Review of Research and Policies for Climate Change Adaptation in Urban Areas in Southern Africa

Working Paper 101
Miriam Joshua, Abdulai Jallohand Sepo Hachigonta

This paper provides results for a review of climate change adaptation research and polices in the Southern African urban sector, focusing in particular on water resources management and use and gender relations. The review was conducted to identify gaps in research and policymaking for climate change adaptation in the urban sector, with the aim of improving evidence-based policymaking that can enhance food security and protect populations vulnerable to climate change. The study focused on Southern Africa using Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe as case studies.

Southern Africa remains the most urbanised region of Africa, with the country having the largest (61.5 percent) urban population, while Malawi is the fastest urbanising country in the world. Projections show further increases in urban population, suggesting that population growth in the region is becoming largely an urban phenomenon. Additionally, rural-urban migration is resulting in an increase in the proportion of poor population in the urban areas. Due to low capacity of local governments, the poor population lives in slums mushrooming on marginal land, without social amenities and highly vulnerable to natural hazards. Climate change is expected to worsen the vulnerability of these communities through impacts on water availability and quality leading to water stress, energy crisis, food insecurity, human health problems and sea level rise in coastal cities as well as destruction of infrastructure. The most vulnerable are the poor and especially women due to gendered division of labour and power relations. Urban populations with high adaptive capacity are less vulnerable to effects of climate risks.

This review was undertaken under the auspices of the AfricaInteract project funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).


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