The rapid growth of population in African countries results in more urban areas with large population and the expansion of existing cities. With the highest rate of urbanization in the world, the African coastal urban population is expected to reach around 1,405 million by 2030. Besides, most of these countries are weakened by fragile economies, weak institutions and rampant conflicts; they cannot bear social and economic impacts of natural disasters. Climate change is likely to worsen this situation in the near future. Thus, all the involved stakeholders within African cities (including managers, policy makers and researchers) need accurate and robust predictions of the local impact of climate change on which to rely, so that they will be capable of managing climate risks as well as improving their planning capacities towards climate changes.
The main goals of the present multidisciplinary initiative consist in (i) modelling climate changes projections, (ii) carrying out studies on "outcome vulnerability", as considered in the climate change community, and on "contextual vulnerability", as considered in the hazard and disaster community, (iii) integrating complementary approaches to vulnerability assessment from different scientific perspectives into an overall multi‐risk framework, (iv) delivering innovative land use strategies, (v) applying the methodologies that have been developed to five case studies and (vi) improving the African R&D capacity in the project fields and disseminating the information to practice.
Firstly, global projections of climate change variables will be produced for the whole African continent from IPCC scenarios with a spatial resolution from 50 to 80 km; then regional projections downscaled to 8 km will be produced. This approach will deliver the necessary information for assessing probabilistic scenarios of climate related hazards (floods, drought, sea level rise, desertification and heat waves).
Secondly, the project will perform an assessment of (i) vulnerability of urban structures and lifelines, (ii) vulnerability of urban ecosystems and (iii) social vulnerability to the considered climate related hazards. An integrating multi‐risk framework taking into account these various facets of vulnerability will be developed. Guidelines to highlight the most relevant retrofitting techniques (i.e. low cost and large‐scale) for the built environment will be also provided.
Thirdly, the project will develop land use and governance strategies to improve the resilience of urban structures towards climate change induced disasters. A labelling procedure will set up various relevant indicators to identify high risks and a participatory approach including the involved stakeholders will establish the best options for cities to handle such natural disasters.
Fourthly, once these studies are conducted and these measures and tools are developed, they will be applied to five case studies in five relevant African cities that are: Addis Abeba, Dar es Salaam, Douala, Ouagadougou and Saint Louis. Criteria for selecting these urban areas are (i) the type of climate change exposure (e.g. tropical, dry, sahelian), (ii) the geographical characteristic (e.g. coastal, estuary), (iii) the type of city (medium to large, modern or traditional), (iv) the availability to provide all the required skills to perform the case study (depending on the local University) and (v) the official support of local authorities.
Finally, the dissemination of information will take the form of (i) research capacity building, as most of the research work will be carried out by African researchers and students, (ii) educational programmes and (iii) both virtual and traditional dissemination through a website and training materials (i.e. seminars and workshops).
This project, which focuses on a number of damage‐reducing techniques, is funded under the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission (FP7), a grant funding programme, and coordinated by AMRA (Italy). As the project is still running and its outputs are not complete yet, the technology readiness level is currently estimated to be 3 on the TRL scale, according to the scope of the seventh framework programme, which provides public grant partial funding for R&D.