Skip to content

Lack of Quantifiable Data on the Impacts of Climate Change on Heritage Sites in Sub-Saharan Africa

One recent study estimates that only 1% of research on the impacts of climate change on heritage is related to Africa. Yet climate change has already resulted in loss and damage to African heritage. Researchers say without significant intervention some of Africa’s most important heritage will be lost as a result of the direct and indirect impacts of climate change over the coming decades. They have stressed the need for research into the impacts of climate change on different forms of cultural heritage in Africa, and to highlight the possible harmful effects these losses will have on society more generally.  The say the next ten years will be a critical period in which research agendas can be developed that will have a practical application for the management of African heritage in the face of climate change. By 2050, Guinea, The Gambia, Nigeria, Togo, Bénin, Congo, Tunisia, Tanzania (including Zanzibar) and the Comoros will all be at significant risk from coastal erosion and sea-level rise. A host of unique heritage locations are built on coral, sand or mud – all at elevations less than 10 metres above sea level. These include Ibo Island in the Quirimbas Archipelago in northern Mozambique, Shanga and Pate islands in Kenya, Pemba and the ruins of Kaole in Tanzania, Mahilaka in Madagascar and Suakin in Sudan. A combination of underlying geology and low elevation make these sites extremely vulnerable to coastal erosion.