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North Africa is considered a climate change hot spot. Existing studies either focus on the physical aspects of climate change or discuss the social ones. The present article aims to address this divide by assessing and comparing the climate change vulnerability of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia and linking it to its social implications. The vulnerability assessment focuses on climate change exposure, water resources, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. The results suggest that all countries are exposed to strong temperature increases and a high drought risk under climate change. Algeria is most vulnerable to climate change, mainly due to the country's high sensitivity. Across North Africa, the combination of climate change and strong population growth is very likely to further aggravate the already scarce water situation. The so-called Arab Spring has shown that social unrest is partly caused by unmet basic needs of the population for food and water. Thus, climate change may become an indirect driver of social instability in North Africa. To mitigate the impact of climate change, it is important to reduce economic and livelihood dependence on rain-fed agriculture, strengthen sustainable land use practices, and increase the adaptive capacity. Further, increased regional cooperation and sub-national vulnerability assessments are needed.
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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Climate change vulnerability, water resources and social
implications in North Africa
Janpeter Schilling
1,2
&Elke Hertig
3
&Yves Tramblay
4
&Jürgen Scheffran
5
Received: 24 September 2018 /Accepted: 27 October 2019 /Pu blished online: 7 February 2020
Abstract
North Africa is considered a climate change hot spot. Existing studies either focus on the physical aspects of climate change or
discuss the social ones. The present article aims to address this divide by assessing and comparing the climate change vulner-
ability of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia and linking it to its social implications. The vulnerability assessment
focuses on climate change exposure, water resources, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. The results suggest that all countries are
exposed to strong temperature increases and a high drought risk under climate change. Algeria is most vulnerable to climate
change, mainly due to the countrys high sensitivity. Across North Africa, the combination of climate change and strong
population growth is very likely to further aggravate the already scarce water situation. The so-called Arab Spring has shown
that social unrest is partly caused by unmet basic needs of the population for food and water. Thus, climate change may become
an indirect driver of social instability in North Africa. To mitigate the impact of climate change, it is important to reduce economic
and livelihood dependence on rain-fed agriculture, strengthen sustainable land use practices, and increase the adaptive capacity.
Further, increased regional cooperation and sub-national vulnerability assessments are needed.
Keywords Climate change .Vulnerability .Resilience .Water .Conflict .North Africa
Introduction
North Africa is often considered a climate change hotspot
(e.g., Diffenbaugh and Giorgi 2012) that has been receiving
increasing attention in recent years, particularly from natural
and social scientists. Climatologists, for instance, have em-
phasized the high year-to-year variability of rainfall amounts
and the related drought periods and heat waves (Cook et al.
2016; Lelieveld et al. 2016). Several researchers have studied
the impact of climate change on the water situation and
agriculture. For example, Schmitz et al. (2013) project in-
creased water scarcity in North Africa, while Alboghdady
and El-Hendawy (2016) show that a 1% increase in tempera-
ture in the winter results in a 1.12% decrease in agricultural
This article is part of the Topical Collection on Climate change impacts in
the Mediterranean
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article
(https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-020-01597-7) contains supplementary
material, which is available to authorized users.
*Janpeter Schilling
schilling@uni-landau.de
Elke Hertig
elke.hertig@geo.uni-augsburg.de
Yves Tramblay
yves.tramblay@ird.fr
Jürgen Scheffran
juergen.scheffran@uni-hamburg.de
1
Research Group Landuse Conflicts, Institute for Environmental
Sciences, University of Koblenz-Landau, Fortstraße 7,
76829 Landau, Germany
2
Peace Academy Rhineland-Palatinate, Landau, Germany
3
Faculty of Medicine, Augsburg University, Augsburg, Germany
4
HydroSciences Montpellier (University of Montpellier, CNRS,
IRD), Montpellier, France
5
Research Group Climate Change and Security (CLISEC), Center for
Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN), Institute of
Geography, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Regional Environmental Change (2020) 20: 15
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-020-01597-7
#The Author(s) 2020
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production in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) re-
gion. Some social scientists have argued that water scarcity in
the MENA region is a man-made problem(Haddadin
2001:462) and mostly caused by strong population growth
(see also Fig. 1). Others have stressed that less rainfall and more
erratic rainfall are major drivers of water scarcity which will
most strongly affect the poor population in rural areas (Thomas
2008). Scheffran et al. (2019) state that in regions depending on
rain-fed agriculture, droughts can increase the risk of civil con-
flict (see also Schilling and Krause 2018). The papers by Waha
et al. (2017) and Schilling et al. (2012) are two examples of a
very limited body of integrative literature covering both phys-
ical and social aspects of climate change and vulnerability in
North Africa. The present article contributes to this literature by
assessing and comparing the climate change vulnerability of
Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia and linking it to
its social implications. Figure 1shows the study area, including
topography, land use, and projected population growth.
