Spatial Distribution of Climate Risk and Vulnerability in Nigeria


August 1, 2023 - Author: Mansour Dia, Khadim Dia, and Aïssatou Ndoye

Climate change is a complex challenge that is disrupting economies, ecosystems, and societies globally. Nigeria, a West African nation with a population of over 200 million, is not immune to the effects of climate change. Despite abundant natural resources, including oil and gas, the country continues to grapple with a host of issues, including poverty, insecurity, and ecological deterioration. Nigeria has a tropical climate that is characterized by high temperatures, humidity, and rainfall. This climate is heavily influenced by factors such as location, topography, and proximity to large water bodies, resulting in significant regional differences within the country. Average temperatures in Nigeria range from 25 °C to 30 °C, with greater variations occurring between the northern and southern regions. In terms of precipitation, Nigeria has two seasons: wet (April-October) and dry (November-March), with larger amounts of rainfall experienced in the south and southeast regions of the country. Humidity is generally high throughout the year, especially during the wet season. Wind patterns are influenced by Nigeria’s location and topography, largely due to the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) which brings moist winds from the Atlantic Ocean during the wet season and dry winds from the Sahara Desert during the dry season. Nigeria also receives a good amount of sunshine through both wet and dry seasons, although it is highest during the latter season.

Nigeria is already experiencing the adverse effects of climate change, with natural disasters occurring more frequently and with greater intensity. Floods, droughts, and desertification have resulted in the loss of lives, infrastructural damage, and the forced relocation of people. The agricultural sector, which is the country’s economic mainstay, is also grappling with changing rainfall patterns and elevated temperatures, resulting in reduced crop productivity and heightened food insecurity.

Water bodies, rainfall, and population density are all key climatic variables that are critical to understanding the
impacts of climate change. Water bodies provide essential services but are vulnerable to changes in climatic patterns.

Monitoring changes in water bodies can help in understanding the impacts of climate change on the environment and human populations. Changes in rainfall patterns and population density can lead to increased water scarcity and competition for resources, affecting access to clean drinking water and sanitation facilities.

Monitoring these climate variables is therefore essential. This can be accomplished through remote sensing, ground-based observations, and citizen science initiatives. Data obtained from these sources can be used to develop models that analyze the impacts of climate change, as well as to develop effective adaptation strategies.

The vulnerability of different regions or populations to climate change impacts is not uniform and can vary greatly based on a range of factors. It is therefore important to have disaggregated data to examine the differential impacts among communities. In this case, we are using remote sensing methods to describe Nigeria’s context in terms of climate-related variables such as surface water, rainfall, land use and land cover, drought intensity, and soil properties at the pixel level.


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