CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS IN MAURITIUS - Towards Development of a Disaster Risk Reduction Framework

 

Mohammudally Beebeejaun, Mauritius Meteorological Services

The Republic of Mauritius, a Small Island Developing States (SIDS), learnt lessons from the past natural disasters such as the cyclone Carol which, back in 1960, killed forty-one and left more than hundred thousand homeless. With the advent of new technology, more disaster-proof architecture and up-to-date early warning system are in demand to make the communities less vulnerable and more resilient. The short-term economic interests gave rise to extensive development in risk-prone areas where adequate attention is not paid to protection of environment, coastal and maritime ecosystems.
Observed changes: the average temperature in the Republic of Mauritius shows an increasing trend of 0.15°C per decade and the average temperature increased by 0.74 – 1.2°C with reference to 1961-1990. The precipitation on the other hand shows a decreasing trend over the period from 1905 to 2007. The reduction in precipitations amounts to 57 mm per decade.

 

Human-induced climate change may lift the temperature by 1-2 degree Celsius by 2060-2070, and increase sizably the intensity and frequency of extreme precipitation events. According to the IPCC Forth Assessment Report (AR4), the expected Sea Level Rise (SLR) ranges between 16 and 49 cm.
Based on an analysis performed within the framework of the disaster risk reduction, the average temperature on Mauritius Island is expected to increase by 1-2°C in the period 2061-2070 compared to 1996-2005.

In Rodrigues, the increasing trend is slightly lower. The changes of precipitation patterns are more pronounced, even if the total annual precipitation remains constant or increases slightly. In Mauritius, higher precipitation is expected in the period from May to October generally a cool and dry period. The IPCC’s Special Report on ”Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation – SREX” (IPCC, 2012) stressed that the frequency of extreme precipitation events is likely to increase, even if the quantification of the changes is very difficult.
 

Continuing in this trend will mean that years-long growth can be lost to natural hazards and the country may get off the sustainable path.
These results urge to design robust disaster risk policies and management practice for the decades to come through an Action Plan based on the conventional and long-established risk management cycle. The modern flood risk governance recognises the critical importance of all stages of disaster risk management, including prevention and protection, preparedness, response, and recovery.

A Strategy and Action plan is proposed for Disaster Risk Reduction, taking into account the likely effects of climate change. The Strategy calls on the government to establish a National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction as recommended by the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-2015. The Action plan consist of nine key recommendations which, if put in practice, will significantly reduce the annual damage to natural hazard and produce additional (ancillary) benefits in economic, social and environmental terms.
In the framework of the Africa Adaptation project, a climate change analysis has been conducted, using high resolution climate simulations running on the area of interest. Results for the XXI century are shown in terms of intensity and frequency of precipitations events, as well as temperature conditions. Looking at the temperature seasonal cycle and probability density function, an increase of the temperature for the period 2061-2070, with respect to the period 1996-2005, is shown over the Mauritius Island. About precipitation for Mauritius, it does not show a significant variation with respect to the present. Nevertheless the precipitation seasonal cycle shows an increasing of the monthly precipitation in the period from May to October (usually a cool and dry period).

 

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