Liberia is at risk to hydrometeorological hazards and natural disasters. Climate change is expected to result in more extreme weather situations such as heavy rains and drought in West Africa. While Liberia is prone to flooding but not drought, human displacement in neighboring countries may become an additional future challenge. Heavy rains, storm surges, sea level rise and increased erosion, puts both urban and rural infrastructure at risk. Furthermore, heavily populated parts of the coast would be affected by frequent waterlogging, increased coastal erosion, and sea-level rise. This is likely to result in significant economic losses, damage to agricultural lands, infrastructure as well as human casualties. Climate change is also expected to increase risks and severity of natural disasters in Liberia, through more intense temperatures as well as rainfall patterns, increased temperatures and prolonged heat waves. Vulnerability is acerbated due to the country’s high level of poverty and high dependence on ‘climate change sensitive’ sectors, such as agriculture, fisheries, mining and forestry.
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.
- With the country’s high number of rivers, catchments and aquifers as well as its low-lying coastal zone, changes to precipitation are likely to result in high risk flooding scenarios. Liberia is at high risk for urban floods as well as coastal flooding.
- Projected increases in rainfall and floods, combined with poor access to health facilities, poor hygienic practices, and lack of access to safe drinking water will cause increasing susceptibility to disease outbreaks of malaria, cholera, and diarrheal diseases, with the highest threat in rural areas.
- Climate change is also expected to increase risks and severity of natural disasters in Liberia, through more intense temperatures as well as rainfall patterns, increased temperatures and prolonged heat waves.
- Data from the Emergency Events database (EM-Dat) (1900-2018) shows the country has endured various natural hazards, including droughts, epidemic diseases, and storms, affecting over 1.6 million people.
- Floods are a recurrent natural disaster in Liberia and are expected to become worse with climate change, especially along the coasts due to rising seas. Exceptionally high rainfall in 2007 led to floods, which had implications on human health, agriculture and infrastructure.
- Sea level rise is projected to increase along Liberia's coast and cause more frequent flooding in coastal cities, especially Monrovia. It has been estimated that a 1 meter rise in sea level would put an estimated 230,000 people at risk and cause a loss of 2,150 square kilometers of land and infrastructure, which is valued at US$250 million.
- An increase in flooding due to sea level rise will also put Liberians at greater risk to epidemics of malaria, cholera, and diarrheal diseases, and increases in the incidences of Lassa fever, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, yellow fever, hepatitis A, and intestinal worms. Malaria poses the most significant threat to public health as it has the highest mortality rate.
- Establishment of an early warning system, flood resistant cultivars, creation and dissemination of inundation and flood hazards maps will reduce Liberia’s vulnerability to floods.
- Adaptation strategies to decrease the threats of sea level rise include development of an early warning system and coastal protections that include both soft and hard technologies, such as sea walls, revetments, offshore breakwaters, and beach nourishment or replenishment.
- Droughts affect Liberia and impact their agricultural system. As climate change may exacerbate these events, national adaptation priorities to reduce the risk to these natural hazards seek to establish early warning systems forecasting drought periods and the development of rice varieties that are resistant to drought. Adaptation options to include water-safety plans, water treatment, integrated vector management, identification and disinfection of stagnant water sources, education and awareness about proper hygiene and sanitation.