Climate variability affects water-energy-food infrastructure performance in East Africa

Despite awareness of climate impacts on development, climate variability and future change have received limited attention in investment decisions. We examined past and future climate variability with the aim of understanding the main source of climate risk to development plans across the water, energy, and food sectors in southern East Africa, a relatively neglected region in terms of climate science and targeted for extensive infrastructure development. Infrastructure performance shows high sensitivity to multi-year droughts that have occurred in the past, which would challenge the viability of proposed infrastructure. Contingency plans for the worst-case extremes need to be developed. Our assessment exemplifies the need for investors and donors to take a comprehensive approach to climate risk. Infrastructure design should take into consideration the potential for changes in climate variability and recognize the limitations of planning on the basis of short time series of observations or projections.

Christian Siderius, Seshagiri R. Kolusu, Martin C. Todd, Ajay Bhave, Andy J. Dougill, Chris C.J. Reason, David D. Mkwambisi, Japhet J. Kashaigili, Joanna Pardoe, Julien J. Harou, Katharine Vincent, Neil C.G. Hart, Rachel James, Richard Washington, Robel T. Geressu, Declan Conway, Climate variability affects water-energy-food infrastructure performance in East Africa, One Earth, 2021, ISSN 2590-3322,