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Strengthening urban resilience in African cities: Understanding and addressing urban risk

The population of Africa’s cities is growing rapidly. But as poor people cram into towns and cities characterised by limited, weak and often under-resourced infrastructure, they are increasingly relegated to marginal, inadequately serviced, informal settlements and low-cost housing areas, leaving them vulnerable to numerous livelihood, health and security risks.

As part of its programme on strengthening urban resilience in African cities, ActionAid commissioned research to better understand the risks faced by urban poor people on the African continent. This exploratory research comprised a desktop review of the literature on urban risk in Africa, and fieldwork in three cities in Senegal, The Gambia and Zimbabwe. It examined hazards, vulnerabilities, local capacities, power imbalances and underlying risk drivers to identify strategies for enhancing resilience to disasters, climate change and conflict in Africa’s urban environments.