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FRACTAL: Future Resilience for African Cities and Lands

Project timeline

Project Contact

Alice McClure

Project Manager

FRACTAL’s long term goal is to increase the climate resilience of southern African cities by supporting decision-making processes to include climate knowledge.

FRACTAL aims to understand the decision context and the climate information required to contribute to climate resilient development in nine southern African cities. The FRACTAL team aim to help advance understanding of scientific knowledge about climate processes, regional and local climate trends, factors that influence decisions in these cities, as well as how climate knowledge might be better integrated into climate sensitive decisions at the city-regional scale (particularly decisions relating to water, energy and food with a lifetime of 5 to 40 years).

During phase one of the project (2015-2019), FRACTAL used a transdisciplinary co-production approach to engage scientists, engineers, government representatives and other stakeholders to co-explore city level decision landscapes, including climate sensitivities, and co-produce knowledge related to more resilient development pathways. Decision makers and other people working in FRACTAL cities have integrated this knowledge into their resource management decisions and urban development planning. There were also several city exchange visits, which created opportunities to build regional networks and share good practices for building climate resilience at city level.

The primary aim of the costed extension phase (2019-2021) is to scope the scalability and sustainability of the project’s transdisciplinary co-production and co-exploration processes, as well as the transferability of knowledge gained. Importantly in this phase, researchers are able to utilise and build on the networks and engagement routes that were established in phase one.

FRACTAL is undergoing City Learning Dialogues in three cities: Lusaka, Maputo and Windhoek. These City Learning Dialogues involve embedded researchers, who are immersed in the working world and practices of the people shaping and making climate-related decisions in city-region and learning lab events. At these events, decision-makers, practitioners and researchers (from the fields of climate science, social studies, governance and adaption) come together to jointly frame climate-related problems, and brainstorm solutions.

In addition to activities in these primary cities, FRACTAL is also working on climate resilience projects in Blantyre, Harare, Gaborone, JohannesburgCape Town and Durban.

Three learning exchanges between cities (Lusaka-Durban; Lusaka-Windhoek; Windhoek-Harare) including teams of researchers and decision-makers helped improve understanding the contextual barriers for resilient development in cities and the consequences of those barriers. These exchanges have encouraged necessary discussion with decision-makers about the benefits of climate information for planning.

During the transdisciplinary learning processes in phase one, the climate science team recognised that in order for climate information to support climate risk management activities they must tailor that information to be relevant to the users’ context. They therefore adopted a ‘humble science’ approach and are continuing to develop an accessible distillation framework that is grounded in transdisciplinary engagement.

This framework has been iteratively developed and considers sources, stakeholders, audience, methodologies, decisions, transparency and whether there are uncertainties or contradictions in the climate information. It also encourages the framing of a climate related issue as a development or governance challenge. One of the tools that has been introduced is the use of Climate Risk Narratives, which develop possible future climate scenarios as discussion items rather than as definitive information and which challenge the barrier of uncertainty. It also considers how the process is communicated beyond the project.

Ongoing fundamental climate science is being carried out to improve understanding of the physical climate processes that govern the regional system (observed and simulated).

Alexander Ruane

Role: Researcher Dr. Alex Ruane is a Research Physical Scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and an adjunct Associate Research Scientist at the Columbia University Center for Climate Systems Research. Alex’s research uses a variety of climate and impacts assessment models

Alice McClure

Role: Project Manager Alice is the coordinator for the Future Resilience for African CiTies and Lands (FRACTAL) project. She has been working in the field of climate change for a number of years, particularly through designing and managing donor-funded adaptation projects (including GEF, Adaptation

Bruce Hewitson

Role: Principal Investigator Professor Bruce Hewitson is the National Research Chair on Climate Change at the University of Cape Town with a Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University (1992). His key expertise is in regional climate change, climate modelling, downscaling and climate change scenarios. His

Pippin Anderson

Role: Researcher Pippin currently serves as Director of Graduate Studies within the Faculty of Environmental and Geographical Sciences. She teaches urban ecology at the postgraduate level, and convenes the MPhil in Environment, Society and Sustainability. Pippins’s research sits in the nexus between landscape ecology

Julie Arrighi

Role: Researcher Julie is a regional program officer for East Africa, based in Kampala, Uganda. Her expertise lies in climate risk management, with an emphasis on early warning/early action mechanisms and natural resources management. She also spends half of her time supporting American Red

Lars Bärring

Role: Researcher Lars is a Climate Researcher and Associate professor at the Rossby Centre. Lars’ work involves the analysis of climate data and model output; application of climate scenarios; climate impact analysis; climate variations and extremes and is the IPCC Focal Point for Sweden.

