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Looking at the effects of climate change on Africa’s roads

Photo: Stig Stasig
Heavy rains take a toll on roads in Tanzania.

As part of a World Bank project, COWI has studied the possible effects of climate change on the infrastructure in Ghana, Mozambique and Ethiopia.

How do you design roads so they can stand up to heavier rains, more floods and higher temperatures? Those questions are answered by COWI as part of a World Bank project focusing on the effects of climate change on Africa’s infrastructure.

“Most studies have concentrated on the consequences on industry and agriculture, but now we’re moving further down the chain and looking into what else we need to be prepared for,” says COWI Project Director Karsten Sten Pedersen.

Three countries “This is the first small step towards understanding what kind of an impact climate change is having on infrastructure, and what the costs and benefits of various responses are.”

The project looks at the effects of climate change on Ghana, Mozambique and Ethiopia, countries with differing climate, geography and risks: Mozambique’s long coastlines make it vulnerable to flooding, Ethiopia is an inland country with desert, mountain and lowland environments, while Ghana has the Volta river bassin.

Limited resourcesCOWI will compile UN information to put together a forecast for the climate in the countries in the year 2050. We will then compare that outlook with the one made by local experts and use a combined portrait to study the extent of the impact of climate change on the roads in various areas.

“With the limited resources that are out there, we hope the study will serve as an indicator of where the greatest return on investment in adaptation measures is in the existing and future road networks, in terms of avoided risks of infrastructure  damage and disruption of traffic affecting many people ” says Karsten Sten Pedersen.

New territoryCOWI will also be in dialogu with stakeholders in Ghana, Mozambique and Ethiopiain order to raise awareness of the impact climate change will have on infrastructure.

Karsten Sten Pedersen expects the experiences gained during the project will help give COWI a head start as a climate consultant.

“This is a new business activity for us, and it is one that, in addition to being an important social issue, places COWI in the first wave of consultancy firms with experience looking at the effects of climate on transportation in Africa.”

The project is scheduled to be completed in January 2011.



LAST UPDATED: 17.09.2016