise to increase flood risk on the West African coast.
This sustainability science research also confirmed that the findings could be applied to all West African countries, from Mauritania in the northwest to Cameroon in the southeast. The findings indicate the need for a coordinated action plan for the entire region that takes into account environmental, social and economic aspects. There is no doubt that no action will be more costly in the long run than a well-structured adaptation plan. The main components will be coastal environmental conservation and social and economic development reforms.
Olusegun A. Dada et al, Future socioeconomic development along the West African coast poses a greater risk from sea level rise, Earth and Environment Communications (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s43247-023-00807-4
Provided by the Institute for Research for Development
the quote: Study: Socioeconomic Development on the West African Coast is a Key Factor for Increased Flood Risk (2023, May 15) Retrieved May 15, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-05-socio-economic-west-sahel african-key.html
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