Monica Coll Besa

Role: Researcher Mònica is a Research Fellow at SEI Oxford. Her research is on the social aspects of climate adaptation (including synergies with mitigation). Her training includes climate risk communication, vulnerability, and adaptation decision-making and risk governance in a variety of social and environmental

Sukaina Bharwani

Role: Co-Principal Investigator Sukaina Bharwani is co-leader of the SEI theme Reducing Climate Risk and has been a staff representative on the SEI Board. Sukaina has a Ph.D. in Applied Computing (Social Sciences) and a BA. (Hons) in Social Anthropology. Her inter-disciplinary research in

Ruth Butterfield

Role: Researcher Ruth is Centre Director of SEI Oxford. Her background is in agriculture, water and climate change impacts and adaptation. She is currently contributing to and developing the SEI Oxford’s weADAPT platform. Her specific contribution is the development of climate change vulnerability assessments

Faith Chikeya

Role: ICLEI Africa Faith has more than seven year’s hands-on experience in the field of environmental management and sustainable development. She is able to engage with various stakeholders- ranging from the private sector, local, sub-national and national public sectors and community members on issues

Erin Coughlan de Perez

Role: Co-Investigator Erin provides technical support for the interpretation and use of climate information by disaster managers worldwide. She is the Climate Centre’s liaison at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, delivering decision-making support in response to climate-related questions from humanitarians. Erin

James Cullis

Role: Co-Principal Investigator James currently works for Aurecon in Cape Town, South Africa. He is an Associate of the water group working on a range of water resource management projects in Africa. He was also a Rhodes Scholar with degrees in politics, philosophy and

Simon Dadson

Role: Co-Principal Investigator Simon is an Associate Professor in Physical Geography and a Fellow of Christ Church. Simon’s research focuses on the processes that link climate, hydrology, and geomorphology. These range from the potential impacts of future climate change on river flows, to the

Alessandro Dosio

Role: Co-Principal Investigator Alessandro’s work relates primarily to regional climate change modelling and the linkage with impact models (e.g. floods, crop yield, forest fires, etc), with a focus on the problem of ‘downscaling’ and ‘bias-correction’. He is also investigating the feedback between land and climate

Tahia Devisscher

Role: Researcher Tahia joined SEI Oxford as a Research Fellow in 2008. Since April 2016 she works with SEI as a Research Associate from Vancouver, Canada. Her research focus is on social‐ecological system dynamics and ecosystem-based adaptation. Tahia holds a Ph.D. from the University of

Helen Davies

Role: Researcher Helen is the Head of Environmental Policy & Strategy at the City of Cape Town, where she implements various programmes and projects related to environmental policy & strategy, the Green economy, Environmental fiscal reform, Green procurement and Climate change adaptation at the municipal level. Helen was

Joseph Daron

Role: Researcher Joseph is a senior scientist in the Climate Information for International Development team at the Met Office and he uses climate information to guide adaptation and development decisions. . He is currently leading the scientific components of a project funded by the

Francois Engelbrecht

Role: Co-Principal Investigator Francois leads the climate studies, modelling and environmental health research group at the CSIR. He obtained a Ph.D. in meteorology (University of Pretoria) and specialises in numerical climate model development and regional climate modelling. Francois leads the development of the first African-based Earth

Kenneth Gondwe

Role: Researcher Kenneth is a Senior Lecturer at Malawi Polytechnic which he joined in 2003. Kenneth also worked for Lever Brothers Malawi (1987-1993) in various technical positions, the last of which was factory manager. He holds a BSc. in mechanical engineering with distinction from

Feyera Hirpa

Role: Researcher Feyera is a postdoctoral researcher at the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC). His primary duty is to test and improve the Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS) which is used for operational streamflow forecasting for major rivers around the world. He also

Victor Indasi

Role: Early Career Researcher Victor joined CSAG in February 2016 as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow working within FCFA’s FRACTAL project after graduating from Curtin University. Victor is mainly involved in developing user-relevant climate metrics appropriate to the unique contexts of eight cities in southern

Kornelia Iipinge

Role: Early Career Researcher Kornelia Ndapewa Iipinge is the Windhoek Embedded Researcher for the Future Resilience for African Cities and Lands Project in Namibia. She has a BSc. Honours in Integrated Environmental Science from the University of Namibia and MSc. in Integrated Water Resources

