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The impact of climate variability and change on economic growth and poverty in Zambia:


  • Thurlow, James
  • Zhu, Tingju
  • Diao, Xinshen


"We combined a hydro-crop model with a dynamic general equilibrium (DCGE) model to assess the impacts of climate variability and change on economic growth and poverty reduction in Zambia. The hydro-crop model is first used to estimate the impact of climate variability on crop yields over the past three decades and such analysis is done at the crop level for each of Zambia's five agroecological zones, supported by the identification of zonal-level extreme weather events using a drought index analysis. Agricultural production is then disaggregated into these five agroelcological zones in the DCGE model. Drawing on the hydro-crop model results at crop level across the five zones, a series of simulations are designed using the DCGE model to assess the impact of climate variability on economic growth and poverty. We find that climate variability costs the country US$4.3 billion over a 10-year period. These losses reach as high as US$7.1 billion under Zambia's worst rainfall scenario. Moreover, most of the negative impacts of climate variability occur in the southern and central regions of the country, where food insecurity is most vulnerable to climate shocks. Overall, climate variability keeps 300,000 people below the national poverty line by 2016. A similar method is also used to examine the potential impact of climate change on the economy based on projections of a well-known global climate model and two hypothetical scenarios. We find that the effects of current patterns of climate variability dominate over those of potential climate change in the near future (until 2025). Differences in assumptions regarding rainfall changes influence both the size (to a large degree) and direction (to a lesser extent) of the economic impact of climate change. If rainfall declines by 15 percent, then climate change enhances the negative effects of climate variability by a factor of 1.5 and pushes an additional 30,000 people below the poverty line over a 10-year period. Moreover, the effects of climate change and variability compound each other, with the number of poor people rising to 74,000 if climate change is coupled with Zambia's worst 10-year historical rainfall pattern." from authors' abstract

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  • Thurlow, James & Zhu, Tingju & Diao, Xinshen, 2009. "The impact of climate variability and change on economic growth and poverty in Zambia:," IFPRI discussion papers 890, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:ifprid:890

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Breisinger, Clemens & Thurlow, James, 2008. "Asian-driven resource booms in Africa: Rethinking the impacts on development," IFPRI discussion papers 747, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Benin, Samuel & Thurlow, James & Diao, Xinshen & Kalinda, Henrietta & Kalinda, Thomson, 2008. "Agricultural growth and investment options for poverty reduction in Zambia:," IFPRI discussion papers 791, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. Tsakiris, G. P., 1982. "A method for applying crop sensitivity factors in irrigation scheduling," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 335-343, December.
    4. James Thurlow & Peter Wobst, 2006. "Not All Growth is Equally Good for the Poor: The Case of Zambia," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies, vol. 15(4), pages 603-625, December.
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    Cited by:

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    2. Escalante, Luis Enrique & Maisonnave, Helene, 2021. "Evaluating the Regional Impacts of Climate Change on Women's Well-Being, Domestic Burdens and Food Security in Bolivia," 2021 Conference, August 17-31, 2021, Virtual 315851, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. Sulser, T. B., 2009. "Green and blue water accounting in the Limpopo and Nile basins: implications for food and agricultural policy," IWMI Working Papers H042476, International Water Management Institute.
    4. Gebreegziabher, Zenebe & Stage, Jesper & Mekonnen, Alemu & Alemu, Atlaw, 2011. "Climate Change and the Ethiopian Economy: A Computable General Equilibrium Analysis," RFF Working Paper Series dp-11-09-efd, Resources for the Future.
    5. Montaud, Jean-Marc & Pecastaing, Nicolas & Tankari, Mahamadou, 2017. "Potential socio-economic implications of future climate change and variability for Nigerien agriculture: A countrywide dynamic CGE-Microsimulation analysis," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 128-142.
    6. Richardson, Robert B. & Olabisi, Laura Schmitt & Waldman, Kurt B. & Sakana, Naomi & Brugnone, Nathan G., 2021. "Modeling interventions to reduce deforestation in Zambia," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 194(C).
    7. Khalifa, Sherin & Henning, Christian H. C. A., 2020. "Climate change and civil conflict in SSA and MENA: The same phenomena, but different mechanisms?," Working Papers of Agricultural Policy WP2020-03, University of Kiel, Department of Agricultural Economics, Chair of Agricultural Policy.
    8. Yu, Bingxin & Zhu, Tingju & Breisinger, Clemens & Hai, Nguyen Manh, 2010. "Impacts of climate change on agriculture and policy options for adaptation: The case of Vietnam," IFPRI discussion papers 1015, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    9. Breisinger, Clemens & Zhu, Tingju & Al Riffai, Perrihan & Nelson, Gerald & Robertson, Richard & Funes, Jose & Verner, Dorte, 2011. "Global and local economic impacts of climate change in Syria and options for adaptation:," IFPRI discussion papers 1091, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    10. Ismail Ouraich & Wallace E. Tyner, 2014. "Climate Change Impacts on Moroccan Agriculture and the Whole Economy: An Analysis of the Impacts of the Plan Maroc Vert in Morocco," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2014-083, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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    Climate variability; General equilibrium model; Agriculture; Poverty; Climate change; Development strategies;
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