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8 December 2014

Blantyre City Council committed to building resilience to effects of extreme weather events and climate change

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Blantyre is Malawi’s second largest city and is also commonly referred to as the commercial capital of the country.

With a growing population of around 700 000, a figure representing a 5.1 % share of the national population, Blantyre City is under growing pressure to provide adequate socioeconomic services for its residents. However, climate change is set to exacerbate the challenges that the city faces in its efforts towards achieving sustainable development – unless the city proactively puts in place plans that support climate compatible development.

Blantyre City Council is one of the six cities participating in the Sustainable Urban Resilient Water for Africa: Developing Local Climate Solutions (SURe water 4 Africa: Developing LoCS) project. The project is being funded by the European Commission and aims to contribute towards sustainable climate resilient urban water mechanisms and planning at the local level. Recently, the ICLEI Africa SURe Water team was in Blantyre to run a series of capacity building and knowledge sharing workshops. In his welcoming remarks, Sylvester Mntini emphasised the value of the project to the city as they are trying to understand the shifting weather patterns which in turn have left the residence experiencing extreme impacts of droughts during the prolonged dry periods, and extreme floods during the short rainy periods.

During the workshop, the SURe Water team gave feedback on the downscaled climate systems analysis that was made for Blantyre earlier in the year by CSAG. In addition, the team shared key findings from the Risk Mapping and Vulnerability Assessment of the city’s water and sanitation infrastructure following an exercise that was carried out by WAMTechnology earlier in 2014. The interactive session also sought to validate findings in the reports that WAMTechnology had presented to ICLEI Africa.

To support the city’s interest in proactively planning for climate compatible development, ICLEI Africa trained workshop participants on the use of the ResilientAfrica Online tool. This tool was designed by local governments in Africa for use by local governments in Africa in identifying locally appropriate adaptation options to consider when planning for the future. The highly interactive tool “walks” local governments through a process of identifying, prioritising and assessing viable adaptation options that should be included in strategic plans towards building resilience to climate change in the 21 Century. This comprehensive tool enables cities to also formulate local action plans to support in the process. In this project, these local action plans will be referred to as the SURe Water Frameworks.
Community members from South Lunzo, one of the communities in Blantyre engaged the SURe Water team on Day 3 of the workshop. Following feedback from the Climate Systems Analysis and the Risk and Vulnerability assessments, community members split into working groups in which they discussed adaptation options that they implement in the event of either extreme drought or flooding. Still in those groups, they discussed and prioritised adaptation options that they would require assistance either from the local council, development aid agencies or the private sector in order to successfully implement. All the information was captured and will be conveyed back to Blantyre City Council through the SURe Water team, working closely with representatives from Blantyre City Council who attended the workshop.

The team concluded the trip with a visit to the recently elected Deputy Mayor Cllr Wild Ndipo. He reiterated Blantyre City Council’s interest in participating in the project and stated his great interest on the local frameworks to assist the city adapt to impact of flooding and or drought that would emerge from the project.

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