Climate change stressors in the Sahel

2017 December 4

Epule, T.E., Ford, J.D. & Lwasa, S. GeoJournal (2017). Climate change stressors in the Sahel. GeoJournal.


The Sahel is prone to climate stressors such as droughts, winds and floods. This study employs a systematic review approach to track the frequency with which these stressors are reported in the scientific peer reviewed literature, examining publishing trends to identify which stressors are most reported, documenting the spatial distribution of these stressors from a country and regional perspective, and assessing the role played by climatic and non-climatic drivers in causing the stressors. A total of (n = 388) reports of stressors were documented in (n = 164) peer reviewed articles. From a country perspective, Southern Niger records the highest number of reports on all three stressors (15.97%), followed by Ethiopia (11.85%) and Senegal (10.56%). Regionally, West African Sahel recorded the highest number of reports on all stressors (49.97%) followed by East African Sahel (29.89%) and Central African Sahel (12.11%) respectively. Droughts are observed to be the most frequently reported stressor (n = 219), followed by floods (n = 123) and winds (n = 46). The decade 1975–1985 recorded the highest reports of stressors (n = 207), while the decade 1997–2007 recorded (n = 80) and the decade 1986–1996 recorded (n = 52). While climatic drivers are dominant (52%), there is however an increasing attribution of the drivers of the stressors to non-climatic drivers (47%). The main weakness of this study is that it uses peer reviewed papers dwelling on climate stressors as a proxy for climate stressors in the Sahel and a lot more studies could be hiding in non-peer reviewed studies, underscoring that this work provides a general and baseline overview of the climate stressors in the region.

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