Near-term climate change in Zambia: What the research tells us

The climate of Zambia, including its precipitation and temperature patterns, is expected to continue to change in the next 5 to 40 years. In the absence of adaptation or disaster risk management, this could affect the agriculture, health, and energy sectors.
Total annual precipitation is expected to decrease slightly, although the frequency of extreme precipitation events (causing flash floods) will probably become greater. The intensity of rainfall events and the time between them may also increase. In other words, this reduction in the frequency of rainy days could lead to longer dry spells interspersed by more intense heavy precipitation events,
all without greatly altering total annual precipitation.
The changing precipitation pattern could have negative impacts across many sectors. Agricultural
production and hydroelectric power generation could decrease while cholera and malaria may rise.
Daytime and night-time temperatures across all of Southern Africa are expected to gradually increase in coming decades. This would also probably result in higher incidence of extreme heatwaves and also elevate evapotranspiration rates.
The rising temperatures could have a negative impact in the agricultural sector by compromising livestock and crop health and reducing labour productivity, as well as in the human health sector by raising malaria transmission rates and increasing incidence of heat-related illnesses.
These and other likely changes in the medium-term future have implications for decisions currently under consideration for development and humanitarian work in Zambia. Key forms of investment planning, ranging from infrastructure design to capacity building to risk reduction, need to take into account the range of plausible futures for a more robust path to adaptation.

Date published: 
October 2014
Colin Gannon, Dan Kandy, Josh Turner, Ipsita Kumar,
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