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LIRA 2030 projects

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These projects were supported as part of the first LIRA 2030 Africa call on Advancing the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 11 on cities in Africa.

See all the projects funded in 2017-2019.

Projects funded in 2017

Co-Designing Energy Communities with Energy-Poor Women in Urban Areas: Case Studies in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa

The fast-paced growth of urban informal settlements in sub-Saharan Africa has surpassed the provision of household energy, an essential resource for cooking, lighting and heating. As a result, households resort to inefficient energy sources such as wood, charcoal and kerosene, which causes indoor air pollution and worsens their health outcomes. There is little knowledge about the interconnections between household energy and its related health outcomes in informal settlements in Africa, as well as the implications of the gendered nature of household energy poverty.

The project will conduct studies in two urban informal settlements in Kenya and Uganda and compare the findings to ongoing research in an urban informal settlement in South Africa. The project relies extensively on stakeholder engagement (with settlement dwellers, experts and policy actors) and experimental research to propose improved technologies and better policies that contribute further to national energy goals in the three countries. Ultimately, the project seeks to co-produce knowledge about household energy services that are gender-responsive, have better health outcomes and are economically viable.

Principal investigator: Lorraine Amollo Ambole, University of Nairobi, Kenya

Countries involved in the project: Kenya, Uganda, South Africa.

Biogas-supported Decentralized Water Treatment System for communities in Diepsloot (South Africa) and Chambishi (Zambia) Townships: A feasibility study

Safe drinking water and adequate sanitation services are vital to human health. As a result of Africa’s urban explosion, water demand in African cities is increasing at a higher rate than population growth. Its availability, on the other hand, is shrinking and is exacerbated by competing demands from economic activities, decline in water quality and climate change effects. Already, the inadequate supply of clean drinking water is resulting in water-borne illnesses and loss of economic activity.

This project seeks to address the challenge of basic water supply services in townships. To do this, it proposes a feasibility study into using renewable energy generated from municipal wastewater (sewage) as electricity to power small-scale water treatment plants for the supply of water to township communities. The research sites chosen for this study are the Diesploot (South Africa) and Chambishsi (Zambia) townships. The system proposed will use local rivers as a source for water; the water which will be treated using biogas as an energy source. It is envisaged that the system will be sustainable and will help townships to be independent from bulk water supply systems. This should enable township communities to have a consistent access to clean water leading to improved community health.

Principal investigator: Keneiloe Sikhwivhilu, MINTEK, South Africa

Countries involved in the project: South Africa, Zambia.

Health effects of indoor air pollution from cooking stoves in Kigali and Dar er Salaam cities: An assessment and solution

Almost 40% of the world’s population rely on biomass fuel as the primary source of domestic energy. In developing countries, charcoal stoves are the main equipment for cooking. The use of traditional cooking stoves in poorly ventilated households often leads to health problems and contributes to deforestation. This notwithstanding, there is no conclusive study on the effects of the use of traditional cooking stoves on health and the environment.

This project seeks to fill the gap in literature on women and children’s health effects caused by cooking stoves in East Africa. The project will focus on selected households in the capital cities of two African countries, Kigali in Rwanda and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The project will assess existing cooking stoves on the market and work with selected communities to reconstruct more efficient models using local materials and then add safety functionalities such as a chimney to reduce indoor air pollution. Further, the study will analyze the effectiveness of the new models by checking exposure to indoor air pollution prior and after the installation of the improved cooking stoves.

Principal investigator: Telesphore Kabera, University of Rwanda

Countries involved in the project: Rwanda, Tanzania.

Assessment and characterization of volcanic and flood hazards and their health implications in the cities of Goma (Democratic Republic of Congo), Buea and Limbe (Cameroon)

Buea, Limbe and Goma like most African cities, are experiencing rapid economic and population growth. Unlike most African cities, these three cities are located around active volcanic centres. Buea and Limbe are found at the flanks of Mount Cameroon and Goma is situated at the flanks of Mount Nyiragongo. Mount Cameroon is the most active volcano along the Cameroon Volcanic Line and its most recent eruptions were in 1999 and 2000. Mount Nyiragongo is the second most active volcano in the East African Rift System and its recent eruption was in 2002. It hosts a large semi-permanent lava lake which may erupt at any time.

In spite of these threats, increased urbanization in these cities has led to the construction of high-rise buildings, often without building codes. This phenomenon is very worrying as volcano-induced earthquakes of the same intensity as observed in the past are still very likely in these cities. This project seeks to assess and evaluate the extent and nature of disaster risks in these cities, as well as the health implications of these hazards to the ever-increasing vulnerable populations in an attempt to reduce the associated risks.

Principal investigator: Mabel Nechia Wantim, University of Buea, Cameroon

Countries involved in the project: Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Towards reducing human exposure to combustion-derived pollutants in urban communities of Kampala and Mwanza

Lake Victoria watershed is a critical ecosystem for the East African region, supporting over 30 million people for whom the lake is a source of food, energy, drinking and irrigation water, among others. The watershed has urban centers along the lake’s shoreline in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Rapid urbanization, industrialization and population boom in this watershed has increased demand for energy for domestic and industrial applications. As a result, emissions from combustion of petroleum and biomass for energy have increased sharply, leading to air pollution and health risks.

