Flood fatalities in Africa: from diagnosis to mitigation

Di Baldassarre, G., A. Montanari, H. F. Lins, D. Koutsoyiannis, L. Brandimarte, and G. Blöschl, Flood fatalities in Africa: from diagnosis to mitigation, Geophysical Research Letters, 37, L22402, doi:10.1029/2010GL045467, 2010.



Flood-related fatalities in Africa, as well as associated economic losses, have increased dramatically over the past half-century. There is a growing global concern about the need to identify the causes for such increased flood damages. To this end, we analyze a large, consistent and reliable dataset of floods in Africa. Identification of causes is not easy given the diverse economic settings, demographic distribution and hydro-climatic conditions of the African continent. On the other hand, many African river basins have a relatively low level of human disturbance and, therefore, provide a unique opportunity to analyze climatic effects on floods. We find that intensive and unplanned human settlements in flood-prone areas appears to be playing a major role in increasing flood risk. Timely and economically sustainable actions, such as the discouragement of human settlements in flood-prone areas and the introduction of early warning systems are, therefore, urgently needed.

Full text is only available to the NTUA network due to copyright restrictions

PDF Additional material:

See also:

Our works referenced by this work:

1. Koutsoyiannis, D., and A. Montanari, Statistical analysis of hydroclimatic time series: Uncertainty and insights, Water Resources Research, 43 (5), W05429, doi:10.1029/2006WR005592, 2007.

Our works that reference this work:

1. Koutsoyiannis, D., Scale of water resources development and sustainability: Small is beautiful, large is great, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 56 (4), 553–575, 2011.
2. Montanari, A., G. Young, H. H. G. Savenije, D. Hughes, T. Wagener, L. L. Ren, D. Koutsoyiannis, C. Cudennec, E. Toth, S. Grimaldi, G. Blöschl, M. Sivapalan, K. Beven, H. Gupta, M. Hipsey, B. Schaefli, B. Arheimer, E. Boegh, S. J. Schymanski, G. Di Baldassarre, B. Yu, P. Hubert, Y. Huang, A. Schumann, D. Post, V. Srinivasan, C. Harman, S. Thompson, M. Rogger, A. Viglione, H. McMillan, G. Characklis, Z. Pang, and V. Belyaev, “Panta Rhei – Everything Flows”, Change in Hydrology and Society – The IAHS Scientific Decade 2013-2022, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 58 (6), 1256–1275, 2013.
3. Koutsoyiannis, D., Reconciling hydrology with engineering, Hydrology Research, 45 (1), 2–22, 2014.
4. Koutsoyiannis, D., Social vs. scientific perception of change in hydrology and climate — Reply to the Discussion by Arie Ben-Zvi on the Opinion Paper “Hydrology and Change”, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 59 (8), 1625–1626, doi:10.1080/02626667.2014.935382, 2014.
5. Ceola, S., A. Montanari, and D. Koutsoyiannis, Toward a theoretical framework for integrated modeling of hydrological change, WIREs Water, doi:10.1002/wat2.1038, 2014.

Other works that reference this work:

