Navigating the storm – How urbanization and climate change exacerbate the risk of flooding

Source(s): World Bank, the
  • The sixth edition of the Economic Update on Mauritania published by the World Bank analyzes recent economic developments and examines the new challenges posed by climate change, marked by a recurrent cycle of droughts and floods.
  • Against the background of a challenging global economic environment, economic growth in Mauritania is showing strong signs of resilience. The increase in per capita GDP and the expansion of economic activity in the primary sector have been offset by a hike in inflation that has dampened consumption and hampered poverty reduction efforts. The medium-term economic outlook is positive, buoyed by robust expansion of the extractive industries, prudent debt and taxation policies and the implementation of structural reforms designed to diversify the economy and attract private sector investment.
  • The report focuses on the challenges posed by climate change in Mauritania and underlines the importance of understanding and identifying the drivers of flooding with a view to mitigating the related socioeconomic impacts and preparing risk reduction strategies.

Nouakchott – According to the sixth edition of the World Bank’s Economic Update on Mauritania (in French), the country’s growth rate accelerated, jumping from 2.4% in 2021 to 5.2% in 2022, boosted by a significant increase in exports and resilience in consumer spending. Despite this strong performance, the result was slightly below pre-pandemic levels and continues to fall short of the country’s potential growth rate. Against the background of rising international commodity prices, average annual inflation grew from 3.6% in 2021 to 9.5% in 2022.

However, Mauritania has had to face a number of major new challenges from various climate-related disasters that have had an enormous human impact in the country and threaten prospects for sustainable growth. Between 2000 and 2021, Mauritania ranked as the third worst affected Sub-Saharan African country in terms of the human impact of climate-related events, after Somalia and Eswatini. Flooding is being exacerbated by unplanned urban expansion and poor drainage systems and is taking an increasingly heavy toll on the economy.

The report “Navigating the storm – How urbanization and climate change exacerbate the risk of flooding in Mauritania” notes that if we are to counteract the threat posed by flooding and build a more resilient and inclusive Mauritania of tomorrow, it is now essential to understand the factors that drive flooding and to identify the opportunities arising from these new challenges.

“Mauritania is facing recurrent climate shocks that have a major impact on people’s lives as well as on the country’s infrastructure and economy as a whole. In the face of these challenges, priority must be given today to strengthening resilience and inclusion. The country’s priorities for promoting adaptation and resilience should include measures such as social welfare, reduction of gender inequalities, infrastructure protection and perhaps even the energy transition,” notes Urbain Thierry Yogo, Senior Economist for Mauritania.

The report proposes a number of reform options that are designed to strengthen resilience to climate shocks. Some of the measures recommended include the adoption of a decree establishing a consolidated and unified institutional framework for emergency preparedness and response, the adoption of a new town planning and building law to promote more resilient urban development and the preparation of an integrated water resources management policy.

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