This project will employ multi-stakeholder engagement approaches towards understanding and improving the indoor air quality in households within selected urban communities in Kampala (Uganda) and Mwanza (Tanzania). Reduction of indoor air pollution in participating homes, following use of improved cooking and lighting technologies, will be measured. All technologies will be monitored for usage using specialized data loggers. A portable chimney design will be developed and piloted to investigate possible further reduction in indoor pollution. Key informant interviews, focus group discussions, community meetings and participant household visits will enable deep understanding of the role of community’s attitudes, perceptions, beliefs, norms and knowledge in causing and solving the indoor air pollution problem, and to implement jointly identified plausible interventions.

Principal investigator: Kenneth Arinaitwe, Makerere University.

Countries involved in the project: Uganda, Tanzania

Mitigating Risks to Flood-related Waterborne Diseases in Abidjan and Kampala

Climate change is contributing to the increasing frequency and magnitude of flooding observed in recent years. The situation is particularly critical for urban settings in Sub-Saharan Africa where flooding is often associated with water-borne diseases. The combination of natural disaster, poor urban infrastructure and uncontrolled expanding population represents a major threat to human livelihood and health.

The proposed research aims to identify mitigating measures related to the transmission of two infectious diseases (i.e. cholera and leptospirosis) relevant to flood events in Abidjan and Kampala. Cholera is a diarrheal disease that is provoked by poor hygiene and sanitation. It is the leading health risk associated with flooding in most African cities. Leptospirosis transmission occurs via urine and faeces of infected animals and increases with the extent of rainfall. Human incidences of the leptospirosis increase during extreme weather events such as floods.

To compensate for the current lack of relevant data in the two settings chosen, the project will implement a strategy based on integrating human, animal and environmental health using the concepts of EcoHealth, One Health and Sanitation Safety Planning. We aim to generate knowledge to recommend adequate policies for the prevention and anticipation of cholera and leptospirosis outbreaks during flood events.

Principal investigator: Parfait Koffi Kouamé, Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques in Ivory Coast

Countries involved in the project: Ivory Coast, Uganda.

Delivery of clean air strategies for mitigating household air pollution and associated respiratory illnesses in urban informal settlements in Dar es Salaam and Lilongwe cities

This project aims to raise awareness on the levels of indoor pollution and magnitude of respiratory diseases. This awareness-raising will help to inform the government and local community to adopt relevant strategies for clean energy solutions. The project will be carried out jointly with researchers, governments and local communities in Vingunguti and Mtsiriza – the two slums located in Dar es Salaam and Lilongwe cities respectively.

Principal investigator: Ng’weina Francis, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Countries involved in the project: Tanzania, Malawi.

Towards healthy communities: Citizen science for improved air quality in Nairobi (Kenya) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)

Indoor and outdoor air pollution is a major global health risk that contributes to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. The primary pollutant of concern for human health is fine particulate matter. A key source of air pollution is from energy use for cooking and heating within the home and for transport and other activities, all of which contribute significantly to both indoor and outdoor air pollution in low-income urban areas. Thus, air pollution from the energy sector is becoming a leading health risk factor in Africa and solutions are needed to reverse this challenge. Household air pollution arising from the poor provision of modern energy services is estimated to cause about half a million premature deaths in sub-Saharan Africa annually.

This project seeks to address the human health risks resulting from the exposure to both indoor and outdoor air pollution from energy sources. The project, which will be implemented in low income peri-urban areas in Nairobi and Addis Ababa, has three objectives: (1) to use the citizen science approach to assess the level and magnitude of air pollution in a community in Addis Ababa and to monitor air pollution in a community in Nairobi; (2) to co-create with affected communities solutions for behaviour and policy change to address the health challenges of indoor air pollution, especially for women and children; and (3) to promote policy awareness and actions on the nexus of human health and wellbeing, air pollution and energy in urban areas.

Principal investigator: Philip Osano, Stockholm Environment Institute, Kenya

Countries involved in the project: Kenya, Ethiopia.

Projects funded in 2018

Integration of housing and health policies for inclusive, sustainable African cities

A large portion of African urban inhabitants reside in informal settlements, notorious for their poor living conditions and public health challenges. For Africa to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 11 which seeks to build resilient and sustainable cities and, by association goal 3, which aims to improve health and well-being, there needs to be a reinvention of human settlement development planning processes within African cities. Using Cape Town, South Africa and Douala, Cameroon as city case studies, this study uses transdisciplinary partnerships with academic and non-academic stakeholders within each city to conduct research over two phases. Phase one explores existing policies and governance structures of relevance in Cape Town and Douala through desktop research and in-depth interviews with government officials to identify synergies and collaboration opportunities between the housing and health government sectors. Using stakeholder engagement, phase two investigates suitable approaches to integrating available quantitative data across government sectors to inform future evaluation of the health impact of housing interventions for the urban poor within Cape Town and Douala. This study will provide a practical health and housing integrated collaboration model to improve integrated urban governance for the planning of African cities, and contribute towards efforts to address the conundrum of safe, adequate, and health-promoting housing for growing urban poor populations.

