Using climate science to inform policy on peri-urban issues in Africa

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Anna Taylor, one of ACC’s Mistra Urban Futures researchers, recently participated in a workshop to co-produce a methodology for using climate science information to develop policy messages pertaining to peri-urban areas in Africa. The event was convened by START and UCT’s Climate Systems Analysis Group, with funding from CDKN, and hosted by the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Teams from five African cities participated, namely Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Kampala in Uganda, Lusaka in Zambia and Maputo in Mozambique. The teams from each city consisted of people working in the national meteorological services, universities and various local and national government agencies, notable urban planning and agriculture.

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The deliberations focussed on applying a systems lens to peri-urban areas, identifying the economic and livelihood activities that are practiced there, the infrastructures that exist there and the services provided there. The infrastructures include both those that are constructed (roads, drainage pipes, etc.) and those that are naturally occurring (e.g. rivers, wetlands, beaches, etc.). Similarly services include those that are provided by people (e.g. primary health care, reticulated water, electricity, waste removal, etc.) and those that are provided by ecosystems (e.g. water retention, natural green spaces, fish stocks, etc.). We then looked at how various climatic and non-climatic stressors impact on these elements, first singularly and then in combination, to understand where key climate sensitivities lie. Then came an engagement with relevant climate science information generated from numerous global circulation models (GCMs), observational data collected at local weather stations and statistically downscaled projections for these stations. This involved looking across the different sources to see where there was convergence and divergence in the results and what could thereby be concluded as a basis for developing robust, defensible and actionable policy messages. Having reflected on the steps taken by each of the 5 city groups in the workshop, a refined version of the methodology will now be further developed so that it can be applied elsewhere and with additional constituencies in the same cities.