UN Habitat's CityRAP Tool at Habitat III

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Mathias Spaliviero explains the CityRAP Tool methodology

UN-Habitat and the Technical Centre for Disaster Risk Management, Sustainability and Urban Resilience (DiMSUR) presented the City Resilience Action Planning Tool (CityRAP) during the United Nations Habitat III Conference in Quito

The session entitled "The Power of Participatory Resilience Planning in Fast Growing Urban Settlements: Experiences from Africa" was presented by DiMSUR's team and invited panelists during Habitat III, The United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Quito, Ecuador.

DiMSUR's side event was a 1,5 hour panel discussion at ONE UN Pavilion on October 17th. The audience came from a variety of backgrounds: academia, governments, NGOs, UN, and other international organizations.

The panel discussion at Habitat III was an important step to promote DiMSUR's best practices on building resilience in Southern Africa. The event disseminated the lessons from the innovative approach of the CityRAP Tool and was an important opportunity to network and receive feedback from different stakeholders. The CityRAP Tool is a set of training exercises and activities – e.g. local government self-assessments, participatory risk mapping exercises, and cross-sectorial action planning - aimed at developing the capacity of local governments to understand and plan actions that progressively build urban resilience and reduce urban risk. The tool is designed to fit the needs of low-capacity small, intermediate cities and neighborhoods from larger cities in developing countries,

Panel discussion

Firstly, Mathias Spaliviero, Senior Human Settlements Officer at UN-Habitat's Regional Office for Africa (ROAf) and part of the founding team of DiMSUR, introduced the main issues related to urban resilience and risk management faced by developing countries, highlighting the impacts natural and man-made hazards may have in fast growing small and intermediate cities in Africa.

Spaliviero presented the CityRAP tool participatory approach and methodology to the audience. He focused on the key features of the tool: local ownership and engagement, flexibility and adaptability to different realities, mainstreaming local knowledge and solutions.

The second panelist, Shona Paterson from Future Earth Coasts and Urban ARK (Urban Africa: Risk Knowledge, a research and capacity building programme funded by DFID and ESRC) provided a more academic perspective to participatory resilience building. Paterson emphasized the effective results from the CityRAP tool in supporting the process of resilience building in the city of Chokwe, Mozambique. The panelist explained the role of participation and its comparative advantages in cities of limited capacity.

The third panelist was Mr. Daviz Mbepo Simango, mayor of Beira, the third largest city in Mozambique, who told the audience the experience of building resilience through participatory activities from a city perspective. Simango presented cases of cooperation with external partners, such as The Netherlands, to build the resilience of Beira, which is a coastal city extremely vulnerable to the sea level rise.

Finally, the fourth panelist, Mr. Henk Ovink, Special Envoy for International Water Affairs from The Netherlands, mentioned the partnership between the government of The Netherlands and Beira, referring to the mayor’s previous talk. Ovink also highlighted the complexity of the concept of resilience and resilience building, considering it as an ongoing, dynamic and progressive process. The panelist recognized the CityRAP Tool as a sometimes necessary simplification of the complex resilience concept, seeing it as an entry point to the challenge of how to mainstream urban resilience in settlements with high demand but limited capacity in the developing world.

With moderation by Mr. Claudio Acioly, head of Capacity Building at UN-Habitat, the panel engaged in extensive conversation with the audience. One of the inputs from the audience was on the possibility of inclusion of aspects of climate predictions, modeling and forecast on the tool methodology.

Another question raised was how the CityRAP tool promotes the participation of illiterate people from low capacity cities in Africa. DiMSUR's team members explained that the tool methodology embraces the concept of Focal Points, who are local people, usually from the Municipality staff, that can engage with other locals by speaking the local languages and dialects to develop the participatory mapping and assessments and bridging data gaps, for instance.

The ideas exchanged and the various inputs received during the discussions held in Quito will be taken into account for the consolidation of the second version of the CityRAP tool, currently being concluded the UN-Habitat/DiMSUR team with support from Urban ARK. The improved version was recently tested in a subcity of Addis Ababa and will be the basis of trainings and activities to be conducted in Cape Verte, Guinea Bissau and Mozambique in the upcoming months.