Expertise represented in the project: Public Health, Health geography/urban health, Urban planning, Demography

Principal Investigator: Tolu Oni, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Countries involved in project: South Africa, Cameroon

Management of shared sanitation facilities in informal settlements of Kisumu, Kenya and Kumasi, Ghana

Cities in Africa are experiencing an unprecedented growth in their urban population with a large portion of these urban residents dwelling in informal settlements. One major challenge with these settlements is the lack of sanitation facilities, and many residents opt to share the few facilities that are available. Sharing provides access to many who lack sanitation facilities. However, these shared facilities are often poorly maintained and soiled with excreta thereby hindering access and posing a health risk to users and the general population. This project will adopt a trans-disciplinary approach to co-design and implement strategies that may lead to improved and sustainable management of shared sanitation in informal settlements. The project will be conducted in Kisumu in Kenya and Kumasi in Ghana; two African countries that have a large proportion of their population depending on shared sanitation. Various stakeholders including the local government, academia, the private sector, and community members will be involved to co-design management strategies that will be tested and implemented in selected compounds. It is hoped that the project will identify strategies that can be adopted in informal settlements in the two countries, and in other African countries, thereby contributing to safe and inclusive human settlements in African cities. The identified strategies will also influence decisions, the development of policies, and allocation of resources at the national and international level, with countries adopting some acceptable level of quality of shared sanitation facilities.Principal InvestigatorCountries involved in project

Principal Investigator: Simiyu Sheillah, Great Lakes University of Kisumu, Kenya

Countries involved in project: Kenya, Ghana

Realising the potential of urban density to create more prosperous and liveable informal settlements in Africa

Rapid urbanisation and crowding into informal settlements has led to haphazard development of the built environment with poor housing, social amenities and exposure to many environmental and health risks. Yet density, if managed effectively, can provide a public good that enhances economic productivity and reduces the cost of service provision. Research suggests that people living in close proximity foster social innovation, entrepreneurial dynamism, economic specialisation and growth. Density may act as an asset for efficient service provision by economising on land, recycling materials, limiting transport costs and restraining energy consumption. The project explores different ways of upgrading dense informal settlements in order to build upwards rather than outwards. This involves a two-pronged approach: the first explores how to free up space for the holistic development of informal settlements through land readjustment, promoting tenure security, access to finance and conditions for multi-story developments. The second explores the best use of space in creating affordable housing whilst targeting social and economic goals such as the construction of schools, health facilities, workshops for small enterprises and retail facilities. This requires appropriate regulation of building activity and informal businesses as well as fostering participatory governance. The project aims to find practical options for reshaping the physical environment of informal settlements through densification in ways which enhance the livelihoods of communities.

Expertise represented in the project: Urban Economic Development, Urban Planning, Development studies, Land Use Planning, Urban and Local Governance; Urban Design; Architecture, Green building & infrastructure design, Microfinance, Community Dialogue.

Principal Investigator: Justin Visagie, Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa

Countries involved in project: South Africa, Angola

Co-creating Localised Norms on Sustainable Energy in Cities in Kenya and Uganda (LoNSEC)

Within the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), urban planning that is linked to sustainable energy can offer possibilities for confronting development challenges that cut across SDG 7 (access to affordable and clean energy), SDG 11 (make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable), SDG 13 (resilient climate action) and SDG 5 (gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls). But this not only calls for knowledge on the relational nature of SDG goals and targets, but also understanding the interlinkages within the normative structure of SDGs and the alternative pathways used at local scale to adapt SDG norms in initiatives that seek sustainable energy transitions in cities.

The project aim is to co-generate knowledge on the interplay between the key norms that underlie SDG 5 (equal opportunity), SDG 11 (inclusivity), SDG 7 (accessibility) and SDG 13 (resilience) in the context of sustainable energy in cities. This will be attained through cross-disciplinary action research that deepens dialogue and facilitates collective learning about the alternative interpretations of inclusivity, equal opportunity, resilience and accessibility in waste to energy projects at neigbourhood scale. The targeted locations are Bwaise III parish (Kampala city-Uganda) and Soweto-East Kibera (Nairobi city county-Kenya). These urban informal settlements are a host of low-income groups that take the initiative to extract and add value to materials from the waste stream, through the use of organic waste for nutrient recovery and production of energy briquettes. The pilot projects in Bwaise and Kibera will act as boundary platforms for interfacing community representatives with academics and policy actors, to characterise and convey the interconnections, trade-offs and synergies between inclusivity, equal opportunity, resilience and accessibility to sustainable energy using visual communication methods.

Expertise represented in the project: Urban Sociology, Environment Planning, Geography, Urban Livelihoods and Informality, Fine Art, Community studies, Urban Development and Housing, Spatial planning.

