Urban ARK work programmes and locations

Urban Africa Risk Knowledge (Urban ARK) was structured around four interconnected work programmes (WP) designed to enhance our understanding of risk and resilience in urban contexts. These programmes addressed various aspects of vulnerability, hazards, historical trajectories, governance and planning to create a more comprehensive view of urban challenges and solutions.

Article, 26 August 2018
Urban Africa Risk Knowledge (Urban ARK) logo on top of arial photo of Niamey, Niger

WP1: vulnerability assessment

In Nairobi, Dakar and Mombasa, WP1 focused on the health impacts of poor solid waste management (SWM) and related secondary hazards such as pollution, flooding and fires. 

The African Population and Health Research Center, drawing on its expertise in public health and epidemiology, collected primary data through key informant interviews, environmental assessments and geographic information system (GIS) mapping to identify factors contributing to morbidity and mortality in these areas. 

This programme also explored conflict-environmental risk interactions in Kibera, Nairobi.

WP2: hazards assessment

WP2 concentrated on the physical processes of natural hazards and their interaction with human systems. It involved exploring hazard interactions, their impact on infrastructure and developing simulation models. 

This research required the collection of data on hazard impact and climate projections for urban planning. The use of spatial data was critical to produce risk maps.

WP3: risk root cause analysis and historical urban trajectories 

WP3 investigated the historical root causes of contemporary disaster risk and loss. It examined the evolution of urban risk management capacity, explored historical determinants of dynamics in environmental health, solid waste and disaster response management, and analysed the role of local and international policies in urban risk. This programme also looked at governance at multiple scales.

WP4: governance and planning

WP4 combined the knowledge gained from the previous programmes into an action-research agenda. It focused on governance and planning practices to understand how they affect urban risk. 

This included examining urban development investments, urban planning policies and how risk information was used in planning, policy and project decisions. WP4 also explored incremental changes in neighbourhoods and established urban resource hubs.

City/country-specific details

Urban ARK's work extended to specific cities and countries, addressing unique urban challenges and solutions.

Dakar, Senegal: focused on the health impacts of poor SWM and secondary hazards. Research investigated conflict-environmental risk interactions. 

Research methods included qualitative field research in Kibera and analysis of findings from Kounkuey Design Initiative’s ‘Building Urban Flood Resilience’ project (2015-16) in Kibera.

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: research examined the impacts of rising temperatures on urban residents' health and explored multilevel governance for disaster risk reduction and resilience building.

Freetown, Sierra Leone: investigated governance and planning practices' impact on urban risk. It also used the ReMapRisk tool to document urban risk accumulation cycles.

ReMapRisk: Participatory mapping to discuss urban risk traps

The ReMapRisk tool and linked action planning workshops has led to five strategic action projects in Karonga and another in Mzuzu, and 14 strategic action projects in Freetown, Sierra Leone. These projects have benefited an estimated 72,000 people in Karonga/Mzuzu and 140,000 in Freetown.

Ibadan, Nigeria: utilised the DesInventar methodology for vulnerability assessment, focusing on extensive and intensive loss data and social vulnerability.

Karonga, Malawi: applied a community-level vulnerability and capacity assessment method to address everyday/multiple hazard risks through urban planning and governance.

Lideta, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: utilised the CityRAP tool to enhance the overall resilience of the city by focusing on the resilience of Lideta sub-city.

Several member states in southern Africa have since requested further rolling out of CityRAP across diverse urban centres.

Mombasa, Kenya: concentrated on the health impacts of poor SWM, similar to Nairobi and Dakar.

Nairobi, Kenya: focused on the health impacts of poor SWM and conflict-environmental risk interactions in Kibera, Nairobi.

WhyDAR – a multidisciplinary research project exploring different views on urban resilience – collaborated with Urban ARK, particularly in Nairobi, to strengthen the community of practice. 

Niamey, Niger: research explored resilience aspects in very poor urban contexts, such as food and water security, flooding, and conflict stress.

By addressing various urban challenges through these interconnected programmes, Urban ARK aimed to improve resilience and risk management in sub-Saharan African cities and contribute to more informed urban policies and decision-making.

More about the project