African cities to become more resilient

The 100 Resilient Cities network is helping cities around the world cope with some of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. Dakar has become the first of eleven African cities to introduce a resilience strategy.

100 Resilient Cities (100RC) is a project by the Rockefeller Foundation that is helping cities around the world tackle everything from rising sea levels and coastal erosion to housing and energy challenges, according to a CNN report.

And Africa is on the front lines of this in terms of urbanisation. “People are moving out of the villages and into the cities at a pace unprecedented in history,” said Michael Berkowitz, president of 100RC.

His network is working closely with eleven cities across Africa to develop a model for what a new, more resilient urbanisation might look like and has allocated USD 164 million to fund a chief resilience officer for each city to draw up a resilience plan. “A sort of global revolution in what we think about urbanisation,” Berkowitz explained.

As CNN reports, the Senegalese capital Dakar has now become the first of the eleven African cities to introduce a resilience strategy. Recognising that climate change is the biggest threat, the plan focuses on waste management, improving public transport and reinventing green spaces that have fallen victim to urbanisation. Green spaces in particular can offset the impact of climate change by absorbing rainwater and keeping temperatures more moderate in the hottest, driest months.

Berkowitz recognises, however, that a resilience strategy is just the first step.

“The things that really make a city resilient – more cohesive communities where neighbours check on neighbours, better transportation, mobility, improved air quality, better built environment and architecture – these don’t happen in a year or two, or even three. That’s the work of a generation.”

Nonetheless, he believes that Dakar could become a model of African urbanisation. “It feels like there’s a lot of energy going in the right direction.”

The other African countries in the 100RC network are Lagos, Luxor, Cape Town, Durban, Kigali, Accra, Nairobi, Enugu, Addis Ababa and Paynesville.

 

Image credit: Jeff Attaway, flickr/Creative Commons

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