Principal Investigator: Buyana Kareem Makerere University, Uganda

Countries involved in the project: Uganda, Kenya

Standardising City-Level Data-Gathering towards Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 11 in Africa (SCiLeD)

Urban challenges confronting African cities include water shortages, insecurity, inadequate housing, unemployment, poor sanitation, congestion and lack of participation which are intensified by inequality, poverty and intensity of slum development. Meanwhile, the capability of governments to tackle these urban challenges is being diminished by rapid population growth, urbanisation and diminishing revenues. Data on slum populations including demographics, economy, mobility, and access to urban basic services on smaller geographies like the cities, communities and by gender and vulnerable groups are required to make better decisions. Data on urban trends and patterns are being created by several agencies with different priorities and procedures which often limit data availability, accuracy, coverage, comparability, and openness. Moreover, these data are at the national and not city or community levels which mask the true situation at the smaller geographies. To understand the underlying distributions, patterns, trends or disparities inherent in African cities, there is need to break down aggregated data into smaller geographies which underscores standardising city-level data-gathering towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)11 using two case study cities – Lagos (Nigeria) and Accra (Ghana). This will entail harmonisation of priorities and procedures; localisation of SDG 11 targets and indicators; examination of data requirements; small area estimation and urban services mapping; bringing together diverse data communities to embrace diverse range of data sources, tools, and innovative technologies; measurements of urban data sets, implementation and monitoring; and creating opportunities to enhance participation. By co-creating, co-collecting, co-managing and co-sharing data will lead to better decision-making, policies and planning for sustainable urban governance.

Expertise represented in the project: Development Geography, Urban & Regional Planning, Environment, Water and Sanitation, Human Geography, Remote Sensing and GIS, Law and Advocacy, Mapping and Profiling, Profiling Data, Statistics, Socioeconomic Statistics, Slum Profiling, Advocacy & Community Engagement, Transport Planning, Geospatial simulation.

Principal Investigator: Peter Elias, University of Lagos, Nigeria

Countries involved in the project: Nigeria, Ghana

Bridging Decentralized Energy Planning with Neighbourhood-level Innovations in Cities of Africa: Case Studies from Ghana and South Africa

Cities across Africa are undergoing an urban energy transition in a bid to address the environmental challenges associated with fast-paced urbanization and increasing carbon emissions, while contributing to the implementation of Goal 7 and 11 of the 2030 Agenda. This urban energy transition is accompanied by constant and continuing pressure on national and local governments to develop planning frameworks and institutional capacities that respond to the multiple demands associated with creating inclusive and pro-poor energy systems. In response to these challenges, national governments are working with municipal authorities to invest in decentralized energy planning, which is expected to lead to effective deployment of alternate energy technologies within underprivileged communities at the least-cost to the economy and environment. Faced with the reality of having the least opportunity to engage with and influence the policies and decision-making structures that govern decentralized energy planning, the urban poor are searching for practical solutions that can break the barriers to sustainable access and use of alternative energy while demonstrating potential to obtain socially inclusive and environmentally friendly urban energy systems.

Expertise represented in the project: Development Economics, Social Innovation, Renewable Energy, Social Enterprise and Information Systems, Governance, Urban Transitions and Sustainability.

Principal Investigator: Phumlani Stanley Nkontwana, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Countries involved in project: South Africa, Ghana

Community led upgrading of informal settlements in cities in Namibia and Zambia

On the periphery of most African cities informal settlements are incrementally developing. These informal solutions are to account for the lack of affordable land and housing provided by local authorities. However, these conditions pose health and safety risks to community members. As a solution, local municipalities have begun upgrade programmes of informal settlements through enumeration and service provision. However, this is a top-down approach disregarding the real needs of communities. Therefore, the research aims to explore the process of community led upgrade of informal settlements. This will be done by understanding informal settlement upgrade programmes from the perspective of all stakeholders, with an emphasis on community member’s views. Secondly, by analysing existing upgrade programmes within the three identified cities of Lusaka, Windhoek and Gobabis. From the analysed data, methods and tools will be developed to provide communities with the means to conduct sustainable upgrade projects. Apart from investigating a bottom-up approach to empower communities, they are also provided with a platform to tell their stories by creating a visual narrative of informal settlements and the opportunities that lies within.

Expertise represented in the project: Architecture and Spatial production, Housing and Urbanism, Town planning, Informal settlement upgrading, Disaster Risk Resilience, Urban Geography, Community Engagement, Evidence-based Advocacy, Urban Development, Public Policy

Principal Investigator: Madelein Stoffberg, Namibia University of Science and Technology, Namibia

Countries involved in project: Namibia, Zambia

Green Spaces and Repurposing Waste: Building Capacities for Resilience in Urban and Periurban West Africa

Inappropriate waste disposal and poor waste management cause pollution, inhibit storm water drainage, aggravate floods, and increase disease risk. Recycled waste can produce irrigation water, compost, and green fuel. By enhancing liquid and solid waste recycling for urban and periurban agriculture (e.g. market gardens, plant nurseries), green urban spaces (e.g. forests, parks, gardens), and green energy (biogas) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and Tamale, Ghana, this two-year research for development project reinforces urban and periurban socio-ecosystem resilience, thus contributing to SDG 11.