1. Di Baldassarre, G., G. Schumann, L. Brandimarte and P. Bates, Timely low resolution SAR imagery to support floodplain modelling: a case study review, Surveys in Geophysics, 32 (3), 255-269, 2011.
2. Padi, P.T., G. Di Baldassarre and A. Castellarin, Floodplain management in Africa: Large scale analysis of flood data, J. Phys. Chem. Earth, 36 (7-8), 292-298, 2011.
3. Blöschl, G., A. Viglione, R. Merz, J. Parajka, J. L. Salinas, and W. Schöner, Climate impacts on floods and low flows, Osterreichische Wasser- und Abfallwirtschaft, 63 (1), 21-30, 2011.
4. Di Baldassarre, G., M. Elshamy, A. van Griensven, E. Soliman, M. Kigobe, P. Ndomba, J. Mutemi, F. Mutua, S. Moges, J.-Q. Xuan, D. Solomatine and S. Uhlenbrook, Future hydrology and climate in the River Nile basin: a review, Hydrol. Sci. J., 56(2), 199-211, 2011.
5. Sivakumar, B., Water crisis: From conflict to cooperation – an overview, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 56(4), 531-552, 2011.
6. Kiem, A. S., and D. C. Verdon-Kidd, Steps toward “useful” hydroclimatic scenarios for water resource management in the Murray-Darling Basin, Water Resour. Res., 47, W00G06, doi: 10.1029/2010WR009803, 2011.
7. Di Baldassarre, G., M. Elshamy, A. van Griensven, E. Soliman, M. Kigobe, P. Ndomba, J. Mutemi, F. Mutua, S. Moges, Y. Xuan, D. Solomatine and S. Uhlenbrook, A Critical Discussion of Recent Studies Evaluating the Impacts of Climate Change on Water Resources in the Nile basin, Nile Basin Water Science & Engineering Journal, 4 (2), 94-100, 2011.
8. Aronica, G.T., A. Candela, P. Fabio and M. Santoro, Estimation of flood inundation probabilities using global hazard indexes based on hydrodynamic variables, Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, 42-44, 119-129, 2012.
9. Di Baldassarre, G., and S. Uhlenbrook, Is the current flood of data enough? A treatise on research needs for the improvement of flood modelling, Hydrological Processes, 26 (1), 153-158, 2012.
10. Tramblay, Y., W. Badi, F. Driouech, S. El Adlouni, L. Neppel and E. Servat, Climate change impacts on extreme precipitation in Morocco, Global and Planetary Change, 82-83, 104-114, 2012.
11. #Blöschl, G., R. Merz, J. Parajka, J. Saunas and A. Viglione, Floods in Austria, Changes of Flood Risk in Europe, IAHS-AISH Publication, (SPEC. ISS. 10), (ed. Z. W. Kundzewicz), 169-177, 2012.
12. Goula, A. B. T., E. Gneneyougo Soro, W. Kouassi et B. Srohourou, Tendances et ruptures au niveau des pluies journalières extrêmes en Côte d'Ivoire (Afrique de l'Ouest), Hydrological Sciences Journal, 57 (6), 1067-1080, 2012.
13. IPCC, Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation, A Special Report of Working Groups I and II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (ed. By Field, C.B., V. Barros, T.F. Stocker, D. Qin, D.J. Dokken, K.L. Ebi, M.D. Mastrandrea, K.J. Mach, G.-K. Plattner, S.K. Allen, M. Tignor, and P.M. Midgley), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, and New York, NY, USA, 582 pp., 2012.
14. #Vélez-Upegui, J. J., N. D. Duque-Méndez, F. Mejía-Fernández and M. Orozco-Alzate, Red de monitoreo climático para dar apoyo a la prevención y atención de desastres en Manizales, Colombia, III Congreso de Meteorología Tropical, La Habana, Cuba, 2012.
15. Panthou, G., T. Vischel, T. Lebel, J. Blanchet, G. Quantin and A. Ali, Extreme rainfall in West Africa: A regional modeling, Water Resour. Res., 48, W08501, doi: 10.1029/2012WR012052, 2012.
16. #Ridolfi, E., K. Yan, L. Alfonso, G. Di Baldassarre, F. Napolitano, F. Russo and P. D. Bates, An entropy method for floodplain monitoring network design, In Numerical Analysis and Applied Mathematics ICNAAM 2012: International Conference of Numerical Analysis and Applied Mathematics, AIP Conference Proceedings, Vol. 1479, 1780-1783, 2012.
