July 15, 2024

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GGGWeek2021: Kigali, an example of future Climate Resilient Cities

The headquarters of I&M Bank in Kigali (Representational image of green building)

By Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU

The fact that there is a large number of buildings and construction infrastructures that are not yet built is good news for Rwanda and other African countries that want to build cities that are resilient to the effects of climate change, TOPAFRICANEWS Reports.

According to experts, resilient cities are cities that can better handle natural and human-made disasters, protect human life, absorb the impact of economic, environmental and social hazards and promote well-being and inclusive and sustainable growth.

Researchers say the increase in urban population and climate change is one of the factors that should lead to measures related to housing and land use in the way that is Resilient to the effects of Climate Change.

Mrs. Michelle Defreese, Senior Officer with Global Green Growth Institute who is also embedded in the Ministry of Environment in Rwanda said that in terms of Green Growth in Cities, a number of aspirant cities are also the ones that are facing the worst climate risks, therefore, there is a need for tangible measures.

Mrs. Michelle Defreese was speaking on Wednesday, 27 October 2021 at GGGWeek2021 Webinar under the theme: “Urban Resilience Building: African Cities’ Green Growth in a Changing climate.”

Based on data visualization, with reference to WMO State of the Climate in Africa Report for 2020, Large Coastal Cities (Abidjan, Accra, Dakar, Dar es Salam, and Lagos) are exposed to flood where in 2020, there were 1.2 million disaster-related displacements due to floods, storms and drought.

While African Cities are producing more Greenhouse emissions, it is projected that 118 Million people who live on less than US$ 1.9/per day will be vulnerable to droughts, floods and extreme heat in 2030.

“So you can really see how important adaptation is for African cities but also the mitigation point. Cities produce 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions and this really shows that not only Cities need mitigation measures but also adaptation measures.” Mrs. Michelle explained.

She added that “If you look at Rwanda there are a number of Nature based solutions that are examples for countries and other cities in Africa.

She said “In Rwanda there is rainwater harvesting and the study has shown that 30% of storm water run-off during the rainy season would meet irrigation requirements for the dry season.”

She Cited also Wetland Restoration as a Nature based Solution where for instance in the City of Kigali, 120 hectares of Nyandungu Wetland are set to be restored to increase biodiversity accommodation while at the same time increasing storm water run-off retention capacity.

Commenting on the Urban Forestry, Mrs. Michelle said that the city of Kigali has a target 0f 30% tree cover in Kigali to slow and retain storm water run-off and this demonstrates opportunities that are rising from nature based solutions.

Africa’s urbanization rate among the highest on the planet is projected to accelerate in the coming decades, with the current 1.1 billion population doubling over the next 30 years.

More than 80 percent of the increase will occur in Africa’s cities and urbanized areas exert pressure on already vulnerable populations impacted by lack of access to potable water supply, sanitation and waste management, energy supply, transport infrastructure and services, healthy and hygienic living conditions and climate hazards.

However, Mrs. Michelle reveals that in some instances, challenges have the potential opportunities for green growth.

“If you look at waste management in cities, it is still a challenge and at the same time an opportunity since waste composition is predominantly organic and this gives prospects for composting and biogas.” She said,

In terms of buildings and construction, she said there is still room for African Cities to turn to resilient building and construction since a big number of planned infrastructures are yet to be constructed.

“We have 80% of buildings that are projected for 2050 which are yet to be built. And this is an opportunity for incorporation of energy efficiency guidelines and standards for the new buildings.” She said

“There are also opportunities for e-mobility since many road networks are yet to be constructed in African Cities.” She added.

The pandemic has also highlighted the inextricable link between health, the environment and the economy.

To regenerate sustainably, and to provide decent, green jobs for all, cities need to invest in a thriving, sustainable economy. Adequate mechanisms therefore need to be put in place to address these challenges.

Many African cities have realized the importance of sustainable development, economic prosperity, and quality of life for their urban populations, and have ignited their transition to a model of green, climate resilient growth.

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