New steps on climate action for Kenya’s urban poor

Source(s): United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Africa

Partners in the Building Climate Resistance for the Urban Poor (BCRUP) initiative met in Nairobi on 7 September 2022 to step-up climate action for some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.    

Due to a growing population and increasing rural-to-urban migration, more than half of the world’s people live in rural areas, By 2050, that number is expected to grow to two-thirds. In Africa, urbanization has failed to bring about inclusive growth and has resulted in proliferation of informal settlements, increases in urban poverty and rising inequality.

A  three-day workshop brought partners in Kenya together to help them understand and own initiatives, with particular focus on the Making Cities Resilient 2030 (MCR2030) initiative, which improves disaster resilience locally through advocacy, sharing knowledge and experiences, as well as establishing mutually reinforcing city-to-city learning networks. MCR 2030 also facilitates the provision of  technical expertise, while connecting multiple layers of government and building partnerships.

The Head of Office UNDRR Global Education and Training Institute, Mr. Sanjaya Bhatia, kicked things off by underlining the need for cities to understand risk, including by understanding the influences resulting from a changing environment.

“Resilience is a long-term process that requires us to adopt a system of systems approach,” he said. “As every system is interlinked with other systems, for example transportation, health, education and economic development, this interconnectedness implies that a weakness in one system will have an impact on the others, as COVID-19 has clearly taught us.”

An exciting outcome of his presentation on the unique cross-stakeholder initiative for improving local resilience, spurred the Kenya Space Agency to join MCR2030 as a supporting entity.  The agency is using open source data and imagery to model floods in the nation’s coastal counties. The Kenya State Department of Housing and Urban Development, Kenya is also a participating entity of MCR2030.

"The Kenya Space Agency intends to be a valued partner to the Building Climate Resilience for the Urban Poor initiative. The utilization of space based or enabled technologies for planning, monitoring, and eventual dissemination of information for decision making is a key tenet of the agency's mandate for sustainable and peaceful use of outer space,” said Mark Ndonga, acting Deputy Director, Space Infrastructure of the Kenya Space Agency. “The agency looks forward to collaborating with like-minded institutions to foster climate resilient strategies for timely interventions."

The BCRUP Initiative is one of 41 initiatives launched at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit in New York. It promotes a  collaborative approach to help millions of people adapt to climate change, and is co-led by the Governments of Kenya and Brazil. It is a  coalition of non-governmental organizations. community organizations, local government organizations, infrastructure providers, academia, United Nations and intergovernmental organizations including UNDRR.  Kenya leads the sub-track on Climate Resilience for the Most Vulnerable Urban Dwellers, the category that UNDRR supports.

Dr. Charles K’Onyango, Kenya’s National Director of Urban Development, the department in charge of BCRUP in Kenya, spoke about his country’s growing population.

Kenya’s urban population is projected to be 44 million by 2050, or triple the 2019 urban population of about 13 million. The majority of that growing population is the urban poor. K’Onyango said this workshop aimed to enhance this group’s adaptive capacity to climate disasters. To do that, he said partners would have to work together on initiatives, including hotspot mapping of vulnerable urban areas, preparation of climate resilience urban spatial plans, human settlements and infrastructure improvement, green urban economy and livelihood strategies, as well as strengthening Nationally determined contributions (NDC) urban dimensions.

“Kenya is dedicated to building resilience and enhancing the adaptive capacity of the urban poor. K’Onyango said. He urged partners to coordinate their efforts to ensure the BCRUP Initiative's successful implementation through the Joint Plan of Action developed at the workshop.

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