28 May 2014

CCAPS Working Paper No. 4: Urban Resilience to Climate Change Challenges in Africa

In Working Paper No. 4, CCAPS researchers Dr. Robert Wilson and Todd Smith examine the responses and adaptations to climate change within ten African cities. Using a comparative case study approach, field research was conducted on the governance systems in Accra, Ghana; Alexandria, Egypt; Cape Town, South Africa; Casablanca, Morocco; Dakar, Senegal; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Johannesburg, South Africa; Kampala, Uganda; Luanda, Angola; and Maputo, Mozambique.

The increasingly significant challenges posed by global climate change are compounding the many difficulties – including high levels of poverty, strained infrastructure systems, and lack of adequate housing – facing governance structures in the large, rapidly growing cities of Africa. Abnormally high temperatures can place severe strain on energy, water, and health systems. Rising sea levels as a result of changing weather patterns threaten coastal cities with inundation of inhabited areas and saltwater intrusion of groundwater aquifers. 

This paper summarizes the findings of a CCAPS policy research project that seeks to answer three key questions: (1) How will the consequences of future climate change affect people living in African cities and what determines the vulnerability to these exposures?; (2) How does the development of policies, plans, and initiatives to build urban resilience to climate change vary across urban areas and hazard type and what factors explain the variation?; and (3) Are these initiatives to build resilience being adequately and sustainably implemented by the relevant actors and networks and what factors impact the efficacy of such initiatives? How can the effectiveness of resilience initiatives be improved?

The paper first describes the institutional landscape systems in which local governments are embedded, including the international and national governance context and international non-governmental and community-based organizations. Then it presents answers to the three research questions, followed by the general conclusions of the project.


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