Upcoming webinar: An Embedded Researcher approach to integrate climate information into decision-making in southern African cities: lessons from FRACTAL
Building the climate resilience of African cities fits squarely within the category of complex problems that may benefit from taking a transdisciplinary approach to co-producing actionable knowledge between multiple actors and disciplines. Yet one of the key challenges in implementing a transdisciplinary approach is building enough trust, familiarity and understanding across various boundaries to engage in meaningful co-production.
Water is the lifeblood for urban settlements. Disruptions in supply and/or wastewater management hold enormous risks, both for human health and economic wellbeing. It goes without say that the investment in bulk water infrastructure requires strategic and long-term perspective. However, in the southern African context, many city engineers responsible for urban infrastructure on the ground face a multiplicity of challenges that may frustrate their efforts to plan proactively.
What constitutes a developed African city? How does Blantyre City achieve it? And is the waste-to-energy value chain a realistic goal for the city? Those were the key questions posed to participants at a stakeholder think tank workshop in Blantyre, Malawi.
Welcome to the June 2019 edition of the Future Climate for Africa newsletter
Keeping water in the taps of a city the size of Cape Town is a team effort. It calls for a spectrum of people to work together to manage a water system that spreads for many kilometres beyond the urban edge of the city across the mountainous catchments with at least five major dams feeding it. The collaboration involves people responsible for the day-to-day operational decisions, through to those who handle the decades-long infrastructure planning and building, and many layers of technicians and bureaucrats in between.
Lusaka is one of Africa’s fastest growing cities, and urban densification and economic growth will call for more strategic planning of its water supply and infrastructure. The Zambian capital has enough water supply for the foreseeable future, however the growing demand for this resource from city users, the hydro-power scheme on the river which supplies Lusaka’s electricity, and the sugarcane industry upriver of the city, will call for greater cooperation between the city and various government departments that are responsible for these different sectors.
The first hurricane-strength storm to be recorded in Mozambique made landfall last week in the north of the country, less than a month after Cyclone Idai wiped out an estimated 90 percent of the infrastructure in the coastal city of Beira, about 1 000 km up the coast of the country’s capital, Maputo, in March.
When the Mozambican capital of Maputo gets hit by heavy storms, some parts of the city experience flash floods. This leads to a build-up of stagnant water and swampy conditions that are ideal for outbreaks of diseases like malaria or cholera. The more densely populated and poorly designed parts of the city are most at risk.
How does a small business like a restaurant or panel beater in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, buffer itself against the impact of the kind of extreme drought that hit Southern Africa in the summer of 2014, owing to the arrival of the El Nino weather phenomenon? It buys a diesel generator as a back-up, in case of power outages resulting when lower dam levels in Lake Kariba contribute to the country’s power utility throttling back on its hydro-electricity production. To make this kind of business investment, though, might mean getting a loan to finance the cost of the generator.