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The Economics of Climate Change in Zanzibar - Final Summary Report

Published: 22nd June 2015 16:02Last Updated: 21st September 2015 16:53
screen shot 2015-08-27 at 12 - climate adaptation.

Image from p. 15: These represent land area most at risk from major storm surges and high tides (which are likely to increase with sea level rise) 

Executive Summary

This study - the ‘Economics of Climate Change in Zanzibar’ - has assessed the current and potential future impacts of climate change on the islands, the potential adaptation options to address these impacts, and the opportunities for low carbon development. The key findings are set out below.

  • Zanzibar’s economy is very dependent on the climate: a large proportion of GDP, employment and livelihoods are associated with climate sensitive activities (in coastal, agriculture and tourism sectors).

  • The climate of Zanzibar is changing and recent decades have seen rising temperatures, increased rainfall variability, higher wind speeds and high-tide levels, and an increase in extreme events (climate variability). The latter have led to droughts and floods which have had major economic costs in terms of GDP. It is clear that Zanzibar is not adequately adapted to the current climate, and there is an urgent need – as well as a large economic benefit – from addressing this existing adaptation deficit.

  • Zanzibar is putting in place impressive development plans and the MKUZA II Implementation Plan (IP) will help to reduce current vulnerability though development. However, the IP does not currently take short-term trends in climate variability or future climate change into account, and it has not yet assessed how climate change might affect investments and planned outcomes. An initial screening of the IP has highlighted a number of high risk areas, where greater climate resilience could be included, as well as identifying a number of potential opportunities for low carbon and adaptation finance.

  • In the medium to longer term, climate change will lead to potentially high economic impacts on the islands. There are potential threats from climate change on coastal and marine areas (including fisheries), tourism, agriculture, health, energy supply and demand, infrastructure, water resources and demand, and ecosystem services. Indeed, the combined effects of current climate vulnerability and future climate change could be large enough to prevent Zanzibar achieving key economic growth, development and poverty reduction targets, including the planned timetable for achieving middle income status.

  • Adaptation can reduce these impacts and there is emerging international finance available for funding. A broad set of potential adaptation options has been identified in the study. These have been prioritised into a short-term priority plan, built around an adaptation pathway that maximises economic no regret opportunities, whilst building information to help decisions in the future, especially in the face of uncertainty. However, operationalizing adaptation and delivering such a plan will require significant funds, as well as institutional capacity. Building this capacity is an early key priority.

  • The study has also considered the opportunities for Zanzibar to move towards a more sustainable, lower carbon pathway. The current use of energy on the islands is leading to economic, social and environmental impacts, and there are problems of load shedding and high back-up generation costs. The analysis has considered current energy use and emissions on the islands, and future trends with planned development. While emissions increases will be necessary for Zanzibar’s growth, and there is no suggestion that future emissions should be constrained, the study has found an alternative growth strategy based around low carbon options would be more sustainable, provide wider economic and environmental benefits, and could provide sources of financing to help fund the transition, while also meeting underlying development and growth objectives. It is stressed that these opportunities exist for energy use in households and transport, in agriculture and in natural resource management, as well as in the electricity sector in the form of renewables.

  • Finally, the study has set out the next steps. These focus around the development of a Zanzibar Climate Change Strategy, which includes consideration of climate resilience and low carbon development, prioritisation of options and mainstreaming, and routes to finance. 

Temperature trends - Zanzibar (click to enlarge)

Further resources


Watkiss, P. Pye, S., Hendriksen, G, Maclean, A., Bonjean, M. Shaghude, Y, Jiddawi, N, Sheikh, M. A. and Khamis, Z (2012). The Economics of Climate Change in Zanzibar. Study Report for the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, Climate Change Committee.