Floods in the Douala metropolis, Cameroon: attribution to changes in rainfall characteristics or planning failures?

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Floods in the Douala metropolis, Cameroon : attribution to changes in rainfall characteristics or planning failures? / Yengoh, Genesis Tambang; Fogwe, Zephania N.; Armah, Frederick Ato.

In: Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Vol. 60, No. 2, 02.2017, p. 204-230.

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TY - JOUR

T1 - Floods in the Douala metropolis, Cameroon

T2 - Journal of Environmental Planning and Management

AU - Yengoh, Genesis Tambang

AU - Fogwe, Zephania N.

AU - Armah, Frederick Ato

PY - 2017/2

Y1 - 2017/2

N2 - With urban populations worldwide expected to witness substantial growth over the next decades, pressure on urban land and resources is projected to increase in response. For policy-makers to adequately meet the challenges brought about by changes in the dynamics of urban areas, it is important to clearly identify and communicate their causes. Floods in Douala (the most densely populated city in the central African sub-region), are being associated chiefly with changing rainfall patterns, resulting from climate change in major policy circles. We investigate this contention using statistical analysis of daily rainfall time-series data covering the period 1951–2008, and tools of geographic information systems. Using attributes such as rainfall anomalies, trends in the rainfall time series, daily rainfall maxima and rainfall intensity–duration–frequency, we find no explanation for the attribution of an increase in the occurrences and severity of floods to changing rainfall patterns. The culprit seems to be the massive increase in the population of Douala, in association with poor planning and investment in the city's infrastructure. These demographic changes and poor planning have occurred within a physical geography setting that is conducive for the inducement of floods. Failed urban planning in Cameroon since independence set the city up for a flood-prone land colonization. This today translates to a situation in which large portions of the city's surface area and the populations they harbor are vulnerable to the city's habitual annual floods. While climate change stands to render the city even more vulnerable to floods, there is no evidence that current floods can be attributed to the changes in patterns of rainfall being reported in policy and news domains.

AB - With urban populations worldwide expected to witness substantial growth over the next decades, pressure on urban land and resources is projected to increase in response. For policy-makers to adequately meet the challenges brought about by changes in the dynamics of urban areas, it is important to clearly identify and communicate their causes. Floods in Douala (the most densely populated city in the central African sub-region), are being associated chiefly with changing rainfall patterns, resulting from climate change in major policy circles. We investigate this contention using statistical analysis of daily rainfall time-series data covering the period 1951–2008, and tools of geographic information systems. Using attributes such as rainfall anomalies, trends in the rainfall time series, daily rainfall maxima and rainfall intensity–duration–frequency, we find no explanation for the attribution of an increase in the occurrences and severity of floods to changing rainfall patterns. The culprit seems to be the massive increase in the population of Douala, in association with poor planning and investment in the city's infrastructure. These demographic changes and poor planning have occurred within a physical geography setting that is conducive for the inducement of floods. Failed urban planning in Cameroon since independence set the city up for a flood-prone land colonization. This today translates to a situation in which large portions of the city's surface area and the populations they harbor are vulnerable to the city's habitual annual floods. While climate change stands to render the city even more vulnerable to floods, there is no evidence that current floods can be attributed to the changes in patterns of rainfall being reported in policy and news domains.

KW - climate change

KW - Douala

KW - floods

KW - population growth

KW - rainfall

KW - urban planning

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84967019328&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1080/09640568.2016.1149048

DO - 10.1080/09640568.2016.1149048

M3 - Article

VL - 60

SP - 204

EP - 230

JO - Journal of Environmental Planning and Management

JF - Journal of Environmental Planning and Management

SN - 1360-0559

IS - 2

ER -