Climatic Change

, Volume 106, Issue 4, pp 621–647 | Cite as

Hydroclimate risk to economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa

  • Casey BrownEmail author
  • Robyn Meeks
  • Kenneth Hunu
  • Winston Yu


In order to plan strategies for adaptation to climate change, the current effects of climate on economic growth need to be understood. This study reviews evidence of climate effects on economic growth and presents original analysis of the effect in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Case studies from the literature demonstrate that historically, climate has had significant and negative effects on household income, agricultural productivity and economic growth in SSA. This study focuses on the effects hydroclimatic variability on economic growth in the countries of SSA. We utilize a new national level precipitation statistic that incorporates spatial and temporal variability within each country. Country level economic growth statistics are analyzed in panel regressions. Persistent negative precipitation anomalies (drought) are found to be the most significant climate influence on GDP per capita growth. Temperature and precipitation variability show significant effects in some cases. Results imply the consideration of hydroclimatic risks, namely drought, may be the priority concern for adaptation to a changing climate for Sub-Saharan Africa. This conclusion is contrary to the premise of many climate change impact assessments that focus on temperature increases as the primary concern.


Rainfall Variability Palmer Drought Severity Index Capita Growth Climate Risk Federal Emergency Management Agency 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Casey Brown
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robyn Meeks
    • 2
  • Kenneth Hunu
    • 1
  • Winston Yu
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA
  2. 2.John F. Kennedy School of GovernmentHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.The World BankWashingtonUSA

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