Our support to vulnerable countries ranges across nine sectors including urban development and Disaster Risk Reduction which are areas where Southern African countries face significant challenges induced by rapid urbanization and recurrent natural hazards. By supporting national governments to create enabling conditions for scaling up and replicating the same climate resilience approach in other urban settlements, we have confidence in this project to create conditions for impacts beyond its 4 years term
Mikko Ollikainen, Manager - Adaptation Fund Secretariat
In Madagascar, climate change is a reality the consequences of which are being felt more and more. The most common are cyclones, floods and droughts. These hazards put the Malagasy population and its development activities in a situation of repetitive and growing vulnerability
Harimanana Rabe, Director -General of Regional Planning, Madagascar
For more information on the Adaptation Fund Project, please watch the video above and check out the previous newsletter edition here, or download the project leaflet below:
1.2. PROJECT GOVERNANCE
The "Building Urban Climate Resilience in South-Eastern Africa" project is implemented by UN-Habitat alongside a number of "Executing Entities", namely the four Governments, OXFAM, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and DiMSUR.
At the regional level, the Project Steering Committee (PSC) is the overall decision-making body in coordinating the project. It meets to:
- Review, discuss and provide substantive comments and main recommendations to the annual narrative reports prepared and presented by the Executing Entities during the annual meetings
- Review, discuss and approve the annual work plans submitted by the Executing Entities
- Define main strategies and provide overall policy guidance, recommendations and orientations for project implementation and coordination throughout the implementation period
At the national level, the National Project Coordination Teams (NPCTs) provide guidance and recommendations, including adaptive management decisions for all project activities occurring within the country.
At the city level, the City Project Teams (CPTs) make the adaptive management decisions regarding activities to be undertaken for proper coordination and implementation mechanisms.
1.3. SIXTH DIMSUR EXECUTIVE BOARD MEETING (1st Meeting of the Project Steering Committee (PSC)
On the second day of the Inception Workshop, the PSC brought together the key partners and stakeholders from the city-, national- and regional- levels involved in the project. Membership of the PSC is mostly comprised of the same members as the DiMSUR Executive Board. This is because DiMSUR is the main umbrella institution for the project. Chaired by Mr. Tackfine Ahmed, Director General of Civil Security of the Union of Comoros, the PSC met to:
- Adopt the Minutes of the 5th (previous) DiMSUR Executive Board Meeting held in 2018
- Review, discuss and provide comments on the PSC Terms of Reference, project governance and DiMSUR recruitment plan
- Review, discuss and develop the 2020-2021 work plans, implementation strategy and monitoring framework at the city level, national level and regional level
- Review and discuss the COVID-19 related contingencies for project implementation
The main takeaways from the meeting as initial steps for operationalizing the project include:
- Preparing a joint work plan and implementation strategy for year one, taking into consideration ongoing complementary initiatives, relevant policies/strategies
- Recruiting the DiMSUR Executive Director to help streamline knowledge management between countries learning from each other
- Conducting a stakeholder mapping analysis to define existing ones and identify potential new stakeholders across all levels
- Integrating the environmental and social safeguard strategy as part of the project work plan
- Documenting all activities carried out at the national and city level to facilitate effective knowledge sharing mechanism and exchange of best practices at the regional level
- Communicating in a consistent and uniform way using the communications strategy as a guide
- Engaging media partners and using digital channels such as social media to interact with different stakeholders
- Implementing strategies related to gender and youth in the work plan
2. LET'S TAKE A DEEP-DIVE
2.1. CHALLENGES IN CHOKWE CITY
In each of the first four issues of this newsletter we will present in more detail the cities in which the Adaptation Fund project will be implemented. In the previous issue Zomba, Malawi was featured. This time, welcome to Chokwe, Mozambique! Bem-vinda!
Mozambique ranks third among the African countries most exposed to multiple weather-related hazards, suffering from periodic cyclones, drought, floods and related epidemics. Drought occurs primarily in the southern region, with a frequency of seven droughts for every ten years.
Chokwe City is located in southern Mozambique in Gaza Province, along the lower Limpopo River. Due to its location and low-lying lands/flat terrain, Chokwe is susceptible both to fluvial and rain flooding.
The city is prone to droughts, recurrent cyclones, storms, and especially flooding, and is considered one of the most exposed areas to natural hazards in the country. The recurrence of floods in the area have varied throughout the years, ranging from small occurrences to catastrophic events, notably the 2000 and the 2013 floods, during which the entire population of the city was affected. About 60% of Chokwe city's population lives below the poverty line.
Some of the main issues that need to be addressed immediately include:
- Non-functioning drainage system
- Inefficient solid waste management
Chokwe is primarily an agricultural town, and it is famous for its delicious tomatoes!
Covid-19 and the Climate Change Struggle in African Cities: An Opportunity for Green Recovery and Better Preparedness
The tale of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the saga of climate change are inherently interlinked, presenting both challenges and opportunities in the context of a rapidly urbanizing African continent.
Starting with the challenges and risks, it is clear that Covid-19 and the global response of lockdowns and restrictions are amplifying crises already worsened by climate change. The dual trials of climate change and Covid-19 will exacerbate the vulnerabilities of food and health systems and economies and intensify already grave disaster risks. Undeniably, the poorest and most vulnerable are most at jeopardy both in terms of the direct threat posed by the virus and its wide-ranging health and socioeconomic consequences, and the negative impacts of climate change which deepen these effects.
