UN pilot project to address African disasters

natural disaster 1

By MTHULISI SIBANDA in Johannesburg , South Africa

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) -THE United Nations Habitat Programme is piloting a new tool aimed at helping African cities adapt to natural disasters and challenges.

Among the major challenges include high unemployment and violence, among other setbacks blamed on rapid urbanization.

Making a presentation on urban resilience at the ongoing Africities Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, UN Habitat’s Luis Lopes said the global bloc was piloting the City Resilience Action Plan, aimed at preparing African cities that were mostly vulnerable to chronic stress and acute
shocks.

Urban resilience is the capacity of municipalities, including individuals, businesses and institutions, to respond to these challenges, which include, among others, high unemployment, inefficient public transportation systems, violence and chronic food and water shortages, as
well as acute shocks like earthquakes, floods, disease outbreaks and terrorist attacks.

These challenges, Lopes said, were prevalent in cities urbanising at a rapid rate with people are moving to cities to seek economic opportunities.

Lopes also said urban growth, if not planned, could lead to increasing vulnerabilities, where growing densities of people often results in severe pressures being put on the infrastructure and basic services.

The official said the newly-developed tool sought to put into practice resilience planning to help cities respond to these challenges.

“This tool is still being tested so it is very much in the pilot stage,” he said.

UN Habitat programme finalised the first version of the methodology in June and tested it in Chokwe City in Mozambique.

In November, testing was conducted in Malawi.

The tool was developed after following upsurge in natural disasters in the Southern African region, with the most vulnerable countries being Mozambique, Malawi, Madagascar and the Comoros islands.

According to statistics, between 1980 and 2008, 1 699 hazardous events hit the region, leaving 708 712 people dead and over 319 million affected by the disasters.

CAJ News

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