Section 2 describes the conceptual framework, while Sect. 3
assesses and compares the climate change vulnerability of the
North African countries. A particular focus is placed on the
impact of climate change on water resources, which are crucial
to human livelihoods in North Africa. Section 4 then assesses
the social implications, including the influence of water and
food on societal stability and the risk of violent conflict. The
paper concludes with Sect. 5, which summarizes key findings
and gives recommendations to reduce climate change vulnera-
bility and its negative social implications in North Africa.
Conceptual framework
Vulnerability is the key guiding concept of this article.
Since we want to be able to compare our results to
Schilling et al. (2012), who use the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Changes (IPCC) vulnerability defini-
tion from 2007, we also use this definition, which con-
siders vulnerability as being composed of sensitivity,
adaptive capacity, and exposure (IPCC 2007). Figure 2
gives further details of the elements of vulnerability and
how we define and operationalize them in this paper.
Following the IPCC, we further divide the adaptive ca-
pacity into generic adaptive capacity and impact-specific
adaptive capacity. Generic indicators include factors
such as education, income and health. Indicators specif-
ic to a particular impact, such as drought or floods, may
relate to institutions, knowledge and technology(Adger
et al. 2007:727). To measure and compare these ele-
ments of adaptive capacity, we chose the most reliable
and recognized indicators (see Table S2)thatwere
available for the five countries and have been used in
previous studies (see, e.g., Schilling et al. 2012).
While vulnerability is the key concept of this paper,
we use the concept of resilience when discussing the
social implications of climate change. We define resil-
ience as the ability of a group or community to with-
stand, recover, and learn from external disturbances
(Schilling et al. 2017:5); in this case, the external dis-
turbance is climate change.
Like all vulnerability assessments, this study has its
limitations. Almost all the indicators used in the present
study are only available for the national level. This
means that variations in the vulnerability within a coun-
try cannot be addressed in the present work. Especially
for countries with a large geographical size, like
Algeria, Libya, and Egypt, the sub-national vulnerabil-
ities are diverse.
Fig. 1 Land use, topography, and population growth in North Africa (Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah for the authors based on ESA 2015a;ESA2015b;PRB2017)
15 Page 2 of 12 Reg Environ Change (2020) 20: 15
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Climate change vulnerability and water
resources in North Africa
Exposure to climate change
This section focuses on the most important climate var-
iables temperature and precipitation and the impact
of droughts on water and agriculture as the main liveli-
hood resources in the region.
For almost all parts of North Africa, there was a significant
warming trend over the last decades, more pronounced in the
summer and with regard to minimum temperatures (see Donat
et al. 2013 and Table 1). The warming trend was accompanied
by increases in hot nights, hot days, and heat waves and a
decrease in cold waves (Elsharkawy and Elmallah 2016;
Filahi et al. 2017; Nashwan et al. 2019; Zeroual et al. 2019).
Mean precipitation during the wet season, from October to
March, has decreased over the last decades, with the strongest
decline over the Mediterranean parts of Morocco and Algeria
and parts of Libya, whereas a slight increase in precipitation
has been observed over Mediterranean Egypt (Hertig and
Tramblay 2017; Nashwan et al. 2019; Taibi et al. 2017). For
Tunisia, trends are not consistent(Chargui et al. 2018;Fathalli
et al. 2019; Kingumbi et al. 2005). Along with the decrease in
rainfall during the wet season, wintertime drying has been
observed over large parts of western North Africa atleast since
the 1970s (Hertig and Tramblay 2017; Tramblay et al. 2013a;
Zittis 2018). However, some wet years observed since the
2000s can be attributed to increased climate variability
(Donat et al. 2013; Nouaceur and Murărescu 2016). With
respect to heavy rainfall events, most parts of North Africa
show no significant trends over the last decades (Nashwan
et al. 2019; Nasri et al. 2016; Tramblay et al. 2012), while a
general increase in drought frequency can be observed in all
countries (see Hertig and Tramblay 2017 and Table 1).
Projections under increased greenhouse gas forcing
show considerable changes in the mean, the variability,
and the extremes for temperature and precipitation over
the course of the twenty-first century, making the region
one of the major climate change hot spots (Diffenbaugh
and Giorgi 2012). With respect to temperature changes,
an annual and seasonal warming signal for northern
Africa is consistently projected by various general cir-
culation models (GCMs) (e.g.,Collins et al. 2013), re-
gional climate models (RCMs) (e.g., Bucchignani et al.