Using proactive and participatory approaches, the project combines expertise from academic institutions and non-academic organizations, including municipal assemblies, private enterprises, and associations of waste collectors, market gardeners, and livestock farmers to investigate how to better collect, manage, and repurpose organic liquid and solid waste to benefit urban and periurban agriculture and green urban spaces, and generate biogas for urban and periurban sustainable development. Through GIS (participatory mapping approaches), ethnographic tools (interviews, participation-observation, mapping, value webs), socio-economics (cost benefit analysis), agronomics (experimental plots), and integrated modelling, data will be incorporated into computer-based scenarios for stakeholder discussions and training activities. The project will develop and facilitate multi-stakeholder platforms for knowledge production and integration on proper, sustainable waste disposal and recycling processes and infrastructure, urban and periurban agriculture and green urban spaces for cleaner, more resilient urban and periurban communities.

Expertise represented in the project: Agricultural Economy, Ecology, Agronomy, Biology, Complex Modelling, Anthropology, Soil and Water Engineering, Solid Waste Management and Environmental Sanitation, Renewable energy engineering,  Agroforestry, Tree Nursery, Livestock Farming.

Principal Investigator: Safiétou Sanfo, WASCAL, Burkina Faso

Countries involved in project: Burkina Faso, Ghana

Transforming southern African cities in a changing climate

Failing to address climate change effectively would seriously undermine efforts to meet the targets of SDG 11: making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. In African cities, decision-makers are faced with the challenges of addressing the severe socio-economic inequalities stemming from a colonial history that still affect the vast majority of citizens. At the same time, they need to work towards achieving economic growth, social development and environmental management that matches a global standard. When it comes to making decisions for the future of African cities, the pressures and priorities resulting from decades of ‘underdevelopment’, associated with high levels of unemployment, poor public service provision and a large infrastructure deficit, often do not leave much political attention, technical capacity and resources for adapting to climate change. Further, current traditional, incremental adaptation agendas often take a narrow view of tackling climate risks and impacts within the current state of the socio-ecological system, not questioning the unsustainable or unjust aspects of this system. Transformational adaptation offers an alternative approach to current incremental adaptation strategies. By linking the important issues of justice, equality and inclusivity with the climate change agenda, and dealing with the root causes of societal vulnerabilities, transformational adaptation has the potential to contribute to many of the SDGs. Using Durban (South Africa) and Harare (Zimbabwe) as cases, the project will contribute to better understanding the potential for transformational pathways through transdisciplinary processes with stakeholders from these cities. Considering both cities are faced with the challenge of managing water under changing climate conditions, water service provision will be used as a case study climate/development risk. An approach to learning that fosters transformative processes will also be developed through the proposed research.

Expertise represented in the project: Urban resilience, Development studies, Environmental Anthropology, Collaborative Ethnography, Urban Climate Adaptation, Human Geography, Wetlands Management, Environmental Management.

Principal Investigator: Alice McClure, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Countries involved in project: South Africa, Zimbabwe

Integrating sustainable water and sanitation solutions to create safer, more inclusive and climate resilient cities

In Dar es Salaam, informal settlements accounts for over 70%. They are characterized by absence of sewer networks and lack of sustainable waste water management systems which often led to frequent cholera outbreaks and diarrheal diseases. In response, BORDA Africa, has been constructing DEWATS plants to address the aforementioned changes and other health related risks. There have been several challenges from the beneficiaries before, during and after the construction of these treatment plants (DEWATS), mostly due to community’s poor knowledge of the technology, lack of their involvement in the project implementation, and unreliable support from the government agencies and other stakeholders in enabling the acceptability of the technology. As the populations of these slums continue to rise, achieving universal sanitation in Dar es Salaam is as urgent as ever. Improving the acceptability of the DEWATS technology to the community (es) can only be possible by the application of new knowledge and approaches to strengthen strategies and policies towards adequate and equitable sanitation. The project aims to understand and manage the social construction within community (es) that can be engaged in co-designing sanitation solutions in informal settlements.

Expertise represented in the project: Health and Life Science; International Health Management, Environmental Engineering, Water & Sanitation, and Feacal sludge management;  Molecular Microbiology, Water & Sanitation, Human Geography, Humanitarian Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Water resources technology & management, Waste Water Management

Principle Investigator: Lwetoijera Dickson Wilson, Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania

Countries involved in project: Tanzania, South Africa

Co-producing urban knowledge in Angola and Mozambique through community-led data collection: towards meeting SDG 11

This project aims to generate data on the indicators of the urban SDG in Angola and Mozambique and use this data to inform more inclusive, sustainable and participatory urban planning and policymaking. The research will take place in the capital cities of Luanda and Maputo in three selected peri-urban settlements in each city. The research process is designed to be trans-disciplinary, with members of the main research team representing different academic and professional research disciplines while local research teams will also include community members and local authority representatives. The research process will be community-led, include the collection of both quantitative and qualitative data through a mix of methods and explore the interlinkages between the urban, gender and climate action SDG.

