Water resilient green cities for Africa

Project summary

The urban population in Africa will triple to 1.2 billion by 2050 and cause massive challenges for the management of urban areas (UN-Habitat, 2010). The water challenge is exacerbated by climate change which will increase flood and drought risks and affect livelihoods for millions of urban dwellers (IPCC, 2008). One option is to expand cost-intensive sewer infrastructure. Another is to utilize the landscape for stormwater management. Besides being a much cheaper option, using the landscape offers synergies addressing other challenges such as improved water supply, enhanced green structure for urban agriculture, and possibilities to improve decentralized options in informal areas with a potential for a more-inclusive decision-making process. This project explores the opportunities and barriers for ‘landscape based stormwater management’ by analyzing technical, institutional and livelihood aspects for the best solutions to be developed and tested in pilot sites. The project is developed jointly by FLD and research institutions, stakeholders, and users in Addis Ababa and Dar es Salaam and brings into play expertise on urban planning, ecology, and water management. The project is organised in packages on: Green spaces and livelihoods; Stormwater management; Planning and governance; and Research capacity building. The project comprises six PhD students and three postdocs. Knowledge will be disseminated through MSc-level courses, policy recommendations, and research articles


Project completion report:

The project explored options and barriers for water resilience by using urban green infrastructure as a climate change adaptation stragey (LSM) in Addis Ababa and Dar es Salaam. In the first year the project team selected six PhD-students, held common trainings, theoretical and metholological discussions, gathered baselines and maps on green space use and urban water management, and identified key city stakeholders at national, city and local level, which were involed throughout the project. Three case sites were identified in each city in Little Jemo River catchment in Addis Ababa and Mbezi River catchment in Dar es Salaam: upstream, midstream and downstream, representing different challenges in the cities. The second year GIS analyses, surveys and interviews were conducted, often jointly between partners and work packages.  Stakeholders took part in trainings and meetings. The third year design workshops were conducted at case sites and local plans an well as catchment strategies were developed in collaboration between researchers and key stakeholders. The design workshops took place in collaboration with a local community suffering from erosion, floods and drought and a local plan for water resilience was developed. Key city stakeholders also took part. In the last year the catchment strateties and local plans were finalized and handed over to city governments as well as local area community groups and leaders. In the third year also physical testing of novel designs for road drainage and runoff storage were tested in pilot experiments. Major project elements and results were incorporated in bachelor and master’s curricula at both partner universities and in courses at University of Copenhagen.

Some scientific papers have been published, while others are in review or under preparation. Several presentations and talks at conferences as well as at stakeholder meetings have taken place. A joint scientific paper has been published that examines the conditions for establishing a functional green infrastructure in the case cities. A conclusion is that local water management experiments must link to on-going coping strategies to push forward coalitions and generate knowledge on how to retain green areas while addressing water shortages, livelihood and urban farming. In cities like Addis Ababa and Dar es Salaam that basically lack sewer systems the concept of LSM can be seen as a soft water infrastructure that provides similar services and at the same time strengthens the urban green infrastructure, reduces the risk of flooding, improves the urban water supply, and supports local livelihood activities, if appropriately planned and implemented. The capacity to further explore options for sustainable urban water management has been created at the partner universities, bridges have been build between academia and practice, and key stakeholders and local communities have gained new knowledge and ownership to the strategies and plans made.

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