Chris Jack

Role: Co-Principal Investigator Chris has wide-ranging interests that cover the spectrum from high-performance computing and big data methods, through to societal engagement and decision-making theory and practice. In particular, he is involved in the following areas within Climate Systems Analysis Group (CSAG) of the

Richard Jones

Role: Researcher Richard is a Science Fellow at the Met Office and manages work on generating and applying regional climate information and modelling systems with a focus on international development. Richard has a Ph.D. in Mathematics in the analysis of numerical methods relevant to

Tamara Janes

Role: Researcher Tamara holds an MSc. in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta, Canada, She has worked at the Met Office as a monsoon scientist. She worked on projects to help India and Bangladesh develop their capacity to adapt to regional climate change.

Eddie Jjemba

Role: Researcher Eddie joined the Climate Centre in 2015 and provides support to the Partners for Resilience and forecast-based financing programs in East Africa. His focus lies at the intersection of capacity building and urban resilience. Eddie also organizes workshops and training for Climate

Jess Kavonic

Role: Researcher Jess Kavonic completed her MSc. Degree in Climate Change and Sustainable Development at the University of Cape Town in 2013. Jess joined the ICLEI’s Cities Biodiversity center to work on the Urban Natural Assets for Africa Project (UNA Africa). UNA Africa –

Friedrich Koujo

Role: Researcher Friedrich is a manager for the environmental management  in the City of Windhoek. He has key experiences in waste management, environmental compliance and environment auditing. Fred has a Masters degree in water and environment engineering from the University of Surrey.

Bettina Koelle

Role: Researcher Bettina holds a Master’s Degree in Geography, Cartography and Anthropology from the Free University of Berlin. She’s been working in the development field since 1997, focusing on trans-disciplinary research and participatory methods. She is involved in climate change adaptation working with rural

Erik Kjellostrom

Role: Researcher Erik is a Climate scientist, Associate professor and Head of Rossby Centre. Erik’s work involves the evaluation of climate models; analysis of climate scenarios; probabilistic climate scenarios; paleo-climatological studies and he teaches applied meteorology. Erik holds a PhD in chemical meteorology from

Chris Lennard

Role: Researcher Chris holds an undergraduate degree in Zoology and post-graduate degrees in Ocean and Atmospheric Science (BSc. Hons), Zoology (MSc.) and Climatology (Ph.D.). Chris’ Ph.D. tested the ability of a regional climate model (MM5) to capture extreme rainfall events over Cape Town, South

Goabamang Lethugile

Role: Researcher Goabamang is a Candidate Landscape Architect from Botswana. She is an Environmental Planner and Designer. Goabamang is currently a lecuturer in Landscape Design and Urban and Rural Design at the University of Botswana. She holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences, (Environmental and Geographical Science

Rudo Madomombe

Role: Early Career Researcher Rudo Mamombe is a passionate environmentalist, ecologist and FRACTAL Embedded Researcher at the City of Harare. She graduated from Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe with a BSc. (Hons) in Wildlife and Safari Management. She is currently undertaking her MPhil. studies

Skye McCool

Role: Researcher Skye has worked in the municipal environmental space, focused on education, training and facilitation; gaining experience in policy and planning, communications, and environmental and project management. She is passionate about sustainable living and conservation. Skye strives to affect positive change and support

Sylvester Mitini-Nkomoa

Role: Researcher Sylvester is the Director of Leisure, Culture and Environmental Services at Blantyre City Council in Malawi.

Mikhyle Moos

Role: Researcher Mikhyle currently at both the City of Cape Town, within their Environmental Policy and Planning Unit, and at Greenpeace as an environmental activist. Mikhyle holds an Honours degree in Geography and Environmental Studies from the University of the Western Cape. Mikhyle cares about Civil

John Mfune

Role: Researcher John is a research scientist working on the project. He is a Senior Lecturer in Terrestrial Ecology and the coordinator of the Master Biodiversity Management and Research at the Department of Biological Sciences of the University of Namibia, Windhoek. He is also

Genito Maure

Role: Co-Principal Investigator Genito is an associate Professor at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo, Mozambique. He lectures in Modeling and Simulation of Physical Processes: Air Pollution dispersion modelling and aspects cover air pollution dispersion modelling, including radioactive tracers, from release to deposition. Genito

