Original Research

Economic vulnerability to tropical storms on the southeastern coast of Africa

Ernest L. Molua, Robert O. Mendelsohn, Ajapnwa Akamin
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 12, No 1 | a676 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v12i1.676 | © 2020 Ernest L. Molua, Ajapnwa Akamin, Robert O. Mendelsohn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 May 2018 | Published: 19 October 2020

About the author(s)

Ernest L. Molua, Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon
Robert O. Mendelsohn, Yale School of the Environment, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Ajapnwa Akamin, Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon

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Climate change will hit Africa economically hard, not least Southeast Africa. Understanding the impact of extreme climatic events is important for both economic development and climate change policy. Global climatological summaries reveal high damage potential pathways for developed countries. Will countries in Africa, especially in the southeastern board of the continent, be vulnerable to loss-generating extreme climate events? This study examined for countries in the sub-region, their vulnerability and damage costs, the impact of climate change on tropical storm damage, as well as the differential impacts of storm damages. An approach using a combination of physical and economic reasoning, as well as results of previous studies, reveals that in Southeast Africa, the economic response to the key damage parameters of intensity, size and wind speed is significant for all the countries. Damages in Kenya and Tanzania are sensitive to wind speed. Both vulnerability and adaptation are important for Madagascar and Mozambique – two countries predicted to be persistently damaged by tropical storms. For Mauritius and South Africa, inflictions from extreme events are expected to be impactful, and would require resilient public and private infrastructure. Reducing the physical and socio-economic vulnerability to extreme events will require addressing the underlying socio-economic drivers, as well as developing critical public infrastructure.


climate change; tropical storms; vulnerability; damage costs; South-Eastern Africa


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