Georeferenced maps, models and reports based on the collected data and the research method employed will be shared and discussed amongst relevant urban stakeholders within and between the two cities in a series of workshops and meetings. In doing so, the project aims to contribute to: the establishment of a methodology for the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs; a baseline for the formulation of new or the implementation of existing urban policies; and the creation and strengthening of mechanisms of local knowledge (co-)production and experience sharing amongst different actors and stakeholders within as well as between the cities of Luanda and Maputo.

Expertise represented in the project: Political and urban sociology, GIS, Geography, migration, gender, climate change, urban informality and urban food security

Principal Investigator: Sylvia Croese, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Countries involved in project: Angola, Mozambique

Projects funded in 2019

Inclusive Metabolism: Using co-produced theory of informal decentralised urban infrastructures to transform the delivery of urban food, water and energy services in Egypt, Ghana and South Africa

Studies of urban metabolism tend to focus on resource flows conducted through networked, centrally operated infrastructure systems, inadvertently leading to an emphasis on energy and water. Such research findings conclude that, for Africa, improved service delivery is akin to providing networked infrastructure.

These findings overlook the reality that multiple services in African cities are delivered in an informal manner, in the form of capable interactions which are typically ‘hidden’ from decision makers’ awareness and processes. These hidden nature-society interactions are uniquely demonstrated in food systems, which, across Africa, are typically informal. Many urban households do not (or cannot) grow their own food and rely on local supermarkets, chain stores or informal small businesses to purchase the food they consume. Tracking the amounts or quality of these foods proves difficult, making effective interventions in the food system an uncertain and a complex affair. An understanding of food flows in cities is important for ensuring urban food security and the development of appropriate urban governance for nutrition. Food flows provide important insights into the efficiency of the food system in providing equal access to food for all, the major determinant of urban food insecurity. Using food systems as an entry point, this project aims to examine how informal infrastructure systems facilitate service provision. This study will examine the movement of energy, water and food, into, out of, and within three African cities: Cape Town, Kumasi and Cairo through mixed method research. The study will employ participant observations, expert interviews, laboratory analysis, workshops and photovoice. It is expected that this study will contribute towards development of urban policies that are inclusive and promote sustainable urban systems.

Expertise represented in the project: Population health and nutrition, food system governance, food and nutrition security, socio-ecological theory, urban health, urban planning, chemistry, systems thinking, urban ecology, urban theory, sustainable development.

Principal Investigator: Sandra Boatemaa, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Countries involved in the project: South Africa, Ghana, Egypt

Reducing diarrhoea burden under climate change in urban contexts: An integrated approach for sustainability in west African medium-sized cities

Diarrhoeal diseases are a leading cause of mortality and morbidity across Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in poor urban vulnerable groups under the particular climate change patterns.

The proposed research project aims to increase the resilience of the health sector and communities in face of diarrhoea burden in the context of climate change living in the two medium-sized West African cities, Mbour in Senegal and Korhogo in Côte d’Ivoire.

Initially, we will assess the relationship between diarrhoeal incidence and hydroclimate parameters, water, sanitation, and hygiene, socioeconomic and demographic indicators. Health and climate data for 2012 to 2017 will be obtained from the District Health Information System of the Ministries of Health and other sources. The current level of knowledge of key stakeholders regarding water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and diarrhoea burden in Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire and their links with climate change will be assessed. Multiple analyses of the data and production of scientific outputs will be undertaken. A series of workshops with relevant stakeholders, from the data collection to the translation into policy, for the increase of adaptive capacities, partnerships and sustained multi-sectorial collaborations will be conducted.

Key results will be used to provide recommendations and strategies for short and long-term reduction of the burden of diarrhoeal diseases, and contribute to health system strengthening for an effective urban communities’ sustainable development.

Expertise represented in the project: Health geography, urbanization and urban health, climate change,  waterborne diseases, hydrogeology, environmental epidemiology, spatial epidemiology, environmental impact assessment, socio-anthropology, sanitary engineering, environmental health, and sustainable development.

Principal Investigator: Sokhna Thiam, Institut de Recherche en Santé, de Surveillance Épidemiologique et de Formation (IRESSEF), Senegal

Countries involved in the project: Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Switzerland.

Urban water futures: Bridging supply-demand gaps in Accra and Johannesburg through reuse

Approximately 1 billion people will be living in cities with perennial water shortage by 2050. One proposed strategy for meeting future water demand is water reuse. Water reuse involves treating wastewater to drinking water standards and directing it to either (i) municipal supplies immediately (direct reuse), or (ii) groundwater that is later abstracted for drinking water (indirect reuse). Direct potable reuse has the advantage of minimising losses to the environment, and a shorter treatment chain. However, despite advances in treatment technology, and assurances by water utilities, direct reuse continues to face some resistance from consumers. People seem concerned about possible risks to their health. It is, therefore, important that proposals for reuse address these perceptions in order to ensure success.

