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BUILDING RESILIENT AFRICAN CITIES IN THE DECADE OF ACTION TECHNICAL CENTRE FOR DISASTER RISK MANAGEMENT, SUSTAINABILITY AND URBAN RESILIENCE (DiMSUR)

Issue no. 2

Dear friends and colleagues,

Welcome to the August edition of our newsletter! We hope you enjoyed our first issue. In case you missed it, please check it out here.

In the months ahead, we will continue to use this platform to keep our partners and stakeholders informed on the progress made and outcomes achieved within the urban resilience portfolio of UN-Habitat in Africa, including updates on CityRAP and the sub-regional project on "Building Urban Climate Resilience in South-Eastern Africa". Here is what to expect in this issue:

  1. Adaptation Fund Project: Building Urban Climate Resilience in South-Eastern Africa
  2. Let's take a deep-dive in Chokwe!
  3. The Adaptation Fund Project in Mozambique
  4. Mayor's take: Ms. Lidia Frederico Cossa Camela
  5. Reflections: Covid-19 and the Climate Change Struggle in African Cities: An Opportunity for Green Recovery and Better Preparedness
  6. Stay in the know about CityRAP: Where are we now?
  7. Zooming Out: City Resilience Global Programme
  8. What are we reading?

1. ADAPTATION FUND PROJECT: BUILDING URBAN CLIMATE RESILIENCE IN SOUTH-EASTERN AFRICA

1.1. PROJECT LAUNCH AND INCEPTION WORKSHOP

On 23-24 June 2020 the Ceremonial Launch of the project, the Inception Workshop and the first Project Steering Committee were held as a two-day event which was organised as a hybrid in-person and virtual meeting in order to comply with the specific COVID-19 related restrictions in both travel and gathering of people in the involved countries.

The Ceremonial Launch, which attracted nearly 200 participants, was attended by the national and local governments of the four countries (Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and the Union of Comoros) and project cities (Morondava, Zomba, Chokwe and Moroni), diplomats, international organizations, private sector, research institutions, United Nations agencies and the general public.

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

The event included a dialogue session between representatives from the national governments and city administrations to share key challenges and opportunities in their countries for resilience building. The project will work with the four cities, the four national governments and a regional institution to implement a mix of city-level resilient infrastructure interventions, national-level capacity building, and a regional mechanism for learning and collaboration. It is anticipated that the project will directly benefit the lives and livelihoods of around 350,000 people in the four countries.

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
Participants in Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and the Union of Comoros during the virtual launch of the Adaptation Fund project

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!

3. THE ADAPTATION FUND PROJECT IN MOZAMBIQUE

3.1. KEY INTERVENTIONS AND ACTIVITIES

At the city level, the main interventions that are being implemented through the Adaptation Fund project "Building Urban Climate Resilience in South East Africa," were developed based on the priorities identified by the city administration, stakeholders and communities through the CityRAP process that took place in Chokwe in 2015. These priorities include:

  • Improving the overall drainage capacity of the city
  • Construction of safe-havens
  • Improving solid waste management
  • Establishing early warning for floods at the community level

At the national level, engagement in Mozambique will cut across:

1. Developing national tools, guidelines, policies and/or legislation for promoting urban climate adaptation by:

  • Studying the possibility to transform the CityRAP tool into a legal instrument to scale it up at the national level
  • Carry out studies and organize specialized workshops and consultations to further integrate climate change adaptation and urban resilience into existing legislation and strategies

2. National and local officers trained in urban climate adaptation techniques and approaches:

  • Organizing additional National Urban Resilience Dialogues in coordination with the World Bank
  • Developing training materials on urban resilience and climate change adaptation tailored for different target groups

4. MAYOR'S TAKE: Lidia Frederico Cossa Camela

Ms. Lidia Federo Cossa was born in Mozambique in the village of Canicado, Guija District. She is a History professor by profession and holds a degree in Sociology from the University of Lisbon, Portugal. During her time as the District Secretary of the National Teacher's Organization, she strongly advocated for better quality of life and working conditions. In 2008, she was elected Member of the Municipal Assembly of Chokwe City.

In 2013, the city experienced a lot of flooding due to heavy rainfall. Ms. Cossa helped organize the Chiaquelane Camp, a refuge centre to provide shelter for the needy. It was in sharing this pain and living with the vulnerable that generated the feeling and need in her to contribute more to help alleviate poverty and develop practical solutions to the challenges in Chokwe City. This same year she was elected as Mayor, and the first woman to run the city’s administration since its founding in 1916.

Ms. Lidia Cossa wears several hats. She is also the Regional President of the Southern Mozambique Forum of Women Mayors and Vice-President of the Fiscal Council of the National Association of Mozambican Municipalities (ANAMM). In this Decade of Action, UN-Habitat is working closely with local authorities and regional governments to achieve sustainable urban development and leave no one behind. We had a brief chat with the Mayor recently, and this is what she had to say:

(i) What motivated you to get involved in the city government of Chokwe?

My motivation came from my will to contribute to improving the well-being of the citizens, creating platforms for the development of the city in all social elements, as well as strengthen the respective pillars for sustainable urban development

(ii) What are the most pressing challenges related to climate change & natural disasters facing Chokwe City today?

