Sierra Leone

Many of the world’s most disaster-prone cities are also the most difficult to model and plan. Their high vulnerability to natural hazards is often defined by low levels of economic resources, data scarcity, and limited professional expertise. As the frequency and severity of natural disasters threaten to increase with climate change, and as cities sprawl and densify in hazardous areas, better decision-making tools are needed to mitigate the effects of near- and long-term extreme events. We use mostly public data from landslide and flooding events in 2017 in Freetown, Sierra Leone to simulate the events’ impact on transportation infrastructure and continue to simulate alternative high-risk disasters. From this, we propose a replicable framework that combines natural hazard estimates with road network vulnerability analysis for data-scarce environments. Freetown’s most central road intersections and transects are identified, particularly those that are both prone to serviceability loss due to natural hazard and whose disruption would cause the most severe immediate consequences on the entire road supply in terms of connectivity. Variations in possible road use are also tested in areas with potential road improvements, pointing to opportunities to harden infrastructure or reinforce redundancy in strategic transects of the road network. This method furthers network science’s contributions to transportation resilience under hydrometeorological hazard and climate change threats with the goal of informing investments and improving decision-making on transportation infrastructure in data-scarce environments.

Nelson, Andrew, Sarah Lindbergh, Lucy Stephenson, Jeremy Halpern, Fatima Arroyo Arroyo, Xavier Espinet, and Marta C. González. “Coupling natural hazard estimates with road network analysis to assess vulnerability and risk: case study of Freetown (Sierra Leone).” Transportation research record 2673, no. 8 (2019): 11-24. [PDF]

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