17. Cuya, D. G. P., L. Brandimarte, I. Popescu, J. Alterach and M. Peviani, A GIS-based assessment of maximum potential hydropower production in La Plata basin under global changes, Renewable Energy, 50, 103-114, 2013.
18. Kundzewicz, Z. W., I. Pińskwar and G. R. Brakenridge, Large floods in Europe, 1985–2009, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 58 (1), 1-7, 2013.
19. Overeem, A., H. Leijnse and R. Uijlenhoet, Country-wide rainfall maps from cellular communication networks, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 110 (8), 2741-2745, 2013.
20. #Descroix, L., I. B. Moussa, P. Genthon, D. Sighomnou, G. Mahé, I. Mamadou, J.-P. Vandervaere, E. Gautier, O. F. Maiga, J.-L. Rajot, M. M. Abdou, N. Dessay, A. Ingatan, I. Noma, K. S. Yéro, H.Karambiri, R. Fensholt, J. Albergel and J.-C. Olivry, Impact of drought and land use changes on surface water quality and quantity: The Sahelian paradox, Current Perspectives in Contaminant Hydrology and Water Resources Sustainability (P. Bradley Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-1046-0, InTech, 10.5772/54536, 2013.
21. Preston, B. L., K. Dow and F. Berkhout, The climate adaptation frontier, Sustainability, 5, 1011-1035, 2013.
22. Mahe, G., G. Lienou, L. Descroix, F. Bamba, J. E. Paturel, A. Laraque, M. Meddi, H. Habaieb, O. Adeaga, C. Dieulin, F. Chahnez Kotti and K. Khomsi, The rivers of Africa: witness of climate change and human impact on the environment, Hydrological Processes, 10.1002/hyp.9813, 2013.
23. Di Baldassarre, G., M. Kooy, J. S. Kemerink and L. Brandimarte, Towards understanding the dynamic behaviour of floodplains as human-water systems, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 3235-3244, 10.5194/hess-17-3235-2013, 2013.
24. Di Baldassarre, G., A. Viglione, G. Carr, L. Kuil, J. L. Salinas and G. Blöschl, Socio-hydrology: conceptualising human-flood interactions, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 3295-3303, 10.5194/hess-17-3295-2013, 2013.
25. #McAneney, J., R. Crompton, D. McAneney, R. Musulin, G. Walker and R. Pielke Jr., Market-based mechanisms for climate change adaptation: Assessing the potential for and limits to insurance and market based mechanisms for encouraging climate change adaptation, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast, pp. 100, 2013.
26. Singh, O., and M. Kumar, Flood events, fatalities and damages in India from 1978 to 2006, Natural Hazards, 10.1007/s11069-013-0781-0, 2013.
27. Tramblay, Y., S. El Adlouni and E. Servat, Trends and variability in extreme precipitation indices over Maghreb countries, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 13, 3235-3248, 2013.
28. Panthou, G., T. Vischel, T. Lebel, G. Quantin, A. C. Favre Pugin, J. Blanchet and A. Ali, From pointwise testing to a regional vision: an integrated statistical approach to detect non stationarity in extreme daily rainfall. Application to the Sahelian region, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 10.1002/jgrd.50340, 2013.
29. Roche, K. M., K. J. McAneney, K. Chen, and R. P. Crompton, The Australian great flood of 1954: Estimating the cost of a similar event in 2011, Weather, Climate, and Society, 5 (3), 199-209, 2013.
30. #Zwiers, F. W., L. V. Alexander, G. C. Hegerl, T. R. Knutson, J. P. Kossin, P. Naveau, N. Nicholls, C. Schar, S. I. Seneviratne and X. Zhang, Challenges in estimating and understanding recent changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme climate and weather events, In Climate Science for Serving Society: Research, Modeling and Prediction Priorities, ed. by G. R. Asrar and J. W. Hurrell, Springer, 2013.