The work proposed here seeks to answer the question of whether, and how, water reuse can address existing demand-supply gaps for water in Accra and Johannesburg. By delineating criteria for acceptance of reclaimed water from a risk paradigm, we identify the acceptability of reclaimed water for various uses, as a first step to sustainable, demand-driven, reclaimed water use in these two cities.

Expertise represented in the project: Water reuse, nanotechnology for water treatment, risk perceptions and communication, development geography, ecology, social sciences.

Principal Investigator: Anita Etale, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

Countries involved in the project: South Africa, Ghana

Cleaning from the bottom up: Inclusive stakeholder participation for integrated waste management in Accra and Lagos

Waste generation in African cities often outstrips the capacity of municipal management systems, contributing to adverse socio-economic outcomes. This project will help to bridge the gap between waste management interventions at city level and bottom-up innovations in informal settlements in Accra and Lagos – communities which, given the dearth of municipal collection services, have demonstrated a capacity to evolve decentralised systems that can be enhanced with appropriate technical and policy support. By piloting community-based waste management initiatives and facilitating in-depth engagement between formal and informal actors, the project will help to establish a collaborative framework in which different stakeholders are willing and able to integrate multiple solutions across different scales. Using a “soft-systems” lens, the project will combine insights and methods from a range of academic disciplines (environmental science, development, sociology, economics) and real-world practice (government, business, civil society, media and the public) to emerge with hybrid modes of understanding and new tools for problem solving. An expected outcome of the project is increased participation of informal actors that have traditionally been overlooked in the governance of waste management systems in both cities. Realisation of this outcome would help to contextualise and advance the goals of inclusive governance, responsive planning and integrated problem-solving articulated in SDG 11 and the New Urban Agenda.

Expertise represented in the project: Sociology, environmental science, health economics, development studies, urban development, business development, environmental technology.

Principal Investigator: Temilade Sesan, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

Countries involved in the project: Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa.

Decentralisation of urban water supply services and access to water under urbanization in cities of Wa (Ghana) and Niamey (Niger)

In the wake of rapid urbanization in Africa, city authorities have struggled to keep pace with urban water supply demands of the urban population, leading to inequities in urban water access.

This project applies a transdisciplinary research approach, firstly, to foster an integrated and holistic understanding of the urban water supply problem in the cities of Wa and Niamey in Ghana and Niger, respectively; and secondly, to co-design policy and strategic interventions for improving urban water supply and access in the two cities.

Hence, the overall project goal is to explore how multiple stakeholders, including decision makers, at the local level, can improve their knowledge and awareness of the urban water situation, and change their attitudes and capacity in support of an integrated management approach to improving capacity and management of decentralized urban water services for achieving inclusive access to water for urban populations, particularly women, children and the poor in the cities of Wa (Ghana) and Niamey (Niger) in West Africa.

Expertise represented in the project: Development studies and development planning, urban and regional planning, hydrology and hydrological modelling, photochemistry, environment, materials and energy.

Principal Investigator: Emmanuel K. Derbile, University for Development Studies, Ghana.

Countries involved in the project: Ghana, Niger.

Household energy use practices and potential interventions for sustainable consumption in Makhanda-Grahamstown, South Africa and Kumasi, Ghana

This collaborative research and training project aims to examine household energy use behaviour as a basis for co-designing interventions for sustainable consumption in South Africa and Ghana. A key sustainability challenge relating to cities is unsustainable energy consumption by the residential sector, which in turn, results in negative environmental impacts, energy insecurity, high energy expenditure and energy poverty, especially for low-income households. In addressing cities’ energy security and environmental targets, improving the efficiency of household energy consumption is considered an important component of energy conservation strategies. The project will consider households’ current energy use practices, factors influencing these practices and potential interventions for promoting energy savings. Such information can be used by city authorities, utility service providers and energy decision-makers to target areas and behaviours that need change to manage energy demand and promote economic and environmental sustainability. It forms part of a broader global city resilience efforts centred on bottom-up demand response mechanisms aimed at balancing energy supply and demand for energy sustainability.

Expertise involved in the project: Resource use and household welfare, household energy use efficiency, sustainability studies, development policy analysis, governance, gender, regional and urban planning, conservation/restoration ecology, environmental policy and planning analysis.

Principal Investigator: Gladman Thondhlana, Rhodes University, South Africa.

Countries involved in the project: South Africa, Ghana.

Optimizing Ground Water Security by Integrated Approach of Sanitation and Hygiene in the Coastal Cities of Cotonou (Benin) and Lomé (Togo)

It is expected that as global environmental change unfolds, water quality deterioration will increase, thereby necessitating behavioural change with regards to sanitation and hygiene. In west African coastal cities, the water quality problem is exacerbated by eco-hydro-climatic changes, rapid population growth and poor environmental governance.

Thus, in the cities of Cotonou (Benin) and Lomé (Togo), a major challenge is that groundwater is available in quantity but rare in quality (therefore inaccessible) because of poor sanitation and inappropriate hygiene practices. For UNESCO-IHP, a post-2015 goal is to “ensure water security for sustainable development”.

