The kick-off event on the “Learning Process on Flood Management for Risk Informed Development” (LEP) on 18-21. April 2023 in Windhoek was an important milestone to provide a platform for practitioners from cities and municipalities in Sub-Sahara Africa with a focus on the SADC Region to develop locally adapted solutions for sustainable urban development with the inclusion of international experts. Anchored on the mandates of the Connective Cities and the Global Initiative on Disaster Risk Management in cooperation with the Disaster Risk Reduction Unit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat and Namibia’s Directorate Disaster Risk Management in the Office of the Prime Minister, the LEP is aimed at strengthening risk-informed urban development with partners in the context of flood risk management focused among others on:
- Understanding and managing flood risk drivers,
- Green infrastructure and nature-based approaches for risk-informed solutions, and
- Risk communication flows and good governance.
The learning process kick-off marked the start of a yearlong peer-to-peer exchange by creating feedback loops to inform the development of context-specific, gender-equitable and climate-change-sensitive solution options directed at tackling urban flood risk challenges in both structural and non-structural terms. Followed by the opening remarks of GIZ’s country director’s Dr. Thomas Kirsch represented by Ms. Judith Middleton from the GIZ project “Inclusive and Sustainable Urban Development”, the host city of Windhoek, represented by the Deputy Mayor of Windhoek Municipality, honorable Ms. Magdalena Lombard indicated that mainstreaming disaster risk management (DRM) means understanding and acting on disaster risks as part of decision-making processes across sectors to protect development progress, reduce losses and support growth. Ms. Hellen Likando from the Directorate Disaster Risk Management at the Office of the Prime Minister highlighted that the government of Namibia is geared towards building resilience towards disasters in line with the global Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030). She further encouraged participants to use the event to learn, tap into best practices and to develop innovative ideas that can provide long-term flood risk management solutions to their respective cities for risk-informed urban development initiatives.
The 16 participating cities and municipalities recognised the importance of risk-informed development and its application to flood (risk) management in the context of Risk Informed Urban Development (RIUD). On behalf the SADC Secretariat, Mr. Alex Banda stressed that, with rapid urbanization many African cities including SADC, urban dynamics and growth patterns do not only contribute to the underlying drivers of disaster risks, but also expose a significantly large proportion of people who regularly experience losses from both natural and human-made disasters. Demanding urgent attention to disaster risk management and resilience building in African cities, he further affirmed that the LEP is timely and fully aligned with the Regional Strategic Indicative Development Plan (RISDP 2020-2030), thereby providing alignment with other regional initiatives such as the development of the SADC Urban Resilience Strategy.
These remarks were further reinforced by a key cooperating partner of GIDRM, the Africa-Office of the United Nations Office for Disaster Reduction (UNDRR) represented by Ms. Isabel Njihia, who touched on the Making Cities Resilient 2030 programme and specifically called upon the LEP participants to work towards attainment of the its aspirational outcomes including, among others, enhanced risk assessment and mapping, intersectionality considerations, infrastructure investment with targeted operations and maintenance, land use planning and enforcement, integration of DRM measures into school curriculum, adaptation to climate change as a development norm, strong governance ensuring transparency and accountability, collaboration and accountability, and an all-of-society-approach to DRM and flood risk management.
Besides the executive director of Gender Links, Ms. Kubi Rama, further expert inputs from the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development of Namibia (MURD), the city mayor of Cologne (Germany), Vhembe District Municipality (South Africa), the Disaster Management Institute of Southern Africa (DMISA) and the Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa Home-University (DIMTEC) at the University of Free State in South Africa stimulated the discussions towards making cities more resilient to the consequences of climate change and, in particular to systemically apply the principles of risk-informed urban development to flood events.
Complementary to these inputs, the peer-to-peer learning between cities was guided by collegial consultation, in which participants shared challenges from various urban contests, e.g., Gaborone, Kinshasa, Maputo, Polokwane, Dar es Salaam, and received advice through intervision to develop joint practical solutions for a specific problem.
The aspect of project proposal development as well as financing advice was presented by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and its City Climate Gap Fund pre-financing instrument and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) highlighting the relevance of multisectoral consortium building for RIUD.
In coordination with MURD, the DRM Division of the city of Windhoek organised a fieldtrip to three informal settlements (Otjomuise, Goreangab and Havana) showcasing the complexity of risks and their interconnectedness between solid-waste management, mobility/transport, land-tenure and urban planning, energy distribution and self-generation, water provision and drainage, social equity as well as socio-economic disparities, and their relationship to a series of vulnerability drivers, as well as exposure and coping capacity in addressing risks from a multistakeholder perspective. The on-site insights to informal settlements demonstrated the significance of risk-informed urban development in an integrated manner to address current risks while also ensuring the prevention of creation of new risks.
Referencing the event’s potential as a melting pot of new ideas and mutual learning regarding resilient urban development, GIDRM noted the relevance of the event in advancing the risk-informed development agenda and urged all participants to maintain risk-informed development pathways spearheaded by among others SADC, UNDRR and DMISA.
Next steps along the LEP of Connective Cities and GIDRM will include sharing and completion of the “Disaster Resilience Scorecard for Cities” to use the results and subsequently engage in structured, systemic action planning to improve and achieve resilience and to review the cities’ project proposals for more focalized expert and peer-to-peer exchange and expert missions in the short-listed cities while fostering the alignment with the anticipated SADC Urban Resilience Agenda. The process will be accompanied by a series of “Insight Sessions” on the Connective Cities platform.
The next in-person event is planned in September/October 2023 in eThekwini, South Africa.
Further link: Flood Management for Risk-informed Urban Development (metropolis.org)