Brenda Mwalukanga

Role: Early Career Researcher Brenda works at the University of Zambia, and Lusaka City Council. Her research interests include urban informality and a participatory approach to sustainable solutions in areas of housing, water and infrastructure development and maintenance. Additionally, Brenda is interested in climate

Grigory Nikulin

Role: Co-Principal Investigator Grigory Nikulin is a research scientist in the Rossby Centre (SMHI) and his main research activity is the analysis of both global and regional climate models. His research focuses on how the statistics of weather and climate extremes may change in

Wilma Nchito

Role: Researcher Wilma is a Lecturer within the Geography Department at the University of Zambia. Wilma possesses research skills in Qualitative Research, teaching statistics and SPSS, as well as in Remote Sensing, ArcGIS. She is knowledgeable about Sustainable Development. Wilma holds an MSc. degree

Mark New

Role: Researcher Mark is Pro-VC for Climate Change and Director of the ACDI. He holds a joint appointment as Professor of International Development at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom His work on climate change scenarios includes the UNDP climate change profiles which

Mzime Regina Ndebele-Murisa

Role: Researcher Mzime is an Ecologist with extensive experience in biodiversity and conservation, natural resources management, environmental change analysis.  Mzime also has working experience in field-based research particularly in environmental issues, working with environmental management, research and policy organizations in and out of Africa

Sean O’Donoghue

Role: Researcher Sean is Acting Manager within the Climate Protection Branch in the Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department in the eThekwini Municipality, Durban, South Africa. Sean directs Ecosystems Based Adaptation strategies, as well as Durban’s Adaptation Charter and CEBA – Community Ecosystems Based Adaptation strategies that fit

Susan Parnell

Role: Co-Principal Investigator Susan is an urban geographer in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at the University of Cape Town (UCT) African Centre for Cities. Prior to her appointment at UCT she taught in the Wits University Geography Department (Johannesburg) and the

Izidine Pinto

Role: Early Career Researcher Izidine enrolled for a Ph.D. at CSAG mid-2011. His research interests revolve around climate modeling, extreme weather events and statistical methods for the analysis of these.  

Jon Padgham

Role: Project Investigator Jon is the Director of START’s Risk, Vulnerability, and Adaptation program. Prior to joining START, Jon worked at the World Bank and the US Agency for International Development on climate change adaptation initiatives. At the World Bank, he developed a study detailing

Kwesi Quagraine

Role: Early Career Researcher Kwesi is currently a Ph.D. Fellow with Climate Systems Analysis Group (CSAG) at the University of Cape Town where he is working on the co-behaviour of climate processes relevant to southern Africa.  He holds a BSc. and MSc. in Physics (meteorology

Egidio Raul Chilaule

Role: Researcher Raul is the Head of Department at the Education in Natural Sciences and Mathematics , at Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo, Mozambique.

Mathieu Rouget

Role: Researcher Mathieu is the South African Research (SARChI) Chair on Land Use Planning and Management at the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal. His research aims to improve environmental decision making and natural resource management. His research contributes to

Debra Roberts

Role: Researcher Debra established and heads the Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department of eThekwini Municipality (Durban, South Africa). Debra was a lead author of Chapter 8 (Urban Areas) and a contributing author to Chapter 12 (Africa) of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental

Meggan Spires

Role: Co-Principal Investigator Meggan manages the climate change adaptation and biodiversity workstream at ICLEI Africa. Prior to joining ICLEI Africa she worked as a Climate Protection Scientist and Specialist Climate Change Consultant at eThekwini Municipality, where she was involved in the planning of the eThekwini

Research Approach

FRACTAL was designed according to the work packages below. The research approach is transdisciplinary, iterative and cyclical. Research is carried out through dynamic clusters of research collaboration: climate information; cross-cutting; city-learning; decision-making; and nexus. There are also task teams in each of the cities.

This style of learning is key to developing useful outcomes that have a measurable impact during and beyond the project’s lifetime.

WORK PACKAGE 1: Unpacks the city-specific contexts, asking what are the urban climate change risks and impacts, how resilient are the cities and what decisions are being taken for adaptation and development?

WORK PACKAGE 2: Aims to understand the decision-making space in the FRACTAL cities and looks for opportunities to better incorporate climate information into local decision-making contexts.

WORK PACKAGE 3: Advances understanding of physical climate processes that govern the regional system (observed and simulated). From this, it develops robust and scales relevant climate information.







Maximising the impact of multi-partner climate research programs

Promoting leadership opportunities for Southern climate researchers

Climate Change journalist training session 3

Climate Change journalist training session 2