Future impacts of climate change on water infrastructures are hard to predict. It creates a challenge for decision-makers to ensure that water infrastructures like dams can withstand future effects of climate change and can still deliver expected services to communities like meeting their water supply needs.
Water infrastructures are usually large projects, irreversible, and expensive because it is expected to last for several decades. Preparing for climate change by adding extra capacity incurs the risk of costly overbuilding.
In resource-scarce countries like Kenya, this is not always possible. However, with the use of flexible infrastructure planning, developing countries can adapt their infrastructures to climate change by building necessary infrastructure at the start but one that would allow expansion in the future if necessary.
The study applied the use of flexible infrastructure approach to a reservoir planning in Mombasa Kenya.
Researchers have developed a planning framework that uses climate models and statistics to project future climate scenarios which allowed them to compare flexible strategies with static approaches.
Results of the study show that “climate change uncertainty can be reduced over the lifetime of an infrastructure project across different climate change trajectories. Flexibility is effective in preventing unnecessary infrastructure additions while maintaining similar reliability.”
The study revealed that the use of incremental approaches to climate adaptation are reliable. Incremental approaches to infrastructure development and adaptation would benefit vulnerable communities, especially those with limited resources.
To read the entire study, click on the link below:
Fletcher, S., Lickley, M. & Strzepek, K. Learning about climate change uncertainty enables flexible water infrastructure planning. Nat Commun 10, 1782 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-09677-x