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Publication | 2024

Liberia Country Climate and Development Report


The effects of a warming climate are slow building and chronic. Hotter days will gradually evolve into extreme seasons and years. Erratic rainfall patterns will intensify into more frequent and catastrophic floods. The consequences will not be confined to environmental degradation but will permeate the economy and the well-being of Liberia’s people.

Many factors leave Liberia particularly vulnerable to climate change. Its economy is highly dependent on its natural wealth, its fiscal space is limited, its infrastructure and services are inadequate, and its human development outcomes are among the lowest in the world. Farmers often use inefficient technologies that are vulnerable to weather and lack access to credit, good-quality seeds, and other inputs and markets, making agricultural productivity low and food insecurity high. Half of the population lives below the national poverty line, and over a quarter lives below the international poverty line of US$2.15 per day.

This Country Climate and Development Report (CCDR) examines Liberia’s development trajectory through the lens of the country’s vulnerability to climate change. It identifies Liberia’s development risks and opportunities, models various scenarios of climate impact and intervention, and proposes ways to strengthen resilience and finance climate actions that support Liberia’s development aspirations of inclusive growth and poverty reduction.

Though Liberia is among the lowest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs) responsible for global climate change, it has low readiness to adapt to its effects. This paradox frames the subsequent analysis, and many of the climate actions recommended in this report are responsive to adaptation needs rather than mitigation.

For instance, rice, a main staple in Liberia, is extremely reactive to higher humidity, extreme temperatures, heavy rainfall, and the pests that flourish under these conditions. The CCDR finds that Liberia’s rain-fed rice production could be reduced by up to 13 percent over 2041–2050 from climate change compared to the baseline scenario. The resultant decrease in income and heightened reliance on costly imports could exacerbate poverty and food insecurity for many Liberian households.

If nothing is done, climate change could shrink Liberia’s economy by 15 percent and push 1.3 million people into poverty by 2050. Implementing just a few adaptation interventions could boost agricultural productivity and enhance climate resilience of almost 800.000 people.

The adaptation interventions examined (based on data availability) narrowly target heat stress, crop erosion, rain-fed crop production, and coastal flooding. Priority climate actions will need to respond to essential infrastructure needs, human development promotion, sustainable land management, and climate risk and readiness.

The report proposes four themes of climate actions. Most of the actions respond to adaptation needs (scaling protective infrastructure, preparing the health system, adopting climate-smart agriculture practices, prioritizing forestry communities, promoting strategic land use planning, and improving disaster risk response); many can also facilitate mitigation and low-carbon pathways.