31. Lüning, H. S., Studies of the past as the key to the future? Geological and historical reconstructions provide valuable support for future trend prediction of natural disasters, Disaster Advances, 6 (10), 1-3, 2013.
32. #Viglione, A., A. Montanari and G. Blöschl, Challenges of reservoir planning and management in a changing world, Considering Hydrological Change in Reservoir Planning and Management, Proceedings of H09, IAHS-IAPSO-IASPEI Assembly (IAHS Publ. 362), Gothenburg, Sweden, 2013.
33. Buchecker, M., G. Salvini, G. Di Baldassarre, E. Semenzin, E. Maidl and A. Marcomini, The role of risk perception in making flood risk management more effective, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 13, 3013-3030, 10.5194/nhess-13-3013-2013, 2013.
34. Ridolfi, E., V. Montesarchio, M.Rianna, S. Sebastianelli, F. Russo and F. Napolitano, Evaluation of rainfall thresholds through entropy: influence of bivariate distribution selection, Irrigation and Drainage, 62 (Suppl. 2), 50–60, 2013.
35. Overeem, A., H. Leijnse and R. Uijlenhoet, Landsdekkende regenkaarten uit het mobiele telefonienetwerk, WT-Afvalwater, 13 (4), 194-203, 2013.
36. Amoussou, E., Y. Tramblay, H. S. V. Totin, G. Mahé and P. Camberlin, Dynamique et modélisation des crues dans le bassin du Mono à Nangbéto (Togo/Bénin), Hydrological Sciences Journal, 10.1080/02626667.2013.871015, 2013.
37. Domeneghetti, Α., S. Gandolfi, A. Castellarin, L. Brandimarte, G. Di Baldassarre, M. Barbarella and A. Brath, Flood risk mitigation in developing countries: deriving accurate topographic data for remote areas under severe time and economic constraints, Journal of Flood Risk Management, 10.1111/jfr3.12095, 2013.
38. McAneney, J., and R. Crompton, What is driving the rising cost of natural disasters?, Trébol, 67, 4-17, 2013.
39. Sighomnou, D., L. Descroix, P. Genthon, G. Mahé, I. B. Moussa, E. Gautier, I. Mamadou, J.-P. Vandervaere, T. Bachir, B. Coulibaly, J.-L. Rajot, O. M., Issa, M. M. Abdou, N. Dessay, E. Delaitre, O. F. Maiga, A. Diedhiou, G. Panthou, T. Vischel, H. Yacouba, H. Karambiri, J.-E. Paturel, P. Diello, E. Mougin, L. Kergoat and P. Hiernaux, The Niger River Niamey flood of 2012: The paroxysm of the Sahelian paradox? [La crue de 2012 à Niamey: Un paroxysme du paradoxe du Sahel?], Science et Changements Planetaires – Secheresse, 24 (1), 3-13, 2013.
40. Hall, J., B. Arheimer, M. Borga, R. Brázdil, P. Claps, A. Kiss, T. R. Kjeldsen, J. Kriaučiūnienė, Z.W. Kundzewicz, M. Lang, M. C. Llasat, N. Macdonald, N. McIntyre, L. Mediero, B. Merz, R. Merz, P. Molnar, A. Montanari, C. Neuhold, J. Parajka, R. A. P. Perdigão, L. Plavcová, M. Rogger, J. L. Salinas, E. Sauquet, C. Schär, J. Szolgay, A. Viglione and G. Blöschl, Understanding flood regime changes in Europe: a state-of-the-art assessment, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 2735-2772, 10.5194/hess-18-2735-2014, 2014.
41. Aich, V., S. Liersch, T. Vetter, S. Huang, J. Tecklenburg, P. Hoffmann, H. Koch, S. Fournet, V. Krysanova, E. N. Müller and F. F. Hattermann, Comparing impacts of climate change on streamflow in four large African river basins, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. , 18, 1305-1321, 2014.
42. Ward, P. J., S. Eisner, M. Flörke, M. D. Dettinger and M. Kummu, Annual flood sensitivities to El Niño–Southern Oscillation at the global scale, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 47-66, 2014.
43. Kundzewicz, Z.W., S. Kanae, S. I. Seneviratne, J. Handmer, N. Nicholls, P. Peduzzi, R. Mechler, L. M. Bouweri, N. Arnell, K. Mach, R. Muir-Wood, G. R. Brakenridge, W. Kron, G. Benito, Y. Honda, K. Takahashi, and B. Sherstyukov, Flood risk and climate change: global and regional perspectives, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 10.1080/02626667.2013.857411, 2014.
