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Why Community-Led Flood Risk Mapping: The African Context



The African continent has a very diverse climatic profile ranging from equatorial to desert with variable levels of rainfall and water flow. In the last 50 years, this variability has been increasingly exacerbated by effects of climate change. Indeed, flood-related impacts and associated economic losses have been on the rise in Africa, and with earth continuing to warm, these losses are likely to rise without effective and context specific mitigation measures being put in place.

That being said, directly attributing the rise in flood risk and associated losses to climate variability is identifying one half of the problem. A strong case can be made for intensive and unplanned human settlements in flood-prone areas being the second half contributing to the flood risk profile of the continent.

The total population of Africa stands at just over 1.3 Billion people, having risen by over 400% since 1960 (~281 Million). This rise has brought with it wide spread urbanization and settlements along flood plains for economic development. These largely unplanned urbanization and rise in numbers of people living in floodplains has led to the blockage of water ways resulting in an increase in impacts associated with flooding.