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Economics of Climate Change in Zanzibar
Project Overview

A large proportion of Zanzibar’s GDP – and most of the livelihoods on the islands - are associated with climate sensitivity activities, either directly such as with agriculture or tourism, or indirectly for example from the use of natural resources. The economy and people of the islands are therefore very dependent on the weather and climate. 

However, the climate of Zanzibar is changing, and the last decade has seen a significant increase in extreme events (climate variability). The recent extreme events such as droughts and floods have led to major economic costs.  Individual annual events, such as the poor rains of 2007, or the heavy rain of 2005, have led to major economic costs.

Future climate change may also lead to a change in the frequency or severity of such extreme weather events, potentially worsening impacts. It will also change the climate of the islands, leading to a number of potential impacts.  As an island, Zanzibar will be potentially affected by sea level rise and coastal erosion, as well as possible impacts on the agriculture and tourism industries.  The islands have a rich marine environment that provides important ecosystem services, and these are particularly at risk.

At the same time, the islands are heavily reliant on biomass as the main source of energy, and electricity from the mainland.  The failure of the interconnector in 2009/2010 led to a major economic impact on the island.  
Against this background, this studies aims to better understand the economic impacts of present and future climate change, and consider the potential for low carbon opportunities.

The objectives of the study are to:

  • Assess climate change impacts and their economic costs for Zanzibar.

  • Analyse the costs and benefits of adapting to these effects over different timescales. 

  • Assess the potential for low carbon growth, including development benefits and finance opportunities.

  • Build national capacity and take advantage of local knowledge.

The study is progressing a number of areas to meet these objectives.

  • It has assessed current vulnerability on the island, looking at climate extremes and their economic costs, and early priorities to reduce these.

  • It has collated downscaled projections of future climate change on the islands, and is using these to screen current development plans, and assessing the potential effects of medium-longer term change, and how to confront these changes with adaptation.

  • It is building up a Greenhouse Gas Inventory for the islands, developing future GHG projections, and considering the potential for low carbon options.