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Authors : Djigbo Félicien Badou, Jean Hounkpe, Rosaine N. Yegbemey
Affiliated organization : Research Gate
Site of publication : researchgate.net
Type of publication : Report
Date of publication : May 2021
Climate change and water resources
Up to 95% of drinking water supply in the country is provided by groundwater which just like surface water is subject to change in rainfall regime. Seasonal water scarcity impacts both ground water and surface water used for drinking water supply. In northern and central Benin, it has been reported the drying-up of dams, boreholes and shallow wells during the dry season of November to April. Transhumance of bovine livestock from neighboring countries (e.g Niger, Nigeria) augments the pressure on water resources and favors water related conflicts.
The impacts of climate change (decline in precipitation) could result in 40% to 60% reduction in the availability of water resources, further influencing Benin’s food production. A decrease in mean annual rainfall will likely cause low groundwater recharge and low reservoirs filling, and might lead to the emergence of water security issues.
Climate change and agriculture
Benin’s agriculture remains mainly rainfed (irrigation is still incipient) and therefore climate- dependent. Climate change poses problems in terms of decrease in the number of rainy days, shortening of the wet seasons, misleading onset and cessation of the rainfall seasons, progressive merging of the two distinct planting seasons into just one (in the south), and increase in pest and disease pressures. Land-use adaptation strategies include crops association/rotation, land re-allocation, soil erosion control, and change of site, which at least one of these strategies is implemented by 89 % of farmers.
Access to agro-meteorological information clearly helps in building the capacity of farmers and in reducing their vulnerability to climate change. In addition, it proved necessary to take into account local knowledge (by a periodic assessment of needs and impacts at the beneficiary level) to adjust forecasts. Local radio and local languages should be used for the dissemination of agro-meteorological information to farmers.
Climate change and energy
Benin is a country with little industrialization, and low energy consumption. Major cities have relatively good energy supply while other cities are less well covered, and most peri-urban and rural areas are not covered with electricity grid.
Climate change has direct effects on the energy sector in the case of hydropower, biomass, solar and wind energy, and indirect effects in the case of thermal energy and could there negatively affect the potential mentioned earlier. One of the most visible footprints of climate change adaptation actions in the energy sector in Benin is the use solar energy both in rural area (mainly for domestic uses, charge phones, lamps, and others) and in urban areas solar street lamps.
Climate change and health
Climate has both direct and indirect effects on human and animal health. Flooding events ( degrade people living environment and thus (indirectly) amplifies the spread of water-borne diseases. In 2016, statistics show that 43.1% of the demand for healthcare in Benin was due to malaria.
Recently, a vulnerability study of climate change impacts on health sector has attempted to model climate change impacts on malaria in three southern Benin cities (Adjohoun, Bonou, and Dangbo). Relative humidity, temperature and rainfall were found to be the climatic variables influencing malaria transmission in the three municipalities.
Climate change could negatively impact plant species used in traditional medicine. The extinction of these species may have negative impacts for the pharmacopoeia and the populations who rely on traditional medicine. Further study is required to document the existing and needed adaptation strategies.
Climate change and coastal ecosystems
As a result of longshore drift and sea level rise, the country has lost 2 to 30 m of its littoral every year between 2011 and 2014.
Studies report that in Benin, sea-level rise causes coastal flooding, loss of human settlements, destruction of road and hotel infrastructures, salt water intrusion into rivers and aquifers (e.g. Nokoué and Ahémé Lakes, coastal sedimentary basin), reduction of fishing productivity, and extinction of some species.
As a result of longshore drift and sea level rise, the country has lost 2 to 30 m of its littoral every year between 2011 and 2014
In terms of adaptation, passive and active measures are implemented. Passive measures include the nourishment of vulnerable areas with sand taken from sand-rich areas and the use of beach- rocks to cope with coastal erosion. As for active measures, a project of coastal protection was implemented to protect the most vulnerable areas of Cotonou coast (Benin’s largest city, and main administrative, and business center).
Institutional dimension of adaptation to climate change in Benin
The political commitment of Benin Republic to mitigate and adapt to climate change was taken with the signature of the Kyoto protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1994. Since then, three National Communications on Climate Change (in 2001, 2011, 2019) as well as a National Adaptation Programme of Actions (NAPA in 2008) were elaborated. As a result, the new direction now shared and accepted in Benin is the integration of science-based climate change information in policies and development plans at the national and municipality levels.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are also contributing to the national adaptation efforts to climate change in Benin.
Provision and use of climate information services
Climate services can support decision-making processes and improve resilience to climatic shocks in many sectors. While many stakeholders are picking interest in using climate-related information, it is important to note that providing climate services comes with challenges such as format, timing, costs, etc. Most importantly, there is limited high-quality and rigorous evidence on how climate information could be provided to smallholder farmers with a maximum of impact.
Awareness on the usefulness, availability, and accessibility of climate information services is still limited in the country.
In Benin, hydroclimate data and local population perceptions are used to document climate change manifestations and impacts to which various measures are developed and implemented on the ground to adapt. There is a need to evaluate the effectiveness and sustainability of the decisions and actions taken so far. Agricultural and water resources sectors receive increasing attention while the other sectors (energy and health sectors) are left behind. This gap should be filled.
Another direction to go now is to bridge between theoretical solutions (suggested by scientists) and feasible solutions on the ground, and scale up successful climate change adaptation projects. Young generations must be prepared which implies that climate change be taken in their curricula.