Johannesburg 1 December 2015—UN-Habitat and the Technical Centre for Disaster Risk Management and Urban Resilience (DiMSUR) presented two innovative projects for building urban resilience in Southern Africa this morning at the Africities Conference in Johannesburg. In his welcoming remarks, Prof. Oyeyinka Oyebanji, Director of UN-Habitat’s Regional Office for Africa, highlighted the importance of the urban resilience agenda following the consensus built around Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goal while on his part the Executive Director of DiMSUR, Mr. Ahmed Ouledi, explained the workings of the Technical Centre that addresses urban resilience through a regional partnership.
DiMSUR was launched in 2014 by the Governments of Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and the Union of Comoros with the support of UN-Habitat. It was endorsed at Ministerial level by the four member countries as an international non-profitable, autonomous and regional organization.
The Centre aims at fostering the development and dissemination of knowledge and solutions as well as developing capacities for disaster risk management, climate change adaptation and urban resilience. UN-Habitat also presented the City Resilience Action Planning Tool (CityRAP), developed in partnership with DiMSUR and successfully tested in Mozambique and Malawi. The CityRAP tool empowers small and intermediate sized municipalities through participatory instruments and methodologies to understand and plan for urban resilience, putting the elected municipal leaders at the driver’s seat of this process and focusing on addressing the lack of contextually adapted urban risk reduction and resilience initiatives in the region.
A group of expert panellists were invited to discuss these initiatives and comment on the opportunities and challenges to build resilience in Africa. Mr. Alioune Badiane, Director of the Programme Division in UN-Habitat, affirmed that it is in the small and medium cities where capacities are most limited. Although mayors and local stakeholders are often aware and engaged, they have to face capacity gaps that prevent effective resilience building.
Therefore, the technical, managerial and financial capacity of local governments and urban communities should be enhanced so they are able to effectively understand, plan and act for reducing urban risks and strengthening resilience. Ms. Benedetta Gualandi, Oxfam, highlighted the need for promoting inclusive resilience planning process that involve all sectors of the municipalities as well as communities and other local stakeholders. She emphasized that one of the biggest challenges for African cities is to institutionalise the resilience planning processes.
Mr. Mohamed Boussraoui, UCLG, affirmed that data for resilience planning at local level should be managed in a more coordinated way, contributing for better informed initiatives. The mayor of Moroni, Union of Comoros, Mr. Mohamed Daoudou, and the Deputy Mayor of Gorée, Senegal, Ms. Annie Jouga, provided valuable insights on how their cities can benefit from the mainstreaming of resilience into urban management and described what actions have been taken to reduce risks in their cities.
The audience also contributed for the discussion with many high-quality remarks, with a particular emphasis put on the importance on including the youth as protagonists of the resilience building process, considering that they are the leaders of tomorrow. The valuable comments and contributions discussed during this session will be taken into account for the formulation of the improved version of the City RAP Tool as well as for additional initiatives to be carried out by DiMSUR.