Participatory urban resilience planning: UN-Habitat – CityRAP Tool

By Carinus De Kock, Stellenbosch University

Disaster Risk Management, Sustainability and Urban Resilience Centre (DiMSUR) and UN-Habitat, with strong support from several University partners, developed CityRAP which is a participatory planning tool used for enabling city managers and municipal technicians to implement participatory urban resilience planning It is aimed at small to intermediate sized cities in sub-Saharan Africa to understand and plan actions aimed at reducing risk and building resilience through the elaboration of a City Resilience Action Plan. CityRap is an enabling initiative rather than prescriptive, which therefore also focusses on the ownership of local governments.

Fathum WP2 in the field – Langeberg, South Africa

Vegetation in the Kogmans River

Proper clearing in the Keisie River + river bed and bank stabilisation

The above two pictures speak to one flood risk driver in the municipality – (alien) vegetation in major river which exacerbate damage downstream when flooding occurs. The Keisie River (tributary of the Kogmans), successfully cleared from vegetation is clearly visible, along with groynes to strengthen embankments. The Kogmans River on the other hand still remains overgrown. The identification of these flood risk root causes proved critical to identify most at-risk areas, in order to improve and focus early warnings.

Experiences from Fathum assisting CityRAP in South Africa

CityRAP is being piloted in three South African cities (George, Port Alfred and Potchefstroom). The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) of South Africa therefore hosted a Training of Trainers and Academics Exchange workshop on urban resilience planning, held from 24-28 February 2020 in George, South Africa. The workshop was attended by approximately 50 people, which included municipal officials and academics from across Africa, where CityRap has been/will be implemented.

Group of participants at Garden Route District Municipality in George

The meeting also served to strengthen the involvement of the academic community in the implementation of CityRAP in southern Africa, to further develop the CityRAP tool, and to reinforce partnerships and collaboration between southern African Universities on disaster risk reduction, urban resilience and adaptation to climate change. Experiences from the Fathum study was shared during this workshop. The critical importance of in-depth risk analysis alongside the local community is highlighted by the FATHUM WP2 work; hazards, vulnerabilities and exposures are unique to a certain setting or community (such as the alien vegetation in the Kogman’s River example) and therefore are often unrecognised by municipal managers. Such studies provide an important bridge that simultaneously informs local development, humanitarian action and resilience-building (such as informed Early Warning Systems).

Municipal officials identifying flood risks in Potchefstroom

UN-Habitat introducing the CityRAP tool

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