With regard to the challenges of urban sustainability (SDGs, Agenda 2063, New Urban Agenda, etc.), this project aims to contribute to the achievement of sustainable sanitation and hygiene knowledge, attitudes and practice using a multi-stakeholders approach and socio-ecological mechanism to maintain access to sufficient quantities of acceptable safe groundwater in the coastal cities of Cotonou and Lomé.

One component of the project linking system knowledge is to assess the current state of aquifers and groundwater quality and to analyse human pressure through poor sanitation and inappropriate hygiene practices, particularly solid/liquid waste and excreta management related to deterioration of groundwater quality. A second component focused on target knowledge is to define acceptable, affordable, manageable and adaptable sanitation and hygiene practices to improve groundwater quality and its accessibility to ensure sustainability of people’s health, reduce poverty, exclusion and guarantee food security. A third component related to transformative knowledge is to provide technical, social, educational, legal, cultural and political pathways to improve and sustain sanitation and hygiene practices and access to safe groundwater in Cotonou and Lomé.

Expertise represented in the project: Groundwater and quality modelling, urban-coastal land dynamics, environmental sociology, urban sociology, urban planning, geographical Information Systems, public health, epidemiology, urban ecology, waste recycling.

Principal Investigator: Henri Sourou Totin Vodounon, University of Parakou, Benin.

Countries involved in the project: Benin, Togo.

Enhancing urban wetland and river ecosystem health in Nigeria and in South Africa

Urban rivers and wetlands are often seriously degraded ecosystems, and in Africa, they are often used as sewage and storm water disposal pipes. Heathy urban rivers and wetlands can contribute to and support sustainable urban development through the provision of a variety of valued and desired ecosystem services. The continuing degradation of urban rivers and wetlands presents a potentially intractable challenge, and we argue that part of this potential intractability arises out of insufficient appreciation of urban planners and policy makers in Africa of the interconnectedness and interdependence between ecological and social subsystems within a river/wetland catchment. To address this challenge, we propose a systemic-relational (SR) ethically grounded approach within the complex social-ecological system framework as an analytical perspective for investigating the ecological, economic and social as well as management and institutional dimensions of urban rivers and wetland health. Our approach departs from the traditional assessment as it recognises that ecological and social-economic components together form an integrated and dynamic complex system of urban ecosystem health. We intend to recommend ways in which the health and functionality of these ecosystems can be enhanced to support sustainable urban development through the supply of valued and desired ecosystem services. Our case studies are in Abuja Municipal Council in Nigeria and the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro in South Africa.

Expertise represented in the project: Water resources; aquatic ecology; water quality; social-ecological systems; environmental ethics; cultural anthropology; medical anthropology; culture, environment and health of marginal populations; medically under-served populations; ethnography; qualitative research; microbiological analysis; Environmental Impact Assessment; environmental auditing; environmental management systems; water quality; ecosystems ecology and ecotoxicology; hydrobiology, ecology, wetlands, social-ecological systems.

Principal Investigator: Oghenekaro Nelson Odume, Rhodes University, South Africa

Countries involved in the project: South Africa, Nigeria.

Enhancing Sustainability and Resilience of Accra (Ghana) and Kampala (Uganda) through a Water-Energy-Food Nexus (WEF) Approach

The increase in global population and the number of people living in cities has put a lot of pressure on water, energy and food (WEF) resources in cities across the world. In some cities, including those in African countries, inadequate access to WEF resources has already contributed to rationing of water and energy, increased the cost of living and contributed to poverty and inequality. Climate change presents additional threats to cities’ WEF resources. Meanwhile, strategies that have been adopted to address these WEF challenges have so far addressed them in isolation within sectoral boundaries. Without nexus thinking, interactions between the sectors can be overlooked, resulting in incoherent policy-making, contradictory or counterproductive strategies, and inefficient use of natural resources. To simultaneously achieve WEF security, decision-makers need to consider cross-sectoral impacts through integrated institutions and innovative policies.

This project aims at enhancing resilience and sustainability of two fast-growing African cities, Accra (Ghana) and Kampala (Uganda), through an integrated and participatory assessment, understanding and equitable governance of WEF resources through a nexus approach. Key stakeholders in the two cities will be involved in knowledge co-design and co-production in a manner that is gender sensitive, pro-poor and inclusive. The study will apply approaches and methods that include systems theory analytical frameworks and inductive scenario development, and tools such as urban/social metabolism. Data will be obtained through review and analysis of available digital and archival information for the two cities, key informant interviews, and focus group discussions. The research evidence generated will be shared through stakeholder engagement fora, policy roundtables, workshops and conferences, policy briefs, and peer review journal publications.

Expertise represented in the project: Water resources management, climate change adaptation, renewable energy, agriculture, environmental science, renewable energy policy, environmental and natural resource governance, systems and nexus analysis, political ecology, environmental justice, interdisciplinary research design and management, environment and natural resources management, climate change impact assessment, urban development, spatial planning, GIS, urban planning, gender.

Principal Investigator: Fati Aziz, Water Research Institute, Ghana.

Countries involved in the project: Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda.

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