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Sustainable urban drainage systems: examining the potential for green infrastructure-based stormwater management for Sub-Saharan cities

Abstract

Green infrastructure (GI)-based approaches to urban drainage such as sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) could provide Sub-Saharan cities with an opportunity to address projected climate change impacts and existing deficits in their drainage infrastructure, even more so due to the synergies between an enhanced green infrastructure stock and sustainable urban development. The objective of this paper was to assess the theoretical value of using green infrastructure for stormwater management as an alternative and supplement to conventional pipe-based stormwater management systems. A SWOT analysis is performed to assess the potential that SUDS hold if adopted and implemented in Sub-Saharan cities. This analysis is based on a review of sustainable stormwater management as well as urban planning and governance literature. Results show that despite seemingly significant barriers to the adoption of SUDS in Sub-Saharan cities such as low prioritization on the urban agenda and lack of data among others, the concept may hold valuable potential for flood risk reduction, even more so due to its multi-functionality and synergies with urban agriculture, amenity and water supply. In the light of the existing threats and weaknesses, it is recommended that GI-based SUDS may be best approached initially as experiments at a local community scale.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Representative concentration pathways (RCP) represent contrasting mitigation efforts between a “concerted rapid carbon dioxide mitigation” scenario (RCP 45) and a “business-as-usual” scenario (RCP85) (see Mora et al. 2013: 183).

  2. 2.

    According to Novotny et al (2010: 71), “water centric urbanism” considers urban waters to be the lifeline of cities, a lifeline that must be managed, kept and restored with hydrological and ecological sustainability as the main goal.

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Correspondence to Patience Mguni.

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Mguni, P., Herslund, L. & Jensen, M.B. Sustainable urban drainage systems: examining the potential for green infrastructure-based stormwater management for Sub-Saharan cities. Nat Hazards 82, 241–257 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-016-2309-x

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Keywords

  • Green infrastructure
  • Stormwater management
  • SUDS
  • SWOT analysis
  • Sub-Saharan cities