The EU-sponsored Project “ClimAfrica” held its final annual meeting on September 6 and 7, 2014, in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. This meeting was preceded by a stakeholders’ meeting on September 5th. SOW-VU is one of the 18 institutes participating in this project, which aims at improving climate change predictions for the African continent and assessing the impact of climate change on vulnerable groups. At the annual meeting, Lia van Wesenbeeck presented the results from a spatially explicit model describing permeation of local climatic shocks through the use of social networks and other coping mechanisms.
For two selected groups of countries, one in West Africa and one in East Africa, distribution of havoc following a likely climate shock as well as optimal intervention mechanisms to limit the transmission to other areas were simulated and presented. At the stakeholder meeting, she presented the main conclusions to a forum of African policy makers and representatives of civil society.
Within West Africa, the countries selected for the study include Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo, while the East Africa group consists of Uganda, Sudan and South Sudan. The analysis shows that local climate shocks may spread far beyond the initial area through interlinkages between households. If one household faces deprivation because of a shock, then it will call upon relatives or others in its social network for assistance, potentially driving these households also into poverty. In turn, these household may, therefore, need to seek assistance, causing further spreading. Optimal interventions support “systemic households” to ensure that they are able to support those who call upon them without “tumbling” themselves. In this sense, interventions are optimal at a systemic level, and do not necessarily support those most vulnerable.
At the stakeholders’ meeting, in-depth bilateral discussions were facilitated between stakeholders and project team members, providing opportunity to discuss the assumptions made in the research and the possible direct use of the outcomes of the project for the formulation of policies that mitigate the effects of climate change through prevention or adaptation.