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Climate and health country profile: Colombia

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This Colombian country profile identifies areas for action,formulated in 11 specific regional adaptation plans. Efforts are concentrated in the most vulnerable areas of the country.

Colombia is a country of diverse geography and climatic regions including tropical rainforests, savannas, steppes, deserts and mountainous areas.

In terms of population health, Colombia has made continued progress in attainment of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).

Climate change threatens these advancements through increased risk of: water shortages and disruption to agricultural production in the elevated Andes – with resultant threats to food security and nutrition; sea level rise and floods impacting human settlements and economic activities in coastal regions; an increase in infectious disease, particularly malaria, dengue fever, diarrhoeal disease and acute respiratory infection; rising temperatures with subsequent heat-related mortality and morbidity; detrimental long-term consequences of climate change impacts on mental health, and damage to hospital infrastructure.

Colombia has formulated 11 specific regional adaptation plans.

Summary of Key findings:

Under a high emissions scenario, mean annual temperature is projected to rise by about 5°C on average from 1990 to 2100. If emissions decrease rapidly, the temperature rise is limited to about 1.5°C.
Under a high emissions scenario, and without large investments in adaptation, an annual average of 37,700 people are projected to be affected by flooding due to sea level rise between 2070 and 2100. If emissions decrease rapidly and there is a major scale up in protection (i.e. continued construction/raising of dikes) the annual affected population could be limited to less than 100 people.
Adaptation alone will not offer sufficient protection, as sea level rise is a long-term process, with high emissions scenarios bringing increasing impacts well beyond the end of the century.
Under a high emissions scenario heat-related deaths in the elderly (65+ years) are projected to increase to over 87 deaths per 100,000 by 2080 compared to the estimated baseline of less than one death per 100,000 annually between 1961 and 1990. A rapid reduction in emissions could limit heat-related deaths in the elderly to about 15 deaths per 100,000 in 2080.  

​[adapted from abstract]