Precipitation trends and the adaptation measures to climate change in Santiago Island (Cape Verde)

18:00 Tuesday 28 May




Carmen Celine Martins (Portugal) 1; Isabel Pedroso De Lima (Portugal) 1,2; João Pedroso De Lima (Portugal) 1,2

1 - MARE – Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre; 2 - Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, University of Coimbra

Cape Verde is a small archipelago, located in the Atlantic Ocean, between latitudes 14º 28′ and 17º 12′ N and longitudes 22º 40′ and 25º 22′ W. It lies in the sub-Saharan African climatic zone, at a distance of approximately 500 km from the Senegal coast (West Africa). Belonging to the group of Small Island Developing States, Cape Verde is formed by 10 islands of volcanic origin and has a total land surface of 4033 km2. In 2018, the estimated population of Cape Verde is approximately 553 300 inhabitants, of which about 54% lives in urban areas. The main economic sectors of the archipelago are tourism and agriculture; both activities are highly dependent on the climate conditions, which in Cape Verde are those typical of a dry tropical climate, with a dry and a wet season; precipitation is characterized by marked variability and seasonality, which impacts water resources availability. Furthermore, the territory is highly vulnerable to the occurrence of extreme natural phenomena (e.g. heavy precipitation, droughts) that are expected to intensify due to climate change.

In 2007, National Adaptation Programme of Action on Climate Change highlighted water resources as a basic cross-cutting sector in climatic risk, which already affects a significant part of the society and is one of the country’s major challenges for the near future. It identified potential strategic adaptation measures, aiming at reducing the vulnerability of Cape Verde to the consequences of climate change and improving the resilience capacity of the threatened areas. However, despite all recent improvements, Cape Verde still faces a lack of water supply to satisfy human and agricultural needs and struggles against floods and droughts.

Santiago is the biggest island of the archipelago; it constitutes about 25% of the national territory and comprises the capital city, Praia, located in a low-lying coastal zone. Praia has been experiencing an exponential growth in the last decades and houses almost 30% of the total country’s population. This work aims at a comprehensive analysis of the water resources management strategies and adaptation measures already implemented by the national agencies in this island, bearing in mind results of local precipitation trend analyses. Despite some limitations, local precipitation data gives insight into the recent water availability, and the conditions expected in the near future, that complement outcomes of regional climate models in view of the disparity between their spatial resolution and the size of the islands.