Nairobi, Kenya - Four cities - Addis Ababa, Kampala, Narok and Yaoundé, joined the Making Cities Resilience campaign after their mayors took part in a debate on city resilience on Tuesday, 29 March, moderated by top Kenyan journalist Yvonne Okwara.
A representative from ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, an association of over 1,220 local government officials from over 70 countries, was also part of the panel.
Panellists pointed to poor planning, corruption, and negative attitudes as elements that could erode city resilience. They said the way to advance disaster risk reduction was to raise public awareness, stimulate stronger political commitment and to cultivate partnerships for cities to learn from each other and improve the awareness on urban disaster risk and solutions.
“The challenges faced by my city and other cities in Africa include high poverty and rapid urbanization, which puts pressure on existing infrastructure and informal settlements. Often, other priorities are addressed at the expense of disaster preparedness,” said Samuel Okello the Mayor of Kisumu (Kenya), who is also the new campaign champion.
“We will now review our strategic plan for the city to include disaster risk reduction and the ten essentials of the campaign. But we also need a system to monitor progress on how we perform,” added, Mr. Okello.
City officials suggested that the “Making Cities Resilient” campaign be used to raise the awareness of both politicians and the public, so that its “ten essential actions” are incorporated into city planning and budgeting processes throughout the continent. National authorities dealing with local and urban development should also be involved in recruiting cities to join the campaign, they added.
Panellists also stressed the importance of transparency and the need to combat corruption.
“One of the biggest impediments in addressing urban sustainability is corruption and the general lack of political buy-in,” said Ms. Allen Kisige, representing Kampala City Council.
Over 600 local governments are already part of “Making Cities Resilient,” bringing UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction UNISDR – which administers the campaign – ever closer to its goal: forming a global network of cities of different sizes, characteristics, risk profiles and locations to implement disaster risk reduction measures. As part of its work to raise political commitment for the cause, UNISDR carries out public awareness activities to spur political commitment for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation among local governments and mayors.
Helena Molin-Valdes, Deputy Director of UNISDR, who was present at the debate, said: “We invite national and regional authorities to join the campaign, ‘Making Cities Resilient Campaign -- My City is Getting Ready,’ and to lend support to cities and local governments as they improve their capacity to reduce disaster risk.”