2018), and statistical projections (e.g., Hertig and
Jacobeit 2008). In the Coupled Model Intercomparison
Project Phase 5 (CMIP5), GCM ensemble indicates an
increase in median temperature of about 4 °C in the
summer and about 2.5 °C in the winter by the end of
Table 1 Synthesis of past trends
in North Africa for the second half
of the twentieth century and
beginning of the twenty-first
century
Mean
temperature
Extreme temperature/heat
waves
Mean
precipitation
Heavy
rainfall
Drought
Algeria ++ ++ -- - ++
Egypt ++ +++ + No trend +
Libya ++ ++ - No trend +
Morocco ++ ++ -- No trend ++
Tunisia ++ ++ No trend No trend +
Semiquantitative evaluation of temperature changes in absolute terms (small (+), 0.5 °C; moderate (++), >
0.5 °C to 1 °C; strong (+++), >1 °C) and of precipitation changes and drought changes in relative terms (small
(+/-), ± 10%; moderate (++/), > ± 10% to ± 20%; strong (+++/), > ± 20%)
Fig. 2 Vulnerability framework
(own representation based on
IPCC 2007)
Reg Environ Change (2020) 20: 15 Page 3 of 12 15
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the twenty-first century under the moderate
Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) 4.5 sce-
nario and about 7 °C in the summer and 4 °C in the
winter under the more pessimistic RCP8.5 scenario
(Christensen et al. 2013). In addition, strong increases
in heat waves (as expressed by a strong increase in
warm nights, warm days, and warm spell duration) are
projected for the whole North Africa region (Lelieveld
et al. 2016). With regard to precipitation, the CMIP5
GCM ensemble projects a decrease in rainfall of about
10% to 20% for large parts of northern Africa
(IPCC 2013). The decreasing trend is in general con-
firmed by dynamical (Ozturk et al. 2018;Tramblay
et al. 2018) and statistical downscaling assessments
(Dubrovský et al. 2014;Hertigetal.2013).
With regard to heavy precipitation, Hertig et al. (2013,
2014) found an increasing trend for western North Africa in
winter and a decrease for all other seasons. RCM simula-
tions present contrasted projections for Morocco with little
robustness (Filahi et al. 2017; Tramblay et al. 2012), an
increase in extreme rainfall for Libya in spring and autumn
(Gao et al. 2006), and a decrease in rainfall in Mediterranean
Egypt (Abiodun et al. 2017). Overall, the projected changes
in extreme precipitation for North Africa are rather uncer-
tain, with little agreement between climate models
(Tramblay and Somot 2018). CMIP3 and CMIP5 model
outputs (Dai and Zhao 2017; Dubrovský et al. 2014)con-
sistently predict an increase in droughts over North Africa,
with the strongest changes occurring in the northwest.
Likewise, statistical and dynamical downscaling projections
show a strong increase in the number and intensity of
drought months and the maximum dry-spell length for
northern Morocco and Algeria, and small to moderate in-
creases for the Mediterranean parts of Tunisia and Libya
(Gao et al. 2006; Hertig and Tramblay 2017). Unlike the
projected changes in heavy rainfall events, the climate
change signal pointing to an increase in aridity and a reduc-
tion of the number of wet days is much stronger (Polade
et al. 2017). Table 2gives a general picture summarizing the
anticipated changes.
Impact of climate change on water resources
The projected precipitation decreases in the southern part of the
Mediterranean basin will affect water resources (Lionello and
Scarascia 2018). Recently, Tramblay et al. (2018)analyzedthe
impact of climate change on the water resources of the 46
basins that supply the largest dams and reservoirs in North
Africa. They projected a future decline in surface water re-
sources in different climate scenarios, due to a combination of
precipitation decreases and evapotranspiration increases along a
west-to-east gradient. Some studies based on large-scale hydro-
logical models have also shown a future potential decrease in
water resources for the southern Mediterranean region
(Prudhomme et al. 2014). Droogers et al. (2012)simulated
future water resources for the Maghreb and the Middle East,
taking into account both water supply and demand. They ob-
tainedafuturedecreaseinwatersupplyby12% on average,
coupled with a strong increase in water demand by + 50%.
Indeed, besides the trends in water supply, several studies
project a strong increase in water demand for this region due to
population growth and economic development, indicating a
higher water stress in the future (e.g., Milano et al. 2012).
Some studies provide hydrological scenarios on the scale of
individual basins in Algeria (e.g., Benhamiche et al. 2014;
Elmeddahietal.2014), Morocco (e.g., Brouziyne et al. 2018;
Tramblay et al. 2013b) and Tunisia (e.g., Bargaoui et al. 2013;
Dakhlaoui et al. 2017). Their results indicate a decrease in sur-
face flows that is more pronounced under the RCP8.5 than
under the RCP4.5 scenario. Climate model simulations con-
verge toward a decrease in precipitation in spring and to a lesser
extent in winter (Tramblay et al. 2016;Tramblayetal.2018).
This decrease in rainfall at the end of winter and spring is
responsible for the decline in annual surface runoff. The in-
crease in potential evapotranspiration,linkedtothesharprise
in temperatures in this region during the summer period in the
future climate, is also responsible for the decline in surface
runoff, but more moderately than the decrease in precipitation.
