African Journal of
Environmental Science and Technology

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Environ. Sci. Technol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0786
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJEST
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 1070

Full Length Research Paper

Occupational health impacts of climate change across different climate zones and elevations in sub-Saharan East Africa

Samuel Kruse
  • Samuel Kruse
  • Department of Computer Sciences, School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Madison, United States.
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Odilichi Ezenwanne
  • Odilichi Ezenwanne
  • Aaron E. Henry Community Health Services Center Inc. United States.
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Matthias Otto
  • Matthias Otto
  • Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
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Tord Kjellstrom
  • Tord Kjellstrom
  • Health and Environment International Trust, New Zealand.
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Patrick Remington
  • Patrick Remington
  • School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin - Madison, United States.
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Bruno Lemke
  • Bruno Lemke
  • Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
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Belay Simane
  • Belay Simane
  • Center for Environment and Sustainable Development College of Development Studies Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.
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Jonathan A Patz
  • Jonathan A Patz
  • Global Health Institute of University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States.
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  •  Received: 03 January 2021
  •  Accepted: 25 May 2021
  •  Published: 30 June 2021


Climate change will cause Sub-Saharan tropical countries to experience a disproportionate increase in the number of extremely hot days when compared to Western countries with more temperate climates. We use the High Occupational Temperature Health and Productivity Suppression (HOTHAPS) model to estimate the potential impact of rising temperatures on worker productivity in different climate regions within Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya under varying future climate change scenarios. Using population data obtained from the International Labor Organization, we also estimate productivity losses at a country-wide level. We project large inter-country and intra-country disparities in productivity losses due to varying climatic conditions and local geography. Populations living in lower elevations or in more tropical and arid zones will experience higher productivity losses than those at higher elevations with more temperate climates. We estimate that some areas could lose over 12% productivity by 2099.  Comparing climate change impacts across cities, Mombasa, Kenya, is projected to suffer most, losing 13% of its labor productivity. Cities above 1500 m in elevation showed almost no productivity loss by the end of the century. Increased heat stress projected from climate change will pose added risk to workers and labor production in lower elevation settings across East Africa.


Key words: Climate change, occupational health, Sub-Saharan Africa, health impacts, heat stress, WBGT.