Richard Sliuzas, Johannes Flacke, Eduardo Perez-Molina & Victor Jetten, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands

Shuaib Lwasa, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda

Presentation Title: Using spatial scenarios to explore possible transformation pathways for African cities




The development of African cities and their responses to the challenges of climate change is surrounded by uncertainty. Issues at the heart of this uncertainty includes:

  • The lack of reliable data on patterns and processes of urban development and climate;
  • Likely future urban growth trends;
  • Possible changes in societal behavior that may influence the previous issues;
  • Local and regional level climate change patterns that may affect weather patterns and in some instances possibly lead to large scale population migration; and,
  • The ability of local governments and other actors to identify and implement effective adaptation strategies.

This presentation examined recent work on integrated flood risk assessment in Kampala, Uganda, a fast growing city where local flash floods are expected to become more frequent. The key question addressed was: Can spatial scenario analysis and planning support the transformation process of African cities, and how can good practices be developed and shared?

Key Lessons Learned

  • There are significant gaps and inaccuracies in data available on urbanization and natural environmental conditions and processes in cities such as Kampala and throughout sub-Saharan African.
  • Dynamic modelling approaches can be effective tools for communicating key issues on the relationship between urbanization and environmental change to a broader audience.
  • Stakeholder engagement of the poor and vulnerable with professionals, local and national governments and NGOs is a critical aspect of any transformation process, as success will depend to a large extent on behavior change.
  • Land ownership - surveying and demarcating wetlands in Uganda is conceptually and practically difficult because of seasonal hydrological dynamics, but also because of historical land demarcations and titling due to private ownership of wetlands.

Policy/Practice Implications of Research

  • National and locals laws and legislative frameworks reveal several gaps in flood risk management. In order to better implement flood risk management, laws and regulations must be reinforced so that they do not create ambiguities or conflicts.
  • An integrated approach to flood risk management requires collaborative planning that involves different sectoral municipal departments e.g., engineering department, planning department, public services, health as well a strong cooperation and coordination with private and civic stakeholders.
  • Research must have implications for the scale at which options and solutions to the problems are addressed. The long-time practice of micro-scale interventions has not yielded solutions.  Strategic city-regional scale research that recognizes multi-level governance is useful but challenging given the potential jurisdictional differences. These differences, however, must be addressed to reduce flood risk in newly developing areas.
  • Multi-faceted solutions from household to city-regional scale are needed to reduce the problem in current terms, but also mitigate or avoid problems for newly developing areas in the peri-urban zones.

Knowledge Gaps and Needs

  • Advances in urban growth modeling that would determine spatially explicit risk by applying vulnerability functions, varying with building typology and flood depth, for use to estimate the monetary value of risk in the city.
  • The effect of spatially varying patterns of rainfall needs further exploration; better data (e.g., extensive rainfall time series, higher temporal resolution of rainfall measurements) would significantly contribute to improve results.
  • The coupling of climate models with other models within the current framework, could allow, for example, the simulation of future climate change trends responding to greenhouse gas emissions (e.g., using regional climate models).
  • It is important to test the framework and the relative tools for operationalization in other study areas.