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Regional Climate Change Series: Floods
Abstract and Figures
Climate change is unequivocal. The increase of global temperature since the pre-industrial period has not only intensified the extremes events but also increased their frequency of occurrences. Such events are often translated into climate hazards. These climate hazards have resulted in major disasters with losses of infrastructures, economy, natural resources and human lives. Between 1970 and 2014, a total of 11, 985 disasters have been reported by the UN-ESCAP with storms and floods sharing 64% representing thus an acute increasing trend. However, the magnitudes of the climate hazards and subsequent disasters are not uniformly distributed across the world. The highest death toll, losses and damages are concentrated in developing countries. In West Africa, floods and droughts are the major climate hazards that cause disasters. In fact often these climate hazards overcome easily local response capacity of the countries and substantially affect the social and economic development. This is particularly true for the year 2017 flagged as the year of climate extremes in West Africa with disasters hitting communities across the region. The frequency of storms and subsequent floods have substantially increased since 1982 and the year 2017 has seen an unprecedented number of flood events occurring “simultaneously” in many West African countries’ capital cities. For example on July 2017 Greater Accra, Central Region, Western Region and Eastern Region of Ghana were declared as “flood emergency” areas. On August 2017, Sierra Leone floods kill thousands as mudslides bury houses near Freetown. In Cote d’Ivoire, heavy rainfall in the southwestern areas (i.e. around San Pedro) have flooded the region threatening the cocoa plantations. In Nigeria, many people were reported dead after intense storms hit Lagos and Port Harcourt occasioning massive floods that washed houses away. Also on August 2017, continuous heavy rainfall in Niger resulted in extensive flooding, destruction of houses and loss of household belongings in several areas including Niamey. Other examples include Republic of Guinea and Mali. In response to such an increase of disaster occurrences, the international community has agreed on a number climate goals to address this issue. Among them are the Paris Agreement, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction. The Sendai Framework aims at developing actions that prevent new and reduce existing disaster risks. In this regards, many West African countries are implementing their national plan for disaster risk management by strengthening the institutional and political coordination at all levels. The objective is to build functional early warning system and response strategy to be able to face climate hazards such as those that occurred in 2017. In this context, WASCAL together with its partners initiated this book entitled “Regional Climate Change Series: Floods” to lay ground for such actions. The book comprises of 10 chapters dealing with physical science basis of the climate hazards as well as vulnerability of communities and response strategies. Authors are mainly WASCAL scientists, regional and international partners and alumni from the graduate studies program. This publication is the first volume of an annual series of books on challenges of climate and land use that WASCAL and partners intends to release to assert its contribution to support ECOWAS countries in science-based decision making process and for the achievement of the sustainable development goals.
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