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Sub Saharan Hazard and Risk Assessment (SSAHARA)



The East African Rift System (EARS) is the major active tectonic feature of the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region. Although the seismicity level of such a divergent plate boundary can be described as moderate, several damaging earthquakes have been reported in historical times, and the seismic risk is exacerbated by the high vulnerability of the local buildings and structures. Formulation and enforcement of national seismic codes is therefore an essential risk mitigation


A reliable risk assessment must be based on an updated and reliable seismic hazard model for the region. The last published regional model for SSA was developed within the frame of the GSHAP project and is almost 20 years old (Midzi et al., 1999).

The availability of new data, local and regional seismotectonic studies and recently developed methods and tools prompt the development of a new PSHA model summarizing the current state of knowledge in Sub-Saharan Africa.


In September 2014, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) GEM funding support to implement a program entitled “Reducing Earthquake Risk collaboratively by Building Capacity and Leveraging GEM’s Open Tools and Resources”. One of the objectives of this program was:

  • to build the capacity in sub-Saharan Africa for integrated risk assessment and development of city earthquake scenarios involving local decision-makers.

The project produced the SSA-GEM homogenized catalogue; the Seismic Source Zones; the Probabilistic Hazard Calculations; the Strain Rate Model; earthquake risk in East Sub-Saharan Africa; the residential building stock; and the Social Vulnerability and Integrated Risk in Sub Sahara Africa.


The development of a regional model would not have been possible without the contribution of experts from the local scientific community. Partnership with local governmental institutions and authorities was an essential step to facilitate model acceptance and for potential integration with national seismic codes. GEM worked with the following institutions for the implementation of the SSAHARA project.

  • African Union;

  • AfricaArray;

  • FEPRA – Ethiopia;

  • University of Pennsylvania;

  • Addis Ababa City Government;

  • UNDP Regional Office; and

  • international agencies, municipalities and government agencies


Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda


SSAHARA wiki website containing technical descriptions and overview of the project.


Preventionweb article on the release of the Africa Model developed as part of the Sub-Sahara Hazard and Risk Assessment (SSAHARA) project funded by USAID.


The contents of this project website such as studies, reports, audio-visual, news articles, blogs, and other information or media products including those in the external links are made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

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