WEMA Project: The impact of extreme weather events on the mental health of vulnerable populations in Africa


  • Africa Health Research Institute

Project summary

Climate change is projected to further increase the number and severity of heatwaves, floods and droughts, causing a disproportionate increase in injury, illness and death in resource-poor settings already burdened with wide-ranging health conditions. The lesser-known, and often overlooked, effects of climate change include the risks and impacts to mental health.

The goal of this project is to make visible the direct impact of extreme weather events on the development of common mental disorders amongst vulnerable populations in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mozambique, and South Africa.  The project team has leveraged existing partnerships and joined forces with new partners to create a transdisciplinary team comprising affected community members, climate scientists, psychiatrists, epidemiologists, statisticians, data scientists, social scientists, decision makers, civil society activists, public engagement, and media experts.

The team will use existing and new data sources to generate evidence to catalyse a shift in policy that recognises the need for adaptation strategies to be integrated with community mental health care to promote good health and wellbeing among at-risk populations displaced by extreme weather events. Partnerships with communities, civil society and the media will amplify findings through advocacy and strategic communication activities targeting decision-makers and different audiences to drive urgent policy and practice change at scale.