44. Hailemariam, F. M., L. Brandimarte and F. Dottori, Investigating the influence of minor hydraulic structures on modeling flood events in low land areas, Hydrological Processes, 28 (4), 1742-1755, 2014.
45. Harman, C., and P. A. Troch, What makes Darwinian hydrology "Darwinian"? Asking a different kind of question about landscapes, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. , 18, 417-433, doi: 10.5194/hess-18-417-2014, 2014.
46. Sivapalan, M., M. Konar, V. Srinivasan, A. Chhatre, A. Wutich, C. A. Scott, J. L. Wescoat, I. Rodríguez-Iturbe, Socio-hydrology: use-inspired water sustainability science for the anthropocene, Earth's Future, 10.1002/2013EF000164, 2014.
47. Md Ali, A., G. Di Baldassarre and D. P. Solomatine, Testing different cross-section spacing in 1D hydraulic modelling: A case study on Johor River, Malaysia, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 10.1080/02626667.2014.889297, 2014.
48. Panthou, G., T. Vischel and T. Lebel, Recent trends in the regime of extreme rainfall in the Central Sahel, International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.3984, 2014.
49. #Kiem, A. S., Climate variability and change, ch. 2 in Climate Change and Water Resources, 31-67, 2014.
50. Beven, K., R. Lamb, D. Leedal and N. Hunter, Communicating uncertainty in flood inundation mapping: a case study, International Journal of River Basin Management, 10.1080/15715124.2014.917318, 2014.
51. Panthou, G., T. Vischel, T. Lebel, G.Quantin and G. Molinié, Characterizing the space–time structure of rainfall in the Sahel with a view to estimating IDAF curves, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., 11, 8409-8441, 10.5194/hessd-11-8409-2014, 2014.
52. Tramblay, Y., E. Amoussou, W. Dorigo and G. Mahé, Flood risk under future climate in data sparse regions: Linking extreme value models and flood generating processes, Journal of Hydrology, 519A, 549-558, 2014.
53. Mazzoleni, M., S. Barontini, R. Ranzi and L. Brandimarte, Innovative probabilistic methodology for evaluating the reliability of discrete levee reaches owing to piping, J. Hydrol. Eng., 10.1061/(ASCE)HE.1943-5584.0001055, 2014.
54. Aich, V., B. Koné, F. F. Hattermann and E. N. Müller, Floods in the Niger basin – analysis and attribution, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., 2, 5171-5212, 10.5194/nhessd-2-5171-2014, 2014.
55. Andrés-Doménech, I., R. García-Bartual, A. Montanari and J. B. Marco, Climate and hydrological variability: the catchment filtering role, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., 11, 10411-10430, 10.5194/hessd-11-10411-2014, 2014.
56. Ceola, S., F. Laio and A. Montanari, Satellite night‐time lights reveal increasing human exposure to floods worldwide, Geophysical Research Letters, 10.1002/2014GL061859, 2014.
57. Amoussou, E., Y. Tramblay, H. S. V. Totin, G. Mahé and P. Camberlin, Dynamics and modelling of floods in the river basin of Mono in Nangbeto, Togo/Benin, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 59 (11), 2060-2071, 2014.
58. #van der Geest, K., and K. Warner, Loss and damage from droughts and floods in rural Africa, in Digging Deeper: Inside Africa’s Agricultural, Food and Nutrition Dynamics (ed. by A.Akinyoade, W. Klaver and S. Soeters, Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands, 2014.
59. Collenteur, R. A., H. de Moel, B. Jongman, and G.Di Baldassarre, The failed-levee effect: Do societies learn from flood disasters?, Natural Hazards, 10.1007/s11069-014-1496-6, 2014.

Tagged under: Climate stochastics, Works discussed in weblogs, Floods, Papers initially rejected