The influence of increasing evapotranspiration is most visible
in late spring and early fall; for the majority of the basins, an
extension of the dry summer season is observed with little to no
Table 2 Synthesis of climate
change in North Africa until the
end of the twenty-first century
Mean
temperature
Extreme temperature/heat
waves
Mean
precipitation
Heavy
rainfall
Drought
Algeria +++ +++ -- + +++
Egypt +++ +++ -- -- +
Libya +++ +++ -- + +
Morocco +++ +++ -- + +++
Tunisia +++ +++ -- + +
Semiquantitative evaluation of temperature changes in absolute terms (small (+), 2 °C; moderate (++), > 2 °C to
4 °C; strong (+++), > 4 °C) and of precipitation changes and drought changes in relative terms (small (+/-), ±
20%; moderate (++/), > ± 20% to ±40%;strong(+++/), > ± 40%)
15 Page 4 of 12 Reg Environ Change (2020) 20: 15
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flow in the rivers during this season. For the mountainous ba-
sins with the presence of snow in winter, notably in Morocco in
the High Atlas Mountains, the various climatic scenarios point
to a sharp decline in snow cover and snowmelt runoff, caused
by the strong rise in temperatures and the decrease in precipi-
tation as rain or snow (Marchane et al. 2017).
As a consequence of the decrease in surface runoff, a signif-
icant decline in water supply to dams and reservoirs, which are
mainly used for irrigation, is expected. In North Africa, these
reservoirs are already affected by dam silting, evaporation losses
(Boudjadja et al. 2003;Reminietal.2009), and in some cases
deep infiltration losses through the reservoir bed into the aquifers
(Leduc et al. 2007). Several studies associate a future decrease in
groundwater recharge with the reduction in surface runoff
(Benabdallah et al. 2018; Bouchaou et al. 2011; Meddi and
Boucefiane 2013); since in semiarid environments, focused infil-
tration from rivers is the main groundwater recharge process
(Leduc et al. 2017). However, until now, North African aquifers
have been affected much more by human activities than by cli-
mate variability (Leduc et al. 2017; Lezzaik and Milewski 2018).
A drop in groundwater levels induced by overexploitation has
been reported in the last 50 years in many subregions of the
Maghreb countries (Bouchaou et al. 2011; Zkhiri et al. 2019)
and has also led to a degradation of water quality in these aqui-
fers. The main cause of the intense pumping of groundwater
resources is agricultural demand, together with the significant
demand in coastal urban areas with high population densities
(Leduc et al. 2017; Lezzaik and Milewski 2018). However, it is
now clear that at the current rate of withdrawal, groundwater
cannot be considered a long-term resource, given the increased
precipitation variability due to climate change in the region
(Kuper et al. 2017). Döll (2009) identified North Africa as one
of the regions with the highest vulnerability to decreased
groundwater resources. In this context, there is a strong need
for adaptation strategies to limit the impacts of climate change
in this region, through an adaptation of agricultural practices and
irrigation strategies (Brouziyne et al. 2018; Seif-Ennasr et al.
2016) and better regulation of well exploitation (Kuper et al.
2017). Several studies agree that these adaptation measures
should be implemented at the institutional and local levels to
encourage a rational use of water that takes into account both
socioeconomic and natural constraints and ensure sustainability
(Kuper et al. 2017; Lezzaik and Milewski 2018; Seif-Ennasr
et al. 2016). There is also a need for better long-term monitoring
of water resources, whereas at the moment, the monitoring net-
work is being reduced (Leduc et al. 2017).
Sensitivity
In order to assess sensitivity to climate change, this section
compares the countriesavailability of the affected resource
(water) prior to the climate stimuli and the importance of the
resource for each country. In all five North African countries,
agriculture is by far the largest consumer of withdrawn water,
and all countries except Egypt depend almost exclusively on
rain as a source of water for agricultural land (Table S1). In
terms of gross domestic product, agriculture is most important
in Morocco, although 15% is not very high. It should be noted
that the latest data available for Libya is significantly older
than for the other countries. In terms of employment,
Morocco is most dependent on agriculture and hence most
sensitive to climate change.
Figure 3shows the water situation measured by different
indices. Using the Hydrological Water Stress Index (HWSI)
and the SWSI (Social Water Scarcity Index), all five countries
are regarded as water scarce. This means that according to
Fig. 3 Sensitivity measured by the water situation, based on three indices
(own representation based on FAO 2016; Jemmali 2018;PRB2017). The
Hydrological Water Stress Index (HWSI) measures the number of people
in hundreds per one million m
3
of available renewable water. The Social
Water Scarcity Index (SWSI) is the HWSI divided by the Human
Development Index (see Table S2). The Water Poverty Index (WPI) com-
bines indicators measuring access to water for consumption, cooking,
irrigation, and nonagricultural use with water availability measured in
m
3
per capita per year (for details see Jemmali 2018). For reasons of
graphical representation, the WPI has been reversed (100 WPI = RWPI)
Reg Environ Change (2020) 20: 15 Page 5 of 12 15
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these two indices, the water situation has worsened in all five
countries since 2009 (see Schilling et al. 2012). Algeria and
Tunisia have the highest SWSI and HWSI values, while the
values for Morocco and Egypt are significantly lower. Egypt
has the highest Reversed Water Poverty Index (RWPI) that is
calculated by subtracting the Water Poverty Index (WPI) from
100. Taking all three indices into consideration, the water
supply situation is the worst in Algeria, followed by Tunisia,
Egypt, and Morocco. On the demand side, the bar diagrams in
Fig. 1show that the highest population growth in both abso-
lute and relative terms is expected to occur in Egypt. Between
2017 and 2050, an additional 70 million people will be living
in the country. The second strongest population growth is
expected in Algeria, while the growth in Libya, Tunisia, and
Morocco is strong in relative rather than absolute terms. In all
the countries, strong population growth is highly likely to
further aggravate the already scarce water situation.
