Urban Africa Risk Knowledge (Urban ARK)

Project Period

January 2015 - January 2018

Urban Africa: Risk Knowledge (Urban ARK) is a three year programme of research and capacity building that aims to reduce disaster risk in urban sub-Saharan Africa by identifying how and where to break cycles of risk accumulation. The co-produced research agenda integrates stakeholders across the research process to impact on four connected areas: (1) urban planning and governance; (2) climate change adaptation; (3) environmental and public health; (4) institutional arrangements at the local government level. The consortium will work in six urban centres of different sizes, geographic locations and hazard contexts: Dakar (Senegal), Ibadan (Nigeria), Karonga (Malawi), Mombasa (Kenya), Nairobi (Kenya) and Niamey (Niger). The cities offer broad regional coverage (three in West Africa, three in East Africa), a range of city population sizes and in-land and coastal locations. Urban ARK’s research questions are: (1) What is the nature, scale and distribution of risk across the whole spectrum of hazards in urban centres, and what are their inter-linkages? (2) What are the underlying factors driving risk accumulation in the context of urban growth and change, poverty and climate change? (3) What institutional arrangements and good practices in local governance and in urban planning and management are capable of reducing risk and building resilience in this context?

APHRC is leading the study of man-made hazard, namely poor solid waste management and its implications for health outcomes and other secondary hazards such as flooding, environmental contamination and fires in Nairobi, Mombasa and Dakar.

Working closely with those at risk, urban planners, developers and humanitarian agencies will enable a research process that can highlight disaster risk drivers embedded in contemporary and emerging development trajectories – and allow the consideration of alternatives to break cycles of risk accumulation.”

The project is funded as part of the ESRC-DFID Poverty Alleviation Program, which aims to provide a more robust basis for international development and enhance the quality and impact of social science research on poverty reduction.

Urban ARK brings together African and international experts in hazards and climate modeling, social history, urban planning and governance, epidemiology and urban vulnerability and loss assessment, and will provide local workshops and scientific meetings to open the program to wide participation.

Project Funders

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