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GEM’s updated Africa Exposure model is now available!


Dec 13, 2021

The Africa Exposure Model covering northern, western, sub-Saharan and South Africa was first released in May 2019 as part of the Africa Earthquake Model, a mosaic of regional models which underpins the African portion of GEM’s global maps released in December 2018.

The update features major revision of residential, commercial, and industrial exposure across the continent; detailed review of national and regional statistics on construction materials and costs; spatial disaggregation of exposure to an evenly spaced grid of 144 arcseconds; and projection of exposure for future years (5-year increments from 2020 until 2050).

The exposure model was developed for the African continent using a consistent approach across all countries. The model uses national statistics at the subnational level, and further disaggregates the exposure based on population distribution to a resolution of 144 arcseconds. Urban and rural buildings are disaggregated in different areas based on regional urban cluster data.

The exposure was also projected for multiple years until 2050 considering both population growth and urban growth in anticipation of the significant population growth and rate of urbanization throughout much of Africa, making the projection of exposure to future decades critical.

Currently, the vulnerability of Africa’s built environment remains relatively high, mainly because a large proportion of buildings are constructed using unreinforced masonry and adobe bricks, which are highly vulnerable to damage from ground shaking.

The results of this updated exposure model can be used by risk managers, urban planners, emergency responders and humanitarian agencies for input to a wide range of disaster risk mitigation or reduction activities including monitoring of the Sendai Framework indicators.

Results summary (refer to the image gallery)

- Distribution of the main construction materials across Africa

- Expected population increase in major regions in the world

- Top 5 Countries by Building Count

Access the paper for free @sciencedirect until March 25:

Download the following models at:

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