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West Africa: Climate change vulnerability

Despite demonstrating decreases in risk this year, sub-Saharan Africa hosts seven of the 10 countries ranked highest in the Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) 2015. A particular hotspot of vulnerability lies in West Africa, with Sierra Leone (ranked 2nd) and Nigeria (4th) both ranked in the top five most vulnerable countries globally. Eight of the 16 countries in West Africa are categorised as ‘extreme risk’ in the CCVI 2015, up from five in the 2012 edition.

Across West Africa, growing insecurity is both a cause and consequence of vulnerability to climate change. In addition to high levels of poverty, many countries in this region face water, food and energy security challenges, as escalating regional violence swells the number of displaced people, increasing pressure on natural resources and undermining sustainable development. The institutional ability to adapt to climate change in the region is limited, due to inequalities in income, poor governance and limited technical and financial resources. Any worsening of the security situation is likely to compound these factors and result in increasing vulnerability to climate change.