Being smart in coastal communities dangerous flood zones
Explaining the rising sea level crisis in the coastal communities flood zones in the African countries of Cameroon, Mozambique, Senegal, and Tanzania.
African coastal cities vulnerable to flooding
Global mean sea levels in the last two decades of the 21st century will be 1.4 foot to 2.6 feet higher under a high greenhouse gases emission scenario. Africa has a large and growing coastal population, including a number of important coastal cities. This implies significant risks for Africa’s coastal settlements and emerging megacities such as Lagos, Dar es Salaam, Accra and Maputo.
The coastal cities of Africa are home to some of the poorest and are being pushed to the edges of livable land and into the most dangerous zones for climate change. Their informal settlements or slums grow along riverbanks and cluster in low-lying areas with poor drainage, few public services, and no protection from storm surges, sea-level rise, and flooding.
These slums the poor in coastal cities and on low-lying islands are among the world's most vulnerable to climate change and the least able to organize the resources to change their living situation. They face an Africa where climate change will increasingly threaten the farm fields and clean water resources.
One rising sea level model, based on a 1.3-foot rise in sea levels, puts the number of people threatened by flooding in the four worst-affected countries of Cameroon, Mozambique, Senegal and Tanzania at 10 million.
There are high concentrations of poverty and low levels of investment in drainage and flood defenses in many of the areas under most immediate threat. Climate scientists project that saltwater intrusion from rising sea levels will lead to a significant reduction in fish stocks for all west African coastal countries – countries for whom fishing is vital to economic stability
In Cameroon on the plateau land of the south, coffee, sugar, and tobacco are important cash crops. Along the coast, the climate, for now, tolerates the growing of export crops such as cocoa, bananas, palm oil, rubber, and tea.
Mozambique's coastal cities are among the most vulnerable in Africa to climate change. Experts say climate change will increase the severity of cyclones and flooding, particularly along the country’s 2,700 kilometers 1,680 miles of coast. Like many African coastal cities, Beira - which lies just above sea level, is in a race against time to protect itself from cyclones, floods and rising seawater levels.
Senegal’s agriculture industry occupies roughly 70 percent of the country’s working population and contributes 15 percent of the GDP. In the coastal south, 40 percent of the population depends on fishing for employment, and many more for dietary protein: nearly two-thirds of Senegal’s population live near the coast.
Tanzania urban areas as frequent flooding and recurring drought which threatens infrastructure assets. Home to more than 4.7 million people, the nation’s commercial capital is vulnerable to flooding, which cripples the ability of poorer city residents to access clean water and better sanitation.
Mozambique was severely affected by adverse climatic conditions due to the 2015–16 El Niño, one of the strongest recorded, which led to significant losses in crop and livestock production. An increased frequency and intensity of storms, hurricanes, and cyclones will harm aquaculture, mangroves and coastal fisheries. The production from inland fisheries and aquaculture is threatened by changes in precipitation and water management, increased stress on freshwater resources, and the frequency and the intensity of extreme climate events.
Mozambique is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events such as drought, floods, and cyclones. Climate change has a significant impact on livelihoods and food security, particularly among rural populations. Maize and cassava, the main food staples, are grown by 80 percent of all Mozambican smallholders and cover over a third of cultivated land. Other important staples are wheat and rice.
Floods too can have a devastating impact on crop-livestock production. Widespread flooding in southern Mozambique in the year 2000 killed and displaced many people and in addition destroyed 350,000 livestock. About 6,000 fisher folk lost half their boats and gear and in all USD 3 billion was lost.
The percentage of forested land in Mozambique has rapidly diminished in recent years. This is due to deforestation practices and degradation, especially along the main economic corridors and around urban centers.
Although rural communities use forests for their subsistence, the main causes of deforestation and degradation are commercial activities such as the intense demand of firewood and charcoal in urban zones, the transformation of the forest into large commercial agricultural areas, commercial logging and the development of mining activities.