How urbanization and climate change exacerbate the risk of flooding in Mauritania, according to the World Bank


According to the sixth edition of the World Bank’s Economic Update on Mauritania, the country continues to recover from the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, with economic growth increasing from 2.4% in 2021 to 5.2% in 2022.

However, Mauritania still faces multiple challenges and is vulnerable to various shocks, including security risks in the Sahel region, the prolonged conflict in Ukraine and climate risks stemming from recurrent droughts and floods that could cause a slowdown in economic activity and deepen poverty and inequality.

According to the report, the country’s reliance on the extractive sector is a constraint that will hinder the achievement of inclusive growth and poverty reduction. In addition, sharp fluctuations in commodity prices reduce the outlook for stable economic growth, while the high concentration of economic activity in the mining sector hinders inclusion. Furthermore, the human impact from floods and the damage to infrastructure during the last rainy season cost the country’s economy 3% of its GDP.

Against this background, the sixth edition underlines the importance of identifying the main drivers of flooding and outlines a range of solutions considered and proposed. Rapid urbanization caused by population growth and rural exodus is one of the main factors behind the expansion of impervious surface areas and a major cause of the increasing socioeconomic vulnerability of urban areas to floods.

“In order to meet the new challenges of climate change, adaptation measures will need to be implemented and human capital will have to be developed in keeping with efforts to promote resilience and inclusion. As such, the challenges currently facing Mauritania may be seen as key opportunities to be seized,” notes Cristina Isabel Panasco Santos, World Bank Country Manager for Mauritania.

The report also proposes a number of priority reform options designed to mitigate the economic and social impact of climate shocks by strengthening macroeconomic stability and enhancing climate resilience.

Other solutions and reforms proposed in the report include taming inflation and reducing its impact on the most vulnerable, the development of an emergency preparedness and response framework and the preservation of the fiscal space needed for pro-growth investments.

Lastly, one of the priority opportunities put forward in the report involves the adoption of a new town planning and building law as a strategy to promote more resilient urban development.

Source: World Bank