By Samuel Okiror
Authorities in Uganda’s capital city are prioritising infrastructure development, climate-smart capital investment procedures and emissions reduction in order to strengthen the city’s resilience to natural and man-made hazards.
Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and development partners have allocated significant funding to renovate roads, improve drainage infrastructure, enhance climate-resilient strategies and revamp mass public transport to cope with the stresses and disaster risks generated by rapid urbanisation.
The need for such an interlocking approach is a major theme of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, a 15-year international agreement adopted in March 2015.
Kampala is an economic hub, accounting for 80% of the country’s industrial and commercial activities, and is a symbol of Uganda’s transformation. From 24-26 May, it hosts the first East and Central African Cities Development Forum, which will spotlight common challenges and chart the best path to sustainable urban development.
“The population increase in Kampala has exerted pressure on available infrastructure including roads, hospitals and schools, resulting in a number of shocks and stresses in the recent past,” said KCCA spokesperson Mr. Peter Kaujju. The city has faced flooding, disease and fires which have cost lives, destroyed property and caused economic losses.
Kampala has the highest population growth rate in Uganda, with over 5.2% per annum, and rapid urbanisation is expected to continue for several decades, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics. Recent projections show that the population of Kampala, including the greater metropolitan area, will grow from about 3.5 million in 2014 to as much as 10 million by 2040, according to KCCA.
Ageing and inadequate infrastructure, high youth unemployment, inefficient transport systems, environmental degradation and air and water pollution are additional stresses caused by human actions, a high concentration of people and assets, urban poverty, growth of informal settlements, spatial expansion and defective structural designs of infrastructure.
On 11 April, at least four people were killed and dozens injured when a building collapsed in the central business area in Kampala.
Mr. Kaujju stated that KCCA management with support from the World Bank is currently elaborating a capital investment procedure to ensure that all city infrastructure is climate-resilient and contributes to energy efficiency and emissions reduction targets.
With support from Expertise France and the French Embassy, KCCA is also implementing a low emission and climate resilient strategy known as Kampala Climate Change Action.
In 2011, Kampala joined UNISDR’s global Making Cities Resilient Campaign, which now has over 3,000 members worldwide. The campaign seeks to encourage cities and local governments to get ready, reduce the risks and become resilient to disasters. The “Ten Essentials”, a series of tests of city resilience, were recently updated following the adoption of the Sendai Framework.
“Studies and assessments done by KCCA other key stakeholders reveal that the stresses have had various impacts on economic growth and development which have reduced the resilience of communities, families and households to cope, thus increasing their vulnerability,” explained Mr. Kaujju.
KCCA allocates a significant percentage of the city’s budget to revamping the city infrastructure and in the last four years, a total of 176 kilometers of new roads and 35 kilometers of major drainage channels have been reconstructed. The roads are fitted with large culverts and the drainage system has been enlarged to prevent flooding.
In 2014, KCCA also tested the city’s resilience using UNISDR’s Local Government Self-Assessment Tool (LG-SAT). That outlined Kampala’s strengths, opportunities and challenges, and paved way for further actions. UNISDR plans to continue supporting the city with advanced risk knowledge, local risk monitoring and capacity building.
Ms. Jennifer Musisi, KCCA executive director, said that the authority is currently undertaking a resilience study aimed at establishing risks and hazards experienced in various communities, ascertaining their level of disaster preparedness, mitigation and adaptability strategies in place as well as emergency response and recovery mechanisms undertaken by communities when faced by disasters.
“This assessment is geared towards building and further consolidating the ability of communities in Kampala to cope with impacts of various stresses and disasters as and when they occur,” said Ms. Musisi.