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Academics Study Link Between Climate Change and Urban Development in Cape Verde

Like other small island nations, Cape Verde faces uncertain but potentially serious consequences from global climate change. Now, scientists and academics are studying the consequences of climate change in the West African nation, with the specific goal of understanding the link with urban development issues.

The new project led by researchers at the Instituto Superior Tecnico, or IST, in Lisbon, Portugal, seeks to more precisely identify the impact of climate change on Cape Verdeans, and suggest programs to help alleviate potential problems caused by the changing environment.

The project aims specifically to evaluate the links between the effects of climate change and problems faced by city dwellers in the West African nation, says Luis Manuel Alves of IST.

Alves says climate change threatens Cape Verde in a number of ways, including rising sea level, an increase in frequency and violence of storms, coastal erosion, and prolonged drought.

He says the results of climate change are driving more Cape Verdeans to urban areas, increasing stress on urban resources and raising new concerns for urban planners.

Financed under a pan-African initiative called the Climate Change and Adaptation in Africa program, the IST program in Cape Verde is studying urban problems worsened by climate change, including increased stress on fresh water supply, inadequate drainage and sanitation systems, and lack of zoning and urban planning. Officials at the program say these problems result from climate change, and also exacerbate its effects, in what they label a vicious cycle.

Alves says that through dialogue with communities, governments, and other stakeholders, the researchers hope to propose ways for urban dwellers on Cape Verde to adapt to climate change without suffering a reduction in their standard of living.

Alves says the potential dangers to Cape Verde from climate change also threaten other parts of West Africa, particularly low-lying coastal regions, and other small island nations. The institute is undertaking a similar program in Sao Tome and Principe.