Adaptive capacity
Morocco not only has the lowest per capita income but also
the highest Gini index and hence the most unequal distribution
of income (Table S2). The level of human development is high
in Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia and medium in Egypt and
Morocco. The under-five child mortality rate is highest in
Algeria and Morocco, but the two countries have made
significant progress here, as well as in terms of the percentage
of the population with access to improved drinking water
sources. The latter values were much lower in 2008, when
the percentage in Morocco was only 60 (see Schilling et al.
2012). In terms of education, there is still a gap between the
other North African countries and Morocco, which has the
lowest generic adaptive capacity. Tunisia and Morocco are
the least corrupt countries, while Libya is the most corrupt
country in all of North Africa (Table S2). Taking all three
indicators into account, the impact-specific adaptive capacity
is lower in Algeria and Egypt than in Tunisia and Morocco,
while not enough data is available to assess the impact-
specific adaptive capacity in Libya.
Comparison of vulnerability
Figure 4combines key vulnerability indicators of generic
adaptive capacity and sensitivity. The gross domestic product
(GDP) per capita, the human development index, and the ed-
ucation index were chosen (rather than all six indicators from
Table S2) because of a lackof data on two of the indicators for
Libya and in order to compare the results to Schilling et al.
(2012). For reasons of graphical representation, the indicators
representing the sensitivity to climate change have been re-
versed to insensitivity. The larger the plot area, the greater the
generic adaptive capacity (area above the dashed line) and the
Fig. 4 Generic adaptive capacity and insensitivity to climate change in
North Africa (own representation based on CIA 2018; UNDP 2016). The
lower three variables (related to agriculture) are taken from Table S1 and
reversed for graphical representation. This means dependence on agricul-
ture becomes independence from agriculture. GDP = gross domestic
product. PPP USD =purchasing power parity in US dollars
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higher the insensitivity to climate change (area below the
dashed line). The orange line shows the assessment based on
Tables S1 and S2, while the gray line indicates the values for
each indicator as assessed by Schilling et al. (2012). When
comparing the orange plot areas, it is obvious that Morocco
has the smallest plot area and is hence the most vulnerable to
climate change. Algeria and Tunisia have similarly shaped
plot areas. In both countries, the importance of rain for agri-
culture is a key weakness, while a relatively high income level
strengthens the adaptive capacity. According to Fig. 4, Egypt
has the highest generic adaptive capacity and lowest sensitiv-
ity to climate change. When comparing the current situation
with the assessment from 2012, increases in income can be
observed in all countries but Libya, where the generic adaptive
capacity shows a declining trend.
Overall, all North African countries are exposed to strong
climate change, with Morocco and Algeria particularly at risk
(see Sect. 3.1). The sensitivity to climate change is highest in
Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt, while water is also scarce in
Morocco. In Libya the sensitivity is unclear due to a lack of
data. Algeria has the highest generic adaptive capacity but also
the lowest impact-specific adaptive capacity. Taking all the
elements of vulnerability into consideration, Algeria is the
most vulnerable country. In the assessment by Schilling
et al. (2012), this was Morocco. The results of the present
study are in line with earlier findings by Waha et al.
(2017:1627), who see Algeria as one of the countries in
North Africa that will become global hot spots for drought
by the end of the twenty-first century.In contrast,
Ahmadalipour and Moradkhani (2018) find Algeria to be less
vulnerable to drought, in comparison with all countries on the
African continent.
Social implications of climate change
The social implications of climate change depend on the vul-
nerability of each country and are hence location-specific. The
following sections highlight some of the key implications for
food production and conflict in North Africa.
Food production
Climate change will negatively affect the largely rain-fed ag-
ricultural production in North Africa (Waha et al. 2017). For
the central northern region of Algeria, a reduction in durum
wheat production of between 22% and 40% is projected for
the period from 2071 to 2100 compared to the 19802009
baseline period using the IPCC A1B scenario (Chourghal
et al. 2016). The extent of the reduction depends on whether
prescribed or dynamic sowing is assumed. For the eastern
high plains of Algeria, the yield loss is expected to be lower.
In Egypt, wheat yields are projected to decline due to climate
change, despite improvements obtained through crop intensi-
fication and expansion of irrigated areas (Asseng et al. 2018).
In addition to losses caused by changes in temperature, rain-
fall, and extreme CO
2
concentrations, a sea level rise of 1 m is
projected to lead to a loss of one-third of the current agricul-
tural land in the Nile Delta (El-Nahry and Doluschitz 2010). A
simulation by Fader et al. (2016) suggests that Libya will be
unable to meet its irrigation water requirements toward the end
of the century, even when the most optimistic scenario of
climate change and irrigation technologies are considered
(for adaptation options see also Harmanny and Malek 2019).
