Climate hazards in The Gambia include torrential rainfall, storms (and flooding), drought, cold spells, intra-seasonal-drought, heat waves, sea level rise, and unseasonal rains. Related hazards include limited ability to predict the incidence of some hazards, and the concomitance of multiple and mutually reinforcing hazards. The most significant weather/climate-related hazards are river flooding, coastal flooding, and water scarcity.
This section provides a summary of key natural hazards and their associated socioeconomic impacts in a given country. And it allows quick evaluation of most vulnerable areas through the spatial comparison of natural hazard data with development data, thereby identifying exposed livelihoods and natural systems.
The charts provide overview of the most frequent natural disaster in a given country and understand the impacts of those disasters on human populations.
Climate change is now recognized to have a significant impact on disaster management efforts and pose a significant threat to the efforts to meet the growing needs of the most vulnerable populations. The demands of disaster risk management are such that concise, clear, and reliable information is crucial. The information presented here offers insight into the frequency, impact and occurrence of natural hazards. Source (PDF)
Understanding natural hazard occurrence as well as historical climate conditions, in relation to development contexts, is critical to understanding a country’s historical vulnerability. This tool allows the visualization of different natural hazards or historical climate conditions with socio-economic and development datasets. Select the Development Context and either a Natural Hazard or Climate Condition and overlay horizontally by sliding the toggle left or right to gain a broader sense of historically vulnerable areas.
Data presented under Historical Climate Conditions are reanalysis products derived from ERA5-Land data. ERA5-Land is a global land-surface dataset at 9 km resolution, consistent with atmospheric data from the ERA5 reanalysis from 1950 onward. Climate reanalyses combine past observations with models to generate consistent time series of multiple climate variables. They provide a comprehensive description of the observed climate as it has evolved during recent decades, on 3D grids at sub-daily intervals.
This data has been collected, aggregated and processed by the Climate Resilience Cluster of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) initiative.
- River flooding hazard is classified as ‘high’ by ThinkHazard, meaning that potentially damaging and life-threatening river floods are expected to occur at least once in The Gambia in the next 10 years. The hazard level is high across almost the whole country. Floods constituted 60% of weather/climate-related hazards in The Gambia between 1990-2014 (storms accounted for 27% of weather / climate-related hazards over the same period). Floods contributed to 96% of average annual monetary loss from all hazards. Around 20% of the country is covered by wetlands and swamps, and flood-prone areas are hit by floods each year after heavy rains, subjecting these populations to life-threatening floods and property damage.
- Water scarcity hazard is classified as ‘high’ by ThinkHazard, meaning that droughts are expected to occur on average every 5 years. The hazard level is high across almost all of The Gambia. For example, the 2011-2012 Sahelian drought crisis impacted agricultural sector and food and nutrition security in The Gambia. Droughts accounted for 13% of weather / climate-related hazards between 1990-2014 and impact rainfed agriculture, water resources, soil quality, food security, public health, and environmental degradation.
- Coastal flooding hazard is classified as ‘high’ by ThinkHazard, meaning that potentially-damaging waves are expected to flood the coast at least once in the next 10 years. The hazard level is high across the western coastal regions and including inland up the Gambia River. An estimated 20% of The Gambia is flooded annually and the mangrove ecosystems are already affected by saline intrusion as well as flooding.
More information on natural hazards can be found at ThinkHazard.
- Floods in The Gambia pose threats to public health, agricultural production, fisheries, and infrastructure. Early warning systems as well as flood tolerant crop varieties are necessary to ensure productivity in the main sector of the economy as well as food security.
- Droughts are becoming more frequent in The Gambia, increased drought preparedness through surveillance and monitoring of climate variables, early warning systems, and proactive planning will be necessary to decrease the populations vulnerability to droughts and manage the risks associated with them.
- Planting more drought-resistant and tolerant crop species, and improved capacity to deal with long-term water stress in the health sector and water resources sector will improve drought resilience in Gambia.