The most pressing challenges are urban redevelopment, improvement of environmental sanitation, afforestation, lack of a landfill, reduced exposure to natural disasters, lack of a communication platform and early warning systems for social resilience against natural hazards

(iii) CityRAP was implemented in Chokwe in 2015. In what ways has CityRAP helped to improve the city’s capacity to plan and implement resilience solutions?

CityRAP has improved communication, added knowledge and provided a working methodology to municipal technicians and council members for the implementation of municipal projects that will benefit our residents. The tool has also helped to introduce a sense of belonging through joint planning between the Municipality and the residents, hence bridging the communication gap between the different stakeholders and beneficiaries

(iv) The Adaptation Fund project will be implemented simultaneously in four cities, one city each in Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Comoros. What are some resilience building best practices from Chokwe that can be learnt by the other cities?

Some best practices that can be learnt from Chokwe include; using consultative fora to help with decision-making; employing a participatory and inclusive planning process involving the technical sector and the local community; leveraging local knowledge to provide better guidance for decision-making; and establishing natural disaster management committees.

(v) CityRAP is a highly participatory process. Has the experience of implementing CityRAP influenced planning processes within the city administration of Chokwe?

Yes, on a large scale, CityRAP has shaped our methodology of action. We have adopted a bottom-up approach.

(vi) What is your favourite place in Chokwe or where you can go to take a break from your busy life as the mayor?

I enjoy spending time in my pasture house, where I am in nature and I get to do a few agricultural activities.

5. REFLECTIONS:

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.

6. STAY IN THE KNOW ABOUT CITYRAP - WHERE ARE WE NOW?

In line with the continuing commitment to disseminate and improve the CityRAP methodology, several activities with different academic institutions were carried out in the past months.

6.1. UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD, UNITED KINGDOM

In December 2019, UN-Habitat started a collaboration with the University of Sheffield on a project related to CityRAP. A team of four students from the University’s Master’s course on “Cities and Global Development” undertook a research project to help UN-Habitat evaluate the impacts of CityRAP, challenges, outcomes of the City Resilience Framework for Action (CityRFA) and the next steps forward.

Four cities where CityRAP has been implemented were selected in consultation with UN-Habitat as case studies. These are; Zomba (Malawi), Lusaka (Zambia), Moroni (Comoros) and Lideta/ Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). Desk reviews and online interviews were conducted with key stakeholders involved in the implementation process. An analysis report was produced to provide UN-Habitat with practical feedback on the CityRAP implementation in the fours cities to help increase the outcomes (RFAs) of the CityRAP process. The collaboration culminated in June 2020 with an online presentation of the final report to UN-Habitat by the student group. To request a copy of the report, please email selene.angelone@un.org

6.2. BLOXHUB SUMMER SCHOOL ON URBAN RESILIENCE 2020, INTERNATIONAL URBAN RESILIENCE ACADEMY IURA, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN DENMARK SDU

UN-Habitat was invited to present CityRAP to the 2020 edition of the Summer School on Urban Resilience organised by the International Urban Resilience Academy (IURA), a platform for education and capacity building activities on Urban Resilience at Civil and Architectural Engineering, University of Southern Denmark SDU. The summer school aims at providing multi-disciplinary knowledge and perspectives on the different global and local challenges for urban resilience in the Global South and North.

In June 2020, UN-Habitat presented CityRAP during a webinar titled "Tools and methods for climate action plans and transformative participation". In attendance were students, lecturers and professionals in the field of urban resilience.

6.3. MASTER “EMERGENCY & RESILIENCE”, UNIVERSITÀ IUAV DI VENEZIA, ITALY

On 30-31 March 2020, UN-Habitat colleagues gave a lecture within the “Emergency & Resilience” Master's programme. This is a postgraduate specialisation programme focused on analyzing and defining the use of architectural knowledge as a resource in humanitarian emergencies.

Within the framework of the programme's module, corresponding with the mitigation phase of the Emergency Management Cycle, CityRAP was presented as an approach for participatory planning in cities to make them more resilient to disasters. The students present were invited to test the CityRAP online crash course, (to be released soon) and get their feedback on how to further improve the course.

7. ZOOMING OUT: UN-HABITAT'S CITY RESILIENCE GLOBAL PROGRAMME

While most of UN-Habitat's programme on urban resilience in Africa is encompassed within the work of DiMSUR and features CityRAP and a number of regional projects such as the Adaptation Fund project, the organization has a broader global urban resilience programme that offers many exciting tools and activities in Africa and beyond! We would like to present some of these to you here and in coming issues.

UN-Habitat’s City Resilience Global Programme provides partners at national, local and international levels an integrated multi-hazard, multi-sector, multi-stakeholder framework for measuring and monitoring urban systems ability to withstand and recover quickly from hazards.

Its City Resilience Profiling Tool is a process developed over 9 years with more than 10 local governments, and shaped by UN-Habitat’s extensive expertise in urban issues, to gather and analyse data about a city’s specific context and performance.

Through this process UN-Habitat holds resilience trainings and workshops with government staff and city partners, develops in-depth resilience profiles, and produces actionable guidance for cities to increase their capacity to build urban resilience for the long term.

8. WHAT ARE WE READING?

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.

We just marked the 75th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter. Here's what YOU can do!

Credits:

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