For Morocco, yield losses of around 10% between 2003 and
2050 are projected for the major crop-producing areas under
the IPCC A2 scenario without considering a CO
2
fertilization
effect. Even when including this effect and using the optimis-
tic B2 scenario, the majority of areas in Moroccosbreadbas-
ket will see decreases in yield (Ouraich and Tyner 2018). For
Tunisia, Zouabi and Peridy (2015) show that a 1% decrease in
precipitation leads to 0.79% decrease in the production of
cereals.
All North African countries produce and import cereals
(wheat, barley, maize, and others). While Egypt is by far the
largest producer and importer, Morocco has the highest and
Libya the lowest per capita production. Libya also the highest
dependency on cereal imports (Table S3).
Conflict
As North African countries are strongly dependent on agricul-
ture for gross domestic product and particularly employment
(see Sect. 3.3), climate change can be expected to undermine
food security, economic security, resilience, and overall live-
lihood prospects in the region (see also Waha et al. 2017). This
is even more significant given that strong population growth
(Fig.1) will increase the demand for food and income oppor-
tunities. However, the widening gap between the supply and
demand of critical resources is not sufficient to draw direct
climate-conflict links. The wide body of literature has shown
that links between climate and conflict variables are indirect
and complex (Adams et al. 2018;Buhaug2015;Machetal.
2019; Scheffran et al. 2012; Schleussner et al. 2016). In North
Africa, climate change is expected to negatively impact agri-
cultural production (Sect. 4.1), which in turn could contribute
to rising food prices and food insecurity, leading to protests
and riots against the government (see also Scheffran et al.
2019;Wahaetal.2017). This pathway was prominently
discussed as part of the so-called Arab Spring of 2011, when
protests and riots led to political change in Tunisia, Libya, and
Egypt (Sottilotta 2015). Demonstrations also took place in
Morocco and Algeria (Bayat 2013). Some authors have called
the Arab Spring a textbook example(Johnstone and Mazo
2011:11; see also Werrell and Femia 2013) of how climate
change aggravated food prices and food insecurity, thus
Reg Environ Change (2020) 20: 15 Page 7 of 12 15
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resulting in riots and violence. Another study suggests that
drought and crop failure in China led the country to strongly
increase its wheat imports, which in turn contributed to a dou-
bling of global wheat prices, triggering riots in Egypt
(Sternberg 2012). The majority of studies identify sharply
increasing food prices and living costs as drivers of the Arab
Spring (e.g., Johnstone and Mazo 2011;Sternberg2012;
Werr e l l a nd Femia 2013). However, several studies attribute
these rising costs to government policies and government fail-
ures rather than climate change and drought (e.g., Al-
Shammari and Willoughby 2019; Devarajan and
Ianchovichina 2018).
Violent conflicts in the region are mainly driven by political
motives. The key actors in attacks on state governments are
terrorist groups such as the so-called Islamic State and affiliates
of Al-Qaeda (see overview in Table S4). Algeria and Libya
have experienced the highest number of violent conflicts in
the recent past (Table S4). Although climate change has not
been identified as a major driver of conflict, there is a growing
body of literature suggesting that droughts, especially in very
poor countries, increase the likelihood of sustained violence for
groups dependent on agricultural, and those experiencing polit-
ical exclusion (Brzoska 2018; von Uexkull et al. 2016).
Furthermore, studies on East Africa have found higher rates
of insurgency in abnormally dry conditions (Raleigh and
Kniveton 2012). For North Africa, however, there have not
been any studies suggesting that food and economic insecurity
make people more vulnerable to recruitment by terrorist groups.
All 24 violent conflicts recorded in North Africa be-
tween 2008 and 2017 are internal (Table S4). Two of
these conflicts are classified as internationalized inter-
nal,meaning that the conflict is between the state gov-
ernment and internal opposition groups with intervention
from at least one other state (UCDP/PRIO 2018). While
there is a potential for international political tensions
and disputes between the riparian states of the Nile riv-
er, for example, when Egypt feels threatened by increas-
ing water demand in upstream countries like Ethiopia,
shared international water bodies are generally a source
of cooperation rather than conflict (Link et al. 2016;
Wol f 2007).
Conclusions
The aim of this paper was to assess and compare the climate
change vulnerability of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and
Tunisia, with an emphasis on water resources, and to link it to
its social implications. In terms of exposure to mean and ex-
treme temperature rise, many similarities exist between the
North African countries. Droughts will become more severe,
with the strongest increases expected for Morocco and
Algeria. While the largest uncertainties are related to
projections of heavy rainfall events, climate change will neg-
atively affect the already scarce water situation inall countries.
The sensitivity to these changes is highest in Algeria, Tunisia,
and Egypt. For Libya, a lack of data or outdated data poses a
challenge for the assessment of the sensitivity and adaptive
capacity. Algeria has the highest generic adaptive capacity but
also the lowest impact-specific adaptive capacity. Based on
the indicators analyzed in the present work, Algeria appears
to be the most vulnerable country, followed by Morocco.