First, it is important to understand that Covid-19 is a zootic disease, which are diseases and infections naturally transmitted between people and vertebrate animals. According to the WHO, generally most emerging infectious diseases, and almost all recent pandemics, originate in wildlife, and there is evidence that increasing human pressure on the natural environment enables disease emergence. In Africa, rural-urban migration driven by climate change continues to cause loss of natural habitats and force humans to trespass more into these habitats for energy and other needs. With lack of access to other forms of energy, people in many African countries depend substantially on the burning of biomass for their energy needs, which increases land degradation and encroachment into natural habitats and leads to more chances of human contact with wild animals, results in a heightened risk of zoonotic diseases emerging.
Second, the health challenges stemming from the coronavirus crisis are clear and extensive, especially in Africa, where the health systems of countries are weaker than those elsewhere in the world. As of August 2020, the real damage Covid-19 could reap on the continent in terms of human health and lives lost is yet to be fully seen. While we don’t yet know the extent of pressure the virus will exert on health systems and their ability to withstand, it is already very clear that improving health infrastructure and reducing the vulnerability of society to health threats, particularly by improving air quality and reducing fuel poverty, must become a priority.
The third challenge at the intersection of the coronavirus crisis and climate change in Africa relates to food security, as the pandemic comes at a time when underlying climate change impacts are already compromising food and water security. Covid-19 is further ravaging food industries, especially staple foods, which are critical for livelihoods in Africa. In a recent Economic Commission for Africa report, the argument was made that African countries must ensure that coronavirus response causes minimal disruption to labor for farming and food processing, to food imports and to domestic distribution and retail channels. In light of this problem, promoting urban and peri-urban agriculture may be considered as a strategy that can bring multiple benefits and help to build resilient urban food systems at the city level.
Finally, the current pandemic further complicates an already sensitive multi-hazard climate in Africa, where as a result of climate change, natural hazards in the region have been increasing in frequency and intensity. Annually, almost all countries in the region are exposed to one or more of the following hazards: cyclones, storms, floods, drought, earthquakes, tremors and landslides. Due to the high and complex concentration of people and assets, cities face the biggest challenges caused by these hazards. The baseline is already quite dire, but now consideration needs to be given to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, which is not likely to go away soon. For example, East Africa has recently faced a triple crisis of Covid-19, locusts and floods. The combination of these disasters is not random, as the floods, lake levels and locusts can all be linked to climate change. Cities in Africa now have to think about preparing for natural disaster with a coronavirus lens. This will require new and innovative approaches to disaster risk reduction (DRR), for example, when planning shelters and evacuation, physical distancing and hygiene need to be taken into account.
Building on opportunities for green recovery and better preparedness
However, there is a silver lining, and there are clear opportunities offered by the coronavirus pandemic which the continent must seize while the momentum is present. The global economic slowdown gave the planet a moment to breathe and led immediately to improved air quality and reduced emissions. This momentary win for the environment serves as an example for the baseline for what can be achieved globally and can result in the introduction of long-lasting sustainable habits. Now we must ensure that these emissions don’t increase rapidly as economies rev back up, for which African cities will need to lead the way by garnering public demand, channeling innovation and leveraging green technology.
While the impetus on climate action might temporarily be hampered by the ongoing crisis, the way the world has responded to the pandemic may help the African response in dealing with the existential threat of climate change. Building long-term development strategies post-Covid-19 that are focused on low carbon climate-resilient development pathways bring multiple wins for society, economies and the environment. According to the African Climate Policy Centre, an African economic rebound based on resilience and powered by the continent’s abundant clean energy resources will create more jobs, enhance trade and contribute to global climate action, while addressing the continent’s chronic energy access deficit. How we recover from covid will be key – we need to address the health crisis while at the same time protecting ourselves against the persistent threat of climate change. In Africa, if demand for it is fueled, the pandemic can lead to initiating a transformational and green recovery with the creation of green jobs. Investing in climate can help drive green urban economic recovery and facilitate the transition to carbon neutral cities in Africa.
CALL FOR ACTION: Taking action for cities
The time to act is now. Join us in taking action in cities to build more resilient communities. All stakeholders including, but not limited to, civil society organizations, community groups, professional, academic and research institutions, businesses and local authorities are invited to commit online to acting in solidarity to fight the pandemic in cities and helping the most vulnerable communities. The #TakeAction4Cities campaign provides a central place to network and share solutions, initiatives, good practices, lessons and stories from partners and strengthen integrated action to improve the resilience of cities and communities.
UN-Habitat: COVID-19 in Africa Cities: Impacts, Responses and Policies
The COVID-19 risk factors are acute in African cities in part due to the largely unplanned and poorly managed urbanization process resulting in widespread informal settlements, severe infrastructure and service deficits. In 2019, about 47% of Africa's urban population lived in slums or informal settlements, which translates into about 257 million people across the region.
Furthermore, most urban residents rely on the informal sector that employs 71% of Africans, making them highly vulnerable to loss of income and unable to abide by restrictions and lockdown measures. African cities often have high population densities coupled with overcrowded public transport and marketplaces making social distancing almost impossible. These factors combined make African cities hotbeds for COVID-19.
To promptly and adequately address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa at the urban scale and through local governments, six key responses are recommended for short, medium and long term interventions led by national and local governments with the support of the African Union, United Nations System and Regional Economic Communities (RECs). Find out in the recently launched publication - COVID 19 in African cities.
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