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Working with informality to build climate resilience in African cities

Project Reference: AAAF-0009

African cities are characterised by high levels of slums and informal settlements, largely informal economies, high levels of unemployment, majority youthful populations, and low levels of industrialisation. They have the highest growth rates in the world. The urban poor, who largely reside in informal settlements and slums, are vulnerable to global economic and climate change impacts. These can combine to devastating effect.

Informality is a central characteristic in African cities. Engaging with the informal sector is therefore key in the response to the urban climate change challenge in the African context. Informality comes in many forms, including settlement on unplanned land without public services and bulk infrastructure, unregistered housing construction and transfer, informal and insecure jobs, and unregulated trade and service provision. 62% of Africa’s population lives in slum conditions and this is likely to double by 2050[1].

This project aims to foster climate compatible development in African cities through working with informality and building climate resilience amongst the urban poor.

The project was initiated by CDKN, in partnership with the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at the University of Cape Town (UCT), to develop an approach to climate compatible development (CCD) that responds to the specific challenges and needs of African cities.

CDKN is seeking to support an 18-month project within an African city that will contribute to CCD within the informal context. A workshop from 9-11 July 2013 in Cape Town provided a forum where participants could exchange knowledge and experiences with the aim of identifying the key elements of a framework for CCD in informal settlements and slums. The workshop was attended by government representatives, NGO practitioners and university-based researchers from Kampala (Uganda), Accra (Ghana) and Addis Ababa, (Ethiopia) as well as representatives of CDKN, ACC researchers and other key urban experts.

This awarded project will also help develop the beginnings of this co-created framework further. The ACC will act as a research partner during the project to facilitate, track and document learning on what constitutes CCD in African cities.

Project Manager: Lisa McNamara

Funding: 360 000

Timeframe: 2 years, Jan 2013 – Feb 2015

Additional Resources:

[1] World Urbanization Prospects: The 2011 Revision. New York: United Nations.

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