Social unrest such as the Arab Spring is partly caused by
the fact that the basic needs of the population are not met. As
the population of the region and hence the demand for food
and water increases, it will become increasingly difficult to
satisfy these needs. Climate change further aggravates this
situation through its negative effects on the supply of food
and water. Thus, climate change may become an indirect driv-
er of social instability. The violent conflicts in the region are
all internal and mostly driven by terrorist groups. The degree
to which climate change affects these conflicts is currently
unclear and further research is needed. It is, however, certain
that violent conflict undermines the adaptive capacity and thus
the resilience of a country, as the case of Libya shows.
For all North African countries and particularly Algeria and
Morocco, it is important to reduce economic and livelihood
dependence on rain-fed agriculture, strengthen sustainable
land use practices, and increase the adaptive capacity. Since
all North African countries face similar climate change expo-
sure, increased regional cooperation will be useful through the
sharing of good practices to mitigate the impacts of climate
change. For researchers, a promising area of study is the de-
velopment of vulnerability indicators that capture the sub-
national level and allow for intra- and inter-country vulnera-
bility comparisons at the local level.
Acknowledgments We would like to thank the three external reviewers
as well as Maria Carmen Llasat and Christopher Reyer for their helpful
comments and suggestions. We would also like to thank Mara Wagner for
assisting in the data preparation.
Funding information Open Access funding provided by Projekt DEAL.
The overall work is supported and funded by the University of Koblenz-
Landau, the Peace Academy Rhineland-Palatinate, the Federal Ministry
of Education and Research (BMBF) under the project SaliDraa 2
(01UU1906), the German Research Foundation (DFG) under contract
HE 6186/4-1 and under project number 408057478 and the University
of Hamburg's Cluster of Excellence Climate, Climatic Change and
Society CLICCS,fundedbytheDFG.
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing,
adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as
long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the
source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if
changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article
are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated
otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the
article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not
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... Furthermore, groundwater level declines have been documented in northern Africa from groundwater pumping increases in the agricultural sector (e.g., Khezzani andBouchemal 2018, Malki et al. 2017;Schilling et al. 2020). These changes in land management have likely effected the amount of groundwater available for discharge, contributing to baseflow decreases in some basins. ...
... Although regime shifts were not observed, the amount of decreasing trends detected increased over the entire record. In this region, increases in temperature and groundwater pumping are likely contributing factors (Khezzani andBouchemal 2018, Malki et al. 2017;Schilling et al. 2020). ...
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In the context of global warming and reduction in fresh water availability is presented a study of the evolution of dew, rain and evapotranspiration in the NW of Africa. The time periods are concerned with the years 2005-2020, using existing data, and years 2020-2100, using the low and high emissions representative concentration pathway scenarios RCP 2.6/8.5 from the Cordex database. A continuous decrease in rain precipitation is observed, on order of -14 mm/decade for the more credible scenario RCP 8.5. The amplitude is maximum on the coast and on the foothills of Atlas. A clear decrease in dew yields is also observed along a NW/SE axis, strongly correlated with a corresponding decrease in relative humidity (up to 7%). Chemical dew and rain data in the representative site of Mirleft correspond to the major cations Na+ > Ca2+ > Mg2+ > K+, similar to a local spring water. Concentrations in rain are about two times less than in dew water. Ionic concentrations are compatible with WHO standards. The seasonal variations of the ionic concentrations in dew and rain follow a volume dilution dependence. The expected diminution in dew and rain volumes according to the RCPs 2.6 and 8.5 should increase the dew and rain ionic concentrations in the future.
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... The estimated precipitation decreases in North Africa will have consequences on water resources, especially large water surfaces (Tramblay et al. 2018). This decline in the water supply is likely to occur in crowded regions due to population extending and economic development, causing higher water crises in the future (Schilling et al. 2020). ...
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Chapter
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Purpose of Review Summary of research on the consequences of extreme weather events, which manifest themselves as disasters, for collective violence as well as on policy measures to mitigate such negative effects. Recent Findings A growing, but contested, majority of studies indicate a slight increase in the likelihood of the occurrence, escalation, and prolongation of collective violence in the wake of disasters. The identification of conditions and mechanisms, some of which increase the likelihood of violence and some of which have the opposite effect, helps us to understand the diversity of outcomes. This includes the consequences of political and humanitarian interventions prior to, during and after disasters, which can overlay local processes. Summary Conditions and mechanisms shaping the link between disasters and collective violence provide opportunities for policy interventions that are already, or can be, taken to mitigate the consequences of extreme events, increasing or reducing the likelihood and level of collective violence.
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Egypt produces half of the 20 million tons of wheat that it consumes with irrigation and imports the other half. Egypt is also the world's largest importer of wheat. The population of Egypt is currently growing at 2.2% annually, and projections indicate that the demand for wheat will triple by the end of the century. Combining multi-crop and -climate models for different climate change scenarios with recent trends in technology, we estimated that future wheat yield will decline mostly from climate change, despite some yield improvements from new technologies. The growth stimulus from elevated atmospheric CO2 will be overtaken by the negative impact of rising temperatures on crop growth and yield. An ongoing program to double the irrigated land area by 2035 in parallel with crop intensification could increase wheat production and make Egypt self-sufficient in the near future, but would be insufficient after 2040s, even with modest population growth. Additionally, the demand for irrigation will increase from 6 to 20 billion m³ for the expanded wheat production, but even more water is needed to account for irrigation efficiency and salt leaching (to a total of up to 29 billion m³). Supplying water for future irrigation and producing sufficient grain will remain challenges for Egypt.
