Risk and vulnerability mapping in the Zambezi River Basin

Climate compatible development in southern Africa is contingent on understanding the complex drivers and interactions giving rise to climate-related risk and vulnerability. These are highly spatially variable as demonstrated in the RCCP R&V mapping project conducted across Southern Africa in two phases between 2009 and 2011. The Zambezi R&V Mapping project is based on demand for a higher resolution of R&V mapping, using the RCCP/OneWorld-developed methodology, focusing on the mid-lower Zambezi basin. This project has developed a series of high-resolution climate risk and vulnerability maps for the central and lower reaches of the Zambezi River Basin, an area for which projected climate change, economic development and population changes are expected to have far-reaching consequences. The primary focus is on four core basin countries: Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

OneWorld developed the climate risk and vulnerability (R&V) methodology by building on previous R&V Mapping conducted under the Regional Climate Change Programme (RCCP). The project was initiated with a Stakeholder workshop, in order to gain traction and to establish the most suitable trajectory of the project. The workshop served to both inform stakeholders on the specificities of the project and ensure stakeholder participation within the project. This participation came in the form of input on the most suitable sources of data as well as into the most beneficial decision support tools for project practitioners and policy-makers operating within the Zambezi basin.

OneWorld then assessed the vulnerability of the Zambezi River Basin to climate impacts by implementing high-resolution GIS mapping to identify and communicate climate risk and vulnerability “hot spots” to stakeholders. The outputs of the project were combined into a toolkit. The toolkit takes a ‘train the trainer’ approach, and is envisaged to build capacity on the dynamic and cross-sectoral influences of climate impacts. These insights seek to facilitate decision-making processes through the identification of climate risk and vulnerability hotspots, thereby assisting in the development of climate adaptation responses for building resilience to a changing and variable climate.