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Small Cities and Towns in Africa: Insights into Adaptation Challenges and Potentials

  • Ben WisnerEmail author
  • Mark Pelling
  • Adolfo Mascarenhas
  • Ailsa Holloway
  • Babacar Ndong
  • Papa Faye
  • Jesse Ribot
  • David Simon
Chapter
Part of the Future City book series (FUCI, volume 4)

Abstract

This chapter is a counterpoint to those in the rest of this volume that treat Africa’s large cities. As Simon (Int Dev Plann Rev 36(2):vxi, 2014) has observed, most study of African urban climate change adaptation has focused on the challenges to large cities. So, by way of heuristic exercise, we attempt to approach a set of questions about small African cities and towns facing climate change. What climate-related hazards are faced by small cities in Africa today and will be confronted in the future? What kind of enabling capacities should be strengthened so that staff in small cities can take the initiative to adapt to climate change? What obstacles do the governments and residents of small cities face in adapting to climate change? What potential is there for risk reduction and improved livelihood security even in the face of climate change? Reviewing literature and using case studies from Eastern, Southern and Western Africa, we find that small cities have potential not only to protect their infrastructure and residents from climate related hazards, but also to serve as catalysts of climate-smart development in their hinterlands. However, governance problems and a lack of finance severely limit the ability of small African cities to realise this potential. More research is urgently needed to inform feasible solutions to bridge these governance and funding gaps.

Keywords

Tertiary urbanisation Climate change adaptation Urban-rural synergy Governance Climate-smart development Water and sanitation Flood 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance of Gillian Fortune, Research Alliance for Disaster and Risk Reduction (RADAR), Stellenbosch University and Adriaan van Niekerk, Centre for Geographical Analysis (CGA), Stellenbosch University, and to thank Girma Kebbede of Mount Holyoke College (USA) for valuable comments. Ben Wisner and Adolfo Mascarenhas are grateful for the years spent with their colleagues on LKCCAP (the Local Knowledge and Climate Change Adaptation Project) that laid the foundation for the Mwanga case study (work supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0921952).

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ben Wisner
    • 1
    • 9
    Email author
  • Mark Pelling
    • 2
  • Adolfo Mascarenhas
    • 3
  • Ailsa Holloway
    • 4
  • Babacar Ndong
    • 5
  • Papa Faye
    • 6
  • Jesse Ribot
    • 7
  • David Simon
    • 8
  1. 1.Aon-Benfield UCL Hazard Research CentreUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of GeographyKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.LInKS/REPOADar es SalaamTanzania
  4. 4.RADAR (Research Alliance for Disaster and Risk Reduction)Stellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa
  5. 5.Fondation du Secteur Privé pour l’EducationDakarSénégal
  6. 6.Institute of AnthropologyUniversity of BernBern 9Switzerland
  7. 7.Department of Geography and Geographic Information ScienceUniversity of IllinoisChampaignUSA
  8. 8.Department of Geography, Royal HollowayUniversity of LondonEgham, SurreyUK
  9. 9.OberlinUSA

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