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La forte croissance de la demande en eau au Maghreb pousse les autorités locales à construire de plus en plus de barrages pour augmenter la disponibilité des ressources en eau, naturellement limitée, et faire face à la forte irrégularité temporelle (saisonnière et interannuelle) des précipitations. L’Algérie dispose ainsi de 57 grands barrages d’une capacité totale de 6,8 Gm3. Or, la quantité d’eau douce potentielle est diminuée par l’envasement des barrages, l’évaporation de surface et les fuites d’eau par les rives et les fondations. D’après les dernières mesures de 2006, l’envasement des 57 grands barrages algériens est de 45 Mm3/an, avec de fortes disparités d’un site à l’autre et une importante augmentation de l’érosion dans certains bassins au cours des dernières décennies. Cela représente une réduction de capacité de 0,65 %/an. Les mesures de l’évaporation, effectuées sur 39 grands barrages, indiquent une perte annuelle moyenne de 250 Mm3, soit 6,5 % de leur capacité maximale. Les pertes par infiltration incontrôlée dans les rives et fondations évaluées dans 22 barrages s’élèvent à 40 Mm3/an.
Article
Full-text available
La forte croissance de la demande en eau au Maghreb pousse les autorités locales à construire de plus en plus de barrages pour augmenter la disponibilité des ressources en eau, naturellement limitée, et faire face à la forte irrégularité temporelle (saisonnière et interannuelle) des précipitations. L’Algérie dispose ainsi de 57 grands barrages d’une capacité totale de 6,8 Gm3. Or, la quantité d’eau douce potentielle est diminuée par l’envasement des barrages, l’évaporation de surface et les fuites d’eau par les rives et les fondations. D’après les dernières mesures de 2006, l’envasement des 57 grands barrages algériens est de 45 Mm3/an, avec de fortes disparités d’un site à l’autre et une importante augmentation de l’érosion dans certains bassins au cours des dernières décennies. Cela représente une réduction de capacité de 0,65 %/an. Les mesures de l’évaporation, effectuées sur 39 grands barrages, indiquent une perte annuelle moyenne de 250 Mm3, soit 6,5 % de leur capacité maximale. Les pertes par infiltration incontrôlée dans les rives et fondations évaluées dans 22 barrages s’élèvent à 40 Mm3/an.
Article
Rainfall variability is an important feature of semiarid climates with major effects on hydrology, and beyond on key water-dependent societal aspects. Eventual changes in rainfall variability are a strong driver of change of hydrological processes, resources, and hazards, up to catchment signatures and spatial arrangements. We deal with observed precipitations and subsequent statistical coefficients available from a network of 15 rainfall gauges over and around the Merguellil catchment (1175 km²), with series ranging up to the 1961–2013 period. We look for eventual annual trends and breakpoints with a set of methods: Mann Kendall test, Pettitt test, Hubert segmentation procedure, Buishand U statistic, and Lee Heghinian Bayesian procedure. The results underline oscillation of dry and wet periods; several studied rain gauges (Tella, Oueslatia forêt, Majbar, Kesra forêt, Henchir Bhima, and Haffouz DGRE) denote significant trends in annual precipitation. Some breaks are detected but they are not synchronous. These methods reveal the variability of rainfall regimes in the semiarid region and provide a synoptic view of detection and no-detection of symptoms of change. This work gives opportunities to water stakeholders and climate experts in understanding the relationships between climate variability and water availability.
Article
Drought vulnerability is a complex concept that identifies the capacity to cope with drought, and reveals the susceptibility of a system to the adverse impacts of drought. In this study, a multi-dimensional modeling framework is carried out to investigate drought vulnerability at a national level across the African continent. Data from 28 factors in six different components (i.e. economy, energy and infrastructure, health, land use, society, and water resources) are collected for 46 African countries during 1960-2015, and a composite Drought Vulnerability Index (DVI) is calculated for each country. Various analyses are conducted to assess the reliability and accuracy of the proposed DVI, and the index is evaluated against historical observed drought impacts. Then, regression models are fitted to the historical time-series of DVI for each country, and the models are extrapolated for the period of 2020-2100 to provide three future scenarios of DVI projection (low, medium, and high) based on historical variations and trends. Results show that Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria are the least drought vulnerable countries, and Chad, Niger, and Malawi are the most drought vulnerable countries in Africa. Future DVI projections indicate that the difference between low- and high-vulnerable countries will increase in future, with most of the southern and northern African countries becoming less vulnerable to drought, whereas the majority of central African countries indicate increasing drought vulnerability. The projected DVIs can be utilized for long-term drought risk analysis as well as strategic adaptation planning purposes.