chevron_left Back to News updates
4 June 2024

Building resilience: How DRR4Africa empowers African cities to combat heat-related climate challenges

top right mosaic bottom left mosaic

As climate change continues to reshape our planet, African cities like Lusaka in Zambia face escalating risks from extreme heat. With temperatures soaring and heatwaves becoming more frequent, the need for proactive measures to safeguard communities has never been more urgent, especially on Heat Action Day, 2 June 2024. At this critical juncture, initiatives like ICLEI Africa’s DRR4Africa project offers tailored solutions to bolster resilience and combat the looming threat of heat-related climate challenges.

DRR4Africa is focused on improving resilience and safety from climate-induced disasters, and targets three African cities (Lusaka in Zambia, Cape Coast in Ghana and Port Louis in Mauritius) as epicenters of localised climate impacts. By leveraging data from the World Risk Poll and engaging in community outreach, the project aims to equip cities with the tools and knowledge needed to navigate the intricate landscape of climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

One of the key pillars of DRR4Africa’s approach is the implementation of the Making Cities Resilient 2030 Disaster Resilience Scorecard for Cities. This comprehensive assessment tool enables cities like Lusaka to conduct baseline risk assessments and identify priority areas for intervention. By leveraging evidence-based urban resilience planning processes, DRR4Africa empowers local stakeholders to craft solutions tailored to their unique context and challenges.

The heat is on in Lusaka

In Lusaka, DRR4Africa’s interventions hold promise. With water scarcity exacerbated by climate change, as well as the Urban Heat Effect, the city’s residents are increasingly vulnerable to heat-related illnesses and other climate-induced hazards. By engaging in citywide stakeholder mapping, capacity building and community outreach, DRR4Africa seeks to foster a culture of resilience and preparedness, ensuring that no one is left behind in the face of adversity.

DRR4Africa’s emphasis on multi-level governance collaboration underscores the importance of inclusive decision-making processes. By bringing together government agencies, civil society organisations and local communities, the project fosters synergies and collaboration, laying the foundation for sustainable, community-driven solutions. As Mayor Chilando Chitangala of Lusaka aptly notes: “It is in our cities that there is potential for innovation and opportunities to change the status quo.” By harnessing the collective expertise and creativity of its residents, Lusaka has the potential to emerge as a model for resilient, climate-smart urban development.

In highlighting this sense of collaboration and knowledge sharing, earlier this year, ICLEI Africa held a participatory workshop in Lusaka. Some of the key takeaways from the event were:

  • Participants from diverse municipal departments and civil society collectively identified heat waves as one of the four top climate hazards affecting the city.
  • The participants noted that these heat waves have negative impacts for numerous sectors within the city. 
  • Impacts on the health sector include increased deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, already widespread in the city, and increasing with climate change. 
  • Urban and peri-urban agriculture in the city is seriously compromised by the increasing frequency and intensity of these extreme events.

Beyond Lusaka, DRR4Africa’s impact reverberates across the African continent, and can offer a blueprint for effective climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction. The lessons learned from DRR4Africa’s pilot projects in Lusaka, Cape Coast and Port Louis will serve as invaluable resources for cities across the continent.

About Heat Action Day (HAD)

Heat Action Day on 2 June 2024, is aimed at raising awareness about the escalating threat of extreme heat and its impacts on communities worldwide. Started by various environmental advocacy groups, governmental bodies and climate change organisations, Heat Action Day serves as a platform to educate the public about the dangers of heatwaves, promote strategies for staying safe during extreme heat events, and advocate for policies to mitigate the effects of climate change. As global temperatures continue to rise due to human-induced climate change, it is becoming increasingly urgent to address the health, economic and environmental consequences of extreme heat.

Share on social: